Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The sunrise was so lovely this morning.  The sun behaved gently; it did not show itself as a sizzling orb before lighting the sky most delicately.
There's a lot going on in the garden right now, including, at this very moment, buckets and buckets of rain!  Whoop whoop yee-haw hooray!  The weather has been milder this week, in the low to mid-90's during the day and often cloudy, which makes a difference if you're working in the garden. As September draws near, many plants that go semi-dormant in high summer are preparing to show off once again.  The roses are beginning to bloom more vigorously, Mexican bush sage, salvia leucantha, is almost in full bloom, and those few plants I took the time to prune earlier in the summer are coming back strong.  Hummingbirds are everywhere and, indeed, bird activity in general is beginning to pick up.  I've seen lots of butterflies, too; sometimes I feel I should never walk outside without my camera. 
But I should not give credit only to those plants returning full force with milder weather.  What of the plants that have bravely faced the heat day in, day out?  One of my favorite annuals is globe amaranth, also known as bachelor's buttons.  Gomphrena globosa is from the tropics and gomphrena haageana is a Texas native and there are lots of hybrids between the two.  These plants love the heat and butterflies love these plants.

I learned three things about the globe amaranth today:  it is a designated Texas Superstar, it makes a nice tea, and the globes aren't flowers but bracts.  I wasn't surprised that it's a Texas Superstar; I was surprised that I was surprised!  It's tough, reliable, and maintains its good looks throughout the hottest season of the year.  I was a little surprised that the dried globes make a mildly sweet herbal tea that's reputedly good for the skin.   I was very surprised that the globes aren't flowers!  The flowers are hardly noticeable.
Can you see the tiny, yellow flowers?

I have my doubts about its anti-aging effects (although I suppose it's worth a try), but I do know that it's a cheerful addition to the garden, even on a rainy day.  I wish all of my plants were looking so perky; I think they will soon enough!




Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Purple Passion

When we say we love or hate something "with a purple passion", what does that mean?   Although it indicates strong emotion, when I checked out purple on the color wheel, I did not find it a particularly passionate color.  It denotes royalty, wisdom, creativity, magic, and mystery, amongst other things.  I tried then to substitute the various connotative words for the word "purple".  Wise passion (no), creative passion (yes), magical passion (maybe), mysterious passion (?), royal passion. . . .  I liked "royal passion" best, as it sounds rather grand, so I looked up the word royal.  Merriam Webster offered an interesting variety of definitions -- the obvious being "of, relating to, or subject to the crown", the surprising " requiring no exertion", and the most useful for my purpose, "of superior size, magnitude, or quality" and "magnificent".  To love something and especially someone with a "magnificent passion" sounds good to me!

But this is not a romance novel!  This is about my magnificent purple blooms, although true they aren't particularly magnificent at the moment, nor do I have a particular passion for purple.  I like it, though, and certainly enjoy it in the garden.  Strolling amidst the various beds and blooms this morning, I somberly concluded that the gardener is equally to blame with the weather if certain plants aren't looking their best.  Yet most of our plants are well-chosen and finally well-placed and they are tough enough to bloom despite the heat, humidity, and negligent gardener (for shame).

First, the bluebells:

Then the ruellia:

Next verbena:


The salvia begins its comeback from a severe trimming:
And finally, Angelonia:


I feel that it's very appropriate to wish everyone a wonderfully purple week, a week that's wise, creative, magical, magnificent, with as much passion as you wish for!  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hunkering Down in High Summer

Hi, Everyone! 

Do you remember me?  I hope so and I also hope that you've been having a great summer.  It's been a hot, hectic season for me so far with a lot of joy as well as a fair dose of stress.  Isn't that life?  I didn't mean to disappear so suddenly.  I've missed reading my favorite blogs and writing about my garden.  As for my garden, aside from dashing out to the orchard or for some herbs now and then, I've hardly seen it!  At dawn and dusk, the mosquitoes would gladly take a gardener as a meal.  I haven't been home much in the middle of the day, but if I were, I would have to garden in spurts.  We finally had our annual midsummer breakdown and hired some workers one weekend to help us tidy things up.  For now, everything is mulched and more or less weeded.  But it's such a sauna out there; even our hardiest summer bloomers aren't thrilled.  They are, however, persistent.  That's the beauty of drought-resistant, heat-loving plants.


I am eager to learn news of other gardens, the weather, the challenges, the home runs.  As for me, it's the time of year that I prefer to do most of my gardening from the proverbial armchair.  Just as gardeners in cold climates have a little more time to dream in deep winter, those of us in hot climates sometimes find it a relief to take a breather in high summer.  At least, I do!