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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, June 28, 2007

Central Texas News Roundup - Few Photos, Lots of Links

[Image from the Lower Colorado River Authority website showing the system of dams which made the Colorado River into a series of reservoirs called the Highland Lakes]

[We're fine in my neighborhood - the flooding happened Northwest of here]

Maybe you've seen some of the stories or photos already? Over seventeen inches of rain fell within a few hours on Marble Falls, NW of Austin, with flood waters engulfing other Central Texas towns like Smithwick and Kingsland. Area map, with Austin in the lower right corner.

The flood-tumbled, mangled remains of a vehicle was found today, but the teenagers who were in it are still missing. Residents of that area have lost houses, property, cars and trucks, and one organic chicken farm has lost all their hens. People were rescued from rooftops and the municipal water system isn't working. The parts that need fixing are still under water, so the townfolk are doing the best they can with bottled water.

Mystery writer Susan Albert lives not too far away... she's okay and her house is on high ground, but she had a few adventures with livestock as the storm hit.

Fellow Austin Blogger Mrs Quad has some scary photos of what the water's done.


In this little corner of Austin the only drama was recorded in this not-too-clear photo of a 3-inch slug, an unusual shape here. We get lots of those little roundish slugs that look like a kindergardener couldn't find a tissue and used a leaf instead. This particular speciment was heading toward a clematis but did not arrive at that destination.
Some of the garden plants have been thrilled with a year's worth of water in just a few months, while others resent it. The peppers, sunflower and Tropical Milkweed/Asclepias curassavica are growing, but could use some sun. The tomatoes look terrible, and most of what fruit remains is fit only for a compost heap.

The City of Portland Cannas, on the other hand, surrounded below by Salvia guaranitica, are looking fine, without the usual crispy edges seen in drier years.

I've been growing the lime green and purple potato vines for a decade, valuing their cascading foliage in hanging baskets.
In all that time none ever bloomed - but this purple one produced flowers! Is it a result of our eighties instead of nineties with everyday rain?

Here's the Clematis viticella, rescued from the awesome slug, making another flurry of buds and blooms. The pale blue flowers at its base are a Plumbago, a plant that throws lanky branches up to 4-feet high by mid-fall, and sometimes makes it through a NW Austin winter. This spring it was killed to a couple of inches in height, so it wasn't blooming when the clematis was scanned in April.

The big weedy looking leaves at the lower right belong to a big weedy Brugmansia AKA Angel's trumpet. It's supposed to be yellow and fragrant. It's never bloomed, in spite of water, fertilizer, great soil and what should be a perfect location with morning sun and protection from the hot afternoon sun.

The paint on the green loveseat from the previous post was fresh when the rain began so we put it in the shed to let it cure. Any guesses on when the new garden furniture gets into the garden? Storms are in the forecast through the 4th and the weather radio goes off a few times each day, warning us of flash flood danger.

One of the quirky Austin places we've loved is the downtown location of the Alamo Drafthouse, the original nucleus of the burgeoining Alamo Drafthouse group. Food and drink accompanied a movie- the movie could be something new and weird or old and cult-oriented, or even a silent movie. We've watched Buster Keaton in The General and Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box up the screen, while musicians Guy Forsyth and Graham Reynolds played music specially composed for the movie. We've been there quite often when the Austin Film Society screened Essential Cinema. On the Tuesday night just passed we went to the Alamo Downtown, watched a truly extraordinary British Science fiction movie from 1961, The Day The Earth Caught Fire, and drank a last toast to this particular Alamo. Wednesday night was the big final party before the Alamo moves to a new location on 6th Street. This wonderful place will be no longer be quite the same, but the concept and the proprietors will still be here, and the memories have been blogged for posterity.


  1. I haven't been watching CNN or reading the newspapers much these days and I totally missed this horrid flood. I always think of Texas as dry with the odd downpour.

    That slug is one scary-looking creature, who must have left a big slime trail. At least the Clematis was saved and looks lovely in bloom.

    Your garden looks lush and thriving ... I am fascinated by the flowers of the purple potato vine, having never seen them before.

    It's always a bit sad when a favourite hangout closes down, but at least it is moving and not disappearing. I hope they continue to show old movies - what a great concept. I loved the film, The Day the Earth Caught Fire ...

    I hope you don't get any more flash floods.

  2. Oh gosh, I hope I never see a slug like that!

    I hope I do see a sweet potato vine blooming - I love all the Ipomoeas, even the weedy ones.

    I've been blithely ignoring most of the news lately, so I hadn't heard about the Texas floods. I rented The Day the Earth Caught Fire a year or so ago, and remembering the premise of that movie makes me think I ought to pay more attention.

  3. Like you -- I never knew a sweet potato vine could bloom. What a treat! Maybe your husband was taking extra good care of it while you were out of town!

    My heart goes out to you and your fellow Texans because of all of this rain. My husband's parents are getting way too much rain too. Hopefully soon the rain will decide to move on and share it's bounty with others who really need it.

  4. Kate and Entangled - you know this movie! The dialogue was wonderful, and it was fun to Leo McKern as someone besides Rumpole. What a cast!

    It was bizarre to watch the fictional blend of nuclear tests, government cover-ups, record floods and heat waves on the B/W screen, then emerge to find the same combination in today's world, right down to the nuclear testing.

    Kate, we keep getting flash flood warnings, and have had many more inches than usual, but waterlogged ground is all that's happened here so far.

    Mimi, Philo did a great job at first, then let nature take over. Most of Austin is okay- the Marble Falls area has been told it was a "five-hundred year flood". I feel sorry for that town, too.


  5. Annie... Oddly enough, my purple potato vine also bloomed this year for the first time. I posted a picture of it last Saturday here
    What could our vines possibly have in common since we've had dry weather here and the only water mine has gotten has been what I've given it? Perhaps some common grower's source?

    I am glad we don't have the gigantic slug in common, however, and will just imagine (or not) what had to be done to ensure "it did not reach its destination".

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

    (And thanks for the local updates on the flooding, that is so sad, and sad that some news sources seem to provide more coverage for certain celebrities getting out of jail than for the flooding.)

  6. I've planted a purple potato vine for the first time this year...I'll keep my eyes out for blooms!
    The floods sound horible...I only hope it stops soon.
    I've seen big slugs (banana slugs camping, and some close to two inches in my yard) but never one so dark. Aside from it being a slug it's pretty cool!

  7. Annie, everytime I hear about the flooding in Texas, I think about you. You guys have really caught the brunt of it with some sad stories coming out of the Austin area.

    Isn't it amazing what a change in temps does to the garden? I'd say yours has fared pretty well, with the exception of the sun-loving veggies. I'm especially glad you waylaid that huge gross slug! Here's hoping for some relief from the weather.

  8. Hi Annie,

    Chicago got a real downpour but nothing like the one you described. I feel sorry for those poor people who were affected.

    Beautiful photos of your flowers.

    Don't forget to join in the Garden Bloggers' Muse Day tomorrow. We all know what a muse you are !

  9. I've never seen a black slug before. It's ugly/beautiful. Thank you for sharing some pictures of your garden.

    That's really an amazing amount of rain, in Texas and Australia both. I don't think I can even understand 17" inches of rain in just a few hours. At any rate, I'm glad you're okay.

  10. I hope you continue to stay safe. At least the rain will be an eventual boon to the farming, after all those years of drought.
    The potato looks great-I think they have more impact in the lower light of the non-tropics they dont have as much impact here.

  11. Oh, my gosh, Annie. 17 inches of rain so quickly. IT'S FEAST OR FAMINE around the country. At least your gardens look green and lush in comparison to parched and dry.

    Japanese beetles are eating my Canna alive - I can't spray since they are close to the pond. Sigh...

    T-storms pop up a few times a week but the water rushes to the storm drains and dries before soaking. I think I've lost a Japanese Willow in this heat.

    For you, I wish sunny days.

  12. I also had missed much of the news on the flooding. My sister was telling me about it yesterday. I can't imagine going through a natural disaster like that. I'm glad you are safe.

  13. Carol, I saw that photo - but it didn't click when mine bloomed, duh. There seem to be a lot of similar phenomena in widely differing regions - late plants, enormous growth or none at all... should we just blame sunspots?

    Oh yes, the 'gigantic' slug... the ones in Seattle are the size and color of bananas. I didn't do much - just used a trowel and deposited it in a brown paper lawn bag LOL

    Leslie, the flowers closed pretty quickly so I may have been lucky to see them. Today I found a small snail, so it is an odd year.

    LostRoses, my own yard is fine, and most of the Texans will recover. Now I sure hope some rain will fall gently and slowly on places like Alabama and California who are in real, desperate trouble.
    It's sort of fun to see a lush garden after the last few years! We've been technically in drought from the time we moved to this house in late 2004 up until a couple of months ago, and don't know what 'normal' is yet.

    Carolyn, my poetry is more Hallmark than high-class, but you talked me into joining your Muse Day!

    Chuck, we've had way more than usual, but not 17" thank heavens.

    HOWEVER - in Illinois we did have some enormous downpours like this - 14" on one August evening and a couple of years later we had 16" in just a few hours. The sewers started spouting rainwater like geysers on every street corner and the storm water poured through window wells to fill basements. It was an awful mess!

    Nicole, this isn't a major agricultural area, but there is some stuff grown in patchworks of farms. The dams turned a sometimes huge/sometimes dry river into a necklace of linked reservoirs. Until they were built, not too many people lived in the area. But now the population is approaching a million people in the greater metro area, all dependent on enough rainfall in the western hills to fill the reservoir lakes.

    Mary, I swear the whole 8 years we've been here it's either drought or flood, all or nothing!! Just watch - it won't be long until we Austin people are moaning about our crispy gardens!

    Oh, what a shame about the willow - we've lost trees even with careful watering... I think their roots cook and rot or something.

    CountryGirl some of the local news footage has been sad, but some of it really shows how much spirit, grit and humor the folks in Marble Falls have - I sure hope the town can recover.

    Thanks from Annie

  14. I was wondering if all that rain and flooding affected you. Glad to read that it didn't but it certainly was a boon for your garden. Everything looks so lush. You haven't lived until you've seen the Pacific Northwest banana slug. Olive green and mustard in color and big! Eight inches or more in length. That's one thing Texas can't claim to have the biggest of - not that you'd want a giant slug. I saw a salamander trying to eat one. It had all but about an inch or two in its mouth with slime all over looking like it was a person choking. Should have given it the heimlich maneuver.

  15. Shocking news! A 3 inch slug, yikes!

    The word kindergarden always makes me smile as it makes me think of a garden full of little kiddies. A kindergardener would be someone who grows children in their garden, wouldn't it? ;-)

    Not good that flood and the havoc it have wreaked. :-(

  16. Ki, we have family in Seattle, so have seen many a banana slug - even have seen them gummed to a housewall, entwined in the mating act late one night.

    Yolanda! You're back - I'll have to pop over to your blog.
    'Kindergarten' is the way to spell it, of course, and it does mean child garden... I wonder why we in the US use the European spelling after all these years?


  17. Annie,
    so glad to hear those floods missed you.

    I have had purple potato vines bloom. I never paid attention to how hot the summer was. It just seems to be a hit or miss thing for me.

  18. I go away for a few weeks and it does is rain. It's raining and flooding here in England, too. Lot's of crops lost and people drowned in Sheffield (not too far from here). I don't think they'd know what to do with 18 inches of water. Fields start flooding here after a couple of inches.

    I was hoping to return to this an unusually cool summer but AJM said that it was going to be 96 today so I'll return with the heat, I guess. Bleah!

  19. Wow, that slug is something else! This year's been so dry here, I don't see too many of those, luckily. (Although I'd rather have both.) I like that potato vine flower, too...never knew they did that! I thought I was lucky getting a caladium to bloom last year.


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