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

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Under his tall and tough exterior, my dad was a flowering shrub kind of guy. A few years after his return from World War II, he and mom bought an empty one-acre lot out in “the sticks” to the southwest of Chicago, where they built the only home they’d ever own. The yard tree behind my father’s childhood bungalow on the South side was an Ailanthus, often called Tree of Heaven. If you’re a movie fan, you know it as A Tree that Grows in Brooklyn. Dad planted a seedling from Grandma’s Tree of Heaven on the treeless acre, along with other species recommended for ‘fast shade’, like Silver Maples & Honey Locust. Some grew, some died, and over time my parents added young Spruces and Junipers, Yews, a Sycamore, a Saucer Magnolia, various Ashes, a Catalpa, Pears, an Apple whip and Bur Oaks.

Dad planted the front and sides of the lot with flowering shrubs: Lilacs, Snowball Viburnum, Forsythias, Weigelas, Annabelle Hydrangeas, Honeysuckles, Rose-of-Sharon, Bridal Wreath Spiraea, and my favorite fragrant Mockorange, cloned from a plant that his mother brought to Chicago from her family’s Michigan farm. When we moved from Illinois to Texas nearly seven years ago, I hand-carried a 6” seedling, a descendent of the original plant. It spent six years in containers, growing to 20 inches in height, and in February the little heirloom was finally planted in a special new garden, an area that is still being renovated. I was happy to see its fragrant white flowers appear in June. One of my songs is called “Everybody Needs A Secret Garden”, and now Dad’s Mockorange blooms in mine.


  1. Those pass-along plants bring so much meaning to a garden. I planted my grandfather's daffodils at my last house, and their dependable yellow trumpets always made me think of him, long after he passed away. When we sold that house, I tried to dig up the bulbs, but it was very soggy October and after slopping around in the mud in frustration and not finding the bulbs, I gave up and left them there. I've regretted not getting them ever since.

  2. I don't have anything that old... yet. I like my plants that have a story, though, a lot more that the ones I just bought at the home improvement store.

  3. I have many passalong plants and wouldn't give them up for anything. Each does have its own story, especially those that came from family.

    Thanks for sharing this tidbit on yours, and for your kind comments on my other blog "Grandma's Diaries".


A comment from you is like chocolate - maybe I could live without it, but life is more fun with it. I'll try to answer. If someone else's comment piques your interest, please feel free to talk among yourselves.