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.

22 comments:

  1. Hi Michael! I'm a long-time reader but infrequent commenter. There are many things I admire about your garden, but I really love the great swaths of Liatris. I suppose we grow a different species, here, but we usually use smaller, isolated clumps and I love the way the abundance of it ties your garden together.

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    1. Hi Emily. Nice to know you are out there. I started out with one four inch pot with two scrawny Liatris that I bought at a native plant sale. It took a couple of years before the first blooms. I scattered the seeds from those flowers across the front garden and it seemed like every one sprouted! Now I cut off most of the dried flowers before the seeds scatter. They are pretty when in bloom, but I am not overly crazy about the look until they bloom. I think the variety is Liatris mucronata.

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  2. Gorgeous garden! Yes, summer is here.

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    1. Thanks Talya. I am looking forward to next weeks cold front. Too bad it is coming now and not in August. I will add your blog to my list. You have some interesting information and recipes.

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    2. And there are not that many Dallas gardening blogs that I know about.

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  3. Everything is looking great! Your garden has a nice, natural rhythm even when the Spring fireworks are over. Good work!
    BTW: you might get some rain with that cool front allowing for a continuation of charming flowers and an extended 'green' look for some more of the summer. We're finally in a dry, hot spell as well with rain all around me except on my garden. Chocolate daisy is almost impossible to find here in Houston, but I'm going to keep trying. Yours looks fantastic! David/:0)

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    1. David, I may be able to mail some chocolate daisy seeds to you if you want some. I have never tried to grow them from seeds. I do have a few that occasionally sprout on their own.

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  4. Michael--I have some leftover nightcrawlers from a worm presentation. Would you be interested in "releasing them into the wild"?

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    1. Are you referring to the wilds of my garden? We could give it a shot, but I am afraid it is too dry for them. The vegetable garden may be moist enough to give them a chance.

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  5. You are probably right. Plus, it is so hot today the nightcrawlers refuse to leave the refrigerator.

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    1. Smart worms. I hope you do not mistake them for spaghetti.

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  6. Looks great. You should be proud.

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  7. You are going to have some awesome liatris flowers soon! I had only had aphids on my milkweeds until this week when I found 3 huge queen caterpillars- hoping they survived last night's rain and are off pupating somewhere, as I didn't see them this morning.

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    1. The monarchs love the liatris when they are in bloom. I still have to wait until September for flowers. I never seem to get many caterpillars on my milkweed. In fact, I have just seen a couple of monarch butterflies this year. Good luck with your caterpillars.

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  8. I saw pineapple lilies on display at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. I ohh'd and aww'd over them and had no idea we could grow them here. I am very intrigued and I just added it to my plant wish list. Thanks.

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    1. Ally, I found my pineapple lilies in a box store several years ago. They were one of the packaged bulbs that are available in the spring. They seem to be pretty tough as long as they get some afternoon shade and a little extra water. I have not seen any bees or butterflies on the flowers, so I think they are strictly ornamental. You should give them a try.

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  9. Michael, absolutely gorgeous!! Some of my reliables have already given up blooming for now. I was just near your way last weekend but on fast trip couldn't do drive-by. You give me hope as an oasis in all that emerald grass and clipped hollies! Linda

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    1. Thanks Linda. We may have more converts up here before long. The every other week watering restrictions is getting some people to rethink their traditional, lawn centered landscapes.

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  10. What a beautiful show. All those tunas. Mine have all shriveled and fallen off. I don't think the plant could support what it had started, due to lack of rain. And the Eucomis. It may not be native but it fits in nicely.

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    1. Most of the tunas have fallen off of my cactus now too. It has been a couple of years since any held on long enough to ripen. The last ones that did ripen held on for a couple of years, which really surprised me. The Eucomis is an attractive plant.

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  11. Wow, I missed this post earlier but glad I found it now. Loved the fireworks show. I passed up a yucca gloriosa earlier this summer, now I might just snap one up next time.

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