This beautiful flower was one of the first things I ever planted in my garden and I couldn’t remember its name.
At first I thought it was some kind of skullcap because I didn’t know anything about plants when I bought it. It kept popping up occasionally in early summer, in the same places where I’d sown Texas Red Sage (Salvia coccinea) seeds. Is this color a naturally-occurring variety of red sage? I don’t know, but it continues to reseed and looks beautiful mingled with its red sisters.
This lovely little annual phlox has bloomed in my garden from November until April. It is not as showy as the big garden phlox like Phlox paniculata, but I love how little I need to take care of it and how it blooms when not much else is. I’ve often seen it for sale in nurseries in the fall along with other annuals like snapdragons and alyssum, but it’s just as easy to grow from seed and will bloom in fall if you start early enough. (The seed germinates in about 3-5 days if you keep it moist, and often flowers about 7 weeks after sowing.) Read more
February 2009. I was greeted by this flower last fall, nearly five years after living in our house. I had never noticed it before, but this year was full of surprises, in the middle of a drought no less.
A whole ribbon of these appeared on a very shady fenceline near our dog run. Not the prettiest place in the world, but where better to surprise me with Texas wildflowers? I absolutely adore daisies, and so one can imagine I was delighted to have some effortless ones suddenly appear. Read more
The state flower of Texas, and the glory of the spring. No roadside or edge of a ranch, or even small garden like mine feels complete without them. Bluebonnets are diminutive lupines, but look stunning in mass. While they’re the essence of meadow in Texas, they’re also very pretty in carefully arranged garden beds.
Bluebonnets are sown in fall, and occasionally you can find them as nursery-grown annuals, but the seed is so widely available and easy to sow, that it’s worth it to always try some every year. Read more
This flower needs no introduction. During my first-ever gardening escapade, I sowed Texas wildflower seeds all over my bare back yard (in January!), and native Purple Coneflower was among them. They never came up but the next year I sowed the seeds in a prepared bed in fall. By spring it seemed like hundreds came up. I discarded many and potted many others, giving some away to friends that summer. Read more
Penstemons are becoming hugely popular in gardens, it seems, and they encompass a wide range of species native to the U.S. Since I first started gardening, I was attracted to foxgloves but haven’t had much success with them so far, as with many perennial cottage garden plants they fare better in cooler summers. I was also on the lookout for spiky tall plants for parts of my garden that needed less sprawly things (I seem to have a lot of sprawliness). I’ve tried Mulleins, foxglove, larkspur. Read more
A pretty little primrose that stays very close to the ground. For lack of anywhere else to plant it, I plopped it in my vegetable bed next to the peppers. It was one of a few single plants I bought at the spring sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, just to see what they would do, in case I want to plant more next year.
This native Texas plant came up in an area that I sowed various wildflowers, to see what would happen. It is a fairly shady area, and these were the only flowers that seem to like this kind of shade and moistness. I didn’t do much to the soil, and many flowers sulked at the clay they were thrown in but not this flower.
Update: November 12, 2008. I sowed these indoors of December 2007, and most were up and nearly outgrowing their 4-inch pots by February and by March they were blooming. They are very easy to germinate so I’d suggest if you do sow them indoors, do so a little later in the winter, since they grow fast and are tender to frost. I planted them anyway in March and they bloomed and grew in my front shade bed like crazy.
By the end of the summer Scarlet Sage can look a little ratty and formless but my patch of them was still blooming last week when I pulled them all out to re-do the bed. I still think these behave more like annuals in Austin, because I have yet to see them return in spring but perhaps I haven’t given them a chance as I tend to change my beds around in spring quite a bit. (Mealy blue sage, Salvia farinacea, has suffered the same problem in my hands; after looking scraggly in late fall, I tend to pull them all out.)
Nevertheless, Scarlet Sage blooms happily and fully in full shade all summer long. And that’s a very very rare plant. Having a garden that is almost 80 percent shade with trees and buildings around me, I am constantly having to replace ‘full sun’ plants with something a little more forgiving.
Along with bluebonnets, these are the most common flowers along Texas highways and also super easy to start from seed. As I write, in May 2007, the highways are covered with a red and gold blanket. Like most wildflowers, I think these look best en masse. My little wildflower experiments have left me with occasional Indian Blankets here and there and just look weird on their own. They can get quite tall, too, which I didn’t realize until a group of these in one of my beds were almost 3 feet tall before they started forming buds. The tallest is almost 4 feet, up to my chest. I know there are other cultivated varieties of this that are tall and dwarf varieties, but as far as I know, I planted the native Texas seed from Native American Seed.
I just really love them, though. They look tough and they also signal the coming of summer. Whereas in March and April, the cool fields of bluebonnets have the center stage, they are gradually replaced by the warmer tone of Indian Blankets. Rarely have I seen them together except this year for a few short weeks in April they were side by side. Mine, however, didn’t bloom until May, although some started appearing in Austin in early April.
May 3, 2007. These lovely little pink flowers are quickly becoming my favorite of the Texas wildflowers. I’m partial to simple cupped flowers–winecups or California poppies–and like they way they just drape in the wind. These primroses first started appearing in early April on roadsides and margins of gardens. They blanket whole areas and seem to make for a good groundcover. Some seem taller than others, some grow in full sun, others under the slight shade of a tree, but for such delicate flowers they appear to be sturdy. It has been said that these are the favorite of Lady Bird Johnson, and it’s no wonder. They are wild but elegant. Read more