Cool plants for heat/pond tour to cool off your garden

May 31st, 2012 Posted in Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Tours, Zac Zamora, bees, butterflies, cats, daylilies, destinations, disease, drought, fountain, garden bloggers, garden design, lawn replace, native plants, ponds, tomatoes, vegetables, water features, water lilies, wildflowers, wildlife

Did you know that we have another native Texas hibiscus?

Hibiscus martianus (c) Linda Lehmusvirta
I sure didn’t until I was at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s sale last fall and nabbed this Hibiscus martianus. It was tiny and possibly not cold-hardy, so I protected it over winter under our patio “greenhouse.”  I potted it up in April and it’s been blooming ever since. It may be hardy to the high 20s, but I’m keeping it in a pot.

Native Turk’s caps robustly frame Sam Jr.’s late afternoon perch. Butterflies are all over them, and hummingbirds will be, too, when they show up! Usually they’re here by now, but guess they’re hanging out in your gardens!

Turk's cap near Sam's cat perch
In our little back “prairie” which replaced grass long ago, it’s always a wildlife field day with lantana, Rock rose, Turk’s cap, butterfly weed (Asclepias), goldenrod, passion vine and more.

Linda's home prairie
I’ve added some taller shrubs and clumping grasses to give the madness a little structure. They’re still getting their roots in, but I see a beautiful future ahead!  That’s part of gardening: looking ahead. This week we taped a garden where the woman has been planning her native understory trees while her shade trees grew up. Now, the seedlings she started are ready to take their understory place.

In some spots, oxalis is still hanging on, attracting bees.  Alongside, native Rock rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is beloved by butterflies and hummingbirds.

Rock rose and oxalis
In the den bed, it’s all about orange right now with ‘Patrick’ abutilon and ‘Tawny’ daylilies.

'Patrick' abutilon and 'Tawny daylily'
‘Patrick’ is just gearing up, but the daylilies are about out of steam.

'Tawny' daylily
Cedric and Sam Jr. complete the orange theme on a steamy morning that fogged up the lens.

Orange cats with orange flowers
Back to the prairie: One anchor is our bird bath with solar fountain. After the wildlife dines, they stop in for a drink and a bath.

Variance Vessel bird bath with solar fountain

Since the sound or scent of water heads wildlife straight to your garden, this week Tom meets with Bj Jenkins and Karl Tinsley from the Austin Pond Society to preview this year’s remarkable tour.

Tom Spencer, Bj Jenkins, Karl Tinsley Austin Pond Society
On June 9 & 10, they’ve got something for every budget, space, and design philosophy. CTG’s tour heads to one of them in Cedar Park where Lynne and Gary Wernli got their feet wet with pint-sized ponds and fountains in their gorgeous garden. Now, they have a full-sized pond where Lynne takes fabulous pictures of their diverse wildlife.

Lynne and Gary Wernli pond (c) Lynne Wernli

And you simply must meet their darling pygmy goats and check out their rain chain pond!

Many of us planted Afghan pines a few years ago. And many of us have lost them; two years ago I had to cut down one that we’d raised from a seedling. Daphne explains what happened to them, including Frank Simon’s tree that he and his family planted in 1996 as a living Christmas tree.

Afghan pine dying

Daphne’s pick of the week is Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora). It’s actually not a yucca, but in the lily family. Whatever, it’s a great structural addition to the drought-tough garden. Hummingbirds adore the flowers.  And you’ve got to respect a plant that can survive in a parking lot island!

Red yucca in parking lot island

These days, you can get Hesperaloes in other colors, too. I love Bob Beyer’s picture of his three that include ‘Yellow’ and the latest Brakelights® Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Perpa’ ).

Red yucca colors by Bob Beyer
But watch out where/how you plant them!  If Bermuda grass is in your zip code, do serious prep and stick with it when stragglers show up.

Red yucca competing with bermuda gras
Otherwise, you’ll end up with a horrifying picture like this, where Bermuda is strangling an innocent agave.

Agave smothered by bermuda grass
In the vegetable garden, we head to Lake Austin Spa Resort, where Trisha shows how she stakes tomatoes and climbing plants.  Climbers on her cattle panels also help shade some plants that need a little sunscreen!

vegetable supports at Lake Austin Spa
Until next week, Linda

  1. 19 Responses to “Cool plants for heat/pond tour to cool off your garden”

  2. By @Trisha Shirey on May 31, 2012

    Just got a Brakelight yucca. Great color!


    Linda reply on June 1st, 2012 3:23 pm:

    Wow! I may have to nab one myself.


  3. By Hella on Jun 1, 2012

    Hi Linda,
    Thanks again for all your wonderful photos! And by the way, the hummers are at my house – I’ll tell them, to come visit with you!
    I still have three different oxalis blooming but the abutilons are slow in catching on, just planted them last fall.
    Could you please resend the link for the solar fountain? I would not open for me.
    Thank you,


    Linda reply on June 1st, 2012 3:22 pm:

    Yes, send ‘em over, Hella! The link is I’ll check the blog again and make sure I didn’t mess up. Thanks for the heads up!


  4. By Bob Harper on Jun 1, 2012

    Dear Linda, have meant to ask for some time – why do we have to use the number ID to get to the current preview each week? I used to be able to get it by simply clicking on the proper place but now I have to go back to a previous “address” and change the numbers. I know I’m being lazy but am just wondering.


    Linda reply on June 1st, 2012 3:21 pm:

    Hi, Bob! I’m not sure what you mean. I’ll email you!


  5. By Desert Dweller / David C. on Jun 1, 2012

    Only saw Daphne’s spot online, but I always learn so much from her! I’ll watch the rest of the show tomorrow. Thanks for sharing your very calming garden scenes, too…greenery with cats (cats = attitude). Gotta love it!


    Linda reply on June 1st, 2012 3:21 pm:

    Thanks, David! I learn a lot from Daphne too!


  6. By Daphne on Jun 1, 2012

    Awesome post, as always. Love the ‘Brakelights’ Hesperaloe!


    Linda reply on June 1st, 2012 3:20 pm:

    I know! It is gorgeous!


  7. By Katina on Jun 1, 2012

    I don’t know why I never thought about it before – but you have a bunch of lilies and cats that go outside. Since my one cat had a run in with acute kidney failure, I’ve been very adamant about not getting any lilies (like to the point where if my mom sends me cut flowers, I throw out the lilies immediately – i know I”m probably being super overly cautious, but I really don’t want to have to make another trip to the e-vet).

    I’m a sucker for the yellow version of the red yucca…same with the firecracker fern. I’d better watch out, if I’m not careful, I’m going to end up with a “yellow” part of the garden.


    Linda reply on June 2nd, 2012 2:56 pm:

    Hi, Katina!

    Actually, the various lilies have never been a problem for my cats. They aren’t plant chewers or furniture scratchers, either. But it reminds me that it’s time to do another CTG on pet garden safety.

    Yes, I want that yellow firecracker fern: we feature it on CTG in a few weeks. And a “yellow” part of the garden would be such a happy little place!


  8. By Carla on Jun 5, 2012

    Great pictures:) Currently, we are staying in the hill country, and I’m loving the plants out here!! Carla-transplant from steamy east Texas


    Linda reply on June 7th, 2012 2:28 pm:

    Well, east Texas is great, too, but welcome to the Hill Country!


  9. By Laura on Jul 8, 2012

    Hi, I would like to get more information on the bird bath with solar fountain. When I click thru, it goes to, but they have no contact information and it doesn’t say anything about solar. ALSO, one time you had a show with someone, I think in Austin, who was creating cat proof birdbaths. No one seems to know what I am talking about.


    Linda reply on July 8th, 2012 9:55 am:

    Hi, Laura! I’m so glad you found it! He’s also selling some of his products at The Natural Gardener. I don’t know if they carry the solar bird baths or not, but we sure love ours! Good luck!


  10. By Laura on Jul 8, 2012

    Goodness, I think I finally found it. It is that guy at variance. Never mind thanks.


  11. By Joshue on Jun 1, 2013

    This is one of amazing ponds I have ever seen from Central Texas Gardener. thanks for this blog infos, I cannot find the subscription button please let me know :)



    Linda reply on June 4th, 2013 3:46 pm:

    It’s on the right hand sidebar!


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