December 15th, 2007
GBBD 200712: Dec 2007

rose Heritage
Late blooming update! The first bluebonnet of the year. Or is it, as AJM thinks, the last bluebonnet of the year?

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

This is the special southern edition for all you who are under snow this weekend. Actually GBBD came just in the nick of time here in Austin. Our high temperatures this week have gone from the 80s to the 40s to the 80s to the 40s, eventually ending the week with two average days in the 60s. Forecast for tonight, however, is our first freeze of the season before we resume highs in the 60s. I’m not too worried. Zanthan Gardens is very close to downtown Austin which forms a heat sink. We also got some rain last night; temperatures fluctuate less sharply when the ground is moist. (Remember, the ground never freezes in Austin). The temperatures might dip to freezing for a few hours but I suspect only the tenderest plants (like the basil) will be in any danger. I’ll bring the potted plants in and cover up the strawberries in any case.

rose Heritage
I had my doubts whether or not the David Austin rose, ‘Heritage’, would last until today. It did! It opened four days ago. ‘Heritage’ has the nasty habit of dropping its petals before the flower has faded. I’m glad this one stayed opened long enough to make it to GBBD. One of the great thing about winter roses in Austin is that the flowers last several days. In the summer they typically open and wilt in the heat in the space of a few hours. All over Austin roses have been in full bloom this month, especially the heirloom rose ‘Mutabalis’.

rose Ducher
Most of the roses have buds on them which might freeze. The rose that’s been in full bloom all month is the lovely white China rose, ‘Ducher’. This is my second instance of this rose. I lost one last year to rose dieback. This one is planted on the opposite side of the the yard against the north fence. In my experience, ‘Ducher’ has always bloomed best in the winter so I moved it against the north fence where it could get plenty of winter sun. ‘Ducher’s’ flowers have a lemony rose scent. I particularly like how twiggy and full the bush is. The new foliage always has a nice red tint to it which makes it pretty even when it’s not blooming.

Helianthus annuus Goldy Honey Bear
Also new for December are two sunflowers which I planted in September to provide some fall color. This yellow one is ‘Goldy Honey Bear’ which is supposed to be 4 to 6 feet tall but which has grown only to a height of 13 inches. Remembering that sunflowers often grow in waste spaces, I planted them to hide some of the garden house construction detritus. Apparently caliche and rock forms a poorer soil than even sunflowers can handle. The entire packet of seeds produced only two flowers which look more like dandelions than sunflowers.

Helianthus annuus Moulin Rouge
I had better success with ‘Moulin Rouge’ which was planted in long-established garden loam.

Making a bid for spring before winter has even started is the first paperwhite. I’ve been watching this bud all week and if it opens more fully in today’s sunlight I will post an update photo this evening.

All the hardy annuals I planted last month–the sweet alyssum, pinks and violas–have established themselves nicely and continue to bloom. The paperwhites have sprouted up among the violas, as have a lot of larkspur seedlings. And the leaves are still falling off the trees. So this bed is a mix of seasons, which is appropriate for December in Austin.

  • Aster ericoides (fading and looking very weedy)
  • Cosmos sulphureus (some very short ones, only a foot tall)
  • Dianthus chinensis
  • Dolichos lablab (a few flowers among the ragged leaves)
  • Duranta erecta (both flowers and berries)
  • Helianthus annuus ‘Goldy Honey Bear’
  • Helianthus annuus ‘Moulin Rouge’
  • Lantana montevidensis
  • Malvaviscus arboreus
  • Lupinus texensis (first flower)
  • Lobularia maritima
  • Podranea ricasoliana (in full bloom all month, although I find the pink a bit jarring in autumn)
  • pepper, jalapeno
  • rose ‘Blush Noisette’ (fading)
  • rose ‘Ducher’ (full bloom)
  • rose ‘Heritage’ (one bloom)
  • rosemary (a few flowers now that the pecan leaves have fallen and it’s in sun again)
  • Rudbeckia fulgida (one flower)
  • Solanum jasminoides
  • Tradescantia pallida/Setcreasia (purple heart)
  • Tradescantia–unknown white
  • Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet Coconut Duet’

by M Sinclair Stevens

14 Responses to post “GBBD 200712: Dec 2007”

  1. From Melinda, Geyserville, CA:

    Beautiful flowers! We have similar temperature fluctuations. We are in the upper 20s at night, but into the upper 60s during the day. Our garden is so confused that we have a number of blooms right now!

    After two freezing nights this weekend, temperatures are supposed to climb back to the 70s. This is when I love Austin…not in the summer! — mss

  2. From Mrs. Brown/Illinois:

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing that ‘Heritage’ drops its petals before it fades. My mom’s ‘Sharifa Asma’ keeps its petals well after it’s faded. Given the choice…. Anyway, your sunflowers are so cheery, they warm my winter-frozen heart!

    I don’t like a rose that hangs on to its petals after they’ve withered, either. But ‘Heritage’ drops all its petal just after the flower opens. It is really unusual to see the flower as open as it is in this photo; usually it loses them long before this point. Maybe it just does that in the summer heat, though. — mss

  3. From Carol (Indiana):

    Beautiful roses and I love the pansies. We have no temperature fluctuations here, it is just cold. We are indeed getting some snow, and some sleet, and then maybe more snow. Makes it easy to stay in and just browse through bloom day posts.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

    Will you have a white Christmas? I’ve always dreamed of having one. — mss

  4. From Angelina (Oregon):

    I LOVE the yellow sunflower!

    I’m going to try ‘Goldy Honey Bear’ again early next summer and in better soil. It’s odd because it lacks the usual sunflower center. — mss

  5. From Robin (Indiana):

    I love the rose pictures! Thanks for sharing your lovely blooms.

    And I like your photo of the Japanese maple leaf encased in ice. Next summer when we Austinites are hot and miserable, I’m sure I’ll enjoy seeing how cool and green and flowery your garden is. — mss

  6. From Lisa at Greenbow:

    Wow what a compliment of bloomers. I hope your toes don’t freeze tonight.

    We splurged on an electric blanket this morning so that we don’t have to have the heater on too high. I hate blowing hot air and having lived in houses without central heat I find it very wasteful–especially as my house is an old wood-frame house with zero insulation. — mss

  7. From Pam/Digging:

    ‘Ducher’ sounds lovely. I hope you have better success with this one. Your last sentence is so true. December in Austin is a grab-bag of spring, summer, fall, and winter weather.

    I like white flowers because I have so many red-flowering and red-berried plants. — mss

  8. From Carol:

    A bluebonnet? Have you ever had one bloom in December before?

    My first guess is no but I’m double-checking. I think the earliest I’ve seen a bluebonnet in my garden was Feb 9, 1999 and the latest still in flower was June 11, 2006 July 29, 1999. Generally bluebonnets sprout after the fall rains, grow all winter, and send up flower spikes in the spring. Sometimes, bluebonnets sprout in late May or June rains but usually they die in the heat of August. Summer 2007 was so mild that I have a dozen or so plants that survived all summer. This is the only one that has tried to flower so far. — mss

  9. From Yolanda Elizabet:

    Lovely roses MSS, it’s a treat to visit your garden now even though mine is not covered in snow. 😉 Sunflowers in December, mindboggling! And how wonderful to have a bluebonnet in flower as well. I hope the frost stays away so you can enjoy your blooms a bit longer!

    Despite my more temperate clime, you always seem to have more plants in flower. I love the variety in your garden. — mss

  10. From Bonnie:

    I love Ducher and the Moulin Rouge sunflower. Doesn’t look like any hard freeze happened to me last night so I hope you didn’t lose any blooms.

    There was ice in the bird bath but not in the pond. The Cosmos sulphureus froze, as did the banana leaves (I’d already wrapped the trunks). Otherwise it doesn’t look like too much damage. I think the roses will continue flowering. — mss

  11. From Nan Ondra (Pennsylvania):

    Thanks so much for sharing those beautiful blooms, mss. It was a treat to see roses and pansies (and sunflowers, for goodness sake!) thriving in your garden while we are encased in ice.

    My pleasure. I always get such a thrill out of looking at y’all’s northern gardens when we’re suffering in the summer. — mss

  12. From Pam:

    I just love your sunflowers – -I planted a late crop this year (but not quite as late as yours – which gives me ideas for next year – I’d love to have sunflowers blooming in December!). Your roses are gorgeous too. ‘Heritage’ is such a nice one.

    Usually I grow heirloom roses but when I saw and smelled ‘Heritage’ (a David Austin rose) I couldn’t resist it. — mss

  13. From M2 in Bothell:

    I wish I could tap all your readers on the shoulder and tell them, “Her roses smell nice! They don’t just look pretty.” I’m glad that you’re growing paper whites. Those have always been among my favorite scents. Hmm. I wonder how they’d grow up here?

    I thought you hated paperwhites…or is that your mother? You could force them indoors. Down here all the big box stores and even some of the supermarkets have paperwhite bulbs in fancy planters for forcing inside. As for the roses, these two both have a very lemon-y smell which I like a lot. I’m glad you remembered the scents. Maybe some will be in bloom when you visit over the holidays. — mss

  14. From Steve Mudge (Fort Worth):

    Got down to 26 degrees here–just cold enough to finally do in the tomatoes and peppers, even under row cover…pretty good run though–seeds were planted in early February! The Norway Maple down the street had already leafed out again from the delayed winter–poor confused tree. Your flowers are beautiful!

    Is Fort Worth in Zone 7 or Zone 8. Sometimes Austin is called Zone 8b; maybe you are in Zone 8a, eh? This week after the freeze we are in the mid-70s. I’d already taken out the last of my tomato plants but a little jalapeno pepper has both flowers and fruit on it still. — mss