Patience pays off; bizarre mountain laurel!

March 17th, 2011 Posted in bulbs, fruit trees, pruning

Gardening can be like recording TV shows:  “Hurry up and wait.” I hate the waiting part.  But since the thryallis woke up for sure, I won’t wait any longer to trim it up this weekend. I’m glad that I didn’t hurry up a few weeks ago and chop it to the ground.

Thryallis returns after hard freeze
I do like the waiting part that leads to novelty, like spring’s spiderworts.

Spiderwort gigantea in Austin Texas
We can’t go out and get new stuff every day, but in a perpetual garden, there’s always something old that’s new.  It’s like finding a favorite sock stuck to the sweatshirt you put away last season.  Oxalis may be a weed for some, but for me, it’s like finding the sock in spring, especially when paired (sorry, couldn’t resist) with spring star flower (Ipheion uniflorum). And it feeds early bees.

Oxalis with spring star flower Ipheion uniflorum
Since my ‘Mr. Mac’ Satsuma orange is budding, I may go ahead and trim it a bit this weekend. But, since we’re still guaranteed one more little weather surprise, be ready to cover those new buds. If yours aren’t budding yet and you’re in a colder spot, wait to prune.

'Mr. Mac' Satsuma orange after freeze damage
We’re wary of the first fall frost, but tend to forget the last one, especially when it’s so warm.

On April 9, CTG brings you expert tips on citrus, what to expect this year from freeze-nipped plants, which ones are the hardiest, and when to fertilize.  Again, this is a hurry up and wait situation. Limes may not have made it, but don’t dig them out yet.

Also, wait to take the shovel to abutilons or anything else that looks “pretty brown.”  Hey, it’s still early days!  I’ll clean up mine next weekend. As soon as I see signs of life again, I’ll give them some slow-release organic fertilizer.  Gardeners have a reputation for being patient, except in spring!

This Freesia laxa was impatient to be the first to show that freeze doesn’t get in their way.

Freesia laxa in Austin Texas
In the cat cove, some of them are standing by, along with lots of other plants. For now, they’re bowing to Lady Banks.

Lady Banks rose in cat cove
I rather like that it that it doesn’t happen all at once; I revel in new things every day.  I’d hate it if it all happened at once and was gone. Okay, I’m the one who takes an hour to open one Christmas present.

Last year, Ava Hayes sent us this crazy growth on her mountain laurel.

fasciated growth on mountain laurel

Daphne identified it as fasciation, which develops when the round growing point, the apical meristem, becomes distorted and crescent shaped. Most of these occur in nature and we have no known cause; it may simply be a genetic anomaly. Here’s what it’s doing this year!  Is that cool or what?

Fasciated mountain laurel flowers

Fasciation on mountain laurel flowers

And hurry up and put this on your calendar: the San Marcos Green Living Showcase on March 26.
Save time for Zilker GardenFest March 26 & 27. And this weekend, March 19, check out the East Austin Garden Fair which will focus on edible landscaping (and lots more).

Until next week, Linda

  1. 29 Responses to “Patience pays off; bizarre mountain laurel!”

  2. By cherie foster colburn on Mar 17, 2011

    I’ve never seen a mountain laurel do that, Linda. Ava should charge a fee to come see it in bloom….I’d pay! Yesterday I saw my 1st GRAY leafed mountain laurel called ‘Silver Peso’. What a beauty. Don’t know if I could keep one alive here in the Houston area with all our rain, but I’m gonna try one in a pot.


    Linda reply on March 17th, 2011 5:22 pm:

    Hi, Cherie! I know, isn’t that super cool! I love those silver mountain laurels too, but definitely give it good drainage in a pot in Houston. Please let me know how it does! I’d love to have one.


    Greg reply on August 22nd, 2012 8:09 pm:

    Hi Cherie, where did you find the silver peso mountain laurels in Houston? I’d love to get one (actually 2), any help would be tremendously appreciated, thanks!


    Linda reply on August 23rd, 2012 3:52 pm:

    Hi, Greg! I’ll ask her!


  3. By Amy on Mar 17, 2011

    Wow. My mountain laurel had a few of those crazy growths, but none as spectacular as this one. And my thryallis just woke up in the past week, too! Your Lady Banks rose looks perfect in the cat cove. And may spring continue to reveal its garden delights.


    Linda reply on March 18th, 2011 2:12 pm:

    I’d never heard of fasciation until last year and now I know two gardeners with it. Too fun.


  4. By Katina on Mar 17, 2011

    Man, that mountain laurel is crazy. CRAZY AWESOME!


  5. By Pam/Digging on Mar 17, 2011

    WEIRD blossom on that fasciated mountain laurel. I was one of the eager beavers who chopped back my abutilons and thryallis a couple of weeks ago, but they’re leafing out and looking good since we didn’t get a late freeze. I know I shouldn’t, but I like to roll the dice. ;-)


    Linda reply on March 18th, 2011 2:11 pm:

    Yes, me too! I don’t mind taking risks in my garden but I like to play it safer with others!


  6. By Cat on Mar 17, 2011

    Hi Linda! I saw a silvery/gray leafed mountain laurel today too at BSN. It was the first I’ve seen. It was striking.

    I’m still waiting for my Patrick’s abutilon and wondering if it will show…I bought another 4″ just in case!


    Linda reply on March 18th, 2011 2:10 pm:

    Yes, those silver ones were pretty rare even two years ago. I sure would love to have one. I hope our abutilons make it but if not, that 4″ one will grow doggoned fast! Thanks for the heads up in case I need to replace mine.


  7. By Jo Dwyer on Mar 18, 2011

    LOVE the sock analogy Linda! Thanks for the chuckles.


    Linda reply on March 18th, 2011 2:08 pm:

    Well, you know how that happened! A “sock” on the run fell off a sweatshirt this week.


  8. By Marc Opperman on Mar 18, 2011

    That fasciation is VERY cool. I’ve never seen one of those on the City preserves I volunteer on, and to see this in bloom seems even more rare. Thanks for sharing!


    Linda reply on March 18th, 2011 2:07 pm:

    Yes, I’ve never seen that before and was thrilled that Ava sent us an update!


  9. By Shirley Dehmer on Mar 18, 2011

    I think my Kifir Lime bit the dust this winter. Too bad. I think I’ll replace it with a Meyer Lemon or maybe a tangerine if there is one that lives in Marble Falls. Do you have any suggestions?


    Linda reply on March 19th, 2011 2:46 pm:

    Hi, Shirley,
    It wouldn’t be unusual to lose the Kafir. Yes a Meyer’s Lemon or Satsuma orange would be wonderful! Watch CTG on April 9 for our citrus program with tips and other options. My Satsuma made it through the freeze just fine.


  10. By Jenny on Mar 18, 2011

    I remember seeing that on my mountain laurel some years ago but it never did that weird and wonderful thing. Fascinating!! Another year goes by when I don’t have spiderwort. The years are slipping away.


    Linda reply on March 19th, 2011 2:45 pm:

    Spiderworts are in your future!


  11. By Kathleen Scott on Mar 21, 2011

    I want abutilons…we’ve had too much going on & I’m still plugging on the pruning. Funny to see things so bare & then in just a couple of weeks green.


    Linda reply on March 21st, 2011 3:22 pm:

    Yes, I’m still cleaning up, too. No chance yet to analyze what new stuff I want. I finally got my first abutilon a few years ago and LOVE it!


  12. By Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings on Mar 24, 2011

    I adore oxalis. I do. So many of your other plants are so different from the ones I grow here. I sure enjoyed the “sock in the dryer” analogy. Lovely. Or, like finding money in your winter coat pocket.~~Dee


    Linda reply on March 24th, 2011 3:30 pm:

    You’ve got cool stuff that I could never grow! And yes, I love finding money in the winter coat pocket. Guess I need to go look right now because nursery season has begun! Ouch.


  13. By Roberta on Mar 28, 2011

    The spider wort is probably the only think that my chickens have NOT annihilated. Good thing I can keep them fenced off from the veggie garden!


    Linda reply on March 29th, 2011 5:12 pm:

    Hi, Roberta! Ah, we need to a “chicken-proof” plant segment! But the vegetable garden won’t be in it! We’ve got a great segment coming up in a few weeks, though, on how veg gardeners put the chickens to work turning the soil between seasonal plantings. And yea, go for a Lady Banks! No trouble whatsoever and such a great screen. Chester sends you kisses.


  14. By Noah on Nov 28, 2011

    Fascinating fasciations! There’s a mountain laurel in front of Copenhagen furniture on Braker Ln that has lots of these formations. I found this blog by googling “texas mountain laurel weird” :) trying to figure out what they were.


    Linda reply on December 6th, 2011 4:10 pm:

    Cool! That’s interesting that there’s another in town. I’d never seen one before until a viewer wrote in. Thanks for letting me know!!


  15. By cherie foster colburn on Aug 30, 2012

    Hey Greg (and Linda). My co-hort, designer Cindy Huey says TEXAS NATIVE NURSERY (wholesale) in Austin carries ‘Silver Peso’ mountain laurel. Both Buchanan’s and the Cornelius stores in Houston stock Texas Native’s plants. I’d suggest calling both nurseries to a) see if they have any and/or, b) ask them to order one for you…. and one for me!


    Linda reply on August 30th, 2012 3:10 pm:

    Cherie, you are totally wonderful! Thank you!


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