About Me
My Photo
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.
View my complete profile

Monday, January 14, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for January

This post, "Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for January", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.

It was lucky for me that Carol of May Dreams Garden hadn’t invented Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day last January - all of Austin was encased in ice in the 15th of that month! This winter has brought repeated freezes – but it's also been very dry – and no water means no ice. The cold was deep enough to freeze the iris buds and send even sturdy pink skullcaps into a sulk.

The Angel Trumpet had one flower and a couple of buds on the 15th of last month but then cold weather killed the leaves and made my poor Brug into a brown stalk. Will it be able to sprout from the base in spring? I hope that being close to the south wall will keep the roots alive.

The Pineapple sage and Hummingbird salvia froze to the ground, along with the five cupheas. The clematis looks dormant and we've raked up the leaves on pecan and crepe myrtle trees. What you see clinging to the pecan branches are the open husks left after the nuts fell to the ground. We've never seen this happen before - in previous years the squirrels took all the husks while they were green.

Some of you may suspect you’re being set up with this parade of brown, wintery photos – this is the blog belonging to one of those sub-tropical Austin gardeners, after all!

Well, maybe I have been teasing you a little – the landscape may not be lush, and the blooms are small, but if you look closely there are definitely flowers here at Circus~Cercis, even after repeated dips into the mid-twenties [ that’s minus 2-to-3 degrees Celsius].

To have pansies in bloom here isn’t a surprise – it’s the norm. On Saturday morning we Divas of the Dirt held our annual planning breakfast and a couple of us stopped off at Shoal Creek Nursery for a few plants. I picked up some small starts of alyssum, and have been tucking them into the containers with the pansies. With a little luck the small plants can stay alive until early spring transforms them into scented sprigs of white.

Four hanging baskets of pansies line up along the veranda. They can tolerate most cold snaps without too much damage, but growth is very slow.

The ‘Julia Child’ and ‘Mutabilis’ roses have green leaves and no flowers, as do two of the ‘Champagne’ mini-roses and a pale pink mini-rose from my daughter. And every rose in the garden shows some sign of blackspot. But one of the ‘Champagne’ roses has a couple of buds, and Carol’s rules say buds count!

The small plant of Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ doesn’t mind what we call winter here. Faded flowers and new buds surround one open bloom.

The Camellia sasanqua ‘Shishi Gashira’ holds onto one last hot pink flower.

The light red Camellia japonica ‘Pius X’ started its show this past week. I took this photo through yet another basket of pansies. Then I held petals of the two camellias together for a color comparison.

The sasanqua petals at the bottom are a rosier pink, while the ‘Pius X’ tends toward sour cherry color – less pink and more red.

Austin gardeners force paperrwhite narcissus bulbs for indoor bloom but I ignore the usual advice to discard the bulbs after bloom, choosing to plug the bloomed-out bulbs into a borders and let them rebuild. The tiny daffodils may flower outdoors in subsequent winters. This clump came in kit form a few years ago and has bloomed three years in a row.

A plant of the purple oxalis blooms in a sheltered spot near the house wall.

This white oxalis blooms in a bowl on the veranda

Cold has darkened the leaves on a trailing white lantana but the tiny flowers are undaunted.

Under the house eaves, one expanding bud from the unnamed pink climbing rose is rather startling to see.

Inside the house the Thanksgiving cactus are almost done, and at least one of them is making a new seedpod.

The peach-colored Thanksgiving cactus, the red cyclamen and the faithful coral pelargonium/geranium bloom on the windowsill ...

while the Mother of Thousands seen in the January 3rd post continues to open buds near the breakfast room window.

The temperatures were in the sixties today, not tropical, but quite pleasant in the sun. Actually, taking the photos was difficult because the sun was too strong. Nine years ago Philo and I were spending sleepless nights as we tried to decide whether to move to Austin. Pioneer garden blogger MSS of Zanthan Garden hadn't started her blog yet and we knew little about Austin plants. I now wonder - would seeing photos of an Austin January on someone's blog have made our decision easier?

See what's blooming in other gardens at January Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.

This post, "Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for January", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.


  1. Awesome to see this many blooms outdoors, Annie...I figure that every day brings us that much closer to spring, but seeing blossoms like this helps make it come easier.

  2. There's a lot blooming in Austin! Your photos are very cheerful (aside from the first few!) I'll have to take a good look tomorrow when I take my photos but I don't think the scabiosas are blooming here. I do have a few unexpected blooms tho!

  3. Yes, it's nice to know, in some odd way, that you have some brown in your garden now, and I think my grass is actually greener. But then you revealed flower after flower, outside. There's a lot going on in Austin!

    I think you are one who hasn't missed a bloom day yet, I'm looking forward to many more!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  4. Wow! It's the middle of the month already. I'm definitely glad that I stopped by (even though I'm not sure when tomorrow I'll be able to spend some daylight hours in my garden...). You know, how interesting - your paperwhites are blooming again! I also plant mine outside, but I have yet to have them bloom again (and it's been several years). Is it only certain varieties that this works for? I wonder.

  5. I think we're getting all the rain up here, it would be nice if we could share some with you. Thanks for sharing your outdoor blooms with those of us who have none.

  6. Loved the Mother of Thousands shot, what a lovely shade! That you can get the paperwhites to rebloom is amazing, you must have all fingers green, not just thumbs!

  7. Hi Annie,
    I missed your post about the garden blog thief. Last night I went back and read it and Mr. Brown Thumbs post.

    I always thought Garden Voices did the same thing until I read that people have to ask to be on it. I still don't understand why people ask to be on one site where the entire content is nabbing other people's material and then don't want to be on another. Are there other differences? (The whole idea of allowing another site to use my content is not appealing, so I've only been to Garden Voices once or twice, but it seems like I remember paid advertising there, too).

    I would love to be enlightened and I know you are the person who would know the differences!

  8. Annie: What a lucky woman you are to have so many flowering plants OUTSIDE at this time of year! I love that porch picture as it looks like spring and invites one to pause and enjoy the pansies. As for the browns and buffs, the color would not look so vibrant if there were no contrast!

  9. Yay - we can always count on the Austin contingent to treat us to some cheerful color. Thanks for sharing your Bloom Day photos!

  10. Phew, what a lucky escape you Austin gardeners had when Carol decided to start GBBD in February instead of January of last year. Dead brown plants are not the way to cheer people up, glad your garden is looking so much better this January.

    And I'm pleased to see that we have a few blooms, roses, camellia and pansies, in common even though I don't live in a sub-tropical climate. ;-)

  11. Wonderful to have so many outdoor blooms in January ! I didn't know that there was a Camellia named 'shishi gashira ' ( Lions Head in Japanese ). There's a beautiful Japanese maple with the same name and it is most unusual in that it looks more like a tropical plant than anything else.

  12. Thanks for all the bright blooming pics! I love seeing photos of Camellias. Someday, someone will breed one that is hardy to Zone 6 & I will plant it next to the house where it might bloom. Until then, I'll enjoy looking at yours.

  13. Wonderful to see so many things blooming or about to bloom. I'm going to be in Austin on Feb. 6 on business. Do you think the Lady Bird Johnson wildflower gardens will have anything in bloom by then?

  14. Hi Annie,

    I really like your cacti. I have two, and I just say enough nice things about them as they sit next to my bathtub. I think I'll add more next year. I want an apricot one.

    As to the paperwhites, mine in the house aren't quite blooming. I started them late because I knew I would need the color in February. I hadn't thought about putting them outside. I just might try it.

  15. Annie, you have a veritable jungle of flowers this month. You're making us northern gardeners jealous! :-)

    I love your Mother of Thousands plant. Such delicate blossoms it has.

    Can you propagate Thanksgiving cactus from cuttings, do you know? I'd love to get one of those started some day ...

  16. If I were a snowbird I would love to be in Austin for winter. Those outside blooms would keep me satisfied. They are so nice.

    Most of my garden looks like your first pictures. I am looking forward to having all those lovely blooms you are showing now during this coming summer.

  17. I did suspect a setup with all those brown plant photos at the beginning. What a relief to see the flowers!

    The camellias would be lovely in any season, but blooming during the colder months makes them all the more attractive.

  18. HI Annie: thanks for the bright and cheerful tour of all your Austin blooms. I especially love the lush flowers of Camellias and only wish their bloom time lasted longer.

    Loved the blue sky on the pecan tree photo too.

  19. Thanks for the call out. I really had to hunt for flowers for today's GBBD post. Like you, I have some paperwhites, pansies (well violas), lantana with the frost-darkened leaves, and both white and purple oxalis.

    I'm enchanted by your camellia and Mother of Thousands. I'm just crossing my fingers that I don't kill those two brugmansia cuttings you gave me.

  20. Annie, yes you did set us up, but we knew that was going to happen! If I couldn't rely on you to provide us all with some delightful blooms in the middle of this icy, snowy winter I'd have to rely only on the seed catalogs with their "set-up" photos!

    And seeing that you've been away for awhile makes me feel not quite so guilty for not blogging in over a month. Though I have no good excuse. Not sure how I'm ever going to catch up!

  21. Thank you for all these comments! GBBD has turned into such a wonderful tradition - all hail Carol!

    Jodi, they're small and scattered around, but the number surprised me, too. The days are getting longer so hang in there!

    Hello Leslie - when I go over to your California garden it will seem like summer, right?

    Hi Carol - it's been too dry as well as cold... but the shelter of a house wall makes a difference.

    This is my 11th post - I was in Chicago in June... didn't Chuck say he did one for each month?

    I'm glad you took a break from your hectic schedule Pam - and can't take credit for doing anything special with the paperwhites. They're in several different places. Maybe they just like Austin?

    Hi Robin - we get promises but need real rain badly! I'm glad to send a little color your way this month - who knows what February will be like!

    Those peach shades really get me, too Frances - and as I told Pam, I just plant them - must be climate and soil?

    Hello Zoey - I'm not a member of Garden Voices, either, but I saw differences in the way they operate:
    OldRoses asks first, and this place did not.
    On Garden Voices there is a direct link to the original blog right at the beginning of the post, while on the site-that-shall-not-be-named the link was in small print at the end of the second page.

    On Garden Voices there is a proper author listed, while on the first page of the troublesome site a blog had the name of some other person, not the actual blogger, inserted as the 'author', which I found infuriating and deceptive.

    Does this help?

    Layanee- when we have a balmy day in January I'm in love with Austin... which helps when the buff and brown come in a dry August with temps in the hundreds!

    We Austin Gardenbloggers take our responsibilities seriously Nan Ondra! You're welcome and thank you for the fine design series.

    Yolanda, maybe Carol is more powerful than she realizes - even Austin weather obeyed her!
    Dormant, dead brown plants don't scare me - it's when evergreens turn brown that I get worried.
    Your climate may not be sub-tropical, but it certainly seems more temperate! And perhaps more dependable? We have such violent swings in weather here.

    Thanks for that information Carolyn - I didn't know my little camellia's name meant something so cool!

    Hello Mr McGregor's Daughter - camellias are not a sensible plant to grow in Austin, but one reason I agreed to move was to get myself into zone 8! If you want to swoon over lovely camellias, go to South Carolina Pam's Tales from the Laboratory in my sidebar.

    Molly, that seems pretty early... in February I'm more likely to go to Zilker Botanical Gardens than the Wildflower Center. Have you checked the official Wildflower site? It's also in my sidebar under Austin Links.
    Will you have time to meet any of the Austin Garden bloggers?

    Dee - the apricot one is my favorite, too - I don't know if there is enough natural light in the bathroom but that's an idea.
    My paperwhites bloomed inside the first year - then went out in spring. But this is zone 8 - aren't you a little colder in OK?

    Hi Christa - your vegetable garden makes me jealous so we're even.
    I bought three of these Thanksgiving cactus at a big box store a year ago and haven't tried to multiply them, but it's supposed to be pretty easy. If you come to spring fling I'll give you a piece to try ;-]

    We're awaiting some colder weather this week, Lisa at Greenbow, and I hope the camellias will be okay.
    Our pansies, snapdragons and dianthus grow in the cool part of the year and split when summer comes... it took some time to get used to that!

    Greetings, Entangled - I could not resist posting my pitiful brugmansia.
    Yes, Camellias are weird! But after spending years in the North reading Henry Mitchell and Elizabeth Lawrence, I had to have them.

    Hello Meems - you're welcome... I need to visit you, too!

    Oh good MSS, - I was hoping you'd have a post, too. As to variety, after awhile the same tough plants appear in all our gardens!

    Oh LostRoses, I'm so very, very glad to hear from you! You have been greatly missed in the garden blog world by everyone. Ease back in when you can - and I'm glad your forgive me for the bait-and-switch. Well, all the photos are real and all are current - so it's just misdirection, not actual cheating ;-]

    Thank you everyone - Annie

  22. Annie, loved your camelias. They don't grow very well here because of our very dry summers :-(
    Oh, and thank you for showing the purple oxalis blooms, a friend just gave me some bulbs of purple oxalis but I wasn't sure what the flowers would look like. They look beautifull againts the dark leaves

  23. It uplifts my spirit to see so many outdoor blooming plants. The form and color of the mother of thousands is wonderful. Seems like a very nice plant to have in the winter - I wonder why you don't see more of it? Well your photos cinched it; we're moving to warmer climes in a few years.

  24. Annie, thanks for the post. Gosh, a year ago I was just out of the hospital with a new baby in my arms. No sooner had we gotten home than the ice storm hit and stranded us inside for a few days. Not a big deal to me because I just wanted to sleep when the baby slept. But to think it has been a year.

    And now looks like we have more cold weather coming, although nothing like last year I hope. I'm still enjoying all of our flowers sneaking out in defiance of winter.

  25. Your garden is interesting even in January Annie. I love your camelias, and it's nice to see the comparison of colors. They always remind me of my mother and her beautiful gardens.
    I'm wondering why I don't have a cyclamen because I adore them! The Mother of Thousands has such delicate shape and coloring..beautiful. It must be the star of your morning room!
    I'll put my paperwhites in the ground this summer. Meant to last year, but overlooked the poor things. They won't bloom this year either :)
    Your pansies are so cheery!
    Thanks for the interesting tour..the browns were a nice lead up :)

  26. My oxalis aren't blooming right now, but it's nice to see yours. And I'm loving those camellias that you're convincing to grow despite the soil alkalinity. You've got the touch.

  27. Lovely blooms to see, Annie! I'm actually surprised that you get as much real winter as you do.

  28. Annie, visiting a garden blog in Austin would have made your decision to move too easy!

    We have pansies! And the Camellia japonicas are bursting to bloom!

    That's all!

    You have a variety of color. Jealous here.

  29. Those camellias are gorgeous. Its great you have so many blooms in January -I had an overnight in Dallas on Nov 23, and to me it was cold!

  30. We're a looooong ways from garden photos...we've got icicles, drifts and mr. wind!!!!


  31. Welcome Gintoino, my 2 small camellias need some extra handwatering to survive Austin, which can be dry and hot, too. I think you'll like the oxalis!

    Hello Ki- after last January these flowers were totally unexpected and I'm very grateful! My guess is that the M of Thousands plant itself is considered interesting rather than beautiful. Also, in cold climates a Mother/Alligator Plant might have to be brought inside before it sets buds so you'd get leaves but no flowers... and in slightly warmer places it has a reputation for being invasive.
    I know it as a passalong plant rather than one in nurseries - it would probably be a pest in a greenhouse.
    You've been talking warm climate for awhile, Ki ;-]

    You're welcome, Bonnie - I would have freaked out to be stranded with a new baby! Maybe because mine didn't sleep much. They're using the sl**t word for tomorrow - fingers crossed.

    That's a very sweet compliment, Kerri - flowers do remind us of those we loved.
    Our Lowe's had the small cyclamen for under $4, so it wasn't a big indulgence, but has been blooming nearly 2 months. Go for it!

    Hi Pam/Digging - most of my oxalis had the tops killed but these were a little more sheltered. The camellia may not be growing bigger, but it blooms which is good enough!

    Kylee, we're zone 8 but Austin can have a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions on any given day - the gardens of Pam & MSS are usually warmer than my NW area. Twenties are common, but we go into the teens once in awhile and it's not pretty - landscapes and houses are not designed for those temperatures!

    Mary, in some ways living without any snow was in the negative column! But crepe myrtles, oleanders, crinum lilies and magnolias were very heavy counterweights.

    Hi Nicole - Dallas is usually a little colder than Austin. We're dipping down again so some of the blooming day stuff may be just photo-memories by Monday.

    Oh Cityfarmer - when that wind comes across the prairie it can go through any coat! Hope you can find someone to cuddle with and stay warm ;-]

    Thank you for the comments!


  32. I very much enjoyed my visit here. When I saw the first few photographs, my heart sank. It was pretty wonderful to see the Scabiosa in bloom still. That was the highlight for me.

    I love the unnamed climbing rose too, but it was the Scabiosa that did it for me. I think it's pretty neat that you have Narcissus blooming outdoors. And the Oxalis are beautiful.

    That was a fun tour. I wish I was able to attend the spring event of the Austin Garden Bloggers. Sometime, sometime ... one can always dream!

  33. Hi there, Annie :-)

    What a great selection of blooms! I particualrly like the paper whites and the white oxalis :-D

    My post is up too and have managed a few outdoor blooms from my Scottish gardenwatch too :-D

  34. Good grief. Weather in the 60s?!?! No wonder you actually have something blooming. Makes me think perhaps Texas might not be so bad...I generally think it's too hot.

    --Robin (Bumblebee)

  35. Annie, more gorgeous photos! I find it hard to believe that you get ice in Austin, Texas! From where I live, I would think you have warm, lovely weather all year round.

    It's snowing here today, *sigh*

  36. You have so many blooms. It looks like springtime at your house. It is wintery winter here. A little too cold for my taste.
    Enjoy those flowers.

  37. Kate, when I look at the scabiosa the image of you from your blog pops into my mind. It's "Kate's flower" from now on.
    I wish you could be here for Spring Fling, too - but if you came at any time it would be an event ;-]

    Hi Shirl - thank you for stopping by and saying hello. I like your garden but also enjoy seeing the different birds in Scotland, especially the original Robin Redbreast.

    Hi Robin-Bumblebee - the sixties didn't last, but we have hopes to see them again on Sunday. With so many acres to take care of in your garden, bet you need some down time!

    Josie, Austin is the farthest south of the US State Capitals, but we're in the middle of the continent - so have no ocean or large body of water to buffer the climate. Latitude alone isn't enough to keep us from freezing.

    It isn't awful here right now, Chigiy, but our current 40 degrees F doesn't seem like gardening weather to me!

    Thanks for all the comments - I'm looking forward to seeing someone's crocus for February bloom day,


  38. Annie, thanks for your recent comment on my blog about passalong plants. It is always so refreshing and inspiring to me to visit your neatly manicured blog and read your comments on the nice photos. Best regards, Jon in Vicksburg, MS on 2-4-08 at http://mississippigarden.blogspot.com


A comment from you is like chocolate - maybe I could live without it, but life is more fun with it. I'll try to answer. If someone else's comment piques your interest, please feel free to talk among yourselves.