From Linda: August 27, 2009

I wasn’t going to post this week, because what can I say?  For all of us, normally water-efficient plants are up against a challenge they haven’t faced since 1925.

Turks cap

Well, not quite yet.

I decided to post, because I just have to ask: are you with me to break the record? Gardeners are goal-setters. Heck, if we’ve already been this miserable, and our plants, our agricultural fields, our lakes, and our water supplies are endangered, let’s at least make 2009 a record-setter.

On Wednesday, at 66 days of over 100º, we tied with 1923.

As of today, we’re now three days away from breaking the 1925 record. If we’ve gone this far and don’t even break a record, what was the point of all this?

Really, in your garden diary or blog, do you want to write, “Well, almost broke the 1925 record.  Missed it by one day.”

This illustrates what heat does to my brain. I’m also deeply discouraged, as many of you are. So at this point, we either make it a game, a test of our strength, and a challenge to our creativity, or we flat give up. New gardeners or new Central Texas gardeners out there: don’t give up!

My editing computer recently died. I edited one show in the “big edit” suite, but it’s booked up a lot, and I’ve got two gardens to edit before my “staycation.”  My boss, Phil Smith, a genius in many ways, including computers, is working hard to solve this mystery. His tenacity is a good lesson for us gardeners.  I hate to jinx it, but it looks like he’s got it fixed!  Now if he could just bring some rain. . .

As bad as things are, I’m so thankful it’s not 1925, when daily life in the heat was way more miserable than it is now. Patch Work blogger in Wimberley wrote a wonderful tribute to a man we should all revere.

I’m also applauding my guys who are still with me. Don’t know how many will be around in a month, but this week, the Tawny daylily was up and at ‘em every day. I was too discouraged to bring out the camera, but this kind of diligence should be rewarded.

Tawny daylily

While I had the camera, I had to applaud the Hamelia patens, too, ready to fuel a few hummingbirds in migration.

Hamelia patens

Update:  Plant ID on viewer’s ground orchid still blooming. I was concerned about this one, so sent to expert Scott Ogden.

As always, he solved the mystery. (By the way, he and Lauren will be on CTG this October; I’ll let you know when it’s up).

From ScottAmong many interesting exotic plants now being offered to Austinites are hybrid terrestrial orchids of the genus Spathoglottis as seen in this tissue culture lab.  These are cheap, easy to grow plants for a mild climate like Hawaii or Florida (and maybe in sheltered parts of Houston) but they are not in any way tolerant of drought, frost, or extreme heat, so in no way make realistic perennials for Austin. Unfortunately staff at the box stores confuse these tender evergreen “ground orchids” (which are also Asian) with the cold-hardy deciduous Bletilla species of temperate China—I have several times seen them mislabeled as such at the stores.

Super drought-tolerant ideas coming your way on CTG next weekend for the premiere of our fall season (also online, if you miss the broadcast)!

Hang in there until next week, Linda

13 Responses to “From Linda: August 27, 2009”

  1. Judy Tye says:

    Well, I’ll try not go give up but I almost had: There’s a lot of stuff out there that needs watering, to put it mildly, and we’re not rationed yet; but after all these months, it has finally gotten to be almost too much. One note of cheer: the weather channel said that the temp Friday night might drop to 68. Interesting, if true!
    Thanks for hanging in there your own self, and trying to be encouraging! Take care,

  2. Diana says:

    I’m with you. I think we gardeners are secretly a very competitive bunch, and I want break that record, now, gosh darn-it! I want to be able to say I survived the MOST miserable summer ever. (Silly, isn’t it?!)

  3. Jenny says:

    I saw those orchids at HD last week and thought ‘what a pretty flower’ and so inexpensive( my father deplored the word cheap) I just knew they would be a poor purchase and passed them by. I was tempted by a daylily today. I love those flowers. Passed by again because of price. However, I notice you have one in bloom. I think we are not going to break that record Linda. I heard a cold front is coming through tonight. Is so it will mean no record for us. If it already passed, and I have not been outside, it left not a drop at our house, for the second day in a row. I’m tired, and I have only been back in Austin a week.
    I, too, am looking for the drought tolerant plants so will watch the show on Saturday. Keep ‘em coming, Linda, and thanks for all the thoughtful programs you produce.

  4. Pam/Digging says:

    I am totally with you on wanting to break the record, Linda! Only a few more days to get bragging rights on having survived the hottest summer ever. Yes, another heat-addled brain at work.

    In moments of despair though, I think, Maybe we’ll be setting new records every summer from now on, and this year won’t be an anomaly but the beginning of a trend. Aiiiieee!

  5. khabbab says:

    beautiful pics of hamelia.
    yap i agree, record should be broken now and not missed by a day or two.

  6. Tom says:

    Of course I’m with you. Oddball that I am I am not discouraged though, since my view is “can’t be all that bad since they dealt with it before in 1925. If daylilies are blooming I’m OK. (Of course I mostly sleep through the heat of the weekend afternoons.) If we do set a record and daylilies don’t bloom, then I’ll be in trouble. But for now I’m eagerly preparing for my new daylilies coming from Bloomingfields in Connecticut — what a fabulous heirloom collection they have!

  7. Margie says:

    Your comments were like a gentle breeze on an extremely hot day. Thank you for directing us to the Patch Work Blogger. I enjoyed being reminded about Mr.Carrier.
    My hycbiscus (Texas Orange) loves this heat and has more blooms than ever before. Perhaps it is gearing up for football season.

  8. I agree. After all these days already, I hope we break the record. After all, we have the AC they didn’t, back there when the last record was set.
    And, besides….we’re Texans. We can take it..haha..
    By the way, thanks for the link.

  9. Bob Beyer says:

    I am treating this summer’s garden as a testbed and finding out firsthand which plants are the true toughies vs the whimps and not hesitating to say bye bye to those plants that can’t stand up to the severity of this summer. I see this as a positive learning experience for all of us and will be transforming my own garden to a more xeriphytic nature for next year.

  10. Bob Beyer says:

    Sorry to make a second post but forgot to mention that I have put together and given a presentation on “Dry Climate Landscaping for Texas Hill Country” that I invite everyone to see at

  11. I’m absolutely with you on the record. It’s going to be close.

  12. Linda, it has been such a lovely morning, cool and breezy; it doesn’t seem possible that we could hit 100 later today. If we do break the record, I think CTG should offer coffee mugs and t-shirts that mark the event during next pledge drive.

  13. Love the way you say things, Linda, and also hope we break the record!

    The last couple of days have been moderate, but some of our worst heat in the past has come in September – still remember having visitors from Washington State here in September 2000. The weather station in the Children’s Museum read 112°F, then a couple of hours later as our group traveled old Spicewood road the car thermometers read 117°F. So guess we still have a chance to be #1.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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