January 15th, 2008
GBBD 200801: Jan 2008

Narcissus tazetta italicus
Narcissus tazetta italicus is very reliable in my central Texas garden.

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

What! It’s GBBD again. I can’t believe it’s been a month since my December post. Carol’s put the pressure on us southern gardeners to come up with a lot of flowers for those of you buried under snow. When I looked out the window, I saw a lot of green in the garden but not many flowers. Although there’s always something blooming here, it’s not the perpetual bower of flowers some of you imagine.

rose New Dawn
I waited and waited for this ‘New Dawn’ bud to open. Then it froze.

It’s been a very dry winter so there seem to be fewer narcissus and roses blooming. Austin finally had a few nights this winter where the temperatures dropped to the high 20s, finally doing in the stragglers from last year–or so I thought. Wandering around with my camera set to macro, I found a few new flowers to share and some hangers on from last year.

New for January

The Narcissus tazetta italicus opened yesterday (1/14) almost exactly a month after the first paperwhite. This is about two weeks later than they usually open in my garden. There are some paperwhites still blooming but the Chinese sacred lilies have come and gone.

Another new flower for January is Mahonia bealei, leatherleaf mahonia. It opened it’s first flower on January 6th and only a few more have opened since. I can’t see them from my kitchen window, yet, like I can when it’s in full bloom. Mahonia bealei

Typical winter bloomers

The rosemary had one flower last month and now has three. Summer 2007 was very hard on rosemary bushes throughout Austin. It was so rainy that a lot of our xeriscape plants just rotted. My rosemary bush was about three times bigger than it is now. All but one stem died.

The violas are in full bloom. They are so perky and persistant that I bought another flat of them. For the record, that’s 36 viola plants for $30. The other overwintering annuals, Dianthus chinensis and the sweet alyssum are also fulfilling their winter duties.

Surprise Hangers On

After some cold weather the first week of the year, the Dolichos lablab vine died back. When I began pulling it down to put in the mulch pile, I found section of vine still blooming in a protected corner.
Dolichos lablab

I had hoped that the Podranea ricasoliania had died back finally but there is a section just north of the garage that escaped the freeze and is still blooming. And I was further surprised that a flower opened on the Thai basil. The basil surely should be dead by now. I dug up the other basil plant and potted it up. We’ve been enjoying basil and pine nuts over Central Market’s handmade mozzarella this week.

Thai basil
Although some leaves are frost damaged, the Thai basil hangs on and has finally bolted.

Another survivor so far is the lantana. Actually the leaves, as you can see in the photo, are frost-nipped but it continues to put out flowers, some white, some purple. I have another lantana plant on the opposite side of the yard which died back to the ground on the first cold night.
Lantana montevidensis

I was expecting the duranta to die back to the ground. All three plants look green and don’t show any frost damage yet. They are all putting out miniscule flowers and golden seedpods at the same time. I love the contrast.
Duranta erecta

  • basil, Thai
  • Dianthus chinensis
  • Dolichos lablab
  • Duranta erecta (both flowers and berries)
  • Lantana montevidensis
  • Lobularia maritima
  • Lupinus texensis (another bloom on the plant that flowered in December)
  • Mahonia bealei
  • Narcissus papyraceus
  • Narcissus tazetta italicus
  • Oxalis triangularis (both purple and green)
  • Podranea ricasoliana
  • rose ‘Blush Noisette’
  • rose ‘Ducher’
  • rosemary
  • Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet Coconut Duet’

by M Sinclair Stevens

16 Responses to post “GBBD 200801: Jan 2008”

  1. From kate (Canada):

    It was a treat to see the Hyacinth Bean Vine in bloom at the same time there are seed pods! The Narcissus is beautiful and I love the colour of the Lantana.

    The hyacinth bean vine has been blooming off and on for the last three months or so. It seems to put out pods and then when we get some rain or warmer weather thinks it’s time to start again. I thought our temperatures in the 20s (about -3 Celsius) had killed it at last until I found this flower. It’s hard to tear out a plant that’s striving so hard to flower. — mss

  2. From Kylee (Ohio):

    You are about three months ahead of us up here in the frozen tundra of Ohio! That narcissus is lovely.

    Thanks. Your English daisy photo is excellent. Some cold weather is headed our way. I’m glad that winter comes in short blasts and alternates with balmy days. I don’t know how y’all stand months of it being the same cold and frozen landscape. — mss

  3. From Aiyana (Arizona):

    Is the Narcissus tazetta italicus as small as it looks in the photo? I love this little flower!

    Yes, like all the tazettas, the flowers are small, about an inch across. They are twice the size of my old naturalized paperwhites. But I saw some modern paperwhites at Central Market recently and they are just a little bigger than those. — mss

  4. From Frances (Tennessee):

    This may be my first visit to Zanthan Gardens, and it won’t be the last. I loved the duranta and will learn more about it to see if it can be coaxed to grow in zone 7 TN with some cheating if need be. Looking forward to seeing your garden (and you) during the Spring Fling!

  5. From Frances (Tennessee):

    Almost forgot, thanks for helping me get the spring fling badge up on Faire Garden. I need the most help in the technical department of this blogging deal.

    I’m glad you’re coming to the Spring Fling. I’m already discovering new blogs to read and I’m very excited about meeting everyone. I’ve been reading the blog of some of these people for years, so I feel like I know them already. — mss

  6. From Carol (Indiana):

    You might not have what you call a ‘bower of flowers’ but it is a good display of blooms. $30 for a flat of 36 violas? Seems higher than what I generally pay… I should be buying my first flat around mid-March. I try to get them as soon as they show up in the garden centers because by then, I need them!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

    Specifically, I’ve purchased three 12-pack flats (4-inch sized pots) for $9.99 each at Lowe’s. Violas are one of the few plant purchases I make at a big box store. At my independent nurseries a 4-inch potted annual is typically about $1.89 each, so I consider Lowe’s 12-pack flats to be quite a bargain. I’ve tried to grow violas from seed without luck. What do your flats cost and are they 1-inch pots or 4-inch pots? — mss

  7. From Layanee (Rhode Island):

    Isn’t it interesting how we cherish the few blooms offered in January that, if blooming in May, would go uncelebrated? Love that narcissus and all your January bloomers seem so exotic to me! Thanks for the link! Still snow covered here!

    I was thinking the same thing and not just about plants that are rare for a season. The other day I was looking at a bulb catalog and was shocked to see the price of some garlic chives. It’s multiplied like a weed in my garden and I had just pulled up a big section of it, according to the prices in the catalog, about $100 worth of it. For me it’s common and thus has a low value. But if I couldn’t grow it would I be willing to pay so much for it just to try it? Probably. As for your snow, your photos are beautiful. I always long for snow during Advent. I’d love to visit for a weekend. But I can’t imagine living through a winter of it. — mss

  8. From Yolanda Elizabet (The Netherlands):

    That narcissus is gorgeous and how wonderful to have them in flower at this time of year. Here my dafs are just poking their noses through the earth. The Dolichos lablab still looks good, always nice to find an unexpected bloom in the garden. No snow here and I’m happy to say that my rosemary is in flower too.

    I’m always amazed that our gardens have plants in common when our conditions are so different. — mss

  9. From Ki (New Jersey):

    You Austinites are the envy of us northerners with our drab winters. The Mahonia is especially beautiful and I like the intense yellow throat of the daffodil. I didn’t realize the flowers of rosemary are quite lovely. Thanks for sharing the photos.

    That was my reaction to the rosemary. My eyes see them as an inconspicuous baby blue. The camera’s eye revealed a much more beautiful flower. You macro photos are always so stunning. — mss

  10. From KAT (California):

    I have some of those lovely little paperwhites out here in SoCal too. Yours looks so pretty. No frost yet here this year, and I’m itching to plant some fruit trees. We trimmed our big trees and I cut down an ailing lemon–can’t wait to add another apricot and a Meyer lemon! But I need to wait a few weeks…..

    Can you grow fruit trees outside without covering them in Pasadena? Or is it like Austin where you get enough below freezing nights that you have to run out and cover them up now and then? — mss

  11. From Diana Kirby - Austin:

    Hey – your picture of the Duranta with the berries may have solved a 10-year old mystery for me…do you know if they can be pruned into a tree and if there is a variety with WHITE flowers? Those berries are identical to some on a tree I have (which was a sentimental gift and not labeled). It’s dormant in my garage right now, but I posted about it some time ago so I’ll have to go dig through my blog history and try to send you the picture!

    I know that duranta (whose other common name is golden dewberry) comes in various colors of flowers. I don’t know about white. The flower is pretty distinctive, though. Here is some more info on Duranta erecta. — mss

  12. From Steve Mudge(Fort Worth):

    We got into the low 20s during the same cold wave and it took out everything that was still hanging on except for a lone Rudbeckia that germinated in the summer, started blooming in October and hasn’t stopped! Doesn’t seem to mind the cold at all. The winter vegetable garden is still doing fine though–Pak Choy, Napa, Lettuces, Mesclun, Beets, Carrots, Onions, Swiss Chard, Brassicas, Celery, and Snow Peas all chugging right along through it.

    Oooh…I didn’t check on my rudbeckia; it was flowering before Christmas but I haven’t seen it lately. I envy your winter vegetable garden. I was excited about having one again this year but the spot I had it last year was in the shade until two weeks ago, the leaves were so late in falling. So I got nothing planted out. — mss

  13. From Annie in Austin:

    This is a nice group of blooms for January, MSS! The rosemary plants in my garden are blooming, too, but the duranta is once again leafless – possibly lifeless-brown sticks.

    Is the mahonia in a fair amount of shade? I’m interested in this plant.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    I’ve read that the duranta is root hardy. I think it will come back, although I have no life experience to back it up. The mahonia was in quite a bit of shade but since I’ve had the chinaberry and hackberry trees removed it is getting some sun. I’ve read that it needs two or three hours of morning sun to flower but that it doesn’t like our strong summer sunlight in the afternoon. It is related to nandina. The stems of the two plants seem remarkably alike. However, (so far)it hasn’t or spread quickly so perhaps we won’t be forbidden it like we are the nandina. — mss

  14. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter (Chicagoland):

    Is it true you can never have too many Violas? Why is it that Violets self-sow prolifically, but Violas are so hard to grow from seed? I’ve never seen a Mahonia bloom in person; I like the look of yours.

    I just assumed that violas were difficult for me to grow from seed because in order to have them by October to plant out, I have to start them in August or September when temperatures are often in the 100s. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever seen a violet in life. I think not, although they grow prolifically in books. — mss

  15. From entangled (Virginia):

    MSS, no violets in Austin? Long ago I sowed some violet seeds and their descendants are threatening to take over the entire woods in back of the house. They’re such a weed here that I just assumed they grew everywhere.

    It’s too hot here to grow a lot of things. No violets. No lilacs. No apple trees in bloom. Some of these things I’ve finally seen when I visited England. Many I’ve only read about, like the first robin in the spring. — mss

  16. From Heirloom Gardener (New Jersey):

    Your blog is beautiful. I particularly liked your post about your visit to Hidcote. I’ve read about it and dream of going there some day.

    Now that I’ve had time to reflect on Hidcote, I’d like to go back and visit it again with new eyes. I think it’s the best garden I’ve ever been to. — mss