photo: daffodils
2011-04-19. Essex, CT. Daffodils under gray skies. Probably the only photo I took that didn’t show forsythia.

April 23rd, 2011
Week 16: 4/16 – 4/22

Dateline: 2011

We travelled back in time this week. In New England, spring is just beginning to win the battle against winter. Forsythia is in bloom everywhere as are daffodils and a few tulips. For the most part, April still wears bare trees against bleak gray skies. We saw several flowering trees and plants that I’m unfamiliar with; I love how alien new landscapes seem even those on the same continent. We wear hat, gloves, and windbreakers over sweaters the whole time we are there. In contrast, temperatures in Austin soar into the mid 90s (the forecast I saw was for 97 but the actual high was 95 on 4/18), wildfires burn across drought-stricken Texas, and Governor Perry offers Texans a faith-based solution: we should all spend three days praying for rain. Rain was a problem in Connecticut, too–not a lack but a surfeit. The Connecticut River was over its banks in East Haddam. 2011 reminds me of 1993: severe drought in Texas; severe flooding along the Mississippi.

Zanthan Gardens made a big leap forward in our short week away. Yellow rules. The retama is in full bloom. The prickly pear cacti have their first flowers as does the rose ‘Mermaid’. The sago palm is putting out new fronds. The bluebonnet seedpods are dry and ready to pop. The coral vine is flowering. The ‘Angel’s Choir’ and ‘Lauren’s Grape’ poppies have put out a few wan flowers, mostly drained of color. The pomegranate has beautiful double flowers. (I think this is the first ever.) I’m happily surprised to see the Pride of Barbados coming back from its roots. I’d given up on it. The only big disappointment is my horsetail. I had nursed it back to health over the winter and it was looking better than it ever had. Now it looks mostly dry, brown and crispy. All the other potted plants, which I’d brought inside out of the sun, survived–even two pots of mint. The other plant I’m worried about is the allspice. It was so big and healthy and now the leaves are simply drying up and dying and there is no new growth. I think it might be getting too much water and rotting.

Looking over the history below, I see that it’s not unusual for Austin to hit the high 90s or even the 100s this week in April during a La Niña year. Facts are no comfort. I’d prefer my delusion that these temperatures are outrageous not typical.

I was expecting the garden to be toast on my return. It did better than I expected. The larkspur and nigella are short and already dry so they are dying out gracefully. I do regret that the flowers on the confederate jasmine have already turned brown and stopped giving off their scent. Had I been here to water them, they might still be in full bloom. Now I have to wait a whole year to smell them again.

Read the rest of this entry »

Zanthan Gardens left to its own devices.

April 15th, 2011
GBBD 201104: Apr 2011

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

April 2011

The drought continues. The pink evening primrose and Engelmann daisy seem to prefer this drier weather and are the stars of the day. The dry weather hurries summer along. Many flowers that are usually in bloom in April have already finished. Others that don’t usually start blooming until later have already begun. Even semi-weedy plants like baby blue eyes are relatively sparse and the plants are tiny and shrivelled. Austin’s ubiquitous bluebonnets are short and faded.

Nigella damascena
Nigella damascena. Love-in-a-mist. Doubles. A passalong from Jenny.

Dianthus chinensis
Dianthus chinensis. Pinks

Phlox pilosa
Phlox pilosa. Prairie Phlox. A passalong from Julie.

Callirhoe involucrata
Callirhoe involucrata. Winecup

My larkspur plans have gone awry. I dug two beds along the front path several years ago. Larkspur was supposed to line the path and the lawn. The lawn died. I didn’t get the larkspur planted this year. The last two years it self sowed where the lawn was. This year I didn’t get my beds planted so the self-sown larkspur is all I have. Without water or thinning the resultant plants are only about one to two feet tall rather than three or four feet tall. The front yard now looks a bit like the back yard used to. The meadow in the back yard is almost completely devoid of larkspur. After ten years, what was once the meadow is almost completely in shade by the time the wildflowers want to bloom.


Between GBBDs

Flowers that bloomed between March 15, 2011 and April 15, 2011 and so did not appear in either list.

  • Allium neapolitanum
    These use to flower in abundance in the meadow but creeping shade and this year’s drought resulted in only one bulb blooming.
  • Datura inoxia
    One flush of flowers already, just none open today.

Incomplete List for April, 2011

I always have to double-check some things but it’s 10PM. So there you are.

  • amaryllis ‘Dancing Queen’ (2010, 2011–last day)
  • Antirrhinum majus (2010, 2011–just barely)
  • Aristolochia fimbriata (2011)
  • Callirhoe involucrata (2011)
  • Centaurea cyanus Black Magic (2011)
  • Commelinantia anomala (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Consolida ambigua (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Coriandrum sativum (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Dianthus chinensis (2011)
  • Diospyros kaki ‘Eureka’ (Japanese persimmon) (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Echinacea purpurea (2011)
  • Engelmannia peristenia/pinnatifida (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Hesperaloe parviflora (2011)
  • Hippeastrum x johnsonii (St. Joseph’s lily) (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Iris flavescens (?) yellow heirloom (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • iris ‘Full Eclipse’ (2011)
  • iris ‘Incantation’ (2010, 2011–last day)
  • Lonicera japonica (2011)
  • Lupinus texensis (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Nigella damascena (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Oenothera speciosa (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Oxalis crassipis (hot pink) (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Oxalis stricta (yellow flowering weed) (2010, 2011)
  • Oxalis triangularis (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Papaver somniferum “Dorothy Cavanaugh” (2010, 2011)
  • Parkinsonia aculeata, retama (2009, 2011–first day)
  • Polanisia dodecandra (2011)
  • Phlomis lanata (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Phlox pilosa (2011)
  • Rhaphiolepis indica (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011–last day)
  • rose ‘Blush Noisette’ (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • rose ‘New Dawn’ (2011)
  • rose ‘Red Cascade’ (2011)
  • Ruellia (2011)
  • Sedum album (2011?)
  • Solanum jasminoides (potato vine) (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011-fading)
  • Spiraea bridal wreath (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides (2011)
  • Tradescantia (spiderwort) (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
  • Verbena canadensis (lavender wilding) (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Vicia sativa (common vetch) (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Zexmenia hispida (2009, 2011)

Nigella damascena

May 4th, 2010
Nigella damascena

I mentioned that I love white Love-in-a-mist, Nigella damascena, for the way the flowers look like fallen stars caught in a mist in the meadow.

Nigella damascena

Last year Lancashire Rose gave me seeds for a double form she has. They began opening this week and they are just as enchanting but in an entirely different way. Some are solid and some are bicolor.

Nigella damascena

Nigella damascena

Nigella has the same growing habits and requirements as cilantro and larkspur. It is usually the last of the three to flower. For more information, see Zanthan Gardens: Nigella damascena.