Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Heat is On

After an extended winter and coolish spring, summer is finally upon us. High temperatures have hovered just under 100 this week and are expect to pass the century mark by the weekend. With temperatures at this level, it will not take long for any moisture still in the soil to be sapped away.

I have noticed that plants in the garden are beginning to go dormant to prepare for the long summer months. There are fewer blooming plants than there were a month ago and the cactus and yuccas are becoming the prominent features of the garden.

Looking across the front garden, another prominent feature would be all of the feathery stalks of the Liatris. They will look a little weedy until they are covered in purple blooms in September.

Here is a look from the opposite direction. The grass with the white flowers is Mexican Feathergrass.

The Pine Muhly,  Muhlenbergia dubia
growing around this cactus are beginning to show their spiky blooms. Even though it is getting hotter and drier, there are other flowers still blooming in the garden.

Datura wrightii thrives in the heat. The large, fragrant flowers open at dusk and stay open until morning. The flowers are always swarming with bees when they are open.

Rudbeckia nitida 'Herbstonne' has bright yellow flowers at the top of its four foot tall stems. This plant is native to the south eastern United States and prefers a little more moisture than most of the plants in my garden receive. It is planted at the edge of the front yard rain garden so its roots can take advantage of any rain we may receive during the summer.

Nearby, Rudbeckia fulgida bloom under the False Indigo.

Big Red Sage, Salvia pentstemonoides
as the name implies, is another large perennial. The purplish red flowers normally attract a number of hummingbirds, but I have not seen many this year.

Here is a closer look at the flowers.

The flowers of Red Yucca are another great hummingbird nectar source.

Zexmenia is tough summer bloomer. I cut mine back a couple of times during the growing season to reduce the size, remove the spent flowerheads, and force more blooms.

This Purple Coneflower blooms in the shade of my red oak tree.

Several of the photos in this post were taken for an Independence Day post that never materialized. The plan was to simulate a fireworks display with plants and flowers. This explains why I took pictures of yuccas from above. The yucca above is variegated Yucca gloriosa. Ooh!

This yucca is Pale-leaf Yucca, Yucca pallida. Ahh!

This one is Soapweed Yucca, Yucca glauca. Wow!

Another picture from above shows the fruits of the spineless prickly pear.

Little Bluestem with Blackeyed Susans and Rock Penstemon in the background.

Horsetail Reed looks good in the stock tank. I never got around to moving the stock tank this spring. Maybe because it would be such a chore. I considered moving it because it is a little too close to the Possumhaw Holly just outside of this photo to the left of the tank. In time, I suspect the holly will shade the tank.

This Pineapple Lily, Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy', is one of the few non-native plants in the garden. It looks like I finally moved it to a spot that has just the right amount of sun and shade. It is close to a faucet too so I can give it a squirt of water when needed.

This Mexican Milkweed only hosted aphids so far this year. Maybe there will be some monarch caterpillars later in the summer. This one planted itself next to the vegetable garden.

This is a tatume squash flower. This was my first time to plant this variety. I harvested the first one yesterday and sliced and grilled it. It was pretty good. It is supposed to be more resistant to squash vine bores so it may replace yellow squash in my garden in the future.

Chocolate Daisy flowers open in the mornings and close by noon on hot days. This is another plant that I cut back a couple of times during the summer to control the size of the plant and produce more flowers.

Mexican Hat is still in bloom and several other buds are forming.

The Horsemint is wrapping up its blooming season. I carefully remove the dried flowers to control where the hundreds of seeds fall. The numerous seedlings are a pain to remove from decomposed granite pathways.

This parting shot is of the backyard rain garden. The little white flowers are Frogfruit and a great nectar source for small native bees.

Well this is a nice surprise. I just watched the weather forecast and a "cold" front is supposed to come through next week and drop high temperatures into the low 80s. I may need to plan a day off from work.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I was searching the internet for "Plano xeriscape" and saw a picture of my front garden and mailbox that I did not recognize. I clicked on the photo and, surprise, surprise, it turned out to be a video from a local news broadcast from September 5, 2013. 

The reporter interviewed a woman that lives one street over from me after the Texas Legislature passed a law requiring HOAs to allow drought tolerant landscaping. Video clips of my front garden appear throughout the interview.

That is my garden from 0:43-0:44, 0:54-0:57, 1:03-1:12 and 1:37-1:40. There were some nice shots of my mailbox and an exhaust vent on the roof too.

I never knew this happened. I wonder if they interviewed my neighbor and, as the reporter and camera crew were driving away, they saw my garden and the reporter screamed "Stop the van! A real little house on the prairie! Now, that's what I'm talkin' about!" 

Maybe she rang the doorbell, hoping to interview me. Who knows? That could have been my stepping stone to my own TV gardening show or at least a video on YouTube.

Sadly, I did not answer the door when destiny called because I was away at work. Sigh. I could have been a star.