Spring comes like a flash flood in Texas


All at once it’s here: the insistent flush of spring. After Austin’s winter-that-wasn’t, spring arrived early this year thanks to above-average temperatures. SXSW attendees may see the unusual sight of Texas mountain laurels blooming alongside Texas bluebonnets, which are beginning to carpet roadsides blue about a month early.

This is my first spring to enjoy the tightly held raspberry blossoms on my new weeping redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis ‘Traveller’). I wish the above image was my usual view of it, framed by the frosty blue foliage of ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona cypress and a chartreuse bamboo muhly grass. But no. It’s the view if I gingerly step through a garden bed, crouch among autumn sage, and risk a butt-poke from a testy Yucca rostrata.


Reality bites. Here’s my ordinary view of this lovely tree, framed by nothing more exciting than a faded board fence. I’ve considered placing a colored screen of some sort behind the redbud to show off its form and flowers, but I hate to clutter. Still thinking…


Ahh, taking a whiff of the aforementioned Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) is a return to childhood on a hot summer day, when you come inside to guzzle a glass of grape Kool-Aid.


I can’t resist smelling their gorgeous, cascading blossoms every time I pass one on a walk.


Native spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis) adds more purple to my garden, and delights the bees as well.


Spring in Austin is not all sweet pastels, however. Orange makes a big appearance, which I don’t mind at all. Here’s Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) in full bloom in the dappled shade of live oaks. Now that winter is definitely over (such as it was), I’ve rehung my Circle Pot from Potted from a tree to provide a sizzling color echo. In the background is another piece of garden art — a spiraling metal “ribbon” from Joshua’s Native Plants in Houston.


I potted up a Mexican honeysuckle on my shady front porch last fall, right before the garden tour, and it’s blooming too. I like that pop of orange against my turquoise door and rolling plant cart.


More orange! ‘Marilyn’s Choice’ abutilon dangles its two-toned, pendant flowers like old-fashioned earrings.


Up on the deck — at least until the Death Star returns to full strength and I have to give it some shade — I’m enjoying a colorful succulent dish given to me by Lucinda Hutson. I don’t know what The red-flowering plant is a kalanchoe, with an aloe and ghost plant in the middle.


Out front, gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida) has exploded in a blaze of chartreuse-yellow.

Amid all the springtime loveliness, my garden is also being buried alive in leathery, brown live oak leaves. Alas, this is the time of year when live oaks drop last year’s leaves and put out new ones, all in the space of about two weeks. It makes an unholy mess that significantly diminishes the beauty of my springtime garden, but I just lean in for the close-up views and try to ignore the rest. Soon the leaves will be followed by pile-rugs of powdery live oak pollen, but that’s another story!


Remember: My virtual book-release and giveaway party runs through this Sunday, March 6th. Six blogging friends and I are offering 7 great giveaways related to saving water in the garden. If you haven’t already entered, please pop over to my giveaway post to enter (all you have to do is leave a comment there) and find the links to the other participating blogs. Don’t miss out on your chances to win!

Also, Digging is nominated for the 2016 Better Homes and Gardens Blogger Awards in the Garden category. I’d love to have your vote! Click here to vote (refresh the page if necessary; it seems a little glitchy, so you might try again later if you have trouble), and select “Skip This Category” to get to the garden blog nominees. You’re allowed to vote once per day through this Monday, 3/7. Thanks for your support!

I welcome your comments! If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.

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22 Responses

  1. Heather/xericstyle says:

    Ha! So true…that is how I feel! Open the door – Boom, HOT – okay….let me take a breath…that happened fast!

  2. Pam, I like the colour of the redbud against the grey fence. I think that the details of the fence are what distracts from the shape and colour of the plant. They may disappear as the tree grows. But if not, a grey screen could work.

  3. TexasDeb says:

    Thanks for risking that butt poke – the slightly tortuous branches festooned with purple provide a lovely vignette with the icy blues as backup. Suddenly I’m looking at my “plain” redbud with a little less adoration…it’ll pass. I’m always coveting other people’s garden pretties.

    I’m a little frustrated the bluebonnet blossoms and oak leaves are going to be so closely timed this year but at least with the bloom spikes already up and at ’em the flowers might yet dance well above their piled up leafy companions. And I’m certainly admiring that potted Justicia…what a lovely pop of color for all travelers in and out your door to appreciate (and now all your blog readers as well). Orange and turquoise unite for the front door win!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Ah yes, those live oak leaves. I raked up 4 bins’ worth today, but when I looked up at the trees, all I saw was a sea of yellowing leaves. Lots more to come! Bluebonnets, you better stand tall this year. —Pam

  4. Renee says:

    Spring definitely is there in your garden! I like how you combine the plants and your garden art. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. It is so exciting to see all of your blooms and plants looking so healthy. Our area isn’t too far behind this year due to some warm weather we have been having. It is going above normal for a week or so, coming this week. Things will be popping here too.

  6. Kris P says:

    I love that Justicia, which I’ve just added to my wish list.

  7. Diana Studer says:

    red flowering succulent may be Kalanchoe?

  8. So pretty!! I love purples and oranges. I don’t think the wood privacy fence is a bad backdrop at all, I’d love to have that here instead of the weedy messy chain link fences. How funny, I just bought a small garden gnome recently and put him in a pot with sedums haha I hope my mountain laurel blooms, it’s on the north side of the house so it’s not getting much sun yet. Thanks for sharing pics, your yard looks awesome, enjoy the wacky early spring!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I had a chain-link fence in Raleigh, many years ago, and found it made a perfect trellis for vines. Maybe do a sales job on your neighbor and plant your favorite vines to cover it up. I grow vines on my wood fences too, but I have to string wires for them to climb. —Pam

      • The side fence is already covered in huge horrible old trumpet vines that are trying to eat my house, and the back fence has hackberry trees all woven throughout. Those are great ideas for a clean slate scenario… If I’m ever able to destroy the trumpet vines I might plant something more tame!

  9. Evan says:

    That Mexican honeysuckle is beautiful! I love orange blooms. I also love purple and grape-scented blooms and always enjoy seeing pictures of Sophora secundiflora. I’ve never even seen one in person, but it’s one of my favorites. I’m so tempted to try one, but I fear it would only suffer in my acidic clay loam and cool, wet winters.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I took more pictures of the Mexican honeysuckle this morning and will post them tomorrow, Evan. It’s a-MAZ-ing right now. The sophora is an incredible tree, but you’re right — it would not be happy in a cool, damp climate. But hey, now you have a reason to visit central Texas in early March! —Pam

  10. rickii says:

    You ran the gantlet to bring us that first shot but I don’t think the fence is half bad as a background for the redbud. You can really see the shape against the plain boards. Wish I could stroll through your garden…it all looks so fresh and inviting.

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