The weather guessers (aka meteorologists) are saying that the summer of 2011 is the hottest on record for DFW. We had a few days of relief from the heat last week and then it returned again this week. Yesterday's high was 107. This was the hottest recorded day after Labor Day in DFW. Yesterday's high also put us in the record books for the most 100 degree days in a year. The old record was 69 days from 1980. We hit 70 days yesterday and we are expected to get to 71 days today.
Despite the heat (and still no rain), my prairie is starting to come back to life again.
The sky blue flowers of Pitcher sage, Salvia azurea, are making a second appearance this year. Pitcher Sage normally just blooms in late summer, but this year it also bloomed in the spring. I cut the plants back after the spring flowers faded and hoped they would bloom again in September. It worked! There is a Mealycup Sage, Salvia farinacea, right next to the Pitcher Sage. Mealycup Sage has purple flowers. I have to look closely to notice the differences in color when they grow next to each other. Pale-leaf Yucca, Yucca pallida, is in the foreground. It had several pups pop up this year. The growth of the Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, was stunted this year due to the drought.
Little Bluestem is one of my favorite grasses, but this year, I think Pine Muhly, Muhlenbergia dubia, is at the top of the list. It is native to West Texas, so it did not have any issues with the heat and drought. I really like the way the flower spikes shoot out of the center of the plant and catch the sunlight.
Here is the same Pine Muhly from a different angle. Surrounding the Pine Muhly are more Mealycup sage, Pink Skullcap, Scutellaria suffrutescens, a native of Mexico, and yellow flowered Zexmenia, Wedelia hispida.
A gayfeather, Liatris mucronata, started blooming over the weekend. Seeds from this plant an another plant were scattered across the prairie a couple of years ago. The seedlings are finally mature enough to bloom and will fill the prairie with purple spikes within the next couple of weeks.
Here is my stock tank. It is now planted with horsetail reed, Equisetum hyemale, which should fill in well by next summer. The autumn sage around the tank seems to show its appreciation for the moisture seeping from the tank with additional blooms. The hummingbirds have noticed the flowers and stop by regularly for a drink.
Daytime high temperatures are expected to drop into the 80s later this week. The weather guessers say we should not see any more 100 degree days this year after today. I hope they are guessing correctly. If we could just get a good soaking rain...