Hot summer color and Chocolate Chips manfreda in bloom


Austin’s lovely, unexpectedly extended spring appears to have faded into summer’s mid-90sF heat and humidity. While I may be complaining about the sauna-like conditions, my garden doesn’t mind. Take this cute little cactus for example. Last year it resided on a sunny windowsill in the kitchen, but this spring I moved it into the garden. Now it’s thanking me with a stunning orange flower.


Why, you’re quite welcome, little guy.


Water lilies love the heat, and in the stock-tank pond ‘Colorado’ is revving up with new, starry blossoms.


Continuing the peach theme — with a nod to my friend Susan Morrison‘s article “Peach Goes with Everything” in the current issue of Fine Gardening — I’m enjoying the peach-petaled, green-throated flowers of ‘Best of Friends’ daylily.


My ‘Wonderful’ pomegranate tree is decorated with dozens of frilly, orange blossoms.


Last year this resulted in exactly one pomegranate fruit, which split before it ripened. While I planted it for ornamental reasons, I’m eager to see if I get more fruit this year. After all, the fruit is quite ornamental as well!


This is for you, Loree/Danger Garden. I’m bragging about the towering forest of blooms from my ‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda. One, two, three…let’s see, six bloom spikes on this plant.


All kidding aside, I know you would enjoy them. I’ve had two groups tour my garden since last week, and I was delighted that the manfreda timed their annual Dr. Seussian appearance for my visitors.

FYI, I was also told by several blogging friends this weekend that my pictures do not accurately convey the size of Moby, my ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave. I need to start putting something in my photos for scale, perhaps. But just so you know, his girth is now about 6 feet, and his flukes stretch to a height of 4-1/2 to 5 feet. He’s quite the whale!


I’ll end with a couple of cheery flowers on my Sunny Lemon Star clockvine…


…and the cool, blue-green, native-Texas groundcover heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata), which was easily the most-asked-about plant among my garden-tour visitors.

Happy Monday!

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

11 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    There is nothing prettier than a cactus in flower. Worth all the waiting. The secret is not to miss the bloom as many only last one day, especially our native lace cactus. I remember seeing heart leaf skullcap on a garden tour many years ago. Must have that. Now I may be sorry. It is popping up everywhere. However it is stunning for the winter and early spring months.

    It can be aggressive, but then again it’s easy to pull up when it appears where you don’t want it. I do love a big patch of it, and finally I have one in the front garden and one in the back. —Pam

  2. Peter/Outlaw says:

    While I don’t envy your heat and humidity, I do admire your heat loving plants! Moby is especially impressive!

    Moby just said thank you by performing a lobtail. —Pam

  3. Wow that’s quite the bloom-spike explosion! Has the plant grown into a small patch or is that really just a single plant putting out that many spikes? Either way…impressive! Oh and I love that orange cactus flower!

    A single division has grown rather quickly into a small patch, Loree. I really should divide it, but I’ve been enjoying the big spring display each year and so I keep waiting. —Pam

  4. sandy lawrence says:

    I bought heartleaf skullcap on your recommendation and love that plant! It is in an area where I want a drift of them and I have been amazed at how fast this no-care plant spreads. Yours is lovely. Mine is behind yours in bloom time, buds just starting to open.

    I’m so glad you’re enjoying it, Sandy. When it blooms, you’ll love it even more! —Pam

  5. Great early summer blooms. I think SoCal is headed there as well. I wish I could find that Skullcap locally – it might tamp down the heat in the garden a bit.

    I’d be glad to send you some seeds, Kris. Email me if you’re interested. —Pam

  6. Scott Weber says:

    I can see why they were asking about the Scutellaria…it’s gorgeous!

    Yes, it’s one of my favorites for spring, Scott. —Pam

  7. Tom E says:

    Best of Friends daylily — what a beauty! Our Austin daylily club has its flower show and sale this Saturday, May 25, from 1 pm to 4 pm at the Zilker Garden Center. It really fun to see 300 daylily flowers each in their own vases — awesome! The Design (arrangements) part will be cool too with the theme “Keep Austin Weird”.
    Pam, anything you can do to help get the word out will be appreciated.
    Hope my Best of Friends blooms hold out till Saturday!

    My ‘Best of Friends’ is still going strong. Hope yours is too. I’ll mention the show on Digging’s Facebook page. —Pam

  8. Ally says:

    Thanks for sharing the size of Moby. I need to evaluate the available space for my Moby Jr. as soon as possible. I’m concerned I may have put it too close to the driveway and I wouldn’t want to incur any future vehicle damage :) Luckily, I saw yours while there’s still time for a correction if needed.

    Yep, move it before it gets too big. I can vouch for the difficulty of moving an agave of any size. —Pam

  9. peter schaar says:

    Manfreda flowers – the finger in the electric outlet! Got to love them.

    Perfect description, Peter. —Pam

  10. Indie says:

    I’m always so surprised to see the beautiful flowers that bloom on cacti, not being very familiar with them. Very pretty! I’ve seen seen such an agave before – they get impressively large!

    And your manfreda blooms definitely do their part to help keep Austin weird. ;)

    Ha — yes, they do! —Pam

  11. Mac says:

    Oh I love that groundcover!