Fireworks in August!

August 12th, 2014 Posted in drought, groundcovers, habitat, hummingbirds, lawn replace, native plants, succulents

First, big deal fireworks for Central Texas Gardener! We’d sure love your vote for our SXSW panel: The Future of Food: Tradition Meets Technology. It takes just a minute to register and vote.  Just click on the button.

Vote to see my session at SXSW 2015!

Our esteemed and lively panel includes: Dustin Fedako from East Side Compost Pedallers, Paige Hill from Urban Patchwork and Michael Hanan from Ten Acre Organics. We all thank you for spreading the good word at SXSW!

Our garden future lies in plants that sustain essential wildlife, including food crop pollinators, while conserving water. This red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) was on the job nurturing an eager hummingbird, until I got in the way!

red yucca hesperaloe parviflora hummingbird plant

On my daily drive to KLRU, I really like watching this front yard evolve over the year with its play on colors and textures, even in drought.

reduced lawn front garden native plants

I’d like to be this tidy. I’m not.

reduced lawn front yard with wildlife plants

We do have something in common: structure with lots of plants for wildlife, like Tecoma stans (Esperanza or Yellow Bells) that attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.

walkway with native plants web

On the home front, I was lucky to find the native Tecoma stans. Note the different leaves from cultivar ‘Gold Star’.

native tecoma stans austin garden

Desert willow is another hummingbird champion with its hot weather fireworks.

desert willow drought small tree for hummingbirds

Even though my crinums don’t sag a bit in heat, so far this mystery one is the only to bloom.

Pink crinum perennial bulb for drought austin garden

Since I don’t fare well with most yuccas, Beschorneria yuccoides ‘Flamingo Glow’ deeply satisfies structural contribution in this somewhat shady spot blasted by late afternoon fireworks.

beschorneria flamingo glow austin drought garden

I’m still exploring its foreground options. For now, purple heart (Tradescantia pallida/Setcreasea pallida) gets the role.

purple heart Tradescantia pallida austin drought garden

Yes, I know it’s common as mud, but who can resist a purple plant that defies drought and attracts insects to its flowers? Perhaps that’s why it’s been such a standby for years, don’t you think? And you don’t need a degree in horticulture to grow it.

purple heart flower drought tough groundcover

A Tradescantia that surprised me is cobweb spiderwort (Tradescantia sillamontana).

cobweb spiderwort drought tough austin garden for wildlife

This experiment has been such a success that I may propagate it for the Beschorneria’s foreground.  It dies back in winter, but not for long! Bonus points: it attracts beneficial insects, syrphid flies (hover fly).

syrphid fly (hover fly) on cobweb spiderwort austin drought garden

Aptenia (also called ice plant) just doesn’t give up, either. When I pulled out the lawn in this area, I stuck in a few cuttings. It hasn’t let up yet and even bloomed in December! A few ‘Fireworks’ gomphrenas are drooping over for a chat.

Aptenia ice plant and fireworks gomphrena drought austin garden

Native frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) is blooming its little head off in this heat, most appreciated by tiny insects.  It’s as cooling as the grass that once lined this strip, but with so many more benefits!

Native frogfruit drought groundcover austin texas

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for helping CTG get to SxSW! Linda

  1. 6 Responses to “Fireworks in August!”

  2. By Shirley on Aug 12, 2014

    I voted, do I get a sticker? It looks like an excellent informative presentation.

    The yard has a lot of great plants for our climate. As they watch surrounding lawns turn crispy they must appreciate their plants choices even more in August.

    I have the same Beschorneria in morning sun and afternoon shade so it works either way. I couldn’t be happier with it since it was hardy enough to not miss a beat through our exceptionally cold winter.

    Reply

    Linda reply on August 13th, 2014 6:50 pm:

    Shirley, I’ll give you a hug when I see you! Thank you so much. Glad to know about your Beschorneria, since I plan to plant more.

    Reply

  3. By Marti on Aug 12, 2014

    Everything looks great. Your frogfruit is so tall, at least compared to mine. But mine gets absolutely no water and is mowed sometimes. I love how lush the ice plant looks too. You’d never know all that is growing in the middle of a drought. Very nice.

    Reply

    Linda reply on August 13th, 2014 6:48 pm:

    Thank you, Marti! Mine doesn’t really get water and it gets a little wimpy until rain comes along. Still, it hangs on. That ice plant is rather invasive but it’s sure tough in drought!

    Reply

  4. By Tina on Aug 13, 2014

    So many great plants profiled here, Linda. I love that crinum–it looks like one I have from my mother’s garden. It rarely blooms, but what a treat it is when that happens. So glad you have a photo about frog fruit. It is a great ground cover and excellent replacement for water-thirsty grass.

    Reply

    Linda reply on August 13th, 2014 6:47 pm:

    Hi, Tina! How lucky to have one from your mother’s garden! I may try fertilizing one of these days. They do respond to rain–like rain lilies–so let’s hope! Yes, that frogfruit has been a dream!

    Reply

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