Local Color


I arrived home from Italy just over two weeks ago to find this little clutch of volunteers brightening up one corner of the front patio, and they are still going strong thousands of degrees later. So many wildflowers are like the tank division of the botanical army!

The sidewalk garden bed I re-did last year is so beautiful it makes me want to re-do other sidewalk garden beds.


Then I go into the cool house and lie down until the feeling goes away. There is no room for ambition in this weather. Good night sweaters, good night sleeves, good night socks and cozy things…

It’s the end of the first week of June and summer has arrived in central Texas. In fact summer school has arrived and I find myself grateful I only have one class and session. Summer enrollment is so low I’ll be surprised if there’s any summer class at all next year, which will trigger some lifestyle changes I’m thrilled to be facing: one step closer to retirement!

But let’s have more flowers, before everything turns to kindling.

Last fall a friend gave me two Passion flower plants from her yard. I planted them in a big pot on the back patio because whatever fence space I have left doesn’t have enough sun.

It’s always a crapshoot to plant Passion flowers because you’re in a contest with the Gulf fritillaries, vivid orange butterflies who seek them out for laying their eggs. What a dilemma: we love those butterflies but their caterpillars gnaw Passion flower vines to the ground.

So far I’ve had one flower, and count myself lucky.


Also lucky I didn’t fall off the chair taking its picture.

While we’re on the back patio I will mention that purslane are back on duty, hanging from the steel tree Floyd made for my birthday last year. I keep wanting dark red bougainvillea, but they are not here just yet and these orange guys were a bargain at Lowe’s. What a vivid pop of color right outside my work space!


We have to enjoy all the color we have while we still can. There’s no rain in the forecast and the rain barrels will be taking care of plants in pots.

Everybody else has to go with nature.


The succulents are happy, of course. When I leave them alone they are always happy. Certain exes of mine know all about that.


Must admit that re-done part of the sidewalk garden receives maybe just a little more water than it should. You know how it is with your young’uns: you want to spoil them at least a little before you turn them out to the harsh, harsh world.


Besides, we want to feed the butterflies, don’t we?

It’s that time of year when we walk early and late, and in between we do things like housework, clumsy acrylics, and go to work if we must. On weekends, or if you are a quadruped, mid-day is siesta time.

I read on NextDoor that neighbors have been encountering coyotes; a couple of dogs have been bitten. Then this morning one person reported having encountered a mother and her two pups. Pup time is generally the only time we’re likely to have any run-ins with coyotes. It always amazes me when people are amazed to meet up with the wild animals who lived in the woods for which the people moved into this silly neighborhood.

This morning it was quiet and pleasantly cool on first stepping out, but it didn’t take too long for the humidity to work its way through my clothes and onto my increasingly sticky skin. Fortunately it was cloudy, which is good light for shooting flowers.

These perennial morning glories live around the corner and I envy them every year. You’d think they were no longer available for purchase, but I will say I don’t see much of them and the ones I have seen were pink. No to that.


I always appreciate a volunteer, and this year I have one or two beneath the bird feeder. My favorite Thai place has some enormous, sure-’nuff real giant sunflowers out front among their many rose bushes; no matter what seeds I’ve tried, I’ve never grown specimens that huge.

This sounds like a good excuse to order some Thai food to pick up, since it’s not very nice to tell you about impressive flowers and have no photo evidence. All I have is this scrawny little creature in the big pot with the Passion flower.


You don’t have to be amazing to be perfectly wonderful. Like these folks who look like thistle but aren’t. Last year I read someone asking the gardening subreddit about how to plant this wonderful flower she’d discovered – photo included. Now that was a thistle, and people hurried to discourage even the thought of planting such a ferocious invader.

I would never admit that as a thistle lover I’ve been tempted too, at times. So I’m glad to have these reasonable facsimiles.


Speaking of volunteers, I had a big pot of something or other and a ruellia (aka wild petunia) came to reside in it. When I was re-doing the bed, I pulled the pot apart and popped in the ruellia – another flower you can get in pink if you like. It wants a little more water than I feel like giving it, but it’s close to the front yard rain barrel so…


If you had plenty of water, like the pond down at Blue Valley, you could surround yourself with all kinds of hibiscus. Wouldn’t that be nice?


As it is, my Texas hibiscus haven’t blossomed yet but their neighbors the crape myrtle have started to light up. The three in front of the house are my favorite dark red. (Remember I didn’t plant crape myrtle, they came with the house. They are not native, and are prone to mildew and every kind of bug there is. I suppose if I weren’t so unruly I would take them out, but flowering trees in summer? Who already live at your house? I just couldn’t.)


These guys fill up the front window where Floyd has his music room. Too bad he is breaking up with the trumpet after decades of arguing with it.

Well, it’s summer and it was a long year with a really excellent community orchestra, so naturally Floyd and the trumpet(s) are not on speaking terms. We’ve seen this before. It’s hot and we’re tired and we’ll just have to see how things go.

Besides, there’s always that violin.






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