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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, August 05, 2007

After the Sun Came Back

A roof and a tree and some sky? Not very exciting is it? But if I'd taken a before photo, when the branches still lounged on the roof, and no sky showed through the solid wall of greenery, you'd see a big difference. The rain stopped a week ago and the sun came out, so when we pruned back the pecan trees from the house and shed roofs, it was normal weather for August 5th - humid & 95º. The garden has responded to the sunshine. I walked around with the camera after we finished to see what was new- like these buds on the yellow Plumeria, above, and the red Plumeria, below.
Both Plumeria were in full bloom last year by July 26 . I think the same cooler, rainier weather that extended the season for plants like roses, has delayed the bloom for heat and sun lovers. My garden phlox just started to form buds this week, while they're almost done in the midwest. Another plant is making its debut here - the 'Incense' passionvine has leaves and buds for the first time in several years. The tendrils grab onto anything - even a brick wall.

The Gulf Frittilary caterpillars ate every passionflower leaf, tendril and bud in previous summers - they'll probably still show up, but the vine has finally had a chance to get established - maybe larvae, food plant and gardener can all be happy in future.

The 'Celeste' fig has tripled in size from last summer, and has a few figs forming in the junctures along the branches.

I ate two figs from this tree last month - those fruits were probably formed last autumn and somehow survived the icestorm. This set of figs is forming on new wood.

Here's a plant that's looked like a big weed for a few summers - a Brugmansia, labeled as yellow. It's finally forming buds! While I'm still hoping it will turn out to be yellow, by now I'll be thrilled with any color from this Angel's Trumpet.

Hidden behind the still-flowering white hibiscus I found the purple dahlia flowers were open. The only way I could get a photo was by threading through the weary tomato patch.
This dahlia deserves a better place and should be moved in fall.

I bought a chili pequin plant last year, which did nothing all summer - didn't grow or make peppers. Although it's usually an annual, it survived the winter ice to grow and make some fiery hot fruit. I like the way it looks with Silver pony foot and decomposed granite.

The second bulb of the oft-discussed probably 'Fred Howard' amarcrinum cross is blooming again in the shady border, and a third bulb, planted in the big pot with the passalong corkscrew willow, decided to bloom for the first time this week. They look identical to me. The plant in the border has made a flower stalk twice as long as the one last year, giving it a gawky look.
In the above photo you can't even see the stalk on the amarcrinum in the container - all you can see is one happy umbrella papyrus in a year with enough water.

Chuck thinks we should have long shots as well as closeups, so this is what the back garden looks like when one is seated at the patio table, looking past the umbrella shaft, over the herb bed to the NE. The gate is around the corner to the left. The Brugmansia is at left under the overhang. The lighter green blob over the chair back is the 'Little Gem' Magnolia.

Remember when I bought those citronella incense cones last week? They work pretty well - letting us once again sit at the table in the evening.


  1. You have so many plants that I can only dream of having. Plumeria is my favorite flower and you have it in my favorite color. I agree with Chuck, I like to see longer shots of sections of the garden. I enjoyed the view from your table.

  2. Annie: Love the long shot. It is a treat to see the garden as a whole! As for plumeria, I love it and can only hope that mine will bloom during my lifetime!

  3. Annie: Sometimes blogger insists that I be 'Ginger' unless I over ride it which I failed to do but the above comment is mine.

  4. Everything's looking lovely! I love passionflower...I haven't had any luck with it so far, but hopefully someday mine will look as pretty as yours.How exciting about your Brugmansia!That will be absolutely gorgeous when it blooms, no matter what color it ends up being :-)

  5. Your post reminds us that plants should not be judged on one season or even on one year of growing, but over the long haul. We never know what Mother Nature will bring to our gardens each year.

    Great to hear you are drying out and the sun once again shines on your garden

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  6. Annie, I'm glad you finally got some sun. The rain must have moved out of your area and into ours. 2 1/2 inches last 2 days. Don't know how you can stand that humidity! It is nice to see so many different plants that we don't have here. I love the color of the amarcrinum. Like the long shot too.

  7. Hmm. Chuck thinks we should include long shots, and he got his way... so I think I should be tele-transported to that lovely patio table of yours immediately so I can enjoy that gorgeous garden.

    Darn it... I can't believe that didn't work for me! :) Ah well, good thing you posted all of these beautiful shots for us to enjoy instead. I can't wait to see what color that brugmansia will be. Do you know whether the white ones smell as lovely as the yellows do?

  8. I also meant to say that the yellow plumeria is absolutely fascinating in bud. It looks like some sort of sexy, exotic reptile trying to hypnotize its prey.

  9. I've grown 'Blue Crown' passionvine and some other, smaller type, but never 'Incense.' Isn't that the one Tom Spencer likes so much too? It's beautiful. I'll have to try it next year.

  10. Wow...I'm in awe of such amazing plants, Annie. Most of these we could only grow as annuals or as houseplants--if even that. I hope the brugmansia is yellow, but you're right, they're ALL divine when they are in bloom.

  11. Annie - your pictures, and blooms, are beautiful! We enjoy many of the same plants, too. My plumeria (yellow) has just started blooming, as has my Angel's trumpet. It looked like a single, dying weed when I planted it several months ago, and now it is an overgrown monster - heavy with lovely white blooms. I had passionflower vines at our last house - I'd planted them around the pool bed, hoping they'd trail DOWN a wall, but they invaded all my shrubs and trees, so the caterpillars were a big help in controlling them!!!! Everything's relative in the garden, isn't it!!! We left a fig tree behind, but now we have a pomegranite - haven't dared to eat one yet, though. Thanks for sharing all the lovely photos.

  12. I'm just flabbergasted ! Guess Y'all could just spit on anything down there in Texas and it would grow ! Beautiful shots of plants I've never seen or heard of . What zone are you in again ? And to think I was this close to moving to Texas a few years ago.

    Glad the sun is shining on you once again.

  13. Those buds are just wonderful, even I am getting excited with expectation! Love the passion flower and dahlia. Have to make good on my promise to get some brugmansia or datura seeds...

  14. You've got so much action!

    Congratulations on your sunny relief.

    (Does this mean you'll have more mosquitos in a few weeks?)

    And I hope it wasn't terribly imposing too ask for long shots! :> At least it sounds like your other admirers are enjoying them too.

  15. Annie, like Blackswamp Girl, I also thought you were showing us a picture of some exotic insect! Your garden looks very happy to see the sun again, and it's not a bad thing to be looking forward to delayed blooms, is it?

    I think it was Mary from Mary's View who was always asking for long shots which made me a little more conscious of showing the whole picture. But not too much, there are certainly some things I don't want to show! And I like those shots myself, so yes, Chuck is on the right path. Kind of you to indulge him! I love your fig flowers looking so much like some exotic bird.

  16. I just love that amarcrinum - everytime I see it, I just like it more and more - it really is beautiful. Your plumarias looke great - I have one for the first time, so am not quite sure what to expect. I have gorgeous foliage, but I haven't noticed any flower buds yet. I'll have to look more carefully tomorrow.

    I'm glad that you are finally getting a taste of summer - what a rainy year you guys have had! We're a bit envious of your rain over on this coast.

  17. Apple, the texture of plumeria petals is so wonderful, isn't it? Plus there's scent! Both plumeria are in large containers so they can be put into the garage during cold spells.

    Hello Ginger/Layanee - the yellow plumeria didn't bloom until the fourth year, but the red one bloomed in the second year. Good luck with yours.

    Colleen, one year in Illinois I grew passion vine as an annual in a hanging basket - the plant was so happy it even made fruit. But this is the first time I've ever got one going down here.

    Hi Carol - you're right... and I know that some hostas and daylilies are also slow to show their true nature - you have to give them 3 years in one spot.
    It's plenty warm and dry now!

    It would be wonderful to have sun interrupted by regular rain, Bev, but what we seem to get is either drought or flood. Austin is pretty humid, but people in really hot & humid Houston would not be impressed!

    Blackswamp Girl, I'd like that, too - especially if your wish had a reciprocal feature that would teleport me to yours!

    I've seen more photos of brugmansias than actual flowers, so am not sure about the scent part. We saw an enormous pink Angel Trumpet in the garden of the Alamo in San Antonio - it was heartstopping - hundreds of fragrant, foot-long pale pink trumpets.
    When I saw how the Plumeria bud photo came out it looked like some Mantis relative to me.

    Hi Pam/Digging - yes, Tom has fabulous photos of 'Incense' on his blog. Before I planted it I'd heard warnings that it could be invasive so it's in a large, sunken container. Diana seems to have found this vine to be a problem.

    Jodi, the Brugmansia is planted outside, and it died down to about 6-inches tall last winter. Both Plumerias are in large containers - they come in the garage when it's cold. The amarcrinum, passionvine, dahlias and fig are considered hardy here.

    Diana - your white brugmansia sounds beautiful - what do you do with your plumeria over winter?
    Your passionvine story is kind of scary! But that would be typical of plants here, to go from endangered to invasive in one season!
    I planted a pomegranate last fall, and sadly it had no blooms or fruit. Pam/Digging had lots of flowers on hers, but that's not a surprise.

    Carolyn, we usually get a fairly short winter with occasional snow and ice - officially zone 8B; some parts of Austin, especially near the river, are more like zone 9. People like me can't resist growing tropical plants, but then must haul them in and out when we get frosts.

    Thank you all!


  18. Nicole, in your climate you might not have to wait very long for flowers!

    Hi Chuck - don't get all giddy with power, now! The sun is great for kicking up the buds, but that means I'm hot and have to water again! The mosquitoes have been horrible for months.

    I guess we look at our gardens in small scenes, walking around, and tend to show it that way. But a few panoramas could be a good thing.

    Hello LostRoses, the plumeria buds look just as odd in real life.
    The suspense of wondering if certain plants were skipping a year was driving me nuts. Having a blog changed everything! No plants can skip years anymore - they're on public display!!

    It's really hard to take long photos without including my neighbors' yards - I want you all to look at mine ;-}

    Hello Pam - I'm pretty sure the amarcrinum is 'Fred Howard' from Plant Delights, and I like the fragrance.
    The plumeria forum at GardenWeb calls them 'inflos'. Their FAQ page was really helpful, because I don't know that much about them. The yellow one first bloomed in late August 2005.

    I loved the rain, but am okay with watering & sun for now - maybe the slugs and snails will frizzle up in the heat!

    Thank you,


  19. Wow Annie!

    MSS is right, your garden really is full of colorful flowers right now. I love your purple passionflower. I can see why the butterflies flock to it.

    Congrats on getting your trees trimmed. That can be quite a job. It's good to have "a piece of sky" in your garden.


  20. It has been a treat for my eyes to see that "Fred Howard" up close..so delicate so beautiful..I must get one!I also have a corkscrew willow planted along my pond.
    Your passion flower breathtaking the color of the dahlia truly a favorite for me! Loved this look at your garden! hugs NG

  21. If you're done with the rain, can we have some? ;-)

    I like the 'Incense' passionvine. The flower color looks much more intense than the species (P. incarnata) that I have. Wonder if that's hardy here?

  22. I keep meaning to try passionflowers again. I just love them. Great photo.

    Chili pequin is a perennial. I've had mine since 2002. It is one of the most winter hardy of all chilis. If it looks like we're in for a really hard freeze, I'll throw a blanket over it. It seems pretty resilient.

    I was weeding today and thinking how nice and neat your garden is compared with mine. And you have such a wonderful variety of plants.

  23. Your garden always look so inviting. I want to stroll in and sit down.

    You are either a great photographer or you have an amazing camera. Your photos are so beautiful and clear, I feel as if I'm looking right at the object.


  24. Hi Annie,
    Isn't it amazing what a little water will do! Everything looks so lush. Sorry you have so many mosquitoes spoiling everything.

    I was reading along wishing there was a longshot, when--poof--a long shot appeared! It's nice to put it all in the proper persepctive.

    Love the passion vine--it has the most interesting flowers.

  25. I like to see long shots too, so that I can get a better idea of how the garden looks. Love that passionfloer of yours. Do you get fruit from it too? Thanks for reminding me, I'll have to check my fig too and see if it's forming fruit too.

    Here we have not had much of a summer so far. It's been cold and wet, more autumn than summer in fact. Yesterday it rained all day and it was only 16 degrees C, which is pretty cold for the time of year. In the evening it was so nippy that I got my woodburner going. Within 5 minutes all my cats were sitting around it, basking in its heat. ;-)

  26. Hi Dawn - it's mostly green, with little patches of color. I seldom saw the butterflies on the Passionvine...just the voracious larvae.
    Philo goes on the roof - I catch and drag the branches and we both 'reduce' the branch pile.

    Hello Naturegirl, Thank you - this amarcrinum came from Plant Delights more than 5 years ago.

    I guess we all need the rain again, Entangled - we have water in the lakes, but two dry weeks of mid-to-high 90's has us all watering again!
    I have no idea on the hardiness of the 'Incense' - it came from a local nursery.

    Hello MSS - you have other plants that are perennial with you but annual with me - but maybe this chili will stick around. Last winter I kept it under the overhang, next to the brick.

    You've got a lot of variety yourself! Our gardens are so different in terrain and sun/shade aspects, and we've developed our own individual styles - one reason it's fun to visit each other!

    Hi Josie, thank you - but you'd need bug repellant to be out there right now !

    Zoey, the growth on many plants was so lush that once the rain stopped the roots couldn't support it - that's why I'm reducing some top growth now.
    My lot is a very odd shape - it's hard to take long shots!

    Yolanda, that coolness must be why your flowers last long and look fresh - a rose here turns from bud to overblown so quickly.

    Oh, it would be so odd to need a wood fire for warmth in August! We speak of this summer as "cool" because the temperatures stayed under 32ºCelsius/90ºF for the month of July. Last year our summer brought us days with 108ºF - guess that would be about 42º C?

    I've never had fruit from this passionvine, but these are the first flowers since it was planted a couple of years ago.

    Thank you!


  27. Hello!
    Marie from Norway paid you a visit. You have got a real nice blog :o)

  28. Good going - you've got a comment above the comment box now! I wish I could eat figs from a tree in my garden. It'll be fun seeing your Angel's Trumpet in bloom. Hopefully it'll be yellow for you. I love the Amarcrinum - it's a pretty colour.

    I like the long shot so we have a better sense of your back garden. I like the lighter green blob Magnolia. Your description made me laugh...

  29. Hmmm, I posted a comment previously but it hasn't appeared. I've noticed this on several other blogs I've left comments. Sometimes Blogger makes me do the word verification twice before the comment is accepted and that could be the problem?

    Anyway...the plumerias should fill your garden with its perfume. Can't wait to see the blooms. The passion flowers have such a complex structure the competition where it is native must be fierce to attract the pollinators. I grew a fig once but dug it up when it didn't seem to send out new growth by the end of May. When I dug it out, I realized it was still alive and was just about to break dormancy but it was too late to salvage the tree. The color of the 'Fred Howard' reminds me of the skin color in John Singer Sargent's paintings.

    It happened again. Blogger wants me to do the word verification twice.

  30. It is always interesting to see the weather variations and what they do to the various plants. It usually isn't too great when your going through the unusual trends. Sometimes the weather changes bring new life to certain areas of the garden. We had a crazy winter and disaster was forecast but everything bloomed well and it was one of the nicest springs I can remember.

  31. Wow, those amarcrinums are delicate beauties, aren't they? The color is exquisite!

    My passiflora hasn't bloomed ONCE since I brought it outside for the summer. It bloomed inside all winter long. I think it's like a newborn baby and has its 'days and nights' mixed up. LOL. It's quite large and I'm considering cutting it way back, as it just looks tired, you know? With these readily available in the garden centers now, it won't be so hard to get another one if it doesn't respond well.

  32. I enjoy these walks around your garden Annie, and I like seeing the long shots too. I'm suffering serious envy of your plumeria (I always call them Frangipani..my mum had a beautiful yellow one in Australia). How exciting that your passion vine is taking off (love those flowers!) and your brugmansia has blooms. And oh, those wonderful dahlias! I fell in love with dahlias at the Cornell Plantations. They do a wonderful job of pairing them. I was so impressed! Now of course, I want some! The soft pink of the amarcrinum is superb!
    Figs! Yum!
    Thanks for the friendly stroll :)
    Glad you're getting some sunshine, but sorry about the heat!

  33. Annie, your garden shows what a garden can do with the right combination of rain and sun - not to mention how good the keeper is...

    Great job on those photos. I don't think I've seen them in the nurseries here.

    Stay cool! 95 degrees isn't that bad :o)

  34. Love the amercrinum! And thanks for showing the big picture--I love to see the overall look of people's gardens.

  35. LOVE the nice pictures! I'm with Kim-I really thought that plumeria was a praying mantis picture as I scrolled down. Congrats on the return of the sunshine, I hope some of your rain comes our way now. Funny how differently plants perform year to year according to weather...okay, NOT unusual of course, but interesting to be sure.


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