We’ve had a fairly mild winter this year in North Texas. No surprise, really, after the hottest summer on record. I was surprised to discover, however, that there are still a few rogue flowers trying to push out a few more blooms in the cooler temps. While playing with the dogs in the back yard the other day, a flash of golden orange appeared in the wildflower patch. I believe it’s Calendula, one of my favorite flowers from the summer.
Last spring I bought a packet of wildflower seeds and spread them out along a fence, along with some giant sunflower seeds. Of course it stormed a few days after I spread the seed, and a lot of them washed away. It was fun to see what flowers survived the deluge and would appear throughout the summer. There were quite a few Black Eyed Susans and Sweet Alyssum (which is also still blooming in January), but one of my favorites were the Calendulas. Their large, showy, dark green leaves are impressive on their own, and stand out amongst the more fragile wildflowers. The color of the flowers are a beautiful deep, golden orange.
The other flower that made a reappearance last week was a Blanket Flower, otherwise known as Arizona Sun. It’s trying really hard to bloom, but I think the cold nights were too much for it. It’s a little sad looking, especially in the rain.
This winter has been so mild, in fact, that I’m still able to grow lettuce in my vegetable garden. I’ve been covering them on cold nights with a sheet of clear plastic and, except for an attack of hungry caterpillars that nearly did them in, they’re growing splendidly. The bricks on the sides and down the middle are to gather heat during the day, but also to keep the plastic off the lettuce when it’s covered.
In my book, you can never have enough flowers in your life, so these unexpected rogue flowers were a real treat this week.
We made it all the way to 40 straight days of triple digit temperatures here in Dallas, two days away from tying the record. Most of us were somewhat sad we didn’t at least tie the record because we wanted something to show for our Summer of Misery, like a medal at the end of a marathon. Oh well. Little did we know that we hadn’t yet crossed the finish line. Yesterday we officially claimed the #2 spot for total number of days at or above 100 degrees. We’re at 57 days so far and need to reach 69 to tie.
I’m hoping we don’t make it to 69. Chances are we will.
The potentially hottest Texas summer on record also happened to coincide with the summer we decided to start a garden. We had a bumper crop of tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, zucchini, and herbs in June, but the only things that have been able to withstand the intense heat have been the peppers (jalapeno, habanero, cayenne), okra, and watermelons. Several of the watermelons split from the intense heat before they were ripe, but the okra is thriving. I love okra, but have never eaten so much okra in my life.
Before the extreme heat, while the vegetable garden was in its infancy, we had flowers. Beautiful, vibrant, abundant flowers. Here’s to the memory of those flowers and cooler days.