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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, May 14, 2007

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for May

It's the fifteenth of the month - time for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.
The Salvias, Buddleja, Achillea, and Verbena bonariensis seen in the last few posts are still blooming, while many other plants are just forming buds. At Country Girl & Apple’s garden blog, Apple says she feels as if her garden is in a time warp, lagging behind other nearby gardens. In a similar way, it seems that my garden lags behind the other Austin Garden Bloggers - Purple Coneflowers glow on their pages, but my coneflowers are still covered in green promises.
A few flowers started their bloom cycles this week – here are some favorite Daylilies, opening apricot, diamond-dusted flowers every morning:

Good old Malva zebrina, a short-lived plant but one that reseeds easily, has appeared and bloomed under the white crepe myrtles. A Southern nickname for them is French Hollyhocks.

Since the word Southern has come up, here’s my Southern indulgence from last summer, a bit larger in size, covered in buds and bloom and smelling like Heaven – this Gardenia was the subject of one of my favorite posts from last summer

The original Meyer’s lemon is still doing well in its patio pot. Christopher C in Hawaii convinced us to buy a second one to plant in the ground near a wall that should provide a microclimate. The new lemon tree is covered in tiny lemons and oh-so-fragrant flowers.

The Shasta daisies have just started to open, backed with Salvia farinacea.

There aren’t many stars in the garden now, but a few character actors are making an appearance. Several 6-feet tall Abelias grow along the south fence. The white flowers are small and not showy as individuals, but are very pleasing when massed, and attractive to butterflies.

The May 4th post featured a cherry pink native plant called Scutellaria suffrutescens, Pink Skullcap. Here is a blue cousin, Scutellaria wrightii, its beauty somewhat dimmed by the litter of the pecan flowers.

The female pecan flowers have been fertilized, and the nuts are forming. We won’t get to eat any pecans, but the squirrels will be happy.

Under the canopy of the two large pecan trees the male flowers are falling, turning everything mustard brown. I’ve seen tinsel on Christmas trees that looked less deliberately placed than these flowers strewn over a crepe myrtle.

Another new flower is the yellow umbrella on the fennel, accessorized with Swallowtail Cats for Baby V.

When one of the caterpillars objected to the camera he inflated his osmateria – the yellow-orange ‘horns’ with which he’s trying to frighten us away, and Philo snapped this photo. A disturbed caterpillar also emits a strong and rather unpleasant odor to show the predator that he’ll taste as bad as he smells.Since we want the caterpillars to turn into butterflies, we're glad they have some defenses against whatever wants to eat them.
The Mouse and Trowel Awards were announced yesterday – congratulations to all the deserving winners, and a special shout-out to my friend Pam/Digging and the legendary Tom Spencer/Soul of the Garden. Both Tom and Pam were born elsewhere, coming to Austin as adults. Recognizing them seems appropriate for today's Bloom Day post – they may have been transplanted, but both now bloom here.


  1. You led your post with daylilies too. Very pretty. I'm impressed with the number you have already, despite your feeling that your garden lags behind the central-Austin gardens in bloom time.

    Thanks for the shout-out, Annie. You made me feel like an honorary Transplantable Rose. :-)

  2. What a wonderful tour of your garden this fine May day. I'm starting to recognize some of your flowers like daylilies (of course) and Abelia. Is this a good place to confess that the Meyer lemon tree that I bought last spring died over the winter? I wish I had another one to try after seeing blooms on yours!

    I'd say you've transplanted quite well in Austin!

    Thanks for participating in bloom day again.

  3. Annie, love your gardenias. I don't think I'll be seeing blooms on mine for a while as I'm nursing them back after a drought.

    By the looks of your wonderful garden, I imagine you have an army of hummingbirds!

  4. I love the pictures of the caterpillars. I hope to attract some of these to my garden soon.

  5. Don't you just love the way some flowers sparkle in the sunshine (like your daylilies)?

    We should have daylilies here in just a few weeks, but I'm envying your southern plants I won't have - Gardenia and Meyer lemon.

    Cool pictures of the swallowtail caterpillars! I'm planting fennel for them too, but only just got the seeds started a couple of weeks ago.

  6. Dear Annaie,

    That caterpillar looks big as a locomotive to me!


  7. Ug. I keep saying I'll plant for things for the caterpillars and butterflies, then I don't do it. Your pictures reminded me, though, to check for the little guys on my passion vine after work.

  8. My abelia, pecan, and Meyer lemon are keeping pace with yours--except that all the little lemons fell off from the last round of flowers. You and Pam have great daylilies. I had some white ones for years and they died last summer.

    I'm glad to see your Malva zebrina. The one you gave me bloomed, survived last summer, survived the ice storm and other winter freezes. And then, after it started raining in March, quite suddenly died almost overnight.

    One of these days I'll get organized and get another gardenia. That's my favorite flower scent.

  9. Pam, that little daylily will also appear in the Passalong Plants book club post. As to being a transplantable rose, while I've managed to live and pop out a few flowers, you have really thrived, kiddo!!

    Carol, we have a much shorter time to keep the Meyers Lemon inside - it would have been much tougher for you to do it.
    Thanks for thinking up this fun day!

    Mary, my gardenia has to be in a container, as our alkaline soil could kill it. It stays small and is easy to water. I hope yours bounces back from your drought.

    Robin, you've planted a feast for the butterfly families - if they don't appear they're mighty ungrateful!

    Julie - digital cameras are too darn much fun! Robin has a photo of a Luna moth with the feeler looking like feathers... you can even see the feet.

    R Sorrell, when I was a kid, and one of my chores was killing tomato hornworms, caterpillars creeped me out. But with time, I got to like them....well, most of them.

    MSStevens, some of the littlest ones fell off mine, too, but a lot stayed on.
    If you want to try another Malva we can dig one... or else try from seed again next fall. I thought I'd lost these last summer, but a few seeds sprouted in fall to restart the cycle.
    The gardenia has needed some attention all year, but it has paid me back in fragrance this spring. I noticed that Zilker grows a gardenia as a large container plant, up against the wall of a building. Maybe that idea would be appropriate for a TeaHouse/Pavillion/Detached Porch, too?


  10. Beautiful blooms, Annie. Do you ever get any good size lemons from your Meyer's lemon plant? I saw that Yolanda at Bliss also has a lemon plant and it's making me want to try growing one. Our growing season might be too short for them here (in D.C.) though.

  11. Your photos are always fabulous! I love the Malva Zebrina. It reminds me a little of the hollyhocks that bloom here later in the season. Yours are a much richer color though.

  12. I love the Scutellaria and the Abelia flowers. Those are cool. There are so many things you grow in your garden that I have never heard of ... I do recognise good ole Malva zebrina ... it was one of the first plants I grew. The gardenia is beautiful - both the glossy leaves and flowers.

    And what is the difference between a Meyers lemon and other lemons??

    Love the swallowtail cats ... cool those are!!

    I'm off to read your post from last year about the gardenia!

  13. I'm a bit north of Charleston, and feel that my garden always lags a week (or two or three) behind their warmer and more protected gardens. I love your caterpillars! I need to go and check my fennel. It looks like your lemon has done well in the ground - mine that I planted got frozen back a bit during a really cold spell in December - but it's just starting to bloom. Yours looks great!

  14. I love the cat pics! I've had a couple of little white butterflies so far. I have some zebrina seeds to try this year and maybe surprise my sister if they just suddenly appear in her garden. I love the color and size.

    I remember spending hours sitting under the pecan tree as a teen but I don't remember ever noticing it flower. hmm Thanks for the recollection of some good times and the the mention.

  15. love your flowers, but that caterpillar photo is awesome!

  16. Gardenias and lemon trees and pecan trees? Oh so lucky to garden in the south. Lovely flowers all.

  17. Aww, thanks for the shout-out to Baby V! She's still caterpillar-crazy. We saw a bunch on some parsley at the Antique Rose Emp last weekend, but our parsley has none... The fennel is another story, though. Love the crazy cats!

  18. What a lovely tour of your mid-May garden. It's simply amazing that so much is in bloom .

    You must be proud of the two Austin bloggers, Pam at Digging and Tom Spencer, Soul of the Garden.

    I think that it'll be your turn next year, Annie.

  19. Great pictures and post... I like the "tinsel" from the pecan tree and the, ahem, fearsome caterpillars *grin* We saw cats on our bronze fennel for the first time last year, but they disappeared when it was about time for them to make cocoons. We never could find where they went, so I hope something else that wasn't scared by all those defense mechanisms didn't get them. Do you have any tips for finding the cocoons later?

  20. I envy you for being able to grow gardenias and lemons outdoors! The smell around your garden must just be heavenly. And, what a wonderful shade of peach on the daylilies.

    I didn't know monarch butterly caterpillars ate fennel...if those are monarchs. I thought they just ate milkweeds?

  21. Hello Entangled - Blogger had your comment queued, but didn't tell me.
    Back when my garden had dozens of daylilies, the term "diamond-dusted" in the Hemerocallis catalogs drew me like a magnet, and I still like the sparkle. It wasn't called Bling back then!

    Christa, it takes a long time for the lemons to develop. We had 8 or 9 from the original tree which was kept in the house over winter and the lemons were delicious.

    CountryGirl, Austin gardeners are told that Hollyhocks do poorly here, so this is my substitute. I might still try regular Hollyhocks some year just to see what happens.

    Kate, until we moved here, I'd never heard of these plants either! And things like gardenias were known from florists and books.

    Meyer's Lemon is some odd hybrid, less sour and makes fruit on small trees. It's wonderful for grilling on fish.

    Pam, you're seeing the new lemon, which we bought early in spring and planted in the ground. I took the other one inside last winter. If we get down to 23º again, we'll need Christmas lights and a tent for the new one.

    Hello Apple, that's a fun idea.
    Maybe I wouldn't notice the pecan flowers if I grew up with them - I didn't see them until I qualified for AARP!

    Hello Molly, thank you for visiting from Tiger Mountain.
    I'm glad you like the photo - it's hard to get caterpillars to pose!

    Meresy, sometimes I feel lucky, and sometimes I want Peonies, tulips and Lilacs!

    Hello Marthachick - do any of us even cook with fennel? It seems as if our main crop is butterflies!

    Thank you Carolyn. To me it seems as if the cooler gardens are having a flowering shrub gala right now!
    As to the Mousies, the nomination was fantastic enough.

    Blackswamp Kim, the tinsel amused me a lot! I'm glad you thought it was funny, too.
    I don't know where the heck mine go - they just disappear, too - maybe into the tangle of rosemary and lavender on either side of the fennel. I'm sure the birds get some.
    Some people take this size of caterpillar and put them in a terrarium or something, with twigs for chrysalis hanging and then supply fresh foliage.

    Good morning Ki - the gardenia is under an overhang, up against a brick wall and had covers thrown over it during the ice storm. I don't know what will happen to the lemon! This is an experiment!

    These aren't monarch larvae - they're Swallowtails. Most of my milkweed croaked, so until I get more going - I have no Monarch cats. But I need some!

    Thanks for commenting!


  22. What variety are your daylilies? (They look similar to 'Catherine Woodbury'.) You are so lucky to have blooms already. I noticed one of my plants already had buds -- highly unusual since most daylilies here bloom in July.

  23. Your garden is - as always - gorgeous, but what really stopped me in my tracks were the photographs and explanation anout the caterpillars. They are beautiful too.

    Thank you.

  24. Annie, thanks--that might be an idea! I have several old, large glass jars that could serve as terrariums temporarily. Hmm... :)

  25. Hi Annie,

    I was excited to see the gardenia and the french hollyhock -- are those better suited to the warm climates?

    And do you like the Shasta daisies? I have Oxeye and they take over, are shastas not as invasive?

    questions questions... thanks!


  26. Wow! I just love the caterpillar pictures!! I try to grow stuff for them, too...never got a picture of the "horns", though (guess I didn't piss them off enough!) Nice blooms, too!

  27. Oh, your garden looks lovely. The Shasta daisy is just beautiful. Is that a dew drop on it, or a teeny green spider? It adds someting to it. I love the caterpillar pictures.


  28. What a wonderful post.
    First of all it gave me the chance to visit the post you wrote last summer about Gone with the Wind. Reading it made me want to read the book again, but I'm afraid that would have the same effect as these Austin blogs I read, that make we want to run out and buy plants I have no room for and can't grow in our cool San Francisco summers.
    Second, I got to see a caterpillar I haven't seen since I was a child. I guess caterpillars like warm summers too. I used to love those furry black ones as well. Do they also live in your parts?

  29. Hi, Annie, I finally made it to your blog, and am totally entranced and fascinated. Your gardening conditions are so far different from mine, here on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. That's what I LOVE about garden blogs, though--the experience to find so many different people and plants and gardens, flung across the globe, but all tied together by a love for gardening.

    To show how different our experiences are--my daylily fans are between 3-5 inches tall--a long way from flowers. But I get to enjoy yours and others vicariously until such time as mine open. :-)

  30. And I'm still jealous of your gardenia!

  31. Karen, it's a passalong plant so I'll talk about it for the book club. I had Catherine Woodbury but she decided death was better than life in Texas.

    County Clerk, thanks for enjoying our caterpillars.

    Blackswamp Kim, it could be fun, as long as you check them really often so an emerging butterfly won't bang around trying to escape.

    Rosemarie, the French Hollyhock can grow north or south, disappearing and reappearing with weather changes. I had it in Illinois, easy from seed. The gardenia wants to live elsewhere... pronto.
    The Shastas spread, so not invasive but vigorous. To me, invasive means lots of seedlings everywhere or underground runners popping up at a distance from the mother plant. There are tons of cultivars, but this is a passalong.

    Okay Lisa, I confess - to make the horns come out I touched the caterpillar then moved out of the view!

    Hi Josie it looks like a tiny spider, very pale green and almost translucent.

    Hello Anna Maria - it never occured to me that you wouldn't get caterpillars - I always think you can grow so much more than we can. There are some fuzzy caterpillars, including one called an Asp that is horrible! It's supposed to be way worse than fireants and scorpions.

    Like everything else here Jodi, the daylilies have to hurry up and bloom before the heat hits. So ours will be done and we'll be visiting yours!

    Oh Lost Roses, it looked good for bloom day, but is absolutely pitiful now, even after special potions and organic soup. You would not be jealous today!

    Thanks everyone,



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