Four Seasons

Four Seasons
Blessed by the beauty of Creation ~ sharing what I see from my little place in His world.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Wildflowers Far and Near

I hesitate to mention this, because if you are like me, you don't want to hear it.  But, it's snowing.  I'm not going to say more (or post any photos of it!), except to say that's why I had a change of plans for today's post.  With, ahhhemmm... that 'white stuff' coming down outside my window right now -- I'm going to keep my eyes on my computer screen and look at flowers!  I thought you might like to, too.
My husband's and my trip to Texas was mostly about birding (and as promised in my last post, I will tell you more about the birds soon)! But we enjoyed the wildflowers as well.

When you think of "Texas" and "wildflowers" most likely Bluebonnets come to mind.  While we did see some, it was from our rental car, flying down the interstate just outside Houston.  (I should say, I think they were Bluebonnets!)  There was no way I was going to ask my husband to pull over so I could get a few photos.  Also, I figured if we saw them there, we would probably see them again.  Didn't happen!  Later, we saw some blue Lupines, so perhaps that's what they were.  Anyway, on with the flowers...

There was Texas Indian Paintbrush by the mile along the roadsides and beaches (in the first photo, that's the Gulf in the background).
The 'flowers' are really colored bracts.  The actual flower is small and white. 
Isn't that a pretty shade? It's not quite pink -- I'd call them coral.  Which would be what you'd probably get if you mixed the colors of the next two flowers.
We saw this nice mix of colors often.  Evening Primroses (the yellow ones) and Gaillardia, also called Blanket Flower, Indian Blanket, or Firewheel.  I think Firewheel suites it best.  I've had both in my garden here in PA. 

Even in Texas, it was nice to have the brightness of flowers on the couple of gray days we experienced the week we were there.
Yellow coreopsis was another flower we saw in Texas that I have at home in my flower garden.
It's an easy plant to grow and its flowers are attractive to butterflies... then, if you let it go to seed, the birds will enjoy those.

I've always thought it is neat to see plants in far-away places that grow 'like weeds' there, while here in Plant Hardiness Zone 5 we have to grow with care.  (Like Coleus and Impatiens growing in the roadside ditches in Costa Rica).  The next plant -- Lantana, is one of those.  In Texas, we saw it all over the place:
You may have grown it in a hanging basket if you live in a northern climate like me.  In Texas, it's a native.  Another name for it is Calico Bush.  I really like that... it fits, don't you think?

The next little plant, I think I'd like to have in my garden, but it's only hardy to zone 8, so I'd have to bring the bulbs in over the winter.  I'd probably have to protect them anyway because our chipmunks might eat them!  They are related to Crocus, and chipmunks eat those bulbs like they are dessert!
It's another native to Texas called Herbertia.  Or, if you prefer (and I do!) its other common name... Prairie Nymph.  They are only about 2" tall and the flowers only last a short time (kind of like Crocus, too).

The next flower I think is very pretty, but I don't want it in my garden.
It's some type of thistle.  When I tried to figure out exactly what type on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower website,  just under 'thistles' there were 37 results.  So, I'm calling it a Thistle!  You can see from the photo above that they are good hosts for bees and the flowers are pretty.  But, oh, those spines!
Not sure if this one is a native or alien, but most thistles are quick spreaders and hard to get rid of, so-- not good for flower gardens.

Another flower we saw in the roadside ditches of Texas were these Spiderlilies.
 They are in the same family as some flowers I do have in my garden -- Hymencallis.
The ones I have are commonly called Peruvian Daffodils (Hymencallis narcissiflora).  Here's a close up from my garden last summer:
They grow from bulbs, which I have to dig up in the fall and replant in the spring (but the chipmunks leave them alone!).  I think they are pretty enough to be worth it, and for me, they are nostalgic because my grandparents had them in their garden.  

Hey, the weather has changed while I wrote this and the sun has come out!  Now it's time to go for a walk in the woods.  After we came back from Texas was prime-time for our own wildflowers to begin blooming...
Hepatica is a small, dainty flower only a few inches in height, but in my book they are favorites!  I've written about them before (they had their own post here) but I can't resist posting more photos, especially since they seem to be extra nice this spring.
The flowers pop up first, then the leaves.  Look closely at the photo above and you can see the furry new leaves just starting to unfold at the base of the plant on the left.
 So pretty... from white to pink to bluish-purple!
Technically, I don't have these in my garden, unless you count the nearby woods as 'garden'.  And, I would not dig them up... they are happy where they are and so am I.  Especially now that the you-know-what has stopped falling from the sky and the sun has melted it off the ground!