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

Friday, July 14, 2006


My garden is in Austin – I’ve been an Austin gardener for years. Why, oh why did I buy this Gardenia jasminoides ‘Veitchii’? I knew it was dumb even before I read ”the infamous gardenia thread”.
So why? Well, for one thing, it was on sale at Red Barn, and cost less than an ugly bouquet at the grocery store. And the plant was already budded, ready to pop. There’s even a chance it’ll live, since a fairly large gardenia shrub grows about 6 blocks from here, blooming on the East side of a brick house. Miss Scarlet made me do it. On June 30th, seventy years had passed since Gone With the Wind hit the bookstores, and I decided to reread the book. Although the romance seemed the same, there were aspects I hadn’t noticed when I was younger. Had Margaret Mitchell always talked so much about the landscape? The pages are full of pine trees, peach trees, apple trees, magnolias, oaks, cedars and dogwoods. People gather on porches, rock on verandas, sit in arbors and stroll in rose gardens. Mockingbirds & jays make noise, while Scarlet passes over lawns made of clover and Bermuda grass, and remarks upon daffodils and jonquils, yellow jessamine, Cherokee roses and violets, blackberry brambles, crab apple trees, honeysuckle, sweet shrubs, hills of sweet potatoes, rows of peas & beans, fields of cotton, palmettos, wistaria, crepe myrtles, bald cypress, live oaks covered in moss, ivy, smilax, moss, and grapevines, coleus, geranium, oleander, hydrangea, elephant ear, rubber plants, nasturtiums, hollyhocks, crimson, yellow & white roses, ferns and gladioli. The young women wear fragrant Cape jessamine & pink tea roses in their hair or pinned at the bodice. Most of these plants summoned some sort of mental image, but ‘Cape Jessamine’ was unfamiliar. This turned out to be another name for Gardenia, loved for scented wrist corsages. So when that sale plant beckoned, to own my own fragrant Cape Jessamine was irresistible.


  1. Well, Annie, if it dies, after all, tomorrow is another day, and you can always try again. Or just let it be gone with the wind.

  2. Last year I really, really wanted gardenias... So, we planted some in the back yard. Unfortunately, my great dane killed them by both urinating on them several times daily, and stepping on them. If you manage to keep yours alive, maybe I'll try one in the front.

  3. That particular cultivar is a lot tougher than the standard gardenia. They seem to last for about five to six years here. Even when scaled and ignored they keep on blooming.

    Keep in mind that Scarlet had a lot of extra help around the house.

    Odd synchronicity to my latest post.

  4. I reread Gone With the Wind every other summer or so. I think the finale of the Paramount summer film festival kicks me into gear.

    Although I love gardenias and have bought and killed a potted one, the plant Margaret Mitchell made me crazy for was muscadine grapes. Her father had a jug a scuppernong wine hidden in the garden--the first thing Scarlet consumes after fleeing the burning of Atlanta.

    And one of these years I really need to plant some sweet potatoes.

  5. Gardenias...like azaleas...seem to grow pretty easy here in Mobile.
    I had read the gardenia thread a while back and thought how crazy it all was.
    Here you just stick 'em in the ground and forget about them.

    What a perfect way to get a plant addict interesting
    in reading Gone with the Wind again!
    And what a perfect day to just stay inside and read!
    Thanks for the post!
    Hope your gardenia flourishes!

  6. I agree Amy. It sounds like Gone With the Wind could b the next biggest gardening book to return to the shelves.

    You made it sound so inviting Annie, I might even have to read it myself. It doesn't have any big words, does it?

  7. Oh, but if i could only grow peonies...

  8. There's a Texas wine called 'Sweet Moscato'. Do you think it is anything like the scuppernong, M?

    Marthachick, I miss the scented peonies a lot. I also had a single white Tree peony in Illinois. It grows at my friend Barb's house, now.

    Stuart, anyone reading GWTW for the first time has to remember that it's historical fiction, written 70 years ago by a woman who was born 40 years after the events at the start of the novel. By contemporary standards her attitudes are wince-inducing in many places, mixing dead-on perception of human emotions with ingrained prejudice.

    Although the book was pretty old when I first read it, Catholic girls in my generation grew up under some of the same restrictions as Scarlet did, so I felt a kinship with her. I'm not sure - does the story still say something to young women who have grown up with sports, the pill, education and freedom to choose both marriage & a career? There's no way to guess what a young guy would think of it!

  9. Love your blog, Annie, and thanks for your comment on mine. Ah, gardenias! Back in the day, Jungle Gardenia perfume was the scent of choice at our Catholic high school. It also overpowered the reek of tobacco smoke from sneaking a cigarette in the girls' bathroom and fooled the nuns (we thought). Here in our semi-arid, low-humidity climate, I still see gardenias for sale in the grocery store and there is not a chance in hell they will ever bloom. But hope springs eternal and everytime I see one, I get that frisson of excitement that maybe this time I can give it everything it needs. But like Scarlet, I've lived and learned. As gardenias go, tomorrow is NOT another day!

  10. Annie said: "I don't know why, but there seem to be many female bloggers with Catholic schools in their history. Shall we call it the May Crowning effect? Girls always brought the best flowers in the yard to school."

    Gosh, yes, I'd almost forgotten about May crowning! Though I can still sing the songs we used as we crowned "The Queen of the May". Bring flowers of the fairest....etc.

    Oh, yes, I'm jealous that all your gardenia buds opened!

  11. Go Gardenia and last many a year for Annie!

    It is fascinating to re-read books and realise there were so many references to flowers, shrubs etc. that didn't quite enter one's consciousness first read through.


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.