January 15th, 2009
GBBD 200901: Jan 2009

Narcissus tazetta v. italicus
Narcissus tazetta v. italicus. Austin TX. Jan 15, 2009

Carol at May Dreams Gardens invites us to tell her what’s blooming in our gardens on the 15th of each month. Visit her to see what is blooming all over the world today and be inspired to add your own list.

Also thanks again to Renee Studebaker who featured Garden Bloggers Bloom Day in last week’s Austin American-Statesman.

January 15, 2009

January wouldn’t feel right if the Narcissus tazetta v italicus weren’t blooming. I think of them as my New Year’s Day flowers, although they began blooming a bit late this year (Jan 13th). Their leaves are strappier than paperwhites and a darker green. They have yellow cups and, I think, smell better than paperwhites–although I’m sure others will disagree.

Another faithful January flower is winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima. This year it began blooming on Jan 7th. You might infer from its botanical name that winter honeysuckle is more a flower to be smelled than seen. I like the The Gardener of Good and Evil‘s description of the scent: rather like lemon Pledge.

Lonicera fragrantissima

The big surprise today was finding some teeny tiny clammy weed, Polanisia dodecandra flowers. Clammy weed (a relative of cleome) is definitely a summer flower in my mind, usually blooming after the bluebonnets and larkspur have died down. But during the drought, clammy weed has tried to bloom with every hint of rain. The almost half inch we got last week brought up these tiny plants and they’ve decided they better flower and set seed regardless of season. Talk about a will to survive. To get a sense of scale, look at these flowers next the larkspur seedling coming up on the left. Clammy weed is usually knee-high at Zanthan Gardens.

Polanisia dodecandra

For GBBD I try to be a stickler for the rules, including only flowers blooming specifically on the 15th. Another rule that I invented for myself was to post photos only for those flowers that weren’t blooming in the previous GBBD. However, knowing that so many of you are under piles of snow and shivering in temperatures I can’t even imagine surviving, I thought I’d throw in as many flowers as I could find.

I know you like to dream that we’re down here in Texas soaking up the sun, sipping our margaritas, and lying about in a field of flowers. True. True. But January can have its bleak moments even in Austin, not because we have your endless days of dark, cold dreariness but precisely because we don’t. When it’s in the 80s one week and in the 20s the next, this is what happens:

Pandorea ricasoliana
Frost damage to Port St. John’s creeper from hard freeze on Jan 13, 2009

I know I’m not eliciting any sympathy here from the snowbound. Indeed, I rather wish a hard freeze would kill the Port St. John’s creeper to the ground and more. My point is that when it’s summer one day and winter the next and then summer the next, chances for flowers are rather hit or miss.

rose Red Cascade
One dime-sized freeze-dried flower on the rose ‘Red Cascade’.

On the bright side, the rosemary (which had just started blooming last GBBD) is now in full sunlight and full flower. And since it wasn’t windy this morning, I got a better photo of it than I did last month. Northerners are always surprised to see “tender” rosemary planted in roadside borders and medians around Austin. The biggest danger to rosemary down here is a wet year (and what are the chances of that?) Well, in the weirdly wet summer of 2007, lots of people lost rosemary. This one died back by two-thirds.


Another plant happier with the New Year is the ‘Green Arrow’ English peas. I had a few flowers last GBBD but since the solstice, the vines have exploded with flowers and pods. They haven’t filled out enough to eat yet but I think they’ll be ready within the week.

English pea Green Arrow

As long as we’re in the vegetable garden, does this brocolli head count as a flower for GBBD? Or would I have to let it bolt?

broccoli Premium Crop

I had to hustle to get my potted plants indoors a couple of nights ago. I can’t figure out if this plant is going to bloom or not. Annie in Austin grows it. Annie, if you’re reading, would you leave a link to your post about this plant because I forgot what it is.. Thanks for letting me know that it’s “Mother-of-Thousands”. I hope mine blooms as beautifully as yours did last January.

mystery plant

January 15th, 2009

The list of all plants flowering today, January 15th 2009, at Zanthan Gardens.

  • Asclepias curassavica
  • Duranta erecta (small flowers but doing well; two bushes covered with golden berries, too)
  • Labularia maritima procumbens ‘Tiny Tim’
  • Lavandula heterophylla ‘Goodwin Creek’
  • Lonicera fragrantissima
  • Narcissus tazetta italicus
  • Pisum sativum ‘Green Arrow’ (English peas)
  • Podranea ricasoliana (half blooming, half frozen)
  • Polanisia dodecandra
  • Rose ‘Blush Noisette‘ (a couple of flowers)
  • Rose ‘New Dawn’ (one bud that may or may not freeze before opening)
  • Rose ‘Red Cascade’
  • rosemary (full bloom)

by M Sinclair Stevens

16 Responses to post “GBBD 200901: Jan 2009”

  1. From Annie in Austin:

    Hello, MSS – wish peaseblossoms and broccoli were flowers in my garden! You can keep the Podranea.

    The weird succulent is blooming both outside and inside at my house – some names for it: Kalanchoe daigremontiana syn. Bryophyllum daigremontianum/ Mother of Thousands, Alligator Plant.

    Happy GBBD!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  2. From Diana - Austin:

    MSS — I love your Narcissus. It’s so beautiful and delicate, but always reliable. Where are they blooming in your garden? My early ones are just peeking out of the mulch. And that sweet pea is so pretty – I’m sure it will be delectable when you finally get to eat it. And we’ll let you include the broccoli – I’d rather you eat it than let it bolt just to satisfy our GBBD appetites!

  3. From Nancy Bond:

    What beautiful blooms. I especially love the Narcissus – they are true harbingers of spring around here, though we won’t be seeing them any time soon.

  4. From Lori:

    Wow, I can’t believe my Lemon Pledge comment actually got through on Twitter– it never showed up on my update page, so I just assumed it was lost. Is it just me, or has Twitter been a little wonky lately?

    Also, I can’t believe that your Port St. John’s Creeper is STILL blooming. Even if it hasn’t frozen, I’d assumed that the flowering period was over by December!

    Compared to Ziva, how would you describe the scent of italicus? Less musky? I’m taking notes for next year. 🙂

  5. From Mary Beth - Harlingen:

    My favorite “bloom” of yours is the broccoli! Rabbits ate my plants anytime they got a leaf of any size – no broccoli for us this year!

  6. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    ‘Green Arrow’? I think that’s the variety of peas I try to grow here in the spring! It’s such a pretty, clean bloom.

    Your post has warmed me right up. I know we whine ‘a bit’ about the weather in our northern gardens, but I don’t know if I could handle the up and down of gardening in Austin in the winter. At least here, it’s winter, no doubt about it. There will be no sudden warm up tomorrow to confuse any plants.

    And I appreciate your extra bloom photos!

  7. From jodi:

    Such wonderful and whimsical blooms, MSS. I’d say the Broccoli counts as a bloom, even though you’ll probably eat it before it bolts. (I would, if I had broccoli growing in my garden, but all I have is snow snow snow and cold!)

  8. From Kathy:

    I always love to see your narcissus in winter. I’m going to try to force some next winter.

  9. From Jenny Austin:

    Clammy weed. I have never heard of that. How I love the narcissi. Mine are only just showing their green leaves. I think I need to move into town for the milder air so I can grow some of your lovely flowers.

    I just Googled clammy weed and was suprised that it is listed as a Texas native on Dave’s garden. I wonder if it’s really a native or just extremely adaptive. — mss

  10. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    I really appreciate your concern for us snowbound gardeners longing for blooms. Thanks for helping to cheer us up. Some people really like the scent of Lemon Pledge. At this point, I’m ready to go sniff a can, my poor nose is so deprived of floral scent Poor Polonisia needs a better common name. I’m sure you think that Rose looks bad, but there’s a certain poignant charm to the freeze-dried perfection. And yes, the Broccoli head does count just as it is. It is a thing of beauty & I bet it’ll taste even better than it looks. I’m glad most of your plants are happy & blooming for you after all the frustrations of the summer.

    Yes, I count on you guys to cheer me up in return during Austin’s horrible summers. If you ever touch clammy weed, you’ll discover where it got its name. Pretty flowers though. It used to be classed as a kind of cleome. I bought one seed packet years ago and it has been with me ever since. As for the winter honeysuckle, I love the scent and so do most people. Elizabeth Lawrence said it was the main (actually the only) reason to plant it. — mss

  11. From Dee/reddirtramblings:

    MSS, we have that same crazy weather here. Up, down, up, down, feels more like exercise than weather. I planted winter honeysuckle for the first time last fall, and it is doing well. I placed it next to the deck so I could smell it. It will probably bloom next month. Loved seeing your pretty flowers and glad you’re able to have a little fun. You sure didn’t last summer.~~Dee

  12. From Nan Ondra, PA:

    Thank you for being merciful and bending your rules to show some extra flowers to us bloom-deprived northerners. No, you’re not going to get much sympathy for cold damage at this point; better a freeze-dried rose than no roses at all. I think I envy you your veggies the most, though. Think of us stuck with boring store-bought produce when you’re snacking on fresh-picked peas next week!

    Nan, your GBBD post this month was the funniest one I’ve ever seen. You are a very creative gardener. — mss

  13. From Jean:

    You should definitely count broccoli as blooms. Those are little blooms after all, right? I like your tazetta and pea blossoms as well. Heck, I like all of them!

  14. From Cindy, MCOK:

    MSS, you are so right about our weather … “summer one day, winter the next”. It’s very confusing for the plants AND the gardeners!

  15. From elizabeth:

    I wonder if the italicus is the same as what Brent and Becky’s call Avalanche. And I rarely hear something called “clammy weed” talked about as a desirable garden plant!

    Always interesting to look at the Texas posts in January.

  16. From angelina:

    That broccoli looks lush. Have you eaten it yet? Yum!

    We’ve eaten two heads of broccoli to date and they were both very yummy. Broccoli is definitely one of those foods best eaten very fresh. — mss