March 8th, 2011
Week 10: 3/5 – 3/11

photo: Narcissus jonquilla Trevithian
2011-03-07. Narcissus jonquilla ‘Trevithian’.

Dateline: 2021

Our 52nd week of lockdown.

Almost a month since the freakish 2021 Great Winter Storm and spring is finally springing back. The redbuds had just begun blooming at this time last month. Then the ice storm. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. And, then this week, an explosion of fuchsia. Ditto, the two little Prunus mexicana trees that were crushed when a cedar elm limb fell on them a several years ago.

However, other trees are suffering. The largest Prunus mexicana tree, the one that always flowers first was was just starting to flower when the storm hit. Apparently all the flower buds froze and it’s beginning to leaf out without flowering. The buds on the Texas mountain laurels all froze. The loquat, which looked like it was fine, is dropping all its leaves. The buds on the fig tree are brown. The lemon tree looks frozen, even the largest limbs. The leaves on the olive tree freeze-dried but the tree looks alive although maybe it’s leaf and flower buds are also frozen.

Perennials are doing fine. Coming back from their roots: blue mistflower, plumbago, asparagus fern, and pigeonberry.  Bulbs like crinum and amaryllis are putting up new growth.

Wildflowers are all doing fine. The baby blue eyes are starting to pop open all over the yard. The bluebonnets are a bit behind. And it looks like it will be a really good year for larkspur and pink evening primrose.

The prairie verbena, which was flowering before the freeze, began reflowering again today (3/12). The cedar elms are beginning to leaf out. So is the Texas persimmon (which had lost all it’s leaves although it’s usually evergreen.)

 Dateline: 2011
Cool nights but pleasant days in the 70s. Occasional showers. Windy every day except Sunday (3/6), the day of the Zilker Kite Festival. The cedar elms are threatening to leaf out.

The bluebonnets are opening. This is a poor year for bluebonnets and only the ones I hand sowed (pink and white) and the two giant oversummering ones are doing well. The Mexican plums faded almost as they opened. However, the breadseed poppies are sprouting strongly. I thin and transplant some ‘Lauren’s Grape’.

The ‘Ice Follies’ daffodils are fading but the ‘Trevithians’ are flowering well this year. They have the most lovely scent, although I have to put my nose right in them to smell it. No sign of the ‘Hawera’ which used to open so consistently this week.

About a dozen tomatoes sprouted but have yet to get their first leaves. I’m behind on tomatoes this year!

First Flower: Commelinantia anomala (3/5); Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ (3/6); Engelmann daisy (3/6); Nemophila insignis (3/9); Oxalis crassipes (3/9); Oxalis triangularis (3/9).

Dateline: 2010
First flower: Iris (gift blue) (3/7); Consolida ambigua (3/8); Lupinus texensis (3/10); Sophora secundiflora (3/11); rose ‘Ducher’ (3/11); Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant” (3/11); Rhaphiolepis indica (3/11).

Dateline: 2009
An entire week of 80°F highs from Wednesday (3/4) to Tuesday (3/10) forces trees and flowers into early bloom. Our normal high for this time of year is 70. These are late May temperatures. The season is progressing so quickly in the garden I can’t keep up with the changes. Although something new opens almost every day the garden looks dry, wan, and pathetic. Bluebonnets are blooming on tiny plants, weakened by infestations of spider mites. Both rose ‘Ducher’ and the bluebonnets in the bed next to it are in full bloom and the highlight combination of the week.

The tomatoes, however, are loving it. AJM build a tomato frame so that I can experiment with stringing up the tomatoes this year. The first one planted, ‘Cherokee Purple’, is already blooming.

First flower: Rhaphiolepis indica (3/5); Tulip ‘Angelique’ (3/5); Lathyrus odoratus ‘Knee-Hi’ mix (3/6); Nemophila insignis (3/7); tomato ‘Cherokee Tomato’ (3/8); Mexican buckeye (3/8); Aloe barbadensis (3/8); Datura (3/8); Narcissus ‘Trevithian’ (3/8); iris albicans (3/10).

Dateline: 2007
photo: Narcissus triandrus Hawera
2007-03-08. Narcissus triandrus ‘Hawera’. ‘Hawera’ has opened its first flower in Week 10 consistently since 2003.

The week ends dark and muggy with a promise of rain. Like a jilted lover, I no longer listen to these promises with much expectation. I’m sure learning that our last measurable rainfall was .32″ on January 24th is no consolation to th. SXSW tourists walking around today. Sunny skies? As Maxwell Smart used to say, “Missed it by that much.”

Saturday (3/10) was the hottest day of the year so far, 86F degrees. Needless to say, the daffodils and sweet peas weren’t pleased. The tulips and bluebells haven’t even started blooming yet.

First flower: Narcissus ‘Hawera’ (3/7); Sophora secundiflora (3/7); Lupinus texnsis (3/9); purple iris (3/9); Lathyrus odoratus ‘Velvet Elegance’ (3/10).

In Bloom: Cercis canadensis, Coriandrum sativum, Commelinantia anomala, Consolia ambigua, Leucojum aestivum, Meyer lemon (full bloom), Muscari racemosum, Narcissus ‘Trevithian’, Narcissus ‘Quail’, oxalis, Prunus mexicana (two small trees in full bloom; large tree faded), rose ‘Ducher’, rosemary, Sedum palmeri, tradescantia, viola.

The yard started out sunny at the beginning of the week and ended in the shade. The cedar elm behind the shed leafed out first, then the large one in the front yard (which is bleeding sap from a fungus attack), the small one in the front yard, and the one in the back lawn. The skinny one in the north border and the storm-damaged one in the south border are last.

Dateline: 2006
photo: Texas bluebonnet
2006-03-12. Texas Bluebonnet. Austin, Texas. Drought-stricken bluebonnets decide it’s time to open, despite not having had enough water to form large rosettes or send up multiple spikes.

Wednesday (3/8) night we had a little rain. The front blew away the humidity and Thursday (3/9) one of those fine days where you can’t help whistling a happy tune, even though by Friday (3/10) the high hit 92! The daffodils are unhappy. Normal temperatures of 60s and 70s are promised for next week.

The week belongs to the potted Meyer lemon which opened a couple of buds last Sunday (3/5) and by week’s end was covered in flowers. It didn’t flower at all last year, but I remembered to feed it around New Year’s and it responded beautifully. The bluebonnets and spiraea also started the week with a lone flower and ended in a mass of them.

First flowers: Muscari racemosum (3/5), Meyer lemon (3/5), wild potato vine (3/5), Lupinus texensis (3/7), bridal wreath spiraea (3/7), Wisteria texensis (3/8), Iris albicans (3/10), rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (3/11), rose ‘Heritage’ (3/11), rose ‘Penelope’ (3/11), rose ‘New Dawn’ (3/11), narcissus ‘Hawera’ (3/11).

In Bloom: Cercis canadensis (fading), rosemary, lavender, white oxalis (for some time, but I didn’t note when they started), tradescantia, Sophora secundiflora (full bloom). Narcissus ‘Trevithian’ (fading), Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ (fading). The henbit is fading in the heat, and because of the drought I haven’t had much problem with goosegrass or chickweed this year.

The cedar elm by the front window and the one behind the shed are leafed out. The others are budding. The two red oak trees are covered in feathery buds. And all over Austin the live oak trees are dropping last year’s leaves as this year’s leaves push through like a new tooth.

I’m running around the yard in a panic because suddenly I’m facing a zillion things to do. Does anyone actually ever sit in their gardens and just enjoy them? The second I take a break, I see ten more things I should be doing and up I am again.

Dateline: 2005
Perfect weather this week, sunny with low humidity. Today (3/10) hit 81 degress, but the dryness made it feel cooler and pleasant. Rainfall totals for the year are above average and I’ve done no watering at all this year.

As usual this week, trees are leafing out: the cedar elms, then the red oaks, and finally the pecans. Can the spring cankerworms be far behind? The crape myrtles, the Rose of Sharon and other perennials are leafing out too. My Texas mountain laurels don’t have many flowers yet (not at all like last year), but I’ve seen plenty around Austin.

First flowers: Coriandrum sativum (3/5), Muscari racemosum (3/6), Verbena canadensis (3/8), Nemophila insignis (3/8), Narcissus ‘Hawera’ (3/9), Sophora secundiflora (3/11).

photo: Texas Mountain Laurel
Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora). Mar 16, 2004. Austin, Texas.

Dateline: 2004
The irrepressible chartreuse of the cedar elms leafing out screams that spring is here. The sunshine returned. The temperatures rose to the 70s. As my Mom says, this is the time of year when you go into the garden and find something new opening up every day. Sunday (Mar 7) it was the ‘Trevithian‘ narcissus and the Muscari racemosum; Monday (Mar 8), the Lady Banks rose and the Texas mountain laurel; Wednesday (Mar 10), the ‘Hawera’ narcissus.

The most amazing sight this year is the Texas mountain laurels. All over town they are blooming with drooping racemes so large that they look like wisteria. Although drought-tolerant natives, they must really appreciate the rain. I have never seen such an abundance of bloom. They give off the scent of artificially-flavored grape soda.

I got the vegetable garden, such as it is, started. This year it’s just few tomato plants and some basil. I will probably put in some serrano peppers, too. The ground is really saturated. Usually it’s so dry that I have to break clods apart with a pick-ax. All the horse manure and chopped oak leaves that I added in December has broken down already, so I need to get more.

Before I got the lawns mowed, the rain returned. Looks like it’s going to rain all weekend, too.

Dateline: 2003
Like last year, the freeze at the end of February froze back quite a few buds. Unlike last year (which was low on rain), we have had higher than average rainfall. That, coupled with the fact that this year the plants were insulated with a layer snow and ice during the cold snap, has resulted in less damage.

Other than that, the garden notes for this week are almost identical. The one exception: this year, the Mexican plums bloomed very well. The largest one began blooming in late January, almost a month earlier than the rest.

The cedar elm against the west fence was the first to leaf out. [Ditto 2005 2006: The cedar elm in front of the front window leafed out first, then the one against the back fence. Others are just starting.] Now the one in the front yard is beginning to green up. The others, more sickly, are still bare.

I should have followed my own advice and weeded out the chickweed and goosegrass lon. before this. It’s rampant.

First flowers: Narcissus ‘Hawera’ (3/8), Lady Banks (3/8), Verbena canadensis (3/8), Prunus carolinianus (3/8).

Dateline: 2002
The yellow daffodils are all in bloom at once, dominating the meadow. Narcissus jonquilla ‘Trevithian’ is the tallest, its lemon-yellow flowers are nutmeg-scented.

Narcissus jonquilla ‘Quail’ has slightly larger flowers blooming on shorter stalks. The flowers are a deeper, more golden yellow than ‘Trevithian’. (I have heard them described as “bronzy”, but this makes them sound more orange than they are. ‘Quail’ has a heavy scent of orange Easter candy.

Narcissus cyclamineus ‘Jetfire’ is blooming on very short stalks. The cup is deep orange and very long, seeming more so because the petals flare backwards, as if the flower were facing a strong wind.

photo: Jetfire daffodil

This is the first year I’ve grown ‘Jetfire’ so I don’t know if it will come back. [2005. It didn’t.]

The potted Japanese maple tree is just leafing out, which it usually does this week. It’s reassuring to see a plant on its normal schedule. Last week’s hard freezes set a lot of the spring flowers back. The sweetpeas were cut down; although it looks like some of them might come back from their roots. The three Nerium oleanders, which was just putting out new leaves, was so affected by the cold that it lost its old leaves as well. And the Bridal Wreath spiraea, which is usually in full bloom this week, won’t bloom at all this year. Every bud is frozen black.

The Mexican plums did not bloom well this year either. (And they were so spectacular in 2001.) They are already leafing out, having only produced a dozen or so flowers.

The Lady Banksia rose is producing bud eyes–so it should flower in two or three weeks.

New growth on the bluebonnets froze, as did some buds. This will set back the bloom dates a week or so. A few bluebonnets are beginning to bloom again.

The henbit is fading. The chickweed is quickly going to seed. I haven’t weeded it out as I would have liked and I fear that next year it will be worse than ever.

Dateline: 2001
With the very wet winter and spring, the weeds are rampant. But then, so are the flowers…especially flowering bushes and trees.

The daffodils love this cool, damp weather. I’m glad that the ‘Hawera’ came back. They are a very pale yellow and dangle their flowers like bells. They look beautiful next to the grape hyacinths (which are putting on a show all over town this year).

I don’t think I have as many larkspur as usual; they are all crowding the edges of the path because the chickweed is strangling all the plants in the meadow.

Thursday March 8, 2001
Rosa bourbon ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’
First flower. It is the first rose of the spring. I take it to work and it opens beautifully.

Dateline: 2000
The larkspur are just beginnning to flower. The bluebonnets are hitting stride. The redbud and spiraea are at their peak. There is still plenty of Texas Mountain laurel, although it is starting to form seeds. The Quail daffodils are still stunning.

The cedar elm behind the garden house and the one in the front are completely filled out. The red oak tree in the meadow is suddenly leafed out. The two China berry trees are starting to leaf out. The crape myrtle is leafing out. The buffalograss is greening up.

Dateline: 1999
First flower: Lathyrus odoratus ‘Explorer’ (3/7).

Dateline: 1998
Saturday March 7, 1998
Big storm including hail. We are at DF’s 40th birthday party. The storm was supposed to hit early in the day, so I raced madly about putting compost down from the older of the two piles. But the storm didn’t come until evening, so I did this all day, completely exhausting myself and hurting my shoulder. However, I did manage to double the size of the rockwall bed, and it looks very, very nice.

First flower: Lathyrus odoratus ‘Explorer’ (3/7), Rhaphiolepis indica (3/7), Hyacinthoides hispanica (3/7).

Dateline: 1996
Wednesday March 6, 1996
Lupinus texensis. My first bluebonnet has one spike in full bloom.
Sophora secundiflora. The Texas mountain laurel are beginning to bloom.
The Bridal Wreath Spiraea is beginning to bloom.

Dateline: 1995
Tuesday March 7, 1995
Last night around 1AM, heavy thunderstorms and high winds pounded us. This morning downed limbs litter the neighborhood.The wind whipped the Japanese maple mercilessly, because I haven’t had a chance to stake it yet.

The remaining daffodil (Ice Follies) in the vegetable bed was beaten down. (Three bloomed in that location over a two week period). But two daffodils (Ice Follies) near the Texas persimmon opened this morning. First blooms at that location.

The Jeanne d’Arc crocuses continue to bloom. Perhaps I will interplant them with mondo grass. They are so few that they seem lost in the landscape.

Tonight, we it is supposed to be clear, cold, with heavy winds.
I put pots over the tomatoes and peppers to protect them in case of a hard freeze.

by M Sinclair Stevens

10 Responses to post “Week 10: 3/5 – 3/11”

  1. From Don:

    Thanks for the picture of the Texas Mountain Laurel. I haven’t experienced a Texas spring since 1994, and only have memories at this point. Exactly right about the fragrance. It smells like a Baptist church during communion.

    When I was in Austin recently and peeked into my old garden, I noticed that the large cedar elm in the front yard was cut down. The stump was wider than a grown man could put his arms completely around it. I suppose it died.

    Every year, I muttered at the twice a year raking of leaves. On the east coast and in the midwest, in very wooded areas, I’ve never raked as much as leaves as that one tree.

  2. From Lou:

    I always enjoy the flower portraits on your site. The Texa mountain laurels are exquisite this year!

    I like the new typeface on top section of your site. Enjoy your site.

    Thanks, Lou. I have been spending all my time the last few days trying to get all the various sections of this site to have the same design. Some of it was written years ago, before I started the Movable Type weblog, and it’s hard to go back and revise old pages when I’d rather be posting new photos. I hope the redesign will enable me to update more quickly and to add more photo galleries.

    I’m still working on the font choices and stuff. If you can see the Zapfino font in the banner, you must have a Mac. I have no idea what it looks like on a PC. (I’m scared to look.) — mss

  3. From Lou:

    Indeed a Mac.

    Keep up the good work on your blog!

  4. From bill:

    There are a few people up this far north with mountain laurels. I have not seem them in bloom yet this spring.

    I have always admired them but was afraid to risk the time and effort. At my last garden society meeting someone was handing out seeds from a tree that he claimed was one of the biggest and most prolific bloomers in this county. I took a handful and I’ll see what happens to them.

  5. From bill:

    I have been predicting a dismal display of bluebonnets this year. Hope I’m proved wrong.

  6. From Andrew Spark:

    You have a beautiful web site filled with the most informative and interesting information with exquisite photos too! Very well done.

    Thank you. — mss

  7. From Annie in Austin:

    NW Austin at 10 PM has thunder and a nice downpour. We were positive it was going to rain, and hurried to get a few planting projects done. It’s SXSW – in previous years we’ve had rain while going to films, and some visitors who planned their trips for this time had to buy or borrow rain hats. After nearly 8 years here, we sort of expect a shower sometime during the festival.

    I can see pink bumps on the branches of the Texas Redbud, but none have pushed up into buds yet. The ‘Forest Pansy’ is in full bloom.

    I’m so glad ‘Ducher’ and the Meyer’s Lemon rebounded and are blooming.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    10:03PM and the downpour has just reached South Austin. No, ‘Ducher’ didn’t rebound. I planted a new one on the other side of the yard. — mss

  8. From r sorrell (Austin):

    My daffodils have all dried up. I’m so glad we FINALLY got some rain on Sunday. I have (darwin hybrid and single late) tulips coming up, but I don’t see the blooms forming yet.

    One of the forecasters for the National Weather Service, Clay Anderson, said, “It’s like getting a month’s worth of rain in 12 hours.” And it looks like more tomorrow. Can it get better than this? Rain at night and gorgeous, cool, sunny days? — mss

  9. From Angelina (Oregon):

    I love the Hawera narcissus, I have never seen it before. I was just looking at my impressively large strip of blooming daffodils this morning (that the previous owner planted) and thinking that next year I need to divide some of the ones that are already established there and plant some other varieties to mix in. There are only two kinds in my yard.

    I think I need to make a list.

    I’m so envious of your Meyer lemon. I can’t grow lemons here unless I keep it in a pot to bring inside for winter.

    My Meyer lemon is in a pot. They make excellent potted plants because you can prune them and keep them in the same sized pot for years. Austin gets below freezing about six times a winter but there’s always one night when the temperature drops to 20 which wipes out our tropicals.

    I wish I had as many daffodils as you do! The ‘Hawara’ are teeny-tiny. Nice for a fairy garden but they don’t make an emphatic display in the garden. — mss

  10. From Ginny (Arlington, VA):

    Say it ain’t so about the bluebonnets! We always make a point of being in Texas on April 15, which seems to be peak flowering time over the last thirty years since we moved to NoVa. I’ve been so looking forward to the trip next month for that reason. Maybe a few have just started early and there will be a big burst of blooming when I get there.

    Otherwise, all I have to look forward to is seeing our increasingly elderly relatives!

    There will always be bluebonnets; some years are just more spectacular than others. 2010 was the best in my lifetime. 2011 can’t match it. If we get a rain in the next couple of weeks, they should be nice for tax day. — mss