Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spotlight on Natives

When I was a much younger gardener, my sister-in-law suggested a gardening book to me. The book was called Native Texas Plants by Sally and Andy Wasowski and it literally changed my life. It is still one of my favorite gardening books today. When I was just beginning my garden, I heard the Wasowskis speak at my local County Extension Office. Their lecture inspired me to search for and plant more natives.
In time, I came to realize that what grows well in west Texas, will not enjoy my Houston garden, because it is just too wet. Eventually, I came to include native plants from other states in the United States, as well as other countries. My version of natives now includes a worldwide approach that works for me and my garden.
We had a brief rain shower this morning, so many of the flowers are glistening with water droplets. Here are a few of the native plants blooming in my garden today.
Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) is native to Europe. It was often found growing in the fields of crops, hence the name. It is endangered in its’ natural habitat, but is planted and enjoyed by many American gardeners.

Pink Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) is native to much of the United States, including Texas. This lovely heralds spring in my garden. I love the soft pink blossoms that blend so well with other flowers.

Gulf Coast Penstemon (Penstemon tenuis) is a welcome addition to my garden. The small lavender-pink blooms are so sweet. When it has finished blooming I sow the seeds for next spring. I find Gulf Coast Pentemon to reseed fairly well.

Clasping Coneflower (Dracopis amplexicaulis) I only started growing a few years ago. It is a Southeastern U.S. native, but has naturalized across much of the U.S.  I love the blue-green leaves even when it is not in flower. The flowers are similar in shape to Mexican Hat, but with more yellow-gold tones. It starts from seed very easily.

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) is native to Central America and Mexico. I love the texture of its’ grey foliage. In my garden, it tends to bloom spring and fall, with the best show in the fall.

Firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) is a favorite of mine. It is easily started from seed and looks great in flower arrangements. I think the colors of its’ petals bend well with my red roses.

Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea) is a real trooper. It lived through last year’s drought with no damage. I feel it is a must have for anyone in Texas that is interested in growing natives.

Texas Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) to me it just screams Texas. I have a few plants that are just beginning to open up. Another of my favorites!

Wine Cup (Callirhoe involuctata) is one of those wildflowers that I can remember making little flower arrangements with as a kid. You know the kind I mean, the ones you pick and then hand to your mom with a big smile. Just love it!

Mexican Hat (Ratibada columnaris) I am enjoying the large clusters I have of this wildflower this year. So beautiful! This is another plant the starts easily from seed.

Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea) is a favorite of hummingbirds. It blooms spring until first frost. I usually spread the seeds throughout the growing season to insure more plants the next year.

Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) is last, but surely not least. It is the state flower of Texas and adored by many a Texan.
Well, I hope you enjoyed seeing what natives are blooming in my garden today. If you would like to see more photos of natives follow this link: Spotlight on Natives


  1. Hi Lucy, thanks for the nice comments on my blog. We do have some plants in common. In fact, most of them on this post. The one I would most like to grow is the Texas Paintbrush. It has always been a favorite. How did you get it to grow? Do you have many?

    1. Hello…so nice to hear from you. Texas Paintbrush is one of the wildflowers I found growing in my neighborhood back when we still had empty lots. For that reason, I know it does like our area. However, I still had a tough time getting it to take hold. The seed is rather expensive, but I buy more each year hoping to increase my number of plants. I always direct sow the seeds. This year so far, I have five or six plants and they are just beginning to bloom, which makes be very happy.

  2. Very nice pictures :)


  3. Thanks Lucy for your message ! You have a very nice house...I liked to see the evolution of your front garden, it's so beautiful !

  4. Lovely shots from another world...:))! I have not that much flowers yet, but my garden is waking up slowly now!

    'See you around'...;)!/Anja


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