September 15th, 2010
GBBD 201009: Sep 2010

Datura inoxia
Datura inoxia and Lindheimmer senna both in full bloom today.

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

September 15, 2010

First fall is firmly entrenched in Austin. Given that it’s hot and humid, how do I know summer has surrendered? When I go outside, it doesn’t feel like I’ve stepped into an oven. When I walk down the street, the heat no longer radiates off the sidewalks and buildings. If I’m unable to water the potted plants one day, they don’t immediately die. The plants don’t wilt after ten minutes of direct sunlight. I’m pretty confident if a plant has made it this far it’s survived summer. (I did lose a couple of things the week before the rain: my potted sweet bay and my second ‘Ducher’ rose.)

I’m surprised by people who can’t feel the 15-degree difference between 107° and 92. I’m not going to say it’s pleasant outside but it is bearable. The air is thick with humidity and mosquitoes the result of Tropical Storm Hermine. After an August with only a trace of rain, Hermine answered our prayers with a vengeance. Zanthan Gardens got about 6 inches of rain in one day; other places in Austin got twice that. Flooding ensued. Eight people died (not all in Central Texas).

The oxblood lilies had their day living up to one of their other common names, hurricane lilies. Their fleeting beauty is all but faded today. So the prize for most striking display for GBBD is a toss-up between the Datura inoxia and the Lindheirmer senna. Some of the latter is over six feet tall. I’ve never seen it so tall. It grew a lot during the wet early summer months.

Lindheimers senna
Lindheimers senna

Gardens everywhere in Austin are brimming with Pride of Barbados this year. I’m seduced by the clear orange/yellow combination. Usually I’m not a fan of orange–it has to be the right flower. I’m glad I bought one. I also managed to grow a Pride of Barbados from seed which I planted a couple of years ago. It died back to the ground during the January 2010 freeze but now it is almost as big as the one I bought. It still hasn’t flowered.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Pride of Barbados

Both the golden thryallis plants are flowering as is the ‘Bangkok Yellow” canna which I had to rescue from pond-trashing raccoons. September is a very yellow month at Zanthan Gardens.

Galphimia glauca
Golden thryallis

The garlic chives started flowering very early this year and are still flowering. I planted them to complement the oxblood lilies but they don’t always flower together.

Allium tuberosum
Garlic chives

The vitex, the retama, and the desert willow have all surprised me with flowers today. Even the ‘Catawba’ crape myrtle is reblooming. The coral vine is also pretty happy, sprawling over twenty feet into my neighbor’s cedar elms. A couple of four o’clocks opened, too. The ‘Starry Eyes’ nierembergia has been a winner throughout the summer. I definitely want more.

Nierembergia gracilis
Nierembergia gracilis ‘Starry Eyes’

After the rain the garden is really just a collection of moderately managed wildflowers. The ruellia (all three types) have taken over the back yard. It’s very obliging. I don’t water or feed it and it grows and grows and grows. Another native plant, scarlet spiderling has been very aggressive this year. I don’t mind it in small doses but this year the plants are huge. The flowers, although a very pretty color, are tiny.

Boerhavia coccinea
scarlet spiderling

Another native plant that I try not to let get out of control but which has this year is this mallow (maybe Indian mallow, Abutilon incanum). This isn’t a very good photo…it makes it look like horseherb. The flower of the mallow is much larger than that of horseherb; it’s about the size of a penny. It’s also a pretty pale, flat buttery yellow. The mallow is an upright bushy plant; the horseherb is a sprawling ground cover.


Eventually I’ll get the garden all under control again. Or maybe not.

by M Sinclair Stevens

12 Responses to post “GBBD 201009: Sep 2010”

  1. From Annie in Austin:

    Isn’t it odd that September is such a yellow month in your Austin garden, MSS- while my yellows and pinks are sulking, letting reds and blues dominate. The senna looks so pretty in your photos.

    There may be a difference in air temperature now, but I’m still hot…the mosquitoes are so bad one needs long sleeves and long pants just to step outside the door.

    Happy GBBD!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    I agree. Mid-90s is still hot. I do get quite sticky outside and the mosquitoes are terrible. But I don’t feel that oppressive suffocating heat. I, too, am looking forward to October and second fall, when the highs drop to the 70s and 80s and there is less humidity. First fall gives me hope. It’s like the crocuses blooming–a sign that the worst is over and that the best is soon to come. — mss

  2. From Carol:

    It’s amazing what a “bit of” rain will do to perk up a garden. I can tell from the pictures that your garden looks fresh and tropical, green. Contrast that with my dry, dusty, tan garden…

    Thanks for joining in for bloom day!

    The garden (I use that word loosely) looks pretty lush right now. If you don’t look too closely, it doesn’t look too bad. Up close, though, you see that it’s mostly weeds (aka native plants). My trick, which I employ about half successfully, is to try to keep attractive weeds. — mss

  3. From Dorothy/Gardening with Nature:

    Your September bloomers are lovely. As for getting the garden under control, is that really possible? Not in my world, I think. Sorry to hear about your ‘Ducher’. I got one at ARE in the spring and plopped it into a big pot because I really didn’t have anywhere to put it. It’s held up well, but this fall I have to find a place for it in one of the beds. I really like it and want it to be happy.

    It’s my second ‘Ducher’ rose and it seemed very happy for two years. It grew three times as big as my original ‘Ducher’ and overflowed on the path. It would collapse from it’s own weight and then send up new canes from the fallen ones. I think I might have saved it if I had caught the cane dieback early enough. But in that last week of August I couldn’t bear to be outside and so the disease spread through the whole plant. As for getting the garden under control, most people wouldn’t even call it a garden right now. Let’s just say I want to improve the ratio of flowers to weeds (aka native plants). — mss

  4. From Cheryl in Austin:

    My oxblood lillies are gone too…I feel the change, it’s lovely and feels good to get back to the dirt. Beautiful show!

    “…back to the dirt”. That’s how I feel. I love playing in the dirt most. Flowers are just the icing on the cake. — mss

  5. From RBell:

    That Nierembergia certainly does have beautiful blossoms – I can see why you would want more!

  6. From Linda Lehmusvirta Austin Texas:

    Oh, it’s lovely! And you’re right: even 10 degrees makes such a difference. Yea, it’s “only” 94, but whew. I’m astounded with the
    nierembergia; mine croaked the first year I planted it. Will try again. And I’m definitely looking into the native abutilon and spiderling. You’ve got some cool plants!

    The scarlet spiderling is a rank weed and I don’t recommend it. There’s a lot growing along Lady Bird Lake right now, especially on the south side near the MoPac bridge. At least the yellow abutilon (or whatever it is) is a nice bright green shrubby plant. It’s a good filler in a garden like mine but not in a more traditional garden with more substantial plants. — mss

  7. From angelina:

    That Pride of Barbados is incredible! I think the first time I was seduced by the yellow orange combination in a flower was with a humble Lantana I planted outside the front door of my first house. It also included pink. I haven’t seen any of those up here in Oregon but I’ve found myself wanting to plant another one. Something about it was so shamelessly vibrant and happy and eventually I had a neighbor who loved only beige and who told me that pink and orange must never be planted together and she had so many other plant color combination prohibitions that I had to paint my house Monet Pink with dark green trim.

    Well, I wanted to do it anyway, but it was one of my greatest thrills to see the look on her face when I told her what color I was painting my house.

    Orange and yellow might seem rather garish but I kind of like its wild declaration in the landscape. Fearless! And that picture is so vivid and makes me happy.

  8. From Diana - Austin:

    You seem to have many more tropicals in your garden this year, or is it my imagination? I love the Pride of Barbados, too. The exotic and delicate bloom with its brilliant color is amazing. I’ve been coveting other gardeners’ thryallis this year, and your great photo reminds me that I still haven’t gotten one. Where do you have yours planted? I have to make sure I have the right conditions for one. Happy Belated bloom day.

    I bought one potted golden thryallis last year but managed to get to plants out of it. One I transplanted last fall but the other I kept potted in case the first one froze. I finally planted it out over the summer. It is along the front fence where it gets quite a bit of morning sun and the other next to the failed garden house. — mss

  9. From Pam/Digging:

    “First fall”–the careful distinction reminds me of Pippen’s first breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, etc.

    I’ve been seduced outside again by the change in the weather. Mid-90s are still dreadfully hot for working in the garden, but I see a difference in the light–not as intense–and the length of the day, of course. All together they definitely signal that it’s time to return to the Austin garden.

  10. From Dirty Girl Gardening:

    I love the warm colors!!

  11. From Cat/The Whimsical Gardener Austin:

    Hello! I’m wondering what conditions you have your Starry Eyes in? I put in two plants in the spring and they did well up until it got very hot…they are hanging in there but hurting…no blooms and the foliage looks tired. I did notice a little green coming back in yesterday.

    Mine are in well-drained soil (trucked in, raised bed). I do water them or they stop flowering. I water by hand so I have to keep an eye out for them drooping. I only water when they look droopy or when they stop flowering. — mss

  12. From Barbara Jones:

    I am interning as master gardener. I and volunteering at old restored home that has a long row of oxblood lilies. Would like to know if I could dig and respace the lilies now.