blackfoot daisies

El Nino is quenching the garden’s thirst…

Our devastating drought has altered the state of our gardens here in Central Texas and it’s changed our mindset, too.

We’re not used to rain.  Not a little rain, not a lot of rain. We’ve had so much rain here this month that we don’t know what to do with it. 

There’s so much green in my garden that I have to wear shades to walk through it.  My plants would now like a little sun to shine as well, but they’ve never been quite so lush.

 A ribbon of catmint, Mexican feather grass and lamb’s ears lines the front of this Southwest cottage-style bed.

 The lamb’s ears make a dramatic statement when they are all standing at attention in full bloom.

 The black and blue salvia and lingering bluebonnets echo the blue in the large ceramic pot in the front bed.

Soft and spiky plants share this bed, providing sculptural interest and contrasting textures.  Soon the color of Mexican limelight salvia and orange tecoma stans will add to this palette.

Beautiful blooms are vying for my attention in the cutting garden – ready to come join me in the house!

Ditch lilies, Klondike cosmos, larkspur, shasta daisies, purple coneflowers and clematis are all showing off in the cutting bed.

This morning, I picked this bouquet for my mom and dad, who are celebrating their wedding anniversary today.  But tornado warnings and unrelenting thunderstorms kept me home this afternoon and they had to enjoy them via a photo.  So, now we can all enjoy them.

New spring plantings are growing and the caladiums are shooting up out of the ground as fast as I can count them.

I’m smitten with the Mexican bird of paradise, Caesalpinia Mexicana, and its exotic and wispy blooms.

The brilliant purple flags of these Amistad salvia provide a backdrop for senorita Rosalita cleome, dianthus and yarrow.
It’s delightful to walk through the garden with the grass squishing under your clogs, appreciating the much-needed rain.

Early bloomers are putting on a show in the spring garden

Even though it’s only March, it’s already spring here in Central Texas.

After our exceptionally mild winter and welcome rains, the early bloomers are already hard at work in my garden.

In addition to the daffodils I included in my last post, many of the other perennials are already flowering.

This loropetalum is bursting with hot pink fringe-like blooms.

It’s the one I’ve pruned to become a small tree.

These pretty little blooms below called to me at the Natural Gardener last week.

And as soon as I started typing, the name flew out of my head! I’m sure you know just what they are – they aren’t mums, they might be gaillardia.

The wisteria is starting to bloom. Like last year, there is some growth on the back side of the fence, but there are plenty of buds for me to enjoy inside the fence.
I love looking at the Mexican plum tree buds against the pretty blue sky.
The stone wall makes a nice backdrop for the trailing lavender lantana behind the pool.
The hellebores would have preferred a colder winter, but some of them are giving me some blooms — this is ‘winter’s wren.’
The strawberries are blooming their ever-loving heads off! Soon we will be able to eat more than one ripe one at a time. I long for the day when we get a small bowl full.
My absolute favorite low-grower is ‘homestead’ verbena. That bright purple color is just stunning.
All of my blackfoot daisies are back again from last year. You just can’t beat these little guys for drought tolerance.
The alyssum is mounding up all over along the rock path already.

‘May night’ salvia can do great in the garden here, but my luck with them has been hit and miss. I love their low-growing form, but they are hard to get established.
Kallie’s window box is full of little pretties that I got last weekend at the Natural Gardener.
After some slacking last year, many of my irises are showing off for the first time. I don’t know the name of the purple or the white iris, though I believe the white one may be a pass along from Pam of Digging or Annie of The Transplantable Rose.

As always, Fletcher wanted to know what I was doing in the garden with that camera around my neck, so he had to come check out the salvia, too! I’m sure he thought there must be something edible in there!

Hairy scary plants in the garden

Purusing the beautiful plant stock at Vivero Growers Nursery two weeks ago, I was struck by this yucca covered in what look like curling hairs.

They’re not, of course, but they are common to yuccas.

One of the main differences between yuccas and agaves is these white fibers. About half of all yucca species have these threadlike hairs.

Sadly, I tossed the pot it came out of before writing down which variety this is — perhaps my friends at Vivero will help me with a reminder?!

In any case, I loved the idea of this stark, spiny, rugged-looking yucca paired with the delicate, flowing clump of black foot daisies.

This is the kind of contrast I find so beautiful in the drought-tolerant native and adapted plants that are home to Central Texas. Do you have some pairings like this in your garden?

Drought tolerant plants for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

I had pictures on Bloom Day (on the 15th!) and I had most of the post done, but then … life happened. So, whether it’s the 15th or the 23rd, I still want to write about my garden and share it with you. Besides, things are still the same – no water, that’s for sure. But this morning it was a blissful 66, so hope is on the way.

We’ve had more than 86 days over 100 degrees here in Central Texas this summer. And we hit an all-time high of 112.

Our gardens are crispy and our arms are tired from dragging around hoses to hand water while we’re under water restrictions.

Only allowed to use irrigation systems for 1 day a week, before 10 am and after 7 pm, gardening has been more of a challenge than usual.

I’ve spent a lot of my time hand watering all summer long, so I have more blooms than some gardeners. I feel lucky to have had the time to devote to it.

But we do still have blooms and we’re learning more than we ever wanted to know about the true meaning of drought tolerant and xeric.

These Blackfoot Daisies are tough as nails and seem quite content in the heat.

Crape Myrtles are doing ok when they get a little water. Those with American Indian names are the most adapted to our climate.
This Katy Road/Carefree Beauty rose doesn’t seem the least bit concerned about the heat – and she’s providing some shade for the small cutting garden flowers around her.
Lord Baltimore hibiscus really came into his own this year with a profusion of blooms.
Mexican Oregano is thriving in this heat. In fact, I spent an hour cutting this one back as it completely outgrew its space and tried to take over the Sago and the nearby lavendar trailing Lantana.
Can’t kill this Datura either. Tough as nails and out of control.
Another Mexican native, Esperanza (also known as Yellow Bells) is a strong bloomer all summer long. It is outshining the variegated shell ginger interplanted with it.
Well, these Homestead Verbenas are happy, but I have also lost many of them this summer. I planted some in 3 different places at 3 different times since the spring and 6 of them bit the dust. These are well-established and have been in the crushed granite path for at least 3 years. Guess that made all the difference.
Some of the Lantana looked drought tolerant this year and some doesn’t. A few of them never really recovered from last winter’s 19 degrees. They grew some foliage but then just stopped. No more growth and no blooms all summer. Not a one. This “Bandana Cherry Sunrise” is full of blooms.
My photography skills were challenged on this photo — this is Pitcher Sage — a native plant that I got two years ago at the annual Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center sale. It is a stunning shade of blue and blooming its head off! In the same bed as the Lantana shown above and the Liatris below, also from the Wildflower Center sale. They share the bed with two salvia greggii. All of these plants are natives, they are in a space where they get less water than most of my other beds, and look great. There’s a lesson there — hope I’m paying attention!

Hope you have lots of blooms in your garden on this Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, hosted each month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens. Happy Bloom Day!

Drought tolerant plants are beautiful summer bloomers…

The scorching heat has the humans in the garden working really hard to keep plants hydrated in this terrible drought. And for the most part, all the extra hand-watering (prompted by water restrictions and astronomical water bills) is paying off.
Yesterday was Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, the monthly communal gathering of garden bloggers around the globe and the brain child of Carol of May Dreams Gardens . To celebrate, there were many happy plants showing off in my garden.

This stunning Blackberry lily above, Belamcanda chinensis, is in full bloom. In spite of its name, it is neither a blackberry or a lily. It’s actually in the iris family. It is hardy in zones 5-10 and is a native to Japan and China. This is the first bloom of this plant for me and I’m going to have to have some more. The stalks hold many blooms, and the flowers are about an inch across.

My carefully-planted zinnias did come up – unfortunately they did not come up in the neat little circle of space in which I planted them! They’re coming up in the middle of many neat clusters of other, existing plants! It’s ok – they make me happy.
The double purple Datura is coming into its own this year for the first time. It’s swirling multi-colored blooms look so exotic.
One of our favorite native drought-tolerant plants here in Central Texas, the Blackfoot Daisy, loves the heat and all the abuse we can give it. We’re being very giving this year.
The monstrous Coral Trumpet vine is in full bloom. It wants to grow everywhere, and in spite of the fact that I have to prune it as it pops up 100 feet away from the main plant, it’s beautiful climbing up the fence.
The cannas are all blooming. The grasshoppers are having lunch on the bottom leaves, but they haven’t done too much damage.
This Clematis (I can’t remember the variety) with its bell-shaped flowers looks delicate, but in its 2nd year, it’s holding its own.
The Moy Grande hibiscus with it’s paper-plate-sized blooms has at least a few blooms every day.
The Plumerias in pots on the back patio have been in bloom for a long time. I am actually going to have to water them just a little less. I forget that they can tolerate this heat better than some plants in pots.
This plant – the Medusa hair in my garden statue’s head – was give to me by Lancashire Rose of Rock Rose. I can’t remember its name, either. Giving it a little spritz of water this week I discovered the sweetest little bloom. What a lovely reward. She looked quite different here in last year’s snow.
There are even surprised in the cutting garden. The Larkspur, (seeds given to my by Zanthan Gardens, two years ago) has bloomed profusely for two long springs. And today there is yet another bloom, coming up with the cosmos, just in time to surprise me for bloom day.

Gardening continues, in spite of the heat. Now that my post is up, I can’t wait to to see what’s blooming in other gardens around the world.

Happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day~

New bed well on its way…

On Friday, many of the plants for the new bed went into their new homes.

I wasn’t able to get several of the things on my list, but I did get most of them, so this is a good start.

And I was able to transplant all of the plants from the preious bed — either to more appropriate spaces to fit the design of the new bed, or into other beds where I had holes.

I’m also very excited that I was able to harvest from my own little volunteer ‘incubator’ of Lamb’s ears. They threw off seed from their blooms and new babies started growing in the playscape gravel next to the cutting garden. More than 20 of them were pulled from the gravel and put into the new bed. If you get out your magnifying glass, you can see them on the lowest level of the bed next to the Blackfoot daisies. The are the silver dots in this photo! What you can’t see just below the Lamb’s ears are several mounding Pink Texas Skullcaps, Skutellaria suffrutescens.

Visible only in this photo in the very back is my transplanted Butterfly Bush, Buddleja, which may or may not be ‘Black Knight.’ It is a deep royal purple and very vibrant. (In the process of researching the botanical name for my variety, I learned that is isn’t spelled Buddleia, which is how I’ve always spelled it, but Buddleja. Saw it first on Wikipedia and didn’t trust them as a horticultural resource, but then I confirmed it with Dave’s Garden, which I do trust! Thought that was interesting trivia.) Around the base of it, I transplanted several Lantana montevidensis, ‘Trailing Purple.’

The pinkish grass is Fireworks Purple Foutain Grass – Pennisetum rubrum ‘Fireworks.’ Next to it, Silver Ponyfoot, Dichondra argentea.

Up here is Artemesia powis castle which I hope will spill over the wall to mix with Blue Velvet Trailing Verbena, Verbena hybrida.
Obstructing your new here is a stick-like native persimmon. I was going to take it out, but I may prune it a bit and look at it for a while to see if it will fit in and can stay. Look closely behind it and you will see a Salvia GreggiiHot pink.’ Next to it are three Daimianita daisies, Chrysactinia mexicana. You can see them better below. Then on the lower level, almost out of sight, are 5 gray Santolinas, Santolina chamaecyarissus.

On the upper level there are three Euryops chrysanthemoides with some Sweet Potato vines Ipomoea batatas to surround it and trail down the wall around the Salvia Mesa ‘purple‘ and the Mexican Feather grasses Nasella tenuissima. Blackfoot daisies and Lamb’s ears in foreground. To the left of the Euryops will be a large blue Agave, a small boulder and some ground cover of Purple Wine Cups.

So, that’s it so far. I’m quite happy with this very xeric bed. Still searching for Mexican Oregano, LARGE Blue Agave, Color guard yucca, and a Queen Victoria agave or something similar with the upright form and strings! And another ground cover.