blue iris
Unidentified bearded iris.

December 15th, 2009
GBBD 200912: Dec 2009

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

December 2009

The last couple of Decembers, I managed to sneak in a flowery GBBD before winter’s first hard freeze. This December the hard freeze came first to Austin and so there is very little blooming in the garden today.

New for December

Only two plants began flowering since November’s GBBD: one passalong blue bearded iris and the winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima. That’s a long name for an insignificant flower. It’s power is in its scent. Both began blooming yesterday (12/14).

Lonicera fragrantissima
Winter honeysuckle.

I also bought a tray of yellow snapdragons. They hardly seem like real flowers since I bought them in bloom and they look more or less the same weeks later. I usually buy violas but I couldn’t find a color I liked this year.

The white marigold ‘Kilimanjaro’ bloomed just days before the freeze and then died. The paperwhite narcissus, the first of all the narcissus to bloom, are usually flowering in my garden by now. They are flowering elsewhere in Austin but not here. Mine need dividing, I think.

Hanging on

Pacific chrysanthemum caught the fancy of several garden bloggers during our field trip to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. I picked up a plant at the Antique Rose Emporium that same trip. The flowers are a pretty gold but I’m more attracted to the foliage.
Ajania pacifica
Pacific chrysanthemum.

Snow fell in Austin since November’s GBBD but it didn’t stick. The closest I have to a carpet of snow is a little clump of sweet alyssum which survived the heat of summer.
Lobularia maritima
Sweet alyssum.

The roses ‘Ducher’ and ‘Red Cascade’ which were in full bloom before the freeze have survived. Some of the smallest buds froze and never opened but the larger flowers still look pretty from a distance. On closer inspection you can see they were nipped by the cold but unlike so many other flowers, they didn’t turn to much and go brown.

December 15, 2009

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

  • Ajania pacifica (2009)
  • Antirrhinum majus (2009)
  • Aster ericoides (2007, 2009)
  • Commelinantia anomala (2009) a few flowers, most froze
  • Galphimia gracilis, indoors (2009)
  • iris, unidentified blue bearded (2009)
  • Lobularia maritima ‘Tiny Tim’ (2007, 2009) survived the summer
  • Lonicera fragrantissima (2009)
  • parsnips (2009)
  • rose ‘Ducher’ (2007, 2009)
  • rose ‘Red Cascade’ (2009)
  • rosemary (2007, 2008, 2009)
  • Setcreasea (2007, 2009) green
  • Tagetes lucida (2009)

Port St John's Creeper
The Port St. Johns Creeper, Podranea ricasoliana has eaten the north border, smothering a grape vine, a ‘New Dawn’ rose, and attacking the raspberries. The raspberries looked like they might not survive August–all the leaves browned–but they seem to be forming new canes. I guess this is their spring. Self-sown datura is also rampant but welcome.

September 29th, 2009
On Returning Home

The week before we went on vacation, Zanthan Gardens got 7 inches of rain in less than three days. The week we were gone, we got another 3.5 inches and temperatures dropped enough that my Austin garden friends on Twitter were talking about drinking hot tea and putting on sweaters.

In our absence the garden was transformed. It was green. (Mostly weeds.) Bluebonnets, cilantro, and Love-in-the-mist had sprouted. The rosemary was blooming. Half the lavender had rotted away. A large aloe vera had collapsed and a wooden retaining wall had fallen over.

The spineless prickly pear cactus which withered in the drought has become so bloated with rain that it had collapsed under its own weight. I hated it before and I really hate it now. So most of it will be removed to the city’s composting collection.

Crape Myrtle Catawba
The crape myrtles would have bloomed better all summer if I had watered them. I saw them blooming all over Austin. However, they are a rather low priority plant in my garden when it comes to precious summer water so they had to wait for the rains. I think I cherish them even more now for missing them over summer.

St Joseph's Lily
Some oxblood lilies were still flowering on my return. However, I was surprised by this red giant blooming: the St. Joseph’s Lily. Maybe it wanted to join in the red revelry. It’s supposed to bloom in the spring, on the saint’s feast day, March 19th.

Sweet Alyssum
I also was surprised to see the Sweet Alyssum blooming. It’s never survived the summer before and 2009 was the worst of summers. About half the plants have survived even though sometime in August I stopped watering them. Such tenacity!

Curly Parsley
The curly parsley was another surprise. Last fall was the first time I grew it and found it as easy to grow as cilantro but when the cilantro faded in the heat the parsley soldiered on. I lost most of it but a few hardy stems which had died almost completely to the ground came back. I’ve decided that the intense bright green will make a perfect low hedging for my winter garden. I’m going to plant a lot more this year.

Allium tuberosum
Some things are just as expected. The garlic chives, Allium tuberosum, are dependable fall flowers and a nice complement to the oxblood lilies. Over the years, they do tend to take over like all their allium kin. I’ve been pretty brutal the last few years yanking them out where I didn’t want them and not replanting them. Still, I’m happy to see them when they do bloom. It makes fall feel complete.

photo: Lobularia maritima Sweet Alyssum

2003-12-08. Lobularia maritima (sweet alyssum) planted in the hollow of a rotted log. These are winter annuals from last year that revived with the cooler weather this November. Austin, Texas.

December 12th, 2003
Week 49: 12/3 – 12/9

Dateline 2016

It rained all day. Luckily, I blew all the leaves off the roof and paths yesterday. It rained all day on Dec 3 in 2011, too. AJM went on the same 20 mile run while I worked on the computer huddled under the electric blanket, albeit on a different project. I did sow some larkspur seeds in the northeast corner in a spot I prepared yesterday. I can see why people who live in cold climates have so much time to bake and be crafty.

Dateline 2003

A very welcome gray day, misty, then drizzly, then a thunderous downpour. Just yesterday the Statesman was reporting that Travis County was under a burn ban, since we only received two-thirds of our usual rain for the year. All around us, the rain levels have been normal or higher than average. But Austin is in a little black hole of rainlessness.

And then today it rained. I gathered the rain harvest in every wheelbarrow and bucket I own. And, yes I do have a rain barrel. I just wish I had more.

A single rose blooms here and there. Today I cut ‘Peace’, ‘Souvenir de St Anne’s’ and ‘Blush Noisette’. I’m having a lot of problems with mildew especially on ‘Souvenir del Malmaison’ and ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ which are along the same south-facing wall.

This year, I didn’t wait for a freeze to kill off the summer vegetables, but took action and cleared them out. A lingering death is so ignoble.

Dateline 2001

The weather is setting the holiday mood; it continues to be cold, gray, and drizzly. I like this weather in this season of Advent because it makes me feel like baking, or sitting in front of a fire writing Christmas messages.

The garden needs tidying, but it will have to wait. I’m not in the mood to rake sodden leaves and the lawn is too wet to mow, even though it needs it. The bright green annual rye has now grown 6 inches.

Only the trailing lantana is in full flower. Some of the Grand Primo narcissus are sending up their flower spikes. The nandina berries are brilliantly red against deep green foliage (the foliage in my yard has not changed color as I’ve seen in other places).

In past years, I’ve spent this week cleaning up freeze damage. There is a sense of relief in the finality of a really hard freeze. But Austin’s first big freeze two weeks ago did not affect our yard. Both in summer and winter, the buildings downtown store and radiate heat, always making our yard a couple of degrees warmer than the official temperature at Camp Mabry. So the old tomato and basil plants linger on and I’m in no mood to deal with them.