Repeated freezes have edited the garden, removing the warm-weather annuals and sending perennials into dormancy. But the temperatures haven't dipped below 25°F (that sometimes magic number) while late fall rains fell softly, letting enough water sink down to soften the ground so we can dig in the earth once more.
That relatively mild weather has allowed the loquats to bloom for two months and has given the Camellia sasanqua 'Shishi Gashira' its longest flowering season ever-
Lack of deep freezes has encouraged flowers for over a month to pop out along the arching branches of the Loropetalum, sometimes called Chinese Witch Hazel
The shrimp plants remain unblackened
Strong winter sun can make even a cool day pleasant enough for coffee on the patio, the cups sharing table space with yellow snapdragons and blue pansies.
A few feet away the Four-nerve daisies continue flowering
and near the back door the burgundy-leaved oxalis feels secure enough to flower.
It's very odd to see a bluebonnet in January! My guess is that seedlings sprouted too late to bloom last spring and then the reseeding orange cosmos plants swiftly made a canopy over them. After the first freeze took out the cosmos, the bluebonnets were given a turn in the sun.
The winter sun is just as strong in the front garden but up there cold winds usually sweep and scour, sending most plants into dormancy. It's unusual to have January blooms from the purple lantana plants and even more unusual to see flowers on the creeping phlox.
Scorching afternoon sun combined with harsh winds were too much for the three previous shrubs I tried in the front window bed, but this grape holly, probably Mahonia bealei, is not only alive but in bloom.
Purple oxalis in flower in the hypertufa near the front door wasn't too surprising, but why did a flowering stem of fragrant stock suddenly pop up? I'd set out a few stock plants last spring but the heat withered the tops and there was no sign of them by late summer. Did the roots live through the Summer of Hell and send up shoots? Or did seeds drop, sprout & bloom?
Soon after we moved here in 2004 I planted a small, white-flowering groundcover from the spiderwort family under a live oak. Every leaf disappeared during the heat and drought & I wondered whether it was dead or dormant. Rains in December coaxed new growth from some roots that survived, and January flowers followed
Paperwhite daffodils and Narcissus 'Grand Primo' grow side-by-side near the steps to the veranda. The paperwhites are almost at the end of their bloom cycle for 2012 - and a rather wimpy display it was, too! The paperwhites in back didn't make a single flower.
But even though the 'Grand Primo' daffodils had their buds frozen off last winter and were baked & broiled all summer, they're now showing us why they come so highly recommended by experts like Scott Ogden and the people at Central Texas Gardener.
One last little bloom is sweet rather than showy, and the shrub is barely larger than when I first planted it. When my mother gave me this 'Champagne' mini-rose neither she nor I knew it would be the last birthday gift she would ever give me. Any time it blooms makes it a special Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for me!
For a complete list with some pretty good guesses at the botanical names go to my companion blog, Annie's Addendum.
To see a round-up of what's in bloom at garden blogs from many places go to May Dreams Gardens.
This post was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose Blog.
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