May flowers from A (agave) to V (vitex)


As the days fly toward summer, the daylilies are showing off their lovely throats…


…and blushing, ruffled petals. Here’s ‘Best of Friends’.


The first ‘Apple Tart’ smolders among the white-striped flax lilies.


Stretching on long stems like giraffe necks, ‘Wilson’s Yellow’ daylily stands tall amid grasses and aster foliage.


Chaste lilac (Vitex agnus-castus) blooms extravagantly in clusters of rich purple.


Firecracker fern (Russelia rotundifolia) revs up as the days grow hotter, dazzling the copper snake.


And what’s Moby, my whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia), up to? The lowest two tiers of flowers are now open.


The banana-like buds have opened into a densely packed fringe of golden stamens.


They’re quite lovely.


It’s like a flowering tree has erupted from the center of the agave!


Two annual ‘Black Pearl’ peppers (Capsicum annuum) overwintered (the garden didn’t get a hard freeze this year), and they’ve already bloomed and produced their distinctive black, glossy, berry-like peppers. The nearly black leaves are just as striking.


Heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata), a lovely, summer-dormant native groundcover, is at peak bloom, its lavender spires standing tall over pewter leaves.


And my sweet boy Cosmo surveys his domain from his favorite perch, one of the stucco seat walls, at day’s end.

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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Tomorrow: Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, 10:45-11:45 am (new time!). Get inspired to save water in your garden during my presentation at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. I’ll be at the book-signing table after the talk, with copies of both The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! available for purchase. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

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.

Berry-eating birds flock to the Wildflower Center


While admiring possumhaw hollies (Ilex decidua) at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center last Friday, I couldn’t help noticing lots of birds doing the same. A solitary cedar waxwing commuted for snacks from a bald cypress, where my son was able to get a few photos of it.


Cedar waxwings are such handsome birds, with their smooth, brown backs and chests, butter-yellow tummies, and robber’s masks.


I’d never noticed the flash of red on their wings.


Here’s where the feast was held.


Possumhaw berries are at peak redness right now, and there are still plenty of them.


Soon the birds will strip them bare, so enjoy them now.


Aside from the cedar waxwing, we saw mockingbirds devouring berries.


And tufted titmice


Like the cedar waxwing, this tufted titmouse darted back and forth between the possumhaw and a sheltering bald cypress.


We even spotted a vole (I think) gathering snacks at ground level.


One more look at the cedar waxwing.

Are you noticing lots of bird activity in your garden too?

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Upcoming Events and News

Join me for my kick-off garden talk for my new book, The Water-Saving Garden, on February 27, at 10 am, at The Natural Gardener nursery in southwest Austin. My talk is called “Hold the Hose! How to Make Your Garden Water Thrifty and Beautiful,” and it’s free to the public. Afterward I’ll have books available for purchase and will be glad to autograph one for you! Dress for the weather, as the talk will be held in the big tent outside.

Look for me on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

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

Bluebonnets already a-blue-m at the Wildflower Center


Well, this is a surprise! Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) ordinarily bloom in April, but a bonny patch was abloom yesterday in the family garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.


Don’t go running over for your photo op with the kids. Only about 3 plants are blooming this early. But I hope it’s a preview of a good wildflower season to come.


Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) was in full flower as well — not that unusual for our mild-winter climate. The one in my back garden is blooming too, although not as prolifically.


Mmmm, that sweet scent.


Possumhaw hollies (Ilex decidua) are at their reddest berry-liciousness right now too.


Throughout the gardens, the berries are a-blazing, and the birds are taking notice.


I enjoyed watching cedar waxwings, tufted titmice, mockingbirds, and more feasting on the berries yesterday and will share pictures soon.


I’d been meaning to get down to the Wildflower Center (all the way across town) all day but didn’t arrive until around 4 pm. Happily, the slanting sunlight of late afternoon made for better picture taking. See, Mom, procrastination does pay!


Yuccas and nolina amid limestone boulders — very Austin.


Back in the sunny family garden, big muhly grasses (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri) are looking very fine, with tawny upright seedheads.


The ghostly branches of Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana) seem to shine brightly in late winter, once the semi-evergreen leaves drop.


Texas persimmon and Lindheimer’s muhly, a drought-tolerant, sun-loving combo


The buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides) play lawn was getting some use yesterday. Bronze sculptures of native wildlife appear throughout the family garden, making a fun “safari” for children.

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Upcoming Events and News

I’m on Central Texas Gardener on KLRU this Saturday at noon and 4 pm and again on Sunday at 9 am. Consult the schedule below to see if it’s airing in your city, or watch online (my segment starts at the 9-minute mark).

Look for me on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

Hold the Hose! Join me for my kick-off garden talk for my new book, The Water-Saving Garden, on February 27, at 10 am, at The Natural Gardener nursery in southwest Austin. My talk is called “Hold the Hose! How to Make Your Garden Water Thrifty and Beautiful,” and it’s free to the public. Afterward I’ll have books available for purchase and will be glad to autograph one for you! Dress for the weather, as the talk will be held in the big tent outside.

Have you watched my zippy new book trailer?

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

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