We’re lucky to garden year-round

We may not always appreciate it, but we can garden year-round in Houston — even in August.

Some of my favorite plants are keeping up appearances this month. The yellow bells (Tecoma stans) simply glow. How can anything look so fresh and cheerful in this heat? The Mexican bauhinia is a cloud of white blooms, each a nectar source for the swallowtails. And the pentas always aim to please.

A nearly forgotten pavonia charms with its pink blooms. It’s as faithful as an old dog and a perfect companion to the bulletproof ornamental grasses.

There are other plants I’m not so fond of but can’t complain about. I’ve found I can’t be a plant snob when it comes to summer gardening. So I’ve learned to tolerate top performers such as ‘Katie’ ruellias. Each morning, a swath of these reseeders greets me with a chorus of purple. It’s easier to pluck the unwanted volunteers than to fret over some lesser achiever in 97-degree temperatures.

We have two hamelias in our front garden that are always loaded with blossoms. But the more I prune, the more they grow and flower. I planted them because they’re great butterfly and hummingbird magnets. One of them was labeled “dwarf,” the other “miniature,” so I didn’t think they’d draw too much attention from plants I like more. That’s because the estimated mature sizes of plants listed on nursery labels often don’t apply in Texas gardens.

So given that smorgasbord of orange-red blooms, why did I also plant a russelia, with its constant supply of fiery flowers?

Because it also attracts butterflies and hummers? Because it expands so there’s less space to fill with summer color? Because it’s a no-brainer that keeps this gardener out of the heat?

Yes, all of the above.

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