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Garden Bloggers Fling Day 1 and Stop 1

A rainy view of the entrance to Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center.”My special cause, the one that alerts my interest and quickens the pace of my life, is to preserve the wildflowers and native plants that define the regions of our land — to encourage and promote their use in appropriate areas, and thus help pass on to generations in waiting the quiet joys and satisfactions I have known since my childhood.”

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was our first stop on Friday. As we gathered for the group picture, they mentioned that rain was headed our way.  Being a native Texan, I should have heeded the warning when I heard “squall line”, but I was intent on seeing the treasures that awaited us.

Even in the rain, the cholla in the demonstration garden beckoned. It’s magenta blooms caught my eye through the stone window.

Cholla cactus blooms

  It began to sprinkle -colorful ponchos dotted the gardens and then it started to rain, then it began to go sideways, so we scurried to find shelter. It didn’t take long to realize that the elements were winning, but so was the garden – the much needed rain was a welcome sight, even though it came torrentially.

A caterpillar sighting lured some of us out of the stone alcove, but the elements were getting the upper hand –everything was soaked-our pictures were blurred , cameras were malfunctioning…

We retreated to the main entrance where we sought refuge under the eaves and ultimately in the gift shop. A beautiful bouquet of wildflowers brightened our dampened spirits (pun intended) in the restroom.

As we left, the sound of the stone cistern filling up was music to the ears. Even though it was a wash in some ways, it wasn’t all for naught.  It’s not often you get to see Lady Bird Wildflower Center through the rain.

Starla Willis

It Keeps on Blooming

rock rose in bloom

 

Do you want a Texas native plant that, like the Energizer Bunny, just keeps on going/or in this case, blooming throughout our over 100 degree weather?  If so, then consider planting our Texas native Pavonia (Pavonia lasiopetala).  Like many of our native plants it also goes by many different common names: Wright’s Pavonia, Rock Rose, Rose pavonia, and Rose mallow.

rock rose close up Of course, these last few names give one a clue as to the most eye catching part of the plant: its beautiful, showy, rose colored flowers that are roughly 1½ inches wide with a bright yellow center formed by the pistil and stamens.  These flowers appear from April to November on a small shrub that has velvety, scalloped leaves and that grows only four feet tall (usually smaller, if sheared back to encourage more blooms).

Native to the Edwards Plateau through the Rio Grande Plains, Pavonia prefers dry, rocky woods and slopes, and open woodlands.  Though it will grow larger and bloom more profusely in full sun, it can even take partial shade.  Unlike many members of the Mallow family, it prefers to be dry, growing on well-drained limestone soils or even our clay soils.  It requires very little water, once established, and is a great plant for a WaterWise landscape.

Perhaps the only downside to Pavonia is that though it is considered a perennial, it is a short-lived perennial, tending to decline after three or four years.  However, it readily self-seeds and younger plants will come up to replace the older one.  Pavonia can also be propagated, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, from softwood tip cuttings.  “These cuttings should be taken in the spring before the plant starts to bloom.  Cuttings with big buds or blooms are at a disadvantage.  The cuttings root and grow fast in hot weather.  Cut a stem three to six inches long, just below the node.  Remove all but the top leaves and place in vermiculite.”

If you haven’t already decided that Pavonia is the plant for you, another one of its very favorable attributes is that it is a hummingbird and nectar-loving butterfly and moth attractant.  So if you are looking for a tough little native plant that is not only beautiful but feeds the hummingbirds and butterflies, consider planting a Pavonia/Rock Rose.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

Carolyn

Pictures by Starla

 

 

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