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

January 15th, 2009
GBBD 200901: Jan 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)