Reaching for the Sun

Towards the end of summer, I noticed rather large leaves were growing in one of my trees.  It turned out to be a canna reaching for the sun.  The normal cannas grow about 3 to 4 feet tall.  This one popped up in the shade of the tree and headed for the sun stretching to 10 feet.  Nature is so interesting.

Spring Has Begun Part II

More early Spring bloomers include this red Canna.

A surprise blooming plant for this time of year is Oenothera grandiflora or Evening Primrose that was collected by William Bartram in 1775 in Alabama and grown in his Philadelphia nursery.  Normally, this plant blooms in the late summer or early fall.  I think some of the seeds germinated early during this warmer winter.  I found it blooming in three locations and the plant was shorter than usual.

The orange Tassel Flower, Emillia coccinea, has been maturing all winter and is now blooming. I thought I read somewhere that it was related to a dandelion, but it does not reseed like one.

A true Spring ritual in this part of the country is the blooming of Azaleas.  I was surprised to see some opening already.  All our big Azalea Trails are usually the second week in March, so hopefully they can hold off until then.

February is the start of Spring around here and a time to trim back Crepe Myrtles, Roses and start cleaning out beds. The trees that lost their leaves are budding out.  And best of all the days are getting longer and evenings on the patio can be enjoyed.

Currently Blooming


I have been a bit worried about whether or not my perennials and reseeders would come back this year after all the harsh weather.  Butterflies and Hummingbirds are starting to arrive and there was not much for them to feed on as the freeze took most of the flowers.  I have been relieved the past week or so to see my plants returning. The following photos are of plants that have faithfully grown in the Automatic Garden for years.

I have a large collection of Amaryllis, but they have not bloomed over the last few years.  I was thrilled to find this one blooming.

This little Coreopsis has started to put out a few flowers.

Clematis do not enjoy our climate, but this one is in a pot on the shaded patio.  It really liked the cold spell and has put out several blooms.

The White Soldiers (Drimiopsis maculata)  have been a prolific and are planted throughout the gardens.  This patch sat in water for days.

Old faithful, my red Saliva  (Coccinea), was completely mowed down from the freeze and is just starting to come back.

This small shrub was started by seed. The original Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Brunfeisia) was accidentally cut down recently.

The red Canna was a passalong and I don’t think any amount of bad weather could kill it.

For nearly 20 years the Back Eyed Susan has been reseeding itself.

Bees and hummers are happy to see the Gulf Coast Penstemon flowers. This plant is also a passalong and does so well that it needs to be thinned every year.

The Columbine aquilegia has not done well lately, so it was good to see several plants blooming this year.

Speaking of faithful, the rabbits are back and appear when I am out in the yard to remind me to put some seed down for them.

Of course no good deed goes unpunished and the rabbits ate my new Coneflower down to the ground.



The Automatic Garden

Within several days we had freeze and then nearly 6 inches of rain.  The frozen plants turned into a mushy mess.

Just when all seemed hopeless, the Automatic Garden showed its grit.  It wasn’t long before these tough plants started putting up new shoots.  A plant that can take this crazy Gulf Coast weather of drought, floods, and freezes is a keeper!

The plants pictured are a Canna, Hardy Begonia, Russelia and a Salvia. Many more plants have started up from their roots and soon, as the days lengthen and warm, the seeds that were dropped in the autumn will germinate.


Why Decorate?


After being away on a trip, we returned home to see the neighbors had put up their Christmas lights.  As we pulled into our drive, I caught a glimpse of glowing rose colors lighting up the front beds.


It took a second to realize that we had not decorated and the landscape lights were hitting the ShiShi Camellias causing them to light up.


So why decorate? Nature is providing its own Christmas display.  The hollies are loaded with berries.


Red climbing roses have decked out a tree.


Cannas are covered in glowing reds


and also have formed their own round ornaments.

Flashback Friday



The nice part of living in the South is having flowers in the winter.  Something is always blooming.

This week I’m looking back at a Canna and its stunning seed pods.

Second Anniversary

April is the second anniversary of the Automatic Garden Blog.  It is a good time to look back at some favorite plant photos.


Confederate Rose


Canna seed pods.


Butterfly Weed pod

Screaming Anole.


William Bartram’s Evening Primrose.


Poppy love.


Hummingbird with a bee under its wing.


The last rose.

The End Is Better

A beautiful canna with red edged leaves.

A robust grower that easily reaches six feet tall in the ground, but will stay at three feet in a pot.

This canna will spread and easily grows from seed to fill the Automatic Garden.  It makes a great passalong plant and as with many passalongs, it did not come with a name.

The red bumpy seed heads, that form at the end of each stalk’s  life cycle, are the best part!