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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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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Felder Rushing at Florarama

The answer to all of the questions at the end of the last post is Yes! I did get to hear Felder Rushing speak in person. Philo & I did get to Florarama [AKA Zilker Garden Festival]. I bought the two replacement Duranta plants, and also found another Barleria-Philippine violet, a Pigeonberry, a Denver Gold columbine, a Dwarf myrtle, a Bletilla-ground orchid, another hot pepper for Philo, raffle tickets to benefit Zilker Park, and bought Felder Rushing’s book Tough Plants For Southern Gardens, seen above with my well-read copy of Passalong Plants, which I've scribbled in, stuffed with notes and filled with post-its.

You know, that passalong book has been in my possession since the middle nineties. It had me craving Crinum lilies and wanting Banana Shrubs/Michelias when I lived in Zone 5-Northern Illinois. I’ve read and reread it, and made lists of plants I’ve been given and plants that I've given away from three different gardens.
When Felder Rushing walked up to the podium and started talking it was like hearing an old friend – a very wise and funny friend. He talked of left-brain horticulture and right-brain gardening. He talked about his ancestors and his descendents, about plant societies and rules, bottle trees like Pam’s, using plants that want to grow where you live, told how to use plants in combinations, and then he shared the his “Gardeners’ Bill of Rights”, which was quite empowering! He introduced his radio partner, Dirt, who spent decades as a chef, but is now a radio gardener with very unusual advice, a mellow voice and very interesting stories.

Can you imagine how glad I was that we were in that audience?
Apparently with age comes boldness - because after the talk I not only asked Felder Rushing to sign my book, but mentioned that the Garden Bloggers' Book Club had chosen Passalong Plants as the next selection. I even gave him one of the little business cards Philo made for me with the girl-in-the-hat icon and my blog address.

This was my second burst of courage. Earlier in the day, I approached John Dromgoole [John is the garden guru I linked to in The Gardener’s Year post] and told him that there were a bunch of Austin Garden Bloggers who were fans, that we loved his nursery and that we had links to the Natural Gardener’s website on our blogs, so that people all over the country may have heard that rooster crow. And I gave him one of the little Annie cards, too.

For the Wisteria fans, let’s close with a photo of Zilker Botanical Garden’s method of dealing with this lovely, rampant vine. Their venerable Wisteria is pruned into a tree-form on a small, manmade island in the middle of a koi pond:


  1. Oh, my! Loads of jealously from zone 5... about the plants, that you got to hear Felder speak in person, that you have fun little business cards, that you had such a great day. Must find this "gardener's bill of rights"! May all your days be as good as this one!

  2. That does sound like a fun day. I can't wait to see your Annie business cards in person, and I'm glad you were bold enough to share your (and the other Austin bloggers') enthusiasm with Rushing and Dromgoole.

    I skipped Florarama today to take a wildflower safari in the Hill Country. Too bad I couldn't have done both.

  3. Annie, what an interesting day - plant-buying and hearing a fascinating speaker too. Sounds like the whole day was a pleasure, lucky you!

    How cool that you had your little business cards to pass along, what a great idea! Umm, was Felder Rushing signing that flamingo?

  4. I love the Passalong book, and have had mine forever too. I think now that my garden has most of what is mentioned in there - coral vines climbing my trees like crazy, daylilies, and an ever-growing collection of crinums - and yesterday as I was wandering my garden in the morning (with the old beagle girl) a neighbor walking by commented on some salvias to which I replied 'Want any?' and of course, she did! Congrats on your bursts of courage - sounds like a fun time. (and, of course, the new book sounds like a must-read for me). Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

  5. Who's flamigo is that? Was he signing it? It's sounds like you had a wonderful day. The weather looks nice.

  6. Carol, the Bill of Rights will be a book or program when it's done, I'll bet... the final version is still being fine tuned. One of the 'rights' was that you are allowed to plant whatever flower colors you choose right next to each other.

    Pam/Digging, the wildflower safari sounds great. There are so many things happening all at once in Austin at this time.

    LostRoses and C, the pen was for signing books, and the flamingo is Felder's mascot, which has traveled all over with him, even to Stonehenge. The website has a photo of a young Felder Rushing getting this flamingo signed by Don Featherstone, who invented the Plastic Flamingo in 1957.

    Pam, sharing plants is one of the joys of gardening, isn't it? This book really tapped into the hearts of gardeners.

    As to the cards - Philo didn't make them until Carol asked me to tell Felder Rushing about the book club. Once I thought about the cards, they seemed like a good idea. This blog has a lot of links, so a person who is interested in gardening can quickly find a lot of other gardeners with garden blogs.


  7. I can hear your excitement in this post! You must have been in heaven to make contact with someone you admire so much! Annie, I LOVE that last photo!

  8. I am an avid listener to Felder and Dr. Dirt's radio show The Gestalt Gardener on Mississippi Public Braodcasting. Dr. Dirt lives only miles from me over in Edwards, Miss. His claim to fame is a garden that produces blooms for a a bouquet every week of the year. How cool is that!

    Glad you had a great time!

  9. Mmm, I want to hear more about left brain horticulture and right brain gardening.

    That's hilarious about putting the wisteria on an island.

  10. Annie, how wonderful! I'm glad that you are passing along info about your blog--they would feel as lucky as we do to follow along with you here, I'm sure. :)

  11. Hi Annie,

    I want a big thank you for your lovely comments in my blog!

    I wish I'd been a ladybug who'd tagged along with you to hear Felder Rushing ... and good for you that you went up and talked to him! I have to order a copy of Passalong Plants from Amazon since I haven't found it at bookstores or the library.

    It would be so cool to see your new cards too...

    I loved seeing the picture of the wisteria vine and then went to check your wisteria post. I love them, especially because I cannot grow them here.

    Would you believe we had some snow today? My pond is frozen solid!!

  12. Felder Rushing spoke at the AL Master Gardener's convention last year and was a big hit there too. (Sounds like the same presentation. I enjoyed it, he's hilarious!)

    Steve Bender (from Southern Living) was the keynote speaker there, and it was hard to decide who was funnier. They were both so great.

    But BOTH of them ran out of books in like, 10 minutes. Dagnabbit.

  13. Holly hocks from last falls' harvest are up one inch

  14. OMG, Annie! What a day!! I would so love to hear Felder Rushing! I remember in Passalong Plants he says something like you can't kill a crinum...which gave me courage to try one, now two...of course, they haven't bloomed (what does this say??)...

    Good for you that you talked with him, got your book signed and that...very cool you...had business cards to give out!

    Hey, what a great haul of plants!

    All in all, a great day! This was so fun to read!

  15. Mary, yeah - I wonder if they see other superannuated fangirls, LOL!

    Hi Lisa Blair, thanks for commenting - you have a nice blog, and some very interesting recipes, too. I love the yearlong bouquet story.

    chuck b, it's in the book, and also some in the essays on the website. The island is part of the Taniguchi garden - I just love that place.

    Blackswamp Girl, I'm not too sure that authors realize that garden blogging is a community... it seemed less embarrassing than jumping up and down, yelling, "Hey! We're real and we're out here!!"

    Kate, I'm very glad that we found each other - reading your posts has been a pleasure!

    Hello Rurality, I'm sure the basic presentation is the same, but he sure tailored it well for Texas conditions, with lots of local references. Now I'm the jealous one, since you saw Steve Bender and Felder Rushing together!

    CityFarmer, after the latest cold snap hit Illinois, I'll bet you're glad that your stuff was not too far along. I hope you didn't have too much damage.

    Gotta Garden, it was fun, and the weather was perfect... one week later we'd have been shivering in icy rain! It would have made a depressing post, no doubt.

    I have a few crinum-type lilies, too - which only made leaves for a few years. Last year I blogged about two amarcrinum that finally bloomed.

    Thank you everyone,


  16. What a fun day with so many exciting things happening. How exciting to get some new plants and hear a great speaker all in one day!
    I got lost clicking your links...well, not really lost...but well and truly sidetracked (part of the time I was reading blogger book reviews..always interesting).
    I'm glad you had the courage to speak to Felder and John D. Spreading the word about the garden blog community and handing out little cards...how very cool :)
    Thanks for sharing your day Annie.


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