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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.
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Friday, June 23, 2006

Howard's Tall Farewell

The left half of our back yard had an open area in the middle that was mainly grass until this spring. This space is irregular, approximately 22’ X 25’ at the widest points. You walk through it every time you enter the gate, or exit the house, or go over to the mixed border and the vegetable garden. We cross through that area many times a day and also see it from the breakfast room, from the patio and from the shady bench under the peach tree.

Because this middle area was so sunny, the grass needed regular watering, unlike the grass in shadier areas. If I’m going to water, I want something more than grass! Last year we planted a ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia at one end of this space, adding the gloss of dark green leaves and a few fragrant white flowers, but at barely five feet, it will take a few years for this tree to make any vertical impact or cast shade. This spring, we made a new long bed that includes the magnolia, a Texas Mountain Laurel, salvias, Lemon verbena and other plants.

In April, we added instant height to the bed when Philo and I found a 7 and ½ foot-tall obelisk at Howard Nursery on Koenig Lane. Howard’s has been a great source for shrubs, flowers and fun gift items. Although the new structure is taller than anything else on that side of the yard, it was rapidly climbed and entwined by the second Snail Vine.

When we bought the obelisk in April, we passed up some tempting roses. Now I really regret that lost opportunity. Our most recent trip to Howard’s was for their closing sale, where I bought a one-gallon Weigela as a sort of souvenir. It will have to be in a container for now, but it may live and someday bloom, reminding me of a loved-and-lost Austin nursery.


  1. I just heard Howard's was closing. Is it already too late to stop by?

  2. I hate it when a good garden center closes, no matter where it is. Probably couldn't compete with the "big box" stores.

  3. When we stopped in last week, Howard's was almost bare, with just a few potted plants & some scattered decor left. That's why I ended up with the weigela, not a logical choice for my garden!
    There was a fair amount of the red & yellow non-organic products still hanging around.

    Carol, the Austin newspaper had a story about the closing today. The owner/father died not so long ago, and the family said they were selling by choice, not necessity. This was the second location for this old family nursery, moved there in 1961. This particular area of Austin was considered as the edge of the city back then, but Austin grew rapidly, and it's now a central location, so the land is probably very valuable.

    An old airplane hangar is on the grounds from the time when this land was an air field. Here's the story:


    (Sorry you have to cut & paste; I didn't yet learn how to make it link directly. And I still haven't figured out how to insert and arrange a flock of photos.)

  4. We used to live two blocks away from Howards- never went there, though, since the house wasn't ours to landscape. I had no idea it had been an airpark! We've made a few purchases there since we bought our house. It's a shame to see it close.

  5. I was surprised to read about the closing of Howard's Nursery in the paper. I used to stop by there more often when a good friend of mine lived in that neighborhood...but that was long before I moved into this house. My primary nursery remains Barton Springs Nursery. I like to go to Gardens for inspiration. When we still had a pickup truck, I'd frequent Gardenville (or rather The Natural Gardener as it's called now), but I rarely go there anymore because it's too far to drive. I also try to check out Big Red Sun, Floribunda, and The Great Outdoors. Austin is lucky to have so many independent nurseries. What are y'all's favorite hangouts?

  6. "rapidly climbed and entwined by the second Snail Vine"

    I suppose it's a fair guess that the vine was NOT named for its lack of speed then? ;o)

  7. We frequent Shoal Creek nursery, which is in our neighborhood. The staff there knows us, we're in so much. One of our other favorite places is is The Great Outdoors, but we don't go there as often. Gardens is also near us, so we pop in there once or twice a month. Oh, and on the property value of the nursery: Yes, it's worth a lot of money. If you're feeling nosey (and you're in Austin), you can look up property values at: www.traviscad.com.

  8. More of our plants have come from Red Barn than anywhere else. I like the nursery, and it's very close to me, one of three nurseries along Pond Springs Road, handy for frequent browsing.

    I love both the Great Outdoors and the Natural Gardener, and have trees and plants from them, too. One of the Divas lives near Natural Gardener and we take out-of-town visitors to the Great Outdoors and Magnolia Cafe as part of our Zilker tour. Neither one is nearby so we don't get there very often. I used to choose a route that would pass Howard's when going to Fiesta Market - now how can I work Barton Creek or Shoal Creek into some otherwise utilitarian or necessary trip??


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