Blazing oxblood lilies, new Moby, & cool bugs


Wow, what gorgeous weather we’ve been having: sunny, low humidity, and perfect for getting outside, whether to plant, doze in a chair, or just gaze at the garden as it moves into its second spring. The showiest plants in my garden this week are the oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala bifida) massed in the raised beds behind the house. They come up around the toothy, fleshy leaves of soap aloe (Aloe maculata).


Red against blue, with the early ripening red “berries” of native chile pequin (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum) behind. Echoing the shape of the sun person’s head…


…predatory wheel bugs were mating among the Philippine violet leaves yesterday. I’d never encountered a wheel bug in my garden before, so this was a cool sighting!


Another buggy update: Shelob, the bigger of the garden spiders in the lower garden, is doing well, her web highlighted by the setting sun.


But Aragog, the slightly smaller sister, is nowhere to be seen, and her web is in tatters. I wonder if she got eaten?


Moving on…the Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea acuminata aztecorum) and bottle tree glow in late afternoon.


I planted Moby‘s replacement yesterday: another whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia), a wavy-leaved cultivar called ‘Vanzie’, which was a gift from Nathan at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery. Thanks, Nathan! ‘Vanzie’ looks tiny now (although it’s a bit bigger than Moby was when first planted), but it’ll grow quickly.

I’m filling in around it with silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’) — thanks for the suggestion, Bob Beyer — which may not make it through the winter if we have a sustained cold snap or two. But hopefully we’ll have another mild winter, and it’ll come back strong next spring.


Here’s another view of ‘Vanzie’ (in the background) but also the bloom spike of ‘Bloodspot’ mangave. I nearly cut the bloom spike down a few weeks ago, but I’m glad I left it because now bulbils (baby clones of the mother plant) are growing on it!


There are only three bulbils so far, but I’ll give it a few weeks to see if it makes more. And then I’ll harvest them as replacement plants for the mother plant, just as I did with Moby’s recently.


I was given a beautiful Mexican olive (Cordia boissieri) earlier this year from Betty Perez of McAllen, Texas. Betty and Colleen Hook of Quinta Mazatlan invited me to deliver the keynote presentation at Planta Nativa, McAllen’s native plant festival, this October. They were in Austin this spring and visited my garden, and that’s when Betty gifted me with this pretty little tree, native to South Texas, which she grew from seed at her ranch.


It recently suffered an unfortunate amputation of half its branches when my DH was trimming tree branches over the roof and one fell in just the wrong spot. It still looks pretty in a chartreuse plastic pot mulched with Mexican beach pebbles.


Thbbbbttt! That’s what’s happening in my garden this first true week of autumn. How about in yours?

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 Friday, October 14, and I hope to see you there! I’ll be signing books from 1 to 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.

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.
_______________________

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.

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