April 15th, 2008
GBBD 200804: Apr 2008

Zanthan Gardens meadow
The meadow in full bloom with larkspur, pink evening primrose, Engelmann daisy, crinum, cilantro, and bluebonnets.

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

April 15, 2008

This period between last GBBD and this is generally the most perfect at Zanthan Gardens. This year the weather has played along. After scaring us with a couple of 90 degree days, (which caused the cilantro and baby blue eyes to go suddenly to seed), this week temperatures have fallen to gorgeous 70 degree days, the skies are clear, and the air is dry. Very dry. I’m having to water more than usual.

This period is either second spring or first summer. (For a part of the country reputed not to even have four seasons, I find that just four is not enough to describe the changes in the garden.) The trees have leafed out. What lawn is left is greening up. The early spring bulbs and flowering trees are finished. The over-wintering annuals are in full bloom. Self-sown summer annuals like clammy weed, cypress vine, Dolichos lablab, and cosmos are sprouting. They remind me that it’s past time for planting a few new summer seeds of my own.

New for April

Arguably Zanthan Garden’s most floriferous month, April is when the sheer mass of flowers overcomes interest in the individual specimen. I won’t even try to photograph all the new flowers for April. Here are a few.

Confederate jasmine
Trachelospermum jasminoides

I have a weakness for all those heavily-scented white, Southern flowers but my favorite is Confederate jasmine. The scent is very spicy and the vine always a glossy green even in our worst droughts. You can smell Confederate jasmine from quite a distance.

Crinums with Engelmann Daisy and Pink Evening Primrose
Crinum bubispermum

The milk and wine lilies in the meadow with the gray-green foliage bloom before the crinums with the bright green foliage. I don’t know what kind they are. All of them have different colored flowers, sickly sweet, and huge, the weight of which causes the stalks to fall over almost immediately as the flowers open. I gathered quite a few seeds from these last year which started easily but have been slow to grow.

Crinum bulbispermum

St Joseph’s Lily

Hippeastrum x johnsonii
The hardy amaryllis, Hippeastrum x johnsonii, has been blooming almost all month in my yard and all over my older Austin neighborhood. I’ve never liked any photo I’ve taken of St. Joseph’s lily but Rachel @ In Bloom got the color right when she visited during Spring Fling.

Jerusalem sage and California poppies
Phlomis lanata

The Jerusalem sage, Phlomis lanata, is dead easy to propagate. Just stick a semi hard-wood cutting into the ground, keep moist but not too wet, and it will root. I love the leaves but they get a bit wilty when temperatures top 90.

Red Yucca

Hesperaloe parviflora
Last winter I had a couple of invasive chinaberry trees removed. The red yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora, once again in sunlight, has thanked me by blooming this year. The individual flowers are insignficant. In Austin, red yucca is commonly massed and the flowers hover like a pale red cloud above the spiky plants.


Also known as Jerusalem thorn or palo verde, this lime green tree flowers bright yellow and is covered in thorns. Given my penchant for growing thorny plants, maybe I should have named my garden “Thornfield”.

White Stonecrop
Sedum album

Here’s a little flower that gets lost in April’s showiness. Getting down on my hands and knees I spot the small flowers of white stonecrop, Sedum album. I don’t have any idea when these started blooming.

And also new for April…

Between GBBDs

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

  • Hyacinthoides hispanica
  • Tulipa clusiana
  • Yaupon holly

Complete List for April

  • Allium neapolitanum
  • Aloe barbadensis
  • Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’
  • Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Magic’
  • Commelinantia anomala
  • Consolida ambigua
  • Crinum (various)
  • Duranta erecta
  • Engelmannia peristenia/pinnatifida
  • Eschscholzia californica ‘Mikado’ (going to seed)
  • iris (heirloom gold)
  • Hesperaloe parviflora
  • Hippeastrum x johnsonii
  • Lantana montevidensis
  • Lantana x hybrida ‘New Gold’
  • Lathyrus odoratus ‘Perfume Delight’
  • Lavandula heterophylla ‘Goodwin Creek’ (few flowers on old plants)
  • Lupinus texensis (mostly going to seed; first plant now flowering since 12/15)
  • Mirabilis jalapa
  • Nemophila insignis (going to seed)
  • Nerium oleander ‘Turner’s Shari D.’
  • Nigella damascena
  • Oenothera speciosa
  • Oxalis crassipis (hot pink, full bloom)
  • Oxalis pes-caprae ‘Scotty’s Surprise’ (fading)
  • Oxalis triangularis (only purple, not white)
  • Polanisia dodecandra
  • Phlomis lanata
  • Retama
  • Rhaphiolepis indica (end of the season)
  • rose ‘Blush Noisette (full bloom)
  • rose ‘Ducher’ (waning)
  • rose ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ (one flower)
  • rose ‘New Dawn’
  • rose ‘Prosperity’ (full bloom)
  • rose ‘Red Cascade’ (two small flowers)
  • rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (one flower, between flushes)
  • Sedum album
  • Setcresea (both purple and green)
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides
  • Tradescantia (spiderwort, going to seed)
  • Verbena canadensis (lavender wilding)
  • Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet Coconut Duet’

by M Sinclair Stevens

19 Responses to post “GBBD 200804: Apr 2008”

  1. From Diana - Austin:

    I have so much more insight into your GBBD post now that I’ve seen your beautiful garden in person. Photos just can’t do the wonder of the meadow justice like a walk through those lovely larkspur, lilies, cilantro and crinums blowing in the breeze. But you’ve done a good job here. I like your idea of more than 4 seasons – can’t wait to see what second Spring holds next for you.

    I’m glad you finally got to see it, especially this time of year. I think a lot about the subtle changes in the garden, too many for just four seasons. I guess that’s why I like doing the week-by-week posts. — mss

  2. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    Beautiful. Your first photo really shows off your garden, and is how I remember it from just a few weeks ago. I wish I could smell the Confederate jasmine, and sit in that chair out there, to enjoy the peaceful garden you’ve created! Beautiful.

    I wish you could smell it too but I’ve learned my lesson about freezing flowers for you. It just doesn’t work. I often imagine you here in my head talking to me as I putter around. — mss

  3. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    And here I thought we only had two seasons: summer and intense summer.

    Actually, I do find our spring to be delightful, especially with an extended reprieve from the heat as we’ve enjoyed this year. Your meadow looks especially lovely for it.

    And with your roses in full bloom this week, do you figure that late spring is over and Austin is now in early summer? — mss

  4. From Annie in Austin:

    The list is staggering, MSS – larkspur, sure, but crinum? Duranta? Four O’Clocks? Are you sure it’s still April at Thornfield?

    Spring Fling was wonderful, and one of the best parts was watching you and a few others wander around looking at plants in the raised beds and in the meadow, while others of us perched on timbers in the Folly, gazing at the flowers, conversing and drinking sparkly water under the high shade. It’s as close as I’ll ever get to being in an arty European film.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Seven new flowers started blooming in the last two days which skews the statistics. Seems a bit early to me, too. I love your movie analogy. I’ve always wanted to be Maggie Smith at Howard’s End, strolling through the garden in the late evening, hearing the voices of others in the house. Painting such a romantic picture of that afternoon helps me remember it with better eyes. I’m afraid my own memory is clouded with the sheer exhaustion of the moment and the rudeness of one guest who chose her computer over the company of a dozen interesting Spring Flingers. — mss

  5. From kate:

    The first photograph gives a wonderful long view of your meadow. The Larkspur surrounded by the Evening Primroses and Engelman Daisies would take my breath away if I saw it in person. I like the contrast of colour in the Milk and Wine Lilies. The Jerusalem Thorn flower is really cool. Your blooming plant list for April is pretty amazing.

    If I said it was all downhill from here, I would be telling the truth. But then AJM would call me “The Grumpy Gardener”. I’ll have to study the other Austin garden bloggers and see if I can’t stretch the season a bit. — mss

  6. From kerri:

    Your list for April is impressive, MSS, and so are the photos of your lovely blooms. I especially love the lilies and jasmine. How lovely it would be to stroll through your beautifully blooming meadow. Your garden is an obvious labor of love.

    Thanks. The meadow is a lot of work and comparitively short-lived. I think that’s why I like it. Its intensity and exuberance are highlighted by its emphemerality. — mss

  7. From jodi:

    So many, many blooms in your wonderful garden…and it’s just so utterly different from mine, it’s almost like Austin is on another continent.

    Yellow phlomis I recognized; love its butter-yellow flowers, and got it through its first year and winter here, but then the winter wet took it (it’s marginal hardy here, and hated our clay.) I was sad, but then planted something else, as we do.

    One of the interesting things about Texas is that we have half a dozen different climate/ecosystems and Austin sits at the center of two of them, so our gardens have a split personality. Are we desert xeriscape, old southern, prairie, or semi-tropical? I just started growing the Jerusalem sage a couple of years ago. I’m on heavy black clay. It doesn’t seem to mind that as much as direct sunlight when the temperatures are above 90F degrees. I hope to keep propagating it as it seems to make a good filler. — mss

  8. From Leslie Kuss:

    You have so many lovely plants, and I’ve noticed many of the Austin gardens have plants blooming simultaneously that bloom at separate times here…my four o’clocks are about 2 inches tall right now!

    Yes, the Austin plants bloom all at once trying to squeeze in some growing time between our last frost and our first days in the 90s. The four o’clocks surprised me by flowering yesterday. However, the plants have been growing like crazy these last two weeks; they are like Jack’s bean stalk. — mss

  9. From Frances:

    Annie and the art film, too funny. Your garden is an artist’s delight with the swaths of larkspur and cilantro punctuated by the lilies and roses. I got a really good shot of your phlomis, but wasn’t sure of the name so didn’t post it with the fling photos. I am trying to get the hesperaloe going here, it is on a dry hill, because the color of the flower is my most favorite. Yours are exquisite.

    I’m so glad you took the time to come visit me during Spring Fling. The garden seems very lonely now without visitors. I need to space them out over a longer period so that I have more time to talk to everyone. — mss

  10. From Rachel from Austin:

    Your meadow is still looking wonderful, MSS, and I can’t believe your St. Joseph’s lily is still blooming! My little amaryllis, which gets afternoon/evening sun, lived happily for about five days and then keeled over. Alas, my baby blue eyes have gone to seed as well. I certainly enjoyed them while they lasted, though.

    Also, in response to your question on my Bloom Day post, that nasturtium is the first of mine to bloom. I’ve had similar luck: some of mine froze over the winter. This one came back out of nowhere, though. I’d forgotten I’d even planted it there. It’s on the west-facing front of our house, so it gets quite a lot of afternoon/evening sun. So far, none of the nasturtiums in our east-facing back yard have bloomed yet.

    Between the two of us we will figure out how to grow nasturtiums in Austin. Maybe it is one of those seeds that must be started inside. Yes, the St. Joseph’s lily has lasted a long time, almost three weeks. The individual flowers are short lived but quite a few stalks came up this year. I’ll have to read up and see if it wants to be divided or if it prefers not to be messed with. — mss

  11. From Angelina:

    You’re not kidding about being flooded with blooms. I love the Jerusalem Sage, I’ve never seen it before and it’s very cool.

    The leaves of the Jerusalem sage have this peculiar white edging, an outline, that I find very attractive. — mss

  12. From Sarah Laurence (England):

    What beautiful blooms! I feel like I can almost smell them from my computer. As much as I appreciate the subtle refinement of Japanese gardens, I do love the colorful effusion of an American garden. Ah, the glory of spring.

    Thanks for stopping by. I really enjoyed your GBBD post on Giverny. — mss

  13. From Lori, Austin Texas:

    Oh, I love your meadow. I was going for a look like that on the south side of my back raised bed, but without much success. Whoever made the Howard’s End reference was spot-on!

    And I also like how the yellow flowers pick up the yellow stripes of the agave.

    I looked up ‘Mermaid’ on the ARE website. How’s the fragrance? I need to settle on a fragrant rose for my front yard project and I’m having a bit of trouble. So many roses to choose from, so little space!

    ‘Mermaid’ is a thorny monster rambling rose best used for smothering unattractive old sheds and fences. She’s growing in a tree so I can’t get close enough to smell her. — mss

  14. From Nan Ondra:

    Lovely, lovely photos, mss. I too envy you the ability to succeed with Jersusalem sage. Also, I really like the way you organize your lists by what’s new and then everything that’s in bloom. It’s very informative for those of us who are visiting and helpful for your own record-keeping too, I’d imagine.

    I’m finding it more and more difficult to keep records as I have too many systems: a week-by-week one and a month-by-month one. I’m going to have to figure out how to consolidate all this (sometimes conflicting) data. — mss

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

    It’s too bad you can’t blog in smellavision (or “Odorama” ala John Waters), I’d love a whiff of that Jasmine. I like how the pink of the Crinum plays off the ubiquitous (for Austin) Evening Primrose. It’s a heady list of bloomers you’ve got there.

    April is my big month…it’s all downhill from here, until next spring. — mss

  16. From Les in Norfolk:

    That was an impressive collection of blooms. Austin seems like a place where plants from several different regions can converge and grow together. I too like Confederate Jasmine; my biggest is about 25′ and was returned by a customer who insisted it was dead. I took it home and planted it out of spite.

    Just so…Austin is at the crossroads of several regions and we can experiment with plants from all of them. Then we have a dry year and our tropicals suffer followed by a wet year which rots the xeriscape plants. It’s part of what makes gardening here so interesting. (Your customer sounds obnoxious.) — mss

  17. From Layanee:

    If I had all the money and time in the world, I could garden in Austin in Spring and New England in Summer and then just move on to New Zealand and …! March-April is your best time in the garden according to your post and your pictures sure are inviting! I love the yellow swiss chard used as an edging in the picture over at Cold Climate Gardening! Surely that counts as a bloom also. Beautiful blooms MSS! Thanks!

    I like your garden travel plans. Let’s do it! This is the first year I’ve grown the swiss chard and I love its decorative qualities. It tastes pretty good, too! — mss

  18. From Kim:

    You aren’t kidding… there are tons of flowers on your list for April! I am thisclose to planting that pretty hesperaloe in my garden, now that I’ve read your comments about airy clouds of blooms. (High Country Gardens says that it can be hardy to zone 5 or 6… so it’s worth a try.)

    I shall try to capture a photo of that effect. They really look good in a mass planting and the flowers last a long time. Of course, I have but a single blooming stalk. — mss

  19. From Beka in Austin:

    question re: larkspur
    Why didn’t my full beds return this year? I had a few straggly plants come up in what last year were very abundant larkspur beds. On the other hand, robust specimens were coming up outside the bed, in the walkway as it were! Do they not like mulched beds? Do they prefer poor conditions? I transplanted a few, but they are sickly. Any comments about larkspur in Austin?

    I’m going to be writing a post about larkspur in the next week or so, so stay tuned. — mss