May 13th, 2008
Week 19: 5/07-5/13

Zanthan Gardens  meadow
2008-05-08. The meadow just before it’s put to bed for the summer.

Dateline: 2008
As usual summer arrives in Austin with a vengeance in week 19. Last Friday temperatures hit a muggy 97F (5/9), cooling of to a mere 95F on Saturday. We received a wonderful reprieve on Mother’s Day and yesterday the high was only 78. I spent all day in the garden, tearing out larkspur and cilantro and mulching the perennials.

Even without the larkspur and cilantro, the meadow is looking pretty good. I did better job this year of balancing the early and late bloomers so that there is still a lot of color from Engelmann daisy, pink evening primrose, and poppies.

The coral bean is in full bloom and the root-hardy perennials that had been smothered under the exuberance of the wildflowers are starting to grow: the purple coneflower, the butterfly bush, the black-eyed susan. These are blooming in other people’s gardens (probably because weren’t hidden from the sun all spring) while mine are just getting started. And unlike last year, my red yucca is blooming very well this year. It has two stalks.

First flower: Plumbago auriculata (5/8); Rudbeckia hirta (5/8); Acanthus mollis (5/11); Ruellia (5/11) the passalong; Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ (5/12); Zexmenia (5/12).

Dateline: 2007
photo: LA lily
2007-05-11. Lily LA Hybrid. Austin, TX.
I’m horrified to read below that we hit 102 degrees this week in 1998. By comparison, 2007 has been wonderfully mild with high temperatures in the low to mid 80s until the weekend when it hovered around 90. Except for Monday (5/7) when the humidity was high, sleeping without the AC is still comfortable.

We are squarely in summer now…the way I wish summer would remain until fall, hammock and iced tea weather. Too soon it will be the hiding inside the house and cursing the sun weather.

The mosquitos, however, are vicious. They love the dark mulch and black clay and swarm up whenever I’m hoeing.

I’ve started digging up bulbs and collecting seeds from bluebonnets and coriander this week. I finished pulling up (or stamping down) most of the false dayflower. In the front yard, the larkspur and the four o’clocks maintain the cottage garden feel. But in the back the meadow has gone almost completely to seed and looks ratty. I’m trying to clean it up as fast as I can but collecting seed takes time.

Mine must be the only red yucca in town that’s not blooming following the example set by my wisteria, redbud, and vitex. Some columbine that I must have put in the seedbed and forgotten sprouted. And the rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ rebloomed with two flowers.

First flower: Mirabilis jalapa RHS red (5/9); Lilium LA Hybrid ‘Spirit’ (5/11); Rudbeckia hirta (5/12); Turk’s cap (5/12).

Dateline: 2006
The week started off like a steamy jungle as last week’s heavy rains began to evaporate. By Thursday, just as we were leaving for Lake Tahoe, temperatures plunged 20 degrees and became very pleasant.

The sago palm sent up a mass of new fronds. The yellow columbines have been revived by the rain are are blooming again making a nice combination with the red four o’clocks, which are in full bloom. The indigo spires, which had gotten four feet tall, were flattened by the heavy rain. The crape myrtles are just starting to be in full flower. However my chaste tree (vitex) is stubbornly flowerless; I’ve seen some beautiful specimens around town. Only a few roses here and there on ‘Heritage’, ‘New Dawn’, and ‘Prosperity’.

First flower: Rudbeckia hirta (5/11).

Dateline: 2004
First flower: plumbago (5/8); rose ‘Mermaid’ (5/8); asiatic lily (5/9); white spider lily (5/9); bearded iris ‘Seakist’ (5/10), Antigonon leptopus (5/10).

Rebloom: rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (5/7); rose ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ (5/8).

Dateline: 2002
photo: iris Silverado
2002-05-09. Bearded iris: ‘Silverado’.

After 32 days of above average temperatures, a cold front brings a sprinkling of rain and delightfully cool temperatures. Our high today (Monday) is only a little more than our low was yesterday. And the air is so dry; the sky so blue. This is the way summer should be.

photo: black-eyed Susan
2002-05-10. Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan). Austin, TX.

The only flowers in full bloom this week are the black-eyed Susans, the Asiatic lilies, and the rose “Caldwell Pink”. Where they get water, a few larkspur and even a couple of bluebonnets hang on bravely. Some rainlilies popped up where I had been watering the buffalograss after collecting seeds.

We ate our first tomato ‘Carmello’ on some fresh mozzarella from Central Market and balsamic vinegar. Fantastic. It is even better with fresh basil, but I don’t have any this year.

Dateline: 2001
First flower: LA lily ‘Spirit’ (5/7), Shasta daisy (5/10).

Dateline: 2000
The ‘Velvet Queen’ sunflowers are taller than I am, and the ‘Carmello’ tomatoes need better staking, as they are too tall for the tomato cages and keep falling over. I plant more marigolds around the tomatoes. We harvest the first ‘Neon’ eggplant and several ‘Ichiban’. The taste of the ‘Neon’ is superior.

First flower: Lily LA Hybrid ‘Spirit’; Rudbeckia hirta (5/8); Hemerocallis ‘Gentle Shepherd’ (5/10).

Dateline: 1999
Sunday May 9, 1999 (Mother’s Day)
Water the back lawn for an hour. AJM finishes spreading the gravel on the patio. I plant another patch of sedum on the rock path. Spend most of the day cleaning up the meadow. Only about 1/3 done. Most of the new grass in the lower meadow was smothered by the bluebonnets.

Find three small brown snakes under a board.

If I were well-organized, I would have a lot of plants available for filling in the areas just vacated by the larkspur and bluebonnets.

After we are asleep, the heavy rain finally comes. I don’t know if it is two inches, but it begins lightly and then gets heavier, raining for more than an hour. (Update: The news reports that we received 1.57 inches by 8:AM Monday morning.) I get up to watch the rain, expecting the rest of our neighbor’s tree to fall. It doesn’t.

First flower: Lily LA Hybrid ‘Spirit’ (5/11)

Dateline: 1998
Thursday May 7, 1998
Record-breaking high of 102 degrees at 5:45 and the hottest day of the year so far. Other than today, the temperatures have ranged from the high 60s to the low 90 this week. The tomatoes are setting. The basil is sprouting.

First flower: Dolichos lablab (5/8).

Dateline: 1995
Monday May 8, 1995
The air is clear and cool and everything is soaking wet.

Friday May 12, 1995
Summer is upon us; the weather is hot and muggy. For my garden, this means the end of the planting season. In Austin, plants started too late won’t have developed strong enough root systems to survive the drought and heat of summer. In this season, the focus of my efforts changes to helping existing plants survive.

Since last August when four inches of rain broke our drought, it has been wet. (Update: The newspaper almanac says we’re two inches behind our average rain fall for the year.) I haven’t watered either lawn yet this year. I’ve mulched the front lawn with Gardenville compost manure and it has grown a solid healthy green. I’ve never seen it so fine. The back lawn remains chlorotic and diseased looking. Only the wetness of this year has created the illusion that it is filled in. If you bend down to look at it, you can see that it is quite sparesly filled in–hardly enough to keep its own roots cool and moist.

I began mulching bushes and trees with store-bought cedar mulch.

I’m satisfied with the look of the garden. Some people might fault the lack of color. But I like the various greens and the textures of the plants. In a few years, the meadow will be more developed, so there will be color there.

First flower: Hibiscus syriacus (5/13).

by M Sinclair Stevens

13 Responses to post “Week 19: 5/07-5/13”

  1. From Judith:

    It is amazing to see your Black Eyed Susan–those of us in colder climates have to wait longer. We just had our share of torrential rain…that certainly put a stop in gardening. The weeds will get a chance to take over. Wow, you ate a tomato too. Lovely, lovely, lovely!

  2. From Annie in Austin:

    As usual, your garden is way ahead of mine up here in far NW Austin! Yesterday brought the very first crepe myrtle blossom, the first flowers on the ‘Citrina’ daylilies, first Pavonia/rock rose blossom, and an odd, coiled, light purple flower on the Snail Vine. I don’t even see a bud on the 6-foot Texas Star Hibiscus, the Vitex or the Esperanzas. The tall white perennial hibiscus, ‘Blue River II’ has dozens of buds but hasn’t flowered yet.

    In large bloom are the spreading Shasta daisies, Moonshine yarrow, small apricot daylilies, lavender, Salvias ‘Black & Blue’, greggii, guaranitica and Salvia elegans, the pineapple sage. There are mounds of yellow, lavender and white chrysanthemums, also Gregg’s Mistflower, Verbena bonariensis, dwarf blue Platycodons, ‘Purple Stars’ Echinacea, blue plumbagos, Abelias, coral cannas, three different Cupheas [orange cigar plant, bat-faced and a pink/lavender bat-faced], and a small mock-orange in bloom.

    Still hanging on are the yellow columbines, a few pansies, various pink dianthus and a couple of the larkspur plants.

    We picked up fresh mozzarella, too, but only a few tomatoes have passed the green stage. Guess we’ll eat this carton with basil, and buy more once a real tomato is ready.


  3. From Judith:

    Nothing could be finer than the simplicity of a Black Eyed Susan. Yes, I have to wait longer too for the sight of a Black Eyed Susan. Reminds me of hot, hazy, lazy summer days.

  4. From Annie in Austin:

    That LA lily has been growing for you since 1999? I’m impressed, M! 102 degrees in 1998 – yuck. We’ve had nasty, biting flies in our garden today along with mosquitos.

    Good grief — what a lengthy comment I made last year! It was apparently time to start my own blog instead of mooching off yours.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    I never thought of it as mooching; I’m always glad to have the comments. Yes. It is an amazing lily…the only one to have survived all these years. — mss

  5. From vertie:

    Your poppies look great. Aren’t you glad now that they didn’t bloom when everyone else’s did?

    Yes. I’m going to play with staggering the start date next year to see if I can lengthen the season. — mss

  6. From Annie in Austin:

    My records stink, so it’s fun to find out what was in bloom at Circus~Cercis via my comments at Zanthan Gardens ;-]

    Wasn’t it wonderful yesterday? I kept waiting for the sun and heat to arrive but it never did so I was outside most of the day. I left some of the cilantro because the seeds aren’t quite formed yet. My pink coneflowers in front have buds, but the still-blooming yellow snapdragons are giving the white coneflowers a hard time. One more heat spell and I’ll yank them.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    When I began writing this blog, I was hoping other Austinites would comment and compare notes…that was before Austin became the garden blogging capital of the world. Now I just go read their blogs. But I still love your long comments. — mss

  7. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    I’m really enjoying the Engelmann’s daisies you gave me last year. They’re blooming beautifully, filling in among the irises now that those are finished. I have a few winecups coming up through them, which looks nice. It’s my MSS-inspired mini-meadow!

    In turn, the white mistflower and purple coneflower you gave me are starting to fill in where the wildflowers have gone to seed. A post is in the works about that. — mss

  8. From Marie:

    Beautiful flowers 🙂

  9. From Frances:

    This is some fascinating stuff. Weather reports, bug reports and plant reviews. We have LA lilies also and they have been the best of all the types we have tried. Glad to hear they will keep on going. I didn’t realize you had the old comments too. Annie, you are so funny. I need to get the journal on the computer. Blogging has put the paper and pen record keeping to a halt. Now I won’t know what’s what in the future.

    All the posts in the “Week by Week in the Garden” category are cyclical. Until 2007, there wasn’t much issue with the comments from previous years because so few people left comments. — mss

  10. From Yolanda Elizabet:

    How lovely to see your wildflower meadow, it’s so colourful and spirit lifting. Here the wildflower meadows are coming into their own with loads of wild poppies and blue cornflowers. I’m attempting to have a miniature wild meadow in a wheelbarrow this year. Wish me luck!

    I’ll be looking forward to your post on a meadow in a wheelbarrow. Sounds like a great idea. — mss

  11. From Cindy, Katy:

    Love that meadow! I’m impressed you still have poppies … pulled mine up a month ago. I need to go check my Acanthus mollis & see if they’re blooming yet. Thanks for the reminder!

    My poppies were later than everyone else’s. This is the last week for them though and out they go. — mss

  12. From Trudi:

    This wildflower meadow is delightful. Will it flower all summer with different plants coming up?// You said you are travelling to Australia; Victoria. Have you any plans to travel to the Gold Coast, Queensland? If so and you have time, you would be very welcome to come for lunch and have a look at my garden. I live in a delightful valley which ends in a huge National park.

    Nope. This is the last week for the meadow. I’m tearing out larkspur, cilantro, and bluebonnets as fast as I can…which is slowly as I save all the seed. I would like to visit my sister-in-law in Australia some day but no plans are in our near future. Thanks for the invite, though. — mss

  13. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    So, you are putting the meadow to bed for the summer? Really? “Up here”, we put our flower beds to bed for the winter. Is there really not much that will grow there in the heat of the summer? What does it look like in the middle of August?

    Like this.