Saturday, May 28, 2011

Casualties: Winter of 2010

Since some of my plants tend to push the climatic zone limits, I will always have a few winter casualties.  In terms of lengthy cold spells, the winter of 2010 was one of the more extreme I've experienced in central Texas.  With over 60 hours of continuous temperatures in the teens, many plants got hammered back to the ground and several were not able to make it back in the spring.

Bronze Dyckia
Serious damage:
  • Dyckias: Dyckia brevifolia 'Moon Glow' & Red-leafed Dyckia (Dyckia 'Red Devil') certainly received some cold burns (of all the Dyckias, the Dyckia 'Cherry Coke' came out the best - receiving only minor damage)
  • Manfreda 'Macho Mocha' (Manfreda x Mangave 'Macho Mocha'): all four plants got severely set back; plants that were over two foot across are now recovering from sprouts
  • Soap Aloe (Aloe maculata): All but one of my large specimens got reduced to sprouts; and the one remaining large plant lost almost all its larger lower leaves.
  • One Pale Pavonia (Pavonia hastata) got knocked back to roots and is recovering very slowly; another planted just fifteen foot away came through with almost no damage - go figure.
Marilyn's Choice Abutilon


Dyckia platyphylla

Salvia van houttei
 Planted in the Ground:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Five Generation Plant

To the best of my knowledge, there is only one plant in my garden that has been a pass-along for five generations.  I have never known the exact species or hybrid name of this Crinum Lily - we have always simply referred to it as Grannie's Lily.

It could originally be found in the garden of Grandmother McGinnis, my wife's paternal great-great-grandmother who lived in Thalia, Texas.  From there, some of its prodigy were passed along to Nanny, my wife's great-grandmother. 

Its next stopping point was the yard of my wife's grandmother, Gran.  It traveled from there to my wife's mother, MamaSam - where it has resided in her gardens both in Levelland, Texas and, eventually, here in Austin.

And finally, she passed them on to our garden where they have been growing and blooming for several years.  Five generations: Grandmother McGinnis, Nanny, Gran, MamaSam, Reatta - traveling from near the Texas-Oklahoma border to Levelland to Austin (a path covering over 600 miles).

It has already gone through one set of blooms (strategically opening and fading between April's and May's GBBD - one would think it was camera shy).

But it often produces a second set of flower stalks and is doing so again this year (though I'm sure they will be gone long before June GBBD!).

The blooms fade rapidly, usually lasting only a couple of days.  And this time can be shortened if  hit by sprinkler systems or even rainfall (rumored to occur in these parts on occasion).

No other plant in my garden comes close to the long history of this lovely flower.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

First Water Poppy Bloom of 2011

The Water Poppy (Hydrocleys nymphoides) has returned from winter - growing quickly and almost completely covering the pond surface with its foliage.  But this is its first bloom of the year.  They last only a few days, but more will be forthcoming.

Friday, May 20, 2011

'San Antonio Rose' Amaryllis

Though its vegetation is still sparse as it recovers from our winter's hard freeze, my 'San Antonio Rose' Amaryllis (Hippeastrum 'San Antonio Rose') is sending up a few bloom stalks - providing some much needed color.

Each stalk ends in two opposite facing flowers of bright red with white-green throats.  A couple of stalks have already opened, with a couple more on the way.

After the flowers fade, the growth will thicken up as the season progresses, eventually forming clumps.  The wide, strap-like leaves each have a reddish stripe on their underside.  If winter temperatures stay in the 20s, the leaves will remain.  Otherwise, it will lose most and have to recover.

Planted in the Ground
  • Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora): Added thirteen to the second tier of my Three Tiers bed.  Hope to eventually border with Purple Shamrock.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rain Lily: Zephyranthes

Abbey of Down to Earth recently posted about her pink Rain Lilies; I told her I'd follow-up with how mine are looking so she could see the "bunch" into which her individual ones will hopefully grow!

Mine started out as six or less bulbs a few years back, and have even been moved a couple of times (usually leaving a straggler or two behind).  Have never seen them develop seeds but they obviously produce additional bulbs.

My little patch was quite happy with the rain we had within the last week, and produced a nice collection of blooms.  Some have faded, but some are still unopened - so the show should continue for at least the next few days.

I am no longer confident as to whether my Pink Rain Lilies are Zephyranthes rosea or if they are Zephyranthes grandiflora (if anyone knows how to definitively tell 'em apart, please let me know).  But either way - they are nearly as much fun as a rainy day in central Texas!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Flower Power: GBBD May 2011

On the fifteenth of every month, May Dream Gardens invites us to share the plants that are blooming in our gardens.  Between the drought and high spring temperatures, many of my plants are either no longer blooming or are in the final stages.

Established Plants

A recent rain shower (thank goodness!) inspired the Pink Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes rosea) to produce a few blooms in celebration.  The first wave is fading, but others are still on the way.

In last stages of its bloom period, the Dwarf Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides 'Radicans') still has a couple of its fragrant blossoms open.  They tend not to last long outside, as they get snipped and brought inside so we can enjoy their perfume.

Likely to continue going strong all summer, the pond plant Aztec Arrowhead (Sagittaria montevidensis) is already on its second bloom stalk.

Fading in the heat, I'm hoping that a good shearing will help the Anthony Waterer Spirea (Spiraea x bumalda 'Anthony Waterer') to produce another wave of the magenta flower clusters.

Moved deeper into the shade, the Red Dragon Knoweed (Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon') seems to be quite happy.  Time will tell as summer's heat has, in the past, made it look quite tired.  I'm hoping the increased shade will help it out during those times.

Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala), of course, can always be counted on to put on a show with its intensely pink blooms.  It tends to get lanky in my shade, so I must remember to shear them back on occasion.

Some of the initial flowers of the West Texas Mist Flower (Conoclinium greggii) are looking tired, but this is just the first crest of a summer long purple wave.

They don't last long, but the blooms of the Crinum (species unknown) are quite eye-catching when at their peak.  Already fading, it will sometimes produce a second wave of bloom stalks (here's hoping).

New Plants in the Garden

I am very pleased with the Oakleaf Hydrangea 'Alice' (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice') in its first spring in the shade.  Though it only produced two clusters of long lasting flowers, it has almost doubled in size - so next years show looks quite promising.

This is as close to a "flower" as Sparkler Sedge (Carex phyllocephala 'Sparkler') will ever get, but it was fun to discover the inflorescence while looking about the garden.

Potted Plants

Though starting to fade, the flowers of the Orange Kaffir Lily (Clivia miniata) are still showing intense color that catches the eye.

The only rose that has at least survived in my shady garden, I have never known the exact name of this Old-fashioned Rose.  It produces a few small blooms throughout the summer.

A pass-along from Robin (Getting Grounded) that I over-wintered inside, the Bleeding Heart Vine (Clerodendrum thomsoniae) has not grown much yet.  But it has still been able to produce a small group of blooms.

Indoor Plants

Still going strong, the flowers of the Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis sp.) just seem to last forever.  The first couple of pictures are from plants that are just now opening their flower buds.  But the others have been putting on a show for over a month.


Hit hard by this winter's extremes, only a single flower stalk is rising from the recovering Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus africanus).

Also recovering from the lengthy winter freezes, the Amaryllis 'San Antonio Rose' (Hippeastrum 'San Antonio Rose') are nonetheless producing several flower stalks.  Soon the red blooms will add color to this area of the garden.

Be sure to visit May Dream Gardens to see what is blooming in other gardens.

Planted in the Ground:
  • Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora): Already had several on the left side of my front beds; finally got around to adding thirteen to the right side.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Been A While

Time in the April garden seemed to sneak by without me.  Except for snipping Live Oak root sprouts, my activity during this typically nice gardening period was limited.  A busy personal schedule, drought conditions and early high temperatures conspired to keep me from accomplishing much - both in the yard and in the blog.

But there have been some stirrings in the garden.  Recent minor rains at least got the Pink Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes rosea) perked up.  A single specimen produced a nice blossom...

...with a larger patch holding the promise of additional blooms.

Planted in February, the Wall Iris (Iris tectorum) started producing its exotic blooms.  However, the flower stalks tend to sprawl - falling off to the side.  Thus the blooms are not visible unless standing directly beside the plant.

A couple of potted plants are showing some color.  The Orange Kaffir Lily (Clivia miniata) has been pretty reliable - producing a stalk of brilliant orange blooms every year.

My only "typical" cactus, the Peanut Cactus (Echinopsis chamaecereus) is topped by a single red flower.  The bloom does not last long, and only occurs sporadically - so its always a nice surprise when it blossoms.

Nearly a month before, during a tour of Pam Penick's garden (of Digging fame), I saw her Pittosporum Creme De Mint (Pittosporum tobira 'Shima') had already started producing significant new foliage.  Needless to say, my worry level skyrocketed - as mine was just sitting there.  And continued to do so as the weeks crept past.  But with a sigh of relief, I can report that mine finally started producing bright green new growth.

After a brief respite, temperatures are again climbing.  The drought continues.  And the garden persists.