Fall in the air has oxblood lilies popping up


Finally! An honest-to-goodness cool front has pushed the awful heat out, and we’re enjoying some rain and 70-something temperatures here in Austin. In response, the oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala bifida), which were tentatively pushing up last week, have burst joyously into bloom. I like their rich red trumpets with golden stamens against yellow-striped ‘Bright Edge’ yucca (Yucca filamentosa ‘Bright Edge’).


I’ve moved my Austin sign several times over the years, most recently in front of the blue stucco wall by the pool, where it’s a perfect fit. My metalworking friend Bob Pool at Gardening at Draco made a stand for it, with legs that press into the ground, so I didn’t have to put holes in the stucco to hang it.


Other changes include the sad decline of my treasured Queen Victoria agave (Agave victoriae-reginae), which I had even longer than Moby, my recently expired whale’s tongue agave. After all the rain last year, her lower leaves succumbed to rot, and moving her to a pot with extra-sharp drainage couldn’t save her.


So I pulled her out and repotted the green pot with a ‘Monterrey Frost’ squid agave (A. bracteosa ‘Monterrey Frost’), which had outgrown its old pot. Isn’t it gorgeous here? The variegated squid agave, which is much less common than the regular (but also lovely) squid agave, gets a lot of admiration whenever I have gardening friends over. It occasionally produces pups, which I’ve shared, keeping just one for myself as insurance. If you’re in lust yourself, I believe I purchased it from Plant Delights, although it’s currently out of stock. Other online retailers may have it, though, so search around.


In the side yard on the opposite side of the house from the one I wrote about yesterday, fall has worked its magic. Native inland sea oats grass (Chasmanthium latifolium) is bent under the weight of toasty-brown oats, contrasting with billowy (spring-blooming) bamboo muhly grass (Muhlenbergia dumosa) on the right. Sparkling in the distance are the hibiscus-like flowers of Brazilian beauty pale pavonia (Pavonia hastata).


Walking up the path is now a meadowy experience, with an abundance of grasses and pavonia arching over. Low-growing native Gregg’s mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) is starting to bloom too, so I expect clouds of butterflies when the sun comes out again. I need to move that burgundy glazed orb — a cracked freebie from The Great Outdoors several years ago — next to the pale pavonia.


The color exactly matches that wine-colored eye!

Has fall begun transforming your garden?

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

Austinites and native-plant shoppers, I’ll be at the member’s day Fall Plant Sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 14, and I hope to see you there! I’ll be signing books between 1 and 3 pm in the Wild Ideas gift shop. If you’re not a member, of course you can still come on out and see the gardens and stop in at Wild Ideas. Hope to see you there!

South Texans, come see me at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, October 22. I’ll be delivering the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” that evening. Tickets are on sale at Quinta Mazatlan. I hope to see you there!

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.

Spider lilies are up


So much for calling the end of summer. It’s been as hot as Georgia asphalt for the past week, and I’ve been out in it every day, getting the garden in shape for fall. At least it’s given me a chance to appreciate the spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) that popped up in a bed of Mexican feathergrass by the blue fountain, which makes for a great color contrast with the red.


Did someone say “spider”? I’ve spotted several large garden spiders in the back yard lately. This one is using my red Circle Pot as an anchor, and has a splashy color echo going on as well.


That’s a big spider!, says Cosmo.


This is the best my majestic sage (Salvia guaranitica) has ever looked in this garden, thanks to the reasonable summer we’ve had this year, despite current sauna-like conditions. The American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) next to it is all berried up for fall…if it ever arrives.


And the dwarf Texas palmetto (Sabal minor) out front is looking happy too, with an arching stem of fruit dipping into the foxtail fern (Asparagus meyeri) below.

Hope you’re enjoying more pleasant weather in your garden, but happy Monday all the same!

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

Austinites and native-plant shoppers, I’ll be at the member’s day Fall Plant Sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 14, and I hope to see you there! I’ll be signing books between 1 and 3 pm in the Wild Ideas gift shop. If you’re not a member, of course you can still come on out and see the gardens and stop in at Wild Ideas. Hope to see you there!

South Texans, come see me at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, October 22. I’ll be delivering the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” that evening. Tickets are on sale at Quinta Mazatlan. I hope to see you there!

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.

Zinging through the end of summer


Although I was gone for half of it, which no doubt helped, August was one of the most pleasant Augusts I’ve experienced since moving to Austin 22 years ago. It just hasn’t been all that hot (in the low to mid-90s F, and even some days in the upper 80s), with clouds that keep the Death Star at bay and a good deal of rain to boot.

What gives?? I don’t know, but I like it! Austin is lush and green right now. Take this evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulata), for example.


It’s a beauty in late summer. I spotted this one outside a restaurant in South Austin, but I was first introduced to the vine at Philip’s East Side Patch. It’s not really a wisteria, nor is it invasive like Chinese wisteria, although, according to Philip, it can be a jungly beast. I wish I had a sunny fence in need of a little color.


At home in my own garden, I’m so glad I didn’t miss the short-lived flowering of the pond crinum while I was away on vacation.


The burgundy-chocolatey leaves are wonderful enough. Add raspberry-colored flowers and you have perfection. Well, almost. I did have to stake them to keep them from face-planting in the pond. Local readers, if you’re curious, I found this plant at Hill Country Water Gardens in Cedar Park. It must be protected from our occasional hard freezes, which I do by dropping it temporarily to the bottom of the pond.


Indoors, I’m loving ‘Moonshine’ snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’), a freebie from the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling. One of the sponsors, Costa Farms, gave away these and other “Plants of Steel.” It’s perfect for my Rick Van Dyke snake pot, which I bought at Austin’s Cactus & Succulent Society Show one year.

Speaking of which, the Cactus & Succulent Show is happening this weekend, and you’ll find Rick Van Dyke selling his pots, among other vendors, plus lots of cool succulents and cacti.


I seem to have a thing for pots that look like they’re alive. Here’s one of my new tentacle pots — I tend to call them squid pots — with a squiddy tillandsia popped in it for summer.


A rusty wall planter holds ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense), another succulent (can’t remember the name), and Coahuila lace cactus (Echinocereus pectinatus var. coahuila). And a tiny chair from Potted.


A mass planting of paleleaf yucca (Y. pallida) is looking mighty fine under the live oaks. I was inspired to plant a grid of these after seeing something similar in designer Tait Moring’s garden. Native groundcover woolly stemodia (Stemodia lanata) fills in around the yuccas.


In the same bed, mullein’s fuzzy leaves are so pettable.


In the streetside bed, autumn-herald garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) is blooming. Its white flower clusters stand out against deep-purple ‘Vertigo’ pennisetum, a trial plant Proven Winners sent me last year. The lavender blossoms of Mexican oregano (Poliomintha longiflora) are a paler echo of the ‘Vertigo’ grass.


Garlic chives and ‘Vertigo’ pennisetum


And a closeup of the garlic chives, which bees adore. I haven’t seen many bees lately, though, and I hope it’s not because neighbors have been spraying for mosquitoes (a known bee killer).


In Moby news, my whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia) that finished flowering months ago has started producing bulbils — baby clones of the mother plant — at the top of the bloom spike. How cool is that! I’ll wait a little longer to make sure they’re viable before cutting down the bloom stalk, which is as big as a sapling tree and has started to lean. No doubt Moby will give up the ghost soon, after this final burst of reproductive energy.

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

Austin Cactus & Succulent Society’s Fall Show & Sale is this weekend at Zilker Botanical Garden, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Go early for best selection or later for better deals!

South Texans, come see me at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, October 22. I’ll be delivering the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” that evening. Tickets go on sale soon at Quinta Mazatlan. I hope to see you there!

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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