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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, April 23, 2007

Two Much Fun

These Salvias grow at my friend Mindy’s house, scene of last Saturday’s project for the Divas of the Dirt. We Divas are a group of Austin women who work together on each other’s garden projects. I joined the group in January 2001, making this my seventh season as one of the seven Divas. On Saturday we were eight, when Mindy’s houseguest, also a gardener, joined us for great food, interactions with nature, and conversations. The Divas worked on one short project and one very long one, and as we left, Mindy shared some extra Salvia greggii and a few pots of Barbados Cherry seedlings. By the time my friend Sophia dropped me at home just before 8 PM, I looked so wrecked that a family member handed over the bottle of Ibuprofen and pointed to the shower. But any day spent with seven wonderful gardeners is a good one, even if exhausting.

Sunday was shared with a different group of seven gardeners - all of them write about gardening and are informally known as the Austin Garden Bloggers. Two April days, each spent with a distinct group of seven other gardeners – what could be more fun? Pam/Digging, R.Sorrell/The Great Experiment, Julie/The Human Flower Project, Vivé/Something About Blooming and Butterflies, Susan/South of the River, Dawn/Suburban Wildlife Garden, and MSS/Zanthan Gardens and I carpooled around the city, stopping to wander around six gardens with some delicious finger-food in one hand and a glass in the other, talking nonstop.

Certain familiar plants were seen in almost every garden, while others were unknown to all but the owner. We have may have trees that are still saplings, or venerable trees that have survived generations of Texas weather. Some of us garden where the land is flat, others with slopes. The houses vary in ages, types and designs, and the gardens used so many plants and contained so many ideas that my head is spinning now as I think about the exhilarating day. But unlike Susan and MSS, I didn’t like awake and think about it last night – for the first time in weeks, I was too tired to think, and fell asleep immediately.

It’s ridiculous how pleased I can be by a single flower. Near the back fence there’s an area planted with red flowers to entice hummingbirds in summer, and a few months ago, I planted some Anemone coronaria ‘The Governor’ to add a little red in spring. Out of 20 corms, only 2 came up, each making a few flowers - this one was gracious enough to be open when the Garden Bloggers were here. One anemone would be lost among the hundreds of flowers in the lush and established gardens I saw yesterday, but one anemone had to be enough in this otherwise green bed.

Although its bud was visible on Sunday, the Siberian iris waited until today to unfold, refusing to perform for the guests. While it’s true that Siberian Iris don’t grow well here – and this single flower took three seasons to appear – it wasn’t a foolish choice ordered from a catalog, but a passalong from my friend Barb in Illinois. We used to trade starts of Siberian iris when I lived up there, much as Pam/Digging and I have traded Iris here. I like to see passalong plants blooming, celebrating our friendships and standing as the emblem of garden friends everywhere who like to plant things just to see what will happen.


  1. I so enjoyed seeing your garden in its spring frock. Your Mexican fudge was delicious, and I can't wait to try your white iris (not to eat though). My egg recipe is on its way.

  2. Sounds like a great way to spend a weekend, gardening and viewing gardens. I'm going to enjoy visiting all the "Austin Garden Blogs" to hear from everyone about the tour.

  3. I love to go on garden tours but the idea of seeing the gardens of other bloggers sounds like lots of fun! And how nice to get help on a big project and spend the day with gardeners. I like your Siberian Iris...I have some I moved two years ago and they haven't bloomed since...although they should be happier where they are now...maybe this year!

  4. I appreciate your thoughts on passalong plants, Annie. I admit that I probably have too long considered them "common" flowers unworthy of a lot of appreciation... I am coming to understand that this is definitely my loss.

  5. I totally agree with you. Pass along plants are great.

  6. Okay, I NEED that anemone, Annie! (You can now ignore my question about the color that I left on your comment on my blog). And what a great way to garden tour. Sounds like you had a lovely gardening weekend, just enough work and play to make a nice mix!

  7. Passalongs are some of my most cherished plants. When I glance at one, I invariably think of the gardener who shared it with me, and that makes it doubly special.

  8. Yol~Eliz did use the perfect phrase, didn't she, Pam although parts of my garden's frock may need mending soon. More iris is available if you want some!

    Carol, who could have imagined such a thing one year ago? At that time I had just met M.Sinclair Stevens for the first time.

    Leslie, I've been on a lot of garden tours but this was different, maybe because garden blogs deal more intimately with the plants as subject for posts?
    Whichever Diva who is the hostess sets up her project - in February 2006 I was hostess and had lots of help with transplanting shrubs.

    Our summers are too hot for Siberian iris to thrive, so this bloom may be a fluke... hopefully I've lucked out with a microclimate or something. At least I have a photo of the flower!

    Blackswamp Girl,, if someone offers you a plant that is perfect for your garden, take it; if not, you should politely refuse. You have a genuine artistic vision, which should not be compromised.

    My designs are simpler, and passalongs connect me to my gardening past. You're too young to look backwards!

    Gary, I have some passalongs that I've carted around from house to house and kept for years, if I really like the plant.

    But while like to experiment with many kinds of plants, I try not to keep them unless they work in my garden. Sometimes they spend a couple of years on probation.


  9. Lost Roses, your comment came in after mine - I was hoping you'd stop by and see this color!

    Pam, I have a number of passalong plants for the May book club post, each connected to a person.
    Among them, four special daylilies from Illinois remind me of old friends - and a special daylily from Austin reminds me of the new friend named Pam.


  10. Annie, how lovely to read about this tour you did with all the Austin garden bloggers. Glad you enjoyed yourselves so much.

    In my own little village I started a garden club 4 years ago and we visit each others gardens and go to many garden events and open garden days. It's lots of fun and for me it was a wonderful way to make new garden friends. And now I've found some wonderful garden blogging friends as well. Gardening brings people together, don't you think?

    The passalong plants that I receive all go by the name of the giver. I treasure them as they remind me of all those who were kind enough to give me a plant that they knew I'd like.

    BTW there's champagne on Bliss today. :-)

  11. What a great weekend - eating and drinking and gardens! I think I want to move to Austin. And isn't it fun coaxing something to grow where it's said not to?

  12. Hi Annie, I wonder why there are so many blogging gardeners in Austin? Must be the good juju of the place.

    Funny about your Anemone coronaria. We got a packet of 10 bulbs free in an order of other bulbs about 3 years ago and only one survived and has produced flowers reliably.

    No gardeners here so no passalong plants. :( The best I can do is buy plants at the Master Gardeners sale which is coming up next weekend, yay!

  13. Passalong plants, yes..wonderful, very nice....

    I want to live in Austin!!!! You got to hang out with 7 other garden bloggers? I don't even KNOW any other garden bloggers!!

    I'm jealous, and feel the strange need to move south....

  14. I am so jealous of your Siberian Iris, Annie!! I went on a plant swap and got two different Siberians, (they were sooo hard to split up!!)

    If mine look half as good, I will be thrilled! I wish I had so many gardening buddies!
    Take care!

  15. Annie, you are so lucky to have so many garden boggers nearby! What a wonderful way to spend the weekend...you were able to see the gardens you read about and the people behind them, laugh, and learn!

    My nearest birder is three states away and I would love to meet them on for a hike on a nature trail!

    Your close-ups are lovely. I still have a thing for the iris!

  16. I'm in awe of your garden club and definitely jealous too. I live in a neighborhood mostly tended to by landscaping crews and my friends are only worried about having a green lawn. :(

    I'm looking forward to checking out all the blogs from your group.

    And that iris is fantastic looking!

  17. An absolute wealth of friends and color. It sounds like like a wonderful, wonderful way to spend a weekend! You made me smile.

  18. What a fabulous weekend! I definitely have anemone-envy. I was given a corm years ago but it never came up.

  19. Yol~Eliz, your club does sound like fun. I've belonged to various traditional gardening organizations over the last few decades and liked being a member, but both the Divas of the Dirt and the Garden Bloggers are very Austin in concept - something difficult to describe but recognizable. I feel very lucky, indeed.

    Since I don't know the cultivar, the purple iris will be 'Ellen' from now on!

    Entangled, it would be fun to have you! It's not perfect here - we're currently under tornado watch, but at least it's not 95º.

    Reverse psychology works too well on me. Just tell me I can't. Ha.

    Ki, my guesses: I'm just a homemaker, but there are professional writers in the group... many writers have blogs. Our gardens are not tropical, but have something going on all year, so there is something to write about all year! Austin is big enough to be interesting, but small enough to be friendly.

    Have fun at the sale [or hop a plane to Austin and we'll load your totes with passalongs :-)

    Now take a deep breath, Colleen, and calm down... this hanging out is very new! M Sinclair Stevens and Julie wrote for several years. Five of us began to blog in 2006 -first Pam, then in April it was RSorrell, Susan and Vivé, with me tagging along in June. Dawn started hers this spring.

    Maybe there are some gardeners in Michigan who just need a nudge to start a garden blog?

    Sissy, once they get established in the Northern climate they prefer, Siberian iris can live & bloom for generations. Maybe the ice storm is the reason I have a flower?

    I hope you find another birder, Mary - and just be glad those three states are smaller than Texas or you'd be driving 2400 miles ;)

    Anthony, in spite of what you see on the garden blogs and websites here, too much of Austin is like that, too. Too much of America is like that.
    I cherish the real gardeners that I meet!

    The iris in person tends a little more to the purple, less blue, to my eye. But is still a beauty.

    Melissa, I loved having people here, and enjoyed all of the other gardens, but felt it would have been appropriate to swoon when we walked into the garden of MSStevens - roses, larkspur, bachelor buttons, sweetpeas, bluebonnets! We arrived in late afternoon with the Confederate Jasmine wafting scent, and all the colors in harmony - it was a fine experience!

    Hi OldRoses - I planted the 'Governor' a few months ago, and since then heard that you're supposed to plant Anemone corms on edge, like putting a coin in a slot....I may buy more in fall and give that technique a try.


  20. My mother had Siberian irises, and they flourished. What a gorgeous color. And what a fantastic way to spend the weekend with some gardening friends. I'm afraid I am a bit of a novice gardener and I have only a terrace so everything is in containers, but this year I am going to attempt hollyhocks, which I love. I'm told they will grow in large containers, but I guess I will have to wait and see.

  21. I was going to say that is one deep blue iris. Way more blue than the one I have, but there is no purple cast to the one I have here in real living color. It is decidely blue.

    It is something to be able to hang with your cyber and Diva gardeners in person.

    Pass along plants are a part of me it seems. I gather my own mostly as seed or starts from plants in gardens I have known. There are many plants with Florida origins in my garden in Hawaii.

    I don't really know if the hundreds of plants I have given away over time hold a connected memory to me for the receiver. I suppose some do.

    And like an insane person I have been spending too much time dividing and repotting Zephyr Lilies to give away as lovely parting gifts at my Bon Voyage party. I want people to think of me when they see them put up their delicate pink tulip like blooms. I have done over a hundred pots so far.

  22. I have hot pink tulips that just opened.

  23. that sounds so enviable! the joy of friends who get together and share work, not just tea and crumpets! I've occasionally spent a happy afternoon helping a friend clean house for a special occassion or cook for an event - but its very rare in my life. Right now there is only one friend in my life that I can dig in and help - and that's because she's pregnant and a bit overwhelmed! The idea of working on a garden with friends sounds just about perfect.

    Love your blog!

  24. Oh pooty. Why'd I have to turn into a mommy-blogger instead of a garden-blogger right at the point of Critical Mass?

  25. Hello, Josie- my dad grew Siberian Iris like your mom did. I don't know if they'd live in a container. I haven't tried growing regular hollyhocks in patio pots, but there's a kind of Mallow, Malva sylvestris 'Zebrina' that will grow in containers. They're nicknamed French Hollyhocks, and grow about 3-4 feet tall, with striped purple flowers.

    Christopher, eight years ago I was handing over as many plants as possible from my Illinois garden, like daylilies, a pure white tree peony, and lots of small trees and shrubs that I'd been nursing along in containers. Once in awhile I get a photo of their progress.

    But you've really raised the bar! More than one hundred Zephyr lilies are an amazing gift to your friends.

    Not that anyone could forget you, lilies or no lilies. I don't even know you in real life, but you're in my permanent memory bank!

    CityFarmer, I'll bet they look lovely in your garden. It's been a few years since I've seen a tulip growing in the ground, only in photos and as cut flowers.

    You have perfect rooms to display those tulips if you decide to cut a few!

    Hello Hayden. The Divas of the Dirt was not a new group when I joined... the women that thought it up deserve the credit. Although the idea doesn't appeal to everyone, a hands-on gardening type of person like you would be a natural fit. I hope you get lucky and find someone to garden with. Thank you for coming!

    MarthaChick, your name belongs in there with Julie and MSS... it would be so very cool if you joined us! As to passalongs, I've got iris - you've got crinum ;-)


  26. What a wonderful weekend! I'm not sure that I know the origin of these gardening friends that you made - here I don't know another garden blogger (locally) and our local garden clubs are stuffy with members that hire gardens instead of gardening themselves. How nice that you have this community around you!

  27. Annie — That's a beautiful iris. And how did I miss that anemone on Sunday? I planted anemones at my first house and loved them. I'm not sure why I haven't planted them here (along with ranunculus, another bulb I had good success with in my early days as a gardener).

    I enjoyed seeing your garden again and look forward to more visits in the future.

  28. I envy your weekend Annie. Sounds like you had an awesome time combined with two different, yet very similar groups.

    It's always wonderful to hear what you ladies are up to. You have all set a wonderful benchmark for the rest of us.

  29. Oops ... I have to get used to my keyboard again. I may have sent off an incomplete blog comment in which I was about to say that I can't quite imagine how much fun it would be to have a group of women to garden with here. It would be wonderful to share and feel that incredible sense of excitement that happens with ideas flying about and work being done.

    The anemone is so pretty...

  30. A near perfect weekend, Annie! I so enjoyed hearing about it! You Divas are something! And, then to meet and see your fellow local bloggers' gardens...wow! I'm with the others...I don't think there are any other local bloggers...lol! But, I do have a garden group where I volunteer and I'm very grateful for them...nicest bunch of people! And, we do see each others' gardens on occasion.

    There's something about gardeners...we can always find some common ground (no pun intended)!

  31. The divas and the Austin gardeners sound like so much fun! You're lucky - I bamboozle people into my yard to talk about my plants ;)

  32. Hi Annie,

    Sorry it's taken me so long to comment here. My parents just headed back to Missouri after a week-long visit. Whew!

    It was such good fun to see the Austin Garden Bloggers' gardens! I love the way you've used trellises to make beautiful garden rooms. And all those butterflies in your garden attest to the fact that your garden is a wholesome place to live as well. It really was helpful to see what a hill country garden can look like when in the hands of a lady who knows what she's doing. Well done!



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