February 15th, 2009
GBBD 200902: Feb 2009

rose Souvenir de la Malmaison
2009-02-15. Austin, TX. Rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’. Although it has bloomed this early a couple of times before, typically it first blooms in March.

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

Feb 15, 2009

Austin is now in its 18th month of drought. We are currently the most drought-stricken area of the country. However earlier this week we got almost an inch of rain over two days and the plants (including the weeds) have responded like young children on Christmas morning. They’re running wild.

Austin’s had quite a few days this last month with high temperatures in the 70s and even the 80s. Sometimes it would freeze overnight and then shoot up to the mid-70s by afternoon. Although other Austinites have had killing freezes hit, Zanthan Gardens is close enough to the heat sink of downtown Austin that it has flirted with freezes but not succumbed. Several flowers have cold damaged leaves but continue to bloom: the butterfly weed, the lantana, and the Mexican petunia.

ruellia Mexican petunia
The leaves of the Mexican petunia are bronzed with cold-damage but the plants keep flowering.

Also the big vines, duranta and Port St. John’s creeper continue to bloom from last summer. In a more typical Austin winter these freeze down to the ground but are root hardy. On the one hand it’s nice to have continuous flowers; on the other, the plants look shabby with last year’s ratty growth. I’d sort of prefer to have a fresh spring look. At least I feel more tolerant of the bright pink flowers of the Port St. John’s creeper in the spring; they seem so wrong to me in the fall.

New for February

I know Kathy @ Cold Climate Gardening finds it interesting that not only do we Austinites grow paperwhite narcissus outside in the ground but that sometimes they bloom at the same time as the roses. Here’s an example.

Narcissus papyraceus Grandiflora
Paperwhite narcissus ‘Grandiflora’.

If it weren’t for Carol @ May Dreams Gardens and her Garden Blogger Bloom Day, I would never have taken a closeup of an arugula flower or noticed its incredible markings. I can’t see them with the naked eye.


Jerusalem sage has been very dependable throughout the drought. I haven’t lost any plants and I also find it easy to propagate by sticking cuttings in the ground. This year it’s blooming more than a month earlier than it did in 2007 or 2008.

Phlomis lanata Jerusalem sage

Mexican plums are the first trees to flower in my garden. I think I have two different varieties because one I bought from Gardens always blooms two weeks before the other two I bought from Barton Springs Nursery.

Prunus mexicana

Spiderwort used to be one of my favorite wildflowers. It’s very aggressive, though, so now I try to restrict it to the more “woodsy” parts of the yard.

Tradescantia spiderwort

A relative of spiderwort is setcreasea (aka purple heart or wandering Jew). In the north, people grow it as a house plant (I think) but in Austin we grow it outdoors. It will freeze back. I usually pile leaves on it before a freeze. I haven’t done that this year and it looks a bit ratty but it’s keeps growing and blooming. I have the purple one with a bright pink flower and also this green one with a pale pink flower.


The leatherleaf mahonia and redbuds started blooming since the last GBBD, but I didn’t manage to get photos today. The rose ‘Ducher’ (which often blooms in December or January) put out a couple of blooms but neither was very photogenic.

Between GBBDs

Several flower bloomed and faded in my garden between GBBDs and so didn’t show up in the inventory for either January or February.

  • Crinum bulbispermum (milk and wine crinum in meadow)
  • Amaryllis ‘Black Pearl’ (in pot)

Complete List for February 2009

The list of all plants flowering today, February 15th 2009, at Zanthan Gardens. I’ve added the date that each started blooming if I knew it. I’ve also noted if the plant was blooming on GBBD February 15th, 2008.

  • 20080404 Duranta erecta
  • 20080902 Asclepias curassavica
  • 20080902 Podranea ricasoliana
  • 20081219 Lobularia maritima ‘Tiny Tim’, sweet alyssum (2008)
  • 20090107 Lonicera fragrantissima
  • 20090113 Narcissus tazetta x italicus (2008)
  • 20090205 Prunus mexicana (the large one from Gardens) (2008)
  • 20090206 Narcissus papyraceus ‘Grandiflora’ (2008)
  • 20090206 rose ‘Ducher’
  • 20090206 Mahonia bealei (2008)
  • 20090208 Narcissus tazetta ‘Grand Primo’ (2008)
  • 20090209 Leucojum aestivum, summer snowflake (2008)
  • 20090209 Cercis canadensis, redbud
  • 20090209 Lantana montevidensis (2008)
  • 20090211 Coriandrum sativum, cilantro
  • 20090212 Eruca sativa (arugula)
  • 20090213 rose Souvenir de la Malmaison
  • 20090213 Phlomis lanata, Jerusalem sage
  • 20090215 Tradescantia, spiderwort
  • Lavandula heterophylla ‘Goodwin Creek’
  • henbit (2008)
  • Pisum sativum ‘Green Arrow’ (English peas)
  • Polanisia dodecandra, clammy weed
  • Setcreasea pallida
  • rosemary (2008)

by M Sinclair Stevens

21 Responses to post “GBBD 200902: Feb 2009”

  1. From Dee/reddirtramblings:

    It is interesting to see roses and paperwhites blooming together. I’d never seen such before. I’m so glad you shared it, and I’m sorry for your drought. We’ved had such bad drought years before, but so far, this year, we’re only in a small one, and we’re ahead for February. Happy Bloom Day, MSS.~~Dee

  2. From Kathy:

    The last narcissus blooms at least a month before the first rose starts here. And they’re not the same narcissus, either. The ones you grow are candidates for forcing, here.

  3. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    The markings on that arugula are very interesting, as though someone has painstakingly drawn each line. If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be eagerly anticipating some arugula flowering in my garden later this spring so I can see that for myself.

    Thanks for a very interesting bloom day post. I’m so glad you got some rain, and I’m hoping you get some more very soon… so the “children” can continue to play and bloom.

  4. From Lori, Austin TX:

    Wow ,it’s kind of funny how your garden always seems to be a few weeks ahead of mine. I haven’t seen any blooming Mexican plum or redbud trees yet in my part of town. My roses are just starting to put on new growth, and it’s still way too early for them to bud out. I haven’t even cut most of them back yet, and I know I should have done that by yesterday!

  5. From Pam/Digging:

    I’ve cut everything back in both gardens in recent weeks, so little is blooming except the Carolina jessamine (old garden; no photo). But the Mexican plum is in bud, and I’ve seen several redbuds and even one Texas mountain laurel in northwest Austin in full—and I mean full—bloom.

  6. From Diana - Austin:

    MSS – I’m with Lori – no blooms on my plum yet either, though I have had roses on my “Maggie.” Your Malmaison is a work of art — so intricate. And I love the Spiderwort. The deer or the bunnies eat mine, so I will have to find a new place for them inside the fence, where I don’t have as much room. That photo is amazing.

  7. From Nancy--Houston, Texas:

    It’s amazing to see the variety of plants blooming in each garden…even the Austin gardens seem to have their own lists!

    I’m always surprised at the variety of bloom among the Austin garden bloggers. We all seem to have our own microclimates…and, of course, our own favorite flowers and styles of gardening. Nice to know there’s no Austin stereotype. — mss

  8. From VP:

    It was strange to see your paperwhites in bloom when we usually grow forced bulbs ready for Christmas each year.

    18 months of drought – that’s bad. Have you taken any water conservation measures such as rainwater harvesting?

  9. From mr_subjunctive:

    In the north, people grow [Tradescantia pallida] as a house plant (I think)

    I assure you that we in fact do. Though more often it’s an annual groundcover.

  10. From Helen/patientgardener, UK:

    I think you are right since I have been doing GBBD posts I have noticed the details of flowers far more

  11. From Nancy Bond:

    Beautiful blooms, all of them. I do hope your part of the country gets some relief from the drought.

  12. From Country Mouse, Santa Cruz:

    I like what you said about noticing tiny flowers. Through the Macro camera setting, so much is revealed. The more I garden the more fascination unfolds like a fractal, which it is I guess. I enjoyed your “about” essay – my story a little similar – working, not so much time, but over 8 years we’ve made quite a difference, with our own bare hands as it were, and there is so much more always to do. We be gardeneers! Totally a newbie when I started, I came slowly to the realization that to garden at the wildlife interface is to steward the wildlife, flora and fauna both – so part of me is becoming more a naturalist than a gardener, but I’m still struggling to become a gardener. I hope I can live here all of a long active life – I would be satisfied. (With a few other necessities thrown in – sufficient water, sufficient food and warmth – and the love of my gudman!)

  13. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    I hope your recent rain will be followed by many others in regular succession. At least your garden has managed to avoid the worst of the cold. Your Rose is such a beautiful thing, everything that a Rose should be. I just got back from South Florida and I was surprised at how many of the same plants I saw there as I saw growing in Austin. The climates seem so different, yet there were lots of Agaves, Saliva gregii (I think)and Purple Hearts. It reminded me of the wonderful time I had last year with you at Spring Fling.

  14. From Renee/Austin:

    Lovely photos, MSS. I especially like the arugula. My Mexican plum is not in bloom yet, but my redbud is. They usually come on together. This year it seems a lot of plants are confused.

  15. From ~Deirdre:

    We got a little shower last week here in DFW and it was so nice to finally smell the rain!
    The arugula flowers are beautiful. I wish my old camera could take closeups like that!

  16. From Steve Mudge(Fort Worth):

    While its been relatively warm in Fort Worth this winter we’ve still had a couple 19 degree freezes that took a lot of plants to dormancy or out completely. So no roses or Redbuds yet although the Narcissus are showing. And I’ve got to plant my tomatoes this weekend to try and beat the heat of summer–lotsa cover cloth protection and plastic!

  17. From Molly in Western Washington:

    ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ is my favorite rose. But here it doesn’t bloom until late May.

    It’s my favorite too. And so far it’s survived our crazy Austin weather when a lot of other “tough heirloom” roses have died off. — mss

  18. From Annie in Austin:

    How nice to have a rose, a spiderwort and little daffodils, MSS. What’s left of my Grand Primos were too beat up from wind, sun & rain to photograph, the roses are just releafing here and I can’t even find the two Sweet Kate spiderworts. Instead of just flirting with the freezes as Zanthan Garden has, Circus~Cercis went to first base.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  19. From Jenny Austin:

    You have plenty blooming. Are you going to save the seeds from arugula? I have never done that. I save lots of other things but have never tried that. It is amazing what the camera can reveal. Many times there is a tiny bug on the plant which you never noticed and as you demonstrated the markings on this flower are quite lovely.

  20. From Jon:

    I really enjoyed this post and my visit to your lovely and well-written blog. I will return again soon to read your older posts.
    Thanks for sharing so many helpful links in your posts….great resources to those of us with inquiring minds.

    Jon at Mississippi Garden

  21. From Courtney Austin:

    Any thoughts on why a 8-9′ tall Mexican plum I planted 2 years ago (purchased from the Great Outdoors) does not get more than a dozen blooms? Last year it had a few blooms then leaves shot out.