A Surprise in the Garden

I love a surprise in the garden and one morning I spotted a dark red flower blooming on the far side of the bed.

I did not purposely plant this flower, but I am guessing it was in a packet of mixed wild seeds I received for free. I believe it is Red Plains Coreopsis. Hopefully, it will drop its seeds and come back next year.


The Comeback Shrubs

I am so thrilled to see my shrubs coming back after our record breaking February freeze. I was heartbroken when I saw so many gone. My blog is a good way to document their comeback and will ease some of my and others’ distress who live in this zone if it happens again. The tallest plant in the above photo is the Angel Trumpet (Brugmanis) and is making good progress. It will be interesting to see how long it will take before it blooms again. It could be one or two years.

Surprisingly, the Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis) is coming up from its roots. I have let these shrubs get out of hand and now they can have a new beginning. The Bottlebrushes are a pollinator favorite.

My favorite Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) is growing with vigor. The one that I have in my wooded area has not made any new growth. No matter, as I have already started a new plant. The Confederate Rose is easy to root which made it a passalong favorite in the South.

I did not expect my Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfurace) to come back. The plant is incorrectly named and is actually a cycad.

Variegated Ginger is not exactly a shrub, but when planted en masse, it looks very shrubby. The ginger has frozen before and will take another year before it blooms.

The Split Leaf Philodendron has frozen back at least three times. It has a long way to go, but it is trying.

The Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow ( Brunfelsia pauciflora) was completely gone. It came back quickly, but the deer felt it needed a trim. I don’t think it will flower this year.

And the shrub that is the favorite of all pollinators, is the Hummingbird Bush (Hamelia paten). I spent many months filling the sugar water feeders daily to keep hummers, bees and other pollinators alive during our flowerless spring. The Automatic Garden has proved itself and the beds are now full of flowers allowing the nectar loving creatures to feed naturally.


Hungry Caterpillars

I have been holding on to these photos and now seemed like a good time to post them. Every time I see a hungry caterpillar, I think of the picture book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.

Thank you Eric Carle, for bringing delight to so many.


Successful Seeds: Good News Bad News

Bishop’s Flower (Ammi majus)

I have many plants that naturally reseed very well, but I do like to add others for a variety of blooms.

Classic butterfly on a Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

In this climate we plant most seeds in the fall, say a prayer and wait until spring.

I do this almost every year and most seeds do not grow to produce flowers.

Drummond Phlox (Phlox drummondii)

So, the good news is that many of the seeds I planted last fall grew and flowered.

The bad news is that I think I have figured out why the plants have not matured in the past. I have not seen a rabbit in my yard since early last spring and the rabbits are probably the reason that most of the seedlings never matured, as they are a tasty treat for rabbits. There is a virus killing rabbits in West Texas and I am concerned it has arrived here. Of course, I was never happy that rabbits ate so much of my garden, but I did make friends with several and they would come right up to me to be fed. It would be very sad if a virus was the reason for the lack of rabbits in my yard.


Oh My Goodness…

… teeny tiny caterpillars hatched. There was a lot of concern for the Monarchs making the trip from Mexico, because so much of Texas and its plants were hit by the February freeze. I cheated and bought some mature plants from the nursery, as all of my Butterfly Weed had frozen. I’m glad I did and it worked out well for the next generation.


Anole Lizards

It is heating up and the anole lizards are out enjoying the sun. I often find them on my Dancing Girl statute.

Y’all have heard of lounge lizards, well here are some garage lizards. I put my tropical plants into the garage for the winter and the lizards came along. The plants were watered all winter and of course here, we never run out of bugs inside or outside. The lizards have stayed in the garage and I’m not sure what they are doing for water. Maybe bugs are enough.

These two spotted a anole lizard on the outside of the window and got a little riled up.


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.


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.