Photo: Emmy Ulmschneider. Native prairie yard.
By Emmy Ulmschneider and Debbie Roland, Master Gardeners
We love the spring wildflower show in West Texas but not all springs are equal. Even in my backyard native prairie, which can be irrigated, not all springs are the same in terms of the show the plants put forth. There are many reasons for this, the timing of freezes, the amount of precipitation, the plant location, spring temperatures and how many seeds germinated. This spring, however, brought forth a riot of color against a green backdrop of native grasses. To a sea of yellow Lanceleaf Coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata, and Engelman Daisy Engelmannia peristenia, come the purples of annual and perennial Winecups, Callirhoe leiocarpa and Callirhoe involucrata interspersed with white Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota. Finally I am seeing the reds of Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii, Galeana Red Sage, Salvia darcyii, Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora, the light purple of Greg’s MistflowerConoclinium greggii, the blue of Germander Sage, Salvia chamaedryoides, and the cheerful yellows and reds of Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera and Firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella. And we haven’t even gotten to summer yet! We have previously written about some of these plants. (Blog entries: Greg’s Blue Mist 5/23/2021; Germander Sage 7/24/2021. West Texas Wildflowers 9/14/2021 and Get the Blues 9/20/2022)
Although fall is the best time to plant wildflower seeds and plants, spring is a good time to look at your landscape from a designer point of view and see where the view or the color palette can be tweaked. Notice where there are areas devoid of color and spots that need that burst of blue and purple from Mealy Blue sage, Salvia farinacea. See where a plant or hardscape focal point is needed, and where might be a good place to have something to sit on to enjoy the view. One can also see where there is too much of a good thing, where plants may need thinning, hopefully to be shared with a friend as a pass along plant. Pictures and notes as a form of reference help; by the time fall comes it is easy to forget what seemed so evident in the spring.
Deadhead perennials in the spring to enjoy them longer. Spring is also the time to collect seed from annuals or freely seeding perennials to reseed in a different area or give to friends. Remove the seedheads from plants which can become weedy and self-sow everywhere.
And finally, spend time outside in your garden. Sit and enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend. Look for the life, pollinators, insects, and birds that share your garden. Make a flower bouquet to share with a friend. Help a child press plants for wintertime art creations. Pressing them can be as simple as putting them in a folded piece of wax paper inside a heavy book.
The benefits of being outside are immense; so, take advantage of them.
If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700. Additional information, and our blog for access to past articles, is available at westtexasgardening.org. Click on “Resources”.