Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April's Timetable - Texas in Bloom

By the time it is mid April in Texas, most questions surrounding Wildflowers:Will They or Won't They? have been answered for another year, and it is all over but the bluebonnet trampling, as folks scramble to take photos surrounded by all that heavenly blue.
Though the majority of my bluebonnets bloomed early, I have a few other native specimens that seem to be taking an opposite tack. These perennial procrastinators are still cruising along, content to remain on Bloom Watch status.

Case in point - Bauhinia, or Anacacho orchids are in full bloom around town, including on the University of Texas campus where several gorgeous specimens are providing beauty over by the Art buildings.  On the tree growing in our significantly more shaded setting however, the buds are just beginning to appear.
Orchid flowers on the way
Same goes for what I believe to be a small stand of Roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii) also growing here in deep shade.  Unlike photos of specimens growing in more sunny open areas, our dogwoods sport eensy white flowers I find nearly impossible to capture in a photograph. Even showing you the buds proved tricky as April breezes seem to somehow be attached to, or, triggered by the presence of my camera.  Every time I pick the one up, the other picks up as well.
These dogwood multiply via suckers.  We are slowly getting a small thicket of them.
An onion that decided to sprout last summer morphed in a very few days from pantry staple to garden candidate.  After planting, the stalk hung around aimlessly for months but the payoff is finally on the horizon. When it comes to alliums I like their flowers in the garden almost as much as I enjoy eating the parts I routinely slice or saute for dinner.
Compost bin or garden bed?  Once onions sprout, they can swing either way.
Speaking of eating, several culinary sages I planted a couple of years ago to use in the kitchen (Salvia officinalis) sent up bloom stalks for the first time this year.  I had no idea these plants flowered and clipped a few stems to try and prolong the plant's usefulness as an herb.  Looking at the shape and color of the stem and blooms their kinship to other salvias is obvious.
I thought about sprinkling these on a salad but put them in my kitchen window instead.
Blogger Debra from Under the Pecan Leaves recently featured some wonderful shots of tiny white waxy flowers appearing on a more mature native persimmon tree she put in after beginning to grow persimmon seedlings.  Her post reminded me I'd noticed a persimmon here for the first time last season (Diospyros texana), surprised originally by the fruit and then by the attention lavished upon said fruit by a territorial mockingbird.
I checked for flowers now that I knew to look, and despite the lingering presence of maturing fruit on the tree, sure enough there they were.  Blink-and-you'll-miss-them small, yet packed with promise.
Besides blossoms, tiny galls indicate some symbiotic insect or organism has been busy working nearby.  It makes for some alarmingly tortuous looking leaves, but is nothing that will harm the tree long term.

I've heard galls compared to bug bites on humans.  Irritating but rarely significant. By the time you notice the bite, the culprit is long gone.  I'm choosing to interpret this activity as a positive reminder that growing native flora supports the life cycles of multiple interdependent fauna.

Native plant whisperer and garden blogger Tina, from My Gardener Says, generously shared several salvia lyrata plants after I went all fan girl crush on hers last year.  I'd been concerned to show their progress here previously, unsure I'd planted them in spots where they would flourish, but several bloom stalks later and I'm happy to be enjoying these blossoms in person at last.
With their deeply colored veining, I'm seeing lyreleaf sage as a great native substitute for what is an old Austin landscaping and garden standby, Ajuga.
The sage grows a bit taller, and with only a handful in play currently I'm not pulling out my ajuga plants just yet. I do hold high hopes for the salvia lyrata to seed out and produce a dense stand of sage to eventually be used in ajuga's stead.  Or maybe in combination?  I have a very hard time pulling out happy plants, even when they aren't native.

Finally, while you may be weary beyond measure of the constant stream of anole photos featured here, I should warn you I am only getting started.  I don't think I ever spotted an anole I didn't try to photograph.  They pose so adorably - resistance is futile.
 Happy Trails!


Shirley said...

Your garden is looking amazing. It's always fun to find a native that works and that Salvia lyrata looks so good. It's been such a good year for everything.

Never tire of seeing the anoles. Stopped in the garden today just to watch for a moment.

Kris Peterson said...

Now, I'm going to have to run out and see if there are any flowers on my persimmons. I was surprised by the flowers on my Salvia officinalis when they appeared en masse in one of my raised veg planters. I've since tried to get them established elsewhere in my garden but haven't achieved the same impact.

I, like Shirley, love the anole shots! Despite almost stepping on the western fence lizards in my own garden every time I walk out the door, I STILL haven't gotten a photo - they don't pose.

Tina said...

Fab photos, as always. Gosh, where to begin? I love all those plants you profile (especially, the s. lyrata, ahem), but the last photos of the primrose and its companion are positively scrumptious. And that onion too--so simple and elegant.

Bring on the anoles!!

Laurin Lindsey said...

Lovely blooms and fresh bright green leaves! The rain certainly brings out the best in Austin. Happy spring!

TexasDeb said...

Shirley: Thank you - that means quite a bit coming from you. I honestly have to move my keyboard back when looking at your spaces (because oh the drooling...).

After seeing yours, I put out clammyweed seed in a couple of places and so far germination seems, well, nonexistent, but then I wouldn't know a clammyweed seedling from a lot of other tiny green things poking out of the soil just now so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

TexasDeb said...

Kris: OK so I'm not crazy - just couldn't recall where I'd seen other culinary salvia in bloom - thought maybe I'd misremembered. But it was yours!

The salvia that bloomed here were pretty unexciting right up until the bloom stalks appeared. They are currently jammed in with a lot of other experimental, "see what takes" trial plants at the off end of a bed.

It is humbling how well plants do when I totally ignore them. As opposed to the ones I fuss over....

TexasDeb said...

Tina: I am so relieved I didn't kill your passalong plants. The pressure! (not from you of course - this is all due to my own super snazzy wiring).

I was thinking more about pulling ajuga in favor of lyrata but recall it is only "moderately" deer resistant so perhaps all the ajuga can go out front and salvia lyrata can run free in the back.

Ha ha you guys are going to be sorry encouraging me to post more anole photos.

TexasDeb said...

LaurinL: Thank you - Happy Spring to y'all in more Easterly Texas as well. Things were looking pretty gorgeous when I was there in mid March. With all the additional rains it looked like a green dream world.

We lived in Houston and later in Conroe eons ago and I keep at least one potted azalea to remind me of how beautiful and different it was to garden there.

Debra said...

So beautiful. I love the the curb view with all those flowers. Lovely. And anoles? How could anyone tire of seeing them. Cutest lizards ever.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Thanks - that "up the curb" view is one of my favorites too, though due to the hill we live on I have to go down the driveway and stand out in the street to get the full effect. Which I do, of course, from time to time. Neighbors are used to seeing me out there by now presumably. I think it only fair I should get to share "their" view that I worked so hard to provide!

Kathleen Scott said...

I'm just catching up on things so missed this last week. Mom had a stroke last month and I'm rotating weeks with her with my two sisters.

Love this post!Gorgeous photos and you have so many great natives in your landscape. Your lyreleaf sage will indeed grow into a plentiful stand. Won't be long before you'll be trying to clear them out as they take over.

And you can never have too many anole photos!

Hope you're making it OK through oak pollen season.

TexasDeb said...

Kat: Thank you - the oak and I are reaching an understanding now that I'm "of a certain age". And...I'll take it as a break long overdue.

That is tough news about your Mom - I'm so very sorry to hear it. How proud she must be of how you and your sisters are cooperating to take care of her! Sending Get Better Soon vibes of the highest order.

Linda Lehmusvirta said...

Wow! I love your garden and your photographs! Forgot to ask you how you get such great shots, but we'll meet again! And I'm a confirmed fan of S. lyrata, too!

TexasDeb said...

Linda: Aw shucks lady, you'll make me get all big headed...

Better late than never I say! Salvia lyrata is indeed a beauty and I can't wait to see how well it will fill the spaces I chose for it. When people tell me to watch it - this plant will spread - that only makes me like it more. I like me a plant with some moxie!

Rebecca Newcomb said...

Oh my goodness! I LOVE your anole pic. At first glance, I only saw the flowers and thought they were beautiful, but once spotting the anole - too cute!! I'm certainly not sick of them yet... keep 'em coming!

TexasDeb said...

Rebecca: Thanks! No worries about any lack of anole shots in future posts. I'm seeing more of them every time I venture out and they are uniformly charming!