About Me
My Photo
Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
View my complete profile

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Still Posting After All These Years

This post, Still Posting After All These Years, was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog

The Transplantable Rose turned eight years old last week. Eight years is long enough for two presidential terms. Eight years covers all the grades in an old-fashioned grammar school, and is also long enough to change a 13-year-old child into a fully-fledged, 21-year-old adult.
Did my blog change in eight years? The format changed as Blogger evolved but that’s about all. 

But blogging did change something in this blogger’s mind and habits.

Before the Transplantable Rose ever started I took a reasonable number of garden photos, sometimes emailing them to family & friends in other states. After joining millions of other people and starting the blog on June 7, 2006, I took more photos, sometimes with a specific post in mind… sometimes “just in case”. Beginning in February 2007, there were a disproportionate number of photos taken around the 15th of each month due to May Dreams Carol and her Garden Blogger Bloom Day meme.

The number of posts on the Transplantable Rose goes up slowly now, but the number of photos has increased. Maybe this has also happened to you? It seems our cameras and camera phones and memory cards have become the main way to record and remember everything.

A random dip into my image files pulls up thousands of mostly mediocre digital images of family & friends, local events, images of baked goods, a snap of the plate after trying a new recipe, beautiful flowers, ugly flowers, clouds, interesting insects and animals, hailstorms, tomatoes from the garden, squirrels, flowering shrubs, receipts, birds, rain falling from the veranda, rain in rain gauges, rain running down rain chains, rain drops on flowers, flowering trees, stages of home improvement, etc. etc. etc.
Even a crummy photo can be invaluable for reminding us where and when something happened.

Blogiversary is a silly word, but maybe a useful one. I had no time to write a post for the June 7th date - two genealogy projects had taken over my life. But taking a picture is fast, so there are photos taken over the past eleven days, and they fit into the usual June categories. Beautiful flowers, tomatoes, interesting animals, flowering shrubs, and squirrels

Two passalong plants from Pam/Digging fill this photo – that’s ‘Peter’s Purple’ Monarda with the daylily ‘Best of Friends’. I like both plants very much as individuals and they’re doing well in this bed. But looking at the color clash in this photo makes me wish I had a better spot for ‘Best of Friends’

Hidden behind ‘Best of Friends’ is ‘Prairie Blue Eyes’ – perfect with the monarda, but a much less robust daylily.

Hemerocallis citrina, the scented, citron daylily, is a pale lemon color that goes with almost anything. But it doesn’t open until day is almost done, and the flowers close as the sun comes up.

As always we’ve had to fight for every tomato and are not winning the battle. Birds and squirrels got at least 2/3 of the fruit in spite of using bird nets and picking the fruit green to ripen inside.

A few days ago this one was ours – this 14oz Black Krim tomato turned from green to dark red inside. It was  interesting outside

And absolutely delicious inside.

In Illinois a perennial started out small. The majority survived, bulked up over a few years, were divided, moved around and shared. In Central Texas, perennials are often purchased, a few survive to be divided, but around half of them begin to decline after 3 or 4 years and then choose death over life in Austin.  (If you doubt this, come over and I’ll show you my plant spreadsheets.)
As a result I really, really appreciate the reseeding annuals like Bluebonnets, Nemophila/Baby Blue Eyes, Brazos Penstemon/ Penstemon tenuis, annual Poppies, French Hollyhocks/Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’,  Verbena bonariensis, Salvia coccinea/Hummingbird sages, Larkspur, orange Cosmos, Datura, tropical milkweed Asclepias curassavica, Blue Pea vine, Cypress vine… each in turning add spice to the garden from early spring until frost. I like to add a few starter plants of Calibrachoa/Million Bells and Angelonia to the mix. Here’s one of the triangle beds:

One perennial that did survive is the Hardy hibiscus- AKA Rose Mallow - named ‘Blue River II’ for its origin along the Blue River in Oklahoma. The flowers are large and pure white, but only last one day. With more ground moisture the plant is doing well this June. A photo of ‘Blue River II’ appeared in my first post – this one bloomed yesterday and I liked how translucent it looked with the sun coming through from the back of the flower.

An anole on the burgundy-leaved canna caught my eye but he was pretty far away –

As I approached he hopped onto a nearby post. I clicked the button just before he jumped into the foliage. The photo wasn’t good or special, but zooming in on the image showed something interesting… his tail was brown instead of green. This article makes it seem likely that this lizard’s original tail was damaged and the replacement is made differently.

Rose ‘Julia Child’, so abundantly in bloom in April, was deadheaded and now has a second flush of flowers. The heat didn’t hit until June and we’ve had some rain so some larkspurs are still alive to add a blue-violet contrast to the butter yellow. And something about this year’s weather has encouraged blooms on the purple coneflowers - looking almost normal instead of the wimpy plants of recent years.
Success with ‘Peter’s Purple’ Monarda made me want to try another monarda with mildew resistance that showed up at the Natural Gardener – this is ‘Jacob Cline’. So far, so good!

The ‘Peter’s Purple’ monarda/Beebalm bloomed for weeks then started to look ratty. It’s been deadheaded and there are new flowerheads forming in the axils.

The Rose of Sharon grew taller and had many flowers this year but every photo I took looked bad. Yesterday morning I saw the shrub shaking violently so I grabbed the camera and went out. My archenemy was comfortably encamped in the center of the Rose of Sharon, picking and munching the flowers. I’ve had no luck stopping squirrels from eating tomatoes and flowers, and he’ll never have to answer for those crimes in court, but I can’t stop using the camera to gather evidence.

This post, Still Posting After All These Years, was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Absolutely April

This post about my garden in Austin, Texas was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.

Three weeks can make a big difference in the garden! Since that last post the garden plant spreadsheet shows fewer plants with question marks next to their names.
The Barbados Cherries appear to be alive. They also appear to be about 6" tall now. But you don't want to see that photo and I don't want to take it. Averted eyes is the way to carry on while the boxwoods decide exactly where they'll regrow - don't want to take that photo either.

This photo of the ice-and-freeze damaged Oleander was taken at the beginning of April. It grows near the steps from the house to the drive so it was very hard to not only avert my eyes but to refrain from picking up the lopping shears.


Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Early last week tiny green leaves began to sprout along the oleander trunk and by Thursday it was clear which branches were doing well and where to make the cuts. I don't think there will be flowers this spring, but the Oleander should live and grow.

So let's ignore the battered shrubs and let them recover in private. As to the rest of the garden? Even though we're still in drought, something about the long cold rest seems to have benefited the roses - they're shouting that it is now Absolutely April.
'Julia Child' opens new flowers every morning, standing nearly 5-ft tall, with scores of buds still swelling, surrounded by self-sown poppies and larkspurs, by Four-nerve daisies and the last bluebonnets.

I've read that this rose was chosen by Julia Child herself to bear her name, because it looked like butter.

I still don't have a positive ID on the pink climber that came with the house, but 'Climbing Pink Peace' seems to be a possibility. My husband Philo built a wooden trellis over the gate and the rose has stretched out and up to cover it.


A few big blossoms joined white 'Climbing Iceberg' in a bowl.

This apricot mini-rose finally looks established - last spring it had two flowers.

The frozen Rosa mutabilis quickly outgrew the damage and is reblooming in its patio container.

The color of the clematis next to the back door is hard to describe - it goes through so many changes from bud to blown blossom.

The Oakleaf Hydrangea flaunts something between a bud and a flower.

Up in front most of the native plants in the parkway strip are waking up and thinking about buds, but only the Damianita is in full bloom.

The Texas Mountain Laurel flowers froze in March 2014, but the shrubs are already making buds for Spring 2015.

Fingers crossed these new plants of Damianita, purple skullcap, creeping phlox and Blackfoot daisies can take hold in a new bed up front.

Tomorrow's forecast promises temperatures in the nineties so the individual flowers don't last too long, but April has been absolutely lovely for a while.

This post about my garden in Austin, Texas was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

In like a Lion and Out like a Shorn Lamb

This post about my garden in Austin, Texas was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.

Did my February post listing all the trees in the garden put a hex on them? This part of the privacy screen looked pretty good six weeks ago.

By the first of March tiny leaves and buds had appeared on Spiraea, Redbud, roses, Arizona Ash, Fig and dwarf Pomegranate, and flower buds swelled on the native Texas Mountain Laurel

But then came the March 3rd-4th Thundersleet that bent the Loropetalum to the ground

While the iced Oleander leaned over to block the steps to the driveway

The trees and shrubs soon bounced back from the ice, but unlike plants in a northern place where dormant plants sleep, insulated by snow from cold air, our plants were wide awake and full of sap, making leaves and setting buds. When the temperature dropped to 19°F on March 6th even the native plants were shocked at the cold.

The results have slowly revealed themselves over the last few weeks.
All the leaves dropped off the Arizona ash and the pomegranates, every leaf and bud froze on the redbud trees and on the fig tree, leaves fell from the 'Climbing Iceberg' and the Meyer's Lemon, the flowers froze on the Texas Mountain Laurel, and leaves on all four Confederate Jasmines began to turn brown. Friends who grow agaves and aloes say they're badly damaged.

Plants that were dormant are mostly OK. Evergreen plants like Salvia greggii, Skullcaps and Salvia 'Hot Lips' froze way back but most are alive at the base. Semi-evergreens like Mexican honeysuckle, Philippine Violet and Turkscap died to the ground. Plants like iris and daffodils didn't die, but most buds froze.

The Lady Banks rose lost all its leaves and buds

The ends of every boxwood twig and branch began to die back, with stems turning light tan instead of green - something I've never seen in 15-years of growing them in Central Texas. The Barbados Cherries were already iffy - now they look dead.

Last spring I took many photos of the garden in bloom, but never got around to making a post at the end of March 2013 to celebrate the end of that unusually mild winter. The garden in those photos seems like fiction this year.

On March 30th, 2013, the Lady Banks was in full bloom.

On March 29th, 2013 the Mutabilis rose looked like a dream of spring

On March 29th, 2013 several Bluebonnets popped up with yellow Four-Nerve daisies, the tall fragrant Peach Iris, and white Salvia coccinea AKA Hummingbird Sage.

On March 30th, 2013 the white rose 'Climbing Iceberg' filled the left side of the sweetheart arch with blooms while the white-flowering Confederate/Star Jasmine filled the right side.

On March 30th, 2013 another Confederate Jasmine grew 8-feet high on the shed trellis with Spanish Bluebells at the base.

We were busy nursery-hopping and planting tomatoes at the end of March in 2013 - no guests arrived to see the garden clothed in blooms but we appreciated them every day.

Any longtime gardener can take the bad years along with the good years - of course, we can! And I know that much of the cold damage to this year's garden will grow out and repair itself and make flowers again some other day or some other year.
But the thing that made me want to scream was that this year there were garden visitors - real, talk-Latin-to-me, gardener-type garden visitors. 

Flash forward to the end of March 2014... and what do this year's guests get to see?

How about a frozen and browned Loropetalum chinense var rubrum 'Plum Delight', no longer a screen but a see-through shrub?

Or the pitiful remains of the Jasmine on the shed trellis with one stem of Hyacinthoides?

At least the Rosa 'Mutabilis' had begun to releaf, even though it had no flowers

The Lady Banks rose also has made leaves, and may yet bring forth a few golden blossoms

What a trouper! After losing the main crop of buds and leaves, the Texas Redbud produced a second batch of buds for a light but lovely show of blooms.

The Confederate Jasmine is now 8-inches high instead of 8-ft tall, but the white 'Climbing Iceberg' has releafed and is forming buds. The Magnolia figo/ Banana Shrub is almost bare of leaves but tiny new leaf buds show green.

Only two-thirds of the knee-high Mexican Buckeye is alive, but the little tree was in bloom to greet the guests.

The buds froze on the white iris and the peach iris, and most of the dozens of Salvia coccinea AKA Hummingbird Sage plants died, but the Four-Nerve daisies are a cheerful lot, and some bluebonnets are in bloom, saying This is Texas. It's not a dream of a garden, but still a real one. Let the pruning-back begin!

This post about my garden in Austin, Texas was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Trees that Grow in my Garden

A few days ago fellow Central Texas garden blogger Laura at Wills Family Acres wrote about the trees growing on her 2-acre property. It was fascinating to see the large numbers of live oaks and cedars on her plot, and also fun to see how many trees she and her family had planted.

I really liked the idea, and decided to copy Laura and make my own Tree Inventory post. After subtracting the area covered by driveway, hardscape & house from my quarter acre lot the remaining plantable area is pretty small... how hard could it be to count the trees on 1/8 of an acre?

"This should be a cinch," I thought. "All I have to do is take the tree names from my plant spreadsheet."

But it wasn't that that simple. The first problem was deciding what counted as a tree. Are hollies trees or shrubs? Are boxwoods shrubs? Where are the lines?
What about small baby trees in growing-on containers?  Do I count trees that are brought into the garage or house in cold weather?

The second problem was that my spreadsheet was not complete. I'd made a note of every tiny plant brought home from Barton Springs Nursery and the Natural Gardener, but had never entered some of the large boring plants already growing here in 2004 when we bought this house. (I'm talking about you, Photinia.)

Categories seemed to be the answer.

For this list, a baby tree in a container is still a tree and trees kept permanently in containers are still trees, but they'll have their own category. I considered calling this Texas Palmetto a tree, but with a future height of only 5 to 6-ft, decided to leave it off the list.

A plant that wants to be a tree but can be kept to shrub height by constant pruning counts as a tree on the list. Neglect to prune a Ligustrum hedge or a Red Tip Photinia hedge and you'll end up with a forest of Ligustrum and Photinia trees.

If a treelike plant has the potential to be 7 or 8 feet tall it counts as a tree. For example, my Barbados Cherries have been pretty wimpy, but I've seen them look like small trees in the gardens of friends. 

The trees and treelike shrubs that were already growing here when we moved in will have a separate category.

GROUP 1 -Trees that were here when we moved in that are still alive :

Arizona ash (1 very large)

Pecan, unknown variety (2 very large)

Live Oaks (2 medium large)

Yaupon holly (1 lovely, muli-trunked tree, about 15-ft  tall)

Crepe myrtle, the common hot pink ( 6 in sizes from 7-ft to 20-ft)

Holly - some kind of Chinese holly (1 allowed to be a 12-ft tree, 1 pruned repeatedly to 5-ft)

Nandina (3 kept at 6-ft)

Red tip Photinia (3 kept under 10-ft)

GROUP 2 - Trees that were planted by us:

Loquat tree (3 trees, one large, one medium, one about 4-ft tall, all from seedlings)

The largest loquat is in the photo above, with Bay Laurel in container left, larger Southern Wax Myrtle in ground right

Magnolia 'Little Gem' (1 about 12-ft tall)

Sweet Olive (3. The oldest is very established and kept to 12-ft tall. Two younger plants are under 5-ft.)

Texas redbud (1, about 10-ft tall)

'Forest Pansy' redbud (1, about 10-ft tall)

Vitex /Chaste tree (1, kept to 10-ft tall, from a seedling)

Magnolia figo/ Banana shrub (1 about 8-ft tall)

In the photo above, the Banana shrub is at left next to the bench, center is a young Texas Mountain Laurel, then a camellia, then the tall, burgundy-leaved Loropetalum/Chinese Witch Hazel

Cenizo/Texas sage (1, kept to 8-ft, grown from a seedling)

Beautyberry AKA French mulberry (1, kept to about 7-ft tall)

Evergreen sumac (1, barely 5-ft tall after 7 years in the ground)

Barbados cherry trees (usually frozen back, one tree about 6-ft, another about 4-ft)

Crepe Myrtle 'Acoma' blooms white (2 trees, called semi-dwarf, kept to abt 12-ft in height)

Crepe Myrtle 'Catawba' blooms purple (2 young trees, under 5-ft.)

Crepe Myrtle  labeled 'Muskogee', supposed to bloom lavender (1 young tree, abt 6-ft tall)

Crepe Myrtle 'Zuni' blooms orchid pink (1 young tree, under 9-ft)

Meyer's Improved Lemon (1 tree, when not winter-killed, pruned to about 9-ft tall

Loropetalum/Chinese Witch hazel (2 - the one in photo with Magnolia Figo is about 9-ft tall, the other is a young plant about 2-ft tall.)

Pineapple guava (1 about 6-ft tall)

The Pineapple Guava has reached the top of the privacy fence - in the background is one of the Live Oak trees.

Rose 'Mutabilis' (1 in ground, kept to 8-ft by diligent pruning)

Texas Mountain Laurel (4 plants. Two about 6-ft, one about 5-ft, one about 2-ft)

This is the only one of my 4 Texas Mountain Laurels that has ever bloomed.

Satsuma orange 'Miho' (1 young tree abt 3-ft tall)

Southern Wax Myrtle (1, about 5-6 ft)

Mexican Buckeye (1 baby tree in the ground, maybe 2 and 1/2 ft tall)

GROUP 3- Trees planted by us, presently growing in containers:

Oleander (1, very large container, kept to 10-ft in height.)

Rose 'Mutabilis' (1 about 6-ft tall)

Bay Laurel (1 about 5-ft tall)

Southern Wax Myrtle (1 abt 4-ft tall)

Dwarf Pomegranate (2 plants, one under 2-ft, one about 7-ft tall)

Pineapple guava (1 about 5-ft tall)

Montezuma cypress (1 baby tree)

Thai lime trees (2 small trees, both under 3-ft, one in garage, one outside)

Willow, corkscrew (1 under 5-ft kept in container, grown from a cutting)

Meyer's Improved Lemon, (1 small tree bought in March 2006 - blooming in the breakfast room right now)

Whether or not this list is interesting to you readers, it sure is useful for me as a garden record... Thanks for the idea, Laura!