A New Growing Season

Been awhile since I posted here.  Where I live in Texas it’s basically July in May right now, what with the triple digit heat upon us.  But, the wildflowers I grow in my yard have been stunning in any event.

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Passion Flowers

My passion flower vine is finally blooming, and its even loviler than I would have expected.

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For those in my own religious tradition, Christianity, the Passion Flower is a potent symbol:

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries adopted the unique physical structures of this plant, particularly the numbers of its various flower parts, as symbols of the last days of Jesus and especially his crucifixion:

* The pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance.
* The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ.
* The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (less St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer).
* The flower’s radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the crown of thorns.
* The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail
* The 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).
* The blue and white colours of many species’ flowers represent Heaven and Purity.

quoted from the blog “The Sign of the Cross

 

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Passion Flower Symbolism

 

In addition, me and the kids have made a discovery, the existence of a whole army of “Gulf fritillary ” caterpillars.  Apparently these little orange and purple beauties only feed on Passion Flowers.  I’ve never seen them before and it was a nice surprise to have them show up on our vine.

The image to the left is of one that we caught and were surprised by it having turned into a cocoon by the next day.  It will be fun to watch it emerge as a butterfly.  We’ve found quite a bit more on the vines, so the butterfly population should be booming soon.

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Gardening in a Texas Summer

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My Vitex Tree

For those of us who Garden in the great land of Texas, this time of the year (mid-July and August) can be perhaps the most challenging.  Rain is sparse, the heat is ever-present and there isn’t really much of a respite.

Thankfully, there are plants that are either native or that have been transplanted into our area that seem to thrive.

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Buds of the Vitex Tree

First up in the Vitex bush (in this case, I’m forming mine into a tree). It is a native of China an India (also long grown in the eastern Mediterranean regions) and gained the name of “Chaste Tree” or “Monk’s Pepper” from the belief that drinking a tea made from the small black seeds could help cut into a monk’s libido, thus helping the Brothers to maintain their vows of chastity.  It can still be used for a variety of ailments, including menstrual cycle regulation, interestingly enough.

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Texas Sage

Another favorite of mine is another bush with purple flowers, the Texas Sage bush, a spectacular Texas native.  Mine tend to bloom 3-4 times a summer, usually with all the other Texas Sage bushes in the area.  When a really heavy bloom hits my backyard becomes a big beehive, with the bushes simply covered with the little buggers.

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Native Grasses and Wildflowers

Last Autumn I experimented with sowing wildflower seeds in late October and letting them grow wild along a new bed of native grasses and lantanas I’m growing out by the curb and I wasn’t disappointed.  At the beginning of the spring we had small pink wild phloxes and then we got a nice carpet of blue Bachelor Buttons and now we’ve moved into the yellows and reds of daisys and Indian Blankets.  It’s been fun to watch.

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Pistache Tree

One of the favorite things about our house when we bought it was the large Chinese Pistache tree out front. It’s has proven to remain one of my favorite trees in the neighborhood. It’s drought tolerant, heat tolerant, bug tolerant and consistently provides the best fall foliage of any tree I’ve seen in Texas. It’s not native to the area, but like many plants that transplant well here, its from China. The only negatives I’ve seen is that it takes longer than most to leaf-out, and its prone to branching out fairly low to the ground, causing splitting in high winds (I had to have mine stitched back together after a particularly nasty Texas storm a couple of summers ago).

 

Finally, I planted this Passion Flower vine last summer from a cutting provided to me from a classmate. It’s really taken off this year and is close to blooming! I can’t wait to see which blooms I get.

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Passion Flower Vines