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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.



Thursday, October 15, 2015

Second Spring has Sprung

Texas gardeners especially appreciate October's tradition for easing the remnants of summer's heat. Afternoon highs may resist, but the temperatures at night will steadily move down, shifting the average temperature for each day towards a cooler set point.  Rain may be part of the transition, but more reliably it is moderated temperatures bringing relief.  Referred to as a Second Spring, markers for the seasonal change abound, natural and not-so.

Central Texas lacks autumn's semaphore of tree leaves turning, but the hazy smoke from seasonal slash and burn agricultural fires set far to our south regularly drifts our way in October, setting morning clouds ablaze.
Dramatic color is also on offer from other more natural sources. 
Argentinian native Oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala bifida) popped out flower stalks several times in succession this year, extending the pleasure of their deepest reds to span several weeks.  

Native plant Goldeneye (Viguiera dentata - a member of the Aster family) demonstrates mastery of this season, attracting pollinators of every sort to banks of blossoms with petals that face the sun's light. 
Warm color is transformed into sustaining matter.

Such exuberance is hard to resist.
Few try.  Days are shortening and whatever comes next, this is the season to forage and store. This Funereal Duskywing butterfly (Erynnis funeralis) shared the wealth with several types of bees.
Old favorites mix with new.  Native Chile Pequin aka Bird pepper plants (Capsicum annuum) develop tiny white flowers that faintly echo fellow native A. Duelberg salvia (Salvia farinacea) flowers growing behind.  The pepper plants offer a banquet for every visitor with blooms and berries appearing all at once. 
The addition of Crag Lilies (Echeandia flavescens) reinforces the wisdom of planting native perennials.  Their combination of strength and delicacy is exquisite.
The form of the flowers reminds me a bit of Columbine offering a similar swept-back display evoking fireworks. I'm quite smitten!
Also new here this season are Gregg's mist flower (Conoclinium greggii, another Aster family member), bringing a poignant shade of light purply blue to Fall's otherwise mostly golden palette.
Not to be outdone, Prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida) are cautiously re-emerging now summer's worst is behind us, adding more complementary purple to play against the yellows and oranges. Appreciation is widespread. This skipper, I believe another Duskywing, was thoroughly working what few blooms were around.
Having survived aphids, tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) rises above a background of truer blue H. Duelberg salvia (Salvia farinacea).  The milkweed are blissfully unaware of the roiling controversy as to whether or not their presence when planted out of their native region, offers any true lifeline to migrating butterflies.
It is difficult for me to appreciate the beauty of milkweed and simultaneously view them as a disease vector. As I get very few (Zero so far and counting) migrating monarchs, I've left mine standing for now.  Anoles (Anolis carolinensis) seem unimpressed by the controversy or my dithering.
Garden center pepper plants begin renewed production efforts in recognition of and appreciation for our cooler nights.  The anoles and I keep a close eye.  I watch for peppers to pickle while they are on the lookout for visitors who might provide more immediately pleasurable mouthfuls.  
Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora) bloom spikes appear, bearing purple pagodas.  Earlier in the season I routinely pinch off blooms but these October spires will remain, filled as they are with the makings for seeds to yield future plants. Once developed, the seeds are also a favorite snack for finches.
No use of the term "favorite" could be reasonably made without the inclusion of this October stalwart, the bright pink flowers of Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus).  Though designated "invasive" in Texas, this fall blooming vine has remained growing in restraint against a trellis here for over a decade with no sign of spread or reseeding.  
An equal draw for bees to any plant currently blooming, I decided to let this iteration of the vine stay in place.  My ongoing removal efforts will continue to focus on other problematic plants displaying more reproductive oooomph.  
October in Texas.  Filled with fests and fĂȘtes, it is a favorite time of year for locals and visitors alike. We are not known for arboreal color this season, but there is certainly no lack of beauty on display for the discerning eye.

22 comments:

Tina said...

Just beautiful photos, Deb. Capturing the light and abundance remarkable well, even in our very dry conditions. Gosh, I can't pick a favorite photo, but the series of Goldeneye are quite cheery--aren't they photogenic? Skippers--there are so many right now and hard to identify! Wishing you and all of Central Texas some kinder temps and nice, soft rain.

TexasDeb said...

I have to thank you again for the goldeneye passalongs. They settled right in and got about their business without missing a beat after transplanting. I agree they are photogenic, but honestly have a bit of trouble capturing them en masse. Somehow the human eye will sort out a bazillion blooms better than the camera lens does. But I'm certainly not complaining!

From your fingertips to Mother Nature's eyes... I too hope we get some gentle rain soon and very soon. Things are drying out right when I want to put in new baby plants and seed out for next year. Time for a rain dance!

Tina said...

Oh, it's so dry out!! You're right about the goldeneye groups--mass of yellow, but it's hard to capture their stunning beauty. I just took some photos of 3 in a group that I will move this winter. Beautifully full of blooms and have been all summer, but they get a wee bit too much sun and have suffered sunburned leaves. I have, in their stead, a Pride of Barbados which will revel in the blast of the sun. And guess who's back for the second act of the Goldeneye (the seeds!). I drove in this morning and there were about a dozen Lesser Finches who scattered. I guess it's time to set up the tripod...

TexasDeb said...

Tina: As often happens with bulbs, your goldeneye is also way ahead of the plants here. Mine've blooms but only a bunch of the highest flowers are looking bedraggled. Seed yet to come!

As you and I are often comparing notes on pollinator visits - for the record - I was watching some native bees (of the not-carpenter variety) preferentially visiting Purpleheart (Setcreasea pallida) in bloom. So while not a native, it caters to native pollinators. Always good.

I hope Saturday is cool and slightly overcast so the garden tours are easy but past that I really wish it would rain daily for a while. All my beds need a deep deep soaking.

Island Threads said...

Deb you have some lovely blooms and wild visitors, I just commented on Tina's blog how much I like the Gregg's mistflower and Texas craglily, they are both lovely flowers, Frances

TexasDeb said...

Frances/IThreads: You are right - they are lovely in bloom and seeing them on Tina's blog is why I have both/either of them. The mist flower blossoms are so other worldly, I love the color, and the crag lilies remind me of Columbine which I seem to have no luck placing here. Thank you for dropping in and stopping to comment!

Kris Peterson said...

Your October garden is lovely, Deb! I'm in love with your goldeneye and the crag lily. (Yellow is my favorite color.) I think those "invasive" labels have to be looked at skeptically in a state as large as Texas (or California), with wide variations in local climates and conditions. I'm equally wary of "native" labels - what's native to NorCal won't necessarily survive, much less flourish, in my area of SoCal.

TexasDeb said...

Kris: Thank you! With yellow as your favorite color, you'd likely be smitten with lots of the gardens here this month. Make a note to yourself to visit Texas twice in the future... Once in the spring to see the March/April specific wildflowers and then again in mid October to catch the second round of blooms when yellows and golds dominate.

I was late to the "invasives" information and had already bought and/or further encouraged several here on our property for years before the designations were widely distributed. I realize better late than never for taking them out but as you note - all invasive plants are not equally problematic in every area. The coral vine will stay for now. And so true - even plants that are native to my part of the state don't do equally well in my microclimate as in others. I've had plants that "everybody" could grow die here (which is TOTALLY about the conditions and not the gardener, right!?!?).

Debra said...

As always you have some amazing compositions here. Literally breathtaking as I stopped breathing a couple times. This really is a lovely time of year. I do tell my family that the two times to visit are April and October when the whole world just feels friendly and good. We do need rain though. Badly. When I touch the earth it is powder. Not that anyone would guess so looking at your lush photos!

TexasDeb said...

Debra: You are so kind. It makes me deeply happy that you enjoy the photos. I have a lot of fun trying to get shots to share.

If there is any lushness here it is due to The Hub and his hand watering. He does enjoy standing about with the hose in the evenings after the sun's heat has abated. There are a few select areas that receive his watery attentions and they speak volumes about the difference water makes. The rest of the earth here is as you say...powder.

But! Rain in the forecast short term and the predictions for this winter season are cooler and wetter both. Relief does finally seem on the way. That said, I wonder how long it will be before I'm longing to bake in the afternoon sun again? I always seem to crave whatever I cannot have...

Pam/Digging said...

You take the best anole pics. Or perhaps it's that your garden is home to the most handsome anoles? Whatever the reason, I really enjoyed the photos. So glad we're getting a cool-down next week. I just hope the rain predicted for this weekend isn't a classic case of a Texas deluge, much as we need the rain.

TexasDeb said...

Pam: Well, thank you, but it is more that the anoles here are extra-handsome, actually. I think it is the lure of the near daily photo ops... Little anoles from the sticks ride mass transit style over here, trying to get discovered posing on a branch, hoping to break into the blogosphere... Story old as time.

I put wildflower seed out - probably way jumped the gun on that count as is typical of me. Maybe it won't all wash away. We certainly need a thorough soaking but past that it would be best if there's no more life or property lost here to torrential rains this year. The Hub has been monitoring all sorts of maps and graphics with variously alarming red and purple boxes including most of Central Texas and calling for anywhere from 5-10 inches. Here we go!

Diana Studer said...

The crag lilies look like a yellow borage, the same shaped flower.

TexasDeb said...

Diana: Thank you for dropping in! The color is quite similar, but the shape of the flowers is perhaps a bit more elongated on the crag lilies? I was just reading about these native lilies on another blog from a city just to our south, where the leaves were remarked upon as having a line down the middle and I promise you my plants do not share that feature. I don't know if I have a variation (or if the other blogger does...) but it is always fascinating I think to see what grows in other places. So many delightful surprises!

Rebecca Newcomb said...

I love your anole pictures, as always! I just planted some chile pequin plants since they are supposed to do well in dry shade, plus are an abundance of food for the birds. However I hear that the birds easily replant them and I'll end up finding them all over my garden in years to come. I'll take that as a good thing, and if I end up with too many, it is always nice to have something to dig up to share with gardening friends!

Donna@LivingFromHappiness said...

I love this idea of a second spring....what a lovely surprise extending the garden season for you and the critters.

TexasDeb said...

Rebecca: You'll love the chile pequins. Occasionally I'll think I've lost one (deer ate one nearly to the ground one year) but then they'll come back up from the roots. Like other natives - they are Texas tough. I don't get tons of bird planted extras but they are reasonably easy to transplant if you do. I bet you'll fall in love with them and don't hesitate to make some pepper vinegar or throw a few peppers into fresh salsa. They are zippy and delicious!

TexasDeb said...

Donna: The Second Spring is one of the few weather advantages of our area. It is a lovely extension of the gardening year and when using native plants especially, since they've evolved to be accommodating to the second bout of milder weather, we often get a second round of blooms and/or fruits before the first frost moves the dial to "winter" for a spell.

Rock rose said...

More wonderful captures from your garden. It really is like another spring. We can actually get outside and work for more than 1 hour. Love the crag lily. I must look for it at the nursery. So delicate. Have you made plans yet for the holes left by your agaves?

Jayne said...

I love this post! You've introduced some plants I'm not familiar with, and found I've been calling anoles, lizard or gecko! I'm new to this climate and find it all fascinating!

TexasDeb said...

Jenny/Rock Rose: Thanks! Isn't it a delightful time of year to work outside?! BTW, Barton Springs has crag lilies on sale at the moment - they call them "copper spiders". Confusing!

I have loose plans for the new spaces. All the agave roots aren't out (not yet!) but this cooler weather means I'm ready to restart that process. In the spaces already created I put in native grass clumps, lamb's ear (not native but I'd promised my daughter) Missouri primrose, wedelia, and I put out wildflower and poppy seed. I've got my eye on a few pavonia that could be transplanted, goldeneye too. Plenty of options...plenty of options.... So much fun!

TexasDeb said...

Jayne: "Fascinating" is one word for the climate in these parts... : ) I'm happy you found some exciting new plants to explore, and anoles are adorable no matter what you call 'em. Thanks so much for dropping in and again for commenting.