We are approaching the last of July; gardening season is far behind us, and here I am browsing the flower sections of Home Depot and others, trying to control the urge to get one of each variety. I would classify myself as having a serious problem except for the dozens of other shoppers also loading their carts.
My yard consists of a shallow layer of top soil over a gravel base. That's the best part. There is a large amount of solid rock between the house and the road. I continue to have hopes for the part with the layer of soil; the rock, proven to be at least 40' thick, as proven by a core taken 45 years ago, will remain "as is. "
Many plants have met their doom in my planting areas. Cactus and Yucca are prolific in the untouched part of the acreage. Roses are not happy here. Even the newer variety of knock Out, developed for our difficult Texas growing area, is needing special attention.
I have hope that this coneflower, recently planted, will approve of it's location and become permanent. We once had some growing wild down the side of our hill but that was before we had a lot of underbrush cleared because of fire danger. Most of the wild flowers were drastically rearranged.
Some wild flowers look rather straggly when not in bloom...in other words, they look like weeds! There is one that I now have in a flower bed, transplanted from another part of this gravely hill. It is in it's second year in a flower bed and I hope that after it's many years in the wild This is a Liatris, budding now for late August or early September spikes of lavender flowers. It's flowers are long-lasting, even providing filler in floral arrangements after it has become dry. After years of seeing it growing wild, I was surprised to see it at the florists.
For years I have wanted what is called a Butterfly weed. A member of the milkweed family, it does not spread as some do, but I have seen the same clump appear year after year...at least 15 or 20 years, in the same location by the side of a country road. It's blossom head is a cluster of small orange flowers, each plant cluster having six or seven heads or clusters, making a striking display. It may be bought from wildflower speciality stores for a rather hefty price, but I definitely must have one. If it can thrive unattended by the side of the road, surely it can survive my care.
Here in the south, one of the showiest, most dependable flowering shrubs is the Crepe Myrtle, and it is so
tough that once established it withstands the Texas heat. Different plants seem to have different timetables, making their gorgeous displays last for weeks. The colors range from white to light pink and lavender, to a deep rose and almost red color. Plenty of sun and water will create a mass of color.
Joining the crepe myrtle at about this time in July, is the Purple Sage. I have seen one of these shrubs, in a totally neglected location, be completely covered in lavender blossoms for almost 40 years. It appears to be dying now, and I wish someone would give it first aid. Like the Crepe Myrtle, all plants do not bloom at the same time. I'm waiting for mine, and hope it has enough sun to put on a show.
It's not only a July or August bloomer: it brings color from it's very first bud. Let it have plenty of light but shield it from the hottest sun in the afternoon for that will cause the blossoms to close. It has
several names: Moss Rose is the most common. Portulaca is most likely the name on it's tag. Growing wild is a much less showy plant, it's blossoms are usually small, quarter inch size, but with the same colorful variety as the larger Portulaca: yellow, orange and shades of rose.It's succulent leaves look the same as those of its larger showier cousin. The wild variety is usually called purslane and is loaded with healthful additions to one's diet. Don't use me as an authority..read about it before you dump it into your next salad!
The days remain hot and the lawn is becoming brittle. Our lowering water table is enough of a concern that I will water only enough to keep the roots alive. The flower beds will get their share and we will be rewarded with their blossoms. The day will seem cooler because of their bright colors.