This is our Texas Mountain Laurel. For the first time, since we adopted her (from our neighbor), she is covered in blooms. They have a very intense smell – almost like grape bubblegum. By sheer coincidence the color is exactly the same as the Pantone Color of the Year 2022, Very Peri. I think she just wants to be fashionable like her mom… I have no idea why I anthropomorphize plants but I love to hug my trees and name them. Perhaps it’s natural, given I was born in San Francisco to a couple of beatniks!
This is one of my favorite colors. One generous boyfriend bought me a gorgeous midi length sunray pleated skirt in periwinkle blue/lilac. My mum hated lilac so that made the purchase even better! Curiously, although he was generous and I was thankful, I didn’t like my clothes being chosen for me. I have trained Teddy never to buy me clothes and especially not lingerie! He did get me a free lilac fleecy dressing gown with some perfume and I have been wearing it for over a decade but I don’t think that counts as lingerie.
This is Miss Laurel in her full glory. She was planted next to another bush, a Japanese Yew, who died despite my best efforts. That has given her room to spread her branches. We are headed into a drought cycle in Texas and I think she might like the drier conditions. Originally mountain laurels came from the Chihuahua desert in Mexico. When the blooms fall off there will be very poisonous seed pods. Teddy better behave…
One of my most popular posts of late was Floral Spike. After reading all the comments from avid gardeners, I decided to allow my Coleus to spike even if that led to the plant’s death. My reasons were that it would likely die in the winter and that the spikes attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. I managed to snap this busy little bee foraging. Texas bees were ravaged by the February Freeze – about 25% died. This particular Coleus does look a little sad but she has fed so many garden visitors.
The Honey Bee, Apis mellifera Linnaeus, is upside down in the spike, trying to avoid my nosy gaze. In the last few weeks my other Lime Green and Maroon Coleus has also started to spike.
It almost looks like a Texas bluebonnet but the Coleus spikes are often blue. Like the other Coleus, I shall allow it to spike and feed our garden friends.
This Coleus grew from a tiny plant pot to this verdant bush in just 6 months and is still popping out little ones at the back. Being part lizard, I feel that winter has arrived and I am sitting with a fleece in front of the gas fire. It is 77 F outside…
This is the first year that I have seen floral spikes on my Coleus plants. When I researched this, some articles indicated that it was a precursor to the death of the plant. We often use them as annuals but they are perennials in their native countries of Thailand, Malaysia and surrounds. Since we are also subtropical, they should live past a year but only if we get no frost. Our Texas mega freeze this year both killed many trees and plants, yet magically revitalized others.
Then I read another article that suggested you should let them flower, as the hummingbirds, butterflies and bees feed off them. The freeze also killed many of Texas’ much needed bees – I have seen hardly any this year. The hummingbirds have started to arrive, however, and we have had a lovely variety of butterflies fluttering past the window. A little green pond hawk dragonfly follows me around when I water the garden every day. Coleus are part of the mint family and the roots are used medicinally in South East Asia.
The coleus plant can be considered as a sign that you need to take good care of yourself and you must do everything possible to stay healthy and live a long and fulfilled life. You must always put your health at the peak of everything because this is what will give you the courage to stay fulfilled.
It has been a hard year for our poor, wee garden but to be honest I think the big Texas Freeze has given most of the original plants a boost. There is bright green growth everywhere and some delightful buds. This white buds on the Yew have just a tinge of blue in them.
I have no idea what this bush is – can anyone help? This is the first time I have seen blossoms in such abundance.
Even my tropical Ti plants have started new growth – they are for zone 10-12 and we are 9. They were both about 5′ tall before the freeze and don’t usually die back in a typical winter season.
You can always depend on old faithful Lantana to bounce back. This eventually turns into a mixed orange and pink blossom – each one has a slightly different variation of colors. Below is the yellow version.
This is one of three brand new Coleus plants. I love the lime and burgundy version. Our garden centers are now like supermarkets were at the start of the Pandemic/Toilet Tissue crisis. There is little stock and it all costs twice as much. I just buy the inexpensive plants at our local grocery store and they look great. Sometimes I see the nursery man deliver them and he suggests the best ones.
I have a soft spot for this Texas Mountain Laurel – it is indigenous and my neighbor gave me it because it didn’t like her garden. She has thrived in ours and is covered with spikes which should turn purple with the most beautiful grape scent. It is also known as Mescal Bean. The red seeds are highly poisonous and contain a narcotic/hallucinogen compound. I see a “Breaking Bad” retirement in our future…☣️
This is the Halloween story I promised following the Cougar and the Cherokee blog – https://chattykerry.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/the-cougar-and-the-cherokee/ I had gone into our local hardware store to speak to the master gardener about a strange webbing all over our Live Oak. Both my husband and I thought that it was a very industrious spider but then the web was literally all over an oak tree that is as tall as our house. I was chatting with a friend who queried whether it could be something harmful like a silk worm.
To my astonishment, the master gardener brought up some photos on her computer of the perpetrators and their web – it was bark lice. They are amazing little friends of nature. Live Oaks attract lichen because of their open bark and this can kill the tree. The bark lice eat lichen so they come as a landscaping team – probably speaking Spanish – cover their web all over the tree, eat the lichen, roll the web back into a ball and take it with them to the next tree. Isn’t that fantastic?
I looked very hard for Ernesto, Adelpho or Pedro but I couldn’t see the little stripy critters under the webbing. I hoped it would last until Halloween and I could cover the tree in fake spiders but their job is done and our tiny landscapers have moved onto another tree. Nature is full of joy and mystery.