Six on Saturday #45 (May 18, 2019)

The forecast for today is 91 F (32.8 C), and if we reach that temperature it will be the first time we have broken 90 F this year. May 15 is the average date of the first 90 degree day, so we are right on schedule.

1. Herbertia lahue subsp. lahue


Herbertia lahue has three subspecies–H. lahue lahue, H. lahue amoena, and H. lahue caerulea–and a really odd distribution pattern. The first two subspecies are native to Argentina and Chile, while H. lahue caerulea (prairie nymph) grows along the gulf coast of the United States. This odd disjunct range is shared by several other bulbs and may indicate very early introduction of South American plants to Spanish colonies in North America.


The flowers of H. lahue, like those of many irids, are very short lived, and the small stature of the plant makes them easy to overlook. Last year, I found a few seed capsules but didn’t see any flowers. This year, I missed the first flush of flowers, as indicated by the green capsule in the foreground, but I happened to walk past the plant just in time for the second flush.

Similar to its larger relatives Cypella herbertii and Cypella coelestis, H. lahue is remarkably cold hardy for a South American plant. It produces its tiny iris-like leaves in winter and goes dormant in early summer.

2. Penstemon murrayanus (scarlet beardtongue)


This fantastic Penstemon grows naturally in scattered localities in east Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. I like the bizarre perfoliate leaves almost as much as the bright orange-red flowers. It’s not difficult to guess the pollinator–hummingbirds, of course.


I planted a seedling last May, so this is the first time it has flowered in my garden. Hopefully it will produce seed after self-pollination. Penstemon digitalis (photo 5 of SoS #29) is blooming on the other side to the house, so I suppose hybridization is possible. It’s probably unlikely, though. The white flowers of P. digitalis are pollinated by bees, not hummingbirds.

3. Borago officinalis (borage)


I don’t usually grow annuals, but I’ll make an exception for borage with its fuzzy buds and beautiful blue flowers. It’s one of the traditional garnishes for a Pimm’s No. 1 Cup…and now I’m getting thirsty.

4. Ocimum kilimandscharicum x O. basilicum (African blue basil)


I picked this up at the Durham farmer’s market simply because we like to try different types of basil in the kitchen. I had no idea that it was such an interesting plant. African blue basil is a sterile hybrid of culinary basil (O. basilicum) and camphor basil (O. kilimandscharicum), If the second species epithet reminds you of “Kilimanjaro,” you’re not wrong. O. kilimandscharicum is native to east Africa. Unlike the the usual culinary basil varieties, which is easy to grow from seed, African blue basil must be propagated from cuttings. Apparently, it roots easily, flowers almost constantly, and is reliably perennial, though not frost hardy.

My wife thinks the African blue basil smells like regular sweet (Genovese) basil, but I detect a definite camphor fragrance that is presumably inherited from O.  kilimandscharicum.

5. Lonicera sempervirens forma sulphurea ‘John Clayton’



‘John Clayton’ is, as you can see, a yellow clone of our usually red-flowered native coral honeysuckle (see photo 2 of SoS #26). It was originally planted on this pergola together with red L. sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’, but the voles ate ‘Major Wheeler.’ Hummingbirds and this gardener agree that red clones of L. sempervirens are better, but ‘John Clayton’ is growing and blooming so vigorously that I haven’t the heart to remove it and start over..

6. Teucrium marum (cat thyme) and Felis catus (moggie)


Bly the cat and his sister Neem both really enjoy visiting the Teucrium marum that is growing in dry sandy soil beside the gravel path leading to my greenhouse. These pictures also illustrate how we let Bly go out in the garden without endangering the local lizards and birds (and without Bly becoming a snack for the coyotes). He tolerates the harness well, as long as the human trails along behind him rather than trying to lead him.


The Propagator is the host of Six on Saturday.  Head over there to see his Six and find links to the blogs of other participants.

12 thoughts on “Six on Saturday #45 (May 18, 2019)

  1. I have never heard of that kind of penstemon before! How interesting. It reminds me of, although not related and much taller, of how miner’s lettuce grows and blooms.
    My cats have harnesses too. People underestimate how much damage a house cat can do. Besides, it’s so much healthier for them to be indoors. I only wish my neighbors agreed, if not for the cat’s sake, then for my front yard “litter” box.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to google miner’s lettuce. That’s a new one for me.

      Agreed on the cats. We had outdoor cats when I was a kid, and I was forever finding dead wildlife—and a couple of the cats came to a bad end.

      These guys love to go outside, but they don’t mind the harnesses at all.


  2. You are lucky to be able to walk your cat on a leash. Mine never wanted, even when I tried to get used to it when he was young. He hunts obviously and eats a rabbit every 2 days, (This protects at least my beans and my salads …)
    Superb penstemon! I had never seen one like this
    The Herbertia look a little like the flower of Tigridia pavonia. I guess with a short bloom (as you said), like tigridia.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Penstemon murayanus actually grew in a former garden, and I actually purchased it at a local nursery! I don’t know what it was doing here. I did not know what it was when I got it. I really do not purchase many things from nurseries.
    Is that Lonicera sempervirens native (in wild form)? I believe it was something I looked for in Oklahaoma. I did happen to find another species of Lonicera, but not sempervirens. There happens to be one at work, but it is a common garden variety. Our native honeysuckle is not much to look at.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, L. sempervirens is native here. I have a couple of wild vines that have planted themselves elsewhere on the property, but the wild plants seem to have a shorter blooming season than some of the cultivars.

      Japanese honeysuckle is more common, sadly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, Japanese honeysuckle has its allure. It is very fragrant. I really don’t know what to think of Lonicera sempervirens yet. I just met it, so have not worked with it yet.


    1. Wow! Our average last frost is a full month earlier.

      These two cats are particularly tolerant. Their predecessor acted like he had a broken back when we tried to put a harness on him. He would creep around, dragging his hind legs.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s