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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, December 25, 2008

The Holly & The Ivy & The Roses

This year, our tenth in Texas, we decided to spend a small, quiet Christmas in Austin instead of making the 1200 mile drive to Chicago. Now the bubble lights and the tree are turned on

The pumpkin pie and cornbread cool on the table while the turkey roasts in the oven

In this quiet time before the others arrive for dinner, I go out to the garden and look for evergreens to make a simple centerpiece for the dining room table. Holly and ivy are traditional greens, but this is Texas, not Olde England! My Holly will be Burford holly and the Ivy is Fig ivy. A snip of magnolia, a small branch from a Meyer's Lemon, some rosemary in bloom, a few unfrozen wands and leaves of lavender and cuttings of dwarf Greek myrtle make the base. The roses looked pretty good from ten feet away, but up close only five are undamaged enough by cold to use: one large flower from the pink climber, a bud of 'Belinda's Dream', a medium-sized bloom of 'Julia Child' and one bud & one bloom from the 'Champagne' minirose.

Happy Christmas from Philo and Annie ~ May your days be merry and bright!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, December 2008

This post is a few minutes late for December 15th, the date chosen by May Dreams Carol for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. It's no longer Autumn in Austin! These photos were taken this morning - it was about 35°F and very windy so many pictures are blurry. When I went to the grocery store even my car flashed a warning about the weather.
Tonight we're expecting a very hard freeze - some of what we see here may be just a memory by tomorrow.

'Julia Child' rose still had buds as well as blooms

Those Antirrhinum majus, Yellow snapdragons were planted before last ChristmasThe baskets were recently planted with pansies - one of our winter annuals. I bought small plants without flowers - this one just started bloomingA couple of flowers linger on Camellia sasanqua 'Shishi Gashira'
Creeping phlox sublata bloomed in spring and had a light rebloom this fall.
Both plants of Rosa 'Mutabilis' had buds and blooms todayRosa 'Belinda's Dream' had one full-blown rose and a handful of buds
Three plants of Osmanthus fragrans/Sweet olive were in bloom, but it was too cold and windy to catch the lovely scent.

There were flowers on both plants of the Rosa ‘Champagne’ mini rose
Bulbine frutescens 'Yellow' has not only lived but spread and increased in the front bed and is still making buds
Both plants of Asclepias curassavica, tropical milkweed have flowers - no sign of the confused Monarch caterpillar that was here in early December
Blooming but not pictured: Gaura lindheimerii, unknown tall rose-pink variety; Impatiens walleriana/bedding impatiens; Pelargoniums/bedding geraniums; trailing white Lantana; Lobularia maritime/Sweet alyssum; both kinds of Scutellaria/Skullcap; Salvia leucantha/Mexican Bush Sage.

That's it for the outside plants - we can celebrate another successful Bloom Day! Inside on the windowsill there's color from Thanksgiving cactus, coral geranium, florist's cyclamen, mother-of-thousands and the Amaryllis that was my grab bag prize from the Divas of the Dirt party on Saturday. The Meyer's Lemon has one open flower and a couple of buds.What can we celebrate next? There are many possibilities for December 16th:

Classic composer Beethoven's Birthday; novelist Jane Austen's birthday; the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party; Anthropologist Margaret Mead's birthday; Playwright/composer Noel Coward's birthday; the birthday of Science fiction writers Arthur C Clarke and Phillip K Dick, and the first day of las posadas, recreating Joseph & Mary's search for shelter in Bethlehem.

Should I drink tea while listening to Beethoven and reading Pride & Prejudice? That would be relaxing but this is a busy time of year. ABBA composer Benny Andersson turns 62 tomorrow and the DVD of Mamma Mia is set to release. I can celebrate his birthday and make some Christmas progress at the same time by turning up the 'Mamma Mia' soundtrack as my soundtrack for cookie baking, package wrapping and adding the final touches to the Christmas tree.

The Bloom Day posts from all over the world can be found here.

Update late Wednesday night: Low was 29
°F on Tuesday morning. All roses, pansies, phlox, gaura, scuttelaria look okay; milkweed & impatiens mostly frozen and lantana looks bad. Mexican oregano had a few flowers and some open on lower part of cupheas, but top bronzed with cold. Beethoven & tea lost out to coffee & Mamma Mia while baking Crispy, salted, White chocolate oatmeal cookies recommended by Vertie via Twitter. HThe Christmas tree is decorated and I'm done baking for now - a high of 72°F is predicted for tomorrow along with more leaf-cleanup. Sure hope to get a chance to visit your blogs soon.

Monday, December 08, 2008

It's Still Autumn in Austin

Even though the Brugmansia went from still-in-bloom last Thursday afternoon
December Brugmansia, Annieinaustin
To crisped and frostbitten by Monday afternoonfrosted brugmansia, annieinaustin

Even though the Blue Butterfly Flower Clerodendrum is also crispy brown today
Clerodendrum & Russelia, annieinaustin
Even though the Loquat is no longer blooming and the hoped-for fruit may have been hit with cold and we'll have another year of no loquat fruit
Loquat flowers hit by cold, annieinaustinEven though we're now using the big comforter instead of the light blankets, and the berries on the Burford Holly are a wintery-Christmasy red .
Burford holly berries,annieinaustin
Even though the cannas that backed up the Julia Child rose are no longer green as in this photo from last Thursday Julia Child rose with cannas,annieinaustin

...it still feels like autumn to me. Must sweep patio,annieinaustin
After all, that Julia Child rose is still blooming and holding onto her foliage (in answer to Jean, the bloom is good, but she does get blackspot and has fewer leaves than she should)
Julia Child rose December,annieinaustin
After all, the temperatures are in the sixties and the leaves are falling and swirling around the patio, needing to be swept so we can use the barbecue,Leaves on patio,annieinaustin

After all, it took a long time to rake and sweep this pile, go over it with the mulching mower and empty the bag over and over into the wire leaf enclosure
Leaves to mulch,annieinaustin
After all, there seems to be an endless supply of unfallen leaves that will need raking - even if the projected cold front arrivesDecember pecan tree,annieinaustin
After all, the pomegranate tree is still glowing golden in the Secret Garden
Pomegranate fall color,annieinaustin
After all, the pink rose near the Brugmansia is still blooming
Pink climbing rose,annieinaustin
And a rather dimwitted Monarch thought there was still time to raise a new generation
(Renee - as you wrote in your Statesman blog, this is not a good idea, is it!)

December Monarch larva,annieinaustin
Oops - someone should get out the ladder and cut those pods of moonflower vine seeds to save for next spring
Moonvine pods,annieinaustin
But the ladder is already in the living room, surrounded by ornaments and decorations boxes, placed next to the Christmas tree so I can reach the top branches. bought LED lights,annieinaustin

Being organized for Christmas gets complicated where December acts like autumn.

Monday, December 01, 2008

"Can I Recover Christmas?" ~ Our New Song

Christmas Tree midsection,Annieinaustin The unplanted bulbs and falling leaves will keep for another day!
Last year I wrote a Christmas song for Roots In Austin, using my power as the author to break up the character Caroline's romance shortly before a Christmas season began. That may not have been kind of me, but the breakup let Caroline sing a holiday song as the approach of Christmas reminded her of what's been lost rather than what she expected.
The song was recently finished and I think it will work well for her lovelorn situation in the play. But undertones in the lyrics told me they had deeper meanings, for other situations. Over this long Thanksgiving weekend Philo and I added photos and turned the song into a video for our Station Kaefka on YouTube. So far the reception for our latest musical child has been very kind - thank you to all who have already watched it. To the rest of you - get out your handkerchiefs!

"Can I Recover Christmas" music & lyrics copyrighted. If the screen won't play, try this Link to YouTube.

Although "Can I Recover Christmas?" wasn't ready last year, another of our copyrighted songs was finished by the beginning of December 2007. It's a happy song about the lovely annual tradition of Spinning Under the Tree of Lights at Zilker Park in Austin. This year the tree will be lit at 6 PM on Sunday December 7th, with the rest of the Trail of Lights festival beginning on Sunday December 14th, running nightly through December 23rd. The Trail hours are 7 PM to 10 PM.
Zilker Tree of Lights,Annieinaustin
A few days ago I had a conversation with Laura Esparza from the Cultural Affairs Division of the Austin Parks Department. Laura told me that the Trail of Lights festival will be more environmentally friendly this year. The change over to LED lights is in progress and food service now emphasizes recycling. She also noted that the power for the lights comes from wind farms. I loved the tree and like having another reason to think Austin is cool! You can go to the Austin Parks Department if you'd like to find out more about Spinning under the Tree, or Walking the Trail of Lights. Now here's an encore of our Spinning Under the Tree song to get you in the mood. Either click the screen or try this link to YouTube.

The safe and general antidote against sorrow is employment. Samuel Johnson, The Rambler

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Austin Entomologist

Stinkbug,Clerodendrum,AnnieinAustinIt's been a few months since I made a YouTube for y'all - and November is a month that could use a little comedy. This song fits pretty well with the others in my pipedream of a musical play, "Roots in Austin". It's a song that should be sung by a younger, hot, man-crazy blonde, but since no one else volunteered, once again you get old, not-hot Annie and a piano.
Loralynn is the name of the character who sings this song. She's a girl who starts out focused on the
scientist but soon becomes interested in the science.

Conversations with Vertie inspired me to write this Bug Geek Song - and both Vert and Iris helped with photos. I hope it cheers up your November weekend.

This copyrighted song, "My Austin Entomologist ~The Bug Geek Song" was composed and performed by "Annie in Austin" and the video was made by Philo in Austin.
You can f
ind more of our songs at YouTube Station Kaefka.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, November 2008

Yellow Brugmansia,AnnieinAustinThe developing Angel Trumpets/Brugmansia flowers seen in the last post opened fully and scented the air last night - determined to appear for November Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, a monthly listing of what's in bloom, begun by Carol of May Dreams garden and celebrated by gardeners all over the world.

Camellia sasanqua Shishi Gashira,AnnieinAustinI'd hoped the Camellia sasanqua 'Shishi Gashira', also in development in the last post, would last until December, or at least until Thanksgiving, but all the flowers are opening now!

Julia Child rose, AnnieinAustin'Julia Child' rose has a few open flowers and a dozen buds developing. Her stems look a little bare right now because she needed grooming before her closeup - quite a few blackspotted leaves had to be taken off and discarded - not composted.

Fall crepe myrtle,AnnieinAustinThe leaves on my pecans are mostly green but on the other side of the fence my neighbor's crepe myrtle has put on autumn red. Tagetes lucida,AnnieinAustinIt's a pleasant background now for the buttery yellow of the Julia Child Rose and the Mexican Mint Marigold/Tagetes lucida and white Zinnia linearis.

Pink Gaura,AnnieinAustinIn the Pink Entrance bed that leads to the gate, this pink variety of Gaura lindheimerii still blooms nonstop, draped over the also nonstop Pink Skullcap/Scutellaria suffrutescens. In the same bed, a 'Belinda's Dream' rose overslept and missed Bloom Day - she's just getting around to making buds.

Duranta erecta,AnnieinAustinIn the same bed one plant surprised me - only one of three Durantas survived last winter. It grew just a little in summer and made no flowers. With cooler temperatures this Duranta had a growth sprurt, producing three sprays of violet flowers.

Rosa Mutabilis,AnnieinAustinIn the Central Front Bed the birdbath is surrounded by flowers - the Mutabilis Rose, Yellow Bulbine, Gregg's Mistflower, 'Black & Blue' Salvia, lantana and a white gaura.

Mutabilis rose closeup,AnnieinAustinAnother Mutabilis blooms in a container back on the patio. Moonflowers are done for the year - now photographing Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis' is my obsession!

Pink rosebud,AnnieinAustinThe unnamed climbing rose on the housewall inside the gate has one bud. See that bump? This rose is just a few feet away from the clematis with bumps. In a comment, Entangled suggested the clematis had thrips... maybe the rose does, too?

Confederate Rose,AnnieinAustinAround the other end of the house in the Secret Garden a "rose" blooms in a pot - well, it's called Confederate Rose, but the botanical name gives it away; Hibiscus mutabilis. Another name is Cotton Rose. This bloom is about 4 inches in width.

Salvia leucantha,bee,AnnieinAustinFrost may come soon but the insects found plenty of flowers in bloom today - I found bees on the Mexican Bush Sage/Salvia leucantha

Pink Cuphea llaeva, bee,AnnieinAustinand dozens of bees on the cupheas - here's a rather large bee on a pink and lavender Cuphea llaeva.

Meyers Lemon,bee,AnnieinAustinI have two Meyer's Lemon trees - the larger tree planted in the ground has no blossoms yet but the small tree in a container is covered in flowers - and the fragrant flowers are covered in bees!

Loquat flower,bee,AnnieinAustinThe loquat flowers are scenting the patio this week - those lucky bees can fly a few feet from the lemon to the loquat, rolling in both pollens.

Fritillary,loquat,AnnieinAustinI think the Loquat must have nectar as well as pollen because butterflies like this Gulf Fritillary are attracted to it, too. ( Meems says it's a male Queen butterfly and of course she's right...the fritillary photo I'd taken was deleted for being out-of-focus, and I forgot to change the name when I changed photos. Thank you, Meems!)

Passionflower,AnnieinAustinIf a Fritillary wants its host plant - it can fly around the corner to the fence in the Secret Garden, where a shy Passion Flower waits.

The complete list (including botanical names) of what's in bloom at Circus~Circus this month will be posted at my Annie's Addendum blog.
To visit Bloom Day all over the world, go to Carol's Bloom Day roundup at May Dreams Gardens.