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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, April 05, 2007

Reasons to Enjoy Blogging

A couple of days ago Sissy tagged me to write about why I enjoy blogging. I thought about the question as I wandered around, enjoying spring in the garden.

In the last post I pointed out the iris from Ellen in the side garden… the ones I hoped would bloom purple-violet in color. Once the buds showed color, I knew this was the spring for purple iris!

This shade is probably too far toward the violet side of the spectrum to thrill Hank, the Lake County Clerk – I think he wants a little more red in the color, but it looks good to me.

Several crepe myrtle saplings and a few nandinas grew on the back garage wall when we moved here, but we soon banished them, and smothered under the crepe myrtles we found a spindly rose. I gave the rose a chance - cut it back, watered it and Philo made it a trellis. This unnamed pink climber throws ridiculously tall canes 12-feet into the air every spring, makes one big splash of blooms in April, and is severely cut back again after the flowers fade. Along the back fence our neighbors have a gloriously full hedge of Southern Mock Orange. Some of the suckers sneaked under the fence, making smaller versions of the big shrubs on our side, so now we have Southern Mock Orange, too.

These three plants are in full bloom now, but they’re in different parts of the yard, and it’s impossible to look at more than one at a time. Out came the floral shears and now the three kinds of flowers form a more exciting composition by being together.

This kind of combination is a reason why I like blogging. It can be very exciting when each of us, blooming in our different corners of the world, has found a place to get together – a place where our talents, personalities and ideas can play off each other, and where they can be seen close up, not at a distance.

I loved reading blogs for a few years, then graduated to commenting on them. Once I started the Transplantable Rose it turned out to be more fun than expected, especially getting to know the other bloggers. Some of us have developed relationships with each other, and we’ve gradually revealed ourselves as time has passed. People are so complex, and have such unexpected things to tell and to teach, that things never get boring. I like surprises, both in blogging and in gardening. That’s why I tucked this small clematis, survivor of the deck at our last house, in at the base of the Lady Banks rose. Surprise!
I could say that I enjoy blogging because I like to write, or take photos, or enjoy learning more about other gardens, and say that it’s been fun to meet other bloggers in real life. These things are all true, but here’s a reason why I think blogging is not only enjoyable but magical:

Although we have no trouble talking, whining, discussing, joking, arguing, laughing, teasing and seeing the value of each other’s opinion in the blog world, this might never happen in the ordinary world. We’re sequestered in our separate circles – at work, in organizations, with family & friends, at children’s soccer games, in clubs, or on vacations. You might zip past my house on a bike while Philo and I would be inside the gate, working on a garden project. I might wave hello if we were in front, and you might wave back, and say hello, too, and that would be it.
But here, through the magical Blogosphere, from all over the world, women & men, of every lifestyle and orientation, old & young, with or without kids, with or without pets, with or without money, or health, or beauty, or physical strength or status - here is a place where disparate people can have genuine conversations.

It is a busy time of year, and I'm not sure who has time to read, let alone write, but if Mary in North Carolina, Gary in Houston and La Gringa in Honduras would like to answer, consider yourself tagged.


  1. What a beautiful take on blogging! It's so true. While my everyday life encompasses all of the same "type" of people (namely family or other parents of young children in my neighborhood) blogging lets me get to know so many other types of people. And I believe my life is richer because of it.

    Thanks for posting this :-)

  2. Annie, first I want to comment on that gorgeous Iris! I love the virtual tours of your gardens and learn a lot here. Our crepe myrtles are just beginning to sprout green and I'm excited, but I want some of those Iris!

    So I've been tagged on a topic I love to write about. Last month I posted "Why do I Blog" already, but since I love to ramble, I'll give this a shot in a few days.

    However, I don't think I could have expressed reasons to enjoy blogging without repeating what you have said so perfectly. I particularly like the scenario of the bikers riding by...very true.

  3. Annie, that's a perfect description of the democratic and yet intimate nature of blogging. Thanks for putting it into words so poetically, as always.

  4. What a wonderful way you have with words Annie, very well put.

    That Mock Orange looks great and you got it for free, what more could you possibly want? ;-)

    I like surprises too and not only of the botanical kind.

    Next year it will be a feast for the eyes, this arch of yours with the honeysuckle, the rose and the clematis all flowering at the same time.

  5. What a gift your blog was for me today. Your last paragraph was beautifully written, your words resonate with such significant meaning for all of us that love to blog. Your pictures are awesome - you've reminded me how much I loved Mock Orange at my last house and that I need to include it here at 21 Charles. Well done Annie!!!

  6. So eloquently written... thank you for a lovely post in both pictures and words.

  7. I might wave hello if we were in front, and you might wave back, and say hello, too, and that would be it.
    But here, through the magical Blogosphere, from all over the world, women & men, of every lifestyle and orientation, old & young, with or without kids, with or without pets, with or without money, or health, or beauty, or physical strength or status - here is a place where disparate people can have genuine conversations.

    Couldn't agree with you more Annie. I find that the beauty of the blogosphere is that we're free to come and go as we please as well. There is no obligation to 'stay for a cuppa' for fear of upsetting a friend. We visit. We enjoy. We share. All good stuff.

  8. Another beautiful post, Annie... and very beautiful spring garden pictures, too. I am glad that you finally got your purple iris. :)

  9. Annie,

    As I was reading about your neighbour's mock orange suckers ending up in your yard, it reminded me of a funny part Capek's book where he talks about neighbours growing melons and of the melon vines finding a way into his yard.

    You have such an amazing way with words combined with gorgeous pictures. I love the way you have woven in your enjoyment of blogging with plants, like the pretty small clematis.

    I think you've been able to pinpoint one of the great joys of getting to know people from all walks of life through their blogs. It is pretty special ...

  10. Very well said Annie. It truly is magical to be able to interact with people from around the world who we ordinarily would never have a chance to meet and talk to.

    Another good thing about blogs is that it eliminates a lot of the pre-judgment we can have of others when meeting them in person. That opens a door of opportunity we often don't allow ourselves.

    Congrats on your Purple Iris. The one I have been able to grow here is a deep navy blue. Maybe it will bloom for me soon.

  11. What is your white flower there? A dogwood?

  12. Although we have no trouble talking, whining, discussing, joking, arguing, laughing, teasing and seeing the value of each other’s opinion in the blog world, this might never happen in the ordinary world.
    So true, Annie. I love your purple iris! Happy Easter!

  13. Colleen, I knew mostly other mothers when my children were young - it just happens, doesn't it?

    Mary, since the iris were a passalong from an old garden, I figured they'd be tough, but am happy that they also turned out pretty!
    Only write when you get the time, Mary - it's not homework ;-]

    Pam/Digging, 'democratic yet intimate' - great phrase!

    Yolanda Elizabet, you named your sweet cat 'Surprise', so I know you like the unexpected. Maybe it's part of being a Sagittarius?

    21Charles Street, I'm so glad you remembered a favorite flower to plant when the snow melts.

    Carol, thank you. A compliment from you meants a lot.

    Stu, you're right - and when we live on opposite sides of the globe, with blogging we don't have to worry that the person is asleep when we visit.

    BlackswampKim, the combination of some form of white spiraea with some kind of purple iris was one I've used a few times before in Illinois, and it's making me smile to see this latest version.

    Kate, I liked that part of the book, too - and am glad to have a good thing come under the fence - when the Hall's honeysuckle came in, it was not welcome. Maybe that would be the equivalent of comment spam?

    Christopher C. , you really do understand. Thank you.

    A deep navy blue iris? I'll be happy to see that photo.

    Jenn, that's the Mockorange that sneaked under the fence. I've been trying to identify it, and think it fits the description of Philadelphus indorus, from the height, size of flowers and no scent. This kind of mock orange is sometimes called English Dogwood, but they're not related.

    Sissy, thanks for giving me the push to write this - and giving me something to think about. Happy Easter to you, too.


  14. Hi Annie,
    Does that mock orange smell as beautiful as it looks?

    Your post was very thought provoking. Thanks so much for writing it.

  15. I like the surprises blogging affords too. The way you tied all of your thoughts together was quite enjoyable.

  16. Thank you Annie, for your beautiful prose on blogging. I have learned so much as a newby lurking here and on some other gardening blogs I've recently discovered. For example, you just taught me what 'tagged' means. See how green I am? ;-)

    Seriously, what you've said about online communities is so true. There have been times since I've moved cross-country to Austin that I've felt lonely, but many of my online friends have helped me feel a sense of continuity while I find my footing in my new location.

    Also, I want to thank you very much for kindly adding my newborn blog to your site. I'm really honored to be among such experienced and talented folks. Hopefully I'll continue to learn and grow; as will my new garden.

    Dawn (in NW Austin)

  17. Thanks for the lovely post, it's very inspirational, espcially to those of us who are new to the world of garden bloggers .

    I've enjoyed reading your posts and I'm amazed at how much is in bloom months before we can expect the first tulips here in Chicago.

  18. The purple iris! I'm with you on the blue and purple shades (that's probably why I'm so attached to perennial salvias/sages).

    I find the garden blogging community different from some of the other ones - I think there's a shared passion that simply surpasses everything else. I think that you definitely captured that in your post!

    (ps Are you experiencing any of this cold 'snap'? It is predicted to get into the upper 20s here tonight...yikes!)

  19. Great post Annie! Yes, what better way to spend some time than being with like minded people, in spirit if not proximity, sharing their passion. Birds of a feather sort of thing.

    The irises look just great. Will be interesting to see what the dark purple/black one looks like when fully open. Is the Southern Mock Orange, a Philadelphus?
    When we lived in Hawaii there was a plant called mock orange but it was actually a jasmine. Its leaves looked like a smaller version of orange leaves and the fruit was similarly tiny about the size of a pea but bright red. Heavenly smell. People would grow it as a hedge.

  20. Hi dear Annie! I've been a regular to your blog and luv it a lot. This particular post and your take on blogging has given words to my thoughts. You have so articulately put the real charm of blogging, of the thrill of sharing something new, of coming to know about different parts of our world and the best part; to interact with a global reader base and to be able to know more about their thoughts and lives.
    Looking forward to more on The Transplantable Rose.

  21. Wishing you and your family a happy and blessed Easter

  22. Annie, I hardly know how to respond to your post, you've captured everything I feel about blogging in your very eloquent way! Now I don't have to write one since you've said it all. (And by the way, I haven't forgotten that you tagged me for "5 things you don't know about me". I'm just trying to think up five things!)

    You are one of the best examples of what makes blogging so fascinating and keeps us all wanting more, more, more!

  23. Wow. This post is terrific. Blogging is a great way of meeting some very interesting people I otherwise would not have a way to meet.

    I always enjoy your posts and your photos are great too. Your blog is one of my favorites.

  24. Nice post Annie. I like the Clematis for a second I thought it was a Passiflora.

  25. This was a great post! I think you put into words what a lot of bloggers feel.

  26. Hi Annie! I accepted your invitation on Good Friday. Thanks. Happy Easter!

  27. Love this post, and all so true. I'm a very shy person in real life, and find it a bit easier to converse with all you friendly garden bloggers out there.
    Love that mock orange. Mine is only a year old and still quite tiny.
    We had neighbors at the old house growing a lovely pink rose, that slowly crept into our garden and left thiers. Funny how plants can slowly roam.

  28. Annie, this brought tears to my eyes, it's so beautifully written.

  29. Not only do you put forth top notch writing and superb photography, but you also do flower arranging! You do it all!

    And, yes, I love that blogging has opened garden doors/gates around the world...interesting gardens and fascinating people (how could they not be??)...all without leaving my chair!

    The thought just popped into my head that I almost never look at garden magazines...there's so much more (and better) content right here in blogland!

    Of course, you said it all much better, so...ditto!

  30. Thank you so much for the comments!

    Zoey, unfortunately, this one doesn't have a fragrance - but I have another little mockorange around the corner of the house with a nice scent.

    Apple, your View from the Window was a lovely surprise to me!

    Dawn, it's very cool that you have not only delurked, but are now garden blogging. And it's obvious from the first post that you have a lot to share.

    Hi Carolyn, we're in sort of reverse positions, aren't we? I learned to garden in Chicago while you grew plants in a warm climate. Now you write and design for Chicago, and I experiment in Austin...never boring is it!

    Pam you're right about blue and purple, and I'll bet you're right about the other blogging communities having a different atmosphere. As in okay 'place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there'.

    Ki, this is probably Philadelphus indorus, non-scented. Christopher at Tropical Embellishments posted words and photos about the tropical mock orange, Murraya paniculata, which sounds lovely indeed. I think it can grow in very south Texas which is almost frost-free. Christopher described the scent as overpoweringly intoxicating.

    Hi Green thumb, it's really great to meet you, and know that you enjoyed reading this post for the same reasons that I enjoyed writing it.

    Hello Gypsy Purple, I hope you had a happy Easter, too.

    LostRoses, visiting your garden blog is always a pleasure... getting to know you is a very specific reason to enjoy blogging!

    Gary you have some of the most thought provoking, enjoyable and philosophical posts out there - so I'm glad to know you like my posts, too.

    Hi MrBrownThumb, thank you. The clematis was a bargain plant from the 'rescue table', and it turned out to look not one bit like the photo on the box... it was way better!

    CountryGirl, I think you're going to have a lot of fun with blogging, too.

    Mary, thank you - your take on this idea was great!

    Salix Tree, I also do better at a keyboard than in person - so I can relate!
    Did you tempt that pink rose to come over? If you had compost and watered more, this may be proof that plants have intelligence!

    Robin, thank you for coming and thank you for such a nice compliment.

    GottaGarden, the magazines sometimes concentrate on people who purchase gardens... for me, it's more fun to see real gardeners invent their own little corner of paradise as they go along.

    My arrangements won't win any awards, but I like having the garden flowers where I can see them all at once.

    Thanks everyone!


  31. I loved reading your thoughts on Blogging and the reasons that you love it so much.
    My mock orange is just starting to bloom along with my real orange and mandarin trees and the fragrance is quite intoxicating.
    Happy belated Easter.

  32. Always such a pleasure to visit your blog - for all of the reasons that your readership has already so nicely articulated.

    Blogging is magical. Here we all have a voice, and are free to express ourselves and to have the "genuine conversations" that you point to as being the 'gem' that so many of us bloggers find if we keep taking the time and effort to express ourselves in genuine and creative ways.

    Thanks for a great read & fantastic pictures.

    Carol at Lost Valley Gardens

  33. Annie, your garden looks exquisite. Lucky you! I have a terrace garden, mostly in containers, but it looks rather nice on my little tree house. But nothing like yours!


  34. Annie, did you get below freezing temperatures? We're expecting another snow storm tomorrow - hey now, it's April - what is up with this...

  35. Annie - this is wonderful! The pictures are the perfect compliment to a perfect explanation of blogging.

    Genuine conversation - why, yes, that's it exactly! Just as gardens are genuine places of inner peace...

  36. You took us with you as you wandered and worked in the garden and thought your thoughts. Clever girl Annie! You really captured the magic of blogging in that last paragraph, and you said it so beautifully....as you always do. You're one of the reasons I like blogging so much :)
    I'm so happy that you got your purple iris! Your pictures are glorious. Love that white clematis.
    Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

  37. Ooooh you have the same iris bud as I do. I'm at a new house and haven't seen the irises I transplanted flower yet so I didn't know the color until this month. But I finally have a bud just like the one you took a picture of. Aren't those irises just beautiful.


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