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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photo: Musa lasiocarpa
2003-10-06. Musa lasiocarpa in flower. Austin, Texas. (Update: The flower closed up during the winter and then reopened throughout 2004. It finally died in early summer of 2005.)

October 9th, 2005
Musa lasiocarpa

Dateline: 2005-10-09
After flowering for two summers, the mother plant died. Slowly its stalk rotted away and the pups (some of which were full-grown plants by this time) began to fall away from the center.

photo: Musa lasiocarpa
2005-07-28. Even in late July, the blue-green banana leaves looked crisp and fresh. They never turned brown or wilted like the brighter green canna. However the number of pups was getting out of hand.

As today was the second of two perfect fall days, I decided it was time to dig up and replant the pups. I soaked the ground thoroughly to make it easier to get through the hardened clay. Then AJM and I began digging around the perimeter and trying to prize up the mass by getting the fork under the roots. The whole mass is fleshy and breaks easily. All we succeeded in doing is snapping the top of the banana plants off the roots.

In the end it was a banana tree massacre. A score of large banana trees lay rootless on the ground. Half a dozen smaller ones came away with a little bit of root. And what about the roots? If I replant them, will new pups spring up? Are banana trees like Tradescantia in this respect. I’ll try it and see and report back.

I was very depressed after destroying my banana plants. I had to keep telling myself that they were all going to fall over and die anyway and they had outgrown the space and were crushing the plants near them. Still, there’s a big empty spot in the garden where once was the most beautiful green.

I started with one and I have more than one now. If even one pulls through the winter, all will have worked out in the end.
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