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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.


  1. Happy Birthday to your Aunt Helen, she sounds like a wonderful person, and what fun it must be to listen to her talk about her childhood and the "good old days".

    Love the red, white, and blue flowers and even though I have professed that I don't like red flowers, I do like those Oxblood Lilies for some reason.

    I have no idea what is happening with your pictures. "So far" that hasn't happened for me, but if it does, I'll try to help you figure it out.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your Labor Day weekend, stay cool!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. Congrats to Aunt Helen! I am also lucky to have an aunt of established years, she is just 87 but the stories are fun to hear aren't they and they link us to a very different time. I was just thinking about how life used to revolve around the start of school and getting the kids off with their new shoes and lunch packs. Does the past always seem so much simpler or do we just forget its' subtle complexities. Love your red, white and blue combos.

  3. Happy Birthday Miss Helen! Annie, I think any color of blue is pretty amazing in the garden and can represent that color in the flag. As to Blogger, I use Wordpress, so I'm no help there. It seems to have a mind of its own. Happy Labor Day.~~Dee

  4. A happy birthday to your Aunt! It's wonderful to have family members like these who can help pass down family history and memories. We've had a couple similar celebrations this year, including my husband's aunt's 90th birthday. I can only hope that if I live to be that age that I am as full of life as she is!

    You certainly have a patriotic garden, Annie. I've never seen "Schoolhouse" lilies before; I think I might just have to try to find some.

    I've never had the photo experience with Blogger that you have, but I can understand your frustration. I still have not figured out why it wants to add random spacing or eliminate other spaces I've purposesly added.

  5. You have some great red, white and blue. Happy Birthday to your aunt!

  6. That's so frustrating! Are all of your photos the same size when uploaded? The only thing I can think of that may be happening is that if some of them are just a tad bigger on the long dimension, maybe the program has a default setting that thinks that they need to be rotated 90 degrees so that they will fit on the page? It's just a guess.
    Your Lily

  7. Happy birthday to your aunt. I see a family resemblance, and perhaps you inherited her gift for the piano?

    My oxblood lilies have petered out for the moment, but yours look like they're going strong. Sorry for your Blogger frustrations, but those red cherries look beautiful anyway---kind of like the Turk's cap cherries, aren't they?

  8. Hi Carol - I'll pass the good wishes along to our Eyewitness to History and am glad you finally see a red flower to like!
    There are so many things about blogger that are mysteries to me.
    Eat some of those wonderful tomatoes and eggplant and think of me!

    Layanee - those stories are family treasures! Maybe the past only seems simple through the rear view mirror? We can look at things objectively once we've survived them!

    I'll pass your greeting along, Dee of Red Dirt, and love all my blues! Wordpress and Typepad have their own quirks, I guess.

    Thank you Prairie Rose - once we had the ability to scan & trade photo files, Aunt Helen also could identify the people in old group shots which was invaluable.

    The garden has every color I can stuff in it, but these flowers decided to show off for the weekend. The Schoolhouse lilies are zone 8 - you'd have to protect them somehow.
    The spacing also bugs me...as does the way other photos retain their orientation but migrate down the page!

    Thanks Tina - and I'll pass along the wishes!

    Hello dear Lily - the photos are very close in size to each other and mine are actually all pretty small in comparison to the enormous pictures other people upload to Blogger. Philo has been investigating and experimenting too, but so far it's still a mystery. Hope your weekend is good!

    Hi Pam/Digging - on behalf of my Aunt, thanks for the greetings, and on behalf of me, thanks for thinking I look anything like her! She looks like a movie star in her old photos.

    I planted one clump of Oxbloods in fall 2004 - they still open first. The lilies from MSS of Zanthan are all over, with different sun exposure, so are at all stages of development...hope that will keep them blooming for a long time!

    Thank you for the comments,


  9. Happy Labor Day to you & Philo, Annie, and a very happy 98th to your aunt. Your garden is putting on quite a show of patriotism ... love that Butterfly Pea vine. I wish I'd remember to plant it sometime!

  10. Happy Labor Day, Annie and Philo! Hope you can relax among the beautiful flowers tomorrow.

    Mike Z

  11. Annie, Thank you for posting on Labor Day. We can thank early labor organizers for so much that we take for granted! Your Aunt lived at a time when workers had few rights, but then she can probably tell those stories better! So sorry you are missing being with all your Illinois family.

    I can't imagine what is up with blogger, I have similar problems with spacing, and centering that Rose has but so far it has left my photos alone!

    A happy and safe holiday to you, Philo and all your family.


  12. Happy birthday to dear Aunt Helen, that was my mother's name also. You have a treasure in her, how wonderful for you all. I am the oldest living person from my family, believe it or not, and there are still many people in the old photos that no one can identify, meaning I don't know who they are. Your flowers are so bright and fresh, I am amazed that you still have balloon flowers with your heat. I deadheaded mine after reading how you could keep yours going, but they gave up the ghost anyway. It is in the nineties here again, but the light is different and the days are shorter and all the stores are stacked to the ceiling with mums. Have a happy holiday, Annie.

  13. You are fortunate to have an Aunt who can share her memories of her youth. I came late to the hobby of genealogy and wish so much that I had my father's stories about his ancestors. I have a few tapes of my mother but did not appreciate how little time there was left for her. Happy birthday Aunt Helen.
    I love your red white and blue theme. I have plenty of orange in my garden so let's hope this signals fall is around the corner- or at least some cooler temperatures.

  14. I hope your Aunt Helen had a fantastic day!

    Your photos make me calm... My three came-with-the-house Oxbloods never bloom until late September or early October, but I can wait.

  15. So your oxblood lilies are blooming already? I expected mine to bloom while I was away since it began raining the day I left. However, it looks like only two did. I see the rest are nosing up but I will have to water them to make them come out or wait until nature brings more rain.

    Happy birthday to your rockin' Aunt Helen. There's something warm and familial about everyone gathered around the piano singing. I lack any musical talent so envy those who have them.

  16. Happy Birthday to Aunt Helen. I had an Aunt Helen too. It is wonderful that she has so much family history to pass along to you. I hope you have it all written down. I can see from the photo where you get your musical talent. Your Red White and blue flowers are gorgeous Annie. Happy day...

  17. Isn't it wonderful talking to people who lived way back in history? Your aunt would have been alive when the Titanic sank, albeit a tiny girl. That's so amazing. Please wish her a Happy Birthday for me.

    I love your photos - as usual. Well, it certainly feels like fall here. *sigh*

  18. Hi Annie!
    You've got more color going on than I expected, given your hot, dry weather of late! Those oxblood lilies are really cool, but I wonder if they're hardy up here? I'll have to investigate that.

    I have never had that photo problem you're experiencing, but I wonder if it has something to do with hosting them on Blogger, because it does funny things with images sometimes. I have all mine hosted at Flickr and they upload just fine at any size (and I usually have the big clickable versions, as you know). Maybe if you switched to hosting at Flickr you might have better luck? It's free w/up to 100mb/month (I never surpass my freebie limit). Email me if you want/need more details.

    Only movie we watched this weekend was another of our highbrow fare: Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantánamo Bay ... and it was a hoot! I usually can't bear HS type movies, but one of my faves that came to mind was Heathers ... I should dig that out and watch it again, hehe.

    Stay cool down there, and hoping more rain will come your way soon!

  19. Happy B-day Aunt Helen! Family may drive us nuts sometimes, but there's nothing quite like them. How great to still have her around.
    I like all your red, white & blue flowers. Sorry Blogger was giving you so much trouble. My Ceratostigma plumbaginoides says "Hi" to yours. It's looking great this year & blooming its head off.

  20. Your Aunt Helen looks like she loves a party. A very happy birthday to her! Isn't it wonderful to sing around the piano...especially with family?
    Music keeps the heart young :)
    How lucky you are to still have her to share her stories.
    Your red, white and blue blooms are a lovely symbol of our nation's colors. The Schoolhouse lilies add a nice bright spot of color, and I always love blue in the garden.
    The whites are pretty too. I love those zinnias and I'll bet the crepe myrtle glows in the moonlight.
    I haven't experienced the photo problem. What a puzzle! I hope the advise about saving with a new file ending continues to work, but hopefully the problem won't recur.

  21. Love your zinnias. Mine let me down this year for the first time in several years. I really missed them.
    Happy birthday to your aunt!


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