February 25th, 2007
Week 08: 2/19 – 2/25

photo: Zanthan Gardens
2007-02-22. I cleared all the English ivy off the path in the back south border and remulched it. Now it looks more like a border again. The English bluebells are about six inches tall and should bloom soon.

Dateline: 2007
This is the first week of 2007 that temperatures hit the 80s. Wednesday (2/21) the high was 82F and Thursday (2/22) it was 83. Compare that to a week ago Friday (2/16) when we woke up to the coldest morning of winter and all the plants frozen solid.

A few daffodils are struggling to bloom. When it’s very hot and dry, they tend to blast; that is, the outer papery sheath turns brown and the flower inside can’t break through. I want to ask you northern gardeners, what are the temperatures like when daffodils bloom for you? These balmy days are great for gardening outside (at least out of direct sunlight) but the cool weather flowers like the sweet peas seem unhappy.

I cut back perennials (salvia and lantana) and cleaned and mulched beds. I haven’t started hacking out the weed tree seedlings or finished transplanting the roses and duranta I meant to do earlier. The lettuce came back quickly after last week’s freeze and I’ve been eating more salads.

First flower: Leucojum aestivum (2/22), Tradescantia (2/23), Commelinantia anomala (2/23).

Still blooming: Viola, Narcissus ‘Grand Primo‘ Mexican plum, rosemary, a single larkspur, Mahonia bealei, oxalis. The early spring weeds (henbit, goose grass, and chickweed) are everywhere at once.

I still haven’t seen a single redbud in bloom anywhere in Austin. Have you?

Dateline: 2006
My garden has caught up with spring. The redbud and ‘Ice Follies’ finally opened. This morning the garden was clothed in a fine mist. The air was heavy, warm and moist–the very breath of spring in Austin. This is my favorite kind of spring day. The temperatures were in the 50s so it’s not hot enough to complain of the humidity. (I’m just glad this isn’t 1996 when we hit a record high of 99. That was the year I gave up on planting tulips.)

This is great weather for transplanting and after the freeze last weekend and I was itching to be outside. So I spent the afternoon moving self-sown larkspur and bluebonnets. The bluebonnets are still so tiny. In some wet years, the bluebonnets were blooming this time of year. After the bit of rain we had, a lot more larkspur are sprouting; cilantro and nigella, too.

I also upgraded the mulch around the little gingko tree giving it some coffee grounds, rotted horse manure, and Christmas tree mulch. I widened the circle around it. I always hope the deep mulch will keep out the grass, but the St. Augustine grass loves deep mulch.

First flowers: Narcissus ‘Ice Follies‘ (2/22), redbud (2/22), Sedum palmeri (2/22).

Still blooming: rose ‘Ducher’, lavender, rosemary, paperwhite narcissus. The large Mexican plum is the only one with flowers, but there is now a good show of them.

Dateline: 2005
The weatherman said that Monday (2/21) would be the only sunny day this week, so I spent all day weeding and pruning and mulching and feeding. By mid-week the display of plum blossoms I’ve been fretting about appeared and I’ve been happy the rest of the week–even though cold temperatures returned on Thursday (2/24). Now I’m huddling over the keyboard to keep warm.

First flowers: bluebonnet (2/20), Tradescantia (2/20, Indian Hawthorn (2/20), Cherry laurel (2/21), Narcissus jonquilla ‘Quail’ (2/23), rose ‘Prosperity’ (2/23), Pavonia hastata (2/23), rose ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ (2/24).

Dateline: 2003
Gardeners wait and wait for spring and when it comes, we rush around madly because there is never enough time to do all the chores. I’ve been weeding, watering, feeding, pruning, and weeding. The garden has gotten too big to do my usual wander about and garden. I’m trying to focus on one bed a day.

Dateline: 2002
Yesterday (Feb 23) the first bluebonnet opened up in one of the flowerbeds that gets regular watering. Since we’ve had little rain this spring, bluebonnets in the meadow are about three weeks behind those in the flowerbeds.

photo: Ice Follies daffodil
2002-02-19. Austin, TX (Zone 8) Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’

Of the daffodils, ‘Ice Follies’ are in full bloom. ‘Quail’ is also blooming well, but the bulbs have decreased in vigor since last year. They do not seem to be as well-adapted to heavy clay soil as ‘Ice Follies’. The ‘Trevithian’ daffodils are sending up bloom scapes. I’m now convinced that the bulbs I received were not blooming size. I’ve read nothing but good things about ‘Trevithian’ in southern gardens, but mine have rarely bloomed in the five years since I planted them. The plants come back every year, and this year they are bigger than ever and finally about to bloom!

The bridal wreath spiraea has its buds. So I fed it some copperas and gave it a good soaking.

The redbud is blooming.

None of the Mexican plums are blooming well this year. Last year, they were covered in snowy, white blossoms. Is it the weather? This winter 2001 was a lot drier than winter 2000. Or maybe, like pecans, they are a tree that blooms well every other season.

Several of the roses are putting out new growth, so I fed them today: ‘Ducher’, ‘Madame Joseph Schwartz’, ‘Buff Beauty’, ‘Souvenir de St. Anne’s’, and ‘Blush Noisette’. Rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ continues to bloom.

photo: rose Souvenir de la Malmaison

I also planted the fourth division of the Ilex which I bought last fall and divided into four small plants.

And I gave the Gulf muhly a haircut since it was putting out new green leaves of grass.

Dateline: 1997
Continues cold and drizzly. Apparently we’ve had enough rain in the last month for the drought to be declared broken. Now the worry is floods. AJM and I drove to Mansfield Dam at lunch because they’ve opened two of the floodgates. The rain does not seem severe in town. Rather it’s been a nice steady drizzle. This has seemed like a “normal” spring: cool, but not freezing and no record-breaking heatwaves. JQS and AJM are both ready for spring. And the garden seems to be waiting, holding everything in bud, not quite ready to burst into bloom.

Dateline: 1996
Wednesday February 21, 1996.
Record-breaking heatwave. The official high was 99 and some people reported as high as 105. And just three weeks ago we were frozen in with sleet! The air is incredibly dry and dusty. Wildfires are raging in other parts of Texas. When we left work, an odd smell like “sweaty cedars” scented the air from all the smoke. We smelled it all night–it gave me a headache. Some of the tulips have shriveled in the bud. The ‘Minnow’ daffodils are hanging on.

Thursday February 22, 1996
I get home at 10pm after dinner at Manuel’s with M2 (Austin).
About half the Darwin tulips are blooming. This is too early. Most are only six or eight inches tall (they’re supposed to be 22 inches). I spend about an hour watering them all. Still in the 90s today. This May weather is much too hot for tulips. The ‘Minnows’ have withered. They might have stood the heat if I had come home and watered them.

Friday February 23, 1996
Cedar elm is beginning to bud.
Many redbuds around town are in their glory, but mine remains shy.
The heat has faded the Mexican plum blossoms. My one that bloomed has an explosion of leaves.
In the evening, a brisk wind blows in a cold front, so the temperatures begin dropping. However, wild fires are burning at Fort Hood. The air is heavy with the scent of cedar smoke. AJM and I watch the sunset at the Arboretum pond, the sky a swirl of red and black. Then we go to Mars for dinner.

Saturday February 24, 1996
Record high for this date: 99 degrees.

by M Sinclair Stevens

4 Responses to post “Week 08: 2/19 – 2/25”

  1. From Annie in Austin:

    The photo of ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ inspires so much covetousness on my part -what a beautiful flower.

    I’m in Northwest Austin, and have been in this house for 6 months. There are a few existing roses, but they’re not doing anything so far but growing very tall -who knows what they are? A Forest Pansy redbud that we planted last fall has a couple of buds, but most lovely is a tree in our neighbor’s yard that turned out to be a Saucer Magnolia, now in gorgeous bloom.

    You have a lovely website! (I found it through Tom Spencer’s Soul of the Garden).

    Annie, I think this might be the first comment you left on my site. And now you’re an illustrious garden blogger with a huge fan club. I’m glad you left this comment and we got to know each other and that you got into blogging. Small acts lead to big things. — mss

  2. From Rantor:

    Your photograph really captures the beauty of Ice Follies. Not even these rains have beaten down the ones that have opened since the Great Valentine’s Ice Follies robbery.

  3. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    Yes, my neighbor across the street has a mature redbud in full, glorious, pink bloom. But my own little redbud is just starting to set buds.

  4. From Annie in Austin:

    Hi, M. Commenting on your site was one of the best decisions I ever made–although I doubt there’s a fan club.

    Two years later, my Antique Rose collection still stands at zero, and a third of the Forest Pansy buds were killed by the freezes. The tree kept the rest in reserve so the flowers should be opening soon.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose