January 23rd, 2008
Welcome Cold and Dreary

freeze-damaged duranta
2008-01-22. After a hard freeze the duranta is a fountain of forlorn brown leaves and my neighbor’s lantana looks like dry brush.

January can be Austin’s bleakest months and 2008 has been a good example of that. We’ve had gray skies and drizzle, temperatures hovering in the 40s. And last weekend downtown got our first solid freeze. Temperatures fell to the 25F/-3.5C on Sunday morning effectively killing back all those summer plants which were still flowering on the last GBBD. At last!

I’d covered up the strawberries and brought the potted plants back inside. The winter hardy annuals (sweet peas, violas, pinks, and sweet alyssum) weren’t bothered. But a lot of plants, like the duranta and the podranea are finally gone and I’m not really sorry. Now I can clear them back with abandon.

I feel a sense of relief when I look out at the brown, uninviting landscape and think, “Oh good. It’s too miserable to be out there today.” Actually, I welcome the opportunity to work on some indoor projects guilt-free. The garden is demanding and never satisfied.

This week I’m going to turn my back on it, build a fire, and ponder this pile of seed catalogs.

by M Sinclair Stevens

10 Responses to post “Welcome Cold and Dreary”

  1. From bill:

    I know what you mean. I’ve got a ton of indoor projects, a stack of reading material, and a pile of wood stacked near the door. And I made a run earlier in the week to stock up on food supplies. So if the predicted ice storm comes tomorrow I’m all set.

    The irony is that my first indoor project is to go through seed catalogs. — mss

  2. From kate:

    It has been interesting seeing what happens in Austin gardens over the winter months. I like the idea that plants have a chance to take a break from performing and that you get a break from gardening.

    Well, of a week or so. It will be back in the 70sF/20sC next week. In some ways it’s difficult to come with terms that we can’t have a garden full of flowers all the time, at least not without covering them and uncovering them constantly which isn’t possible on some plants like the hyacinth bean vine or the podranea. But I appreciate the change of season and starting a new cycle in the garden. Out with the old and in with the new. — mss

  3. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    Now if we could just stop blogging we’d really get some stuff done. 😉

  4. From Libby (Austin):

    I totally hear you on the hard freeze. Hate that twilight zone when things aren’t quite dead. It doesn’t feel quite right hacking off a plant that is putting off new growth. Snaps! on the massive mulch gathering and spreading. What’s that glossy-leafed small tree in right-hand corner of the fenceline picture?

    I know some people are disciplined about pulling stuff out. But if I see flowers, it’s hard for me to be brutal. Glossy-leafed tree? On the left is an oleander, then the frozen duranta, and a small clump of oxblood lilies. I don’t see anything green in the right-hand corner. — mss

  5. From Bonnie, Austin:

    I agree- have some guilt-free time to snuggle up and stay warm. I have plenty on my list to keep me busy- but dang if I can’t help taking a stroll around to see what is happening outside.

    Oh, I peak out, too. I see that the anemones are coming up despite every effort of the creature who lives under my house to dig up the bulbs. And the nasturtiums died. Yolanda E. said she sows sweet peas and nasturtiums together but the former doesn’t mind our freezes and the latter apparently does. — mss

  6. From Carol (Indiana):

    Happy to hear you are getting some “indoor weather”, finally. There is a definitely a sense of relief when the tired, old annuals finally give up and can be pulled without guilt. We are having a very cold January, though many of the days have been sunny. That keeps us from complete despair when the temperatures are so cold (-2 expected tonight).

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

    I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere that cold. I’m just looking forward to my new iPhone so that I can surf from the comfort of my bed, snuggling under the electric blanket. — mss

  7. From Annie in Austin:

    Thank heavens it’s crummy once in awhile- I’m still behind with everything indoors… but at least the stack is shorter! I even got packages off to the USPS. My duranta is not resting… it’s a goner. So far the cupheas are green at the base.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    (MSS – the photo that Libby is referring to may be in your previous post – think she means the ‘Little Gem’ magnolia.)

    Really? You don’t think the duranta has just died back to the ground? I’d read elsewhere that they were root hardy. This is the hardest a freeze has hit them though so I don’t know yet. Maybe mine are goners, too. Yikes! Thanks for clearing up the Libby question. I was only looking on the individual post page not the main page so it didn’t occur to me to look at other photos. Of course you’re right (you know my garden better than I do), it’s my Little Gem magnolia. — mss

  8. From Diana Kirby - Austin:

    The garden IS demanding and never satisfied! But didn’t you want to be out there today??!!! And I’m sure you have plans to be out there tomorrow!!! It’s like an addiction, just when you think you’ve escaped it for a bit and have been successful at ignoring it, it grabs hold of you and shakes you until you go back outside!

    Absolutely! I was out there in my T-shirt, snuffling around in the dirt, and checking everything out. I had to pull a few weeds and feel and smell the dirt, at least a little. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to pay much attention to the garden as we had a house maintenance emergency that kept me working inside most of the day. — mss

  9. From Angelina:

    We just got snow and I’m happy because I was just feeling I should get out there to start cleaning up even though I’ve still got lots to do inside. I’m glad you’re getting a little cold spell though. A garden at rest is a peaceful place.

    I enjoy the few days rest. Then refreshed I’m itching to get back into the garden. — mss

  10. From Dee/reddirtramblingsn:

    I know that feeling of relief. When you live in an area where you can garden almost year round, the chores must be enormous. We have had some real winter weather this year, so I’ve had some time off. I’ll be planting again in February, peas, spinach, lettuces, and I think I’m ready.~~Dee

    Ah, the chores! It’s been in the 70s the last three days and as soon as I get the dirt out from under my nails and rub a soothing balm on my scratched and slashed hands, I’ll post about the chores. — mss