candlestick tree

Hanging onto hot color in the late summer garden

Even though we are well past Labor Day, summer hangs on like a blanket over Central Texas.  Days go by faster, but the heat hadn’t begun to wane until today.

After months without rain, my plants enjoyed an inch of the wet stuff this week – enough to rejuvenate the garden as we head into fall.

 The Pride of Barbados seems to mimic the sun with its hot orange blossoms reaching for the sky.

Jutting out like this, it seems alien-like.

Bursting with color, plants in the  front garden look like they are in a race to see who can grow the fastest, bloom the longest and be the brightest.  Hot time in the city…

Sometimes I am frustrated with the thryallis — it’s definitely a late summer bloomer and occasionally sleeps in after winter.  I think we’re spoiled with our vast array of three season plants.  I’m spoiled – a season and a half just doesn’t seem long enough!

Like its cousin, the red Turk’s cap, this Pam’s pink variety never disappoints in my garden.  In part shade with some morning sun, its delicate hats tip to me in the breeze.

More than 30 different species of Duranta grow in tropical climates.  Mine have been perennials most years, coming back in summer to bloom through the fall.  Only in very frigid winters have I lost them — two failed to come back after the winter of 3 days at 17 degrees.  I have the purple sapphire showers, the alba white and this lavender growing in my garden.

Another stunning tropical, this plumeria started blooming a few weeks ago.  Its scent is sweeter than the yellow flowering varieties I grow, but the color is amazing.

The candlestick tree (cassia alata) towering over other plants in the garden is just now starting to bloom.

The back shade garden brings some hot tropical colors to the party as well.  I have to replant Persian shield every spring, but I couldn’t garden without its color and texture.

While the Moy grande hibiscus is done with its plate-sized flowers, Lord Baltimore is still blooming strong beside the pool.

I know this is the result of my not pruning enough in the spring, but I am thrilled with the weeping form that my crape Myrtle has taken on in front of the cutting garden.

Only allowed on the vegetable garden fence, this cypress vine always perks me up when the veggie garden becomes a towering and crispy mess before the fall garden clean up.

This happy garden blog post brought to you from my favorite morning roost – particularly nice on this cool morning.  What’s blooming in your late summer / early fall garden today?


Never ending warm to hot weather has its benefits.

These Cassia never died back last winter. They were snuggled in a corner of the house – protected on three sides by a fence, the house and the breakfast room wall.

And while the nurseries around here now have 2-foot tall plants to sell, mine are a towering 10 feet tall.

I can barely see the beautiful flame-like blooms that give the Candlestick Tree its common name.

There are several more plants along the driveway, but they died back and are now just about 4 feet tall and blooming.

They get less water, too, and less hot sun, which they love.

If you look closely, you can see the drought stress on them and the plants around them. Many plants in the garden are turning yellow and losing leaves from the heat and the lack of water. And insects have set in, sensing that the plants are feeling peaked.

But even with the stress, these statuesque plants bring real drama to the garden.

By | September 1st, 2009|Blog, candlestick tree, Cassia, Sharing Nature's Garden|0 Comments

The good, the bad and the ugly…

“To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.”
— ecclesiastes 3:1-8

So, as the Death Star blazes on (100+ for as long as I can remember …103 today), some things in my garden are still doing well — many things, in fact. These plants have popped up recently and come into their own. These are some of my hot St. Tropez-on-the-beach-loving plants!
Grandpa Ott morning glories greeting the day on the back fence in the cutting garden.
Look hard for the 3 new Butterfly weed plants in the center of the bed – finally filling a hole left by last year’s Viburnum exorcism!
Coral trumpet vine is bursting with trumpets — can you hear her?
The huge Duranta bush looks like purple fireworks exploding in this corner.
And one of my very favorites, the Pride of Barbados, is giving us a long show this year. This tropical normally doesn’t bloom until August and I’m so excited to see them so early. I hope they can last the whole, hot summer.
Another Pride of Barbados.
Like the Pride of Barbados, this Cassia alata, or Candlestick Tree, normally blooms in August. I have two in a slightly less than perfect spot – they routinely stop growing at about 2-2-1/2 feet tall, and this one is blooming already! My other 3 are in a hot protected corner in the back and they are easily 10 feet tall! They aren’t blooming yet, but they never even died back during our mild winter last year. Can’t wait to show them to you.
A few spindly vines still have wonderful tropical colors to offer. They just need to GROW and fill in! The orange one is a Mexican Flame Vine and the other is a Morning Glory.

Ok – did enjoy the tour?

You might want to shield your eyes now — parental discretion is advised for the following photos. These are the bad and the ugly. Things stressed by the heat and the sun and not enough water, or, conversely, too much water or scalding on the leaves. I desperately try to water before 9 a.m., but life doesn’t always cooperate and at 106, 1 missed day of watering can mean death. So, sometimes even careful watering with warmer temps can damage.

Ready? Are you sitting down?
My new Avocado plant. I think it fried in the heat, I thought it like sun…maybe not OUR sun, though.
My lacebark elm is stressed and I’m going to have to get a drip hose on it to deep water tomorrow.
A Mandavilla vine recently planted with roots too close to the surface in the cutting bed.
The variegated lemon tree has a few sad leaves.
And the Sago is suffering, too.
The black elephant ears were great until about 2 weeks ago. These are in full sun, and on a less than scorching summer, which we USED to have, they are fine that way. But, that’s not this year!
Variegated shell ginger struggles, too
And apparently, I have the dreaded day lily rust that came to Texas in the last year or two. I may have to remove them before the other plants in the bed succumb to it.
Even the tropical Plumeria has a few sad spots.
And this one is just plain UGLY. But amazing, nonetheless. This is a Texas Bluebonnet. They normally bloom in March, but I did see my first bloom this year on February 28th and posted about how amazing THAT was in this Seriously? post.

Seems we could all write a lot of “Seriously?” posts these days, couldn’t we?