Rose Mallow and Belinda’s Dream in August

The Rose Mallow (also called Hardy Hibiscus) was planted about 5 years ago next to Belinda’s Dream — an old garden shrub rose.  (This picture was taken with a cell phone and all elements have a slightly bluer appearance than the real-world view.)

Pink rose blooms and dark pink rose mallow bloom

Rose Mallow and Belinda’s Dream


Bloom sizes; Rose Mallow (6 inch diameter), Belinda’s dream (2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter); both plants are currently producing blooms.

Belinda’s Dream produces blooms from Spring through Fall; the largest and most abundant blooms are in the spring, reduced number and size throughout summer, and a few more larger blooms in the Fall.

The Rose Mallow begins blooming when the temperatures are consistently above 90 degrees and continues blooming through Summer and into the Fall; the largest blooms appear early in the blooming period (8 to 8 1/2 inches in diameter) and consistently reduce in size over the course of the summer (smallest about 4 inches in diameter).

The Rose Mallow blooms last a single day; they unfurl in the morning, are fully open by mid afternoon then shrivel and drop in the evening.

Belinda’s Dream blooms generally unfurl over the course of one day (by mid afternoon) and then slowly deteriorate over the course of 3 to 5 days (longer flower life in cooler weather).


Both plants have similar water needs and do well together on the same watering schedule (once a week by dripper hose). I use Miracle Grow fertilizer (blue crystals) to support vegetative (green) growth after the last frost. In rainy Spring seasons, I’ll use Miracle grow for roses (to encourage blooming) on both plants about a month to six weeks after the last frost.

Trim all roses on Valentine’s day (or the nearest Saturday following Valentine’s day–time permitting); Cut back all stems smaller than a pencil (average sized wooden pencil with lead) and cut just above a leaf bud location.

The rose mallow is self-sufficient, no trimming needed unless it becomes unruly (I don’t trim it because it will freeze down to the ground over winter).

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Casualty of the Drought

Small Magnolia, Spring 2011

Small Magnolia, Spring 2011, was lost in the drought.

As the triple digit heat returns, I am reminded of a casualty of the drought —a small variety of magnolia (the label on the plant was “mock orange”, but the leaves and the flowers suggest magnolia.) The tree was planted in 2009 and thrived well into 2011.

Unfortunately, the record setting heat from summer 2011 was a bit too much for this gem! As a rule, I try to just let go of those plants that simply will not grow, but I certainly miss the abundant 3 inch blooms and fragrance that appeared each spring and stayed until about mid-summer.


Small Magnolia Variety, Spring 2011, was lost in the drought.

Back to triple digit temperatures!

After a relatively cool weather break (highs mid 90’s, lows upper 60’s)  for the last week, we are headed for triple digits. It will probably be about 2 or 3 days of high 90’s, with 100 degrees for a high on Thursday or Friday.

There has been some rain showers in the area over the last few days, one was even substantial — nearly 3 inches—but none where we needed it. To keep the trees from dying, we set up the drip hoses for the summer. (We also use the drip hoses in the Fall/Winter during extremely dry periods.)

Weather Change

This morning, July 2, 2013 – in Central Texas – it was a cool 64° outside at 6 AM. This is an unusual turn in the weather pattern as we generally start out around 72° or higher in July. The high-pressure has shifted west and has taken the heat with it. Our high today is projected to be 91°, that’s lower than the low temperatures being experienced in the Western United States.

The slightly cooler temperatures provide a break for plants in the garden; however, most of the plants are quite stressed now – after four days of triple digit temperatures. This change in weather events is good for us because it means that we probably won’t lose any trees this year. Over the last three years of drought, we have lost three small trees but have saved the larger trees through drip irrigation.

This break in weather should also encourage a few more blooms from the roses, so I’ll be posting pictures of that as they become available. The temperatures are not expected to return to triple digits for at least the next seven days – almost unheard of in Central Texas in the summer!

Summer Heat!

We have entered the season of heat in Texas. In central Texas, we are fortunate as we have not yet reached the triple digits! The last few years have brought 100+ degree temperatures as early as April. Another oddity this year was three frosts and 12 inches of rain in the month of May (a bit late for frost, but the rain was good.)

As the high temperatures stay above 95, the gardens become stressed; growth and produce decrease significantly. Okra and peas (black-eyed peas and cream peas) continue to make in the heat as long as the produce is picked as soon as it is ripe (pictures soon!). Temperatures generally remain in the upper 90’s, up to about 105—although a summer temperature of 114 is not unheard of!

Environmental Effects on Corn

Here is an example of  the effects of environment.

This year, we planted corn 10 days later than last year (it was cooler than usual this spring).

We planted about the same number of seeds, and most of the seeds germinated. Unfortunately, there were 3 frosts and light freezes from mid April until mid May. Some corn plants were damaged by the frost — despite being covered with hay mulch for protection.

On May 19, 2012, we harvested an abundance of corn (32 quart bags in the freezer!); however, on May 24, 2013, the corn was still at least 3 weeks from mature and fewer than half the plants survived. With heavy rains starting in late April, the grass has nearly taken  over.

May 19, 2012 corn

May 19, 2012 corn

May 24, 2013 corn

May 24, 2013 corn