Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wildflower Wednesday September 2019: Leucophyllum frutescens blooms just in time

When we had a good one-inch plus rainfall about 12 days ago, I started the countdown to blooms on our row of Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) along the driveway.  It usually takes about 10 days for the first blooms to emerge after a rain.  Blooms can appear in spring or summer but they are seen most reliably in the fall.

From the first tinge of lavender-pink it takes another couple of days for full bloom which arrived today -- just in time for Wildflower Wednesday.

The best garage door disguise

Native to South Texas and down into Mexico, these are 'Silverado' variety.  The true natives are a bit scrawny and sporadic for a neighborhood landscape.  While there were a few of those in our original landscape, they were removed over time and replaced by this fuller commercially grown version with intense flower color contrasted with gray-green foliage.  Despite common names which include Texas Sage, it's not a true sage which means it is not in genus Salvia.

Still close enough to the original to be a Wildflower Wednesday pick.  Shrubs can be wildflowers too.

Yesterday evening just beginning to reach peak bloom


Morning sun brings out more vibrant color

As soon as the blooms are out the bees get busy since the blooms only last a few days.  

Even with its rare bloom, this reminds me why I chose to plant Leucophyllum frutescens along the driveway.

Wildflower Wednesday is hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone on the fourth Wednesday of each month.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The calendar turns to Fall but the weather sticks with Summer

What a crazy year, we had the wettest spring and the driest summer in recent memory.  Our summer has been so hot and dry it's sure nice to know that Fall weather will be here eventually.   But not yet as we're still above normal, temperature wise.  A brief morning shower brought an opportunity for photos before the sun burned through the clouds and chased me back inside.  All in all it's a good day for a tour of just how our drought-tolerant landscape has weathered this tough summer.

The front corner is our usual starting point for the annual review.  Although the angle shows too much garage it is meant to show off the sage which are just about to bloom.  Silverado Sage lined up along the drive helps to soften the concrete and distract from the garage door view just a bit.

If you ask me for garden design advice don't be surprised if I include ideas for changing the house too.  Silvery yuccas and agaves softened by Mexican Feathergrass coordinate with sage green house trim and a silvery metal roof.

A view of our 100' concrete drive I don't show often but it is a prominent feature of how we see our house.  It is what it is.  As mentioned the sages are showing just a tinge of pink in response to a rain shower last week.

We've had several off and on showers the last ten days or so which have triggered these blooms.  Any day they'll break out in bright blooms which will attract thousands of bees before they fade away.

Some new angles to play around with.  Spiky is the new leafy green especially where 10-12 hours of blasting sun limit plant selection.

From the street.  Maybe our cat's view, but it is a good one.

Agave ovatifolia has not produced a bloom yet though I'm sure it will soon.  Now six feet across.

Right about here a realtor stopped his car to tell me our house is beautiful.  I agreed which is why it's not going to be for sale for a long while. 

The weather has even taken its toll on drought tolerant native Wooly Stemodia ground cover in the foreground.

Golden Barrels and golden grasses show fall color even without the matching weather.

Across to the north side of the drive.  I always thought cold made the Opuntia santa-rita turn purple but the stress of a hot, dry summer has done it this time.  I think these are just about the deepest purple they've been since I planted them six years ago.  

Looking back across the front from the shady side to the sunny side.

Face planter path gets plenty of shade so less stress on the plants.

I kept potted plants well-watered during the heat so they are getting by.

Last year I placed a white bench in the back corner and it helps brighten what was always a dark space.

A new addition this year are two white urn planters on either side which continues the color from my collection of vintage white clay pots.

The bistro table and chairs are mainly for plant display.

We don't sit there but here's the view from the table.

In the other direction are window boxes in need of a fall update.

Octopus agave has been the best plant for this spot.  The sculptural curves get a lot of attention from guests.

My camera told me I took 192 photos today.  So we'll tour the back in my next post.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday: A Toadly Adventure

My task was to replace a dead/dying plant in the barrel planter when......Hello there!  We seem to have a bit of a standoff.  Gulf Coast toad, Bufo nebulifer, common in most of Texas.   A female since her throat is not pigmented with yellow.

"Was it you who drank all the Jack Daniels out of this barrel?"

"What's going on here?"  Adorable and beneficial in the garden since they devour insects.  Bufo nebulifer has a defined "V" indentation between the eyes.

Optical illusion of soil appearing in the "V" between her eyes.

"A new plant right here?  This spot is taken."

I think I know the answer.  Her look was one of confusion since she had just been tossed out of a bucket of potting mix toted from the porch about 10 yards away.  A long hop back for a toad so I coaxed her into the bucket and returned to the porch.

Happy to be home, she immediately hopped out (before I could even tip the bucket) and took off for the safety of a nearby planter.

A few minutes later, while watering plants along the nearby front walk I spotted another, smaller toad.  They are clearly happy in this part of the garden and I am happy to have them.

Be sure to check out Tina's post at "My Gardener Says..." to follow more Wildlife Wednesday stories.