February 4th, 2012
Week 05: 1/29 – 2/4
2012-02-02. Rose ‘Blush Noisette’
The week ended with rain and a cold front but the contrast with last year’s snow and horrendous freeze couldn’t be greater. We’ve been enjoying March weather. Temperatures climbed to 82°F on Wednesday (2/1). We’ve had only two freezes so far this winter. Some plants like the Port St. John’s creeper and ruella haven’t died back. The combination of warm temperatures and rain after the long drought has tricked many plants into blooming out of season. I’ve seen Texas mountain laurel blooming along Lady Bird Lake. But no redbuds yet (which I always think bloom first.
2012-02-02. Rose ‘Mermaid’ between light showers.
Other out-of-sequence blooms: Larkspur began blooming before the bluebonnets. The roses began blooming before the Mexican plum trees. The hot weather roses, ‘Mermaid’ and ‘Blush Noisette’, began blooming before the queen of early roses, ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’. Roses of all kinds are blooming all over town. Tradescantia and false dayflowers also began blooming this week at Zanthan Gardens. The rosemary, the winter honeysuckle, the lantana, and one clump each of Narcissus italicus and Narcissus ‘Grand Primo’ are still in flower, rounding out the in bloom list.
The wet and warmth have made the salad greens happy. We’ve been eating large salads out of the garden almost every evening. I’ve planted more. The leaves of the cilantro are glossy and green. We can’t use it fast enough. Of course, the unofficial salad greens are also rampant: chickweed, goose grass, and henbit. I can’t keep up with weeding the henbit and it’s smotherered out the bluebonnet seedlings. I like to keep some henbit around for the butterflies but so far I’ve seen only two so I’m regretting it.
Friday February 4, 2011.
We wake up after record-breaking snowfall at Camp Mabry today. The old record for daily snowfall was 1/2 inch in 1906. 105 years later, a whole inch!
2011-02-04. Snow covered bluebonnet.
Amaryllis ‘Amoretta’ and ‘Black Pearl’. After having ‘Amoretta’ nipped by frost, I decided to keep ‘Black Pearl’ potted inside until after it finished blooming.As we head into Austin’s 18th month of drought, the temperature range reflects our desert-like conditions with 40-degree swings. Several nights temperatures in Austin have dipped below freezing but by afternoon the mercury’s risen to the 60s or 70s. Despite tweets of hard freezes elsewhere in Austin, Zanthan Gardens has been spared. The last two predicted freezes, I didn’t even bother to put the row cover over the vegetables or bring in the potted plants. And I didn’t get caught out. A change is coming for Week 6: more humidity and much warmer low temperatures (in the 50s and 60s).
The Narcissus tazetta v. italicus is in full bloom. I love the scent. The duranta and the Port St. John’s creeper still have some small ragged flowers from last year. The seed grown sweet alyssum is cheerfully blooming. Comparing the general growth of meadow plants and spring bulbs with last year, everything is much smaller from the lack of water. However, the roses are jumping at the bit to bloom. Souvenir de la Malmaison is full of large buds. (Does this mean a hard freeze is around the corner?) I’m racing around feeding everything with bone meal.
The vegetable garden continues to do well. I scraped up one last serving of broccoli before cutting it out. We’ve had a couple of servings of English peas. I need to plant a lot more next year. The shallots are up and looking promising. The arugula is getting a bit big but continues to provide great salads.
The upside to the drought is that there are almost no weeds. I saw one henbit flowering this week. I continue transplanting larkspur and bluebonnets. This is my favorite time of year to be in the garden. If we could get the two feet of rain we’re lacking, it would be perfect.
2008-02-04. The meadow at Zanthan Gardens.
Higher than normal temperatures this week, the high today (2/4) reached 80F/26.6C. I’ve spent much of the weekend and from 9 to 5 today in the garden weeding, mulching, and transplanting in the meadow. I’m very pleased with how it’s coming together this year. I’m working extra hard so that it will look good for the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling. Some of the other parts of the garden are being rather neglected, though. I still haven’t gotten my pototoes planted, ordered any seeds, or figured out what to do in the two more formal squares in the winter garden. I feel like I’m racing madly toward that first moment in spring when the redbuds bloom. That should be in a couple of weeks.
For all the spring green, not much is blooming yet. The one bluebonnet that began blooming on 12/15 is still blooming. Another bluebonnet has buds. The leatherleaf mahonia still has yellow flowers which the bees seem to like. Various paperwhite narcissus are blooming. The wilder ones have cute 1/2 inch wide flower with petals that curve in. The N. italicus have larger flowers on taller plants. The petals are ivory white, thin, and almost curve back. Of course, the violas are blooming but they hardly seem natural so they don’t count in my mind. Two wan flower are blooming on the rose ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ but she remains unhappy where she is currently sited (in too much shade). I’ve been stripping all the roses of last year’s leaves and pruning them. I also cut back the ornament grasses and mulched them with Dillo Dirt. In the vegetable garden the salad greens are about an inch high. I planted some broccoli raab, which I’ve never grown before.
The weeds are making a strong showing. Henbit and chickweed are blooming and sow thistle is sprouting. And the chiggers make kneeling in the garden a miserable experience! I’ve never been so bothered by chiggers before. Austin desperately needs a good soaking rain. We haven’t had one since October, only a few drizzles.
2006-02-03. Tulip Tree (saucer magnolia) at the University of Texas, Austin.
Nothing much is happening in my garden this week, but these four tulip trees in a courtyard at UT were in full bloom. I’ve never grown this scentless magnolia–which makes me realize that I prefer scent to visual showiness in the garden.
Speaking of scent, I was surprised to see the Texas mountain laurels in planters on Congress Ave started blooming this week. I don’t remember ever seeing them before the redbuds. In my yard, I don’t expect to see either for three weeks yet. My yard always seems to be a couple of weeks behind the rest of Austin.
I am relieved to see the Tulipa clusiana, the bluebells, and various narcissus poking up. The N. italicus are still blooming and the rose ‘Ducher’ is getting more and more flowers.
When I last wrote, spring seemed in the air. As typically happens this time of year, we had one of our longest, coldest, wettest weeks. In years past, this has been the week for ice storms. I remember particularly 1996. We had a huge ice storm that shut down the city in the first week of February. And by the 20th we had record breaking highs of 100 and wildfires breaking out. I prefer this steady weather, even if it is cold and drizzly.
On Monday (1/31) one bud opened on a Mexican plum, but it remains the only bud open. So I can hardly write that the plum trees are in flower. I saw a lone robin, too, that day. I was hoping he would return. But a mockingbird kept driving him off and I haven’t seen him since. I saw my first robin in 2003, but none last year. The overwintering wildflowers (the bluebonnets and the larkspur) are loving the rain. But so are the first greens of spring (chickweed, goosegrass, and henbit). At least the damp earth makes weeding easy.
I planted some potatoes that had sprouted in the pantry. The resident Brit was spoiled in his youth by the taste of his father’s new potatoes. I find it hard to get seed potatoes because the ship dates are always too late for us; the weather is too hot here by then.
Wednesday February 4, 2004
Gloomy and rainy all day. Some downpours. Then by 10PM a severe thunderstorm watch and heavy rains into the wee hours of Thursday. We get less than an inch of rain, though.
My garden diary tells me to look for the first signs of spring this week. We did see the flowering quince in full bloom in the Brenham block yesterday. And around town long switches of Carolina jessamine are bursting out yellow. But as yet in my garden, the crocuses, tulips, daffodils, and bluebonnets are still biding their time even though they have bloomed this week in other years.
The weather has been very average this week. Don’t you always suspect that when the forecasters report that the average temperature is 50, that half the years it is 70 and the other half it’s 30? But this week it has stayed in the 50s with low dreary clouds that provide just enough drizzle to prevent the contractors from putting the new roof on our house. I can’t go out when it’s this cold because I’m still recovering from pneumonia. So I remain indoors impatiently looking out the windows for some sign of spring.
Sunday February 4, 2001
A very warm (65 degrees) sunny day and I spend all day in the garden weeding.
Sunday February 2, 1997
Warm, sunny and in the 70s. However no rain recently so I spent the morning watering: Mexican plums, Trevithians in the woods, Buddleia in the woods, the Wandering Jew, the wax myrtle, the Spanish bluebells, the live oak in the south border, the tulips, the north border (but not the rocket or lantana) and the Eureka persimmon.
Only in the high twenties Wednesday morning (1/31) with the wind chill making it feel like zero. Tonight freezing rain is forecast. I cover the most tender plants in the south bed with cardboard boxes. Thursday (2/1) we are under a winter storm watch. Freezing rain and 24 degrees at 7am. Roads and schools closed.
Friday thru Monday Feb 2, 1996
Bitter cold, below 20 degrees.
by M Sinclair Stevens