November 13th, 2007
Week 45: 11/5 – 11/11

photo: maiden grass
Maiden grass. 2007 has been an excellent year for ornamental grasses.

Dateline: 2010
Temperatures have been quite chilly in the mornings, dipping to the high 30s and low 40s. Our coldest morning of the fall was Saturday (11/6) when our first freeze warning was issued. I didn’t even hear about it until after the fact but temperatures fell only 38 at Camp Mabry and 39 at Bouldin. After 10AM, it warms up to the 70s. The days are sunny and very clear with brilliant blue skies. Great weather for digging out horseherb and dividing the yellow heirloom irises. The bog garden is taking shape.

It continues to be very, very dry and I spend a lot time watering bluebonnet seedlings. I haven’t even started the larkspur yet. I’m waiting for the leaves to fall.

Some leaves have fallen from the cedar elms and pecans but I’m still waiting for some sunshine. The red oak in the back has had a bumper crop of acorns this year. They grind up well in the mulcher/grinder. The red oak in the front has dropped fewer nuts but those are twice as large. I find how different they are interesting.

Both ‘New Dawn’ roses have had excellent fall bloom this year. The ‘Red Cascade’ rose is also the best it’s ever been. Even ‘Mermaid’ (which I’m trying to hack back until some semblance of control) has a flower or two. Four years ago this week I bought my replacement ‘Ducher’. It was wonderful this spring and then it died of cane dieback, too.

We picked some cilantro for chicken tortilla soup (11/7). I haven’t planted the winter vegetable garden yet.

First flower: cat’s whiskers (11/7).

Dateline: 2007
At the beginning of the week it seemed that November weather had indeed arrived–cool, cloudy, dark, and gloomy. What lovely weather for snuggling under a blanket with a cup of tea and reading gardening books. The high temperature Tuesday (11/6) was actually 69F, but that was at 3AM. The temperature dropped during the day so that it was colder at 4PM (59F) than at 3AM (69F). Also it was a drop of almost 20 degrees from the previous day. As the week progressed, the sun came back and the high temperatures were back in the mid-80s. Warm air is blowing up from the Gulf, so the air is quite balmy. This is one of the features about Austin weather that I like. We have one or two days of cool weather so that we can work ourselves into a holiday mood and then it warms up again so that we can get some real work done.

Other signs of fall: the cedar elm leaves began falling in earnest. I’m going to have to buy a new mulching mower this week. The leaves on the Japanese persimmon and the ‘Catawba’ crape myrtles are changing color. The paperwhites began to nose up and by the end of the week, I saw some Narcissus tazetta x italicus sprouting. I better get those bulbs in the fridge planted. The banana plants are starting to yellow and I’ll need to wrap them up soon. The aloe vera by the front walk has some cold damage. I’ll have to bring the potted ones in. And this year, finally, one branch of the weeping yaupon holly has red berries.

I did manage to plant out some violas. The lettuce and swiss chard are up but the raccoons and squirrels keep digging in my seedbeds. More nasturtium is up. A lot of cilantro is sprouting but I’m still waiting on the larkspur, bluebonnets, batchelor buttons, and love-in-a-mist. We need rain for those to sprout. In fact, looking at last year’s photo, I can’t believe that the four o’clocks were still blooming this time last year. I tore those out last month with the tomatoes and cypress vine, all of which were dry and weedy looking and long past flowering stage.

Dateline: 2006
photo: Mirabilis jalapa
2006-11-03. Mirabilis jalapa. Austin, Texas.
Very little fall weather this November until this weekend. Most of the week the temperature ranged from the mid-50s to the mid-80s, dry and clear. Friday (11/10) Austin tied the all time record high for November set it 1947 and again in 1951. So even though 91 feels weird it’s not unheard of. My tomato was happy. The broccoli and cabbage, uncertain.

On the rose front ‘Blush Noisette‘ is the first rose to rebloom (11/5) after my dreadful summer. ‘Madame Joseph Schwartz‘ looked like she might survive and was putting out new leaves. As the days warmed up this week to the high 80s I gave her a good watering. The next day I went out and every new leaf was shrivelled. All at once. As if she’d been poisoned or something. So I think she’s really gone. ‘Buff Beauty’ did the same thing last week and the lone stem turned from green to brown.

Six years ago this weekend, AJM and I drove to Brenham and bought four roses from the Antique Rose Emporium: ‘Blush Noisette’, ‘Ducher’, ‘La Biche’, and ‘Buff Beauty’. Only ‘Blush Noisette’ has survived. This week I bought a replacement ‘Ducher’ from Barton Springs Nursery but am planting it on the opposite side of the yard from the one that died. On the plus side, three rose cuttings that I made from ‘New Dawn’ in 2003 are still alive and I am going to try to transplant them next week.

Slowly, slowly, slowly I’m cleaning things up and can almost see a garden under all the weeds and fallen leaves. Well, not so many fallen leaves. The cedar elms started to get a bit of color and have lost half their leaves. But the pecan, the hackberries, the crape myrtles, the persimmon, and the ginkgo are all stubbornly green–a sickly, wan green. The nandina berries are starting to turn red. Not so the berries on the yaupon holly. The soldierly leaves of the various narcissus make the beds look orderly.

The pink of the Antigonon leptopus is still the most striking thing in the garden this week, followed by the red four o’clocks.

First flower: rose ‘Blush Noisette’ (11/5); Asclepias tuberosa (11/8).

Dateline: 2004
Cold and wet. Then warm and wet. Now just wet and wet. (How we covet a cistern.) Tornadoes. Flash floods. Mist. Fog. Mold and mushrooms.

I planted hundreds of fall crocuses about 10 years ago. Every year there are a few less. This year I saw only this one. But it was perfect.

photo: Crocus speciosus
2004-11-10. Crocus speciosus. Austin, Texas.

The Pandorea ricasoliana is flowering. And there are enough roses here and there to make a small bouquet for my desk: “Caldwell Pink”, ‘Prosperity’, ‘French Lace’ and ‘Blush Noisette’. ‘New Dawn’ is covered with rosehips.

Dateline: 2003
Continues to be hot and muggy, but no rain. Everything has taken on a dusty gold cast. In years like this, when leaves have stayed green through the summer, rather than browning from a drought, they turn yellow. The cedar elms are finally turning a buttery yellow and losing their leaves this week. We have few reds and oranges here in Austin. The change of seasons is not dramatic, maybe because it happens over several months, but it is obvious of you look.

Cold was promised. I chopped firewood and unpacked my winter clothes. And it’s hot and muggy. I don’t care if it’s hot or cold anymore. I just want some rain.

Rose Cuttings
The roses cuttings I stuck in the ground a couple of weeks ago are sprouting new top growth. I hope this means they are rooting beneath, too. This is the first time I’ve tried rooting roses so I’m not sure how to measure success.

Various paperwhites have been up for awhile and a couple are sending up spathes that might bloom next week. The later flowering ‘Grand Primo’ are just beginning to nose out of the soil now.

Dateline: 2002
Tuesday November 5, 2002
First sunshine in a week. Spent most of the day weeding and sweeping paths.

Dateline: 1998
Friday November 6, 1998
Wednesday (11/4) was the second full moon after the equinox. We had a couple of beautiful clear fall days and then it began to cloud up and drizzle. We had our first fire. Yesterday the high was in the 50s, 20 degrees lower than average.

Dateline: 1996
Sunday November 10, 1996
Meredith lends me her book: The Gardener’s Year.

by M Sinclair Stevens

5 Responses to post “Week 45: 11/5 – 11/11”

  1. From KAT (California):

    Keep posting about your garden! Il faut culitiver notre jardin in times like these. Here in SoCal we’re having February weather, thunderstorms and snow–SNOW!–on the San Gabriels. Stunning if a little queasily early. I planted some native salvias a few weeks ago; I hope we don’t have a frost this year that kills them.

  2. From jenn:

    Absolutely lovely photo.


  3. From Annie in Austin:

    There are roses on your garden blog – on Pam’s and on RSorrell’s, too! I’m glad you are getting some new ones, and also am glad the ‘New Dawn’ cuttings made it – I had that rose long ago and loved it, too. Three at once could be overwhelmingly lovely in bloom.

    I cut all the flowers off my Nandina, so there are no Nandina berries, but there are yaupon berries and the Burford Hollies are starting to turn a weird yellow-green, so red must be coming next.


    PS Do you have any seeds to share from the Four O’Clock/Mirabilis jalapa? If it really looks like the photo that flower would be welcome here.

  4. From Steve Mudge(Fort Worth):

    We have the winter garden in and are already harvesting Pak Choy; meanwhile the tomatoes made it through the summer heat and are now producing a bumper second crop. What’s amazing is that I never watered the tomatoes after the first couple weeks of getting them established–shows you what heavy spring rains, a good deep composted soil, and a heavy layer of mulch can do!
    The weather right now is beautiful–everyone’s happy except the utilities(no heat, no A/C).

  5. From healingmagichands:

    I wonder if your crocuses are disappearing because they don’t get a good dormant season where you are? Of course, they are tasty too, and maybe there are critters eating them. My fall crocuses have increased each year.

    I think the reason my fall crocuses have disappeared is the heavy clay and hot dry summers here. Very few bulbs are happy with that combination I’ve discovered. — mss