July 1st, 2008
June 2008: One for the Record Books

Fatsia japonica
2008-07-01. A Japanese parasol for a Japanese plant (although Floridata states it’s not a native of Japan.) This shade-loving Japanese aralia is in shade 50 weeks of the year. Unfortunately, it is in searing sun at midsummer.

Griping about the weather is a gardener’s perquisite. And yet, if you’re as tired listening to me gripe about our early summer heat wave as I am complaining about it…well then! We’re all pretty tired.

Statistics always comfort me. I like to think there’s some objective measure of my pain. It’s not just my attitude. And so with a bit of smug satisfaction, I announce it’s official: June 2008 is the hottest June in Austin’s recorded weather history (dating back to 1854).

June is typically one of Austin’s wetter months. We enjoy the rain as our weather makes the transition from late spring to hellishly hot summer of late July and August. June is the month our summer plants build up strength to endure the heat. This year, however, hellishly hot summer began in mid-May and hasn’t let up.

In this case, it’s not a good thing to be above average. This June we had just two days of average high temperature (88F-93F). Most of June, 20 days, had temperatures of 100F/37.8C or hotter. And the other days. Not much better: 4 @ 99; 1 @ 98; 2 @ 97; 1 @ 95. The average high temperature for June was (99F). And nighttime lows? It dropped below 70F only one night. Another night, it didn’t get out of the 80s. Typically Austin’s low temperatures were in the mid to high 70s.

Austin’s had hotter days in June. In 1998, the mercury hit 108F/42.2C on June 14th (109F at ABIA). What’s made this June miserable is that the heat’s relentless. It’s not letting up.

Well, at least, we’re finally in July where we expect this kind of weather. And there’s some cooler temperatures and a chance of rain for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

I’m celebrating the fact that June is over. Only 3 more months of hell and then fall.

by M Sinclair Stevens in Austin, Texas

11 Responses to post “June 2008: One for the Record Books”

  1. From themanicgardener:

    Wow. If you were angling for sympathy, you’ve got it. I was thinking of posting about our hot weather here in Montana (over 80s, sometimes 90s, for days in a row) but after reading this, I’ll just slink quietly into a corner and sweat.

    I enjoyed this, even though you’re describing a bad situation. Part of the pleasure, and I know this sounds really petty, is meeting someone who knows how to use “perquisite.” When I don’t get into heaven, do you suppose it will be because I divided the world into those who could and those who could not use “perquisite?” Oh dear. I need to rethink a few priorities here–

    –Kate

    And I’m glad to meet someone who knows what “perquisite” means. — mss

  2. From Annie in Austin:

    Last year we had lots of rain and cooler temperatures, and we felt more sane, but were the plants better off? I’m not sure. Many plants rotted and trees grew too fast and too big. Once the rain stopped and the heat began, those overgrown trees had no water to support the growth and they shed huge branches.
    It’s also quite possible that I’m spinning the past to trick myself into thinking things will be okay some day.

    The aralia under the parasol looks good, MSS! Maybe I should invest in a few of them.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Yes we lost a lot of plants to last year’s abnormally wet summer. Xeriscape landscapes were hit hard. Austinites never know whether to plant as if we lived in the Old South or plant as if we lived in the desert southwest. One year it’s one and the next year it’s the other. –mss

  3. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    You have my sympathies, it must be like gardening in h-e-l-l. Hopefully July will be cooler!

    Thanks. I’ll be happy if July is just average. — mss

  4. From Cindy, Katy:

    I know how it feels to crave rain and cooler temperatures … I hope they make it to Austin soon!

    The seven day forecast is promising some relief. — mss

  5. From Steve Mudge(Fort Worth):

    Yah…it is curiously a bit of comfort knowing we’re in July now anyway…just wondering if a hotter May/June means an even hotter July/August…oh dear…we’ve already had to put a second layer of mulch down. Well, the good knews if its global warming and the icecaps melt is that the ocean will be at Waco’s doorstep with the rise in sea levels—only an hour’s drive to go surfing and the swells will be larger since the storms won’t be blocked by Florida, eh, since it will be underwater…

    Ah, ha! I’m not the only one who comforts myself with end of the world scenarios. A little dark humor is what it takes to help me stand up straighter and spit in the eye of adversity. — mss

  6. From margaret:

    I grew Fatsia japonica as a “houseplant” for years up here in NY State and then just gave up, as it was ambitious enough to want the whole house to itself, I feared, after enjoying the freedom of summers outdoors that I allowed it. Seeing your photo, I want it again. And the umbrella…you make me smile.

    I hope to have a Fatsia japonica post coming up soon. I’m growing one in a pot just in case the one under the umbrella doesn’t make it. — mss

  7. From Hilary McDaniel:

    I have lived in Texas nearly all my life and I am yet to embrace the summers here. The first thing I do when I find myself relocating is plant the largest trees I can afford. I then grit my teeth until I find myself gardening in the “shade”. I find myself counting days to get out of the summer and the first cool front finds me breathing a sigh of relief and relishing the fact it will be 9 more months before I have to endure that monstrous weather again.

    I like the parasols. Great idea and much prettier than my make shift “shadecloths” all over my garden.
    Hilary in China Spring

    I enjoy my trees but then it’s hard to find xeriscape plants that will flower beneath them. Most of the native flowers are prairie-born. And, as the Japanese aralia demonstrate, even the darkest corners of my yard get some sun some days of the year. It’s difficult to find shade plants that will cope. — mss

  8. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter (Chicagoland):

    I think your plant parasol is a very clever solution to the full scorching sun problem. I feel so bad for you poor sweltering Texans. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody’s printing up “I Survived the Summer of ’08″ T shirts. We Midwesterners may complain about our winters, but even with record cold, most plants survive. How agonizing to watch your carefully tended garden shrivel.

    I wish our plants would go dormant for the summer. I will always remember you as the person who had to have the car AC on full blast on a day that barely hit 77F. Lately we’ve been lucky if our low temperature was below 77F. I think you’d melt in one of our summers. I know I couldn’t stand one of your winters, though. — mss

  9. From Jenny Austin:

    I would need to get a giant umbrella for my Japanese aralia. I planted it in a shady corner but it has gown enrmous and out into the sun and is not looking very happy about it. Now that you have brought the idea of shading it to my attention I might try some summer shade cloth in the afternoons. Your addition of the parasol makes for a pretty vignette.
    Jenny

    I was glad to finally put the parasol from my old hometown of Beppu to some use. I know it will get torn up outside but it was just rotting away in the garage. I’ll miss it when it’s gone but I’m going to try to enjoy it while it’s here. — mss

  10. From kate:

    Well, at least your Japanese Aralia seems to be surviving well, courtesy of the beautiful umbrella. I was glad to read on Twitter that you’ve had some rain. It must be so hard going through endless days of searing heat. Two days this past weekend gave me a taste … the poor garden looked fried.

    Hope July gives you a break and some more rain!

    Yes! We got some rain today! And now it’s only in the low 80s. Feels absolutely wonderful. — mss

  11. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter (Chicagoland):

    I have my indoor AC set at 77 now. See, I just needed to adjust. :^)