Texas flowering trees for bees


March 05, 2024

The sweet, grapey fragrance of Kool-Aid wafts on the breeze at this time of year in Texas. Purple flower clusters that put wisteria to shame dangle from Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) trees. Bees go mad for these purple pom-poms, and so do I.

Every time I spot a Texas mountain laurel in full bloom, I have to stop for a sniff.

This one was impossible, however. The bees had claimed it for their own.

They were buzzing and burrowing into those luscious flowers, collecting all the pollen they could find. Happily, I got a good whiff of grape sweetness while standing a few feet away.

In my own garden, the live oaks are dropping their leaves in order to push out new leaves for spring. “Fall” mingles with spring. The Mexican plum is decked out in cottony white, and the orange crossvine on the fence is ready to pop. At the same time, leaves flutter down like confetti at a parade, carpeting the ground with a slippery, brown layer. Soon the live oaks will turn bright green with new leaves, and then the messy pollen drop will begin.

It’s the seasonal pattern, and all you can do is embrace it, while shaking the leaves off your hat before heading back inside.

Mexican plum (Prunus mexicana), with its spicy-sweet clusters of white flowers along satin-gray branches, is worth a deep sniff every time I pass it.

Bees love these flowers. They were working the higher branches when I took these photos, leaving the lower level to me.

Mexican plum is at peak bloom right now, with a blush of pink appearing on the flowers. Soon green leaves will flush out, and the petals will drop.

All the more reason to get outside every day for a sniff.

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Digging Deeper

March 16: Attend the third annual Budding Out Plant Sale & Festival on 3/16 at the John Fairey Garden in Hempstead. Rare and distinctive plants from the garden’s nursery and from select plant vendors will be for sale. Additional offerings include art, ceramics, jewelry, food, music, and presentations. Admission: $5 for members, $10 for non-members, children under 12 free. Hours: 10 am to 4 pm; members get early admission at 9 am (memberships available on day of event).

March 30-31: Come see the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society Show at Zilker Botanical Garden on 3/30 and 3/31, from 10 am to 5 pm. Includes a plant show with specimen cacti and succulents, handcrafted pottery, daily silent auction and hourly plant raffles, and expert advice. Admission is included with paid admission to Zilker Garden, $5 to $8 for adults, $3 to $4 for children (under 2 free).

April 6: Come out to Austin’s Mayfield Park on 4/6 for the Mayfield Park Gardening Symposium & Fundraiser, 8:30 to 11 am. This annual benefit for the park includes a raffle, plant sale, and garden speakers.

May 4: Explore “brilliant backyards, perfect pools and pergolas, and outdoor rooms and gardens” on the ATX Outdoor Living Tour on 5/4, 10 am to 3 pm. Landscape architects, designers, and builders will be on hand to answer questions. Tickets are $33.85 for adults, $17.85 for kids age 10-17.

May 11: Save the date for Austin Home’s Great Outdoors Tour on 5/11.

June 1-2: Take a self-guided, 2-day tour of ponds and gardens in and around Austin on the annual Austin Pond and Garden Tour, held 6/1 and 6/2, 9 am to 5 pm. Tickets are $20 to $25.

Come learn about gardening and design at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, authors, and gardeners 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. Season 8 kicks off in fall 2024. Stay tuned for more info!

All material © 2024 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.



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