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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, May 19, 2007

It's A Blooming Mystery

Flowers bloom on their own time, a fact that seldom bothers me in my daily life as an Austin slacker. But now that I’ve become a Garden Blogger [note those capital letters!], I occasionally need blooms on my plants for a certain date – like last week's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on May 15th. Nothing makes me drag my feet more than a direct order to hustle, and my garden behaves no less stubbornly. That must be why the Rose of Sharon refused to open one single bud for the 15th, but opened a dozen flowers on the 17th, instead. Should I call it the "Roses of Sharon" since this is more than one shrub in a clump?

There were buds on the Hemerocallis ‘Prairie Blue Eyes’ by the 15th, but none opened until today. It’s not a fancy daylily by today’s standards, but I’ve loved it for a decade, bringing it to Texas from Illinois.

We Garden Bloggers have another scheduled event coming up - the Garden Bloggers book club is due by the end of May. Writing about the book, Passalong Plants, is easy – heck, I’ve even met one of the authors - Felder Rushing - but it’s not so easy to get flowers to open on time. I absolutely need photos of some passalong plants from my own garden to use as illustrations for this post, but will they get their act together and bloom within the next 11 days?

There’s no schedule involved for this next group of plants – just a hope that one of these days they’ll flower for me –

The Pineapple Guava above should bloom in spring – my friend Diane’s shrub was covered in its oddly beautiful flowers just a couple of weeks ago – but this young plant had a rough winter and was frozen back before it had a chance to make any blossoms. The botanical name is Feijoa sellowiana, so it is not actually a guava. Although it would be interesting to taste the fruit, described as Pineapple mixed with strawberry, I’m more interested in seeing the flowers.

Since this pomegranate has leafed out and I like the way the leaves and branches look, is it greedy to want delectable orange flowers, too? I’ll give this young tree one more year in this spot, but if it doesn’t bloom next spring – it will be transplant time the following fall.

Next we have a pair of non-blooming plants. The amarcrinum at right may take a few years to settle in and I’m not worried about it at all… but that perfect weed of a Brugmansia? Angel Trumpets are supposed to love water, sun and organic fertilizer, growing so quickly that even when cut to the ground over winter, they bulk up and hang long, fragrant bells. This one has been treated like a queen for a couple of seasons, given everything it wants, and if it was labeled correctly, someday the bells will be yellow.

I’ll ignore these poky plants, and pay attention to the ones in flower now – a couple of daylilies, annual moss roses, and the last of the larkspur; yellow Achillea, white and gold lantanas and the "Roses" of Sharon; short annual violet Verbenas and tall Verbena bonariensis, a sea of Salvias, budding Cannas and a Butterfly bush in bloom. The view from the back door is just fine today.

Many of us were dismayed to find that Kimas Tejas Nursery, southeast of Austin in the Bastrop area, had closed its doors last fall. But it wasn’t permanent – I had this news via email from the nursery:
Kimas Tejas has reopened on a seasonal basis. For the months of March, April, May and June, Kimas Tejas will be open Wednesday through Saturday, closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
The nursery will be closed for the months of July and August, then will reopen for the fall planting season in September, October and November. Then close for December, January and February.

One of these days I’m going to buy the DVD of Monsoon Wedding. Did anyone of you also see it? Have you had a special fondness for orange marigolds ever since? The director Mira Nair has a new movie in the theaters, which Philo and I enjoyed this week.
You might like it, too – The Namesake has some wonderful actors with memorable faces, is full of humor, intelligence and sadness, touching on the immigrant experience and Indian customs, separations and reunions, focusing on a coming-of-age story and several becoming-in-love stories. Mira Nair looks at things we’ve seen elsewhere, but from a different perspective. How many times have you seen the Taj Mahal in movies? A dozen times? Usually it looks like a postcard, but this time, it’s seen as the total of many designs and many parts, making us somehow recognize that individual people made those parts.


  1. Plants, like people, have a mind of their own, and will flower if and when they choose to do so. ;-)

    Rose of Sharon always reminds me of Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

    The view from your back door is looking good!

  2. The view from your back door is indeed fine and makes me want to fling open the door and go out and see the rest of the garden.

    I'm looking forward to your post about passalong plants which I'm sure will be a wonderful read, even without pictures.

  3. So many lovely plants in bloom and it's the ones that don't bloom (or that we don't have) that drive us crazy. ;-)

    Interesting comment about the marigolds. I haven't seen the movie, but my husband (from India) forbids me to plant marigolds because he associates them with funerals.

    The last critically-acclaimed Indian movie we saw was Bandit Queen, and it was so depressing haven't seen another for 10+ years. Maybe we should try again.

  4. I forgot about that name in the movie, Yolanda - didn't they say Rose O' Sharon?

    What are you thinking Carol? No photos? You mean like a book without pictures ;-]

    Entangled, we've seen a few Indian movies, some more acclaimed than others, but not "The Bandit Queen". Actually, in Monsoon Wedding, the marigolds were for a wedding!

    A return to India story screened by the Austin Film Society was pretty interesting... it was called Swades. Have you seen any of the lighter, hybrid-type movies like Bride and Prejudice {which I liked enough to buy) or Bollywood/Hollywood?


  5. Your garden looks fresh and flowery and makes me yearn for an old-fashioned Rose of Sharon or butterfly bush.

    Yes, I saw Monsoon Wedding a while ago and enjoyed it too. I haven't seen Bride and Prejudice though, or any other Bollywood productions.

  6. I really enjoyed the 'view from the back door'! I can't believe that your Rose of Sharon is blooming already. Here they don't bloom until August! I love the book, 'The Namesake' and am happy to hear that it has been made into a movie. Lovely daylily!

  7. Had to share that i LOVE Monsoon Wedding. I can watch it over and over, maybe it's the marigolds (I love it when he eats the marigolds...).

  8. Dear Annie,

    Loved Monsoon Wedding! And I think you will too.
    Awhile back, I posted a tiny still from one marvelous scene.



  9. Hello Pam/Digging - how could you even fit Butterfly Bush and Rose of Sharon in with all the wonders in your garden ;-)

    Bride and Prejudice is based on the Jane Austin book... in some parts it follows the story closely... in others very loosely! Just talking about the movie makes me want to see the song "Love Has Come To Town". It's fun to hear the director describe the making of this scene.

    Hello Layanee - the Rose of Sharon is a passalong, from very small pieces. It never did much until this year, so I'm not sure what normal will even be.
    Thanks for mentioning the book -reading it sounds like a future plan for me.

    Hi Julie - thanks for the link and the story. I've actually seen Monsoon Wedding several times, including the glorious first viewing on the big screen when it first came out. What I'm considering now is adding the DVD to my collection.


  10. Your garden sure looks like it's rockin' now.

    I had four Brugmansia, all different colors.
    They all died in last winters frost.

    I wanted to read The Namesake before I saw it.
    I heard it is a great book also.

    Enjoy your garden.

  11. Your Rose of Sharon is about to bloom ?? I'm SO jealous ! That is the national flower of my hubby's native country, Korea, and of course we had to have one , but it doesn't bloom until their liberation day, August 15 ! I love the Rose of Sharon not only because of its long bloom time but because of its lovely blossom as well.

  12. Annie, I just put Monsoon Wedding at the top of my Netflix queue. I'm going to make sure my husband watches it, and then confront him with the marigolds. "What is this nonsense you've been telling me all these years about marigolds?!?", I'll say.

    I also queued up Bride and Prejudice and Bollywood/Hollywood. I'll watch them even if the spouse doesn't. The last Indian-ish thing we saw was Bend it Like Beckham. No, wait, actually it was Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. The spouse is hoping for a sequel to that one. We don't see too many serious movies.

  13. Annie-
    Thanks for visiting my blog, Kiss of Sun. It was lovely to get so many comments from Austin gardeners. And I'll check out your comment on the Swallowtail vs the Monarch caterpillar.
    BTW, I love, love, love Passalong Plants and plan to buy it for my dad for Father's Day. I have been relishing reading the book slowly during nursing time for my baby. I just pray she has a relaxing session so I can make it through a few profiles before having to put it down.

  14. First of all, a correction - the song is not "Love Has Come to Town".... it's "Marriage Has Come to Town", a very big difference in the context of the story!!

    Rosemarie, this time it was your comment that didn't show up until I logged onto blogger. I also love the marigold petal scene, and had to try it myself.

    Wow, Chigiy, you must have been really upset to lose those Brugmansias. Mine has the house wall for some protection, and I covered it with old towels. The top still froze but there was a 6-inch live part on the stalk.

    Sometimes I do better seeing the movie first, then reading the book. There are no dashed expectations that way, and many times you get the pleasure of the additional revelations possible only on the page.

    Hello Carolyn - this May bloomtime surprised me, too. I guess I should be saying that we're referring to Hibiscus syriacus here, both my shrub and Korea's national flower. My husband has been to Korea a number of times on business, but he may not have been there in mid-August because he doesn't remember a celebration.

    Hello again Entangled - now I really hope you'll like these movies! I liked Bend it like Beckham, too, and also Mississippi Masala, but that was years ago.
    The young star of Kumar & Harold plays the title character in The Namesake. They all have a lot of humor, but any movie dealing with families has the potential for sadness.... just like life.

    Welcome Bonnie! We were glad to find you and your Austin Garden Blog. You must be a dedicated gardener if you're reading Passalong Plants while nursing the baby - with a couple of my non-sleeping babies I would rock and read - and went through some large volumes of historical fiction.
    We're all looking forward to reading your posts, but the little ones need you first!


  15. Annie...It's so true about plants not opening for Bloom Day...or blooming for three weeks and sitting there bedraggled on Bloom Day. I love your "Prairie Blue Eyes"...I have one that has been covered up by an rampant pelargonium...I'm trying to let it have a little sun this year so it can bloom. And I really enjoyed the Namesake, too,( although I did read the book first.) And I love Bride and Prejudice! I'm putting Mississippi Masala on my queue!

  16. I am curious about the pineapple guava - every time I read your blog, I'm taken with how very different your plants are. It's always a wonderful walk. The Rose of Sharon is something else... I like the different coloured blooms. It took its own sweet time opening ... your post reminded me of how stubborn children can be when they know one is in a hurry and they seem to slow down to snail-like speed.

    What I love about your garden too, is that you brought plants from your Illinois garden with you to Texas. That is a passalong plant in my view!!

  17. My Rose of Sharon had opened a couple of flowers on the 15th, so I got to list it... but now it's in full bloom, just a few days later.

  18. Annie, you are going to love tasting that Pineapple guava. I have one growing in my yard too which is about the same size as yours. It too hasn't flowered or set fruit yet but we had one of these growing in my parents garden as a child.

    We would always look forward to their fruiting season and guts ourselves on this delicious fruit. Hope it does well for you.

  19. I really enjoyed the book (The Namesake) and other books written by Jhumpa Lahiri - I didn't realize that it was being made into a movie. Good to know!

    It was funny, seeing you mention your daylily and comparing it to newer 'fancier' models. I have one or two of the fancier ones blooming in my garden right now - and while they are nice, I'm not sure that I like them as much as the simpler ones. Yours is quite beautiful, with far less of the fuss!

    I have no idea what the pineapple guava flower looks like. I'm hoping that yours blooms as well!

  20. We called them strawberry guavas but I think they're the same one that you are growing. Does it have small about an inch in diameter dark reddish colored fruit? It makes a delicious and beautiful jelly. The bark of the tree is wonderful too looking like the bark on some types of crepe myrtles. I am surprised you can grow them in Austin.

    Brugmansias remind me of tobacco plants. They grow them here in NJ too but somehow it looks out of place with its tropical looking leaves. Interesting plants Annie.

    If you're late for Bloom day like I was you could have included your Rose of Sharons. ;)

  21. I originally learned Rose of Sharon by another name, Althea. And my mother usually said it with some degree of disgust in her voice! I suppose because it grows so aggressively here.

    I always liked orange marigolds, but loved Monsoon Wedding! Loved Bride & Prejudice too! And as that completes my knowledge of Indian movies, you'll have to suggest another now. :)

  22. Annie, Your garden is so interesting with all it's variety! You encourage as a new gardener. I think it it so neat that some of your favorite plants made the move with you! Even though their timing isn't always ours...it is great that they bloom at different times so there is always something wonderful to enjoy!

  23. How interesting to find fellow garden bloggers with similar tastes in movies LOL. I saw Monsoon wedding at the Paris in NY when it came out years ago, my friend and I were rocking with laughter. Like Pam, I really enjoyed the book (The Namesake), actually better than I thought it would be. alas I have to wait for the DVD to come out to see the movie. I did see Water, which came out on DVD end of March. that's a very fundamental movie.

  24. Annie, Entangled-my husband and I were literally rolling on the ground with laughter when we saw Bride and Prejudice. Anyone who think this movie is based on fiction is wrong, as living in a multicultural region I have witnessed every scene and heard every phrase used.
    Do you remember the scene where the hero's mother flew in a blonde haired girl from NY and introduced her to the heroine as her son's girlfriend? Well, a couple years before the movie was the exact thing that happened to a Trinidad/Indian friend who was dating this Trinidad/American Guy-his mother,who is from Indiana, flew in the blonde haired girl from the US to be his girlfriend!
    All in all I think the writer is of the movie made astonishingly astute observations on the parallels in prejudice-in Jane Austin's world-prejudice based on class, and in the movie, prejudice based on race and nationality. It had not struck me before how similar they were, especially in the manner in which they motivate people's behavior.

  25. My rose of Sharon was also behaving badly but it did get two flowers open in time for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Like yours, it decided it was really time to put out the following week.

    I've seen Monsoon Wedding and enjoyed it. I think I liked Bride and Prejudice better--at least the parts that Naveen Andrews was in--the commentary was quite interesting. Our favorite Indian movie, though, was Lagaan...just to demonstrate all Indian movies are depressing.

  26. Annie, I'm not a garden blogger and I feel so inadequate commenting on your blog. But the truth is, I really enjoy it! You have so much knowledge and passion for your living, growing bursts of color...

    You said, "The view from the back door is just fine today." Just fine? Is that all???

    I want to know how you urge your plants to "bloom on time". Do you stand over them and chant?

  27. Hello Leslie, I have to pull other plants off my 'Prairie Blue Eyes', too. It grows, but not as assertively as its neighbors. It's been a while since I saw Mississippi Masala - before Denzel was such a big movie star.

    Kate, my friends grow all sorts of interesting plants that are marginal here, thus filling me with plant-lust, too.

    When I write that Passalong Plant post, maybe I'll use your definition and include this daylily!

    R Sorrell, your garden and Pam's are always ahead of mine. When you put an open flower on your blog, I look for buds up here.

    Hello Stuart, I sure hope that the Pineapple Guava makes fruit some day, but so far my career as orchardist is rather dismal. Wait until next year!

    Hi Pam - it seems that I really need to read this book!

    I only have a few daylilies now; they're all pretty simple, most are a single color, and they fit into my borders quite easily. Maybe the formality and gorgeous voluptuousness of many hybrids require a different kind of setting - one where each variety is displayed as a separate plant.

    Ki, mine hasn't had fruit, so I don't know yet. It's only about 2-feet tall. And so far, Some people are growing them in Austin, and I'm just hoping to be one of them!

    We took out-of-town guests down to San Antonio last year, and the Brugmansias in the Alamo gardens were about 10-feet tall, covered in scores of trumpets. I've never seen anything like that here!

    Hello Rurality - Althea is the name I learned later, and now it's Hibiscus syriacus, but my grandmother and parents said Rose of Sharon. My mother was always so relieved to find ours alive after an Illinois winter - up there Althea never had a chance to be aggressive.

    We've only seen a few Indian movies ourselves, and some of the movies were screenings by the Austin Film Society, not on DVD. If Swades is ever released on DVD I'd recommend that one.

    Hello CountryGirl - thank you. Actually, pretty soon you'll see plants that have made a couple of moves with me! And I'm enjoying all the flowers that grow in the North.

    Nicole, the response to this post has amazed me, and makes me wonder what other movies we all love! Water was recommended by my daughter [she's a member of the Seattle Film Society] but I forgot to look for it!

    Somehow Jane Austin's observations on human nature and relationships don't even seem like fiction! Maybe that's why the characters Lady Catherine and Miss de Bourgh from the novel translated so seamlessly into Darcy's mother and proposed girlfriend, and their types were still recognizable 200 years later in your friend's experience ;-)

    MSinclairStevens, it is pretty funny how many things refused to open for the 15th.

    Naveen Andrews was so amazing in that first boy/girl musical number! He and Aishwarya Rai are in a new drama, but it sure doesn't sound romantic - involving a wife killing an abusive husband.

    We've saw Lagaan a few years ago and liked it, but were glad we saw it at home... it was a long, long movie. Obviously with that attitude I've never tried to get into Harry Knowle's Buttnumbathon.

    Mary, maybe that's the same reason I like to visit your blog?? We both have living, growing bursts of color, but yours have wings and beaks, and mine have petals!

    I guess the 'just fine' was an expression of satisfaction because almost everything you could see was planted in the last couple of years. It looked pretty sparse last spring!

    I don't chant, just keep going in and out with the camera ready... like watching a pot which will not boil.

    Thank you all for commenting.


  28. Hi Annie!
    I love your blog and am an ardent admirer of your garden but this particular post got me excited like no other, because of the Indian connection.
    First of all, I am pleasantly surprised on reading the comments on this post. So many of you have seen these movies with Indian themes, its heartening!
    Marigolds are ubiquitous in Indian religious ceremonies, mainly marriages and also sometimes in funerals.
    Mira Nair, Gurinder Chaddha, Deepa Mehta all represent a different genre of moviemakers, who have presented the Indian traditions and value systems, so realistically, for the global audience.
    Your take on Taj Mahal is so right. So many times we have seen the monument in movies and it appears a dull beauty, forcing you to adore it. Although I haven't seen Namesake yet but I can very well imagine from your description that things must have been presented with a different perspective. Cannot wait to get my hands on the namesake DVD.

  29. I think that waiting for flowers to bloom is not only tough on Garden Bloggers but it's also why there aren't really any good gardening shows on TV. I'd like to see a gardening TV show that shows you how to plant something from seed, how it looks while it's growing and how to take care of it, how to harvest, how to trim, etc but something like that would take months to film.

    And I'll let you in on a little secret to my Garden Blog. Sometimes I post pictures from previous years if my plants aren't cooperating. :)

  30. Stubborn plants.. I have had many too. And then all of a sudden they shoot out branches like fireworks, and bloom like crazy for no reason I can think of. I'm sure yours will surprise you someday!
    Love your "just fine" view from your back door! Inspires me to do a bit more with my back garden.

  31. Annie, take good care of that pomegranate tree, pomegranate is the latest "wonder" ingredient used in face creams. You can make your own and bypass the $40 a jar price tag!

    Monsoon Wedding was a treat, and I've taken a liking to orange marigolds too, though for years I thought they were too "common." I love how our tastes evolve over time.


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