Friday, September 2, 2016

It's been a good summer in the garden

I'm not sure I could have imagined a gardening year like this when I began planning our garden back in 2009!  After a mild winter and nice spring weather, we've had cooler than average temperatures with so much rain this summer that I've rarely needed to water anything.

Salvia greggii are blooming bright out by the street.  As predicted the Cenizo sage have bloomed again due to a foot of rain last week.  With so little downtime the blooms are not quite as intense as in my previous post.  With so much rain again this week I wonder when they will stop blooming.

My drought tolerant plants are responding well to so much rain.  Bright pink Salvia greggii in the mailbox strip were planted about 20 years ago when I was too busy to garden and had no clue what to plant in San Antonio.  An article in the paper recommended Salvia greggii for our climate so in they went over a long weekend.  A year later we were transferred to Boston and rented this house out for eleven years.  Eleven years of garden neglect and they never missed a beat!  We easily divided enough for the driveway landscape (above) four years ago.

The front walk view is shaping up well.  I find myself trying to describe to first-time visitors how we essentially started with a blank slate.  It seems hard to imagine now.  Maybe a slide show some day would work better.

Sometimes it's even harder to see in photos, for example, the agave bed in the lower right looks so much better in person.

Current favorites are beautyberry plants in three colors.  Bright magenta on Callicarpa americana.

White beautyberry, there are several botanical names so I'm not sure which this is.

And the deeper purple Mexican Beautyberry.

Not the best photo but when I returned to take another, it seems the birds had nearly finished stripping  the berries.

This photos shows darker berries.

On to the side gate where no-mow buffalo grass has stayed green all summer.

Plants in the circle garden are overgrowing their beds due to all the rain.

 Last year the tank garden was mostly grasses, this year Blackfoot daisy spills out from under blue Salvia farinacea accented by Gomphrena 'Fireworks'.  Seedlings are popping up everywhere!

Hyacinth bean vine climbs the cedar arbor.  I keep testing vines that can take a direct shot of sun hitting the arbor in late summer.  This year we had so many cloudy days in August that it wasn't the best test.  We'll see what happens next year.

Pomegranates look ready but it will be a few more months before we pick them.  Tart pomegranate seeds are not that great.

Hardy and tasty Lemonquats are turning yellow.  This unique citrus tree was developed in Texas especially for our hot-cold-rain-drought climate.

Native poinsettia bracts are turning neon orange.  I started with just a few my friend Cheryl dug up on her family ranch near Pipe Creek and just one year later they are everywhere.

Love them!  Brighter than surveyor's paint.

No longer a neglected back fence corner, the hottest spot in the garden is looking good now.

Three different colors of Esperanza will grow to make a colorful hedge.

Bells of Fire

Traditional yellow bells

And 'Mahogany' mix of yellow with orange.

Hibiscus blooms make the humidity seem almost worth it.  Japanese lantern hibiscus.

Moy Grande Hibiscus

A look over the side fence down the stone path and my pot ghetto under the arching trees.

While we've been cloudier than usual there's always sunshine in my garden.

Fall is also normally great weather here as we take a long, slow slide into a usually short and mild winter season.  This has been a great gardening year so far, and there are four months remaining.  I wonder how the year will end?


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Linda and a lot of credit goes to the weather.

  2. I think all our gardens have benefited from the unusual rainy summer. It certainly makes life easier for the gardener. Your good sense of design has paid off well with a beautiful mix of natives and adaptive plants. Two plants really have me in a fit of envy-the native poinsettia. I think it would grow well here because I have the euphorbia that pretends to be that one but never has any red, but have never seen it for sale anywhere. I wonder if it will grow from seed? And that lantern hibiscus-the only time I have seen this was in a greenhouse. Such a gorgeous flower.

    1. Thank you Jenny! Your wonderful mix of native and adapted plants has always been an inspiration. The poinsettia seems to grow well from seed which have gone just everywhere. It grows at the wildflower center so I'm sure it will do well in your garden. The next time we have a road trip that way I'll bring you some or if you head this way let me know and I'll dig some up!

  3. Wow Shirley...what a wonderful tour of your garden. Everything is so lush and happy. While the Agaves all call out to me I think I'm most enamored with the native Poinsettia, what a beauty!

    1. The amount of rain we've had is pretty amazing and everything looks so good all over town.

      The color is bright orange so it would be great in your garden. As an annual it grows in all regions of the country.

  4. It must have been hard to leave your house, and garden, for 11 years.
    Now the garden looks as if it has been cherished for ever!

    1. It was hard especially since we had planned to stay here and retire. The opportunities were just too good to pass up. At the time there was no garden to leave behind so it was mainly the house we had concerns about. I really should do another before and after post.

  5. Your garden looks GREAT, Shirley! I'm amazed at how well your Salvia gregii has performed over the long haul. I may have sold it short here. I love the Callicarpa (which I can't remember ever seeing for sale here even though my garden guide says our climate is suitable) and that pretty hibiscus. I was also surprised at how much I like your native poinsettia - my neighbor has a huge specimen of one of the red varieties commonly sold at Christmas but yours looks so much more garden-worthy.

    1. Callicarpa does need to be watered in hot summer or long dry spells. It grows easily from seed if you can find those.

      I remember all those huge former Christmas poinsettias growing along side many houses when we lived in California. Recently I learned that the plants are treated with growth inhibitor to keep them compact for holiday sales.

  6. Wow! That Salvia really has gone to town! I know you've mentioned it before, but I always forget you lived in Boston for a while. Your garden looks good, so glad you've had a great summer. I'm intrigued by that native Pointsettia.

    1. Yes, we were there three years and then back to the DC area for most of the time. It was much to cold there to retire.

      We have some amazing native plants around here.

  7. Oh, man...that Japanese lantern hibiscus!

  8. Absolutely lovely! You've done such wonders in a short amount of time! I hope your garden is on the tour.


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