This past winter was one of the coldest we have had in awhile. It was hard to see many plants that have been growing for years in the Automatic Garden succumb to the cold temperatures. This is a patch of Fountain Plant (Russelia equisetiformis) that has never died back until this year.
The Sword Ferns have been a reliable plant reproducing to the point of needing to be thinned. But it could not take the cold either.
Just when you might think all is lost, nature does her tricks and revives the lost plants. The Fountain Plant is back, but not to the point of blooming yet. Hopefully, its red tubular flowers will come in time for fall migrations of hummingbirds and butterflies.
The Sword Fern renewed so vigorously that stray ferns had to be pulled. It is exhilarating to see plants that were thought to be lost resurrected.
Long before I had garden beds to fill with plants, this incredible wild flower spurred my passion for gardening. It was hanging over an apartment complex fence and was the most beautiful flower I had ever seen.
It was long before the ease of using the internet and most apartment dwellers had little knowledge of flowers. The beautiful flower’s impression stayed with me and years later I found its name…Passion Flower or its wild form, Maypop.
Maypops (Passiflora incarnata) grow on woodland edges and bloom spring to fall. The scented flowers open in the early evening and for only one day. They are host for the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly. The Maypop’s fruits are 3 inches around and have an interesting scent. There are many forms and colors of Passion flowers for sale in nurseries, but nothing stirs a gardener’s passion like finding a Maypop in the wild!
A beautiful ginger flower greeted the morning. This iridescent flower blooms at first light and is done at morning’s end. The delicate blossom is only one and half inches in size.
This ginger has the habit of growing with its leaves flat on the ground and has been given the name Flat Leaf Kaempferia. It belongs to the group of gingers commonly called Peacock Gingers, which are gown for their beautiful leaves and low growing habit.
Crepe Myrtles are trees that do not get a second look in the south. They are everywhere. Crepe Myrtles are in every yard, parking lot and business. They are a part of our everyday life.
But the Crepe Myrtles give us beautiful color from June to September. The flowering time can be extended if the spent blooms are removed. They range in shades of pink, purple and white. Some are tall trees, as the ones photographed here, or can be grown short like a shrub.
As they age, the Crepe Myrtles’ bark peels revealing a smooth trunk. They can easily survive the heat and go dormant to make it through the winter.
While other flowering trees have a short bloom time, the Crepe Myrtles provide beauty for the whole summer.
Heat. Stifling, wilting, melting hot. So are the summers along the Gulf Coast.
Trying to deflect the sun’s rays, blades curl.
Leaves flop over waiting for evening’s relief.
Such are the hot summer days of July and August. Wilting occurs when plants put out more moisture than they take in. This process is called transpiration and is a self-protective mechanism plants use to survive excessive heat. Nature provides plants for every climate and while many wilt, others such as tropicals thrive in the heated oppressive air.
Lilies are difficult to grow on the Gulf Coast with the heavy clay soil, heat, humidity, and soaking rains. But, Philippine Lilies (Lilium formosanum) love these conditions and bloom in July and August. The plants set seeds that easily germinate to produce many more lilies, which makes them perfect for the Automatic Garden.
The blooms give off their perfumed scents at night and attract the hummingbird moth, often mistaken for “baby” hummingbirds because of the moths’ ability to hoover while they gather nectar. Philippine Lilies grow about 4 to 5 feet tall and make a stunning back drop for other summer bloomers.
A Hibiscus bud with a luscious drop of rain water on its tip. The other bud is showing just a peek of color.
This is a hardy Hibiscus that was a pass-along plant. It opens to the size of a dessert plate and displays several colors of pink. This Hibiscus makes seeds that easily germinate and then the plant disappears in the winter and returns in spring to begin its cycle again.