While some native plants do excite lots of attention, I've never heard anyone brag about Rose Mallow, otherwise known as Rock Rose, Latin Name Pavonia Lasiopetala. I am here to do so. It belongs to the Mallow family, Malvaceae, and in fact the flowers look like tiny hibiscus. It's a wonderful plant, flowering from Spring through Fall. It might even bloom through winter if it's in a protected spot or the weather is mild. It grows quickly and branches out generously. It's not aggressive; it is exuberant. It has a high heat tolerance, accepts full sun or part shade, and it's not fussy about soil or water. What's not to love?
The only thing a gardener needs to consider is the amount of space available, as the plant does tend to branch out. According to the Texas Native Plants Database, it grows from 1.5 to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. If you aren't gardening in Texas, don't worry! There are plenty of pavonia species out there. Many are known as swamp mallows. They are all named after the late Spanish botanist Jose Antonio Pavon Jiminez, just in case you're curious.
If you have a space that could use some pretty, easy-going little flowers, try Rock Rose.
Hooray! Do you see it? Do you see the flower at the tippy top of our yucca gloriosa?
It's our third summer in our current house and the plant has never flowered before. So exciting! It's supposed to flower every year, but our area was suffering drought conditions; it was probably using all of its energy to survive. This spring, we installed a sprinkler system and it's also rained a lot. Yuccas don't need lots of water, but they need some. Now, our yucca is ready to roll.
Yucca gloriosa, also known as Spanish Dagger because of its sharp, pointy leaves, is native to the coastal regions and islands of southeastern North America. It is a member of the genus asparagaceae, along with agava and, to my surprise, asparagus. Also to my surprise is that after flowering, this yucca produces edible fruit. From what I've read, it's supposed to be quite tasty, but since I didn't plant the plant myself and it's all news to me, I'm not really to eager to try. We'll see what happens if fruits ever do really appear. I know it makes sense, the fruit following flowers. I guess I'll feel more comfortable when I know what I'm dealing with.
In the meantime, I'll just enjoy the spectacular bloom.
I plot and I plan. I work under dangerous conditions. I am frequently under assault. At times, I might drop everything and run for cover. I strive to work towards the greater good.
Gardening in southeast Texas can be brutal. Heat, humidity, and potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes are problems for more than half the year and a dangerous combination in summer. That’s to say nothing of fire ants and other biting, stinging insects. Snakes, too, although they only make a rare appearance in my little garden. Poison ivy and oak are common and birds sow both generously.
Despite some uncomfortable conditions, I feel very protective of the wild in my garden. It’s important to know friend from foe, for example, venomous from nonvenomous snakes. Even then, it’s often not necessary to engage.
As for the bugs, it is not fine with us to hurt the good with the bad. Pesticides are banned. So are herbicides. Our beds, whether food or ornamental, are organic. And while our garden isn’t entirely native, we do have plenty of native plants that please the local wildlife as well as ourselves.
While every garden is different, they all offer challenges, pleasures, time with nature. Much like people, they have their good days and bad days, high seasons and low; and they can all be fun and beautiful if you love them enough.