Salvia leucantha, also known as Mexican Bush Sage, usually starts blooming in September or, if you prefer, late summer. I, for one, have never known it to fail. The plant in the photo was a small, bedding plant this past spring. Now, mid-October, it's a beautiful hummingbird and butterfly magnet.
We're still very green here in southeast Texas. Many gardeners, myself included, consider fall the best time of the year in the garden. For one thing, it feels great outside. It might not be very cool just yet, but it's much less hot and humid. For another, plants really seem to like it, too, and many thrive in the temperate conditions.
I've been moving things around a lot, still trying to figure out my space, but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it. I have a friend, Mary Ann, who has a knack for sharing a bit of wisdom at exactly the right time. No preaching, no lectures, just a spare comment now and then just when you need to hear it. After listening to my complaints and frustrations all summer, she calmly suggested that I try sticking with what works. I thought about it for a while and concluded that it was a much better approach than to stand knocking my head against the proverbial brick wall.
What works: Globe Amaranth, Gomphrena globosa
Our gomphrena reseeded itself from a single plant last year. I had one red gomphrena and one white. Curiously, the white is the only one that returned and in a big way. I'm sure that the red would have looked wonderful as well, but I cannot complain about such a generous showing. Gomphrena likes full sun and does not care to be pampered.
Then, of course, are pentas, pentas, and more pentas! I have them in the sun, in the shade, and in many places in between. Those in the photo below are thriving under the shade of live oaks and sharing a border bed with dwarf hollies. They are extremely undemanding and butterflies really do love them.
Recently, I added lots of Turk's Cap, malvaviscus drummondii, to the front beds. Turk's Cap is a Texas native. It's drought-tolerant, thrives in heavy or sandy soil, and blooms in sun or shade. The lovely flowers are a mighty draw for hummingbirds and butterflies, and it even produces edible fruit. In 2011, it was designated a Superstar by Texas AgriLife Research, Texas A&M. There are white and pink varieties as well.
So, here's to sticking with what works! That's not to say new plants can't be tried or introduced, but it's nice to have a happy foundation. Thank you, Mary Ann!
I plot and 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 and 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.