Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Post Freeze: Aloe Was Blooming in December

Well, by golly, I guess this proves that Soap Aloe (Aloe maculata) blooms don't like 28 degree nights.  Think the plant itself likely suffered some damage but it tends to handle that level of cold fairly well.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Aloe Blooms in December

The Soap Aloe (Aloe maculata) that started blooming in mid-November is still going strong.

But my garden has been flirting with freezing temperatures, and tonight should finally see it get down to near 28 degrees.  Typically, I leave all my in-ground plants unprotected down to this temperature, and only cover if it dips even lower.  But it will be interesting to see how the Aloe blooms fares.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Flower Power: GBBD November 2011

On the 15th of every month, May Dream Gardens invites us to record the plants that are blooming in our gardens.  After our brutal summer's heat & drought, it was nice to see some flowers return due to cooler temperatures and a single brief shower.

Established Plants

Rose Creek Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora 'Rose Creek') has produced more blooms this fall than ever before - a nice comeback after our hard summer.

Toad Lily (Tricyrtis lasiocarpa) had a rough time with the drought, but was able to produce a few blooms for the fall.  Always impressed with its unique blossoms.

This is the end of the first full year for the Forsythia Sage (Salvia madrensis) in my garden.  It struggled and only reached a height of less than three feet, but is still trying to put out some yellow flowers.

West Texas Mist Flower (Conoclinium greggii) continues to produce a sprawling purple coverage over its area in the garden.

Philippine Violets (Barleria cristata) is another plant that seemed to produce fewer blooms than usual this fall - less than 6 flowers have shown up on it.

Blue Anise Sage (Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue') was able to produce at least a few blooms after struggling mightily during our summer. Though vegetation is sparse, at least the few intensely-colored blooms are enjoyable.

New Plants in the Garden

Pale Pavonia (Pavonia hastata) produces nice, bright blossoms at its tips - but is quite lanky in my shade.

Indoor Plants

The usually reliable Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) did not like our intense summer heat this year - it lost over half of its foliage and thus produced very few blooms for our winter.  Thinking that I may need to bring it inside next summer.

Flower Wannabes

Dwarf Buford Holly (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii Nana') berries are changing from green to dull red to increasingly bright colors as the season progresses.

Chile Petin's (Capsicum annuum var. aviculare) has several bright green and red berries scattered amongst its foliage.

The Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) trees lost much of their foliage early this fall due to the drought - but was still able to produce a fair number of bright red berries that are really starting to show.

Of course, the bad-boy Nandina (Nandina domestica) shrugs off heat, drought and everything else to continue to look good and produce large numbers of berries.  Know its invasive, but like any "weed" - it sure does well.


Joe Pye Shrub (Eupatorium viburnoides) seems to have actually grown more than usual this year - apparently liking the heat.  It has not yet opened its flower clusters.

A late blooming Soap Aloe (Aloe maculata) is sending up a short flower stalk that has not yet spread it's reddish-orange clusters of flowers.  It's a race against the winter's first freeze to see if I'll actually get to enjoy the show.

Be sure to visit May Dream Gardens to see what other gardeners have blooming in their beds.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shady Happenings: Oct-Nov 2011

Over the last few weeks, I was able to spend at least a little time in the garden in an attempt to accomplish some of the many needed tasks.

The Water Poppy (Hydrocleys nymphoides) is a lovely aquatic plant - pretty yellow blooms rising from a cover of thick, green leaves.  But I have found that it does a little too well - it's aggressive nature can lead it to taking over a pond.

Since it had completely covered the surface of my small pond, I decided to remove it so that I could enjoy the water.  Only one waterfall was working, but after some pipe-clearing, I was able to get both sides going again.  Likely the Water Poppy will return from roots established in the bottom muck - so I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

After several areas around Austin experienced an early freeze (not in my garden though), I decided it was time to set up my popup greenhouse and move most of my potted Aloes (and a few other plants) inside for safe-keeping.  It has, of course, since warmed up back into the 80s...but at least now I'm ready for colder weather.

Have also reached the limit of my patience with some of my potted plants.  Have moved several over into an area of the garden where they await their eminent demise from lack of water & winter's grasp.

The garden has experienced a really rough summer - extreme high temperatures and horrible drought has certainly taken its toll.  I have read of several other Austin garden bloggers planting shrubs and  trees this fall (the  perfect time to do so here) - but I am likely to let this fall planting season go by without adding any new plants to the garden.

But I am making plans for trying some of the more shade-tolerant Agaves and Aloes in a front yard bed that gets a little bit more sun than my backyard beds.  But I won't be putting anything into the ground until next spring.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Flower Power: GBBD October 2011

On the fifteenth of every month, May Dream Gardens invites us to participate in Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.  Though my garden finally received an inch or more of rain, and temperatures have dropped from the summer's crazy highs - the garden is still almost completely devoid of blossoms.

Established Plants

Though it has only a few blooms, the intense red flowers of the Mountain Sage (Salvia regla) are still quite nice.

 The Liriope (Liriope spicata) has been blooming steadily for about a month.

Probably the steadiest performer in my garden, the bright pink blooms of the Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) are always appreciated.

West Texas Mist Flower (Conoclinium greggii) sprawls across its area, each stem terminating in a cluster of hairy, light purple blooms.

Flower Wannabes

Having dropped most of its leaves due to this summer's heat and drought, the berries of the Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) are just starting to change to their red coloration.

The Chile Petin's (Capsicum annuum var. aviculare) green berries will eventually turn bright red.
Be sure to visit May Dream Gardens and see what is blooming.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

First Spider Lily 2011

Last year, my very first Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata) bloom appeared around September 19.  Though in a different spot in the garden, the plant has once again made its initial appearance in late September.

Several of the bulbs have been planted in three different areas of the garden.  Last year, only one bloomed near the path.  This year, a single bloom has arisen from near the tree.

Another central group has yet to ever produce a bloom.  I'm hopeful that this will not be this year's only bloom.  But with the heat and drought, I'm happy to see anything!

Planted in Pots:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Foliage Follow-up: September 2011

As of today, we have experienced 85 days with a high temperature at or above 100 degrees.  The average yearly number of 100 degree days in Austin, Texas is 13.5 - I'm thinking this year will be pushing that average up quite a bit.  The previous yearly record for the most 100 degree days was 69 set in 1925 - that record has been absolutely shattered.  And to make matters worse, rainfall has been almost non-existent in my garden for most of the year.

Needless to say, participating in Digging's Foliage Follow-up is a bit of struggle.


Be sure to visit Digging to see what foliage can be found in other's gardens.  Hope theirs is faring better than mine!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Flower Power: GBBD September 2011

As I ventured out to participate in May Dream Gardens' Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, I could think of only two plants blooming in our everlasting heat & drought.  But I was surprised to discover a few additional spots of color.  Of course, we're not talking a lot here - excluding the Soap Aloe, I could gather all the remain garden's blooms and pile them into one hand.

Established Plants

Showing more blooms than any other non-potted garden plant, my few Liriope (Liriope spicata) add a nice splash of purple.

Having never bloomed before, one of my three Dwarf Mexican Firebush (Hamelia patens 'Compacta') seems to be celebrating the heat by producing some clusters of yellow/red flowers.

Apparently, due to lack of rain, the Pink Rain Lily (Zephyranthes rosea) has lost it's mind.  A single pink bloom was found rising up from its grass-like foliage.

Potted Plants

I have several Soap Aloes (Aloe maculata) planted in the ground, but the only specimen to produce flowers this year was the one I had in a pot.  Its flower stalk developed in a curled, clumped manner (likely due to lack of water) which actually caused the flowers to be clustered more tightly.

The Ground Orchid (Spathoglottis plicata) continues to have a single tall, thin flower stalk rising up, its tip still producing a cluster of magenta blooms.

Aloe 'Doran Black' has again produced a flower stalk that is just now starting to spread and open its flowers.  It has been quite reliable this year.

Flower Wannabes

The bright purple berry clusters of the American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) continue to survive amongst the plant's limp foliage.

Be sure to visit May Dream Gardens to see what others have blooming in their gardens.