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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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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Iris, A Meme and Nostalgia

The County Clerk asked for more iris photos – remember the mystery iris that had been labeled purple? It opened and looks exactly like the big clump of pale orange ones, which had also been labeled as purple. There must be a colorblind organic gardener supplying these mismarked divisions to the fundraising sales!

Here is one of the pale orange ones at left, cut from its stalk and held in my hand. The mystery iris is at right… they look identical to me.

The County Clerk also tagged me for a même, so I gave it a try.

1] I’ve spent months researching the perfect tree or shrub for some area we’re revamping, then dragged Philo from nursery to nursery hunting for it. Several times we brought our treasure home and set the container in the designated place, but… there were no bells, no skyrockets, no tingles of delight. I set the poor reject aside for some other use, and went back to the research.

2] I can trap myself into doing projects by using psychology. Trudi Temple has a wonderful garden in Illinois, which I visited over and over back in the nineties. The first time I went to Trudi’s, I came home wanting to emulate her, but knew I’d have second thoughts if I waited too long. I knew exactly what amount of destruction would keep me from turning back, and before going in to cook dinner, had ripped out a band of grass wide enough to delineate the boundaries of a new huge front yard border. When I wanted a new side garden this spring, I used a weed whip to scribe the basic shape, destroying the turf so I wouldn’t chicken out. [This border is coming along and there will be photos in a few weeks.]

3] I didn’t even realize this might be considered crazy, but Philo recalled how puzzled the old neighbors were when I used our children’s wagons and carts to roll trees and shrubs around the yard. I would move them to possible locations, sometimes leaving them in place for a week or two before making final planting decisions. The neighbors may also have been amused when I persuaded family members of differing heights into letting me position them with arms stretched outward overhead, then maneuvered them around the yard so I could estimate how a tree or shrub would look in the landscape.

4] Maybe this one really was crazy. When my mother-in-law gave me money as a birthday gift, she probably hoped I’d get my hair restyled, or at least buy some new clothes. I took the money to the material supply yard instead, and bought boulders for my garden.

5] I may never know if this was the craziest thing I’ve ever done or if it was the sanest. Eight years ago I let myself be talked into leaving our families, our home and the tree peony, the iris, the lilies, the Pagoda Dogwood, the wildflowers, the lilacs and so much more that grew in our 12-year old garden in Illinois, in order to live in Texas.

We thought it would last 3-to-5 years, and there were many good reasons to move, both professional and financial. But I must confess that there was an element of horticultural greed influencing my consent. I wanted a chance to grow the plants in the Plant Delight Catalog…all those plants from warmer zones. Well, I'm plenty warm now.

Friday noon: Carol's question about the vines on our Illinois garage roof sent me to the photo albums. Maybe this should be crazy thing # 6? I talked Philo into putting a lathe and chicken wire stripe from side to side, over the roof point. A long-established Sweet Autumn Clematis climbed up from the left, blue morning glories grew quickly on the right, and they swirled together by August. The open garage door and basketball net don't do too much for the photo, but it was pretty cool to see in person!

Many of you are swamped with spring cleanup, so I hesitate to tag anyone. If you read this, and would like to do the meme, please go to the County Clerk's site and find out how to make a post. Those of you who are whining that you can't be out in the garden right now, consider yourself tagged!



  1. Crazy? It all makes sense to me. I love the picture of the plants growing up over the roof. Is that from your Illinois house? What is that plant on the roof?

    If it keeps raining, I'll have to post something over the weekend, as it will be too wet to work in the garden!

  2. Hello, Annie!
    This work is very nice. Thank you
    have a good weekend

  3. Annie, you are a scream. Hey, when you are passionate about something, it calls for a little eccentricity, right? I laughed at you buying boulders with your birthday money. I'd buy a new feeder :o)

  4. I love your list! :) My boyfriend is exactly 6ft. tall, so I have often asked him to stand in a certain spot out in the backyard while I run inside and look out the window to see if a 6ft. trellis will work to block out something ugly in the neighbor's yard. *grin* Glad to know I'm not the only one.

  5. Annie,
    You must be a good shot, those plants wouldn't have a chance if I am shooting near them!!!
    I love love love your iris!!
    I am the market day coodinator at school, but have been in the south for twenty years, so I have never heard of it, before! Trudi Temple is speaking in Rockford, next month, I think I might go see her!!

  6. Annie,

    That picture of the purple clematis over the backboard made my day!

    We had purple clematis running up the side of our garage (with backboard, of course) back in Louisville, also on the mailbox. It loves the climate there. I remember a pretty one in your Texas yard, too (I've tried several clematis plants here in Austin and managed to kill them all, even without basketballs.)


  7. You are talking to other passionate gardeners here, so I doubt any of your items sound crazy to most of us. I've definitely done several of those crazy things myself.

    I enjoyed the photos of your Illinois garden. Boy, it was lush and full after all those years of love and care. No worries, though. You're well on your way to recreating that in your Austin garden too.

  8. Annie - Thank you for sharing the garage picture. That is stunning! I wish I had the right kind of location to do something like that.
    It really makes that garage something special in the garden!

  9. Carol, I think the County Clerk started this because he suspected we're all enablers, don't you?

    Hello David, thank you so much for coming here.

    Mary, me a scream? Your birding is a genuine passion!

    Blackswamp Girl, has he figured out yet that his handy height was one of the attractions? Or does he still think it was his mind?

    Sissy! You work with Market Day? That's so cool. [Do they still sell Crispitos? A decade ago those were dangerously good, but high in fat.]
    My friend Roberta gave me Trudi's biography, and I'm reading it now. I only knew her as a garden guru, but her life story is amazing. As to the hoop: Bowling maybe; basketball, not likely. Our sons put it up and it was great when kids came to visit.

    Julie, I don't want to unmake your day, but the Clematis was the small-flowering white one. The morning glories look purple in the photo. We grew a large purple Jackmannii on a trellis at the front of the house. I've been very lucky with clematis here - one was already growing at this house when we came in 2004, and I brought two with me from the other deck.

    Pam/Digging, it's wonderful to be understood, sometimes, especially by other passionate gardeners!
    We were at that house the longest, and it was hard to leave. But there really is such joy in the process, and there's plenty of that here.

    Carol, I'm glad you gave me the mental push to scan it. That was an old detached garage. I'd never try it on an attached garage or on a new house. Now that would be a crazy thing to do.


  10. wow. I'm blown away!

    And yes, summer up here can be green and lush... you've proven it.

    Thank you for such a heartfelt composition.

    It is a delight to read!


  11. Dear A.,

    ...no unmake at all, just a fine memory spark. And I'm glad to know these are morning glories (of course they are, now that I take a closer look). They are so much easier than clematis. A few sprouts are now "eyeing" the phone pole out front. Hope I can coax them to climb it.


  12. I love the vines on the garage. My morning glories last year were a disappointment. Now that I've seen yours disappointment is an understatement.

    Even though I'm one of the whiners that can't get out there yet I haven't gardened long enough to have done five crazy things. I am considering shoveling off all of the area I want to get to work on but that's not crazy, is it?

  13. Annie, your garden is always an inspiraton, those iris! I love the photos of your old garden too. I am a big fan of vines climbing all over otherwise ordinary structures and making them look extraordinary, like yours!

    Love your five crazy things. I would have to add eating poorly in May because I used to spend most of the grocery money on bedding plants!

  14. Your No. 4 made me laugh and laugh - because I've done the exact same thing. My mom would send me money for 'clothes' - at Easter, or for my birthday, and I'd run off and buy a tree. Then my mom would ask what I got...and I'd sort of change the subject real quick. I know she'd just say 'do you NEED another tree' to which I'd have to replay 'what can I say, this whole plant thing must be genetic'. As for crazy, I remember leaving my Michigan garden from my grad school days - filled with delphiniums and all sorts of things that loved the cooler summers there, and moving south. But boy, now that I'm down here, I can't imagine lasting through a long winter again. I love growing a second crop of tomatoes (and mexican sunflowers!) and harvesting lettuce in the winter. I do hope that someone is enjoying your Illinois garden, and is sitting in my Michigan house, wondering when the delphiniums will bloom!

  15. Annie... Shhhhhhhh. Don't be giving away all of my secrets--he sometimes reads over my shoulder, you know. ;)

  16. We'll have to trade some irises this fall. I thought I was getting some yellows and pale purples, but they're all blooming dark purple.

  17. I've read your post twice but can't find any crazy things in it. It all seems very sensible to me. Who would want to buy food and clothes when you can spend the money on those very necessary things for the garden?

    BTW the irises are pretty eventhough they are not purple.

  18. CountyClerk, thanks for tagging me and also for liking the result.

    Julie, did you tie some string on it to get them going? Last year I used black thread [the thicker kind for buttons] to get the snail vine going, and that sure worked!

    Apple, you've had a very long winter! You and your sister are already getting caught up on garden crazy.

    LostRoses, thank you. It was a wedding summer, and we were hosting a bridal shower, so I got creative.
    Spending the grocery money might be counter-productive - the other gardener would not be happy!

    Pam, your story about trading trees for clothes money is great - and I'll bet your mom would still get a laugh out of it, too.
    I agree with you - the longer we're here, the less it seems possible to live with a "real" winter again. [But you might get a different answer when it's August in Austin.]

    Sorry, Kim, didn't mean to tell him something he didn't already guess!

    R Sorrell, it sounds like a plan to me! You can have some of both the pale peach iris and the white ones. [I think the white one is the same as Iris albicans on the Zanthan site.]

    Yolanda Elizabet, that says as much about you as about me!

    I'm very fond of the pale peach iris... but I also want a violet-colored iris to be in bloom right now, to use in vases with the Bridal wreath spiraea. I've always loved that combination.


  19. I love #3. I can picture it perfectly!

  20. Sorry Annie, but you don't pass the crazy test. You are totally normal :) Those peach iris are such a delicate and lovely color.
    I can't imagine leaving that fantastically lush Illinois garden. The vines make a gorgeous display. What a great idea that was. Clematis is one of my favorite plants.
    I like your idea of using a person to picture the height. See, you've taught me something! You are a much better planner than me.

  21. What's all the fuss about. Your behavior seems completely normal to me, After all my blog is called Gardeners Anonymous:)

  22. Count me in on the "this sounds perfectly normal to me" group! I always think those folks who don't garden must be the crazy ones! Besides, how can we be crazy when they are so many of us!

    I laughed about the boulders! Sounds like a perfect way to spend the money to me! I once (dare I admit this) took back a very nice...what do you call them?....wool scarf, gloves and hat set...and treated myself to a very fun plant shopping expedition. I told myself the intent was for me to have something nice that I liked...and so... The crazy part was that we ended up moving and I had to leave those great finds...but the memory lingers...now that's a great gift!

    Daylily folks like to do these because no one else understands why you simply must have hundreds of them. I now must have my spreadsheet open when bidding on the LA as I have caught myself bidding on ones I already own! (I knew I liked them!)

    The sun is up and so I *need* to go see what's up in the garden...not crazy, not at all!

  23. #3 got me laughing! I can just visualise it, all your family standing around like little trees! I have to use big sticks, or planting the shovel into the ground for my esimation.


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