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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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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In Transition

We only have a few Thanksgiving decorations to put away, but they were still lying around Sunday when we started to put up icicle lights on the veranda. This time of year was hectic in the North, too, but it seems even more chaotic down here, where the garden never sleeps and the ground doesn’t freeze.

Many things have been started – few things have been finished – most things are stuck somewhere in the middle. At the beginning of this year the word I chose as my theme for 2006 was, “Decide” – and now in November it’s time to drag this word out again and repeat it over and over, hoping it can jolt me out of my mental inertia.

It’s been so warm that I didn’t bring the two Plumeria trees inside yet, and still haven’t figured out where I can fit them. After 7 months in the garden, both are in larger pots with much longer branches, so the corner of the garage is going to be really tight. The Hawaiian White Ginger needs to go in the ground, but where? The evergreen Hibiscus used to fit in the kitchen near the window, but it’s doubled in size. Should I prune it severely? Will that kill it? Can the Aloe vera stay out or is it tender? The Meyer’s Lemon is still in the pot by the door, and will probably come in and out for this winter. I’m still not sure where I want to put the daylily from Pam. There are a few peppers left hanging in the vegetable garden, in hopes they’ll be a little bigger by the time the cold cuts them down.

The weather has been pleasant and dry and the leaves are falling – so I'd better water all the containers and whatever’s been recently planted & transplanted. We want to put the Christmas tree up this week, so I'll start to move the furniture from that corner. I need to do some Christmas shopping, but I don't have a car today. Maybe I should write a few cards… but first I’ll answer email. I haven't posted in a week, but first I'll read a few garden blogs. I'll make up my mind after I eat the last bowl of turkey soup.

Then at 3 AM Monday I woke up to the sound of rain hitting the roof, maybe a third of an inch, bringing down another batch of leaves. The prediction now is for possible drizzle, with a few more warm days – then a freeze on Thursday and Friday. So my dithering must end and it’s time to Decide.

For decades of Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas dinners in Illinois, my mom has made a raw cranberry relish, and we use her recipe here in Texas. You’ve probably tasted it or maybe you make it yourself, with a bag of raw cranberries, a whole orange and a little sugar, chopped fine in a food processor or in batches in a blender. The Meyer's Lemon tree has produced some ripe fruit, with half-a-dozen lemons still to come. This year we made our relish with 2 bags of raw cranberries, 2 Meyer's lemons and one whole Satsuma orange, adding just barely enough raw sugar.

We were amazed at the sparkle and flavor the lemons added to this old favorite.

You see? I couldn’t even decide how to write this post! Should I talk about the relish recipe or whine and ramble about indecision at the end of November?



  1. You have such an eye for beauty...like a book I read once called "The Radiance of the Ordinary". That pressed glass plate reminds me of the my great-grandmother's...a plate that my mother gets out only for special occasions.

    Our lemons are ripening but are not as far along as yours.

    I've been racing around in the garden too. November and March are my busiest times outside, I think. Unlike you, I can either keep house or keep garden so right now the house is sadly neglected.

    As for the holidays, Advent won't begin until this Sunday so I refuse to think about them until then. Everything has its season...and it's not yet! I may be lapsed but I'm still a tradionalist.

  2. I can help you with one decision: yes, the aloe vera will freeze. I lost one to a freeze once, so I know.

    I haven't been as busy as you and M. seem to be. I guess I got most of my transplanting done in October, when it was still hot and I had to water furiously to keep them going. Now it seems pretty peaceful in the garden to me.

    I'm still wondering if we'll really get that predicted freeze on Thursday. Our neighborhood seems to be the warmest spot in Austin, so who knows. I may cover my Elf aloe, but I don't think I'll worry about the other pots or the hoses this time.

  3. You are so right about this being a time of transition. It seems the "to do" list grows longer as we hurl towards the end of the year, even if you live where the ground freezes. The cranberry relish looks delicious!

  4. Unlike you, I can either keep house or keep garden so right now the house is sadly neglected.

    Mulching was my last garden task before winter, and I am almost done. When I finished up yesterday I said to my boyfriend, "I'm two bags of mulch away from freedom!" and he sang back,

    "Freedom's just another word
    for two bags of mulch ..."

  5. Oh, why have I never thought of putting lemons in with the oranges? What a great idea! I'll try that next time I make my relish. Sounds yummy!

  6. Oh, I know what you mean! I'm starting to decorate for Christmas, starting to do a little shopping, plus cleaning up the garden, potting shed, and garage before it gets too cold. And, before my gardening is even finished this year, next year's seed catalogs have started coming already! Honestly, I thought I was done gardening back in October, but it's stayed warm so long that I've been able to do things I was going to put off until spring, like expanding a few of my beds. But, I'd rather be busy than bored, so I'm good :-)

    BTW, I'll have to make that relish. It looks great!

  7. I've always made my own relish from my grandmother's recipe, but never thought to add lemon. You have tempted me, and I'm going to try it for the Christmas holiday dinner. BTW, we always add sweet ground apples to the mix ( like Jonagold) -not too many or it gets bland.

    I love your pictures- You do have an eye- as commenter MSS has said!

  8. -that's ground-up ( as through a meat grinder) apples! I reread what I wrote, and thought -oops, that doesn't sound right.

  9. Ohmigod, you just reminded me that there are two hibiscus out in the garage! The temp is going to plummet to 4 degrees tonight so I'm going to have to hustle them inside and down to the laundry room where at least it's heated. Thanks a lot Annie, I was all ready to go to my snug bed!

    Clever idea on the cranberry relish, I can almost taste it looking at your beautiful photo.

  10. Greetings from Panama! My daughter lives in Austin. I hope to be there for a visit in May of 2007.

  11. I hope you're surviving the freeze - the cold weather is due to hit us sometime tomorrow, but they're not expecting a freeze yet. I hope you (and your garden) are faring well! It's been such a warm fall here - I harvested golden bell peppers this week.

    Oh - What you described as your cranberry relish has always been my favorite!

  12. I can so relate to your indecision. Thank you! I'm glad to know there are others out there like me. When the rain comes at least it narrows down the choices! :)
    Kylie makes that same relish for our Thanksgiving feast and I love, love, love it! With lemons I'm sure it's superb! Mmmm.
    Annie, I always love your comments on my blog. You never fail to make me smile :) I would probably have stayed behind and done the dishes too if I'd know what was in store. But then I'd have missed an unforgettable experience :)

  13. I forgot to say how much I love those pictures, especially the lemons and cranberries on that gorgeous plate. Now I'm hungry for that relish!

  14. Thanks for all the comments!

    MSS - we'll put up the decorations, but we don't turn them on until Saturday night, when we also will light the first candle on the Advent wreath. I think it's called the Vigil of Advent.

    Pam/Digging, the aloe came inside, thanks for the warning. I also brought in the little agave.

    Carol, SalixTree, Ilona and Kerri - this was our first experience with the Meyer's Lemons - they're some kind of hybrid and the taste is somehow different from a regular lemon. I'm not sure about the apples, Ilona... they'd no doubt taste wonderful, but wouldn't their addition shorten the 'shelf life'? We make a big batch and enjoy it for 5 or 6 days. I love to mix the Cranberry Relish into oatmeal at breakfast.

    Colleen, I agree - it's better to have too much to do than be bored.

    Lostroses I hope you saved the hibiscus, and Pam in SC, we have had a real freeze here! You must be the only part of the country that escaped.

    Firefly, I do the wacky song parody thing myself:)
    Kerri, you make me smile, too - and think our daughters might have some similar traits!
    Don Ray, hello and welcome - I'm not sure how you found me from Panama but I hope you enjoy the Austin links in my Blogroll - and your visit here in spring.


  15. This looks similar to the relish my husband's grandparents serve each year. So yummy! This year we had *three* types of cranberry dishes, since everyone is stubborn on insisting they have it a certain way!


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