Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Some of what's in bloom in the heat

This early intense heat is putting a "stop bloom" signal on a lot of the plants and a "quit bloom" signal on others. With a lot of natives and other heat tolerant plants you will always have some bloomers. It shows us that colorful foliage plants that don't depend on blooms to look good are well worth considering. No one likes the heat but it can be a good thing for gardeners. It shows us what we need in our gardens, when the heat hits triple digits, to keep a little color. All we have to do is look at our plants to tell which ones will continue to bloom under the oppression and almost physical weight of the Texas heat. If you don't have any plants that look good in your garden, go to a nursery and see what looks good there, mark it in your note book and buy them in the fall and plant them in anticipation of next year. If they don't have anything that looks good then it's time to look where the plants have evolved to withstand the summer heat-nature.

I've heard it said there are five seasons in Texas--Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer and Super Summer. I've also heard it another way of only four seasons--December, January, February, and Summer. Either way you had better plan for the summer heat as much if not more than you would for the winter cold. My gardens are over half natives. Most of the other half is made up of heat tolerant and well-adapted plants. And then there are those few that I just want to grow, even though I know they may not do well. But, hey you got to try if you really, really like them. And then there are the gimme plants. People give them to you as a gift, and even though you really don't like them, you have to plant them and take care of them. I have miniature Geraniums from a friend that owned a nursery. I hate miniatures of anything and am not a big fan of Geraniums. But they won't die, in fact they have spread out some and look pretty good. Maybe I can find someone to give them to. I've got three colors and fall would be a good time to move them,hint, hint.

Here are some bloomers that are blooming and looking good in my garden right now. This is a Mexican Oregano, a perfect example of a perfect Texas plant. As with any plant with Mexican as the first name it's a dandy. Beautiful and a good cooking oregano as well.

Yarrow is another one I really like. I have these in a little rock bed that has been a problem bed for me. I tried several different types of plants in this bed. Even after amending the soil year after year, nothing seemed to like this bed. My Mom always said you have to find the spot a plant wants to live for it to live well. Well, I had a spot that nothing wanted to live in. The Yarrow is about the seventh different kind of plant I've planted there and it likes it just fine. Thank goodness.

This next one is a plant that is not for everyone, especially if you have kids. But I really like this plant. It's known to be poisonous, even prolonged breathing of the fumes can cause nausea and headaches. The Indians used the plant orally to have their "visions". It played a major role in the Carlos Castenada books about Mexican witch doctors as well. It is the native Daturas. I've been told that the double bloom, purple and white is not considered to be a problem though. The Sphinx moths love it. They are like night time humming birds--way cool. I gave one to my mother as she thought it quite lovely and always said that having white in the garden was calming. She, being the ever diligent gardener that she was had to dead head the old blooms. She called one night to tell me that every time she dead headed the Daturas she would get terrible headaches. I could have sworn I told her it was poisonous. I told her it was and to stop dead heading it. The next time I visited, it was gone, and it took a lot for that woman to kill a plant on purpose.

This is a Standing Cypress, over six feet in height, with a two foot bloom head. They are truly a sight to behold. They are a bi-annual. The first year they are nothing more than a small whorl of wispy leaves lying close to the ground. A lawn mower will go right over them and not touch them. But, the second year they make up for it by shooting up and giving you the big show.

This is what it looks like the first year. Not much to look at, but it's going to turn into this.
Over six feet of spindly stem holding a beautiful bloom head waving in the wind, making for a seductive yet elusive target for the many hummers we have around the gardens. When the wind is blowing and that bloom head gets to waving around, the humming birds have to be at their aerodynamic best to get any nectar out of this beauty.

Rock Rose or Pavonia will bloom on and off all summer long and that crippling heat that stops the other plants from blooming will not effect it one bit. I know that it is a common plant but I like it so I put this picture in because of it's background of Snow Cloud Artemesia, another plant that can take the heat. Non-blooming, this Artemesia is about as close to white as a plant can get. Not great looks by itself but everything looks good with it as a background. It is as hardy as my regular Artemesia and I have given lots of it away to people for that background enhancement.

Don't let the dainty looks of this Greg's Mist flower in the foreground of this picture fool you as it's very heat tolerant. And as you can see, it is a butterfly drawing magnet, in my opinion the best. But it does spread rapidly, which could be a problem for some and is for me as well. It just won't stay in the rock lined bed I have it in. I keep noticing lacy little stems sticking up from the cracks in the rock walkway next to that bed. It isn't a problem to pull them up but I just can't stand throwing them in the compost bin when I know what a great plant it will turn into.

I told you everything looked good against that Snow Cloud Artemesia. This is a Skeleton Leafed Daisy. What a great plant, it's a native, needs no water but dresses it's best with a little help. Mine keeps it's foilage all winter long, and blooms from a late spring start through the summer. It's value to me is not just in it's beautiful blooms but that there is a big green spot out in the garden all winter long. It just keeps some resemblance of spring life through those dreaded winter months. That makes it a very valuable plant indeed as there is not a lot of those to choose from. Salvia Gregii and Mexican Oregano are two others.

These are the last of the Lark Spur as they just don't do the heat well or maybe it's just their life span. Ah, well, but I hate to see them go as they are so beautiful. But I know they left behind the seeds of a new crop for next year as they have been coming up, scattered through my gardens, for years.

It's a good thing I took this picture a week ago as my Bat Faced Cuphea is no more. An armadillo dug it up during the night. With it being so hot at night, it was pretty dried up by morning, and there were months more blooms to see. Damn them Armadillos.

The Jerusalem sage still has a few blooms on it. It was spectacular a month ago and I was too busy building horse stalls for some customers to take pictures. I now regret it as I'm sure you would've wanted to see it. As I said, it was spectacular, just a huge mound of yellow.

I don't get very many blooms on my Puple Heart, but I noticed a few this morning and decided to take a picture. They are tiny and can be easily missed, but they are pretty. The blooms are just a little icing on a nice cake anyway. I like the flowing vine effect with the leaves of this Jew hanging over the rocks. I got my plants from an elderly lady east of Wier, Texas. She had it planted across the front of her property. I stopped to take a picture as it was more Purple Heart in one place than I had ever seen. When she saw me, as any gardener would, she came out to talk. I did fairly good, too. I only stayed about an hour. But I had to promise to come back to see her again. And of course she insisted I take some home. I did go back and took her some giant Petunias. Aren't gardeners just the nicest people?
Besides my big Zinnia bed out front I decided to plant a pack of seeds in with the vegetables this year. They were not the Zinnias pictured on the package as they were supposed to be the big headed ones. It seems to me that a lot of plants and seeds are marked wrong lately. But these are still pretty, just small. My dog, Bonnie, remembers the armadillo she chased out of the garden last night and she's looking to make sure he didn't come back.

Well, it's midnight, so I'm going out and see if there are any moths flying around the Daturas. If there are, I'll take pictures.


mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I think your datura is lovely even though it can be deadly. I had it in my garden for years and then stopped growing it. I missed it so I was happy when someone passed along a seedling this year. Mine is still very small and not yet flowering. I'll just keep admiring yours until it does.

Bob said...

I, like you,just like it in the garden. I've had it in gardens now for over twenty years and coudn't do without it.