Southern Scents

There is nothing like a Southern Spring full of wonderful scents. The tiny flowers of the American Holly tree have such a strong scent that it draws me to it from across the yard.

The Little Gem Magnolia is loaded with buds and flowers this year. One flower will nicely scent a small room. The blooming trees have really benefited our pollinators that have been missing our usual spring flowers.


The Ginger Garden Before and After

This is my ginger garden after the freeze. The plants had turned to mush. The stalks were from last summer’s plants that I usually leave until they turn brown and the new growth starts.

I removed all the dead ginger stalks which took about two days. I have never seen this bed empty since we moved in.

The good news is that the tubers were far enough underground to survive the extreme cold. Now I can look forward to beautiful scented flowers this summer.


This and That

I am not very successful at starting seeds in pots, but Mother Nature does a good job wherever she can find some soil. These are Jewels of Opar growing in an old brick.

I found one of my ceramic bluebirds shattered. It has sat in this garden bed for years. The pair was inexpensive, but they always made me smile.

Moses-in-the-Bullrushes is my favorite plant because it was given to me by my grandparents over 45 years ago. The plant loves our Gulf Coast climate and has reproduced manyfold. I was surprised to see it sold for $15 a pot at the nursery. Hmm, I may want to have a plant sale.


Some Spring Blooms

Although this is not our usual spring due to a freezing February, a few Texas tough plants manged to bloom. The Gulf Coast Penstemon has put out its delicate flowers in three locations in the garden.

Cannas seem to be able to survive anything. This one had no problem coming back quickly and blooming.

Happily, the Hinckley’s Columbine had absolutely no issue with the freeze and just continued on its way.

The Passion Flowers are grown in pots so they rode out the cold in the garage. This has been an unusual spring with very few flowers, but everyday with the temperatures rising, humidity up and a few light showers more flowers will be coming along.


Staying Behind

We always have Goldfinches stopping by in the winter. This winter the area hosted many flocks of the little birds. When they are visiting here, the Goldfinches are a drab olive green. The large flock that was in my yard eating through many bags of expensive Nyjer seed are long gone.

For some reason this fellow has stayed behind. I have watched him change his feathers to the bright yellow summer color, which we never get to see here. I thought maybe there was a female around, but I haven’t seen that bird recently. It will be interesting to see how long the male Goldfinch stays here all alone.


A New Start

This past February, we had 44 consecutive hours of freezing temperatures with the coldest reading down to 10 degrees. Our average temperature for February is 56. As I mentioned in a previous post, almost any plant above ground froze. It has been a wait-and-see situation to determine what needed to be cut down. My plants have been speaking to me.

The Angel Trumpet, which has finally started to bloom in recent years, does perfer warm climates and did not make it through the freeze. After weeks of waiting, it finally revealed it could regenerate from its roots.

I was confident the Hummingbird Bush would come back and it did. It has a long way to go before blooms appear. Unfortunately, the hummers and other pollinators are really missing its flowers.

It was really difficult to cut my Confederate Rose down to a stump. But it was heartening to see all the stems it is sending up. Click on the links to see the fully grown shrubs. The Automatic garden is proving to be very tough and everyday I see many of its plants returning after a hard winter.


So Sad

It was so sad to see a starving Monarch Butterfly trying to get some sustenance from the hummingbird feeder, while fighting off bees. My garden is usually full of pollinator friendly plants that would be in full bloom by now. Even though many of the plants are coming back, it will be a long time before flowers are set.

Monarch Watch, a nonprofit that tracks the population and migration of Monarch Butterflies, had this information in its newsletter.

“The 11-day cold spell (10-20 February) in Texas was a disaster. Freezing temperatures covered the state and extended well into Northern Mexico. While many of the immediate effects of the freeze are clear, season long and multiple year effects may linger. The damage to the flora was extraordinary, and it is likely that nearly all above ground insects died over a wide area. Plants already in flower may have been so damaged as to not flower this year.”

I am sure this will also have an impact on migrating hummingbirds. I have been feeding my two winter hummers and a few days ago spotted returning Ruby Throated Hummingbird.

Yes, the unprecedented freeze was tough on our wildlife, but many fellow Texans are still dealing with damage done by frozen pipes and do not have water or a secure place to live.


Plant Shopping…In My Yard

Good news. The seeds that plants dropped in the fall were not affected by the freeze and have germinated. Now it is time to forage around the yard and find some plants to fill in empty spaces. My first find was some annual Black Eyed Susans.

White Salvia is coming up next to patio pavers and will be grouped together in a bed.

The Bartram’s Oenothera grandifloria or Evening Primrose, came up near my other patio area. The plants that were left over from last year did really well in the freeze. I routinely remove seeds from their pods while I sit on that patio, so it is not unusual to find seedlings in the area.

A rudbeckia had come up on its own last year and produced about six new plants. They were moved to a bed outside of my kitchen window.

A couple of years ago, I found and planted some old Cardinal Flower seeds. The seeds germinated and did well making many more plants. They definitely had to be moved.

We must have gotten enough heat for the Balsam Impatiens to start growing and there is more everyday.

While I was digging around, I decided to be “artsy” after finding a branch with a hole just the right size for a violet plant.


A Year Later

A year ago vultures were at the door. Little could we image what 2020 would have in store for us and how long it would last.

I am hoping this Indigo Bunting that has been feeding in my garden represents the Blue Bird of Happiness and a better year is on the horizon.


Hooray for the Automatic Garden

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It has been a little more than two weeks since our epic freeze. The Automatic Garden is pulling through and plants are erupting. The first plants up are mostly from bulbs and rhizomes that could take the cold better.

The purple Oxalis were the first to recover.

Bluebonnets made it through the freeze unscathed.

Mealy Blue Sage also seemed unbothered by the cold.

The Drimiopsis maculata had some mushy bulbs, but enough survived.

I believe nothing can kill this passalong canna.

The plants I have been most worried about are my gingers and I have started to see some signs of life.

One Snowflake flower was able to bloom.

I will have a nice list of plants that can survive hurricanes, flooding rains, drought and record breaking freezes on the Gulf Coast.