June 15th, 2009
GBBD 200906: June 2009

Helianthus annuus Van Gogh
The ‘Van Gogh’ sunflowers are about 3 feet tall and have a green center.

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

June 15, 2009

The good news this June is that Austin got rain last Thursday. Almost 2 inches of rain fell at Zanthan Gardens. Other Austinites were not as lucky and had to contend with hail, power outages, broken windows, and funnel clouds. The bad news is that Austin is already experiencing 100°F temperatures. To put it in perspective, we are almost 15 degrees hotter than Las Vegas. Back in the 20th Century (“I remember…” she said, waving her cane in his face), June was a fairly pleasant month in Austin. We’d get lots of rainfall (June was our third wettest month.) Temperatures typically didn’t start soaring into the 100s until late July or August. Then we’d have only six to eight weeks of misery to get through until the hurricanes brought rain just as school started.

Apparently the new norm for the 21s Century is to start being miserable around Mother’s Day and continue until Halloween.

Zanthan Gardens

This photo is misleading. Taken a couple of days after the rain, what’s left of the lawn has perked up. (There is no lawn in the front yard anymore–just bare dirt until I can do something with it.) Everything looks refreshingly green. The whole reality is that it’s 100°F and feels like a jungle. You daren’t stand in the sun. The only a spot of color is from the small clumps sunflowers and purple coneflowers at the fence. In the center of the picture is section of the yard I’m filling with the 12 cubic yards of dirt I bought last week. It will be a terrace to connect the back porch with the garden house.

New for June

Every year when the spring flowers die down I think it would be nice to have something to extend the season. If we have a normal rainy June (like 2007), then it’s wonderful. But if we have a hot, dry June (like 2006, 2008, 2009), then I find it’s far more trouble than it’s worth during the season when I’m busy cleaning up the spring garden and feeding, cutting back, and mulching the shrubs and trees.


This year I tried zinnias again. I bought two packets of seed: a red and white striped one from Select Seeds, ‘Peppermint Stick’ and a pure white one from Renee’s Gardens, ‘Polar Bear’. The ‘Polar Bear’ gets only morning sun, looks healthier, but hasn’t bloomed yet. The ‘Peppermint Stick’ is in a less established bed (that means the dirt isn’t as good), gets full sun, and has put out two flowers. The first was red and white like a peppermint stick.

This is the second one. I hate this color.
Zinnia elegans Peppermint Stick
Zinnia elegans ‘Peppermint Stick’


I had better luck with the sunflowers. I bought two packets from Renee’s Gardens, ‘Van Gogh’ and ‘Chocolate Cherry’. I planted them both in my seed starting bed on April 9, 2009. I was able to transplant the ‘Van Gogh’ out and they did really well. The ‘Chocolate Cherry’ were smaller seeds and smaller plants. They got leggy in the shade before I could get them transplanted. They didn’t survive my trip to San Francisco in the last week of May.


Carol at May Dreams Gardens sent me a packet of white marigolds, ‘Kilimanjaro’. All of the seeds sprouted but half of them damped off. A dozen survived for me to transplant then half of those were felled by pillbugs. I have five plants left and I’m still waiting anxiously for them to flower.


I also tried out Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Psyche White’ and ‘Rose Bon Bon’. I planted both in the meadow where they were smothered by the spring plants and didn’t get enough water when they were young. I’m going to have to seed these earlier and transplant them, or start them in their own bed. Or try growing them in the fall. Ditto the Nigella hispanica ‘Bridal Veil’. Actually I planted those in the seed bed in February and they didn’t do much. Same with the Amaranthus caudatus planted in March and the Thunbergia alata which never sprouted at all. The Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ are struggling and haven’t flowered yet.


My favorite summer perennial is plumbago because of it’s cool pale blue flowers. I came close to losing a plant I’ve had since the mid-1990s but, with some extra attention, it seems to be making a comeback and began blooming around the first of June.


I’ve been shearing back the shrubby plants; the coral bean and the Zexmenia are responding with new growth and flowers. I’ve also pruned and fed the roses, the crape myrtles, the vitex, the white mistflower, and the butterfly bush.

Going Strong

Some plants do take the heat and don’t require a lot of water. The oleander is still covered in flowers. The purple coneflowers that Pam/Digging passed along to me are doing much better this second year than last. The coral vine (Antigonon leptopus) is a carefree plant that loves this weather and the bees love it.

Finally there’s this little beauty, which Annie in Austin has tentatively identified as a South African foxglove.
	Proboscidea louisianica

The leaves are gray-blue, furry (like a datura), and the flowers have spots (rather than stripes). Does anyone else have a thought?

Just Let Me Die

The list below might look long but there are a lot of hangers on from spring. The merciful thing to do would be just pull them out. I deadheaded and watered a bluebonnet just to see if I could get it to bloom until today, which it did. It looks pitiful. The few remaining larkspur are just dried flowers in the landscape. I’ve been cutting back the Jerusalem sage which is flopping and wilts every day in the heat. So do the datura and brugmansia. The latter, which Annie in Austin gave me, is blooming but the flowers blast…they don’t have the strength to unfurl. The sweet alyssum, which I sheared back, makes a nice little clump but it’s just barely flowering. I was amazed to see some covered with flowers at The Natural Gardener. Not only do they have drip hoses, excellent soil, and lots of mulch, but someone was watering them with a spray wand. Someone else told me that they water every day and foliar feed the plants once a week.

If that’s what you have to do to get flowers to bloom profusely in 100° heat, well, count me out.

Complete List for June 2009

The list of all plants flowering today, June 15th 2009, at Zanthan Gardens.

  • Abelia grandiflora (2009)
  • Antigonon leptopus (2009)
  • Asclepias curassavica (fading) (2009)
  • Brugmansia (from Annie in Austin, 2 flowers both blasting) (2009)
  • Consolida ambigua (2009)
  • Cosmos sulphureus (2009)
  • Crinum bulbispermum (2009)
  • Duranta erecta (overwintered) (2009)
  • Echinacea purpurea (from Pam/Digging) (2008, 2009)
  • Erythrina herbacea (2009)
  • Helianthus annuus ‘Van Gogh’ (2009)
  • Hesperaloe parviflora (2009)
  • Hibiscus syriacus (2009)
  • Ipomoea tricolor’Flying Saucers’ (2009)
  • Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands) (2009)
  • Lagerstroemia indica ‘Catawba’ (2009)
  • Lantana montevidensis (2009)
  • Lavandula heterophyla ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’ (2009)
  • Lobularia maritima (2009) ‘Tiny Tim’
  • Lupinus texensis (fading) (2009)
  • Malvaviscus arboreus (2009)
  • Meyer lemon (rebloom) (2009)
  • Mirabilis jalapa pink (fading) (2009)
  • Nerium oleander ‘Turner’s Shari D.’ (2009)
  • Nierembergia gracilis ‘Starry Eyes’ (2009)
  • Phlomis lanata (fading) (2009)
  • Plumbago auriculata (2009)
  • Proboscidea louisianica (2009)
  • Retama (2009)
  • rose ‘Blush Noisette’ (2009)
  • rose ‘Ducher’ (2009)
  • rose ‘New Dawn’ (2009)
  • rosemary (2009)
  • Rudbeckia hirta (2009)
  • Ruellia (overwintered) (2009)
  • Ruellia wild woody type (2009)
  • Sedum album (2009)
  • Setcresea (both purple and green) (2009)
  • Zephyranthes grandiflora (2009)
  • Zephyranthes (white) (2009)
  • Zexmenia hispida (from Pam/Digging) (2009)
  • Zinnia elegans ‘Peppermint Stick’ (2009)

by M Sinclair Stevens

14 Responses to post “GBBD 200906: June 2009”

  1. From Nancy Bond:

    Your gardens look wonderful — your rain was just the thing to brighten everything and give your beds a second breath of spring. I don’t envy you your summer temps, but I do hope the rest of June is more pleasant for you.

  2. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    Those ‘Van Gogh’ Sunflowers are really cool with the green eye. I might have to do Sunflowers next year. I was tempted by the ‘Chocolate Cherry’ ones, but didn’t order them. I’m sorry yours bit the dust. That mystery plant is really exotic, almost like an orchid. At least something beautiful seems to shrug off your difficult conditions. Here’s hoping for a return to normality, at least as experienced in the late 20th Century.

  3. From Yvonne Cunnington:

    Oh, my. I love that sunflower. You are way ahead of us here in southern Ontario.

  4. From Annie in Austin:

    Unflinching as always, MSS, your GBBD posts are true records, not just nice photos, although the photo across the lawn sure is pretty! Too bad about the Hot Pink zinnia. I keep wishing for a true violet zinnia but the purples and violets seem to come out lavender-pink and magenta.

    Those gray leaves don’t look right for the African Foxglove – a friend grew it and the flowers look like that but had green leaves. So I’ll withdraw my suggestion and hope someone else knows the ID.

    I forgot to put alyssum on my GBBD list but a couple of plants are still blooming. They’re in the decomposed granite area near the arch so in filtered shade right next to containers which must be watered daily. Bet their root zone has extended under the adjoining pots.

    Happy GBBD

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  5. From cat - austin, texas:

    oh no..i think i need van gogh sunflowers for next year..gorgeous!

    i really hope this is just a “heat wave” and we get more rain, lower temps, etc…i know, i know – i’m dillusional, but a girl can hope can’t she? haha

    it all looks good in your garden..:) thanks for sharing!

  6. From Mary Beth - Harlingen:

    Those ‘Van Gogh’ sunflowers are wonderful (as is your photo! It should be a painting)
    I have a hard time, too, with marigolds from seed . . . and I’ve always heard they are foolproof. This year I have a few but I purchased cellpacks instead of seed.

  7. From compostinmyshoe Charleston, SC:

    Love the sunflower pic….looks like with your extensive list you have quite a bit going on in that garden, even with the drought. Congrats!

  8. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    The ‘Van Gogh’ sunflowers sound familiar, as though I’ve grown them before. I’ll have to look back at my old seed lists.

    Annie is right, your records and observations are amazing. I planted my Marigold ‘Kilimanjaro’ on May 15th, I think, directly in the garden. I wasn’t happy with the germination rate, but do think I have about 10 good plants, which I spread out in a row. They are only six inches tall so far, but should take off soon. And I’m fortunate that my zinnias will be true to color, for the most part. I don’t likr the color of the one you have, either.

    It sounds like you are doing a good job of figuring out what works in all your heat. We are still enjoying moderate temperatures here, but I heard we might have temps in the low 90’s by the end of the week. That’s high for us for June.

    Thanks for your contribution to garden bloggers bloom day!

  9. From Diana - Austin:

    I’m so glad you got two inches of rain – we got 1.5 inches and really needed it. Too bad it perked up all the weeds, as well!

    Did it? Here, everything is so bad that even the weeds have died. — mss

  10. From Bob Pool:

    Your mystery plant is Devil’s Claw, Proboscidea louisianica. I had several come up in a vegetable garden where we used to live. I saved all the horned pods for the local Boy Scout troop to make projects. I guess they all made those funky Texas mosquitoes you see in gift shops. Mine lasted all summer. Not a flashy plant, but at least something with blooms in the heat.

    Yes! That’s it! Thanks so much for the ID. It’s true that it’s not flashy but it is one of the few things blooming, so it has my heart. — mss

  11. From MrBrownThumb:

    Hi MSS,

    Stopping by to return comment from CSF and was stopped dead in my tracks by the ‘Van Gogh’ Sunflowers. They are awesome, will have to try to grow some myself.

  12. From Bonnie:

    I love the sorting you did for your post. That’s how I feel this year- the ones I cheer, the ones I pity, and the ones I hate. I just don’t have the energy or heat tolerance to help the wimpy ones limp along.

    Every year I go into summer with the best intentions to water and stay on top of things. But the last three out of four years when we start getting August temperatures in May, have just drained my resolve. If this is a permanent change in our climate, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to live here. — mss

  13. From Annie in Austin:

    Glad you got the ID from Bob and also glad your site is up once again.

    Looked up the Proboscidea louisianica and the African Foxglove/Ceratotheca triloba and see they both show up in Pedaliaceae, the Sesame family so are related, at least ;-]


  14. From Linda Lehmusvirta Austin Texas:

    Love those sunflowers! And the zinnias. How funny that you hate that color. I’ve been cutting back, too, but thanks for the reminder to feed the roses.