This beautiful flower is called the Mexican Bird of Paradise. It grows in a flower bed planted by my husband, SAM.
It's more than just a pretty plant, however. It's a political statement. An inside joke between us, between my native born husband and this yankee born wife. We don't see much in the way of fall foliage here in central Texas. The one disadvantage of living here, he'll concede. And not very often. Ok, maybe he has never actually said those words. In fact, I'm sure he's never issued such a statement disloyal to his native state.
But it is true there is little in the way of fall colors on the trees here. And on a larger scale, no true fall. Just one long, never-ending-summer followed by a quickie of a winter. This makes September the longest, slowest month, followed closely by October. The summer heat that refuses to bend to the will of a traditional autumn plus the green to faded-green to brown change of colors. It's more than a little depressing for this Jersey girl.
In fact, I feel a serious stab of envy everytime I open blogs which shamelessly display the fall colors of other regions -- Mama Milton's beautiful new header, for example. Man, its so beautiful, it hurts. Even Minnesota Matron with her picture of trees losing their leaves. I see those bright yellows and oranges hiding on the underside of the brown leaves. And I can feel that cool, crisp breeze that blew those leaves to the ground. A ground made of lush, green grass. These fill me with a longing for my East Coast roots. Every year I feel it. Every year I distract myself with, um, what? Food binges? Alcohol? Prickly pear cactus juice? Well, that's a post for later day.
Knowing that I yearn for the colors of fall (some color, any color) my husband has made it his solemn marital vow to bring me as much color as his green thumb can muster. He knows which side of the bed his libido is buttered on, afterall. But mostly he just loves to garden. And hold his hose. He spends hours holding his hose.
In honor of SAM's efforts, and his upcoming birthday, I've put together a display of a few splashes of color that are now in the landscape around our house. Photos are courtesy of our son. I appreciate his efforts, too.
Texas Red Sage or Red Chihuahuan sage.
Not sure what these are called but I love the papery texture of the tiny petals.
This cluster of red flowers comes from a Father's Day gift to SAM. None of us can remember the name of the plant, though. A few days ago we gave one to a friend who lost a parent. We read the long, Latin name, repeated it, said it out loud, all in an attempt to etch it into our brains. We still can't remember what it's called. But SAM did learn that this is the plant that is used most often for the making of biofuel. Its a tropical plant that is, apparently, very oily.
The spectacular Spider Lilly.
Pretty purple Mexican Heather.
Morning glory. One of my favorites. I get to take a little bit of credit for these. I water and fertilize them occasionally. I also built a slip shod trellis out of coat hanger wire and ligustrum branches. Not very pretty nekkid, but when covered in vine, I'm happy.
Deep pink Swamp Hibiscus or Swamp Mallows. A perennial hibiscus.
These are called Oxblood Lillies. Or Schoolhouse Lillies, as my mother-in-law calls them, because they only bloom during the early fall.
Lantana. A staple that surrounds our house. There's the pink and yellow variety called Confetti Lantana.
And the orange and yellow variety. They begin yellow and turn orange with age. Lantana grows wild in the fields behind our house. It requires little to no watering and maintenance.
Less hose holding, in other words. Which spells more hand holding with me. And I like hand holding even more than I like his gift of fall colors. A big thank you to SAM. A big happy birthday. And a big wish for happy gardening.
UPDATE: The red father's day gift flower is called, Compact Jatropha. My neighbor just phoned it in.
And in case any of you want to start your own biofuel farm: