Christmastime flowers and no freeze yet Leave a comment

December 24, 2023

Here it is Christmas, and Austin has so far escaped a hard freeze. That plus mild temps and occasional rain showers means flowers, flowers, flowers! Like Mexican flame vine (Senecio confusus) delivering punchy orange petals to the elevated deck.

Giant ligularia (Farfugium japonicum ‘Gigantea’) glows with yellow daisies above shiny, round leaves, and attracts pollinators of all kinds.

Forsythia sage (Salvia madrensis), how I adore your graceful, butter-yellow flower spikes against the turquoise shed doors…

…and against the dark cedar poles of the coyote fence. And here come the bees!


It’s made a thicket of yellow pennants, and I’m here for it.

‘Little Grapes’ gomphrena‘s tiny purple pom-poms are in the cheering section beside the deck stairs. ‘Fiercely Fabulous’ mangave has sent up a bloom spike that juuuuuuust won’t open — because temps are too cool, I assume — but the gomphrena is cheering it on: You can do it!

In the Circle Garden’s stock-tank planter, four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa) is still flowering. (Does it ever stop?) ‘Bandana White’ lantana and a trio of ‘Color Guard’ yuccas add more yellow.

Flower-shaped whale’s tongue agave (Agave ovatifolia) gets a mention, of course. The variegation on this one adds a splash of moonlight yellow.

Philippine violet (Barleria cristata) adds complementary purple.

White mistflower (Ageratina havanensis) has gone to seed, but its fluffy, tan seedheads look pretty alongside purple-freckled ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave.

‘Big Momma’ Turk’s cap (Malvaviscus x ‘Big Momma’) looks happier now than it did all summer.

I’ve gotta give a shout-out to the lustrous, dark-purple berries of Mexican beautyberry (Callicarpa acuminata) too.

‘Amistad’ salvia and Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida) make a pretty pair, backed by purple oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) in a turquoise pot and more giant ligularia. ‘Moonglow’ mangave has also sent up a late bloom spike, and this one may open before a freeze gets it. It’s trying!

All kinds of flying insects flock to the ligularia flowers at this time of year.

Texas had a rough summer, but Austin is enjoying a beautiful early winter. Sure, we’ll get a blast of Arctic cold sometime soon (the safe money is always on late January to early February), but for now, what a welcome gift we’re being given.

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Digging Deeper

Hey, Austin-area gardeners, come learn about making a waterwise, Texas-hardy crevice garden! Register for my next Garden Spark talk with Coleson Bruce on January 18th. He’s created one of the most interesting and beautiful xeriscape gardens I’ve seen in Austin. Learn all about it and hang out with fellow gardeners who are interested in good design. Hope to see you there!

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance; simply click this link and ask to be added. The Season 7 lineup can be found here.

All material © 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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