Autumn Yellows


Autumn seems to bring out the yellows in the Automatic Garden.  The native Swamp Sunflower keeps its blooms for weeks.  This started out as one plant, but has reseeded and multiplied over a few years to the point that some had to be removed.


The Esperanza or Yellow Bells (tecoma stans, Texas native) took a very hard hit during last winter’s freeze.  It struggled all summer and was finally able to put out some flowers before next winter arrives.


Mexican or Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is a favorite of the Monarch Butterfly.  This is a yellow variety.  The Monarchs fly over the Gulf Coast on their migrations to and from Mexico.  This Tropical Milkweed should be cut back in the fall as it harbors a parasite that is fatal to the Monarchs.


And of course, a favorite of the autumn garden is the yellow Oenothera grandiflora or Evening Primrose.  It seeded itself all over the garden naturally creating succession germination and has had a plant blooming since August.   It is a native of Alabama where William Bartram first collected it.


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.



In the Automatic Garden the plants are allowed to reseed for the next season.  William Bartram’s Evening Primrose (Oenothera grandiflora) prolifically reseeded this year and the plants need to be thinned, transplanted and shared.  It is important not to disturb the soil once plants have dropped their seeds.


The Swamp Sunflower has reseeded outside the wire fencing, but enough are in the bed so these can be removed.


Rocks are a favorite germination site for seeds.  These Salvias will be returned to their bed.


Some plants seem to be able to reseed in just the right places as these Johnny- Jump-Ups did.   Allowing plants to reseed on their own is an easy way to have a continuous supple of annuals for the garden.  A few are pictured here, but the Automatic Garden reseeds zinnias, mealy blue sage, black-eyed Susans, wishbone plants, blanket flowers, ornamental peppers, dancing lady gingers, columbine, and cleome just to name a few.

Something About Yellow

On these oppressively hot summer days, the Yellows seem to thrive.  Their bright colors pop from across the yard when the rest of the flowers can’t even be bothered to open in the summer heat.



The first two photos are of Rudbeckia.  The large flowered one has been in the garden for over ten years and the small one is a recent pass-a-long plant.  The exact names are long lost and there are many different varieties of Rudbeckia.  Both are perennials that also reseed, which makes them a perfect pick for the Automatic Garden.


Yellow Bells, also called Esperanza (tecoma stans),  love the heat and are at their best on the hottest days. They likewise win high points for enduring the drought we have been dealing with the past few years.


White Wing (Mussaenda Luteola) have tiny flowers that cover the shrub with eye catching yellow.  It started out in a small nursery pot and has grown to 4 feet tall.  It is a true tropical and spends cold days in the garage.


Evening Primrose or Oenothera grandiflora greets me each morning with its sunny yellow blooms outside the window.  It begins to bloom as the sun sets, but will stay open for most of the morning. It is a reseeding annual.  Oenothera grandiflora was collected by William Bartram in 1775 near Mobile Bay, Alabama.  And yes, as William put it, it is a pompous and brilliant (yellow) plant!

William Bartram’s Oenothera grandiflora


William Bartram collected this Evening Primrose, also know as Florida Tree Primrose, in 1775 in Alabama.  He returned to his father’s (John Bartram) garden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to start the seeds and also sent some to his patron in London.  The Bartrams ran a nursery in colonial times and collected plants from all over America, sending many specimens on to England.

Bartrams’s Garden is now a historical site opened to the public.   Over the years  Oenothera grandiflora had disappeared from the garden and around 2008 it was recollected in the wild and planted back at Bartram’s.

The plant pictured here is from seed gathered at Bartram’s Garden and was planted in 2011.  It grew into a small plant with  leaves that were about 10 inches long and stayed that way for a year.  This spring it started to grow stems up to 6 feet tall with smaller leaves.  At the end of August it finally bloomed! As it is an Evening Primrose, it opens at night and has a scent strong enough to smell from a distance.  These photos had to be taken at first light before the blooms closed for the day.

This Evening Primrose has new flowers opening daily on at least six stems.  Each spent bloom is forming seeds, showing promise for next year’s crop.  As it flowers in late summer, it definitely will be a good addition for the Automatic Garden.