Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Day of Autumn 2014

Today was the first full day of autumn and you can feel it in the air. The mornings are cooler. The afternoons are warm and sometimes hot, but not unbearable. Over the weekend, I became aware that the angle and intensity of the sun had changed. Best of all, the garden is starting to come back to life.

I tested the drought tolerance of the garden this summer by running the sprinkler system just one time. Fortunately, it was a relatively mild summer, by Texas standards. The plants had periods where they wilted and looked rather pitiful, but none of them died from moisture stress. The remnants of my little bluestem prairie look better than they have in years. Maybe I will try dividing these plants and try to create a bluestem prairie again.

Here is a wider view. The Salvia greggii are blooming again and the Liatris are still just starting to bloom. I don't have as many Liatris as I did in previous years because some of the older plants died out and, for the last few years, I removed the dried flowers before the seeds dropped. Remember, all of the Liatris plants in my front garden came from two plants that were planted from one four inch pot about five years ago.

I really like the look of Yucca glauca in the morning light.


Pine Muhly is all around in this part of the garden. They will be more visible after I cut back the dried Liatris stalks in a few weeks.

I like the grape juice color of this Salvia greggii. It had a few flowers earlier in the year and is now in full bloom. It seems to be a little weaker than the plants with coral colored flowers. 

By July, this Datura was a five foot shrub and was growing over the surrounding plants. I cut it to the ground to control its size and the distribution of seeds. It is already a four foot tall and wide shrub again. I will let it continue to grow until flower production slows. At that time, I might do some selective pruning to see if I can get more flowers.

The latest project. I had Snake Herb at the far end of the strip between the street and sidewalk. It is a tough, fast growing, native groundcover, but it also has exploding seed pods like Mexican petunia and those seeds fly when the pods explode. I found little plants in the main part of the garden where I do not want them, so out it came (I hope it is gone. Those roots are deep.) and replaced it with decomposed granite. I let Four Nerve Daisy and Pine Muhly grow as they please in this area, but I kind of like the bare decomposed granite. I added flagstones to direct visitors to the best places to park for access to the sidewalk.

After I spread the decomposed granite, I threw out some bluebonnet seeds and soaked the seeds and granite with water. The seeds sprouted withing a few days. Bluebonnets love growing in decomposed granite.

10 comments:

  1. It all looks so pretty and bright to welcome fall. The liatris look great against the green foliage. The liatris you shared is looking very good this year and should be in bloom soon. I haven't had any seedlings appear yet but that would be nice. It's encouraging to see yours keep going.

    The gravel in the strip makes a nice border for the street and will likely fill up quickly with self-seeded plants. I planted snake herb in one of the front beds last year and will keep an eye on it. May need to relocate it to the back if it needs too much room.

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    1. Glad your Liatris are doing well, Shirley. The seedlings look similar to grass when they first start growing. They send up a couple of long vertical leaves. Hope you get some babies and that you have not been pulling them up thinking they were weeds. I did that a few times.

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  2. Looking good! I need to specify Pine Muhly since it's a native of my region's desert foothills...and Little Bluestem. (I always use Purple Threeawn and Blue & Sideoats Grama) We're still waiting for crisp, fall mornings here, but seeing your morning light on the Liatris / Opuntia / Yucca glauca has me ready!

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    1. I love the Pine Muhly. It was my go to grass after the little bluestem started to fizzle out. I am ready for some of those cool fall days. The mornings have been in the low 60s but it still gets up into the 90s during the day. Still pretty comfortable though.

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  3. Beautiful! I pretty much abandoned my garden in July and left it to do what it wanted---I was pregnant and not interested in dealing with the heat. Of course now I'm regretting that as the weeds are sky high and thick!

    We're hoping to establish some liatris in our ROW strip this year.

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    1. Congratulations on the arrival of Forest. I saw some of your recent posts. It looks like he is getting lots of attention. Good luck with liatris in your ROW. They are pretty easy to establish but may take a couple of years to bloom.

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  4. Gorgeous! I love how everything comes back to life in the fall. What is the blue-grey spiky plant under the prickly pear in the first picture? I really like that combination. And datura! I was planning on adding some next year so I am so glad to hear it is happy in dry soil -- which I guess I could have predicted but still ... good to know.

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    1. Debra, that is pale leaf yucca, Yucca pallida. It seems to change colors slightly depending on its mood or the weather. Datura has no problems with dry soil, although it will grow larger if given some water.

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  5. Thanks for a good if unintentional laugh. I misread your post as "I tested the drought tolerance of the garden this summer by running through the sprinkler". There's a visual for you!

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    1. Well, I do have a tendency to get pretty wet when I test the sprinkler system.

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