Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cool whites in the summer garden

Cool white blossoms seem to take the temperature down a notch in hot summer gardens.

This native white autumn sage (Salvia greggii) has done very well for me the past three years.  With a hard pruning in late winter and a light pruning mid-summer, it blooms on and off all year.  Bees love it. Easy to find at Austin nurseries.
White salvia greggii

Cape leadwort (Plumbago auriculata) is a South African native.   The white version is more difficult to find than the blue, but it's worth the search.  Some white cultivars to look for: 'Alba', 'White Cape', 'Escapade White', 'Monite'.
white plumbago

Here's an oddball you won't see everywhere: button eryngo (Eryngium yuccifolium).  I picked it up at a Wildflower Center plant sale, thinking it was the blue-purple variety.  It wasn't.  It's an interesting specimen piece, but I wouldn't plant a bed with it!
 Eryngium yuccifolium var. yuccifolium

Another white bloomer for the Central Texas plant collector is white Turk's cap (Malvaiscus arboreus var. drummondii). The white does not spread as readily as the red, alas.
white 'Turk's cap'

In the herb garden, garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) send up white flower stalks for the bees and butterflies.  This is the first year for this two-year old clump to bloom.  It's had virtually no supplemental watering.
Garlic chives in bloom

Blue and purple are considered cooling colors, too, while red, yellow and orange are considered warm colors.  After this hot spell, I'm rather wishing all my bloomers were white!  What's cooling you down in your garden this summer?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Words and photos © 2009-2013 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Not bad, not bad at all

Despite temperatures well above 100 degrees for most of the past 2 weeks, the garden's looking pretty good.
Front garden in summer

A handful of unexpected but welcome July showers triggered many of the drought-resistant perennials to burst into bloom, like this Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens). We got rain nearly every week in July, totaling more than 5 inches for the month.
Texas sage

Although some plants are not in bloom, their foliage provides texture and color.  Clockwise from upper left: Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalphinia mexicana), gray globemallow (Sphaeralcea incana),  Texas lantana (Lantana urticoides), Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima).
Mexican Bird of Paradise, Mexican feathergrass, Texas lantana, gray globemallow

Counterclockwise from bottom left: yellow zexmenia (Wedelia texana), blue-green gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida), and purple trailing lantana (L. montevidensis). The spots of red are rock (or cut-leaf) penstemon (P. baccharifolius) while the pink is Salvia greggii.
Zexmenia, euphorbia, lantana, penstemon

Some of the salvias hadn't had their mid-summer haircut before the rains, and look rather woody, but the trims will have to wait until these blooms fade. I think the bees appreciate the reprieve.  This variety of S. greggii is called 'Lipstick'.
bumblebee on 'Lipstick' salvia

Front to back: White autumn sage (S. greggii), , blue plumbago (P. auriculata), yellow bells or esperanza (Tecoma stans).
White autumn sage, esperanza, plumbago

What's happening in your garden this summer?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Words and photos © 2009-2013 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.