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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, July 17, 2008

A Real Life Visit

Today was a good day - actually any day when I see MSS of Zanthan Gardens is a good day! She came over for a few hours this afternoon bearing Japanese sweets, ready for conversation and garden viewing - mostly through glass. I tried to impress her with a salad containing some of our homegrown tomatoes and basil as we sat at the kitchen table and looked out the window to the fountain, where a constantly changing cast of avian characters acted out small dramas and comedies on themes of status, dominance and impudence. MSS took a photo of the view and posted it on Twitter.

We talked about the upcoming
Austin Pond Society Tour that we all look forward to each July.

It will be hot this weekend when we're on the tour, but since the waterlilies are happiest in sun and warmth, like the Mad Dogs and Englishmen in Noel Coward's song we'll go out in the midday sun, hoping to catch some mist from the waterfalls on our faces. Tickets are only $15 - and for that price you get two days full of wonderful water features - don't miss it!

A hummingbird visited the Salvia coccinea while we ate our international snack of tomatoes and basil and soba cookies and talked and talked... about birds and weddings, journeys and parents, movies and restaurants... we may have even mentioned a few flowers. Unfortunately the sun had already wilted the flower I'd most wanted her to see! This morning a young Bauhinia from my friend Ellen opened its first white flowers but they were merely withered petals by mid-afternoon. From our air-conditioned seats we could see the fountain, and the back border, and the magnolia flowers, and the two triangle beds but we had to go outside to look at some other just-opened flowers. I planted two Amarcrinum bulbs along the back wall of the house a few years ago. This border gets strong morning sun but is shaded in the hot afternoon. I was pretty sure this was a good spot when one bulb bloomed last summer. This year that bulb came up with two tufts of leaves, and each tuft has made a flower stalk. Today the other bulb joined in and bloomed for the first time. One stem of delicate pink trumpets would be very welcome this year - a trio of these fragrant lovely flowers was totally unexpected. There was another plant blooming for the first time - one that was impossible for MSS to overlook before she said goodbye. Former Garden blogger MarthaChick was responsible for this show - she'd shared some Crocosmia bulbs in spring of 2007. In the hot sunny border along the fence this flower looks perfect with a background of Setcresia/Purple Heart.


  1. That Bauhinia looks so delicate, and with those long filaments, it looks like a simpler cousin of my night-bloomer flowers. I can understand why you would want someone to see it.

    I did see the picture of your garden on Twitter, it looks wonderful in spite of the heat and lack of rain.

    Enjoy the pond tour, I look forward to all the various posts about it on the Austin garden blogs in the coming days.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens (where an Amarcrinum would never grow, that's beautiful flower, too!)

  2. How nice that MSS came to visit. I know all about viewing the garden mostly through glass but for an entirely different reason; here it's raining, and raining and then it probably will rain some more.

    Enjoy your pond tour, it sounds like a lot of fun!

    BTW on Bliss we're revealing deep, dark secrets. ;-)

  3. Annie, that Bauhinia bloom is well worth sharing! I've never seen one with such elongated petals. Do you know which one it is? I don't have room for another tree but maybe I could make some. Hey, I wanted to take out the underperforming white Duranta anyway!

    I'm also quite taken with the amarcrinum. I'm going to look for those at Houston's Bulb Mart this fall.

    It sounds like you & MSS had a delightful visit. That's a great way to spend a hot and humid summer afternoon in Austin!

  4. Annie,

    Plants we northern gardeners only dream of...isn't it funny, to think of Nashville as northern! It is such a southern town and even though we are being swamped with non southerners like me, it retains it's character! Back to your post! We could possibly grow the Amarcrinum in a warm winter....(but I want snow and a cooler weather this year to wipe out the bad bugs!) It is a lovely flower and delicate pink is an apt description.

    How pleasant to have MSS for a visit. Good friends, good conversation and good food....perfect! It's universal...the plant we most want to show others is too shy or too early when they arrive! In the mysterious fashion that the universe works, my "today's post"...scheduled for later, fits nicely with yours!


  5. Sounds like it was a fun time. I too pine for the Amarcrinum, but then I'd be happy if my Lycoris squamigera bloomed.

  6. That Amarcrinum flower is so delicate for a bloom in Austin's raging inferno. I'm used to seeing deep dark purples, reds, and golds at this time of year, but the pale pink is a refreshing change.

    I'll miss the Pond Tour yet again but look forward to seeing your posts about it.

  7. I did indeed have a delightful visit and I'm looking forward to touring ponds with y'all on Sunday.

    I'm sorry I missed the Bauhinia flowering but at least I got to smell the intoxicating Amarcrinum. And I love that color of pink.

    As usual your whole garden was filled with flowers and although I really, really, really understand you being worn down by the heat and watering and not feeling like participating in GBBD this month, I hope you do some more posts soon. You've got a lot going on in the garden.

  8. I am totally impressed with your tomato salad, Annie... it looks delicious!

    That crocosmia is amazing, especially with the purple heart behind. You do both hot color and cool color combinations very well! I aspire to that, as I feel like I'm a one-palette pony over here. *grin*

    What did you think of the Japanese sweets? I bought some red bean (I think--the label is written only in Japanese) candy at Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati last weekend, and have yet to try it. So I'm curious as to what I'm in for.

  9. Hello Carol - the Bauhinia hasn't opened any more flowers yet, but the plant is less than a foot tall so to have any is amazing. I've had one Amarcrinum since 1999 and the other in spring 2001 - good plants for Slow Gardeners.
    I sure hope someone else will take Pond photos and post them - my camera doesn't take good photos in sun!

    She's an incredible person, Yolanda Elizabet - I am so happy to know her. Please send rain!
    Your secret is a good one ;-]

    That's a very good question, Cindy - I've spent hours looking through bauhinia sites and googling but every time I find a likely ID there's something that doesn't match. It's a passalong-passalong-passalong from a Master Gardener in the Woodlands. This is its 3rd summer with me, and it's still only a foot tall - also has spines!

    We in Austin are northern compared to Houston, Gail, and have zone envy for their citrus and tropical beauties.
    Aren't you zone 7? Plant Delights says this one is hardy there.
    I'd better check out our synchronized posts!

    Naked ladies bloomed like weeds for my neighbor in IL, MMD, but not for me - hope you are luckier!

    You've tried to teach us that horticultural real estate has the same mantra as regular real estate, Pam/Digging..."location, location, location"... I think I got this one right!

    We'll need our sunblock and big hats, MSS!
    There are quite a few flowers, I agree.... but they're the same freaking flowers every month. The crinum, bauhinia and crocosmia are more interesting, but they didn't open until after bloom day.
    In the interests of science, I did post a list without photos on my Annie's Addendum blog, in the sidebar.

    Thank you Blackswamp Kim - those deep oranges and purples are favorites, but are hard to do here where the colors bleach out.

    The little cookies were an assortment - they're soft in texture and rather sweet - MSS says they need a bitter tea as counterpoint, but I had coffee. My fave was the pumpkin cookie. We also had bean curd and it was pretty good.

    Thank you,


  10. Visits with blogging friends in person? How much better can blogging be? The food sure tempted me!

  11. I was most stunned by the Crocosmia looking so good in this heat. But then red flowers seem to attract my eye the most. And it looks like there is plenty of blooms to come. Lucky girl.

  12. What fun to share an afternoon with a good blogging friend! I'll be honest, I've never even heard of a couple of your flowers, but maybe that's because they don't grow in zone 5. It's been hot and humid here in Illinois, too, and I have to keep watering just to keep everything from wilting.

  13. Annie, how lucky you Austiners (Austinites? Austinoans? LOL) get to visit with each other and see each other at garden (and pond!) events from time to time! Enjoy the tour - wish I could join you! I'd probably have to restrain myself from jumping into some of those ponds to cool off.

    Your tomato salad looks absolutely divine!

    We're having some welcome relief from the heat, if not the humidity today, and have broken our dry spell with some rain last night and today. Figures, since I finally broke down and watered yesterday morning. That's ok though, this time of year rain is always welcome in my garden whether I've had to water or not. 80 degrees feels positively refreshing after 90's all week.

  14. Annie,
    That sounds like a delightful way to spend the afternoon! And your salad looks delicious ... still in impatient waiting mode for our tomatoes here ...

    I'm so jealous you are successful with Crocosmia because we've tried it several times without success. It came up, grew leaves, never bloomsed and then never came back, even though it's supposed to be hardy here! I've never seen Amarcrinum before, but it's lovely! They look like they should be in Amaryllis family for some reason ... are they related?

    Hope you have a great time at the Pond Tour, there's tons going on in Austin this weekend it appears ... the Netroots Nation Convention is currently going on downtown and some of my blogger friends are attending.

  15. sounds like you had fun. The Japanese treats have my mouth watering.

  16. It's nice that you can enjoy the garden from inside. I have a good view only from my bedroom window. It will be awhile yet before I can have a tomato sandwich here. I hope you enjoy the Pond Tour despite the heat. I'm hoping for nice weather for Garden Walk Buffalo next weekend.

  17. Annie, your visit sounds like so much fun. I'm glad you two got to share so many things. The only part that saddens me is I'm stuck up here in Oklahoma unable to join the fun. :) ~~Dee

  18. It sounds like a relaxing visit. Watching the birds play in the fountain must have been a nice treat. Enjoy the pond tour!

  19. awww, hi Annie! Your garden is so lovely this time of year! I do plan on surreptitiously taking your canna, some of my iris and purple canna and maybe a few crocosmia to the new house... You must come visit again!

  20. I had to look up the Bauhinia, it was driving me crazy. I think it could be pata de vaca or B. forficata. There is a link here. Yours is so beautiful! I love it.

  21. That Bauhinia looks so exotic Annie. No wonder you wanted to show it off. I have never seen one before. Does it have a scent? It really doesn't need a scent it is so pretty.

  22. Hi Annie, we have missed your cheerful clever posts. Wonderful that MSS came for a visit. So nice when the like minded are there, you don't have to worry about boring them with garden talk. I am surprised by your crocosmia still open, ours are long done. We do have the surprise lily, lycoris showing its stems. It might even be open, I haven't been out yet, a little under the weather.

  23. We in Austin are too lucky, Tina!

    The crocosmia is in part shade Bob - maybe that helps? The flowers are deep red-orange and another bulb bloomed at the opposite end of this long border - I am lucky!

    Hi Prairie Rose - it was lovely! Even when I lived in the Chicago area I read books by Southern garden writers and arrived here with pent-up desire to grow things like Amarcrinums. I have no automatic system and am spending a lot of time handwatering, too.

    We've spent the last 2 years trying to figure out why there are so many garden bloggers in Austin, Garden Girl! Our best hope for any rain right now is if Dolly turns into a hurricane and spreads water into Central Texas.

    There are a few tomatoes that are still green, IVG, but they've stopped blossoming in the heat.
    Amarcrinum is a hybrid of Crinum Lilies and Amaryllis belladonna. In some books you see them called x Crinodonna.
    The pond tour was great - a post will come eventually! I hope your friends had a good time in Austin!

    Hello Mr Brown Thumb - it would also be fun to have you sitting at the table eating Japanese cookies while watching the birds!

    In my IL house the dining room window looked at the garage door, so I do appreciate this layout, Apple. Have a wonderful time in Buffalo!

    You've met MSS, Dee, so you know how much fun she is! You're getting more local commenters all the time - bet you'll have an OK Gardenbloggers Gang pretty soon!

    It's like the birds know when MSS is here, Country Girl - the hummingbird appears whenever she's here!

    I'll gladly divide and share stuff you want, Marthachick - wasn't sure how far away you were going but hope all works out well.

    Thanks, Susannah - I'd also been focusing on the B. forficata, but some of the sites described the flower as 3-4 inches and this is 6-9 inches. The pictures on your link do look close, so it's a good bet!

    The usual Bauhinia here is the Anacacho Orchid tree, Lisa at Greenbow - so I was expecting something along those lines - this amazed me! It has a faint but pleasant scent.

    It's pretty hard to be cheerful and clever this summer, Frances, but seeing MSS and a bunch of water gardens helped!
    This is the first time I've had crocosmia here - maybe it's late?
    The Amarcrinum are related, but the leaves do not disappear. They are evergreen unless we get really cold weather. I like surprise lilies but have never had them grow for me.

    Thank you for all the comments,


  24. Your amarcrinium sounds wonderful. I had it on my bookmarked list of plants for a scented garden, but wasn't sure whether it actually grew well down here. Good to know. :)

    The bauhinia is really cool, too. I bet that the white petals really look like butterflies in a breeze, too. Is its blooming season normally this late in the year?

    I'm envious of all of the unusual plants you have blooming. I'm down to the old standbys-- roses, coneflowers, and verbena.

  25. What an incredible white flower of the Bauhinia. I looked it up, and it looks like it's a tropical tree, is that right? So pretty, does it have a scent?
    I thought I'd like to grow it, but unfortunately, Ireland is far from tropical! It doesn't look like we'll have a proper summer at all this year, with all the cold and rain.


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