Knockout Rose : A+ Showed great resiliency in the face of high temps and drought. Blooms continued, though they were drained of their true color by the heat. Go to the head of the class.
Plumbago: A I only have the white flower kind and it did well, despite a tendency to go chlorotic. This could be due to the fact that they are in terrible soil and in day-long brutal sun near the street. I recently planted 6 more of these during the worst heat and they are establishing quickly.
Annual Vinca: A+ I normally hate this bedding plant and associate it with soulless parking-lot landscaping. But I was taken by a variety that has a clear lavender color with a white eye. I bought a flat of them and put them in every pot I could find. For most of the summer they have been the only spot of prettiness in my otherwise wind-and heat-parched garden. I have dragged this strawberry pot around for 20 years and nothing has been able to endure its drainhole construction--except the vinca. Bravo little commercial bedding plant wonder!
Variegated Ginger (Alpinina Zerumbet): A I inherited this plant when I bought my house. Not my first choice, due to its streaky yellow/green coloring. But it has won my respect for its drought-tolerance and robust growth. It's in dappled shade. I'm seriously thinking about planting more in my other shady zones, since it clearly loves the soil conditions here at Aurora.
Port St. John Creeper: B+ I would give this an A, except that it does love its water. If this is invasive, sign me up.
Brugmansia Charles Grimaldi: Incomplete; taking course as Pass/Fail Gotta love its dingle-dangle blossoms and lemon-cream perfume. Whether it will survive the winter and get established as small ornamental tree is in Mother Nature's hands.
Palm Grass: C This really should be doing better than it is. It's planted in full shade at the foot of a water faucet, for gosh sake! I first fell in love with this at Big Red Sun. The lush tropical fronds. The gentle rustling sound it makes. Maybe it just needs more time. Inland Sea Oats, Salvia Greggii, Flame Acanthus: C- This is a disgruntled group. They were all brought over from my previous house where they were star performers. They appear to be nursing a grudge against their new environment and exhibit no interest in settling in, growing, or expanding. I can only assume they were happier in caliche than the miserable clay they now live on. I'm counting on time to sort this out. Over Hybridized Lantana: D- These were here when I arrived. They are the variety that have a fuschia-orange-yellow bouquet. Very pretty. Also require deep irrigation a bazillion times a day in order not to look like they're keeling over. I will be digging these up and giving them a last chance in pots next year.
Pink Indigo: D-; recommended for Remedial Studies This shrub has some fine qualities: lacy foliage, melted-strawberry ice cream blossoms throughout the summer. But it definitely is a Big Fat Baby when it comes to water. I plan to dig it up and move it to either a more deeply shaded location or to a large planter and keep it as a patio plant.
Elephant Ears: F Okay, I should have known better. But I was remembering the ginormous ones in my mother's garden and I succumbed. I forgot that she was the Lance Armstrong of the San Antonio water system and stood over her elephant ears with a running hose 24/7. My bad.
After 10 years gardening on solid rock in Rollingwood, I moved into a 40's cottage in the North Loop area spring 2007. The little postage stamp yard is black clay and no one had ever dug a single flower bed. After visiting Key West a few years ago, I came back inspired by the little frame cottages, white painted railings, and rustling palm leaves. So the plan is: desert tropical cottage garden.