Monday, April 28, 2014

Transition time

As Austin bloggers, and heck, most US bloggers know all too well, we had an unusually long and cold winter this year. Spring was slow to take hold, and we had to keep the plant wraps ready as a series of late freezes hit us. I'm not complaining. Mostly, we have been savoring the cool mornings and warm days, all the while knowing that any day we could get back up into the upper 90's here in Austin.

That day came yesterday, though I hear we will have a pleasant little dip back into upper 70s/lower 80s temps this week. Beyond that, getting into May, we're almost certainly headed into late Spring in Austin, which means 90-something degree highs. Maybe 100's, if we're particularly unlucky.

Summer has long been the season I tolerate while waiting for the much more enjoyable other 7-8 months of the year here. (Summer here is 4-5 months long, at least in my mind. May/June - September/October.)

So yesterday we found ourselves suddenly hot, and unaccustomed to dealing with it. I took the kids to a park playdate from roughly 10am - 1pm. My husband went mountain biking with a friend from 11am - 2pm. That's not what smart people do when it's really, really hot out. Outdoor activities have to take place in the 7:30 - 10:30 timeframe (am or pm, take your pick). He came home red and drenched with sweat, and when I told him he could go ahead and shower (don't worry about the kids, in other words), he said something I haven't heard in a long time: "I'm too sweaty, I have to cool off first." Otherwise, the shower would be pointless. He'd emerge almost as sweaty as he was before showering.

We brought out the kiddie pool for the girls, and realized we are woefully unprepared for the onslaught of mosquitos. It hasn't been raining much lately, but I guess it doesn't take much.

On the bright side, all sorts of heat lovers are perking up around the garden. There are tomatoes(!) on both of my tomato plants, which are now gargantuan in stature. The Lantana is blooming again. Lots of pretty colors are coming out to mix and mingle.

The one Crinum 'Summer Nocturne' bulb I had leftover and planted in a pot seems happy enough for now. This spot gets morning sun and afternoon shade.

The Crape Myrtle we transplanted still has its leaves, though it hasn't leafed out as fully as its neighbors in the back strip. I saw a few new sprouts emerging from the sides of the trunks today.

The Meyer Lemon has these cute, plump little baby lemons on it. My daughters already picked off all the ones on the lower branches. It'll be a miracle if these survive.

The volunteer Wild Morning Glories are starting their sprint up the trellis in the Purple Pocket Garden.

Side view of the vegetable garden box. We thought some critters had outsmarted our mesh cage yesterday when I saw two of the panels hanging loose, a missing red strawberry and a severed white strawberry. Then my 4-year-old dutifully fessed up. DH and I were relieved that it was her and not a squirrel.
I harvested those lovely beets from the vegetable garden a few days ago, to make room for eggplant transplants. We had those two beets for dinner, and we've enjoyed a couple of beet green salads, though I think we still have a few greens left in the fridge. 
Here is one of the two eggplants that replaced the beets.
The Crookneck Squash is getting big and bushy. I guess I shouldn't have assumed it would be a climber! There are 3 small squashes under all those leaves.

My kids brought home green beans they grew at school to transplant into the garden. So, of course, we did.
Can you find the tiny jalapeno in this picture? I can't, but I swear it's there!

Our tiny carrot sprouts, planted out of season, are recovering from whatever little critter defoliated them.

The Sweet 100's cherry tomato is a towering 5 feet tall, and well-stocked with small green tomatoes and yellow flowers. Now to see if those fruits will ripen before the mercury hits 100...

The Texas Redbud peeks over the back fence where the vegetable bed is. And of course, the scarecrow.

I've never messed with Geraniums before this year, believe it or not. I have no idea how long they'll last into the heat, but they've been pretty since the freezing days.

Along the back fence, I separated the two trellises and planted a Cardinal Climber vine transplant that I picked up at Countryside Nursery this past Friday. The Wisteria next to it has plenty of leaves, but I don't know if we'll see blooms this year. In between are slowly recovering Tropical Butterflyweed (orange/yellow blooms) and the first recovering leaves of Echinacea/Purple Coneflower. If it ever all blooms together, it'll be a colorful combination: blue-orange-purple-red.

Close-up of the Cardinal Climber. Natalie and tried growing this from seed earlier this year. We managed to transplant some small seedlings that are now struggling to compete with the now-massive Blanc Du Bois Grape in the Western backyard bed. When I saw this transplant, I couldn't resist. The blooms are eye-catching red trumpets that I bet the hummingbirds will love, but equally fetching to me are the cute spiky-fingered leaves. (I'm sure there's a more appropriate botanical term.)

The Western backyard bed is turning out to be the Rainbow Bed. I like that name much better. Knockout is living up to its name.

Lantana flowers are back! Bad photo, but you get the idea.

Yellow Shrimp Plant is blooming in front of another Knockout.

Sunflowers are bringing up the rear--my daughter and I started these seeds at the same time as our Cardinal Climbers.

Gotta keep everything moist for now, though these plants should all be drought-tolerant once established. Fingers crossed.

Finally! A Red Lanterns Columbine is blooming.

Its neighbor is about to show off, too.

Heartleaf Skullcap. I saw thick beds of this recently in another garden, so I'm eagerly anticipating what this might look like next year.

Another side view of the emerging Rainbow Bed. The wilting one is a new addition--Fall Aster.

Here's a peek around the corner that leads to the Purple Pocket Garden, and eventually the vegetable bed. It's fun to see this all green again.

Stay cool, my friends!


  1. Your garden is looking lovely, Mary--so much blooming and a good variety of plants. I especially like your vegetable box and glad you discovered the culprit. :) No worries on the Heartleaf Skullcap: it will spread and spread and spread. But, if you decide you want more, let me know--I'm always yanking it out of the ground! That said, it is a beautiful plant and is about to start its bloom time. Enjoy!

  2. Thank you, Tina! One of these years I'll get around to planting Irises--they've been on my wishlist for a long time. Of course, it's a long wishlist, too. Good to know about the Heartleaf Skullcap! Looking forward to seeing the blooms. It's Rachel's favorite for its fuzzy leaves--she walks over and pets it. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hi Mary, I also think the vegetable box is pretty cool - hope the squirrels are less clever than your daughter.
    My Heartleaf Skullcap hasn't spread much but it lives and makes some flowers. Maybe you'll hit that happy medium between barely thriving and thug!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. Thank you, Annie! I have to give credit to my husband for building the garden box. It's holding up so far, though I'm sure the squirrels could chew their way through if they got really hungry. They seem more interested in they acorns they buried in the yard this past fall/winter.