Zanthan Gardens north back border
2009-11-29. The north back border from the roof and some fall color. The Japanese persimmon is in the lower right-hand corner. In the center, the ‘Ducher’ rose can be seen taking over the path.

November 26th, 2010
Week 48: 11/26 – 12/2

Dateline: 2010

Zanthan Gardens north back border
2010-11-25. Much drier than 2009. The garden is bare of self-sown cilantro and baby blue eyes which were a foot tall this time last year. The Japanese persimmon is in full color but the umbrella tree has already shed its leaves. The exuberant rose ‘Ducher’ died suddenly of cane dieback over the summer.

Austin gets its first official freeze early Wednesday (12/1) morning. But Zanthan Gardens experienced some frost damage last week (11/27). That front blew the leaves off the pecans and cedar elms, making for golden December days in the garden. I spend Monday (11/29) mower mulching the fallen leaves. The air is so incredibly dry that they are easy to clean up; they just crumble. The garden is pleasingly tidy for a change.

I’ve been frantically busy planting ‘Ice Follies’ daffodils and spring annuals. I enjoy being in the garden now more than any other time. The days are clear but the temperatures cool enough that it’s a pleasure to dig and rake. The bluebonnet seedlings are still quite small and requiring supplemental water (or else they shrivel under the glare of the sun when temperatures top the 70s.) I also have to keep all the seed beds moist. 2010 is such a contrast to 2009. Very few self-sown seedlings have sprouted, only those that get a bit of water when I’m watering other plants. Rain is promised with each cold front but none has fallen. We are on our way to becoming a desert again.

Dateline: 2009

History repeats itself. A gloomy week is forecast and I spend today tidying up the mud room (aka the entryway) and bringing in aloe, kalanchoe, and golden thryallis which I’ve potted as backup plants. Just in case. I planted out my Meyer’s lemon, my cutleaf philodendron, and my ‘Ming’ asparagus fern because they got too big to lug in and out. If I installed grow lights in the mud room, I wouldn’t have to cart the pots in and out. But that room doesn’t have any electrical outlets so this probably won’t happen anytime soon.

The leaves are all turning color. I always think this is late until I look at my notes. The umbrella tree is a brilliant yellow. The Mexican buckeye and the pecans are a mottled, muddy yellow. The Mexican plum trees are a bit more golden. The Japanese persimmon is just turning orange and red. And the red oaks are blushing a deep red from the top down. Once again the ginkgo is a dud; it lost all its leaves before they turned yellow. [2010-12-02. The ginkgo finally died in Spring 2010.]

All the rain has fooled the cilantro and the false dayflowers into thinking it’s already spring. The whole yard is thick with both of them. The cilantro will be flowering soon and the false dayflowers have been flowering for a couple of weeks. Yesterday, (11/28), AJM and I trimmed back the fig ivy on the chimney so that we’d be able to have a fire inside without starting one outside. We found some “figs”, too. A first.

The cuttings of culinary sage, Jerusalem sage, licorice plant, and rosemary all seem to be rooting. The English peas are up. I continue to dig out the nandina roots from the front north border where we want to make our screened in tomato patch next spring. Like 2002, I’m madly trying to plant narcissus bulbs I dug up in the summer. This is very late as some of the Narcissus italicus are already sending up scapes. Lots of paperwhite foliage but no flowers.

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Fatsia japonica
2008-07-01. A Japanese parasol for a Japanese plant (although Floridata states it’s not a native of Japan.) This shade-loving Japanese aralia is in shade 50 weeks of the year. Unfortunately, it is in searing sun at midsummer.

July 1st, 2008
June 2008: One for the Record Books

Griping about the weather is a gardener’s perquisite. And yet, if you’re as tired listening to me gripe about our early summer heat wave as I am complaining about it…well then! We’re all pretty tired.

Statistics always comfort me. I like to think there’s some objective measure of my pain. It’s not just my attitude. And so with a bit of smug satisfaction, I announce it’s official: June 2008 is the hottest June in Austin’s recorded weather history (dating back to 1854).

June is typically one of Austin’s wetter months. We enjoy the rain as our weather makes the transition from late spring to hellishly hot summer of late July and August. June is the month our summer plants build up strength to endure the heat. This year, however, hellishly hot summer began in mid-May and hasn’t let up.

In this case, it’s not a good thing to be above average. This June we had just two days of average high temperature (88F-93F). Most of June, 20 days, had temperatures of 100F/37.8C or hotter. And the other days. Not much better: 4 @ 99; 1 @ 98; 2 @ 97; 1 @ 95. The average high temperature for June was (99F). And nighttime lows? It dropped below 70F only one night. Another night, it didn’t get out of the 80s. Typically Austin’s low temperatures were in the mid to high 70s.

Austin’s had hotter days in June. In 1998, the mercury hit 108F/42.2C on June 14th (109F at ABIA). What’s made this June miserable is that the heat’s relentless. It’s not letting up.

Well, at least, we’re finally in July where we expect this kind of weather. And there’s some cooler temperatures and a chance of rain for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

I’m celebrating the fact that June is over. Only 3 more months of hell and then fall.