Datura inoxia
Datura inoxia and Lindheimmer senna both in full bloom today.

September 15th, 2010
GBBD 201009: Sep 2010

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

September 15, 2010

First fall is firmly entrenched in Austin. Given that it’s hot and humid, how do I know summer has surrendered? When I go outside, it doesn’t feel like I’ve stepped into an oven. When I walk down the street, the heat no longer radiates off the sidewalks and buildings. If I’m unable to water the potted plants one day, they don’t immediately die. The plants don’t wilt after ten minutes of direct sunlight. I’m pretty confident if a plant has made it this far it’s survived summer. (I did lose a couple of things the week before the rain: my potted sweet bay and my second ‘Ducher’ rose.)

I’m surprised by people who can’t feel the 15-degree difference between 107° and 92. I’m not going to say it’s pleasant outside but it is bearable. The air is thick with humidity and mosquitoes the result of Tropical Storm Hermine. After an August with only a trace of rain, Hermine answered our prayers with a vengeance. Zanthan Gardens got about 6 inches of rain in one day; other places in Austin got twice that. Flooding ensued. Eight people died (not all in Central Texas).

The oxblood lilies had their day living up to one of their other common names, hurricane lilies. Their fleeting beauty is all but faded today. So the prize for most striking display for GBBD is a toss-up between the Datura inoxia and the Lindheirmer senna. Some of the latter is over six feet tall. I’ve never seen it so tall. It grew a lot during the wet early summer months.

Lindheimers senna
Lindheimers senna

Gardens everywhere in Austin are brimming with Pride of Barbados this year. I’m seduced by the clear orange/yellow combination. Usually I’m not a fan of orange–it has to be the right flower. I’m glad I bought one. I also managed to grow a Pride of Barbados from seed which I planted a couple of years ago. It died back to the ground during the January 2010 freeze but now it is almost as big as the one I bought. It still hasn’t flowered.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Pride of Barbados

Both the golden thryallis plants are flowering as is the ‘Bangkok Yellow” canna which I had to rescue from pond-trashing raccoons. September is a very yellow month at Zanthan Gardens.

Galphimia glauca
Golden thryallis

The garlic chives started flowering very early this year and are still flowering. I planted them to complement the oxblood lilies but they don’t always flower together.

Allium tuberosum
Garlic chives

The vitex, the retama, and the desert willow have all surprised me with flowers today. Even the ‘Catawba’ crape myrtle is reblooming. The coral vine is also pretty happy, sprawling over twenty feet into my neighbor’s cedar elms. A couple of four o’clocks opened, too. The ‘Starry Eyes’ nierembergia has been a winner throughout the summer. I definitely want more.

Nierembergia gracilis
Nierembergia gracilis ‘Starry Eyes’

After the rain the garden is really just a collection of moderately managed wildflowers. The ruellia (all three types) have taken over the back yard. It’s very obliging. I don’t water or feed it and it grows and grows and grows. Another native plant, scarlet spiderling has been very aggressive this year. I don’t mind it in small doses but this year the plants are huge. The flowers, although a very pretty color, are tiny.

Boerhavia coccinea
scarlet spiderling

Another native plant that I try not to let get out of control but which has this year is this mallow (maybe Indian mallow, Abutilon incanum). This isn’t a very good photo…it makes it look like horseherb. The flower of the mallow is much larger than that of horseherb; it’s about the size of a penny. It’s also a pretty pale, flat buttery yellow. The mallow is an upright bushy plant; the horseherb is a sprawling ground cover.

mallow
mallow

Eventually I’ll get the garden all under control again. Or maybe not.

Port St John's Creeper
Port St. John’s creeper is the kudzu of my garden. It has eaten my entire north border, swallowing a grape vine and a ‘New Dawn’ rose (which managed to thrust three flowers through the mad thicket). I never watered it. I hacked it back to the ground. And it keeps coming back. When it’s in flower, I can almost forgive it.

October 15th, 2009
GBBD 200910: Oct 2009

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

October 2009

What a difference rain makes! What a difference a year makes!

Last year, central Texas was a year into our drought and the season which usually brings a sense of renewal and hope to the garden had failed us. I was too discouraged to even write a post for GBBD last October. This year it began raining about a month ago and hasn’t let up. Yesterday was our first sunny day in almost a week. The garden is transformed. Everything that’s survived the drought and heat of summer is working overtime to put out new growth and flowers. The weeds (and mosquitoes) reign supreme. I don’t care about the weeds; I’d rather weed than water.

Datura inoxia

Unfortunately, many flowers are not camera-ready. The rain has left them a sodden, mud-spattered mess like the datura above (a passalong from Diana @ Sharing Nature’s Garden). This is why this post contains no rose photos, even though every rose except for ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ is blooming today.

New for October

Bulbine frutescens

Bulbine started blooming this month and this is the first time I’ve had it in my garden. I received it as a passalong plant from VBDB @ Playin’ Outside during this spring’s Austin garden blogger get-together. I’ve always wanted it and I’m so glad to have it.

Mexican Mint Marigold

Another plant new to my garden is Mexican mint marigold, a passalong from Annie @ The Transplantable Rose. She gave it to me as a substitute for French tarragon which won’t grow in Texas.

Allium tuberosum

Garlic chives is an old autumn faithful. It was here when I came and I bet it will still grow here when I’m gone. I like it best when it complements the oxblood lilies but most years it comes into bloom after they have finished. The garlic chives is just a little beyond its peak right now and beginning to go to seed. Like most alliums, it will take over the garden if you let it.

Fall Rebloom

Zexmenia

Pam @ Digging gave me this zexmenia two years ago. The day I picked it up turned suddenly warm. I put it in the ground immediately but it looked like it had died straight off. It hasn’t had an easy time of it. I cut it back hard in August. Now it’s about four times bigger than it was a month ago and covered in flowers.

Lindheimer Senna

Lindheimer senna self-sowed all over the meadow and began blooming with the first rains in the latter part of September. It’s mostly gone to seed now but one flower held out for GBBD.

Thymophylla tenuiloba

I was happy to see that the Dahlberg daisy I bought this spring survived and began flowering again. Jenny said it another profuse self-sower and I’m happy to report many new seedlings sprouting. I’m digging them up and tucking them in all over the garden. I love its clear yellow flowers and delicate foliage.

Summer Survivors

Not only the Port St. John’s creeper but every vine I grow has taken off running with all this rain. The morning glories, which I thought had died, came back from their roots. The potato vine, is conveniently covering the chain link fence next to the driveway.

Antigonon leptopus

Nothing attracts bees to my garden like coral vine. It struggled through this dry summer without any supplemental water but revived with the rains. It is currently trying to eat my husband’s car.

Cypress Vine

Once you grow cypress vine you will always have it. Every time it rains, more will sprout. In the rainy summer of 2007, it smothered my front yard. This year I kept transplanting self-sown seedlings next to my sweet pea trellis and now they are all blooming. Cypress vines is supposed to attract hummingbirds but I haven’t seen any yet. The little blue flowers behind it are the duranta–which has survived both winter and summer and never stopped blooming.

mushroom

With all this rain and damp mulch, a variety of mushrooms continue to spring up. Although not technically a flower, I couldn’t resist including this one.

October 15, 2009

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

  • Abelia grandiflora (2007, 2009)
  • Antigonon leptopus (2007, 2009)
  • Allium tuberosum (2009): starting to go to seed
  • Asclepias curassavica (2007, 2009)
  • Bulbine frutescens (2009)
  • Calytocarpus vialis (2009)
  • Commelina communis (2009)
  • Datura inoxia (2009)
  • Duranta erecta (2007, 2009): overwintered and bloomed all summer
  • Eupatorium wrightii (2007, 2009): just starting to bloom
  • Hibiscus syriacus (2009)
  • Hippeastrum x johnsonii (2009)
  • Ipomoea quamoclit (2009)
  • Ipomoea tricolor ‘Flying Saucers’ (2009)
  • Lagerstroemia indica ‘Catawba’ (2009): full bloom two weeks ago; now almost all faded
  • Lobularia maritima ‘Tiny Tim’ (2009) survived the summer
  • Malvaviscus arboreus (2009)
  • Mirabilis jalapa pink (2009)
  • Nerium oleander ‘Turner’s Shari D.’ (2007, 2009): full bloom
  • Oxalis crassipis
  • Oxalis drummondii (2009)
  • Oxalis triangularis, white (2009)
  • Pavonia hastata (2009)
  • Plumbago auriculata (2009)
  • Podranea ricasoliana (2009)
  • rose ‘Blush Noisette’ (2009)
  • rose ‘Ducher’ (2009): so heavy with new growth and flowers that it’s sprawling
  • rose ‘Mermaid’ (2009)
  • rose ‘New Dawn’ (2009): both plants
  • rose ‘Prosperity’ (2009)
  • rose ‘Red Cascade’ (2009)
  • rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (2009)
  • rosemary (2009)
  • Ruellia (passalong) (2009)
  • Ruellia viney type but not woody type (2009)
  • Senna lindheimeriana (2009): full bloom three weeks ago; now almost all faded
  • Solanum jasminoides (2009)
  • Tagetes lucida (2009)
  • Thymophylla tenuiloba (2009)
  • Zexmenia hispida (2009)


The colors of August. Austin, TX. August 20, 2006. This is not a photo of my garden because there is nothing to photograph this week in my garden. It is in my neighborhood though.

August 20th, 2006
Week 33: 8/13 – 8/19


For those people who don’t think we have seasons down here, look at the photo. The golden brown grass, the dusty, dull green of the live oak, the rich blue of the sky, and fluffy white clouds–all colors that evoke August in Austin. It might not be as flashy as some seasons elsewhere but this is us.

Dateline: 2006
Wednesday (8/16) was the hottest day of 2006 in Austin, 104 degrees. That’s not a record breaking high. What’s unusual is not the quality of the heat; it’s the quantity. In August so far 16 out of 20 days have been 100 degrees or hotter.

For those of you new to Austin, no, this is not normal August weather. Non-gardening residents, as they race from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car, shrug their shoulders and think, “It’s August. It’s hot. Whaddya expect?” Well, I expect summer to be winding down.

We gardeners are out in the world and we’re taking notes. Although it’s not impossible for us to have 100+ degree days even in September (Austin’s all time record high was 114 degrees in September 2000–the most miserable summer in my memory), Austin’s average number of triple-digit days is ten. Ten! That means some years it’s less than ten. I’m just thankful I didn’t live through the summer of 1923. In that record-setting year, the thermometer topped 100 on 71 days.

Can you imagine that on August 14, 2003 the high was only in the low 80s after a front bringing heavy rain pushed through? Did I get out my sweater that day? This week in 1998, I was enjoying temperatures in the 80s and days of drizzling rain.

I’m usually dividing bearded irises and cleaning up and getting revved up for fall gardening. This year I’m lucky if I can stay outside long enough to get the potted plants watered.

Shout Out
Kathy Craig, at Cold Climate Gardening, mentioned that in upstate New York, the Color of August is Yellow. In Austin, the color of August is brown.
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