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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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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Notes from Near and Far

The photos used in this post, "Notes from Near and Far", belong to the family of Annie in Austin.

Do any of you email garden photos to your family? Do they send garden photos back to you? I'd like to share some photos from our garden and some taken by family members in other states. My part of town had just over one inch of rain Sunday night to Monday morning and the rain lilies have responded. The pink ones are Zephyranthes 'Labuffarosea' The native white rainlilies are called Cooperia pedunculata by the Wildflower Center - but there seems to be some disagreement on the name.
Let's just call them Cooper's lilies - here they are with Pink Skullcap/Scutellaria suffrutescens. A month ago these peonies bloomed at middle sister Josie's house in IL - bet her daylilies are unfolding now On Thursday, someone in Washington State enjoyed a radish sandwich While rereading Eric Grissell's A Journal in Thyme I discovered that garden blogging can change how you read a book. This paragraph about making labels for small starts of rock garden plants made little impression on me during previous readings:

"I checked the names in the various books and catalogs at my disposal. One name, in particular, gave me trouble: Paxistima or Pachistima. This is a native American dwarf evergreen that looks like a prostrate boxwood (at least from a few feet away.) I've seen it spelled both ways, but I spelled it yet a third - Paxistema- another nomenclatural hybrid. Fortunately, I caught the mistake after writing only half of the labels."

But when I read it a few days ago the word Pachistima jumped off the page - Kate/Smudges made me recognize the botanical name for Kate's Ratstripper!

Jake's peaches looked great a couple of weeks ago- I sure hope there will be another photo when they're ripe.

This year's heat and drought did something weird to the 'Best of Friends' daylily from Pam/Digging. Last June it looked like this but last week the solitary bloom looked like a small, pale shadow of the formerly robust friend. I'll do my best to help this Passalong daylily recover and bloom again, but right now am just glad it's still alive.

In June the rose 'Sheila's Perfume' bloomed with pansies for our son and dear daughter-in-law in lllinois.Their pansies have faded in the last couple of weeks so they sent another picture when the marigolds and zinnias took the stage. Can you see the lily in bud at right? Although Oriental lilies are sometimes called "expensive annuals", this lily has bloomed for our son and his wife for nearly 10 years.

ack in Austin this unnamed oriental lily has fewer blooms in this hot, dry year but it looked
good on Thursday and was amazingly fragrant in the dappled shade of the back border
he birds planted a tall annual sunflower like this a few years ago. Now each spring we look for seedlings, and if they're growing in a good spot, we let one or two grow tall again. This year's sunflower is at the NE corner of the tomato frame.
Although it looks a little ratty, Philo and I are really glad we let it grow. We've been watching a pair of small birds hang on it - at first we thought they were American Goldfinches but the photos didn't quite seem right. They didn't look like photos of the Lesser Goldfinches either. Instead of a black cap - the male has a black head and back. After viewing many pictures and reading descriptions, we think they are Arkansas Goldfinches, a Western species that wasn't named for the state of Arkansas but because they were found on the Arkansas River in Colorado.

ur young GrandDog Penny lives on the left coast with her two avid gardener
-ownersIs it any wonder that she's already learned to help out in the garden?
or the first time in a decade we've managed to grow a few big tomatoes - the kind of four-inch fruit that fills a slice of bread. We've planted many varieties in the last 10 years and kept records but our records can't help us this year. We'd like to find this variety again we bought the plant at Shoal Creek Nu
rsery and the flat wasn't tagged. No one was able to come up with a name... just saying it was "definitely an heirloom variety." It's wonderful! If anyone out there recognizes it we'd love to know the name of this delicious tomato.

Tomato sandwiches, acrobatic goldfinches and an amazing local firework display have enlivened our three day weekend - I hope yours has been fun, too!

The photos used in this post, "Notes from Near and Far", belong to the family of Annie in Austin.


  1. Annie, Could you take a tomato slice off that sandwich and put it on one for me? I'm not expecting any tomatoes for several more weeks and a slice from yours would tide me over nicely until then.

    Loved your 'newsy' update from your family of gardeners!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. Oooh... I started out drooling over that striped foliage you have mixed in with the rain lilies, and ended up drooling over the delicious-looking tomato at the end! And of course, I enjoyed the pictures in between... how fun to see the photos of all of your families' far-flung gardens. Thanks, Annie.

  3. The flowers are lovely, the tomato looks luscious, and the granddog is most lovable!

  4. Hi Annie!
    So far we've had a very productive (weeding! weeding!!) and fun weekend, what with the grilling and fun fireworks on the corner last night ('film at 11:00' lol).

    Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of "connected" family and those extended who do get pics are other bloggers, alas. But your assortment of lovely delights was great to see! I can't wait to tempt you with tomatoes and home grown corn later this summer, hehe. We do have quite a few tomatoes set on but they're still small at this point. I'm still salivating looking at yours though it's been long eaten, lol.

  5. Annie - I do email garden photos to my family but aside from one very good friend, nobody really sends any back to me. I wish they would!

    I wish I lived closer to you cause I would totally invite myself over for a tomato sandwich. That looks amazing! Man oh man I can't wait for my first ripe one!

  6. No emailed garden pictures here. I do well if I can get them to send me people pictures. I wish rain lilies were hardy here, mine of course didn't come back but so many plants that aren't supposed to be hardy have, that I left them in the ground hoping. I'll enjoy yours instead. I'll have to head down to the farmers market for some tomatoes and provolone this week as my one tomato (so far) is about the size of an acorn.

  7. Annie,

    I do, with my best friend from college. Her NY garden is similar but oh so much further behind then ours. It's fun to see what's growing.

    The rain lilies are sweet and I know you will nurse 'Best of Friends' back to good health.

    Do Luna moths visit your Oriental Lily? It's a pretty one, Annie...little white freckles and a pink face. This year the Star Gazer Lilies have been lovely and we have lots of night visitors.

    Enjoy your tomatoes and the Finches.


  8. We've had a great weekend here Annie. So glad to hear you had some rain and all is well and good in your neighborhood.

    Yep, I get garden photos from family in Michigan and Southern Indiana and Illinois. It is great fun to see what is going on in their gardens. I have thought about posting pictures of my Sisters roses when she sends them they are so pretty. Exchanging garden information and pictures is a good way to stay in touch with family.

  9. I used to email garden photos before I started blogging. Honestly, I don't think my family is as interested in my garden as my online acquaintances are.

    Eric Grissell's books sound interesting - thanks for that tip!

  10. Glad you got some photos of the rainlilies. Mine opened yesterday, too, but I was too lazy to go out and take photos. Seems like I've got zillions of photos so do I really need any more?

    That's a beautiful tomato. I got mine planted too late and only 'Juliet' flowered when it was cool enough for the fruit to set. However, I'm heartened by your remark that it's been about ten years since you've grown big tomatoes. It's been about that long for me too. I'm looking for tomato-growing tips in Austin. If other people can do it there must be a way.

  11. So glad you got some rain, Annie. No one in our family e-mails garden photos, but I'm lucky in that much of my family lives nearby. Arizona daughter has no interest in gardening.

    Your rainlilies are lovely--hard to tell from them that you've had a drought. But that tomato! My mouth is watering right now:)

  12. Hmph! Nobody in my family ever emails me garden photos! What slackers.

    Slobbering over your tomato... no idea what type it is, but the large sliced pic reminds me of a good low-acid German variety my aunt grew one year. (Shape's not right for that though, I don't think.)

  13. Sometimes we email photos-depending on what is going on with the blog. I sometimes post the photos too.

    That tomato sure looks yummy!

  14. How fun to email garden photos back & forth. Nearly all my extended family (including cousins) live in the area. I'm still is awe over those Illinois peaches. Beware of 5 finger blight, I might just start driving around Lombard looking for that tree.

  15. Hi Annie, I get pix from the offspring with the caption, what is this plant?. I used to send more to them, but now they can see them on the blog. My friend Laurie takes some terrific shots too. I have been lax in sending out good pictures since the blog takes up more of my time that used to be spent on the family! Your tomato has my salivary glands working overtime, better go into the kitchen and slice up some improved whoppers. The heirlooms aren't red yet.That is nice meaty flesh on that one, I'll be interested to see what it is, if you ever find out.

  16. Ohhh, that tomato. I think I'm going fix a sandwich with big slices of tomato right now. Just looking at your picture is enough to start a craving.
    I don't send pictures since I'm blogging, but this post has prompted me to ask my sisters to send me some of theirs.

    Always Growing

  17. Hi Annie,

    I'm the only one in my family who gardens, which is another good reasons for my garden blogger friends. Your family's photos are beautiful. I wanted to just eat that tomato.~~Dee

  18. Alas we seem to be the only gardeners in the extended family. Our kids are budding gardeners but live close to home so there's no need. I guess that's one reason I started a web site and blog. I have all those photos and no one to show them off to.

  19. No one emails me photo's either, but I don't have much of an extended family. I don't email photo's but I do email "updates" to friends when I post new stuff on my blog or in my Flickr (which I highly recommend for photo sharing). Friends humor me and look at the images just in case I ask if they saw it...they don't want to be caught off guard having to lie. LOL
    I also take pictures of their stuff when I visit since they neglect to give their pretty flowers any photo love.

  20. Yes, my mother and sister AND father have all sent me garden photos, but my mother sends them regularly from her exuberant Tulsa garden.

    My Best of Friends daylilies bleached out in the heat this year too. They started off normally colored, but as May wore on and the sun and drought grew more intense, they faded into ghosts of their former selves. Poor things. I hope next year will be better for them.

  21. Hi Annie,
    Before I started blogging last year I sent photos of my garden to family. My kids are the ones who encouraged me to start a blog and now they don't get pictures... they have to read my blog. :-)

    Thanks for sharing your family's gardens. Love those tomatoes... mine are just about near the end... only a couple more tomato sandwiches left I think.


  22. OMG, that tomatoe slice made me so hungry. I can't wait until my tomatoes are ripe. I love the photo of the sunflowers with the chair in the foreground. I love that lush wild look.

  23. Your tomato looks like a keeper. Save some seeds from your tomato for next year. Homestead makes good sized tomatoes. I think I remember seeing them at Shoal Creek this year.

  24. My mouth is watering from your picture of that tomato slice! Next year, I have to try tomatoes. I don't think I've had a really good tomato since I moved to Texas.

    And your rain lilies look fabulous. I love the idea of plants that bloom only after a rain. I've noticed that the cenizos in my neighborhood all suddenly bloomed this week, and then today it finally rained. Texas sage ought to be called the "barometer bush!"

  25. How wonderful that you are able to swap garden photos with your family! I have six sisters and two brothers and none of them are interested in gardening. :-( Also, is that a slice of cheese on that tomato sandwich? That's just the way I like mine! I've recently started adding jalepenos peppers to them as well. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  26. Hello Carol - I'll share tomatoes now if you share in a couple of weeks when ours will be done, done, done!

    The striped foliage is from Canna 'Bengal Tiger', Blackswamp Kim - they're in a large patio container.

    Thanks Cindy - I can vouch that the tomato was delicious and am sure we'll love the grand-dog when we meet her.

    Your blog will count as garden porn with both corn & tomatoes, IVG...we usually get Juliets even in summer, but the larger tomatoes are giving up already. I love fireworks!

    Hi Gina - sometimes there's no response but I sure like it when they come in. One real photo of anything beats a dozen stupid forwards!
    We only got a couple of the big tomatoes -most are 2-inchers.

    Apple - people pictures are rare unless it's a holiday like Halloween or Thanksgiving.
    When I lived in Illinois I grew rainlilies in a container - I stopped watering and put the dormant lilies in the basement over winter, like dahlias and cannas and acidanthera. They didn't all live, but some of them rebloomed the following year.

    I used to swap garden photos with friends, Gail but haven't had any photos lately.
    I've never seen a Luna Moth here - but sure would like to! We might not have the right host plants. The lily only lasted about 6 days.

    Your weekend looked kind of Norman Rockwell, Lisa at Greenbow, and I mean that in a good way. Do you and your sisters have some passalong plants in common?

    Some of my pre-blog emails to family and friends were almost like blog posts, Entangled, going on and on about the garden with photos formatted and inserted. But I get more comments with a blog :-}
    Eric Grissell lives in MD near Washington DC and is a major wasp and insect expert who gardens for "fun". Like us.

    The pink one was okay, MSS, but the Cooper's lilies are impossible to capture. So I keep trying.
    We had most of the tomatoes in by the last week in March, except for the two plants I bought when I was with you and Carol at Gardens Nursery during Spring Fling. We were lucky this year, but Crazy Billionaire in East Austin seems to have the secrets of growing tomatoes here.

    We need lots more rain Rose, and keep hoping! No one in our family lives nearby - so thank heavens for emails. Your tomatoes will be coming soon, right?

    We've been doing it for years, way before the blog Rurality.
    I've been looking at photos and think it might be some variety in the Beefsteak/Beefmaster group from the way the interior is patterned.

    Tine, your blog is like an online garden reunion - the comments are so much fun!

    Oh, dear, Mr McGregor's Daughter, I hope you didn't waste expensive gasoline looking for that tree... one of our Illinois houses was in Lombard, but my sisters and brothers and cousins live far South. Wear a black & white baseball cap if you go there.... it's White Sox territory.

    My sister Josie sent one of those not too long ago, Frances.. and it turned out to be Star of Bethlehem.
    It was shocking to go into my files when looking for a photo of something inside the house in 2007. There were very few interior house photos and hardly any of its inhabitants, but a zillion flower pictures!
    I tried to email the Nursery but the note bounced - guess they're too busy to empty their mailbox.

    Simple is best with tomato sandwiches, right Jan? I hope your sisters send you photos!

    The gardeners are in the majority in our family, Red Dirt Dee - but I'm also grateful for blogger friends. Family members grow things and send photos but they don't converse about plants the way we do!

    I wish I could be at my kids' gardens, WiseAcre, but there are many miles in between us. They sometimes read this blog but email me about it rather than add public comments.

    Likewise pleading guilty here on the update thing, Dierdre in Texas - not all the time but just in case they don't miss something important ;-]
    That's pretty cool about taking photos of your friends' flowers!

    You've put photos of your mom's very decorative shed on your blog, Pam/Digging - it's stunning.
    And while I'm sorry this daylily is having a rough year, I'm glad you understand what I meant. I've read that some TX gardeners dug up their prized daylilies this summer and put them into pots so they could control the watering.

    No private posting for you, eh - Meems? That's one way to get them to listen to you!
    There are only a couple of green big tomatoes here - but what we had was good.

    It looks lush over there because I water the tomatoes and the nearby plants get the extras... the grass in front is not pretty, Chigy. Once your tomatoes started last year, you had a long season - but this year I just hope you Californians stay safe.

    Hi Lancashire Jenny - there are about 6 kinds of tomatoes growing in this patch - wouldn't the seeds produce a mixed plant? Thanks for the suggestion but I looked at photos of Homestead and their interior is quite different. Maybe I'll print out a photo and go back to the nursery.

    We've grown tomatoes in Texas for 9 summers, Lori, and this is the first time we had anything near an Illinois tomato. There must be a lot of luck involved.
    Looks like the Wildflower Center had the same thought about Cenizo's nickname!

    Nine kids and only one gardener? That's not a good percentage, is it Randy and Jamie - so starting a blog was a good idea for you.
    It sure is a slice of cheese, and there's sweet onion in there, too. Philo roasts and pickles jalapenos and eats them with everything.

    Thank you for the comments, and may your lives be filled with homegrown tomatoes,


  27. Annie, Thanks so much for the nice comment about my comments. That is funny isn't it? I enjoy my little community so much and hope it is a learning/talking place where we can all relate. Who knew you could get to know others on here?

  28. Annie - And here I thought that I was so clever. ;)

  29. I was lucky enough to meet other bloggers even before I started my own blog, Tina! In spring of 2006, I'd been commenting on the Zanthan Gardens for quite awhile and was thrilled when MSS suggested we meet.

    You ARE clever, Lori - but isn't it funny how often we realize we've just reinvented the wheel? I do it all the time ;-]


  30. Annie, my mom's not a computer person but since she lives just minutes away, I get to see her garden any time I'm there. My sister in Austin IS a computer person but not a gardener. I have hopes that she still might catch it from me, tho. It's great that you and your family can share your garden joys with each other.

    I wish I knew the secret to getting the white rainlilies to bloom. I've had them for years and never seen a single bloom.

  31. Annie, that tomato might be a Mortgage Lifter. It's an old heirloom and a good one with great taste and over two pounds at times.

    Out of five kids I was the only one that the gardening bug bit. Although my Mom wasn't computer literate we would talk for hours on the phone every week about gardening. And my siblings complained that I was her favorite. UH, yes I was.

  32. Annie, this was a fun read. It was good to see that there are still flowers in bloom - the rain lilies are beautiful as is your passalong lily.

    How cool is that - you remembered the ratstripper from my blog. That was quite a spell ago since I wrote about it. It's interesting to know that it is referred to in this book. I shall try and track down a copy of it.

    I enjoyed meeting grand-dog Penny and seeing what was blooming in the gardens of your family.

  33. I love a rangy sunflower. Mine won't be feeling their ranginess for at least a month.

    You have family on the left coast?

  34. I too am weeks away from red tomatoes but this year at least I have quite a few on the vines! I haven't sent flower pictures to anyone but maybe I should start! One of my sisters is in New York and I don't see her that often. Might be a good idea! Craving cake from Garden Rant post and a grilled tomato and cheese sandwich from here! At least that is somewhat more balanced now. LOL

  35. I love the picture with the yellow chair!!! Looks like a great place to sit and have the world stop for you for a few hours. Or watch Penny (Granddogger) swoop by and borrow your gloves, trowel or watering can. Great surprise to see the Penster in the blog.

  36. I love the rain lilies, and have been contemplating planting some in a container since I would have to move it inside as they are not hardy in this zone.

    What a busy weekend you had! I was busy nominating you for a little award. You can see it and the "rules" over at my place.

  37. Hi Annie,
    Congratulations on growing the big tomato. That sandwich looks devine!

    I can't wait until mid August so I can get a good tomato sandwich. I will have to buy the tomatoes from the farmer's market or hope for a family handout since I didn't plant any.

    Are those Tropicana Gold leaves in photo #1?

  38. Annie - You've inspired me yet again! I DO have garden photos from family near and far and I'm just gonna have to get back from vacation to upload them to my blog when I'm immobilized by the 100 degree heat again. Forecast here in Germany - 50 and 80 percent chance of rain when we climb the mountain tomorrow. I'm trying to keep that 100 degree heat fresh in my memory for some perspective!

  39. Annie,
    Your washed out lilies remind me of my roses; while still blooming, they are depleted of color. At Saba, the new Mex restaurant in the Triangle near my house, there's a HUGE loquat in a pot. I'm not sure what the eventual size would be; i guess at some point it's like a version of bonsai, no?
    Stay cool

  40. Annie, Ross just looked at your delicious looking tomato sandwich and wondered if it would be good toasted. I said yes, of course. He doesn't eat tomatoes, although he grows them for me, but you may have inspired him to try acquiring a taste for them. Thank you! :) I've been encouraging him for years! We'll be waiting several weeks for our first ripe fruit.
    Our son and his wife are budding gardeners and doing well. They share pictures occasionally.
    I like the combination of zinnias and marigolds.
    I hope 'Best of Friends' recovers her original beauty next year. My original 'Janice Brown' looks more like the 'new' JB this year. Isn't that strange? See what a little competition can do? :)
    This was a fun idea for a post. Glad you enjoyed your July 4th weekend.

  41. I'd love to trade photos with my family but I'm the only one who seems to get out there and take them. So I try to take pictures when I go to their houses so I can post about how gorgeous their gardens are.

    The tomato looks amazing- I'm so jealous and I have not one fruit anywhere on my plants right now.

  42. Annie I love your Blog, I have been visiting for a while now. You have inspired me to try one out. But I am Blog illiterate. It is going slow. As is my gardening here in RR the last 2 years. It has been challenging for me. I didn't know a jackhammer was a gardening tool until 2 years ago! Nice to see your wonderful pictures of your garden.

  43. Oh, do those tomato slices look good (I'd almost say they were brandywine - the flesh, inside, looks like one - but the whole tomato doesn't quite so much). I just love tomato sandwiches in the summer! I made my first BLT about a week ago - now I'm on to simple tomato sandwiches with roasted garlic spread on it, instead of mayo. Now your image has me thinking that my next ones will be with cheese.

    It is indeed summertime!

  44. Hi Annie - I know this is probably a dumb question but what would make the best of friends day lily change like that? I know soil can change a hydrangea but I've never seen a comparison like that with a lily.

  45. Hi Annie, I'm only a brand spanking new blogger but an old, old gardener. Your tomato looks remarkably like "Grosse Lisse" which is a corruption of the German for tall Lizzie. It is an old German tall growing veriety rather prone to desease needing a lot of the leaves chopped out for good air circulation. The fruit is superb. It may go under an other name in the US but that's the name it goes under in Australia. Love your blog.

  46. Hi Annie, I'm only a brand spanking new blogger but an old, old gardener. Your tomato looks remarkably like "Grosse Lisse" which is a corruption of the German for tall Lizzie. It is an old German tall growing veriety rather prone to desease needing a lot of the leaves chopped out for good air circulation. The fruit is superb. It may go under an other name in the US but that's the name it goes under in Australia. Love your blog.


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