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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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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day Red White and Blue

ED 2010 This post mentions problems with photos changing orientation & auto-rotating after being uploaded to Blogger. My flower photos kept being changed from horizontal to portrait and it drove me crazy! The problem was apparently with the camera settings. The facial recognition feature kept seeing flower faces as human faces, but it didn't like the proportion so kept 'fixing' them. There are more details in this post on my Annie's Addendum blog.

With plants still making new leaves, warm muggy nights and daytime weather just a few degrees under 100°F, it sure doesn't feel like autumn around Austin, but the calender says it's Labor Day Weekend, a short period of time set aside for relaxation. This year the holiday weekend is bookended by two national political conventions and threatened by two hurricanes,
Gustav and Hanna. In Austin there are all sorts of events, including the Human Race 10 K , the Austin Triathlon and the 4th Annual Batfest. (Thanks to Austin Metblogs for keeping us informed.)

This weekend my Aunt Helen is celebrating her 98th birthday back in Chicago with our family. Helen no longer plays the piano - but until a few years ago was expected to provide the music when we sang Happy Birthday to her.

The family history we've gathered includes my aunt's memories of what it was like to be a school child at the end of World War One and she also told us about enormous family picnics on long-ago Labor Days.
Her phenomenal memory has made history alive for us.

Thoughts of celebrations, of people in danger, of national pride, of Katrina, of missing my family, of people living long lives and the importance of coming events tumbled around in my head, making me dizzy.

As usual, tumultuous thoughts send me outside, and I found myself looking around for some red, white and blue in the garden to signify the importance of this National Holiday.

Most of the other flowers have been in bloom for awhile, but the Oxblood Lilies, Rhodophiala bifidia, have been open just a few days - nothing is redder than an Oxblood/Schoolhouse Lily..

White will come from the 'Acoma' Crepe myrtles. They have no problem attracting pollinators, and the flowers go to seed faster than I can deadhead the branch tips. It's worth the effort to keep these fluffy flowers coming.

This Evolvolus 'Blue Daze' will keep blooming without deadheading, but it's in a hanging clay pot so needs a little water every day. The color is pretty but might be a little delicate to represent the blue in a flag.
The Blue Butterfly pea has a deeper color, seen here once again with the 'Fuji' Balloon Flower/Platycodon and the Blue Butterfly Flower/Clerodendrum ugandense . All three have been in bloom for weeks with many more buds developing.

Joining the crepe myrtle and white balloon flowers in representing the white stripes on the flag are these little Zinnea linnearis, which have been in bloom for months.

The flowers are pleasing, but the photo is making me see not white but red! What the heck is going on with Blogger? It uploads my photos, which have been formatted in the same way for years, and then chooses photos seemingly at random, rotating them 90º so the landscape photos are turned into portrait mode.

This keeps happening over and over. I've deleted photos, reformatted, deleted entire posts and started over with no good outcome. Does anyone else have this problem? Is there a solution? Help! [Edited Sunday night - check out a possible fix at Annie's Addendum.]

What should be something both attractive and delicious for the red stripes on the flag - 'Cherry Belle' peppers - once again looks ridiculous when the photo has made a quarter-turn to stand on end instead of the right way.

Up in the front of the house we have a Woodland Garden still in an early state of becoming. That's where I found all three colors next to each other - Pigeon Berry/Rivina humilis adds red from the berries and white from the tiny flowers to the small, deep blue blossoms of Ceratostigma plumbaginoides -or leadwort- an old favorite from Illinois that tolerates life in Texas.Here is one more look at the Schoolhouse Lilies as the sun moves down in early evening. The first flowers opened as the local kids returned to school last week. Philo and I rented a couple of movies for this weekend that suit the beginning of school in a twisted sort of way - Charlie Bartlett and Friday Night Lights... I have a feeling these movies will be fun to watch, but they'll also make us glad our school days are over.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Photos After the Rain

I thought my garden was going to be shut out of the rain-game when we'd had none by Tuesday morning. The many posts by rejoicing Austin bloggers made me glad for them, but glum for our part of town. Then the Roulette Wheel of Rain spun around to NW Austin on Tuesday afternoon, and by Wednesday morning the gauge showed an inch-and-three quarters of precious moisture. Hallelujah!

Another half-inch fell Thursday evening - from feeling unlucky we went to feeling very lucky. This afternoon a bonus 3/4 inch came down a little too fast and too hard with more possible over the weekend.

A few weeks ago, worried as the drought continued, I turned on John Dromgoole's call-in radio show, and heard his voice remind us what kind of leafy green vegetables we should plan to plant in late summer and assure us that when the August rains came our gardens would perk up.
Yes, he said when - not if. Maybe John was whistling in the dark, but he made me feel better, and he was right.
During the last few dry months I've hand-watered the borders, shrubs and trees and each day I filled the four birdbaths. Enough moisture traveled through the ground to keep the strips of lawn adjacent to those watered areas alive. In the shady parts of the yard the grass isn't lush but it's alive. In sunny places any grass more than 2-feet from an irrigated section is brown. St. Augustine doesn't go dormant - it dies - so there are completely dead patches and the parkway's in sad shape.
Now is the time to watch, wait, think, and take photos so I can analyze what worked and what didn't and what should be changed.
Did you notice that there are photos today? The last camera didn't work out, so Philo and I bought a different point-and-shoot camera and are experimenting with it. It's fairly simple but with more settings than my old EasyShare.

Unless noted, these photos were uploaded without enhancements - no contrast, no color balancing or sharpening - they're just cut and reduced to 130KB or less - my usual blog photo size - so I can test how they look on the page.

There's enough detail to see that while the blossom of the Blue Butterfly Flower/Clerodendrum ugandense has gone to seed since GBBD, new buds are forming and the blue bloom will go on. I can show you the way rained-on Silver gray Lambs Ears/Stachys byzantina look with orange Crocosmia.
The camera can get in close enough to catch the way neither heat, drought nor storms could destroy the Balloon Flowers/Platycodon 'Fuji White'.
I can get your ideas on why one Persian Shield/Strobilanthes dyerianus plant responded to the rain with entire branches wilting and looking awful...while the second Persian Shield 4 feet away looks refreshed and revived. One was in shade and the other in sun when I took the photos, but in the course of a day they get the same mixture of filtered light.

I can share my excitement at taking a picture of this bee on the Salvia coccinea. It wouldn't be a big deal to most of you but it's my best Bee Photo to date - the EasyShare couldn't do this much.

Today there are no Passionvine flowers, but there's a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar - the first I've seen this year.

Today you don't just hear the news that the seedling Blue Butterfly Pea/Clitorea ternatea vines have reached for the top of the obelisk and are in bloom - I can show it to you

I can also show you a crummy photo of the Cypress Vine/Ipomoea quamoclit which gets daily visits from hummingbirds. Here's an even worse look at one of the hummingbirds - even after I used Photoshop Elements on the picture. My hummers don't hover at feeders but zip quickly around an entire garden planted to entice them. There's nowhere I can hide to sneak a snap so I took it with auto settings from about 15-20 feet away. Even a bad photo of a hummingbird is a triumph when it's the only hummingbird photo in 4 years of trying! I think of this little blur more as evidence than art - Mary's photos of the birds at her feeders can be art. Buying a better camera can't turn me into a bird blogger or a bug blogger or a macro-flower blogger - but I hope that this one will let me illustrate or document the things I want to talk about.

For two years I've tried to take a photo of this native rainlily for the blog. It's called Copper Lily or Habranthus tubispathus . I couldn't make either my EasyShare or the returned camera capture it, but today you can see right down to the pollen why I was so happy that these bright little lilies popped up in my yard.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Jake's Peaches

Last April I told the world the story of Jake's peach tree - the saga of a Harry & David peach pit, planted a few years ago by my sister and her husband and son Jake. In its fourth spring the tree burst into beautiful pink bloom and Red and her family hoped there would be peaches.

Next came a photo of the developing green fruit and then in July the photo above showed them beginning to color.

A week ago my sister Red sent this photo of the ripening fruit with the guy who planted the tree and had faith that it would grow and bloom.

nd she also sent a photo of some peaches in a bowl. They weren't huge, but they were beautiful peaches!

hen a recycled Harry & David box arrived this afternoon - I had to share the joy!

Dear Family,
There's a light fruity fragrance already - maybe Philo and I can sample one of these very special peaches tomorrow. Thank you all - I can't believe you did this!

And Red - sure hope you and sister Josie will have a chance to get to Mamma Mia soon if you haven't already been to the theater together.
I wrote about seeing it this week with my friend MSS over here at Annie's Addendum and don't think there are any real "spoilers' in my post.

I bought the CD yesterday - guess what - the booklet has all the words, so by the time the DVD comes out - I'll be ready.

Now I just hope you are as thrilled with the movie as we are with the peaches!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - August 2008

Last month I posted a list for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day at Annie’s Addendum because my camera broke.

Philo and I ordered a camera. The camera came. It didn’t work out. It went back. We’re still looking.

So it's mainly text in my official entry for Carol at May Dreams August Blooming Day. If you want to leave and visit the blogs with both flowers and cameras don't worry about it! This list is to help me know and remember.

Although I water the borders by hand every few days and the containers every day, some plants that bloomed last month are dead and others have no flowers. That’s not always due to heat and drought – many plants are now in the “off” parts of their bloom cycles, and others were cut back to regrow and perhaps rebloom in fall.

It's August! Even with relatively cool temperatures and early summer rain, last year’s Blooms Day post for August 2007 was still snoozeville for flower-fiends.

Any plant not on the July list but blooming in August has an asterisk.

Abelia chinensis - six shrubs – all with a scattering of flowers.

*Agapanthus sp unknown - Pam/Digging gave me some bulbs of agapanthus about a year and a-half ago. I have them in a very large container with a twisted willow. There are two flower stalks open in a lovely deep blue violet. I tried to capture them in this photo taken by the returned camera but the color and texture is all wrong.

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii,, a native Flame acanthus, also came from Pam/Digging and now has a flush of bright orange tubular flowers.

Antirrhinum majus, – two plants of yellow snapdragons have survived and been in bloom since Christmas!

Buddleja lindleyana, Weeping butterfly bush, many long, drooping, lavender colored flowers.

Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ one orange flower head

Capsicum annuum – a dozen pepper plants have buds, flowers and almost-ready peppers. The birds love the wild Chili pequins.

*Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, also called Blue Leadwort, has a couple of dark blue flowers just opened

*Clerodendrum ugandense – Blue butterfly flower. My friend Ellen gave me a start of this plant in spring. It made two large flower heads in late July. The photo was taken with a borrowed camera a few weeks ago - it's almost done now. .

*Clitoria ternatea- the Blue Butterfly Pea climbed the obelisk and is flaunting bright blue flowers. The Ipomoea Moon vine grows next to it but it got a late start and hasn’t bloomed yet.

*Conoclinium greggii Gregg’s Mistflower – just starting to bloom in front wildflower bed

Coreopsis 'Crème Brulee' (5 plants) has flowers but in fewer numbers than in July

Crocosmia, may be ‘Lucifer’ – sprays of orange flowers on 4 plants – but few buds left to open along the stems

Cuphea ignea, Cigar flower, covered in tiny orange flowers

Cuphea llavea – small pink & lavender form (two plants), covered in tiny flowers

Cuphea llavea –red & purple ‘Batfaced’, covered in flowers

Cuphea llavea 'Georgia Scarlet', covered in red-orange & purple flowers

Dianthus – a few pink and red ‘Telstar’ hybrids haven’t given up!

Echinacea purpurea alba? – a white coneflower with a few drying flowers left

Evolvulus glomeratus, the ‘Blue Daze’ are tough as nails and making flowers

Gaura lindheimerii ‘The Bride’ (two plants), still making a few small flowers on long wands

Gaura lindheimerii, unknown tall rose-pink variety (‘Pink Cloud’?), some flowers

Helianthus, might be a native? This 9-foot tall annual sunflower has more seedheads than buds or blooms right now.

*Hemerocallis ‘Pinocchio’ two flowers – can’t believe it

Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Blue River II’, a few buds – no open blooms.

Impatiens walleriana, bedding impatiens. More than a dozen plants, some with many flowers, some barely alive

*Indigofera amblyantha? A couple of flowers on the pink false-indigo – think that’s the right species

Ipomoea quamoclit, Cypress vine. Many red flowers open each morning and are fried by afternoon. The hummingbirds better be morning persons.

Lagerstroemia indica, pink crepe myrtles. Five were in bloom in July – the sixth has joined them.

Lagerstroemia x hybrida ‘Acoma’ white crepemyrtles (2 trees); they keep blooming if I deadhead

Lagerstroemia indica 'Catawba', in container. I cut off the old blooms a few weeks back and it’s made new buds and blooms.

Lantana, only the white trailing kind is blooming – the others are not blooming and the leaves look hideous– maybe the Lantana lacebugs are sucking them dry.

Lavandula intermedia 'Provence', I cut it back a couple of weeks ago and it’s reblooming

Lavandula multifida, non-stop flowers on this fernleaf lavender. The plant is 8 times the size it was when planted in spring. Too bad it doesn’t smell like lavender.

Liriope muscari, in flower around beds both front, back and side.

Lobularia maritime, Sweet alyssum – one plant still blooming from late winter

Lonicera sempervirens, coral honeysuckle (a couple of flowers)

Lycopersicon lycopersicum, even the ‘Juliet’ grape tomato has slowed - just a couple of flowers

Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem' (one bud up on the top)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (two plants), It’s doing well in the back border – barely alive in front woodland garden.

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii, a few white flowers on two plants. It survives, but the plant has terrible form.

Oxalis crassipes 'Alba' (dotted around and in containers), several blooming

Pelargonium – the coral geranium inside and the red ones on the patio are still flowering. I hope the white ones are “resting” and not “dying”.

Pavonia lasiopetala, pink rock rose. This is a native plant. Every morning there are pink flowers. Every afternoon the flowers dry up. Even thought this plant has plenty of sun and some supplemental water, it’s always covered in mildew. If I had to look at it from the breakfast room window it might be compost, but it’s by the mailbox so I don’t care.

Perovskia atriplicifolia, Russian Sage (two beds), stressed but still not giving up.

Petunia multiflora? Two flowers. I can’t believe it’s even alive!

Phlox paniculata, one plant of my Grandma’s white phlox looks in bad shape – the other one has put up one stalk with a flower.

Platycodon 'Fugi White', (one plant); Platycodon grandiflorus (several plants), Platycodon 'Miss Tilly' (3 plants); Platycodon 'Sentimental Blue'- I keep deadheading and watering these Balloon Flowers and they reward me by pumping out blue and white flowers.

Plumeria sp unknown the red and yellow plumeria have one flowering branch each – they live in large containers that stay in the garage for the winter.

Plumbago auriculata (two shrubs) these two shrubs are over 4-feet tall, growing on either side of the back door and covered in sky blue blue flowers

Poliomintha longiflora, Mexican oregano (3 plants), two have flowers, one looks unhappy. I use the leaves to flavor black beans

Portulaca – assorted Moss Roses and Flowering Purslanes – still hanging on and blooming in red, orange, white and coral

Rosa ‘Julia Child’, no open flowers but a handful of buds

Rosa 'Mutabilis' (two good-sized plants) I keep watering these roses and they keep opening new buds every day.

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus' – a scattering of flowers

Ruellia brittoniana 'Katy'-a few flowers

The ONLY SALVIA that is doing anything is Salvia farinacea…even 'Hot Lips' kissed off Bloom Day

Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ - 4 flowers. This plant was blooming in January…blooming in August…and every month in between.

Scutellaria suffrutescens, pink skullcap (2 plants), lots of tiny blooms

Scutellaria wrightii- a few blue flowers on one of 3 plants

Tradescantia geniculata -still making many tiny white flowers on little water

Verbena bonariensis – produces both flowers for butterflies and hummingbirds and seedheads for goldfinches.

A few plants of white Zinnia linnearis and some rose-colored Zinnias have flowers.

Monday, August 04, 2008

"Texas in May" & "The Pond Song"

If you've been reading this blog for awhile (and have noticed the sidebar) you know that I've written and copyrighted more than a dozen garden songs and that Philo and I have made some of them into videos on YouTube. A few are parodies, but most of them fit together and tell a story - they're part of a musical play called Roots In Austin. This weekend two more of the songs went up on YouTube adding more pieces to the story.

When I wrote "I Don't Want to be in Texas When It's May" more than 4 years ago, it was an attempt at writing poetry. My comic, nerdy love poem to Lilac Time in Lombard seemed to be lyrics, so I asked my son Ted for help. Ted wrote music for the lyrics and our song became a favorite at family gatherings. Our song is now a video - it went up this weekend on Ted & Diane's YouTube station. (he and his wife Diane are professional musicians). You'll be blown away by Ted's amazing music.

While this musical surprise was cooking up in Chicagoland, Philo and I hung out in the air-conditioning, working on our latest music video here in Austin. We've had a love affair with ponds for decades ..... maybe it began when we were college students? We saw beautiful ponds while on cheap dates at the zoos, museums, parks and conservatories in Chicago and the surrounding area. Most of them were public ponds back then, but in the 1990's ponds popped up in gardens that we knew... Cher's garden in Lombard, Ellen's in Villa Park, Trudi Temple's in Hinsdale. They were wonderful but still rather rare. Pond construction and care is difficult in a place where the ground freezes deep and the water becomes a block of ice.

Then our move to Austin in 1999 revealed a great big world of man-made ponds and streams behind the fences and walls. There are cold days and freezes in Central Texas, but they're not so deep, and a pond is a year-round feature here. We started going on the annual tours hosted by The Austin Pond Society and I've written posts about them ever since this blog began.

Now it's time to share the love by using years of images of ponds from all over the Austin area to back music from the play - we put "The Pond Song" up last night on
Annie and Philo's YouTube Station.
Please spend a soothing, cool three minutes with us in the middle of this long hot summer.

If you're interested in seeing how the songs fit together and reading about the various characters who would be singing these songs if it ever became a reality, please check out the new blog about the play, Roots In Austin.

Edited August 17...Austin blogger Michael Ziegler has taken some lovely photos of some stops on the 2008 pond tour. Actually he takes lovely photos of all sorts of things - thanks for leaving a comment at my 2007 pond post, Michael!