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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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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ponds and Poetry

Uncontrolled water in the home garden can be a disaster - water confined and channeled through a water feature can be wonderful. If you're in the mood to see wonderful water features, you're in luck - it's almost time for the annual Austin Pond Society Tour, that special weekend when some of the members invite you into their gardens, demonstrating how Nature and Technology can work together to bring water, sound, plant life and animal life into your own back yard. That's our birdbath full of bluejays in the photo - if just a simple birdbath can get this much action, imagine what a pond could do!

For 2007, the event spans two days and features 30 locations - including a couple that will be open on Saturday night. Mark your calendars for Saturday and Sunday, July 14th and 15th, 2007. Wristbands are available at the Wildflower Center, Emerald Gardens and Hill Country Water Gardens, and can also be purchased online. You can also get them the day of the tour, but buying ahead can save you a couple of bucks.

Pond Tour Information on the APS website

The Pond Society kindly linked to my posts about last year's tour. We made it to almost all of the Saturday locations - mainly in-town ponds, loaded with ideas for urban and suburban gardeners - but I didn't have the camera with me that day. On Sunday I took photos at some unusual ponds in more rural settings out to the NW of Austin. If you're interested, here are links:

The Pond Society site also has links to photo galleries from several previous tours.

Carolyn at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago is trying to get a garden muse day going on the first of each month, much as Carol of May Dreams has encouraged us to post flower photos for Garden Blogger Bloom Day on the 15th.

There's also a 'Green Thumb Sunday', a monthly 'Festival of the Trees', and even a 'Wordless Wednesday' going around. My first reaction was that things are getting awfully organized and scheduled in the garden blogging world. I'm starting to feel like an Austin Slacker version of Huckleberry Finn, suspicious that the Widow Douglas is trying to 'sivilize' me and think I'll slope off for the river.

But the idea kind of grew on me, so what the heck - here's a poem for Garden Muse Day. When one of the Muses whispers in my ear, it's seldom Calliope guiding me to epic poetry, or Melpomene leading me to write tragedy. No - the Muse that usually shows up is Thalia, inspiring comedy. Maybe she also inspired me to plant 'Thalia' narcissus, seen in this March photo.

The following rhyme is a few years old. A lot of my garden verse has been set to music with more than a dozen of the songs comprising an in-progress musical comedy copyrighted as Roots in Austin. I've made some of the songs into videos for YouTube - they're linked at left in the sidebar. More videos are in the works, but this little snippet of doggerel doesn't seem to have a musical future - it's slight, and cute, and nerdy in a horticultural way:

A long time ago from a silvered movie screen
Came words made immortal by a cinematic queen:
“The calla lilies are in bloom,” said Hepburn in a trance;
At seventeen I knew that I must own these lovely plants.

In Northern lands I nurtured them, rejoicing at one flower.
My rhizomes cellar-dwellers were through winter’s chilling hours.
To Texans they’re less precious - here they’ll live with no protection,
Yet still are waxy, delicate, a chlorophyll confection.

The spathe emerges from the soil; the spadix is concealed.
Soon luminous white, or pearly pink, or yellow is revealed.
Some ask for Zantedeschia, preferring Latin words,
Too many calla flowers? Never! The concept is absurd.

Written by Annie at the Transplantable Rose


  1. Annie the Austin Garden Slacker? Hmmm... if your slack time leads to poems like yours about the calla lily, take all the slack time you want!

    And I'm quite impressed by the blue jays around the bird bath. At first I didn't think they were real.

  2. Annie,
    That poem is just beautiful! And, like Carol, I'm very impressed by your gang of blue jays!

  3. I'm going to offer a third opinion on the coolness of the blue jays! Great shot. I love the little statue photo, too. Thanks for sharing the poem -- I love calla lilies, too, but haven't yet mustered the confidence to actually try to grow them...maybe another year?

  4. You did get a great shot of the blue jays! I love having birds in the garden. Enjoy the Austin Pond Society Tour. I hope it doesn't get rained out!

  5. I love it! A rhyme! How fun. I'm terribly behind on reading blogs, and I'm not sure at this point if I'll ever catch up - but it does sound like there is quite a bit of organized activities - I keep thinking that I'll read one of the books for the book club, but just never get around to it.

    Are you getting all of this rain that I am hearing about? Your grass looks so nice and green - we're still parched.

  6. Bluejay coffee talk? So to speak anyway. Great shot!

  7. Annie,

    I think you should do take a stab at making this into a video - I like the nerdy horticultral spin.

    Ah, I wish I could go on the pond tour. That would be so amazing. I imagine some of the ponds on the tour are spectacular ...

    Love your birdbath and the bluebirds ...

    Happy Canada Day!

  8. So you have Blue Jays? I have feeders and a pond and no Blue Jays. Actually, I grew up with them in Baltimore City and they can be quite aggressive but they are so beautiful...

    Annie, I'd love to take the pond tour. There is always something to be learned about pond-keeping and water gardens. Treat yourself to it?

  9. Oh! Your birdbath full of bluejays is just wonderful! A Kodak moment and you caught it! Our bluejays are the bullies of the feeder in my yard. You don't have to fill the birdbaths as much with all this rain. Stay dry and have a great week! Chris

  10. Annie,

    That narcissus is pretty spectacular. You got a good image of it, it sort of look ghostly.

  11. A birdbath overflowing with bluejays! What a cool picture, Annie. And a garden pond tour sounds pretty cool right now too, all that running water. We are dry as a bone and high 90's each day to go along with it.

    As for your "doggerel", "you're a poet and don't know it"! Or maybe you do, either way I'm impressed.

  12. Annie,

    Thank you so much for your contribution to the first Muse day.

  13. I love bluejays, I know a lot of people don't. Great photo.

    I'm impressed with your literary talent, also.

  14. It's the ethereal shot of the Thalia that one my heart ... although the pic of the jays made me smile!

  15. wonderful poem! Write more, I loved it. I can't wait to see some ideas from the pond tour. I have three birdbaths right now and would like something a little more funky. But the birds do love them. I have to fill them at least twice a day cause they get so much use. Not many blue jays though.

  16. love the poem.

    I wish I could come down and take the tour... and have some tacos... and a few margaritas.

    Thanks for writing about this.

  17. Annie, you don't seem like a slacker to me. You wrote that poem a few years ago? I need someone to nudge me with a cattle prod to get some poetry flowing. Always enjoy reading your blog! rosemarie

  18. Annie,though not a frequent commenter I read often. Seems several of the muse visit here .
    For myself an occasioal bow to Clio suffices.
    Common names often have more poetry. The Zantedeschia are in bloom would not have worked even with
    Hepburns cultured voice and dreamy eyes.

  19. great bird bath shot. They look like they are just gabbing away- or arguing about who used all the hot water!

  20. I think a water element attracts as many birds as our birdfeeders. Since 3 of our kitties died of old age or disease the cement mixing black plastic tubs we used for their kitty litter went unused. My wife finally found a use for the tubs to wash fish tank gravel but left it out thinking she'd do it another day. It was filled partially with water and the gravel mounded in the center made a good ramp for the birds. And boy did they come for baths. We've since left two out in inconspicuous places, they are quite ugly but the birds really love them and their bathing antics are hilarious to watch.

    The bouquet of garden flowers look just great. We want to create a cutting garden someday.

  21. Delightful poem, Annie; you're no slacker, not with all you do and all you write. I'm a fan of bluejays, love their sass and their range of vocalizations, their blue colour and we don't find them bullies here--maybe because we have upwards of a dozen feeders strewn around our place and there's lots for all.
    Inspired by other gardeners, I planted a calla for the first time this year, in a large pot. It's lovely, but it doesn't move me to verse like it does you!

  22. I've never seen bluejays congregate like this...have you?

  23. Thank you for liking it, Carol and Colleen! The photo was taken through the window.

    Genie, my callas have up and down years but they've been around since we lived in Illinois - they're tougher than you think.

    CountryGirl, the Fourth has been rained out - maybe the Pond Society will be luckier.

    Pam, I like the playful part of making things rhyme, and am happy to leave the deep thoughts and blank verse to real poets. The ground is saturated and it's been pouring off and on all day.

    Can you imagine Mike Myers dressed up as a Blue Jay, Layanee?

    Kate, thanks - who knows what the next one will be! On past tours the ponds have ranged from a few feet square to gardens that put municipal parks to shame!

    Hi Mary - they've been around since we moved here in 2004, but not in such numbers. They're beautiful louts.

    Chris, actually, I still go out with the hose every day - to spray out the crud. Those birds are messy.

    Thanks MrBrownThumb - it's not a large variety - I was crouched low to the ground on an overcast day.

    LostRoses, you can believe Texas [and Kansas, and Oklahoma!] would love to share with you. Well, you can have the water but we're liking the cooler than normal temperatures.

    Carolyn, you had a pretty good turnout!

    Hello Melissa, this one would probably like Seattle, and it's even fragrant!

    Meresy, there are a few more scattered around the yard - mostly painted clay saucers. Unless it's pouring I fill mine at least once a day, too.

    I wish you could do it, too, but you'd better bring your umbrella, Hank!

    Hello Rosemarie, I do more composing of verse or lyrics in the shower than anywhere else - not a good place to get things on paper!

    Hello Gloria, even if I could get it to rhyme, the experts don't agree on how to pronounce Zantedeschia!

    Bonnie, I'm pretty sure a couple are the just-grown adult children of the other ones...maybe they're getting parental advice?

    Ki, I have half-a-dozen water sources for birds, but excepting the days of ice, I don't put out food for them. Our yard is full of seeds, berries, and insects - let them get their own dinner.

    Jodi the callas looked pretty good the year the poem was written - they would have inspired a lament this year.

    Cityfarmer, while I was thrilled to snap the photo of 4 at once, there have been as many as 6 Bluejays sharing that birdbath without fighting - that's one reason I believe them to be a family.

    Thank you from Annie

  24. Thanks for the info on the Austin Pond Society Tour, Annie. I really want to attend this year.

    BTW, I love your photo of the bluejays in your birdbath. What a pretty family of birds! I'll bet they had a lot to say.



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