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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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Monday, February 26, 2007

An Author, A Project, and the Oscars

Last Friday night, Amy Stewart came to Book People, and four of the Austin Garden bloggers were there to greet her. I’m so glad that I went – her talk was great, Book People is a wonderful local bookstore, and it’s always fun to get together with friends.

Book People had copies of Amy’s new book Flower Confidential for sale as we walked in, so I bought mine then went upstairs, meeting MMS of Zanthan on the steps. We found seats and were soon joined by Pam/Digging and Julie of the Human Flower Project, and we had some time to chat and catch up before Amy arrived and we started waving at her. Amy was so much fun and so enthusiastic, in spite of her hectic schedule.

Amy brought in fresh flowers she’d found at a nearby Whole Foods. She used them to illustrate points in her presentation, giving us glimpses of what she’s written about in her book - plant breeding, the way flowers are bought and shipped, and how safety and ecological concerns are impacting the consumer decisions.
After the talk, she personally thanked us for coming out and then a swarm of people brought their books up for inscriptions, followed by clerks bearing stacks of books bought by people unable to attend, but who'd requested signatures.

We garden bloggers were in no hurry and waited until the line had gone down. With her tumbled curls and delicate skin, Amy looks so Elizabethan that she should have used a quill instead of a pen.
She signed my copy and told me to take a flower home - I couldn’t resist one of the pale apricot tulips.

Amy Stewart with the Austin Garden Bloggers.
If you’ve been to Pam’s blog recently, you’ve already seen this group photo with Pam from Digging, MSS of Zanthan Gardens, Amy Stewart, ‘Annie in Austin’ and Julie from the Human Flower Project.
Yes, we are now revealed, so if you’re in Austin and you recognize us – please say hello! [What are the odds this first happens at a nursery?]

Although I’ve only had time to read the first 30 pages of Flower Confidential, it’s fascinating so far, and I’m glad I bought it.

There's a story about how the 'Stargazer' lily became such a big hit, partly for it's packable qualities. Just reading about oriental lilies was enough to send me to old photo albums, to find a picture of these beauties growing in my Illinois garden back in 1997. The one I loved most was not 'Stargazer', but 'Casablanca'.

But this was not a reading kind of weekend, with warm, dry temperatures and the garden calling. We’ve been constructing a new border, and had the preliminary work done. One Saturday Philo and I went to GardenVille, shoveled compost and decomposed granite into sacks and hauled the stuff home. We went to pick up some free rocks; we stopped at Pam’s house and swapped a few plants [the advantage was all on my side ~ thank you Pam!], and shopped at the Natural Gardener, finding shrubs for the new border, a palm for the patio, and some perennials. The wind was fierce on Saturday afternoon, and local fire departments struggled to put out fires that had started in fields and soon threatened homes. Sunday was a calmer day – and we made more progress on the border.

On Sunday night I watched the Academy Awards show, because it's still fun, even when you don't care much who wins. Of the movies nominated for direction, story, performances etc., we’d only seen Little Miss Sunshine, Babel, An Inconvenient Truth, The Devil Wears Prada, and The Illusionist. We’ll eventually catch up with many of the others, like The Queen, Children of Men and Little Children, but although I’m glad Scorcese got his Oscar, it’s doubtful that I’ll make an effort to see The Departed – my pick of Scorcese movies is Bringing Out the Dead. Among my favorites this year were the wonderful, imaginative Science of Sleep, the biting and relentless Thank You For Smoking, and the supposedly unfilmable Tristram Shandy, A Cock and Bull Story – with not a nomination among them. No wonder I have few movies to cheer for at award shows!

And at the risk of alienating those of you who love "American Idol", and even though I think Jennifer Hudson is darling, [and my cousin works with Jennifer Hudson’s sister so I'm just a few degrees of separation from this Oscar-winner], the current style of singing doesn't do much for me - listening to more than one song like those from Dreamgirls gives me a headache. Cranky old Annie prefers Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin as the singing Johnson Sisters in A Prairie Home Companion. That’s the movie that earned my money in 2006 – both at the box office and when I bought the DVD.


  1. Wow, you've been busy. I look forward to seeing the changes you and Philo have done, especially how you used all those rocks.

  2. "Cranky old Annie" indeed! Sounds like a wonderful weekend.

  3. You guys look like fun!

    I can't wait for Amy to hit San Francisco.

  4. I mean, you ladies look like fun. :)

  5. I knew Scorcese was going to get his finally but I don't have any desire to see "The Departed" because I really love the movie on which it was based, the Chinese (not Japanese as the announcer said on the show last night) thriller, "Infernal Affairs".

    I do recommend "Children of Men"...I can't believe it lost out on cinematography to "Pan's Labyrinth". Set design, yes. But not cinematography.

  6. Annie, it's good to see you! Your time with friends and Amy Stewart made for a great day, huh? You are way ahead of us in spring planting. Our nights still dip below freezing. But I like watching what you do.

    I'm not a movie fan and I couldn't be less concered about Oscar night. But I am an American Idol fan - more than a fan, I'm obsessed with the darn show. Jennifer Hudson has a great voice but I have to agree with you, enough is enough sometimes.

  7. Dear Annie,

    At last! I've been waiting for your story about Amy's talk. Thanks, I enjoyed it.

    Constructing a new border eh? Sounds like fun. I hope there will be lots of pictures soon. ;-)

    Went to see The Queen on Saturday (the movie not the person) and have seen Babel, The Illusionist and Children of Men. The latter was the best of the bunch IMO, Babel also of the good.

  8. I will have to look for the Casablanca lilly...I love TPHC, being Lutheran and all, it's in our guidelines, dontchaknow??!!!

  9. I just think you Austin gardeners are so cool...and LUCKY! I would love to have a group of people around here like that :-)

    I actually do want to see The Departed. I haven't been to the movies in three years...I can't believe it's been that long! Thank goodness for DVDs! I'm with you on Hudson, as well. Eventually, it gets to be too much.

  10. Unlikely I'll ever see "the Departed" either. Why are there so many movies about the mob? Only one of the best picture nominees I'd seen was Little Miss Sunshine. It was fun, but didn't seem Oscar-level to me.

    When it comes to music I'm a TPHC kind of person too.


  11. Sounds like you had a great weekend!

  12. Is that a Murraya I see in your plant purchases for the new border?

    I am not much of a movie goer and I didn't watch the Oscars, but I did see Dreamgirls and loved it.

    I could listen to Jennifer Hudson belt out one song after another, no headache.

  13. Great to be able to put a face to some Austin garden ladies. You are all lovely and I'd love to be able to meet you in person too!

    Hmnn, of your list, I've only seen An Inconvenient Truth and The Illusionist. Missed the Awards too because I had to work and I'm too lazy to set up the VCR...Can't compare Children of Men to Pan's Labyrinth, because I didn't see the former...

    All sorts of things I'm adding to my List of Things I Want To Do, including reading Amy Stewart's book!!

  14. Annie, I could only echo some of these commenters in that it's great to finally put a face to the blogs you awesome ladies write. That's one power-packed photo you have with all five of you. So much talent in one room! Awesome..

  15. This post makes me wish there were more people around my area that had an interest in gardening. The only person I could've ever shared it with was my grandmother, but she passed away a couple years ago.

    On a lighter note, and I'm sorry to use your blog for this, but I was wondering if you could check out these two topics and tell me what you think. Comment back on my blog if you can!

    Oh, and I'll be putting up a new picture entry today. My mom bought Gardenias!



  16. Pam/Digging, I'm still working on those rocks!!

    Carol, it was fun - I started planting, and have already moved things twice.

    ChuckB - we are fun! But who you callin' ladies??

    MSS, Children of Men is on the list. But I'm not too sure about Pan's Labrynth.

    Mary, I knew you were a "AI" fan - and hope your favorite makes it to the end. And THEN those of us who like "House MD" can see Hugh Laurie again!

    Yolanda Elizabet, there will eventually be photos... can;t do it yet because some other stuff is going on right now. And another vote for Children of Men has been noted!

    Sissy, I'm not Lutheran but have loved TPHC forever. Casablanca won't make it here, so grow one for me!

    Colleen, my husband and I were movie fans from the time we first dated, then when our kids were young, going to movies was a special occasion.
    We get to the theaters, but still see a lot on DVD. Recent choice was Hollywoodland.

    Bill, that was part of why I avoided the Departed. And lately Jack Nicholson is annoying me.

    Pam, some of what we're doing was discussed nearly 3 years ago, before we even bid on this house... so seeing some progress toward those original plans is exciting!

    Christopher , the shrubs were a Texas Mountain Laurel, Sophora secundiflora, and a Viburnum 'Spring Bouquet'. I think we're too cold for the Murraya - not sure about Houston but I'm pretty sure they grow south near Brownsville.
    What did you think about the movie of Chicago? I have both the CD and the DVD and especially love "Cell Block Tango"

    Kati, you put your face on, too! I'm a little more than halfway through Flower Confidential, and it's extremely good.

    Stu, I'm the most recent of the bloggers in the photo and am really glad they let me hang out with them!

    Andrea, I gave it a try so check your comments. Good luck with finding other gardeners. I'm still hoping to find some in my neighborhood - my gardening friends are wonderful, but are spread out all over Austin. In Illinois there were several on my block, and I miss the way we could pop in and out of each other's gardens.

    Thank you all -

  17. Looking at all the empty space in the nurseries I'm envious that you already have shrubs/trees in stock. Probably be mid-March or later before stuff arrives here though it feels like an early spring.

  18. Actually, I looked at some nurseries that were closer to me, but found nothing we were looking for - it always turns out to be worth the trip to go to John Dromgoole's Natural Gardener.


  19. I didn't see the Prarie Home Companion movie, but I am a longtime fan of the radio show. It is unique, and still as fresh as ever.

  20. I pressed the wrong button and apparently posted my comment before finishing.
    As I was saying, I'm envying you buying plants and getting stuck into the garden already! I'll just have to enjoy watching your progress :)
    I'm going to put A Prairie Home Companion on my list of movies to see. I like the sound of it.

  21. Gary and Kerri, I think you'll like Prairie Home Companion, The Movie. And since it was Robert Altman's last film, there's a bittersweet joy in first watching the movie, then switching on the commentary, listening to Robert Altman and Kevin Kline in rambling conversation about the making of the movie.


  22. We just got A Prairie Home Companion/the movie in the mail from Netflix last night. I can't wait to watch it despite the 2.5 stars other netflix reviewers gave it.

  23. Hi Rosie! My sisters told me that you're finally melted out and a few crocus are up.

    We're fans of the radio show, making us the target audience, I guess, but when Altman works with cast members like Meryl & Lily, John C Reilly, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, L.Q. Jones, and Garrison himself, it was irresistible. Watching Lindsey Lohan interact with the pros was fun and seeing the musicians and PHC people who are only heard on the radio was also fun.

    I hope you like it, too.



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