This post was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.
Austin gardens have flirted with Jack Frost a few times, in the hours just before
dawn on clear dark nights, but Mr. Frost has not yet done the deed. The
Forsythia Sage/Salvia madrensis still spreads her blossoms unmolested in the
big front bed.
One Blue Butterfly Clerodendron cavorted with a Mutabilis rose a few weeks ago but their romance faded as the sun's angle changed and the shade from our two pecan trees deepened.
The rose stopped blooming and the Blue Butterflies float alone now. After the leaves fall the strong winter sun may tempt the rose to bloom again, but the clerodendron plant will die down once the temperatures drop below 30°F.
The pecan trees dominate the back garden year round, casting light shade when leafless, so we can grow a spring vegetable garden, but in late fall their shade is at its heaviest, casting a gothic gloom over the south end of the yard.
I first sang to the trees in public in March 2007 when the demise of an Arizona Ash called for a music video. That was nearly six years ago! The pecans are even more important in our little garden world so they should have a turn, too. Last weekend my husband Philo and I turned my "For A Tree That Keeps On Giving, Plant Pecan!" song into a music video, intended to amuse anyone who has ever lived with a very large, very messy tree:
A collection of our garden songs and videos are at our Roots in Austin YouTube station
Since so many of the plants in bloom right now are the same flowers that have been in bloom for months, they'll go in a Garden Bloggers Bloom Day List (with more photos and my best shot at the botanical names) over on my companion blog Annie's Addendum. That way the rest of this page can be filled with photos of the Blue Butterflies still whirling while old Jack F. lurks in the shadows with his ice-crystal knife.
I'm not sure what name will on the tag if you buy this plant in a nursery... it could say Blue Butterfly Clerodendron or Blue Cat Whiskers, Clerodendrum ugandense, Clerodendrum myricoides 'Ugandense' or perhaps Rotheca myricoides 'Ugandense'. The zone 9 plant is marginally hardy here in Austin - a couple of my plants have lived through winters with temperatures around 18°F, but even with heavy mulching they died back hard and were slow to recover the next spring. I've tried to hedge my bets by keeping at least one plant in a container in the garage over winter.
Here's the plant that was in the garage last year, now on the patio
The Blue Butterfly plant is so lovely that I wanted more! I've had some luck getting cuttings to root in potting soil lightened by the addition of perlite. (Don't be shocked when the not-lovely scent of the cut or crushed foliage reaches your nose... it stinks!) Some of the cuttings failed but a few plants made it. They were very slow to get going, but two were finally robust enough to go to friends this spring. A third was planted here near the Meyer's lemon on the back housewall. This bed is my magic spot, with a faucet nearby, the area bathed in morning sun but protected from hot west sun and north winds, the soil regularly composted and the plants tenderly mulched. No wonder the Clerodendron is More than Happy!
Since the winter months of January and February 2012 were relatively mild, the original passalong plant from my friend Ellen had an early start in the triangle bed. Now it's more than 5-feet tall and still blooming, with wide spread branches. I took this photo this afternoon and decided to make it into a poster.
Happy Garden Blogger's Bloom Day from Annie & Philo in Austin! Please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see her roundup of garden bloom posts from all over the world.
- Annie in Austin
- Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.