Need shade? Read my article about native vines in Wildflower


It’s summer. It’s Texas. And we all know it’s only getting hotter. That’s a line from an old radio ad, but truer words were never spoken. If you need shade in order to enjoy your yard at this time of year, how about giving a native vine a try? (Southern gardeners, do wait until planting time rolls around in October.)


In the summer 2016 issue of Wildflower, the magazine of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center here in Austin, I’m writing about native vines for shade. My picks are focused on vines for the South and Southwest, but for a California perspective, I interviewed Bay Area designer and author Rebecca Sweet, who shared her favorite native vines for shade. Oh, and that’s my photo of native wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) too.

I’ll post a link when it’s available. In the meantime, consider subscribing in order to get articles and beautiful photos about native plants, plus news about the Wildflower Center and native planting efforts across North America. All you have to do is join the Wildflower Center. Your membership also gets you reciprocal membership to many botanical gardens around the country, a perk that comes in handy if you travel.


Speaking of the Wildflower Center, I dropped in for a quick visit a couple of weekends ago and enjoyed the gardens around the cafe. The grotto pond was looking terrific with a supersized Jamaican swamp sawgrass (Cladium mariscus ssp. jamaicense), a wetland sedge native to the Gulf Coast region, and a hibiscus (H. moscheutos) with flowers the size of salad plates.


Jamaican swamp sawgrass


Hibiscus moscheutos


The view from the cafe windows


And the iconic cistern tower, which stores rainwater from the roofs. An interior stair segues halfway up to an exterior stair, which leads all the way to the top for a bird’s-eye view.


Coneflower and mistflower in the meadow


Bouquets of native flowers and grasses from the garden adorn the cafe tables, offering an up-close view of these beautiful plants that connect us to the natural landscape we inhabit.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Foliage plants in bloom for Foliage Follow-Up


Even plants we grow primarily for the beauty of their leaves and their form will flower. On this Foliage Follow-Up, I’m sharing two bold-foliage plants that are adding a jolt of drama with surprising bloom stalks.

One is dwarf Texas palmetto (Sabal minor), a native Texas plant that I’ve never seen in bloom before. Boy, was I surprised recently to see a slender, pliable flower spike arise from the heart of one of my sabals. Inconspicuous, cream-colored flowers are held on branching stems along the top of the spike. This is as showy as they get. Later, small black fruits should appear on the spike.


Regular readers know that Moby, my whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia), is blooming — a tree-like flower spike that shot up to 15 feet in a matter of weeks. Tiers of yellow flowers are opening from bottom to top, with the lower-tier flowers already faded and dropped. The topmost flowers are still in bloom for now.

As dramatic as the bloom spike is, it presages Moby’s death, since agaves bloom just once and then die.


Moby’s beautiful blue-gray leaves still look pretty good for now. The plant hasn’t begun its inevitable collapse. But in preparation for that day, I now have a new Agave ovatifolia waiting in the wings — a lovely gift from horticulturist Nathan Unclebach at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery! Meet ‘Vanzie’, a wavy-leaved variety of the standard whale’s tongue, which will take Moby’s place when he dies.

This is my June post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on in your garden this month? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I’d appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Coneflower frenzy at Wildflower Center


What better greeting than a plethora of purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)? The ballerina-skirted beauties are brightening the entry to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center right now. Like Dr. Seussian trees, several multi-trunked Yucca rostrata stand behind them, adding shimmery drama.


The long view


Needle-sharp gray agaves — Agave neomexicana, I think — and grasses add starburst forms but vastly different textures to this beautiful, early-summer scene.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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