What’s blooming?

March 16th, 2023
GBBD 202303: Mar 2023

Tulipa clusiana and baby blue eyes
  • Commelinantia anomala
  • Consolida ambiqua
  • Coriandrum sativum
  • Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann daisy)
    First flower opened today.
  • Glandular bipinnatifida (prairie verbena)
  • Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish bluebells)
  • Iris (unnamed blue)
  • Lupinus texensis
    full bloom. Trying to go to seed but I keep dead-heading.
  • Nemophila insignis
    just a bit past its prime. Flowers no longer fully open and look a bit droopy
  • Rivina humilis (pigeonberry)
  • rose ‘Blush Noisette’
    covered in flowers now that the pecan tree isn’t shading it
  • rose ‘Solero Vigorosa’
  • Salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage, purple)
    full bloom
  • Solanum jasminoides (potato vine
  • Tradescantia
    Getting seedy. I’m deadheading some.
  • Tulipa clusiana
    in full bloom this week
  • Viola (in a pot)
    full bloom but I have to constantly deadhead it

2020-02-15. Prunus mexicans. Barely holding on after a cedar elm limb fell and crushed all three Mexican plum trees beneath it.

February 15th, 2020
GBBD 202002: Feb 2020

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

February 2020

All of a sudden, the garden is changing markedly every day. February is the month that I can hardly wait to rush outdoors to see what’s happening. It’s not the most floriferous or showy month. But, in Austin, we can feel the tension between the seasons. Spring won’t hold back much longer.

Summer snowflakes open in front of my usual winter bedding out plants, Viola cornuta and purple oxalis.

On schedule, my neighbor’s redbud tree signals it’s the week of Valentine’s Day. And the first bluebonnets are opening…almost ten days later than last year, but a bunch are about to open all at once.

After an almost non-existent winter, this has been a strange spring. The wildflowers got off to a very late start because of a hot, dry fall. Then rain and warmer-than-average temperatures in late December and throughout January put the flowers (and weeds) into overdrive. They acted like they’d missed the starting gun and sprouted and started sending up bloom stalks as quick as they could.

I’ve got bluebonnets just opening and others just sprouting. The tradescantia is flowering but no false dayflowers. Duranta and Salvia madrensis which normally would flower with the fall rains, are flowering now on last year’s growth. We haven’t had a freeze hard enough to kill any of the perennials back to the ground.

Rose ‘Blush Noisette’

The roses ‘Souvenir del Malmaison’ and ‘New Dawn’ have been flowering. And have buds on them. They have faded flowers today but I can’t really say that they’re flowering today.

The Meyer’s lemon tree still has a lot of lemons on it. We’ve made 4 batches of marmalade so far and are giving lemons away. Best harvest ever, probably because it rained so much in the spring and early summer of last year when the lemons were forming. Usually it gets hot and dry and most of the fruit drops just after it sets.

A few tiny flowers can be spotted on the pigeonberry. Mostly berries…and last year’s leaves are bronzed by frost. I’ve started cutting it back for the new season’s growth. Ditto the Salvia madrensis and ruellia. All are flowering on last year’s growth and putting out new growth. Usually, the old growth has frozen and and I cut back these perennials by this point in the gardening year.

The foul weeds are rampant.

Complete List for February 15, 2020

  • Duranta erecta
  • chickweed, goose grass, henbit
  • Leucojum aestivum
  • Lonicera fragrantissima
  • Lupinus texensis
  • Narcissus tazetta ‘Grand Primo’
  • Oxalis triangularis
  • Prunus mexicana
  • Rivina humilus (on old growth)
  • Rose ‘Blush Noisette’
  • Rose that yellow one I’ve forgotten the name of
  • Ruellia (on old growth)
  • Salvia madrensis (on old growth)
  • Setcreasia pallida
  • Tradescantia
  • Viola cornuta ‘Penny Denim: Jump-Up’
  • Viola cornuta ‘Penny Peach: Jump-Up’

Austin Monthly Best Gardening website Zathan Gardens

October 3rd, 2018
Austin Monthly’s Best Gardening Websites


And now ten years later, I see how prescient I was. But perhaps spring has finally come after a long winter.

Dateline: December 31, 2008

I experienced quite a thrill when I opened up the December 2008 issue (The Cool Issue) of Austin Monthly to the “Keep Austin Wired” section and saw Zanthan Gardens listed among Austin’s best gardening websites, along with The Natural Gardener and the city’s Grow Green sites.

Austin frequently ranks among the geekiest spots in America and when it comes to garden geekiness, it has no close contenders. As 2008 draws to an end, Blotanical lists 31 Austin garden blogs. (I can no longer keep up with them all.) So to be singled out…well, I squealed with delight.

I’m surprised, too. After eight years of writing Zanthan Gardens, my passions are shifting. 2008 has seen a series of transitions at Zanthan Gardens, both virtual and real. It began with the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling and meeting many people I knew only through their garden photos and writing. Spring Fling was an intoxicating experience: a reunion of old friends who had never met before. And bonus! I got my photograph in the Austin American-Statesman, garden blogging in the meadow.

After Spring Fling, I became more interested in chatting over the back fence with my fellow gardeners than with writing about my own experiences. This, combined with a really awful summer in Austin, has resulted in a dearth of posts these last eight months. I spent most of my time reading other people’s blogs, leaving comments. Then I discovered Twitter and blogging seemed cumbersome and so 2006.

I’m dissatisfied with garden blogging. I think there are going to be some changes. My interests are focused elsewhere and it’s so easy to keep up the social side via other channels. I find that I long for a winter, a true winter–time to be dormant and still. In Austin, of course, we have no dormant season. The garden To Do list is always full. And as Austin’s drought continues, I find myself just limping along…tired of the dust, tired of watering, tired of waiting for rain.

In some ways it is all those other gardens I’ve read about via your blogs that has made me dissatisfied. They’ve given me an itch to be elsewhere, to garden elsewhere, to grow different plants, to have different seasons (admittedly, I don’t think I could handle your winters). I do truly believe that one must garden where one is–we mustn’t try to turn the desert into Wales. Although others make very successful gardens in Austin, the challenges no longer arouse my interest. The garden is no longer a refuge; we are at odds.

Being a gardener, I recognize that dormancy is a natural state. Sometimes in late spring I worry over a plant, looking for buds, scraping the bark for a sign of green and wonder if it’s going to spring back with Spring or if it’s dead and brown forever. As for Zanthan Gardens, all things to their season.

Austin Monthly Best Gardening website Zathan GardensAustin Monthly Best Gardening website Zathan Gardens

Zanthan Gardens Week 34
2007-08-27. The desert trumpet vines clambers over the Spanish bayonet yucca as weeds smother the buffalograss in the meadow. The lawn is green! And the monkey grass came back and is blooming.

August 28th, 2018
Week 34: 8/20 – 8/26

Dateline: 2018

Another week of 100°F days. Such a disappointment after the nice rain two weeks ago. The plants were all ready to spring into fall bloom. Many have but many others have shriveled in the bud. This must be how it feels to gardeners in more temperate northern climes after the first spring crocuses bloom, when the promise of spring is subsequently crushed by the worst blizzard of the season.

Both the wild and the cultivated Mexican petunia (Ruellia) burst into bloom. They had looked so bad before the rain I was thinking of cutting them back. I’m glad I procrastinated. Likewise the datura. The crape myrtle and vitex have new flowers. And the zexmenia just began rebooking (8/26).

I divided and replanted my first clump of oxblood lilies this year. I think the entire clump came from a stray bulb dug up and dropped by a squirrel. The bulbs were terribly twisted, deformed and tiny, but three have buds. So I started looking at the other clumps for bulbs and, yep, the oxblood lilies are waiting for the next big rain and some cooler temperatures.

The garden is ready for fall and so am I. But the forecast remains the same: an unvarying string of days in the hundreds.

Dateline: 2014

2014-09-01. Technically taken in Week 35 but it looked the same in Week 34. Brown is the new normal. 2007 was an unusually wet year.

Waited-for rains didn’t materialize. We got a sprinkle here and there; just enough moisture to make this week extraordinarily oppressive. The Allium tuberosum are bursting into bloom. Otherwise we’re still impatiently waiting for rains to signal the beginning of fall.

The retama is dropping seedpods like crazy. I really don’t like it and wish I hadn’t planted it. The old and major portion of the Mexican buckeye has turned completely brown almost overnight. However, new shoots coming up from the roots seem okay. I didn’t much like this tree either.

Dateline: 2010

When August 25th rolls around I begin looking for rain. It rained so much that last week in August 1974, my first week in Austin that I had to buy an umbrella when I went home for Labor Day. We didn’t get any rain on the 25th this year and only a trace on the 24th (which evaporated almost as quickly as it fell). However the “cold” front that brought that trace of rain dropped temperatures from our highest all year (107° on the 24th) to a bearable 96° on the 25th and a downright pleasant 93° on the 26th. This broke the 12-day string of triple digit temperatures, for a couple of days. The heat will be back next week. Still we appreciate these whiffs of autumn, a sense that we are at the beginning of the end of summer.

After a cool start to summer, August has become very hot and the plants are showing stress. The ground is baked dry. Even the weeds in the meadow look more weedy than like wildflowers, so I mow them back. Despite the heat a surprising number of plants are blooming. The Chinese chives flowered quite early this year and there are a lot of them. The ever dependable clammy weed is everywhere as are all three types of ruellia. The rose of Sharon is still blooming well and the coral vine is covered with bees. Pipevine swallowtail caterpillars have chomped up the Dutchman’s pipevine. I covered it with floating row cover in the hopes of saving the caterpillars from the paperwasps.

I lost one of the columbines I was trying to grow in a pot until it was cool enough to plant it. Also the ‘Ducher’ rose looks suddenly very bad. It went from being huge and healthy to losing all its leaves almost overnight.

My fall tomato starts are doing very well. The cosmos seedlings are getting their true leave. I transplanted 4 ‘Chocolate’ morning glories that I grew from seed. Only the zinnias I planted from seed have a been a disappointment. They flop over horribly and something is eating them up.

Dateline: 2007

What a difference a year makes! Or rather, what a difference rain makes. In sharp contrast to last year Austin’s received almost double our average rainfall and our lakes are overflowing. We haven’t had one day in the 100s this August, or this year. Highs have been below average, mostly in the low 90s, and even the high 80s. Are we complaining? Absolutely not.

School started today and the schoolhouse lilies (aka oxblood lilies) are blooming. Fall is here and all is right with the world…or at least in my garden.

Dateline: 2006

Death everywhere you look.
2006-08-26. Gee. I didn’t think you could kill monkey grass.

Back to school and hurricane rains. Well, usually. This is the anniversary of my first week in Austin and how it rained that week! It was my first impression of Austin and I loved it. Skip ahead to 1996 and we had a high of 82. In 2003 we had so much rain that the oxblood lilies were already blooming. And then, there’s 2006…

100+ degrees, 29 days and counting. Last measurable rain: July 29th, .01 of an inch at Camp Mabry. (July 5th at Zanthan Gardens.)

Special Weather Statement
Statement as of 9:58 am CDT on August 26, 2006
Near record heat will continue…

The August heat wave will continue through the weekend… with near record high temperatures forecast across most of south central Texas. Heat indices will range from 105 to 110 degrees during the afternoon and early evening hours.

Elderly people should remain in air conditioned locations during the hottest part of the day through Sunday. Do not leave pets or children unattended in vehicles. People who need to remain outdoors for extended periods of time are urged to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water.

Thursday (8/24) Lake Travis dropped to 650 feet, 15 feet below it’s August average. The lake is losing a foot of water a week due to drought.

Triple-digit temperatures and the lack of rainfall have the Edwards Aquifer days away from a critical level drought.

The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Water Conservation District said well levels are just about an inch from the critical mark and 40 feet from the average.

I pulled up the gladiolus corms today. They never bloomed this year and the leaves had gone brown. There was little left of the corms. Most had rotted. The dirt was as dry as dust–and this in a bed that I water and is mulched.

I also dug up four ‘Bangkok Yellow’ canna that were very sunburned. I’ve been meaning to do this for weeks and if I manage to save them at this late date it will be a miracle.

Hope springs eternal? I planted two hyacinth bean vines that I sprouted from seed this week.

Dateline: 2001

Sunday August 26, 2001
They promised us a cold front with rain and at 7:15 pm it arrived with a flash of lightning that blew out all the power in our neighborhood. The rain started hard and ran off, but here’s hoping that some of it sank in. It hasn’t rained since we were in England and the clay had dried and hardened so that it when it does rain hard and suddenly we get flash floods. But no matter. We got about 3 inches of rain in 45 minutes. And we might get more tomorrow.

This is a record daily rainfall. Before the rain the high was 102, our 19th (and last!) day of 100+ this month (40th day for the year). The weather report predicts we might get a low of 69 tonight…and tomorrow it will only be 90. Fall is here!

It’s 10:30 and the power just came back on so we’re checking out the computers.

Dateline: 1999

Monday August 23, 1999
Although Hurricane Bret brings no rainfall to our house (I watch the rain move from east to west at about West Mary), the cloud cover breaks the heat wave. After two days of 104 temperatures, today it is only 92.

Thursday August 26, 1999
The heat is back and temperatures reach 100 again. The tantalizing hope of rain that Hurricane Bret brought has not been realized. The datura, the cosmos, the black-eyed Susans, the sunflowers, everything except the globe amaranth, is wilted or browned or dead.

The persimmon is losing a lot of leaves. Even the wisteria is turning brown.

Dateline: 1998

Sunday August 23, 1998It drizzled all day yesterday. The high was only in the eighties. Very gloomy in a lovely way–we breathe a sigh of relief.

Austin got more than half an inch, but tropical storm Charly dumped almost 13 inches on south Texas. This morning we had a Texas-style downpour.

We are unable to get dirt for the new section of the meadow as I planned. Instead, I finish setting out the tomatoes and Cinnamon basil. As usual, I have more seedlings than I have space for.

Dateline: 1996

Thursday August 22, 1996
A 50% chance of rain. I can’t remember when it’s been more than 30% for months. It actually looks like a rainy day, with the sky blanketed in thick, low, gray clouds.

Saturday August 24, 1996
More rain. The creeks are up. AJM and I walked down by Shoal Creek just south of 38th Street.The creek was raging and was over its banks in a couple of places. We saw two snakes.

According to the paper, we set a record low high temperature for today: 82 degrees. (The previous record was 85 degrees.)

Sunday August 25, 1996
Cooler in the evening. Rains off and on. I got at least three inches, just today.

At 1:00 we go to fix AJM’s bike and collect rocks for the wall. Pours rain on the drive up the Mopac. Almost impossible to see AJM in his car ahead of me.

Returning home, I see Shoal Creek pouring over the water break as it flows into Town Lake. This is so impressive that I take JQS to see it.

The colors of August. Austin, TX. August 20, 2006. This is not a photo of my garden because there is nothing to photograph this week in my garden. It is in my neighborhood though.

August 15th, 2018
Week 33: 8/13 – 8/19

For those of you who think we don’t have seasons down south in Austin, look at the photo. The golden brown grass, the dusty, dull green of the live oak, the rich blue of the sky, and fluffy white clouds–all colors that evoke August in Austin. It might not be as flashy as some seasons elsewhere but this is us.

Dateline: 2018
Summer’s hold on us is at an end. We finally got rain last Saturday (8/11) and, almost overnight, the garden is transformed. Sure, temperatures remain in the high 90s the rest of this week. But it ain’t the 100s. The dust is gone. The ground is soft enough to pull weeds. The crunchy grass on what’s left of the back lawn is greening up. And I’ve started planting my carefully saved white bluebonnet seeds.

Amazing how so many plants respond enthusiastically to the rain. Things like the yellow salvia and the wild Mexican petunias and the datura which I was considering cutting back last week are looking great. One datura is actually in full bloom. Some of the wild cleome that hadn’t completely gone to seed is a gauzy cloud of white.

Zephyranthes Labuffarosea
2018-08-14 Rainlilies ‘Labuffarosea’. A passalong from Annie in Austin and still going strong.

2018-08-31 Update. Anticipation was short-lived as the last 17 out of 18 days hit 100°F or higher. The one exception being 8/30 which was a cool 99°F.

Dateline: 2014
August is a pregnant month, heavy and expectant. After an unusually wet and cool early summer, August 2014 seems very evocative of my first August in Austin forty years ago and emblematic of all those in between. This week the dry and dusty days of early August have turned humid, the air almost too heavy and oppressive to breathe. And yet, I can’t keep out of the garden. Even in the continued 100 degree heat, I sense a turn in the season, or perhaps I only expect one. I prune and turn the mulch pile and grind up leaf litter and straighten and order. Anticipation.

After four years of neglect, I begin dividing and replanting oxblood lilies, too. I think I’m dismantling the garden but once I begin digging up bulbs my own interests revive and I find that I’m as curious as I am acquisitive. This means I must sort through my systems and try to figure out the lineages and histories of each clump.

Very little is blooming: a stray flower on the clammy weed, prairie verbena, rose of Sharon, and Mexican petunia. A few wild sunflowers that look pitiful but that I leave because the small birds attack the seedheads each day. I no longer have a front lawn nor much of a back one. I don’t water at all, except the potted plants. Metaphorically my Austin garden is on the cusp of winter, waiting for spring.

One of my neighbors, walking by, stopped to chat as I was working and said she liked that about my garden: that she could see the seasons change in it and that it rested in the heat of August and the cold of January before it burst forth again. A garden that emphasizes change and time. That’s what I like about it, too. I planned it so purposefully.
Now I dream of other future gardens.

Dateline: 2006
Wednesday (8/16) was the hottest day of 2006 in Austin, 104 degrees. That’s not a record breaking high. What’s unusual is not the quality of the heat; it’s the quantity. In August so far 16 out of 20 days have been 100 degrees or hotter.

For those of you new to Austin, no, this is not normal August weather. Non-gardening residents, as they race from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car, shrug their shoulders and think, “It’s August. It’s hot. Whaddya expect?” Well, I expect summer to be winding down.

We gardeners are out in the world and we’re taking notes. Although it’s not impossible for us to have 100+ degree days even in September (Austin’s all time record high was 114 degrees in September 2000–the most miserable summer in my memory), Austin’s average number of triple-digit days is ten. Ten! That means some years it’s less than ten. I’m just thankful I didn’t live through the summer of 1923. In that record-setting year, the thermometer topped 100 on 71 days.

Can you imagine that on August 14, 2003 the high was only in the low 80s after a front bringing heavy rain pushed through? Did I get out my sweater that day? This week in 1998, I was enjoying temperatures in the 80s and days of drizzling rain.

I’m usually dividing bearded irises and cleaning up and getting revved up for fall gardening. This year I’m lucky if I can stay outside long enough to get the potted plants watered.

Shout Out
Kathy Craig, at Cold Climate Gardening, mentioned that in upstate New York, the Color of August is Yellow. In Austin, the color of August is brown.
Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas tree mulch
I rake the leaves into the beds and put Christmas tree mulch on top to keep them from blowing around. I’m surprised these aloe vera haven’t frozen yet. I hope the blanket of mulch with keep them warm.

January 28th, 2017
44 Bags of Mulch Later

Update: 2017

In 2017, rains delayed the Christmas tree mulch by a week. However, waiting made the realization more sweet. In 13 trips made over two days, I scored an all time record haul of 61 bags. I can fit four in my Mini Cooper, so I’m a bit more efficient than in 2008 when I had the Miata. The weather was sunny and cool. The atmosphere one of camaraderie and glee. The scent, delightful.

Dateline: 2008

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday I hauled Christmas tree mulch from Zilker Park. I hauled 44 paper lawn and leaf bags in my Miata, two at a time. I figure I got at least a pickup truck load’s worth, maybe two. I worked hard to beat last year’s haul of 32 bags. A personal best. Some people with pickups gave me a wry smile. One lectured me at the expense of using paper lawn and leaf bags. (In fact, I only bought 15 at less than $1 apiece and will reuse them all when we begin pruning nandina and shrubs next week. This is a lot more economical than buying a pickup or paying for the gas to run it.)

As for those 22 trips. It is about 3.5 miles round trip and in the Miata I probably used less than 3 gallons of gas for the entire escapade. Nor was I the only person with a small car. I kept runnng into a couple with matching Honda Accords who stuffed their cars with every kind of container they could find and then lined the trunks and filled those up. Among the many people I talked to in those 22 trips to the mulch pile, there was a shared sense of glee.

Miata and 17 bags of Christmas tree mulch
Tuesday some much needed rain was in our forecast and so I spent all day hurrying to dump the final 17 bags of mulch where I needed it. If the bags get wet, they tear easily and I can’t reuse them. The last hour I was working it drizzled lightly. Austin got .09 of an inch, enough to make working in the cold miserable but not enough to do the garden any good.

The last trees (the red oaks) have finally shed their leaves. My strategy is to rake the leaves into future beds and pile the Christmas tree mulch on top. I think this is a type of sheet composting. Or in the case of the old winter vegetable garden, I raked the leaves out of the beds and used the Christmas tree mulch to make paths. I don’t have anything growing in the winter vegetable garden yet this year because it has been in the dark until just last week. Last week I finally planted some lettuce and salad greens. At least it’s all neat and ready now for me to start seeds.

Christmas tree mulch in the vegetable garden

Continuing west from the vegetable garden, I refreshed all the paths I’ve done in earlier years. I noticed that the Spanish bluebells are nosing up. This is a shot at the end of the path looking back toward the vegetable garden and front yard. I didn’t have time to spread the mulch in this section so there are mounds of it all along the path.

Christmas tree mulch and south border

If you turn around again and continue west, you come to the wildest section of my yard. I had made a stab at weeding it last August. But there was still a lot of bindweed and ragged turks cap along the west fence. I spent an afternoon and the next morning weeding it and still have more to do (as you can see at the far end of the bed in this photo). I filled one of the bags with all the vines I pulled out. Once I cleared the fence of vines, I could see my neighbor’s garden better. He has a landscape business and keeps a lot of plants in pots lined up against the fence. It’s my borrowed view.

Christmas tree mulch and west border

Along the front fence, I continued a project I started last year, trying to level the slope in my yard. I had put leaves and mulch from tree trimmings here last year. That was topped with some of the better dirt excavated when the foundation for the garden house was dug. This is another very dark corner ten months of the year where only bindweed and turks cap seem to thrive. I haven’t decide what to plant to replace the lawn. Probably the only thing that will survive in the hot dry shade is monkey grass or liriope.

Christmas tree mulch

After another successful year of gleaning, I’m feeling tired but happy. I can’t help but wish that I had made just one more trip. Or two.


October 31st, 2016
Under Reconstruction

Recovering from server crash

Dateline 2016-10-31

  1. Reinstall WordPress.
  2. Reinstall theme.
  3. Import posts.
  4. Delete spam comments.

Restore Missing Photos

Dateline: 2017-07-21
Our physical server crashed twice and we’ve decided to move the Zanthan Gardens site to the cloud.

Apparently the backup had become corrupted, because hundreds of photos went missing. I could never determine any pattern to what was missing: it wasn’t by date of the post, or folder, or name. In fact, frequently it was one or two photos in series of photos for a single post.

This meant I had to go through each post individually (all 482 published ones) and check. Then I had to get the filename of the missing photos and find them on my laptop. This took four days. And a handful are still missing.

Rhodophiala bifida bulbs with offsets
2014-08-22. Rhodophiala bifida bulbs. On the left, the offset has formed a new, small bulb. On the right, the offset growth (looking like a large root) is just beginning to grow up toward the surface.

August 22nd, 2014
Rhodophiala bifida Bulbs

Oxblood lilies in Central Texas are generally propagated by bulb division. The way the bulbs form is somewhat different than garlic, daffodils, tulips, or lilies. As far as I can tell, they send out these fleshy growth that look like thick roots and those form the new bulbs on the outside of the mother bulb.

Whether the various types of Rhodophiala produce via bulbs or seeds is suppose to be one way of distinguishing them from each other. The bulbs in my garden do both but I can’t say for certain that the same bulb does both. Oxblood lilies are classic pass-around plant in Central Texas and so my collection is quite a mixed bag.

I do have some clumps that offset like crazy. I have others that offset steadily but more slowly. This time of year they are waiting to come out of their dormancy, preparing for that rain which will force them into bloom. Even in the dry heat and parched ground, you can see the occasional bud waiting to poke up. This one dug up provides an illustration of how the buds grow on the outside of the previous year’s leaf stem.

Rhodophiala bifida bulb: the flower bud is forming on the outside of the stem.

2014-04-13. Almost no larkspur this year. The meadow is given over to cilantro. Some yellow iris surprised me.

April 13th, 2014
Week 15: 4/9 – 4/15

Dateline: 2014

Even in long-neglected secret gardens, spring bursts forth. Winecups, prairie flox, pink evening primrose, yellow heirloom irises, and a very good stand of pink and white bluebonnets are in bloom.

The rose Souvenir del Malmaison is currently in full bloom having bloomed quite late because her first flush was cut short by a hard freeze. For the same reason there was no Texas mountain laurel this year. Nor is there any larkspur. Too dry.

First flower: amaryllis (4/13).

Dateline: 2007

2007-04-16. This year, wetter and cooler, has resulted in many more bluebonnets and less pink evening primrose.

Coming off near freezing temperatures last weekend, this week warmed up quickly with high temperatures reaching the 80s on Thursday (4/12) and Friday (4/13) before plunging again to 62 on Saturday (4/14). The storm preceding Friday night’s cold front roared in blustering, felling limbs and uprooting trees. We only lost one small limb from a cedar elm in front but along Town Lake large trees were down. All that bother and not even enough rain to cover the bottom of a bucket!

The tradescantia (spiderwort) has gone to seed and I spent most of the week composting it. The bluebonnets and baby blue eyes are also past their prime. The week belonged to yellow: the buttery yellow heirloom irises, the bright yellow Engelmann daisys, the fuzzy yellow Jerusalem sage, and the soft, cheerful yellow of the violas. The Japanese persimmon is covered in fruit and still flowering. I hope I get some persimmons this year. Not a single one made it through the drought last year.

First Flower: Salvia faranacea ‘Indigo Spires’ (4/9) one flower; Duranta erecta (4/11) one flower; rose ‘French Lace’ (4/12) one flower; Hippaestrum x Johnsonii (4/13); Trachelospermum jasminoides (4/15) two flowers, Polanisia dodecandra (4/15) one flower.

In Bloom: Allium neapolitanum, Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Magic’, Commelinantia anomala (still going strong except when cats form crop circles), Consolida ambigua (more and more each day), Coriandrum sativum (just beginning to go to seed), Iris flavescens (in full bloom), crinum (meadow milk and wine), Engelmann daisy, Lathyrus odoratus ‘Regal Robe’, Lathyrus odoratus ‘Velvet Elegance’, Lavandula heterophyla ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’, Nemophila insignis, Oenothera speciosa, Oxalis crassipes, Oxalis triangularis, Phlomis lanata, rose ‘Blush Noisette’. rose ‘Ducher’, rose ‘Heritage’, rose ‘French Lace’, rose ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’, rose ‘New Dawn’. rose ‘Penelope’, rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, Salvia greggii ‘Raspberry’, Spiraea bridal wreath, tradescantia (spiderwort), Tradescantia pallida (purple heart), Verbena canadensis, viola, yaupon holly.

Fading: Lupinus texensis, Narcissus jonquilla ‘Quail’, Rhaphiolepis indica (Indian hawthorn), Solanum jasminoides (potato vine).

Vegetable Garden: The tomatoes are flowering although some of the leaves show frost damage from Easter weekend (I didn’t think to cover them. On Saturday (4/14) we did get the trellis erected. It’s somewhat warped looking but I think it will hold up tomatoes.

Dateline: 2006

2006-04-16. My meadow gets a little wilder every year. Austin, TX.

This is usually the best week of the whole year to be in my Austin garden. When I look at photos of the garden in previous years or lists of plants in bloom then, I realize that 2006 is not going to memorable in any good way. (My usual pre-summer gloom and doom has kicked in already.) AJM says I’m a grumpy gardener, but I believe gardeners are a grumpy lot. It is always either too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry where we garden. We always look longingly at other people’s gardens (and now garden blogs) and think, “I wish I had…”

The beginning of this week cooled off a bit from last week’s high of 95, but by Saturday (4/15) it was hot again. I broke down and watered the mini-larkspur, it looked so droopy. I was shocked to notice that Acanthus mollis, usually a tropical monster this time of year, had already succumbed to the heat and sported huge brown patches.

This time of year the garden is overwhelmingly green in all shades, bright and deep. All the trees have leafed out, the pecans finally catching up with the cedar elms and various oaks. Soon enough the leaves will begin withering in the summer sun and become coated with pollen and dust without rains to freshen them. When I look at photos of previous years for this week and see how lush and moist the garden usually looks, I’m discouraged. The lawns, this year, are in especially bad shape for so early in the season.

The shining star of the garden this week is Confederate jasmine. One vine has wended its way up the support of my clothesline making it a pleasure to hang out laundry. I can’t get enough of the scent. I love all those scents of the deep south: jasmine, magnolia, and gardenia. If I can get another plant to root, I think I’ll plant it by our bedroom windows. The climbing roses just don’t give off a deep enough scent for me to smell as I fall asleep.

The meadow is looking strong this week owing almost completely to the weedy pink evening primrose. Some larkspur are providing coordinating colors and contrasting height. A few bluebonnets are still blooming. The yellow flowers o. Engelmann’s daisy keeps curling back their petals against the heat. The last few years I’ve been lazy about planting replacement summer annuals, but today I picked up a packet of cosmos to try again. Usually the black-eyed Susan has sprouted everywhere, but I haven’t seen any yet this year.

Among the roses ‘Heritage’ and ‘Penelope’ continue to bloom well. ‘Blush Noisette’ is a mass of small pink bouquets and behind her ‘New Dawn’ echoes the color with larger, scattered flowers.

First Flower: Mirabilis jalapa wild pink (4/13); ; Texas dandelion (4/13); iris ‘Mystic’s Muse’ (4/15) two flowers on separate pitifully small stems; red yucca (4/15).

In Bloom: Aquilegia hinckleyana, Allium neapolitanum (very poor showing), baby blue eyes, bridal wreath spiraea, Commelinantia anomala (fading), Consoloda ambigua, Coriandrum sativum, Lantana “New Gold’, Lavender, Lupinus texensis, Oenothera speciosa, Nerium oleander, Oxalis (all types) Salvia farinacea ‘Indigo Spires’, Salvia greggi ‘Raspberry’, Tradescantia (fading). Roses: ‘Blush Noisette’, ‘Ducher’, ‘Heritage’ ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’, ‘New Dawn’, Penelope, and Prosperity.

Dateline 2005

The thunderstorms that began the week came in to the north of us and we didn’t get a drop. I’ve had to water twice this week, the first time this year.

The meadow is a mess of flowers. The bluebonnets are starting to go to seed and almost hidden by larkspur, cilantro, evening primrose, and Engelmann daisy. Around the neighborhood I saw a fantastic display of red corn poppies (Papaver rhoes) that make me want to try them again next year.

For some reason (the ever-growing red oak casting shade?) the middle meadow bed is given over completely to white flowers this spring: cilantro and Naples onions and the two white roses. Not a single bluebonnet or larkspur popped up there this year and it used to be covered with them.

The fennel plant has five or six swallowtail caterpillars.
photo: Swallowtail Caterpillar
Swallowtail caterpillar munching on fennel.

First Flower: rose ‘Buff Beauty’ (4/11) and Japanese honeysuckle (4/11).

Dateline: 2004

photo: front yard
The south side of the house used to have a privacy fence which divided a sickly lawn in two and blocked the view of the garden from the bedroom windows. Our yard is on a slope and when it rains, the water rushes off without soaking in. I built the beds to provide terraces. The large golden flower in the middle of the photo is the banana. I started off with the idea of making this a rose garden, but the tropicals, which also require a lot of water, food, and sunlight, found their way here, too. And, yes, when bluebonnets sprout in the path, I’m too indulgent to weed them.

photo: meadow
The backyard meadow is in fine flower this time of year with bluebonnet, evening primrose, and larkspur. Can you get what the white flowers are? Not baby’s breath. Not Queen Anne’s lace. Not wild carrot. They’re cilantro. We still have a little bit of lawn left which is unusually green.

First Flower: Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cupani’ (4/10), Sprekelia formosissima (4/10), white rainlilies (4/12), Japanese honeysuckle (4/14), yellow iris (4/14) rose ‘Penelope‘ (4/15), iris ‘Strictly Ballroom (4/15), Mirabilis jalapa RHS red (4/15).

Thursday April 10, 2003
Near record lows, clear, dry and in the 30s overnight. Finally find some Genovese basil (at Home Depot) and plant 3 (all from the same pot).
Spend the evening weeding the meadow. It’s so weedy that there aren’t very many bluebonnets or larkspur. Note to future self: don’t let the spiderwort or cranesbill grow in the meadow!

First Flower: Rose ‘Sombreuil’ (4/10), Rose ‘Blush Noisette’ (4/10), Rose ‘Caldwell Pink’ (4/10), Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cupani’ (4/10), bearded iris ‘Altruist’ (4/10), Nigella damascena (4/14), Japanese honeysuckle (4/14), rose ‘Penelope’ (4/14).

Dateline: 2002

One week out of 52, I glance up at the garden and am amazed. I don’t think it has ever looked better than it does right now. The meadow is in full bloom. The color of the pink evening primroses complements the bluebonnets and the larkspur and the tall bearded irises provide strong vertical lines missing the rest of the year.

One by one the named irises are coming into bloom. Each is queen for a day. Almost of the roses are blooming. And despite the trouble with mildew and balling, caterpillars and aphids, ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ is hands-down winner in terms of abundant bloom.

First Flower: bearded iris ‘Incantation’ (4/14), rose ‘Madame Joseph Schwartz’ (4/14), Lathyrus odoratus (4/14), Polanisia dodecandra (clammy weed)(4/14), iris ‘Seakist’ (4/15).

Full Bloom: bluebonnets, iris (heirloom yellow), columbine, rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, rose ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’, rose ‘Ducher’, bridal wreath, Dianthus chinesis ‘Telstar Picotee’, Oenothera speciosa.

Fading: Tulipa clusiana, Lady Banks rose, Bridal Wreath spiraea.

Dateline: 2001

Monday April 9, 2001
Near 90 and very muggy. The larkspur and sweetpeas are wilting before they have a chance to flower. This seems to be a very bad year for the larkspur. The cooler temperatures prevented them from flowering early. Now the trees have leafed out and it is suddenly hot.

The roses open and fade in one day (except on ‘Souviner de la Malmaison’). Especially hard hit is ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’. She is stunning and loaded with blooms; but the effect won’t last more than a day or two.

First Flower: iris ‘Champagne Elegance’ (4/9); Papaver rhoes (4/9); Oenothera speciosa (4/9); rose ‘Caldwell Pink’ (4/10); Lilium ‘Spirit’ (4/11).

Dateline: 2000

First Flower: heirloom yellow iris (4/11)

Dateline: 1999

First Flower: heirloom yellow iris (4/13); iris ‘Champagne Elegance’ (4/13); Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cupani’ (4/15).

Dateline: 1998

First Flower: Papaver rhoes ‘Shirley’ (4/12).

Dateline: 1997

Sunday April 13, 1997
It continues, since an Arctic front blew in on Friday when I was in Chicago for SAP training, to be unseasonably cold. I think the low was in the 40s and the high only in the 60s. What’s worse is that there is an icy wind. According to the paper, the normal high is 89, but last year it was 98!

AJM, Margaret, and I go to the National Wildflower Center for Wildflower Days. Inspired, we spend the rest of the afternoon in the garden, weeding. Margaret can’t stand the thought of the wild mustard, so I let her weed it out.

First Flower: Lathyrus odorata (4/13).

Dateline: 1996

The meadow is in full bloom: blue from bluebonnets, white from Allium neapolitanum, yellow from wild mustard and purple from the ‘Homestead’ verbena. The watered larkspur is 4 and half feet tall and blooming.

The Japanese persimmon tree is beginning to bloom. Like last year, it is beginning to get covered with those small, white, powdery-looking bugs. Also some kind of worm makes a cocoon in the curl of a leaf. So far, I’ve been able to control both types of pests by hand.

First Flower: heirloom yellow iris (4/11); columbine (4/14).

Dateline: 1995

Monday April 10, 1995
A dark, muggy morning. The low was 70 and it was 74 at 7AM.

Tuesday April 11, 1995
Last night threatened horrible thunderstorms, but little or no rain resulted. However, very cool and clear today. Live oaks about town are dropping pollen. Maybe I’m allergic to it.

First Flower: heirloom yellow iris (4/11); Callirhoe involucuta (4/14).

Week 40
2013-10-03. The rain garden with the pigeon berry in full flower.

October 4th, 2013
Week 40: 10/1-10/07

Dateline: 2013

Everything that is still alive is responding to the heavy rain last weekend. The ‘Mermaid’ rose is putting out new canes. I tied a particularly long cane to the fence to try to keep it from crushing the bamboo. ‘Souvenir del Malmaison’ is putting out new leaves. I thought I’d finally lost it. ‘New Dawn’ continues to bloom as it has on and off all summer. ‘Red Cascade’ is putting out new growth. Only ‘Blush Noisette’ is being sulky.

The happiest looking plant this week is the pigeonberry which immediately started flowering and now looks all bushy. Red berries are forming as well.

The Port St. John weeper has climbed a live oak tree and is cascading flowers off the top, making it look as if the tree is in bloom.

Both duranta are in full bloom. They have overgrown their spaces but as they are one of the few things still alive, green, and blooming, I’ve decided to let them do what they want.

Bluebonnets are sprouting and I’m once again dashing around to prepare beds to plant saved seeds. The white bluebonnets which I planted in the gravel bed in July/August are sprouting. This was the most seed I’ve ever saved from white plants and so have high hopes for a good showing of white bluebonnets in Spring 2014.

As expected, the false dayflowers are sprouting everywhere but this year I am raking most of them out because they dominated the spring wildflowers in Spring 2013.

Dateline: 2010

Another week of clear dry days with highs in the 80s and lows in the 50s.

Still some oxblood lilies but the red spider lilies are blooming en masse now. I dug up so many last year. Everything is blooming: ones I divided and replanted, ones I haven’t divided for years, bits of ones left from when I divided them previously (like near the AC).

Still trying to get saved bluebonnet seeds planted and given away. And stringing up fall tomatoes which are blooming now. The little hot pepper is covered with fruit and flowers.

Friday (10/1) notice some grape hyacinths sprouting…which means that I need to replant the ones I accidently dug up in the spring.

The lurid pinks, four o’clocks and coral vine, are still in full bloom. The Lindheimmer senna is beginning to fade. The clammy weed is still blooming but past its prime. The datura inoxia is blooming in cycles.

Dateline: 2006

Sunday begins with week with clear October skies. Then Monday and Tuesday, before I leave for Las Vegas, are hot and muggy. Still once the oxblood lilies bloom, my mind declares it fall even if the temperatures are back in the 90s.

Dateline: 2005

In my old garden journal, Week 40 begins Fall: Part II. Autumn September-style means hurricane rains to drench our parched soils, but autumn October-style means fresh air from the arctic, clear skies and lower temperatures and humidity. This year, September was a disappointment: no rain and record-breaking heat. It was the hottest September in Austin history. October seems to be starting with some promise. Our first real cold front arrived today and highs dropped from the 90s to the 70s. Is fall finally here at last?

Poor ‘Souvenir de St Anne’s’ pictured here from a couple of years ago did not survive heat wave 2005. Nor did the tough found heirloom “Caldwell Pink”.

The oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala bifida) are finishing blooming and I’m dividing them. The red spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) are just starting. The only other plants in bloom are the plumbago and the Turk’s cap.

Dateline: 2003

Back to warm and muggy this week. But at least it’s not hot. And we’ve had some rain. The roses are all starting to bloom again after their summer dormancy. This is Souvenir de St Anne’s, a semi-double sport of Souvenir del Malmaison, captured here after a light shower. She is not as vigorous a grower as her parent, but she sometimes gives off the scent of cloves. I notice it more now in the fall than in the spring. In our heat, she opens and fades rather quickly.

photo: Rose St Anne
2003-10-06. Souvenir de St Anne’s. Died September 2005 during our 8 record-breaking days of 100+ temperatures.

Busy, busy, busy this week: creating a new compost pile; sifting the old one, spreading compost in the flower beds; redefining paths; pruning, weeding, digging and dividing. I’m all tuckered out.

Dateline: 1998

Saturday October 3, 1998
Continues hot, or at least it seems unfairly hot for this time of year. The temperature are in the 90s, not summer weather, but not fall weather either.

Dateline: 1995

Monday October 2, 1995
This evening it tried to rain; the result was but a sprinkle. A cool front followed and we slept with the windows open.

Wednesday October 4, 1995
Actually chilly this morning. Even at 10am, it’s probably 65. A perfect, clear, crisp fall morning. I could spend all morning just staring at the blueness of the sky.

I ordered several garden catalogs through NetScape–my first internet transaction.