January 10th, 2006
Week 02: 1/8 – 1/14

photo: paperwhites and Chinese Sacred Lily 2006-01-10
2006-01-10. Two paperwhites, Chinese Sacred Lily, and Narcissus italicus. N italicus has a greenish yellow tint especially noticeable next to the pure white of the paperwhites

Dateline: 2006
The year continues to be remarkable for what’s not happening in the garden. No rain, of course, and that’s the cause of the rest of it. Despite the full sun (last week the last of the leaves fell) and English summer temperatures, no roses are blooming. The bluebonnets are only about 4 inches across. A few larkspur seedlings are up, but no cilantro and no nigella. The few tufts of false dayflower are dry and the tradescantia is up but feeble and withered.

On the upside, there are no weeds either. Usually goosegrass, henbit, and chickweed are choking every bed this time of year.

The dryness has taken on a quality quite unlike Central Texas. It’s not just the lack of rain, it’s the very low relative humidity. The air feels more like Santa Fe, or Las Vegas. Skies are desert blue and the visibility is so good that driving in from Houston Saturday, we could see Austin’s skyline almost from Bastrop.

First Flowers: Narcissus italicus (1/8).
Blooming: Unidentified paperwhites. Chinese sacred lily. Rosemary.

Dateline: 2004
Very miscellaneous weather, as Judy would say. The beginning of the week was biting cold and generally gray and unpleasant because it was also dry and windy. But temperatures warmed up as the week progressed. Today was my favorite kind of weather: in the 60s, overcast, and humid with a good chance of rain at last. This is good weather for transplanting.

I’m still cleaning up red oak leaves. I was amazed at what a never-ending supply I seemed to have until I watched my neighbor clean his yard with a leaf-blower, which spewed most of the leaves into my yard. Well! I rake them into a pile and grind them up with the mulching mower. Instant mulch. Some friends of mine from the north were talking about the huge piles of leaves they get up there, too many to fit in a compost heap, so they put them out for the city to pick up. To my surprise, they had never tried the mower trick. The red oak leaves are the best candidate–they are large and a little tough, so they shred nicely.

It’s been so dry that not even the first weeds of the year (henbit, chickweed, and goosegrass) are sprouting much. In preparation for the forecasted rain, light drizzle, I spent the morning forking the various mulches that have dried to a hard crust, so that the rain would be able to penetrate.

Bloomwise, the Grand Primo narcissus have taken the stage and the rose ‘Madame Joseph Schwartz’ is covered in flowers. ‘Ducher’ and ‘Heritage’ are also producing some nice individual blossoms, better appreciated when cut and brought indoors.

Dateline: 2003
photo: snapdragons in the winter garden
2003-01-08. Snapdragons. Austin, TX (Zone 8)

We begin the week with temperatures reaching a record high for Thursday (1/9), January 9th, 84 degrees. See the first crocuses poking through. Also the first tulips. On Friday. a front brings rain and nighttime temperatures in the 30s. It’s so gloomy the entire weekend that we barely get up from our computers. Still, no hard freeze yet this winter. As the rains clear and the temperatures drop, I bring the plants in and cover up the banana and Brugmansia.

Dateline: 2002
The temperatures have reached the 60s most days this week and not dipped below freezing at night. I moved the potted plants back outside so that they could enjoy the sun and a good watering.

Spent Saturday cleaning red oak leaves out of the two front flowerbeds and weeding. Poor little Souvenir de St Anne’s struggled to put out a feeble flower. This time of year she is in the dark shade of the Texas mountain laurel.

I replanted the Iris pallida ‘Variegeta’ which had been in a pot since they developed rot last fall. They were starting to look peaked, probably because they wanted to be back in the ground where their roots could dig in deeply.

The ‘Triparite’ daffodils that I bought last year from Dutch Gardens are sprouting. The must be on their normal schedule now. Although they came up and flowered at the same time as ‘Intrigue’ last year, ‘Intrigue’ is described as and early-flowering daffodil and ‘Triparite’ as a mid-season daffodil.

Continue to transplant self-sown larkspur into bed in the meadow that I’ve amended with wood ash and superphophate.

Dateline: 1999
Sunday January 10, 1999
Hard freeze last night, clear, still, and cold. In preparation of the freeze, I once again covered the plants with hay and picked more Grand Primo narcissus. This morning, the nigella (among other things) is frozen solid. I’m concerned that the morning sun will kill it, so I’m out early spraying water on them. I don’t know if it was necessary, but by afternoon when the temperatures warmed to the 60s, they looked fine.

Dateline: 1997
Wednesday January 8, 1997
Winter storm watch and a forecast of sleet and snow the last two nights. I cover the tender plants with newspapers and leaves or old mulch. I cut the six stems of N. tazetta paperwhites that are blooming and bring them inside.

In the city, it remains above freezing. All plants are undamaged: even the variegated penta and the two butterfly bushes.

Thursday January 9, 1997
Wake up to a hard frost. Nothing was covered last night so all is lost. Even the ivy on the south fence is freezing back and dying.

Sunday January 12, 1997
The cold weather turns bitter cold: high of 32 and low in the 20s. At 9am pea-size hail begins to fall. The ground is covered with small particles of ice and it is too cold for them to melt. The paths and bare ground in the garden are frosted with white.

Monday January 13, 1997
We are unable to go into the office because of freezing rain.

Dateline: 1996
Sunday January 14, 1996
The temperatures range from the 40s to the 70s. Dry and clear.

by M Sinclair Stevens

2 Responses to post “Week 02: 1/8 – 1/14”

  1. From Rantor:

    I’ve conspicuously taken photographs (or pretended to) of people blowing leaves and dirt over where they shouldn’t, including into the street. It’s not the leaves that annoy so much as it is the racket and the plastic packing peanuts! There’s no need to say anything. They usually notice. If they don’t stop immediately, with repeated “photographing” they eventually do.

  2. From jenn:

    It’s as if the weather patterns have shifted upwards. We in Michigan are having ‘warm’ temperatures (above freezing) and rain like we usually see in November or in March.

    We have your rain.

    [Please send it back. — M. Stevens]