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summer is here

At last, the 100+ temperatures are here in Texas. It was the rainiest spring since I’ve lived here, but at least the rain kept the summer away, at least the kind of summer we know and dread here. My theory is that the season’s intensity is less about the heat than it is about the sun, which becomes unbearably glare-y in the late afternoons during the summer.

However, it being my second summer of having a garden, I can’t complain–since all the rain helped establish some of my newer plants… whatever croaks this summer (hopefully) will be annual flowers or maybe some container plants, of which I have many now. Not sure how wise container gardening is here, but we’ll see.

This is the time of the year when every plant is tested. For more northern gardeners, the winter time is the time of barrenness. In Austin, it is summer. There are very few things that show off in summer. One drive around our neighborhood and you see crape myrtles, crape myrtles, crape myrtles. They are glorious in summer, many bright pink kinds and some purple, some white. And now is the time of year when sunflowers start to show off. They are everywhere in Austin.

This week my new passionflower vine began to bloom and now has about 20 new blooms about to open. It has the most ridiculously showy, circus-y flowers and one of those plants that I suspect a Texas gardener couldn’t live without: something forgiving of heat, drought, intense sunshine and yet grows at least a foot every two days. I have other vines I’m not so happy with–trumpet vines and exotic jasmine vines are two of those for their invasiveness and constant reseeding everywhere. But passionflower, aside from the battle with the caterpillars, which are half welcome from the beautiful butterflies they bring–is one of those plants that makes me feel that gardening is so worthwhile.

I’ve been finishing up planting things, a very late thing to do here but I started bunches of seeds in early May of gomphrena–a plant that is supposed to thrive in the heat, like zinnia. They are small seedlings and I’m not attached to them but hopefully they’ll grow to fill in the bed which would otherwise look quite barren mid-summer.

All in all it was a bloomy, bloomy spring. A wildflower extravaganza. Roses going crazy. For me, a gallery of all that is possible when the right conditions prevail. I am already plotting my fall planting, including seeds to start both inside and out (have I mentioned I am turning into a seed-a-holic?), and a long list of rose bushes that will replace the unruly lantana that is taking over the side of my house. Autumn dreaming, here I come. Somewhere in my future there is a greenhouse with air conditioning to help me make it through the summer.