March 17th, 2010
Week 11: Wearing the Green

Austin Spring March 17
2010-03-17. The cedar elms are leafing out well before the larkspur or bluebonnets are in full bloom. Spiderwort and irises are in flower as well as some minor bulbs. The pecan tree is the last to leaf out and the larkspur self sow around it.

Almost every tree began leafing out this week. For many gardeners, daffodils and crocuses speak the language of early Spring. Redbuds and bluebonnets shout out this is Spring in central Texas. For those of us who suffer through Austin’s hot, dry, dusty summers that blinding green of unfurling leaves leaves us a little breathless. Spring green. Nope it’s not all cacti and cattle drives down here.

I’m never ready for the trees to leaf out in my yard. I can’t imagine life without them in July but in mid-March most of my annual are just sending up their flower stalks and the roses are budding. I want another month of sunlight. I want full sun all day at least until the nights stop dipping into the 30s.

Austin Spring March 17
2010-03-17. I never manage to clean up all the leaf litter from the red oaks before they start leafing out again. In the lower right hand corner you can see the severe freeze damage to my sago palm.

The red oaks and the cedar elms compete for first. The smaller trees–fig, Japanese persimmon, pomegranate, loquat, and vitex–all are sprouting new growth. Laggards include the ginkgo, the crape myrtles, and the pecan. The Texas persimmon, which lost its leaves for the first time in 14 years, is leafing out. Only the live oaks are marching to a different tune. They are “evergreen” but turn a disturbing brown in Spring as their new leaves push out the old, like a child losing milk teeth.

The trees aren’t the only ones wearing the green. Root-hardy perennials are finally proving that they survived January 2010’s hard freeze. Fresh little shoots appear at the base of the duranta, Mexican mint marigold, zexmenia, crocosmia, and gladiolus. Only the bulbine remains silent.

by M Sinclair Stevens

7 Responses to post “Week 11: Wearing the Green”

  1. From Steve Mudge (Fort Worth):

    Spring is pushing out up here in Fort Worth too, but today its 36 degrees with a chance of light snow…hope all the new buds don’t freeze! I’m happy to see our Compass Daisy (Silphium albiflorum) sprouting green shoots…didn’t know if my seedlings I started last year were strong enough to survive the winter. Its a gem of a plant, endemic to limestone outcroppings along the northern Edwards Plateau. LBJohnson has it listed in their database but don’t know if they ever sell it at their events.

  2. From Pam/Digging:

    I lost a few bulbines, but most survived. I seem to have lost some foxtail ferns as well, sadly. I’ve had only two winters in the new garden, but the three established Texas persimmons here lose their leaves every winter for a brief time before releafing.

  3. From eliz:

    How interesting! I don’t get a full leafing out, thank good ness until early June. I really need the sun for my bulbs and martagon lilies.

  4. From Linda Lehmusvirta:

    It’s always an interesting feeling to walk out this time of year and have some shade, where there was none all winter. This year, every day is like a treasure hunt on who made it back. But this weekend I spotted bulbines so don’t dig ’em yet!

    I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for the bulbines to return. But don’t worry about my digging them up early. I’m so behind on my gardening chores that it will be months before I can think about cleaning up dead plants. — mss

  5. From Annie in Austin:

    We can relate on this one, MSS. I also want the pecan shade in summer, but not in spring. There are still many question marks in the dead or dormant column here – just noticed that at least Philippine Violet is alive as are both Mexican Mint Marigolds.
    All Bulbine & the Confederate Rose still look dead with 4 Barbados Cherries undecided.

    Your photo is so very much greener than anything I could take here! The very first redbud flower opened in the rain this morning.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. From Amy in Austin:

    yes, I am still struggling to collect the leaf litter from last year while being buried in this year’s!
    I’m fairly new to Austin’s climate but am enjoying the weird mix of green hazy leafing out overhead and autumnal dry leaf scrunching underfoot!

  7. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    The greening of spring is welcome here, too, after seeing all those bare branches all winter.

    I’m sure it is quite interesting, and a bit scary to see what survived the drought and then winter in your garden. I love reading the notes on the different blogs about who has what sprouting.

    (This is when all of your meticulous note taking really pays off!)

    I wish my note taking really was as meticulous as everyone seems to think it is. It always seems to me that the one bit of information I’m most interested in is the one I failed to write down. I’m getting lazier and lazier in my old age, too. I probably need to pull out Thomas Jefferson’s farm books again for some motivation. — mss