April 13th, 2014
Week 15: 4/9 – 4/15


2014-04-13. Almost no larkspur this year. The meadow is given over to cilantro. Some yellow iris surprised me.

Dateline: 2014
Even in long-neglected secret gardens, spring bursts forth. Winecups, prairie flox, pink evening primrose, yellow heirloom irises, and a very good stand of pink and white bluebonnets are in bloom.

The rose Souvenir del Malmaison is currently in full bloom having bloomed quite late because her first flush was cut short by a hard freeze. For the same reason there was no Texas mountain laurel this year. Nor is there any larkspur. Too dry.

First flower: amaryllis (4/13).

Dateline: 2007
2007-04-16. This year, wetter and cooler, has resulted in many more bluebonnets and less pink evening primrose.

Coming off near freezing temperatures last weekend, this week warmed up quickly with high temperatures reaching the 80s on Thursday (4/12) and Friday (4/13) before plunging again to 62 on Saturday (4/14). The storm preceding Friday night’s cold front roared in blustering, felling limbs and uprooting trees. We only lost one small limb from a cedar elm in front but along Town Lake large trees were down. All that bother and not even enough rain to cover the bottom of a bucket!

The tradescantia (spiderwort) has gone to seed and I spent most of the week composting it. The bluebonnets and baby blue eyes are also past their prime. The week belonged to yellow: the buttery yellow heirloom irises, the bright yellow Engelmann daisys, the fuzzy yellow Jerusalem sage, and the soft, cheerful yellow of the violas. The Japanese persimmon is covered in fruit and still flowering. I hope I get some persimmons this year. Not a single one made it through the drought last year.

First Flower: Salvia faranacea ‘Indigo Spires’ (4/9) one flower; Duranta erecta (4/11) one flower; rose ‘French Lace’ (4/12) one flower; Hippaestrum x Johnsonii (4/13); Trachelospermum jasminoides (4/15) two flowers, Polanisia dodecandra (4/15) one flower.

In Bloom: Allium neapolitanum, Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Magic’, Commelinantia anomala (still going strong except when cats form crop circles), Consolida ambigua (more and more each day), Coriandrum sativum (just beginning to go to seed), Iris flavescens (in full bloom), crinum (meadow milk and wine), Engelmann daisy, Lathyrus odoratus ‘Regal Robe’, Lathyrus odoratus ‘Velvet Elegance’, Lavandula heterophyla ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’, Nemophila insignis, Oenothera speciosa, Oxalis crassipes, Oxalis triangularis, Phlomis lanata, rose ‘Blush Noisette’. rose ‘Ducher’, rose ‘Heritage’, rose ‘French Lace’, rose ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’, rose ‘New Dawn’. rose ‘Penelope’, rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, Salvia greggii ‘Raspberry’, Spiraea bridal wreath, tradescantia (spiderwort), Tradescantia pallida (purple heart), Verbena canadensis, viola, yaupon holly.

Fading: Lupinus texensis, Narcissus jonquilla ‘Quail’, Rhaphiolepis indica (Indian hawthorn), Solanum jasminoides (potato vine).

Vegetable Garden: The tomatoes are flowering although some of the leaves show frost damage from Easter weekend (I didn’t think to cover them. On Saturday (4/14) we did get the trellis erected. It’s somewhat warped looking but I think it will hold up tomatoes.

Dateline: 2006

2006-04-16. My meadow gets a little wilder every year. Austin, TX.
This is usually the best week of the whole year to be in my Austin garden. When I look at photos of the garden in previous years or lists of plants in bloom then, I realize that 2006 is not going to memorable in any good way. (My usual pre-summer gloom and doom has kicked in already.) AJM says I’m a grumpy gardener, but I believe gardeners are a grumpy lot. It is always either too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry where we garden. We always look longingly at other people’s gardens (and now garden blogs) and think, “I wish I had…”

The beginning of this week cooled off a bit from last week’s high of 95, but by Saturday (4/15) it was hot again. I broke down and watered the mini-larkspur, it looked so droopy. I was shocked to notice that Acanthus mollis, usually a tropical monster this time of year, had already succumbed to the heat and sported huge brown patches.

This time of year the garden is overwhelmingly green in all shades, bright and deep. All the trees have leafed out, the pecans finally catching up with the cedar elms and various oaks. Soon enough the leaves will begin withering in the summer sun and become coated with pollen and dust without rains to freshen them. When I look at photos of previous years for this week and see how lush and moist the garden usually looks, I’m discouraged. The lawns, this year, are in especially bad shape for so early in the season.

The shining star of the garden this week is Confederate jasmine. One vine has wended its way up the support of my clothesline making it a pleasure to hang out laundry. I can’t get enough of the scent. I love all those scents of the deep south: jasmine, magnolia, and gardenia. If I can get another plant to root, I think I’ll plant it by our bedroom windows. The climbing roses just don’t give off a deep enough scent for me to smell as I fall asleep.

The meadow is looking strong this week owing almost completely to the weedy pink evening primrose. Some larkspur are providing coordinating colors and contrasting height. A few bluebonnets are still blooming. The yellow flowers o. Engelmann’s daisy keeps curling back their petals against the heat. The last few years I’ve been lazy about planting replacement summer annuals, but today I picked up a packet of cosmos to try again. Usually the black-eyed Susan has sprouted everywhere, but I haven’t seen any yet this year.

Among the roses ‘Heritage’ and ‘Penelope’ continue to bloom well. ‘Blush Noisette’ is a mass of small pink bouquets and behind her ‘New Dawn’ echoes the color with larger, scattered flowers.

First Flower: Mirabilis jalapa wild pink (4/13); ; Texas dandelion (4/13); iris ‘Mystic’s Muse’ (4/15) two flowers on separate pitifully small stems; red yucca (4/15).

In Bloom: Aquilegia hinckleyana, Allium neapolitanum (very poor showing), baby blue eyes, bridal wreath spiraea, Commelinantia anomala (fading), Consoloda ambigua, Coriandrum sativum, Lantana “New Gold’, Lavender, Lupinus texensis, Oenothera speciosa, Nerium oleander, Oxalis (all types) Salvia farinacea ‘Indigo Spires’, Salvia greggi ‘Raspberry’, Tradescantia (fading). Roses: ‘Blush Noisette’, ‘Ducher’, ‘Heritage’ ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’, ‘New Dawn’, Penelope, and Prosperity.

Dateline 2005
The thunderstorms that began the week came in to the north of us and we didn’t get a drop. I’ve had to water twice this week, the first time this year.

The meadow is a mess of flowers. The bluebonnets are starting to go to seed and almost hidden by larkspur, cilantro, evening primrose, and Engelmann daisy. Around the neighborhood I saw a fantastic display of red corn poppies (Papaver rhoes) that make me want to try them again next year.

For some reason (the ever-growing red oak casting shade?) the middle meadow bed is given over completely to white flowers this spring: cilantro and Naples onions and the two white roses. Not a single bluebonnet or larkspur popped up there this year and it used to be covered with them.

The fennel plant has five or six swallowtail caterpillars.
photo: Swallowtail Caterpillar
Swallowtail caterpillar munching on fennel.

First Flower: rose ‘Buff Beauty’ (4/11) and Japanese honeysuckle (4/11).

Dateline: 2004
photo: front yard
The south side of the house used to have a privacy fence which divided a sickly lawn in two and blocked the view of the garden from the bedroom windows. Our yard is on a slope and when it rains, the water rushes off without soaking in. I built the beds to provide terraces. The large golden flower in the middle of the photo is the banana. I started off with the idea of making this a rose garden, but the tropicals, which also require a lot of water, food, and sunlight, found their way here, too. And, yes, when bluebonnets sprout in the path, I’m too indulgent to weed them.

photo: meadow
The backyard meadow is in fine flower this time of year with bluebonnet, evening primrose, and larkspur. Can you get what the white flowers are? Not baby’s breath. Not Queen Anne’s lace. Not wild carrot. They’re cilantro. We still have a little bit of lawn left which is unusually green.

First Flower: Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cupani’ (4/10), Sprekelia formosissima (4/10), white rainlilies (4/12), Japanese honeysuckle (4/14), yellow iris (4/14) rose ‘Penelope‘ (4/15), iris ‘Strictly Ballroom (4/15), Mirabilis jalapa RHS red (4/15).
Finally find some Genovese basil (at Home Depot) and plant 3 (all from the same pot).
Spend the evening weeding the meadow. It’s so weedy that there aren’t very many bluebonnets or larkspur. Note to future self: don’t let the spiderwort or cranesbill grow in the meadow!

First Flower: Rose ‘Sombreuil’ (4/10), Rose ‘Blush Noisette’ (4/10), Rose ‘Caldwell Pink’ (4/10), Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cupani’ (4/10), bearded iris ‘Altruist’ (4/10), Nigella damascena (4/14), Japanese honeysuckle (4/14), rose ‘Penelope’ (4/14).

Dateline: 2002
One week out of 52, I glance up at the garden and am amazed. I don’t think it has ever looked better than it does right now. The meadow is in full bloom. The color of the pink evening primroses complements the bluebonnets and the larkspur and the tall bearded irises provide strong vertical lines missing the rest of the year.

One by one the named irises are coming into bloom. Each is queen for a day. Almost of the roses are blooming. And despite the trouble with mildew and balling, caterpillars and aphids, ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ is hands-down winner in terms of abundant bloom.

First Flower: bearded iris ‘Incantation’ (4/14), rose ‘Madame Joseph Schwartz’ (4/14), Lathyrus odoratus (4/14), Polanisia dodecandra (clammy weed)(4/14), iris ‘Seakist’ (4/15).

Full Bloom: bluebonnets, iris (heirloom yellow), columbine, rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, rose ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’, rose ‘Ducher’, bridal wreath, Dianthus chinesis ‘Telstar Picotee’, Oenothera speciosa.

Fading: Tulipa clusiana, Lady Banks rose, Bridal Wreath spiraea.

Dateline: 2001
Monday April 9, 2001
Near 90 and very muggy. The larkspur and sweetpeas are wilting before they have a chance to flower. This seems to be a very bad year for the larkspur. The cooler temperatures prevented them from flowering early. Now the trees have leafed out and it is suddenly hot.

The roses open and fade in one day (except on ‘Souviner de la Malmaison’). Especially hard hit is ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’. She is stunning and loaded with blooms; but the effect won’t last more than a day or two.

First Flower: iris ‘Champagne Elegance’ (4/9); Papaver rhoes (4/9); Oenothera speciosa (4/9); rose ‘Caldwell Pink’ (4/10); Lilium ‘Spirit’ (4/11).

Dateline: 2000
First Flower: heirloom yellow iris (4/11)

Dateline: 1999
First Flower: heirloom yellow iris (4/13); iris ‘Champagne Elegance’ (4/13); Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cupani’ (4/15).

Dateline: 1998
First Flower: Papaver rhoes ‘Shirley’ (4/12).

Dateline: 1997
Sunday April 13, 1997
It continues, since an Arctic front blew in on Friday when I was in Chicago for SAP training, to be unseasonably cold. I think the low was in the 40s and the high only in the 60s. What’s worse is that there is an icy wind. According to the paper, the normal high is 89, but last year it was 98!

AJM, Margaret, and I go to the National Wildflower Center for Wildflower Days. Inspired, we spend the rest of the afternoon in the garden, weeding. Margaret can’t stand the thought of the wild mustard, so I let her weed it out.

First Flower: Lathyrus odorata (4/13).

Dateline: 1996
The meadow is in full bloom: blue from bluebonnets, white from Allium neapolitanum, yellow from wild mustard and purple from the ‘Homestead’ verbena. The watered larkspur is 4 and half feet tall and blooming.

The Japanese persimmon tree is beginning to bloom. Like last year, it is beginning to get covered with those small, white, powdery-looking bugs. Also some kind of worm makes a cocoon in the curl of a leaf. So far, I’ve been able to control both types of pests by hand.

First Flower: heirloom yellow iris (4/11); columbine (4/14).

Dateline: 1995
Monday April 10, 1995
A dark, muggy morning. The low was 70 and it was 74 at 7AM.

Tuesday April 11, 1995
Last night threatened horrible thunderstorms, but little or no rain resulted. However, very cool and clear today. Live oaks about town are dropping pollen. Maybe I’m allergic to it.

First Flower: heirloom yellow iris (4/11); Callirhoe involucuta (4/14).

by M Sinclair Stevens in Austin, Texas

6 Responses to post “Week 15: 4/9 – 4/15”

  1. From Frank Johnson:

    Good Service

  2. From Pam Penick (Austin):

    Two plants have disappointed me this spring, due to last year’s drought: Southern wax myrtle (I’ve lost several small trees) and Gulf Coast penstemon, usually 3 feet tall and covered in blooms, but this year a spindly foot and a half tall and with few blooms. I miss that dainty pink cloud of flowers.

  3. From Annie in Austin:

    You’re about 14 miles south of me, which doesn’t seem like a great distance – not enough to equal half a garden climate zone. But on your garden log each week, I read that your plants are already blooming while the same variety is barely budded in my garden. Today marked the opening of the very first oleander blossom, the first larkspur blossom, and the first Confederate jasmine flowers.

    The disparity is pretty interesting, and I’d like to understand the mechanism.

    Annie/Glinda from divasofthedirt

    * The differences among micro-climates fascinates me, too. I visited Pam’s lovely garden a couple of weeks ago, and her Confederate jasmine was already in full bloom. Earlier this year, I thought I had the very last Texas mountain laurel and redbud to bloom. Temperatures are usually warmer here downtown (too much blacktop) and we typically get less rain. Even in my own garden experiences lots of variance from year to year. For more comparisons, you can check out my Zanthan Gardens: In Bloom pages. — M. Stevens (PS. Thanks for the nice words you left about me on Elizabeth Gardens blog. Made my day.)

  4. From Tara, Seattle:

    This post is years old, but I just wanted to make a note: Letting non-native plant species ‘wild’ into your meadow maybe dangerous. Frequently it is these garden plants that establish, naturalize and then escape into the wild; that cause great destruction in natural ecosystems. Please do try and chose native plants in your garden. Particularly watch out for Ranunculaceae and Asteraceae families they are notrious, extremely troublesome weeds.

  5. From Annie in Austin:

    April 15, 2014 It’s the opposite here – larkspur self-seeded and is budded all over the place (but few blooms yet) while only a few cilantro plants popped up, which we are cherishing. Lady Banks froze in leaf & bud, staggered a bit, but has now releafed with maybe a dozen flower clusters open.

    I’m glad spring has burst forth for you!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. From Vicki @ Playin' Outside:

    I still have “your” larkspur coming up each year, although last fall I cut way back on the seeds I replanted. It had become a full blown larkspur thicket that reminded me of your meadow and was beautiful but had grown too thick.

    On another note, I’d like you to attend my “Appreciation a Go Go” and see my garden if you’re available this coming Saturday. E-mail me at vbdb at sbcglobal dot net. Miss you!