Garden Daze–an on-going journal (8/30/09)

Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile)

Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile)

June 30, 2009

The Agapanthus have “gone over.”  They first sent up bloom stalks early in May providing almost a full month of bloom time.

July 1, 2009

It rained  in Austin yesterday morning.  Rain totals in the city ranged from two inches  to our .27 inches.  There is another small chance for showers today.

At the North Star we weren’t quite so lucky.  The storms passed through Llano County but skirted us.  Right now, radar indicates we have a second chance.  A few tenths of rain will be helpful.  We will water there on our way to New Mexico.


July 4, 2009

North Star  received over an inch of rain.  Whew! At Sunset House in Ruidoso, New Mexico, it is cool and rainy.  This garden is non-existant, but the Russian sage planted last summer have survived.  The view nature provides from this 7000 foot mountaintop makes up for the lack of a more formal garden.

July 9, 2009

We continue our stay at Sunset House in New Mexico.  The monsoon rains have continued but grow less each day.  The temperatures have risen, but we cannot complain about highs in the low to mid 80 degree range while our Texan relatives and friends fry in temperatures well over 100 degrees.   The soil around our cabin is thin and rocky, and in a normal year, we receive 15-18 inches of precipitation. Although we have not established a garden here before, we have planted many things  over the years.  We tried hollyhocks and sweet peas that grow wild in drainage areas and blossom beautifully in other’s yards.  We have planted aspens and blue spruce with no success.  Ten years ago we planted red hot pokers, and they have neither multiplied nor yet  bloomed.  Today, for the first time we gardened at Sunset House.  There is a very small space  between the cabin and the front porch steps that is now officially a garden.  We cleared out the gravel, added top soil, edged it with metal edging, and planted three fuschia Salvia gregii, a yellow yarrow, a Russian sage, one Spanish broom (Spartium junceum), and a boulder.  We are collecting pine cones to use as mulch.  A gutter downspout empties here, so it is our hope that these drought tolerant plants will benefit from even the smallest amount of precipitation.  I couldn’t resist planting another hollyhock visible from the kitchen window.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed!

July 24, 2009

.5 inches of rain on Wednesday evening  perked up the garden a tiny bit.

A gardener once said to me that in reality we have two winter seasons in Texas each year—if one loosely defines  “winter”  as a season of garden plant dormancy.  The heat (Thus far in July, we have had only three days when the high temperature has been below 100 degrees) and lack of rain has forced much of my garden into survival mode or dormancy.  The daylilies look particularly sad, but the roses and other perennials like  coneflowers, gaura, native columbines, and some salvias continue to struggle.  Esperanza (yellow bells, Tecoma stans) and another shrub, Durantia, stand out with their yellow and purple flowers.  Everytime I have been in the garden butterflies have been enjoying the purple blossoms of the Durantia. 

One of many butterflies visiting Durantia

One of many butterflies visiting Durantia

 I purchased it  on a whim at Home Depot a few years back as a small shrub, but now it could be pruned into a small tree.   Others have said it can be trained on a trellis to camoflauge a fence. I have heard it called “purple rain” and that it is “tropical” so it may freeze back to the ground.

Yellow bells and purple rain

Yellow bells and purple rain

Perhaps it’s good that the garden is “dormant”  I have more time to celebrate all of the summer family birthdays!  Rives,  Drew,  David B., Rebecca, Kayleigh, David N, Kaeden, Phyllis, Ben, Linda,  Benjamin, and Jacob.  Happy birthday again to all of you.  (I can’t leave out two other grandchildren whose birthdays fall in January and December.  I love you, Jack and Lachlan.)

July 29, 2009

It is official!  This has been the hottest summer ever on record in Austin, Texas.  I had two surprises in the garden this morning.  The ornamental ginger is reblooming and one dwarf Agapanthus has sent up a new bloom stalk. 

Butterflies are still swarming the Durantia while bees of all sizes buzz the Tecoma stans or yellow bells. Kayleigh, has been curious about butterflies, bees, and cicadas.  I pulled out a great paperback book for us to look at together.  For those of you with  children or grandchildren, I recommend Do Bees Sneeze? And Other Qustions Kids Ask about Insects by Jim Wangberg.

July 31, 2009

It was delightful to hear rain pelting the roof yesterday even if it lasted only a few minutes.  We only received .02 inches of precipitation here.  Radar also indicated storms in Llano County, so we are hoping for a measurable amount of rain in Another Garden.

August 30, 2009

I’ve already documented the heat and drought of this summer.  Stage 2 water restrictions began on Monday, 9/24. We had three evening storms this week that helped with the more limited watering, and the temperature highs were under 100 degrees.  However, in our area, we had barely a tenth of an inch of rain in total.  All things considered, the garden looks good.  On the negative side, the roses baked, the lavander cooked, and the foliage of several plants has browned on the leaf margins.  On the positive side, over FORTY species are presently blooming.



  1. Diane Brewer said,

    July 4, 2009 at 12:16 AM

    Love the picture. haven’t had good luck with Lily of the Nile at church and I can’t figure out why.

  2. gardenfences said,

    July 4, 2009 at 9:10 AM

    I’ve heard that from several people. Mine did not bloom the first year. They were then moved from a spot in deep shade to an area receiving morning sun and fertilized heavily. Last year, they were sprayed foliarly with Medina “Hasta Gro” twice, and this year once. Both the blue and white ones had a minimum of two bloom stalks each. The lesson I’ve learned over the past two years is that a great fertilizing increases plant vigor and bloom on everything in my garden.

  3. Pam Watson said,

    July 10, 2009 at 2:41 PM

    Ah the days in the mountains in Ruidoso…80 seems so cool with the 105 degree weather in Austin!

    I miss being there but I am s l o w l y getting my garage cleaned/organized so I feel like I am accomplishing somthing this summer!!

    My only gardening is keeping some gorgeous Gerbera daisies watered…they stand up to the heat as long as they have a daily drink!!

  4. gardenfences said,

    July 10, 2009 at 7:16 PM

    Wish you were here! However, it was hot in Ruidoso today! How quickly we get accustomed to temperatures below 100 degrees. I love Gerbera daisies. I think they are much better summer plants than zinnias. You gave me some red ones in a Christmas basket several years ago. After the holidays, I planted them in my front garden. They grew, overwintered, and bloomed each summer for three years. Someone once told me that the daisies would stay happy as long as they were watered from the bottom or below the foliage, and the leaves didn’t collect moisture. Any truth to that?

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