July 15th, 2002
It’s a Jungle Out There

photo: Zanthan Gardens July 15, 2002
2002-07-15. The meadow.

In a typical summer, the six weeks following Independence Day is season special to the south that I call “the Dead of Summer”. Until autumn rains sweep up from the Gulf (beginning the last week of August when we’re lucky) our gardens are at their bleakest. Temperatures top 100 degrees. Rain is nil. Although the 100 degree days average ten a summer, in 1991 we had 40. And rains never came. Ditto 1990.

This year the heat and drought started in May, usually our wettest month. It barely rained in this May, almost our driest on record, the temperatures were hitting the high 90s and the soccer fields at Zilker Park looked like a dust bowl. I began gritting my teeth in anticipation of another nasty summer.

Then we got a nice rain on Father’s Day and the Thursday following. Since then has rained day after day, first gently and welcome and then typically torrential. It’s rained almost every day the last two weeks. And the temperatures? not even out of the 80s today.

The garden has gone crazy. I barely get a chance between storms to mow the lawn. The buffalograss in the meadow (which doesn’t get mowed) is a foot tall. The rainlilies keep blooming and blooming. The roses have put out lots of new growth. One iris ‘Strictly Ballroom’ bloomed today. (Others are rotting). Bluebonnets are sprouting everywhere. And the annual vines look like their auditioning for a Tarzan movie. It’s a jungle out there!

by M Sinclair Stevens

One Response to post “It’s a Jungle Out There”

  1. From Pam Penick (Austin):

    I love your web site. The weather details and plant photographs in your week-by-week sections are wonderful. I’ve been gardening in central Austin for 9 years–mostly native plants and some adapted ones.

    I noticed a few daffodil pictures on your site. What are your best-performing daffodils? The Saturday “Statesman” had a section on growing naturalizing daffodils that can stand up to Austin’s heat and drought. Do you have any favorites? What about sources?

    Thanks for any information you can share.


    Pam Penick