Ice Follies daffodils
2011-02-15. Ice Follies daffodils.

February 15th, 2011
GBBD 201102: Feb 2011

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

Feb 15, 2011

Valentine’s Day always marks the beginning of spring in Austin for me. The shocking pink of the redbuds seems appropriate to the holiday. Although it is in the 70s today, the previous two weeks Austin has experienced what is shockingly cold weather for us; two separate fronts brought night after night of temperatures in the low 20s. Very little has survived in my garden and cold damage reveals itself daily. So there are no redbuds for Valentine’s Day, no Mexican plums, no roses, or irises. Some early greens (henbit and chickweed) have survived as always but even they seem subdued.

Practically the only flowers in my garden are three ‘Ice Follies” daffodils. They started to shoot up before the freezes, froze solid in the bud, and opened on dwarfed stems.

The only other new flower in my garden this month is the winter honeysuckle. I didn’t notice when it started to flower in the rush of activity that accompanied my having the house painted. Then the first big freeze was upon us and as I was running around with a flashlight covering plants, I saw that it had burst into bloom. I was disappointed that it was going to freeze before I even got a chance to sniff at it. The freezes didn’t seem to bother it much.

winter honeysuckle2011-02-15. Lonicera fragrantissima (winter honeysuckle).

Between GBBDs

An early oversummering bluebonnet was flowering before the freeze. It’s not the earliest I’ve ever had bluebonnets flower but it was out of season. The flower froze but the plant is fine, as are all the bluebonnet plants whether large or just sprouting. Some false dayflowers had also opened in response to much needed rainfall in January before the freezes.

Feb 15, 2011

Complete List for February

The list of all plants flowering today, February 15th 2011, at Zanthan Gardens. The most meager February list ever! Compare February 2009 or February 2008.

  • henbit
  • Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’
  • Lonicera fragrantissima
  • rosemary

2010-02-18. Here’s something you don’t see often in our drought-stricken land: a mossy bank. We are on heavy clay which is now saturated with rain.

February 19th, 2010
Week 07: 2/12-2/18

Dateline: 2010

Austin’s unusually cold and wet winter/spring seems even more so in contrast with the last two drought years. Both the garden and I have been under the weather all February. The sun came out for a couple of days this week but I didn’t get much done. I lacked the stamina to deal with the cold and wind. Although I’m way behind in my chores (this is normally my busiest season), I feel that this drizzly weather has given me permission to take a break. A season of rest and reflection is something I often envy. So rather than fret about what isn’t getting done in the garden, I’m cultivating other pleasures.

This has been a slow spring. The big freeze of January 2010 killed the buds or flowering stalks of the various paperwhite and tazetta narcissus which would normally be in flower. It killed off the already flowering false dayflowers and snapdragons. And what I thought would be very early flowering cilantro and larkspur also froze (not the whole plants, just the bloom stalks). The mahonia didn’t flower this year at all; I think bud formation fell victim to the drought. The only flowers happily on schedule are the common selfsown: henbit, chickweed, dandelions, and sow thistles.

To compare, this week in 2009 I had roses and narcissus blooming at the same time. The arugula was bolting and the English peas about to give into the heat. The Jerusalem sage was flowering and the the duranta was still flowering from 2008.

The Mexican plums which have bloomed as early as January 29th, finally opened one flower (2/18). That tied the date for 2004 and missed the all time record for the latest first flower (2/19) made in 2002. I haven’t seen any sign of my most reliable harbinger of spring, the redbuds. I always look for them on Valentine’s Day.

I’m still cleaning up freeze-dried plants. I cut back the duranta which flowered throughout last winter and had reached a height of about 8 feet. They are dead to the ground now. Whether they will resprout from their roots is yet to be seen. The leaves on the oleanders are completely dead but the branches feel flexible and springy. This is a good opportunity to cut them back to size which I find hard to do when they are green and covered with buds. I also cut back the leafless vitex last month. I still need to prune back the crape myrtles, the rose of Sharon, and the Texas persimmon (which has never lost all its leaves before).

The roses, especially ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ and ‘New Dawn’ are covered with new leaf buds. They love this extra moisture; unfortunately so does black spot. I stripped last year’s leaves off the roses and cut back old canes.

In the vegetable garden the first English pea flowered. Last year at this time, they were producing well and by the end of February I had to pull them out because temperatures hit the 80s. I just got around to ordering my tomato seeds this week. This is much too late and I’ll probably have to buy tomato starts, too. Now that Gardens has closed, I’ve lost my favorite source of unusual varieties.

First flower: Pisum sativum ‘Progress #9″ (2/16); Prunus mexicana (2/18).

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