rose Mermaid
2012-02-15. Rose ‘Mermaid. Close up.

February 15th, 2012
GBBD 201202: February 2012

Carol at May Dreams Gardens invites us to tell her what’s blooming in our gardens on the 15th of each month.

February 15, 2012

Well. If winter is the only season left for Austinites to garden in (the rest of the year being too hot), I’m glad this winter has been wet and warm in contrast to last year’s horrible dry and cold winter. I only had four things blooming last February and one of them was henbit. Zanthan Gardens is overrun with henbit this year but a lot of other nicer things, too.

The plants are very confused, though. They went semi-dormant in 2011’s hot, dry summer and then started putting out growth the second it began raining. So, while this February had a very lacksluster showing of paperwhite narcissus and the daffodil, tulips, bluebells, and summer snowflakes have not yet appeared, it is filled with roses. Roses blooming and roses putting out new canes.

The first rose to bloom was the hot weather trooper, ‘Blush Noisette’.
rose Blush Noisette

Then ‘Mermaid’ started blooming. It usually is my last rose to flower. I think of it as a late May, early June rose. Mermaid has the biggest flowers, flat flowers the size of saucers. It’s also the thorniest rose I grow. ‘Mermaid’ is a monster of a rose and not one that’s easily tamed.
rose Mermaid

Typically my first rose of the year is my favorite ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’. I breathed a sigh of relief when it started putting out new canes. I was very close to losing it to cane dieback last fall. I cut back the bad canes and sprayed it with pruning paint. It did not look good. I’ve already lost half my roses to cane dieback so I was not optimistic. But it’s pulled through.
rose Souvenir de la Malmaison
‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ is one rose that doesn’t like wet weather. The flowers ball; that is, the outside petals of the blossoms stick together. I had about a dozen flowers that I had to peal the outside petals off of for them to open.
rose Souvenir de la Malmaison

The ‘New Dawn’ rose along the front fence is blooming. The one in the back yard is not yet. It is about the same color as ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ but with a much more modern flower shape.
rose New Dawn

Now for the flowers which are blooming in season. The Mexican plum started blooming last week and is just starting to fill out this week. In my mind, the Mexican plums are the first to bloom, followed by redbuds for Valentine’s day, and then Texas mountain laurels. The latter has been blooming all over my neighborhood and downtown for a week. I still haven’t spotted my first redbud for 2012.
Mexican Plum

Flowers in the tradescantia family will start blooming with any spring rain. I’ve had false dayflowers bloom in December but February and March is more usual. So far, I have only this one in flower but the yard is covered with plants about to bloom.
false dayflower
Ditto its perennial cousin, the spiderwort.
tradescantia

For some reason, the larkspur began blooming before the bluebonnets. Usually my bluebonnets are in full bloom by mid-March and the larkspur take over in mid April. Several larkspur are already blooming and a lot more are soon to follow. Not a single bluebonnet (and there are quite a few plants) has sent up a flower stalk yet.
larkspur

And then we have several flowers, like this salvia, that were blooming in fall, got some frost damage in December and died back slightly (but not all the way to the ground) and have made a comeback. Ruellia and lantana are also in this category.
Salvia madrensis

In the vegetable garden the English peas are in full bloom and we’ve been eating peas, too. We pick lettuce and swiss chard almost every day. And the carrots are producing baby carrots. I hope they get a little bigger. The rosemary is still full of flowers.

Henbit has been very invasive this year. It’s just beginning to fade but the chickweed and goosegrass is coming on strong in its place. I hate them all.

Complete List for February

The list of all plants flowering today, February 15th 2012, at Zanthan Gardens. If the flower was blooming in February in 2008 or 2009 I indicated that in parentheses. I don’t have a February list for 2010.

  • Commelinantia anomala
  • Consolida ambigua
  • Lantana montevidensis (2008, 2009)
  • Lonicera fragrantissima (2009, 2011)
  • Pisum sativum (2009)
  • Polanisia dodecandra, clammy weed (2009)
  • Prunus mexicana (2008, 2009)
  • potato vine
  • rose ‘Blush Noisette’
  • rose ‘Mermaid’
  • rose ‘New Dawn’
  • rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (2009)
  • rosemary (2008, 2009, 2011)
  • Ruellia
  • Salvia madrensis
  • Setcreasea pallida (2009)
  • Sophora secundiflora
  • Tradescantia, spiderwort (2009)

blue flowers
Blue flowers blooming at Zanthan Gardens on March 28, 2010

March 29th, 2010
Blue Flowers

  • Muscari racemosum. Blue bottles. (aka, grape hyacinths. The “grape” refers to the way the flowers are clustered like a bunch of grapes, not the color.)
  • Nemophila insignis. Baby blue eyes.
  • Hyacinthoides hispanica. Spanish bluebells
  • Lupinus texensis. Texas bluebonnet.
  • Commelinantia anomala. False dayflowers. (solid blue and a bicolor)

Recently I tweeted about Suntory having GMO’d a “blue” rose. In response, @CarolineSays linked to a blog post by Chris Clarke Daze of Whine and Roses, which scoffed at the very idea that Suntory’s rose was blue. Lilac or mauve, maybe, but not blue.

In flower terms, “blue” is a pretty expansive color term–just like black, which typically is a really, really, deep red. So I decided to inventory my own blue flowers. Of course, the camera lies. Depending upon the settings in your camera, the setting on your monitor, or any number of other variables (photos shot in full sunlight, bright shade, full shade), colors are going to differ.

Massed, bluebonnets are a deep indigo or jewel-toned blue. (At least mine are. Some are a more pale sky blue.) Spanish bluebells look anemic beside them. Baby blue eyes are a hazy day sky blue. But in the photo they look almost lavender…or like my favorite crayon as a child “periwinkle blue”. In life, false dayflowers are an electric, aniline blue. In my photo, they have a reddish tint compared with the bluebonnets.

I wanted to see if some of the “lavender” blues looked more like blue when compared to flowers that I think of as purple in the garden: Texas mountain laurel, tradescantia, and verbena. And they do. The color of the Suntory rose seems similar to the periwinkle blue of the rosemary and baby blue eyes.

blue flowers
Purple and blue flowers blooming at Zanthan Gardens on March 29, 2010

So I’m not going to get on Suntory because their new flower isn’t really “blue”. Rather, I’m still disappointed that they think developing a blue rose is worth messing around with genetically modified organisms.

Commelinantia anomala
Commelinantia anomala. False dayflower. Who could resist a face like that?

November 26th, 2009
Commelinantia anomala

If Austin has received good fall rains, then by November my yard is filled with the first grassy green leaves of false dayflowers. The color is a young, spring green so bright and cheerful that it seems at odds with the season.

False dayflower is a beautiful, but generally uncultivated, member of the Commelinaceae family which includes spiderwort, wandering Jew, and the true, perennial day flower (widow’s tears). Seeds for false dayflower arrived in my garden in a bag of leaves that I collected for mulch. I’m glad they did because their 5-inch tufts of bright green foliage which appear in late fall, brighten the winter garden.

Commelinantia anomala
The bright green leaves of false dayflower glow when they catch the sunlight.

Its habit is very similar to its relative, the spiderwort. I consider them far superior to spiderwort because they are shallow-rooted, easy to remove from any spot where they’re not wanted, and have more arresting flowers.

False dayflowers form grass-like drifts that disappear in the first heat of summer. Although they self-sow with the vigor of weeds, they are not rank. They are very shallow-rooted and easy to remove from any place that they are not wanted. They require absolutely no attention and make wonderful filler plants, especially on the edges of shady areas. The seeds sprout in moist soil covered with mulch.

Commelinantia anomala
False dayflower massed next to purple heart–another relative.

They are also quite attractive as single plants.

Commelinantia anomala

With spring rains the flower spathes shoot up a foot or more and the funny-faced flowers float like pale blue butterflies. Normally, the petals are a solid lavender blue, but occasionally a bitone flower will appear. I’ve selected the bitones seeds over the years and now about 80 per cent of the flowers in my yard are bitoned.

Commelinantia anomala
Two colors of false dayflowers growing among purple spiderwort. (Blooming more typically in March.)

I have never seen false dayflower or its seeds for sale. The Wildflower Center had plants at their Spring 2010 sale. I felt sorry for anyone who bought them because they were near the end of their lives and looked unlikely to flower and set seeds. I don’t know anyone else who grows them on purpose. They are weeds. But what wonderful weeds! They are endemic to central Texas so I can grow them without guilt.

Previously, the earliest that false dayflower had bloomed in my garden was December 7, 2001. However, this year it is already blooming. The first flower was October 28th.

Related

Wildflower Center: Native Plant Database: Tinantia anomala (The botanists are playing with names again. I say commelinantia because it took me such a long time to learn to spell it. And because it belongs to the Commelinaceae (Spiderwort) family.

Commelinantia anomala
Commelinantia anomala. I prefer this pale false dayflower.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens invites us to tell her what’s blooming in our gardens on the 15th of each month.

November 15th, 2009
GBBD 200911: Nov 2009

November 15, 2009

This last month has been one of the most beautiful in memory, its perfection lulling us into a glowing sense of “God! Isn’t it wonderful to live here in central Texas.” Rain. Rain. Rain. And then a month of dew-kissed mornings when we never got the hose out once and only watered seedlings and new transplants with the bounty in our rain barrels.

The overwintering annuals have filled in making it look more like March than November. The false dayflower is already flowering.
Commelinantia anomala
Commelinantia anomala. The common solid blue false day flower has an endearing face, too.

Henbit, chickweed, and dandelions–the early winter weeds (or tonic herbs depending on your point of view)–are also getting a head start on sprouting and blooming. It’s odd to think that our first freeze is due within three weeks when the whole garden is insisting we’re already into spring.

Another March flowerer, cilantro, is about to bolt. I hope this counts as a bonus fall crop and that we get a second crop in spring. Even the spring-flowering Jerusalem sage threw out a few flowers on one bush.

The fall flowers, brilliant with fall yellows and oranges, are in full bloom. With the flowers, the butterflies returned.
monarch on butterfly weed
Asclepias curassavica.

As did swarms of mosquitoes. The mosquitoes love to be in the garden in the late afternoon at the same time I otherwise find it most pleasant to work. Very discouraging. The garden is buzzing with bees, too. They especially like the coral vine, the basil, and the orange cosmos. The cosmos is in full bloom right now. Unfortunately it is a uniform orange, unlike previous years. It and the pink Port St. John’s Creeper account for almost all the color in the back yard.
Cosmos sulphureus
Cosmos sulphureus.

All month the roses have been in full bloom. The ‘New Dawn’ rose by the front fence has flowered more and longer than ever before. So has ‘Red Cascade’ which looks like it has finally decided to do something (take over the world?) after years of lying sleepily along the ground. In the back yard, ‘Ducher’ collapsed under its own weight and then sent out a lot of additional new growth from the bent canes. In short, it pegged itself.

rose Ducher
Rose ‘Ducher’. Linen white and lemon scented.

rose Red Cascade
Rose ‘Red Cascade’. Tiny flowers on rambling rose that wants to be a groundcover.

rose Prosperity
Rose ‘Prosperty’. From bud, to faded flower on stem…like a timelapse photo of itself.

rose Blush Noisette
Rose ‘Blush Noisette’.

‘Mermaid’ has been blooming this last month, just not today. Only ‘Souvenir del Malmaison’ and ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’, which are still in the shade of a red oak, have not flowered.

The vines have set out to smother the yard, especially the kudzu-like Port St. John’s creeper which is following the coral vine’s leap into the trees. The cypress vine has grown into a flopsy mopsy tangle at the top of its trellis. One surviving morning glory puts out a unique striated flower every other day or so.

Pavonia hastata
Pavonia hastata. A single pale pavonia flower struggles to open. I prefer it to its cousin the solid pink, Texas native, rock rose, Pavonia lasiopetala.

In the winter vegetable garden, the parsnips are flowering. The leaves are only just beginning to fall from the pecans today so the newly planted lettuce and other salad greens are struggling in the shade and getting leggy or eaten by pill bugs. The jalapeno is flowering and has peppers on it. One self-sown tomatillo is flowering but the other two which sprouted died so can’t cross-pollinate and set fruit.

Complete List for November

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

  • Ajania pacifica (2009)
  • Antigonon leptopus (2009)
  • Asclepias curassavica (2009)
  • Aster ericoides (2009)
  • basil (2009)
  • Callisia repens (2009)
  • Calytocarpus vialis (2009) hated horseherb
  • Commelina communis (2009)
  • Commelinantia anomala (2009)
  • Cosmos sulphureus (2009)
  • Datura inoxia (2009)
  • Dolichos lablab (2009)
  • Duranta erecta (2009): overwintered and bloomed all summer
  • Eupatorium wrightii (2009): fading
  • Galphimia gracilis (2009)
  • henbit (2009)
  • Ipomoea quamoclit (2009)
  • jalapeno (2009)
  • Lagerstroemia indica ‘Catawba’ (2009): one flower; leaves browning–not changing color
  • Lavandula heterophylla ‘Goodwin Creek’ (2009)
  • Lobularia maritima ‘Tiny Tim’ (2009) survived the summer
  • Malvaviscus arboreus (2009)
  • Mirabilis jalapa pink (2009)
  • Nerium oleander ‘Turner’s Shari D.’ (2009): fading
  • Oxalis crassipis (2009)
  • Oxalis triangularis, purple (2009)
  • parsnips (2009)
  • Pavonia hastata (2009)
  • Podranea ricasoliana (2009)
  • Polanisia dodecandra (2009)
  • rose ‘Blush Noisette’ (2009)
  • rose ‘Ducher’ (2009): so heavy with new growth and flowers that it’s sprawling
  • rose ‘New Dawn’ (2009): both plants
  • rose ‘Prosperity’ (2009)
  • rose ‘Red Cascade’ (2009)
  • rosemary (2009)
  • Setcreasea (2009) both purple and green
  • Solanum jasminoides (2009)
  • tomatillo (2009)
  • Tagetes lucida (2009)
  • Thymophylla tenuiloba (2009)
  • Zexmenia hispida (2009)