July 17th, 2006
Week 28: 7/9 – 7/15

photo: plumbago
Only plumbago continued to keeps its cool and flower wel. this week.

Dateline: 2010

First flower: Datura inoxia (7/10); Rivina humilis (7/10); Zephyranthes ‘Labuffarosea’ (7/12).

The Crinum bulbispermum and both ‘New Dawn’ roses have begun reblooming after the heavy rains last week.

Dateline: 2006

When I walk outside to the wilted garden in the morning after a low of 76, I feel certain that had Shakespeare been a Texan he would have written, “Now is the summer of our discontent. Of course, Shakespeare meant something a bit different; that discontent was drawing to an end as does winter. I mean when summer hits Austin, when the grass crunches under foot, when one can feel the sun burning into your skin after 30 seconds, what’s there for a gardener to be content about? I balance my thankfulness that we’ve survived the first week of the dead of summer with my dread of wondering how many more there are to come.

As much as I can’t imagine Cold Climate Gardening, I think gardeners in colder climes have one advantage. In their winter off season, the plants go dormant and the gardeners can curl up with gardening books and plan and dream. In Austin’s summer off season, the plants need extra coddling. Most stop producing fruit and flowers but they still want attention. If I make the mistake of forgetting that summer, too, will pass, then I’m apt to close the door on the garden and give up.

The only star in the garden this week is plumbago. Even the crape myrtles and oleander look pinched and wan. The rose ‘Blush Noisette’ put out a couple of flowers. ‘Madame Joseph Schwartz’ looks like the next victim of rose dieback. I cut half of her all the way down to the rootstock, but it might be too late.

Dateline: 2003

The paucity of posts this time of year bears silent witness to the lack of enthusiasm felt by this gardener and her central Texas garden. We’re just worn out by the weather down here.

Returning from England after visiting many beautiful gardens, it’s hard to get enthused about gardening in Austin. I was surprised and happy to see evidence of rain during my absence. The lawns are green and no plants are dead outright. The plants droop in the sunlight but recover in the evening. There are some flowers, but green dominates. This is a nice change from a lot of summers when brown dominates.

In Bloom
* roses ‘Blush Noisette’, “Caldwell Pink”, ‘Prosperity’ and ‘French Lace’
* crape myrtle
* Tecoma stans
* Rose of Sharon
* four-o’clocks
* clammy weed
* Pavonia hastata
* Plumbago

by M Sinclair Stevens

5 Responses to post “Week 28: 7/9 – 7/15”

  1. From Annie in Austin:

    You make very good points, M. Most of my gardens were in Illinois, with months of frozen ground. I worked hard to get everything mulched and ready for winter, then had time to look at garden catalogs. January is too late for catalog browsing here – we must plant our trees and shrubs in the winter. Lawn up there goes dormant in heat, needing a quarter inch of water every 10 days, but lawn doesn’t go dormant here – it goes dead. There’s never any down time, is there? Sometimes I feel trapped!

    My garden is new, not established, and there are too many things still in containers. Even thinking about going on a vacation, at any time of year, brings on panic since I’d have to find someone to water the plants.

  2. From r sorrell (Austin):

    The grass in my back yard is yellow and crunchy, the leaves are falling off of my Fireman’s Cap, and the Bigtooth Maple is turning brown. The native hibiscus that open in the mornings usually shrivel before noon. I think my Crepescule rose is dying. I’m not sure if anyone else watched the weather last night, but at 9PM, it was still 92 degrees outside. Last year, this is about the time I gave up. I’m trying to keep everything going this season, but it’s more because of the financial investment I’ve got in all of these plants, and less about the joy of gardening.

    A perfect evocation of the Austin garden in July! This is about when I gave up last year, too. Hmmm The last few of years. However when you, Pam, and Annie joined me in blogging about Austin gardening this year, I found my interest in gardening recharged. Still this is only week two of misery. We have at least four more weeks–or twelve if 2006 turns out anything like 2005. Maybe we should form a support group and sip margaritas at Shady Grove. — mss

  3. From Annie in Austin:

    That’s not a bad idea, M. It looks like the containered Fig tree has croaked, we’ve run out of tomatoes, and when I go out to enjoy the night time scents of White ginger [Hedychium coronarium], Moon vine [Ipomaea alba] and Night-blooming jasmine [Cestrum nocturnuum], all I can smell is mosquito repellant. Phooie!

    R, I had to look up Fireman’s Cap – seems to be one of the Coral beans in Erythrina? I saw one on the pond tour and was quite taken with it – hope yours can survive.

    I just realized that our initials spell R-A-M-P. We could get together and ramp up our garden drive. Maybe we should have a challenge (akin to that Seinfeld episode) where we see which one of us throws in the gardening towel (trowel?) first this summer. — mss

  4. From r sorrell (Austin):

    I think the fireman’s cap is Erythrina crista-galli, from the descriptions I’ve found. There is apparently another tree, also called a “fireman’s cap” that looks almost the same, but is cold-hardy. One of the cold-hardy trees is planted along the fence at Shoal Creek Nursery. In theory, mine should be very heat and drought tolerant once it’s established, but nothing in my garden has been in the ground for more than two years.

    I’m down for the Shady Grove margarita fest, as long as there’s not a two-hour wait in the triple-digit heat. We need more restaurants with dining patios in town.

  5. From Judith:

    I garden in a cold climate and have envied those who can get out and garden year round in some way, however, I do relish the rest my garden and I get in the winter. Winter can be harsh and plants may not survive, but at least the gardener in a cold climate can’t do anything about it at that time and can hide in a book. Our heat isn’t as severe as yours, but by this time, even cold climate gardeners feel like throwing in the trowel as some plants whine and moan and others take over.