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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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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Year Three - Day Four

"Year Three - Day Four" was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose Blog.

It's hot and dry and the rain that splashed other parts of Austin has missed me so I've been hand-watering the borders to keep the summer flowers alive. Please come in through the garden gate and look to the left. The two white 'Acoma' crepe myrtles started blooming a few days ago - as much a marker for true summer as any other sign from nature. They survived 5 years in pots on the deck of our other house, and were barely 3-feet tall in spring of 2005 when we ousted the existing hot pink, mildewed crepe myrtles so we could plant these here. Now they're almost 8-feet tall, softening the view with white flowers.
If you now turn and look to the right you can see across the whole garden back to the dark corner with the shed at the left and the patio table with its striped umbrella at right. The larger of the two triangle beds is closest to us - it has a 'Little Gem' magnolia and a tall metal obelisk. We made this bed two years ago. I didn't exactly plan this riot of color but that's what happens when tropical butterfly weed, a 'Black Prince' butterfly bush, Salvia farinacea, 'Cupani' sweet peas, lantana, pink coneflowers and Platycodon/Balloonflowers bloom at once. I hope they "clash well", as Henry Mitchell used to say.

The second triangle bed comes next - only a few months old, it's a jumble of plants and looks a little too McDonald's right now. Some were bought on purpose, like the three lavenders, the Cherry Pepper, narrow-leaved zinnias and moss roses, and some lifted from other beds like the Hummingbird sage/Salvia coccinea and yellow snapdragons.

Off to the right is the patio, with the disappearing fountain attracting birds and animals. Philo and I have seen a pair of hummingbirds taking dips in the water, but haven't been fast enough to take a photo of them. This squirrel stayed still while I snapped his picture through the window.

Along the edge of the gravel near the fountain is a pot of lavender in bloom. It's been growing in that clay pot for nearly seven years, but none of the lavender I've planted in the ground have lived through a winter. Will the three new plants in the triangle beat the odds?

Behind the lavender is a 'Mutabilis' rose. It opens individual flowers that change from pale yellow to apricot to pink to deep rose in the course of a day.

Behind the rose is pot of salvia and behind the salvia is a Mexican Fan palm in a big pot.

The salvia next to the rose is Salvia 'Hot Lips' - temperature seems to affect the colors. There are a few solid red, a scattering of 'lips' and some solid white flowers right now.

I spray out and refill this birdbath several times a day and now the area around it has the best grass in the entire yard. The flower bed along the back fence has red flowers for hummingbirds, tall white flowers in the center and large white leaves in front of some glossy-leaved shrubs toward the right.

Take a closer look at those white leaves - they're caladium bulbs that were planted in the ground back at the beginning of May. They have nice patterns but no names - the bag just said 'White caladium bulbs'. Next fall I'll try to remember to dig the bulbs before the leaves disappear. They'll bloom again if kept in a bag of perlite in the garage until spring.

Do you recognize the tall white flower? It's the 'Blue River II' perennial hibiscus - a division from my old Illinois garden. This plant has done really well in Austin - a suitable subject for my first blog post two years ago.

Past the flower beds the deep shadows begin - with more than half the garden under the canopy of two big pecans. A bed edged with timbers and full of Asiatic jasmine was here when we came - the timbers are gone, I fight the jasmine and we're playing with rocks along the edge. Some kind of sandy soil was used to fill the original bed. Now bulbs like this calla lily seem to like it here where the shade is dappled. Two years seems like a long time right now. Those garden bloggers who have passed the five year point, like MSS of Zanthan Gardens (September 2001), Kathy Purdy at Cold Climate Gardening (August 2002), Entangled at Cultivated (April 2003) and Bill at Prairie Point (March 2003) have my deepest respect and admiration.

And to all of you who have stopped here during the past two years, many thanks!

"Year Three - Day Four" was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose Blog.


  1. Congratulations, Annie...I'll have to go back and check but it appears I've been reading and enjoying your posts almost since the beginning! Best wishes for the coming year...and thanks for sharing your garden adventures!

  2. Congrats on your two years of wonderful blogging, Annie. I love the squirrel pic. And your garden looks beautifully lush and blooming, despite our horrible weather. But how do you keep all those potted plants alive during our hot, dry summers?

  3. Hi Annie and congratulations on your two year plus four day anniversary of this wonderful blog. I went back to the beginning and figured out when I first started commenting, (6/21/06) because I was pretty sure I had been reading your blog nearly from the get-go. I'm impressed because your blog has no awkward start, but from the beginning is one great post after another!

    And thank you for such a well guided tour of your garden. I know it has been hot in Austin, but your garden looks great with lots to linger and see. But now I realize why the views from the inside out are so important, especially in the summer when sitting inside is the best thing to do.

    I wonder if that squirrel knew he was being watched? One false move on his part and I bet you'd be out there to set him straight, no matter the temperature!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  4. Congratulations, Annie! Here's to many more anniversaries ahead!

    I love that first triangle bed. It definitely "clashes well," as Henry would say. The second one is NOT McDonald's, but you did have me laughing at the reference---several of my neighbors have McDonald's gardens. Now I'll think of you every time I look at those poor, unimaginative landscapes in my neighborhood. :-)

  5. Annie your garden is so lush despite the heat and lack of rain. I think it interesting how people choose certain shapes for their garden beds. You have triangles, I have circles and I remember reading someone has mittens in their garden.

    Congrats on your 2year anniversary of blogging. I only discovered garden blogs a few months ago. I don't ever want to miss yours so keep up the good work.

  6. I remember when you put your toe in the water and discovered it wasn't scary at all, after all.

    We seem to share a love for white summer flowers--and for the same reason--because they look so cool, crisp and refreshing.

    Another reason, I like white in the garden is because I can seem them before dawn and after dusk--about the only time in the garden this time of year.

  7. Happy blogiversary. It all looks beautiful! I love that fountain. :)

  8. Happy Blogaversary! Weird about the lavender doing better in pots than in the ground. I find this to be the case with several of my plants, and I wonder why. Do they have "too much room" in the ground? Your "McDonald's" triangle bed looks fine to me, but when it fills out it will be awesome! That fountain is really cool...worth all that work, eh? I think you've adjusted to zone 8 beautifully!

  9. Congratulations on two years of blogging. You are so gracious and talented. I've enjoyed reading your blog and being on the receiving end of your delightful comments.

    Everything looks so pretty. You must water those potted plants several times a day to keep them alive in the Austin heat.

  10. Two years that is wonderful! Sometime I want to take some serious time and read all the earlier posts you and others have written...what a good way to spend a winter day!

    May I borrow the Henry Mitchell phrase to describe my garden? It sounds so much more refined then clown pants! BTW, there aren't any clown pants in your garden!


  11. Happy Ann'y, Annie! The garden looks lovely and I really like the triangle bed. I don't think McDonald's when I look at it: I think a cool little bistro off on one of Austin's side streets.

  12. Glad you made it, Annie! And that triangular garden bed is beauty. Next year, a rhombus?


  13. Congratulations on two years of blogging! And thank you for the wonderful guided tour of your garden.


  14. Happy 2-yr. blog anniversary! Your garden looks very happy & healthy despite your heatwave. I'm surprised that you have to dig up the Caladiums for the winter. They must be true tropicals. They make such an impact even from a distance it looks like a couple of clumps of white flowers.

  15. Thank you Leslie - I think we found each other before either of our blogs were very old. I've enjoyed your adventures, too.

    Your blog has been a must read since you started it, Pam at Digging!
    In this weather I hand water the beds every few days and the pots everyday. They all get some shifting shade during the day, which helps. The grass looks greener in photos than in real life - so far it's survived on whatever water travels by osmosis from the borders.

    Thank you, Carol - you sure found me fast! I guess writing comments for months before the blog began gave me practice!
    I can see the whole center area of the backyard from the work area of the kitchen - having the view keeps our small house from feeling claustrophobic.
    Summers were warm in IL, too - I'm used to following the shade around to work outside in hot weather.

    No promises, Colleen, but maybe I can still come up with something to say.
    I thought the yellow snapdragons would be a temporary filler before the red salvia seedlings grew big enough to bloom. I also thought the sweet peas would be done so the moonvine and Blue Pea could grow, which also hasn't happened.

    Circles are very classic, Greenbow Lisa! The triangles were designed to harmonize with the weird shape of the lot and echo the fence lines. Doesn't the left-handed mitten belong to Layanee?

    We do love white flowers in summer, don't we MSS! The gray stuff also can be seen at dusk - which is why I once lined a sidewalk with lambs ears back in IL.

    Have you heard about some new canna lily that blooms white? It sounds very interesting!

    Thanks, Rurality - the action at the fountain is better than most television!

    Thanks Lisa - for the lavender it seems to be they can't stand water to stay on their roots and that pot and soil are extremely well drained. Too much clay in the ground!
    You wouldn't think I was well adjusted if you saw me look at all the peonies on the more northerly blogs!

    Hi Robin of Nesting Place -I enjoy visiting your blog - and the photos deserve good comments. I've been watering the containers once a day - a few plants have croaked but most tolerate getting dry for awhile.

    Either it's the old "one step at time" thing, Gail, or the analogy of the frog in water that's heated so gradually the frog boils without noticing!
    I borrow heavily from Henry Mitchell - and if he were around he might swipe "clown pants" from you!

    I wanted somewhere to grow annuals, Cindy, so the triangle was made in a place where the grass kept turning brown. If I'm going to water something, it will be flowers - not grass!
    We used to call the patio our Bistro - how funny!

    Thanks Julie - I think you started in fall of 2004 - quite a long time! As to next year - there's still some grass, so who knows?

    Hi Sam - thank you for going on tour with me - we show so many closeups for Garden bloggers Bloom Day - pulling the camera back sounded like a good idea.

    Thank you all for visiting and commenting!


  16. Your comment appeared when I posted mine MMGD - thank you.

    I can't resist white leaves any more than I can resist white flowers!

    Some people leave the Caladiums in the ground over winter here and have them live, but when I tried it the bulbs turned to mush.
    In most gardens the soil gradually improves with time, cultivation and the constant addition of organic matter - maybe some day both my lavender and caladiums will survive year round.


  17. Annie, congratulations on your blog's 2nd birthday. Yours was one of the first garden blogs I found only a few months ago.

    Your garden is lovely - so many wonderful plants. That hibiscus is fabulous! Thank you for the tour.

  18. Congrats on your blogversary, Annie!

    Your garden looks so amazingly full and mature for just the few short years you've had that house. You and Philo must have worked every spare minute on it. Did the previous owners leave any plants worth keeping?

  19. Congratulations! A major feat indeed. btw, I think the riots of colors clash rather well.

  20. I love the white 'Acoma' crepe myrtles. The first time I saw white crepe myrtle was in DC and I really liked them. Also love the white hibiscus-it always amazes what flamboyant yet delicate flowers can be pumped out seemingly effortlessly from hibiscus.
    I don't think you can kill caladiums-I have plants from bulbs from that I threw out, thinking they were dead, only to see them sprout when rains came.

  21. Congratulations on your blog anniversary! I always enjoy reading your posts and seeing the different flowers growing in your area. Other than the crepe myrtle, though, it's surprising how many grow here in Illinois as well!
    The Mutabilis rose sounds like a fascinating plant.

  22. Annie, congratulations on two years! And might I add that I 'blame' you for 'all of this': you were the first garden blog that I ever visited, and I remember thinking to myself 'now, how nice is THIS?' It was a wonderful introduction to this strange, interesting, and diverse world of blogging.

    (Oh, and I love that white hibiscus. I remember seeing it before. Also - I just put caladiums in, ones that someone had given my Mom and she was trying to nuture through the winter, in a less-than-optimal way - so I brought them here. You still have to dig yours up? That suggests to me that I might have to as well! Gotta remember to do that...).

  23. I remember well your first comment on my blog, Annie, and that was before you jumped into the blogging pool :) Happy 2nd anniversary! It hardly seems possible. I also remember you saying some time ago that blogging had made you a much poorer housekeeper. Me too! I reprimand myself often :)
    I'd love to see your pretty white crepe myrtles 'in person' as I've only ever seen photos of these lovely trees.
    I'm surprised you have the same trouble in Austin with lavendar that I do up here in NY. It won't live through the winter for me either.
    That's a beautiful hibiscus. Thanks for this stroll through your garden Annie...interesting as always and looking beautiful!
    We've just had 2 perfect gardening days after that horrible heatwave.
    Breathing a sigh of relief! I hope you get some relief soon.

  24. Happy Blogiversary, Annie! That hibiscus is gorgeous, such a pure, bright white.

    I can't believe that you lose lavender over the winter, though. Unless, is it the heavy soil? If so, I got it to grow in my clay soil in the old house by building up a mound about 6-8 inches tall, and planting the lavender at the top of that. When it filled in, you didn't notice the mound, but it apparently helped the roots shed enough water that it didn't rot out. An older lady down the street shared that idea with me when I asked her what her secret was.

    In any case, I'm looking forward to the next two years' worth of posts at The Transplantable Rose... and the two years after that... and the two after that... :)

  25. Annie, the white hibiscus is beautiful and so are you. I'm happy for your two year anniversary. Yours was one of the first blogs I ever read.~~Dee

  26. Annie, I'm looking forward to many more years of your blog. I'm one of your more recent fans, but I do so love your wit and photos. Keep up the good work.

  27. Hi Annie, congrats on your "Annie-versary"! And thank you, also, for your blog... you've been a big part of the inspiration I needed to start container gardening again. I live in an apartment with four cats, so pots *outside* the window it is!

    May your beautiful yard continue to delight and amaze you! Thanks again for sharing it with us!


  28. Annie,

    I've been enjoying your blog for over a year. Congratulations on being able to produce such great posts, time after time.

    Now, I have a question. Your gardens are loaded with plants and flowers that entice hummingbirds, but do you have a nectar feeder? They appreciate a shot of sugar to keep their energy up. After all, there's a lot to do in your yard...

    That white hibuscus is amazing!


  29. I'll just jump in and offer my congratulations with your second blogging anniversary. It was a treat to see views of your garden - it looks like such a tranquil, inviting place. The Salvia Hot Lips is amazing. I love the colour combination. Clashing colours look spectacular in your garden. Exuberant and lush...and my, I like the Hibiscus and the Caladiums. I debated buying white or black ones and well, the black won out.

    Here's to many more blogging anniversaries at the Transplantable Rose.

  30. Your fountain must be the happenin' spot in your corner of Austin if you haven't had any rain. I like the triangle beds. Now I'm imagining a whole garden of triangle beds.

  31. I enjoyed your pics of your garden. I am chuckling about your comment about 'fighting the jasmine' - here(zone 5 Utah) we have some in pots, and struggle to keep it alive (and haul them in and out for winter) love that smell!

  32. Thank you Garden Girl, I enjoy your blog, too. I've been reading garden blogs for so long - it surprises me to realize people are still just finding out we exist!

    Thanks Entangled - the big pecan, ash and live oak trees,the pink crepes, several Abelias, the unscented mockorange, a couple of nandinas, some hollies and several bridal wreaths were here along with a few perennial - mainly salvias.

    We moved here with 100 pots from the deck containing trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs and bulbs, so had a head start on the ingredients, anyway!

    I'm glad you like that saying, Tina - right now I like almost anything that will live and bloom in this heat!

    White flowers appeal to me, too - I didn't know crepe myrtles came in so many colors until we moved here. The caladiums that were left in the ground rotted into slime - they must need really good drainage in winter!

    Hello Rose, and thank you. I learned to garden in IL, so maybe I give those plants a chance? Prairie plants and daylilies grow in the middle, so both IL and TX have those. I wanted a Mutabilis for years and years, but could never grow one in IL.

    Since you have one of the most beautifully strange, interesting and diverse blogs anywhere, I will happily take any 'blame', Pam of SC. I may have found you on a google search for Painted Bunting - however it happened I'm very glad we met.
    Some people in Austin leave caladiums in over winter - but bet they don't have black clay!

    When I first saw the wonderful photographs of your New York garden they amazed me, Kerri - and still do! You have such beautiful long borders with equally beautiful countryside. Maybe someday I'll see NY State and you'll see TX.

    Thank you, Blackswamp Kim - most of the perennial hibiscus have an eye, usually rose or maroon. When I saw these in the plant catalog they seemed more tropical because of that pure color.
    A mound would probably help the lavender - I might try that next time. But when they only cost about $2 each and get enormous in one summer it's easy to treat them like annuals. No promises ... some days I am ready to bail!

    Thank you Dee at Red Dirt - it was so cool to find your Oklahoma blog - and even cooler to meet you in person.

    As I told Kim, there are no promises, Randy and Jamie, but with such compliments, I'll have to try!

    Hello Cath from Kansas - thank you for coming and leaving a comment. A garden can be on the windowsill! Have you met Vanillalotus yet? She grows the most amazing things on a small balcony and is very inspiring.

    It seems to me that we found each other through Lost Roses, Mary? I was glad to find your wonderful blog, but I sure miss that girl! Maybe she'll start writing again one of these days.
    I've never had a nectar feeder, although some of the other Divas of the Dirt swear they are wonderful. But wouldn't it make them depend on me? My long list of the undone doesn't need an unfilled feeder added to it.

    Thank you Kate Smudges - and I'm glad you like the garden. The contrast of the colorful flowers in the sunny parts and mostly green & white in the shady part is working out pretty well so far... the secret garden on the side is almost all green right now.
    Black caladiums? I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with them!

    That fountain is hilarious in late afternoon, Chuck -some birds take turns and some are bullies.
    Philo thought the triangle idea was interesting and used his engineering skills to help me.

    The jasmine I fight isn't the sweet kind, Muum - like you, I also love those jasmines! This is a form of Asiatic Jasmine introduced as a tight-growing evergreen ground cover, needing to be kept trimmed into a low mound by electric equipment. Someone planted it along the wooden privacy fence years ago, where it vines, climbs, and strangles other plants - a terrible horticultural error! Enjoy your "real" jasmine!

    Thank you for the comments,



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