Helianthus annuus Van Gogh
The ‘Van Gogh’ sunflowers are about 3 feet tall and have a green center.

June 15th, 2009
GBBD 200906: June 2009

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

June 15, 2009

The good news this June is that Austin got rain last Thursday. Almost 2 inches of rain fell at Zanthan Gardens. Other Austinites were not as lucky and had to contend with hail, power outages, broken windows, and funnel clouds. The bad news is that Austin is already experiencing 100°F temperatures. To put it in perspective, we are almost 15 degrees hotter than Las Vegas. Back in the 20th Century (“I remember…” she said, waving her cane in his face), June was a fairly pleasant month in Austin. We’d get lots of rainfall (June was our third wettest month.) Temperatures typically didn’t start soaring into the 100s until late July or August. Then we’d have only six to eight weeks of misery to get through until the hurricanes brought rain just as school started.

Apparently the new norm for the 21s Century is to start being miserable around Mother’s Day and continue until Halloween.

Zanthan Gardens

This photo is misleading. Taken a couple of days after the rain, what’s left of the lawn has perked up. (There is no lawn in the front yard anymore–just bare dirt until I can do something with it.) Everything looks refreshingly green. The whole reality is that it’s 100°F and feels like a jungle. You daren’t stand in the sun. The only a spot of color is from the small clumps sunflowers and purple coneflowers at the fence. In the center of the picture is section of the yard I’m filling with the 12 cubic yards of dirt I bought last week. It will be a terrace to connect the back porch with the garden house.

New for June

Every year when the spring flowers die down I think it would be nice to have something to extend the season. If we have a normal rainy June (like 2007), then it’s wonderful. But if we have a hot, dry June (like 2006, 2008, 2009), then I find it’s far more trouble than it’s worth during the season when I’m busy cleaning up the spring garden and feeding, cutting back, and mulching the shrubs and trees.


This year I tried zinnias again. I bought two packets of seed: a red and white striped one from Select Seeds, ‘Peppermint Stick’ and a pure white one from Renee’s Gardens, ‘Polar Bear’. The ‘Polar Bear’ gets only morning sun, looks healthier, but hasn’t bloomed yet. The ‘Peppermint Stick’ is in a less established bed (that means the dirt isn’t as good), gets full sun, and has put out two flowers. The first was red and white like a peppermint stick.

This is the second one. I hate this color.
Zinnia elegans Peppermint Stick
Zinnia elegans ‘Peppermint Stick’


I had better luck with the sunflowers. I bought two packets from Renee’s Gardens, ‘Van Gogh’ and ‘Chocolate Cherry’. I planted them both in my seed starting bed on April 9, 2009. I was able to transplant the ‘Van Gogh’ out and they did really well. The ‘Chocolate Cherry’ were smaller seeds and smaller plants. They got leggy in the shade before I could get them transplanted. They didn’t survive my trip to San Francisco in the last week of May.


Carol at May Dreams Gardens sent me a packet of white marigolds, ‘Kilimanjaro’. All of the seeds sprouted but half of them damped off. A dozen survived for me to transplant then half of those were felled by pillbugs. I have five plants left and I’m still waiting anxiously for them to flower.


I also tried out Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Psyche White’ and ‘Rose Bon Bon’. I planted both in the meadow where they were smothered by the spring plants and didn’t get enough water when they were young. I’m going to have to seed these earlier and transplant them, or start them in their own bed. Or try growing them in the fall. Ditto the Nigella hispanica ‘Bridal Veil’. Actually I planted those in the seed bed in February and they didn’t do much. Same with the Amaranthus caudatus planted in March and the Thunbergia alata which never sprouted at all. The Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ are struggling and haven’t flowered yet.


My favorite summer perennial is plumbago because of it’s cool pale blue flowers. I came close to losing a plant I’ve had since the mid-1990s but, with some extra attention, it seems to be making a comeback and began blooming around the first of June.


I’ve been shearing back the shrubby plants; the coral bean and the Zexmenia are responding with new growth and flowers. I’ve also pruned and fed the roses, the crape myrtles, the vitex, the white mistflower, and the butterfly bush.

Going Strong

Some plants do take the heat and don’t require a lot of water. The oleander is still covered in flowers. The purple coneflowers that Pam/Digging passed along to me are doing much better this second year than last. The coral vine (Antigonon leptopus) is a carefree plant that loves this weather and the bees love it.

Finally there’s this little beauty, which Annie in Austin has tentatively identified as a South African foxglove.
	Proboscidea louisianica

The leaves are gray-blue, furry (like a datura), and the flowers have spots (rather than stripes). Does anyone else have a thought?

Just Let Me Die

The list below might look long but there are a lot of hangers on from spring. The merciful thing to do would be just pull them out. I deadheaded and watered a bluebonnet just to see if I could get it to bloom until today, which it did. It looks pitiful. The few remaining larkspur are just dried flowers in the landscape. I’ve been cutting back the Jerusalem sage which is flopping and wilts every day in the heat. So do the datura and brugmansia. The latter, which Annie in Austin gave me, is blooming but the flowers blast…they don’t have the strength to unfurl. The sweet alyssum, which I sheared back, makes a nice little clump but it’s just barely flowering. I was amazed to see some covered with flowers at The Natural Gardener. Not only do they have drip hoses, excellent soil, and lots of mulch, but someone was watering them with a spray wand. Someone else told me that they water every day and foliar feed the plants once a week.

If that’s what you have to do to get flowers to bloom profusely in 100° heat, well, count me out.

Complete List for June 2009

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

  • Abelia grandiflora (2009)
  • Antigonon leptopus (2009)
  • Asclepias curassavica (fading) (2009)
  • Brugmansia (from Annie in Austin, 2 flowers both blasting) (2009)
  • Consolida ambigua (2009)
  • Cosmos sulphureus (2009)
  • Crinum bulbispermum (2009)
  • Duranta erecta (overwintered) (2009)
  • Echinacea purpurea (from Pam/Digging) (2008, 2009)
  • Erythrina herbacea (2009)
  • Helianthus annuus ‘Van Gogh’ (2009)
  • Hesperaloe parviflora (2009)
  • Hibiscus syriacus (2009)
  • Ipomoea tricolor’Flying Saucers’ (2009)
  • Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands) (2009)
  • Lagerstroemia indica ‘Catawba’ (2009)
  • Lantana montevidensis (2009)
  • Lavandula heterophyla ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’ (2009)
  • Lobularia maritima (2009) ‘Tiny Tim’
  • Lupinus texensis (fading) (2009)
  • Malvaviscus arboreus (2009)
  • Meyer lemon (rebloom) (2009)
  • Mirabilis jalapa pink (fading) (2009)
  • Nerium oleander ‘Turner’s Shari D.’ (2009)
  • Nierembergia gracilis ‘Starry Eyes’ (2009)
  • Phlomis lanata (fading) (2009)
  • Plumbago auriculata (2009)
  • Proboscidea louisianica (2009)
  • Retama (2009)
  • rose ‘Blush Noisette’ (2009)
  • rose ‘Ducher’ (2009)
  • rose ‘New Dawn’ (2009)
  • rosemary (2009)
  • Rudbeckia hirta (2009)
  • Ruellia (overwintered) (2009)
  • Ruellia wild woody type (2009)
  • Sedum album (2009)
  • Setcresea (both purple and green) (2009)
  • Zephyranthes grandiflora (2009)
  • Zephyranthes (white) (2009)
  • Zexmenia hispida (from Pam/Digging) (2009)
  • Zinnia elegans ‘Peppermint Stick’ (2009)