Here’s a recap of everything that has been growing and blooming this season thanks to all the wonderful rain we’ve received.
Follow along as we witness the Gardens springing into life! The vibrant red berries of the Possumhaw Holly tree make it a favorite winter ornamental among Texas gardeners. Although poisonous to humans, these berries are an important winter food source for opossums, raccoons, and songbirds.
Today in the gardens, the first sign of spring emerges in the form of sunshine yellow blossoms on the agarita plant.
The bees are loving the bountiful bursts of spring blossoms on this Mexican Plum tree. These flowers will eventually mature into a small reddish purple fruit in the fall, which birds and other wildlife feast on. Mexican Plums are edible (think jam and jelly!) and can range in taste from sweet to tart. Drought tolerant too. All-in-all, these are great trees to have around!
Texas redbuds (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) vs Eastern redbuds: the Texas redbud differs from the Eastern redbud in that the leaves are rounder, thicker, and very glossy. This variety is more drought and heat tolerant than its Eastern cousin. Eastern redbud tends to be more susceptible to drought stress and sun scald in our hot summers. Texas redbud is usually found growing native along limestone slopes and other upland sites of Central Texas.
The scent of early spring is in the air, and of course here in Central Texas it smells like grape Kool-aid! Yes, Texas Mountain Laurel is blooming outside the Goldthwaite Welcome Center. Besides its luscious lavender flowers, this tree is perhaps even more famous for the unmistakable sweet scent we all know and love. Kindly be respectful/cautious of bees around this plant – they love the nectar this plant provides.
This native Texas wildflower is tough as nails and can survive in some of the most difficult places. Many gardeners love to plant this blooming beauty in rock gardens or in containers. Blackfoot daisies can survive blistering heat as well as freezing temperatures and need very little water to thrive.
This wildflower’s beautiful purple flowers will stay in bloom all summer long. It thrives in hot, sunny locations, is draught tolerant, and can grow in sandy, infertile soil – talk about low maintenance! Here’s one growing in the Texas Botanical Gardens off of our model burned rock midden, or earth oven.
Texas Sundrop (Calylophus berlandieri) is a woody-based perennial that grows low to the ground and can spread out to almost 3 feet wide. Its leaves are narrow and spiny-toothed and will stay green all year long. In Spring and early Summer, this plant will produce bright yellow cup-shaped blooms. The genus name was derived from the Greek words “caly” and “lophus” meaning “crest of a hill” or “helmet” as a way of describing the unique shape of its flowers. The nectar from these flowers are loved by night-flying moths, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The Sundrop is also an edible forb for a wide range of livestock and deer. A forb is an herbaceous flowering plant that is not a graminoid (grasses, sedges and rushes). Forbs and herbs may be annual, biennial, or perennial.
Even on a dark and drizzly day in April, you can find a burst of sunshine. Moonshine Yarrow is a lively addition to any native garden, with its canary-yellow flowers providing long-lasting color through the summer months. Its fern-like foliage has a beautiful silvery-grey color and a pleasant aroma. This plant was given its scientific name, Achillea, after the Greek hero Achilles because legend has it that yarrow was used to treat the wounds of Greek soldiers.
Pollination in action! This Brazos Penstemon sprouted from a butterfly seed mix.
A beautiful grouping of Indian Blankets (or Firewheels) bloom atop our model burned rock midden.
Roughleaf Dogwood, considered a ‘small spreading tree’ because of its ability to produce plentiful suckers, will eventually form a dense thicket of intertwined branches which makes it ideal for creating a visual barrier or windbreak. Notice the small sprouts at the bottom left of the photo – these are suckers from the original plant. Native Americans used to make chew sticks from the stem of roughleaf dogwood, which has antibiotic properties, as a way to prevent tooth decay. If you take a closer look at the cream colored flowers, you will see all kinds of pollinators enjoying the nectar on this sunny day! These flowers eventually turn into tiny white berries which are consumed by approximately 40 species of birds and other small mammals.
Remember the yellow flowers that covered these Agarita plants back in mid-February? A couple warm, wet months later, and those beautiful blooms have been replaced with deliciously sweet, slightly tart red berries. People visiting the gardens share stories about collecting the berries and turning them into jellies and wines. Have you ever made anything with agarita berries before? How’d it turn out?