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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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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.


  1. Lucky you, to have some rain annie. we are still going trough a drought in southern Portugal. The garden looks beautiful after the rain. And I would be very happy if some Habranthus tubispathus would grow in my garden too.

  2. Annie it looks like your new camera is a great success. Your pictures are just great.

    I can imagine your excitement of the breaking of the drought. Your garden will perk up now.

  3. Annie, your new camera looks like a keeper! Vibrant colors, sharp closeups of your beautiful flowers. And how lucky for you that the rains came in time to revive the garden a bit, so it would be ready for some pictures. I may have to look more closely at that brand/model for myself.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  4. Love that picture of the Gulf frittilary. Yeah the rain!

  5. Annie, your new camera is a wonderful addition to your blog. I can see why you are excited to have it. The hummer picture is pretty darn good considering what you had to do to get it. I've yet to get a hummmer in a photo. It's hard.

    I'm grateful for the rain for all my Austin friends. I was worried about your gardens.~~Dee

  6. Hooray for the rain! Jan and I are in New Braunfels this morning, but I heard on the radio yesterday that it rained pretty good around 5pm in Cedar Park and surrounding areas. Maybe the "glass bowl" was lifted one more time...

    I love the photos of the flowers and even more that you know their names! I am learning, but slowly slowly...

    Mike Z

  7. Annie, I love your new camera! I can't believe those pics are "SOTC" - photographers lingo for "Straight Out of the Camera". Looks great. As does your pretty garden; that rain helped all of us, didn't it? I actually never got over an inch of rain here, but then yesterday I had a surprise light shower in the late afternoon...a little bonus I guess since I still needed more.
    Have an awesome weekend,
    Robin at Getting Grounded

  8. My Crocosmia has been turning brown and dying back and it is only mid-August.

  9. Yippee! The photos are fantastic. I'm so happy you like that camera, as do I. It's quiet, too.

    I love your Copper Lily. Is it relatively easy to find at local nurseries?

  10. I'm rejoicing with you Annie...rain - yay! Great photos of beautiful blooms - yay! And a hummingbird photo - wow! They're hard to capture. I love to watch them chase each other around.
    I'm so glad your gardens had their thirst quenched. Hope you get more!

  11. Seeing all these photos of flowers on the Austin blogs makes me realize that I have been missing out on some plants. Especially those that have shown their mettle and made it through the harsh summer. Hello, next years garden. Love that Persian Shield and I have one shady corner where I think it will work.

  12. The rain looks wonderful. We've been in a dry spell here in TN. Your flowers are soo beautiful. I especially love the blue one. Gorgeous!

  13. Glad you got some rain as well. I'm watching a thunderstorm pass right by my house, with nary a drop hitting us, as I type this.

  14. Hi all - I'll try to get back and answer your comments later, but just had to wish that storm dropped rain on Bonnie before it got here - we just had strong winds and hard rain - another inch in less than an hour.

    Water's still standing on sidewalks and in low spots but it's only been over for a few minutes.

    Talk to you later tonight or tomorrow - and hope someone else is getting some of this rain!


  15. Hi Annie, and all...
    I'm so relieved that you have finally gotten some rain! All those storms I've been trying to channel your way this summer have finally arrived, I hope. You must be literally rejoicing, and here's to more gentle ones your way to really restore the moisture balance.

    *Sigh* ... I sure wish we could make Crocosmia be happye enough for us, but it just doesn't seem to want to cooperate....

  16. PS, pardon the Middle English spelling of "happy."

  17. I love seeing rain on everyone's blogs. You and your new camera seem to have become good friends already. The pics look great. I don't know what's the matter with that Persian shield. Diseased, maybe?

  18. Hi Annie, big yahoo on the new camera, the rain, the hummer and the copper rain lily! We are still without rain here but will wait for the roulette wheel to give us our turn too, love that vision. You sound much happier.

  19. I'm happy you finally got rain. Congrats on the hummer pic. I think you and your new camera will be quite happy together.

  20. Annie, that new camera does indeed take some mighty fine pictures! I love that copper rainlily ... someday I hope to grow it here. Perhaps there will be bulbs available at Houston's Bulb Mart in October.

    I'm so happy for all the Austin bloggers about last week's rains!

  21. Is it me, or is that an especially creepy-looking bee on your Salvia coccinea? I want to say ewww!

    You have a clerodendrum! That's a fancy plant out here. Do the leaves smell bad? I've heard they do. The flower looks complicated.

  22. I'm so glad you got some rain, finally, Annie! My garden is really looking refreshed, and I'm sure that I do too since I've been getting more sleep, thanks to not having to hand-water every morning. ;D

    Your new camera looks like a good choice. I'm impressed that you managed to get a picture of that hummingbird, and the colors look accurate to my eye.

    And yay for the rainlily! I discovered yesterday that someone in my neighborhood underplanted a corner of their front lawn with rainlilies, and the view was spectacular. :)

  23. Annie, I celebrate the rain with you. Also the new camera! Thank you for putting your hand in the Rain Lily photo, I like knowing the size of the bloom! So sweet a face. You've captured it beautifully!

    We finally are having a bit of rain. Watering never is the same as that wonderful liquid falling every where. Plants just perk up and look so happy. I feel like that after a shower!

    Will you plant the same lawn grass? You comment about photos and analyzing the gardens problem areas is a very helpful reminder to me to do just that, thank you!

    Have a wonderful day in the garden.

    clay and limestone

  24. Gintoino, I wish that rain may come to Portugal and to your garden. You had a beautiful GBBD even with drought!

    Thanks, Lisa at Greenbow - so far, so good on the camera. This is more like a crack in the drought than a break - the region still needs more soaking rains but it sure helped.

    It's still being tested but that's a good guess, Carol. There were a few flowers I was itching to photograph!

    I was glad to see that caterpillar, Tina - although the first couple of years there were so many the vine nearly died!

    Thanks Dee of Red Dirt - there is no lack of great hummingbird photos on other blogs so no one is deprived if we can only enjoy our hummers without sharing!
    I hope the other Austin gardens are doing well, too.

    Hi Michael- there are a couple of stations on Weather Underground that are closer to me than Cedar Park - one of them had over 5 inches total for the 5-day period!
    You might not know the names of the flowers but you know how to get good photos!

    "SOTC" is new lingo for me, GetGrounded Robin - and I hope you got some additional rain by today.

    Good to see you, Tabor - these crocosmia were transplanted in May 2007 and the leaves disappeared until this spring - I'm not sure what they're supposed to do normally - did yours bloom?

    Thanks for the recommendation, Iris - but it wasn't quiet until Philo shut off the electronic "on" and "shutter" sounds.
    I have no idea where you get the copper lily. A couple showed up the year after we moved here and I've been encouraging them! The heads sometimes make seeds - I could try to snag some for you.

    You'd been hoping for a break in rain, Kerri - we're sure having different summers! You also have had some darned good hummer photos.

    You never know until you try, Lancashire Jenny! I have another Persian Shield in a large container near the house. It also dies down and has returned for 3 summers. Would that work for you?

    Welcome DP Nguyen - I hope you get some rain, and am glad that you had a chance to meet some otherTennessee Garden Bloggers!

    Bonnie I sure hope another rain storm came over your house and left you a present!

    It helped a lot IVG - and today it appears that Fay is dumping a lot of rain in Georgia and Alabama...also hard and fast but they need it bad.
    I'm not sure if the Crocosmia is happye but at least I saw a few flowers this year. Maybe I'll transplant a few corms to the newer bed in front this fall - I'm trying to get lots of orange up there.

    I was glad to see that you had 2" overnight, Pam at Digging, which was good for your garden. But we're returning to near 100°F today - yipes!
    Some of the Persian Shield plant looks fine - it's just certain stems...Tricia Shirey has me wondering about storm trauma - damage to those branches from wind and small pecan branches landing on the plant.

    May it spin your way, Frances - and give you a good soaking! Although it was probably nice for you to be dry for meeting Tina and the other Tennessee Garden Bloggers. The photo was great and it was nice to see you again!

    Thanks Apple - maybe I can make them used to me someday and get a good photo? I'm just glad they come every day.

    Cindy, are the Copper Lilies showy enough for companies to propagate them? As I told Iris - if any seeds appear, I'll try to catch them for next time you're in Austin. Wonder how long it takes to get a flower from seed?

    The bugged out eyes surprised me when I saw the photo on the screen, Chuck in CA, - I'm too nearsighted to see them well in person.
    The clerodendrum is a fancy plant here, too! Thanks again, Ellen!
    I didn't notice the weird scent until I was disentangling a stem from an errant Blue Butterfly Pea vine and that action made it stink. It might not make it through winter so I'd better take more pictures!

    Hi Lori - your Twitter about the rain made me glad for you, too!
    The colors that this camera produces seem slightly lighter than in person, but they seem pretty true - a big plus!

    I can share pink 'Labuffarosea' if you want any.

    Thanks for the comments -


  25. Hi Gail - thank you. You guessed the reason why you see my hand...one problem with macro photography is that the flowers look great, but with no sense of scale, the photos can't help you know what effect they would have in a garden.

    I'm glad you got some rain - hose water just doesn't give the plants the same zing!

    St Augustine works for me: it's stoleniferous rather than seed-propogated so it's non-allergenic for me (unlike the fescues and bluegrasses we had in Illinois); it can take foot traffic; it grows in the kind of mixed shade that I have and gets little extra water and it was already here so it's established.

    If I throw some compost on the bare spots most places will fill in by themselves. The problem areas -the parkway and three bad spots in the front - are a result of losing the Arizona Ash whose elegy appears on YouTube. Those are the places that need watching and thinking ;-]


  26. Annie, Thanks for the plant ID--I think you hit the nail on the head. We have the purple flowers which was like the 3rd option when I went to Dave's Garden.


  27. Double Yay: Rain (which we'd like to have up this way, if you're done with it there) AND a new camera!

    Love the photos, Annie... and that gulf frit caterpillar is rather scary-looking. I know that's so he doesn't get eaten much, but... well, let's just say I bet it works. :)

  28. I see you're enjoying your new camera. The quality of the photos is much better than what I expected from that model. I've been researching cameras for the last week since mine died. I pretty much skipped over those mid range cameras since the reviews didn't sound promising. I might change my mind about spending $400 for something better when yours does the job.

  29. So glad you have gotten some rain! We're really in need of some here, but we never had the extended drought that you did.

    Interesting contrast in your Persian shields; mine usually perk back up after a good watering. Did the second one eventually revive?

    The new camera did a great job (well, with your help of course)! Congratulations on the hummingbird photo--like you, my hummers don't sit long, so any picture is indeed a triumph.

  30. I'm glad you found a camera you're happy with, Annie. A garden photo camera is a different type than the run of the mill and you were smart to test drive the one and move on to one that works for you. Congratulations on the hummer photo! I, too , have tried to photograph them...once in a garden in Fort Bragg,CA full of them...with no resulting recognizable photo. You did well!

  31. Glad you got some rain, Annie. We have been so fortunate this summer, my gardens are positively lush.

    I don't really like trying to winter over containers, but I have been thinking about rain lilies a lot lately and that last photo has about got me convinced to commit to a potted outdoor perennial.

  32. Annie I'm so glad you got your rain! There is nothing like rain to perk up a garden. Our dams are still dry but I rejoice for you.

  33. Annie, what can I say? It's obvious that you are pretty chuffed with your new camera. ;-) Your pics look great and I am particularly impressed with the one of the bee. It's good to read that the rains have finally come to shower on your garden too. Here we've had too much rain this summer and are longing for a bit of sunshine.

    Happy snapping with your new camera!

  34. Annie,
    Prunus x blireana really is a gem. Not only the blossoms but the burgundy leaves add a special treat to the garden. If yoy wander the woods in my autumn pic. on the right you may be amazed at it's dye potential as well.
    If you want to get more fruit from your Loquat, pick bunches of nearly ripe fruit. They ripen up nicely indoors.

  35. Hi Annie, I'm so glad you got some much-needed rain! Congratulations on your new camera. It looks like a keeper. You've got some great shots here. Your flowers are gorgeous.

    Great catch on the elusive hummer - it's no small feat capturing them on camera.

  36. Congrats on the rain & the new camera! It looks like a keeper. The close up flower shots look great as does the hummer photo. Fantastic!

  37. Lovely photos! I need to get a new camera as well, my digital is maybe 5 or more years old and can barely zoom. Makes it quite tricky to get a nice bird shot! Your cypress vines look great! Such a crazy vine! When is the best time to plant them from seed? I planted some at my old place and they were huge and winding everywhere around the porch but there was no way to take them to the new house. I'd love to get some going at our new house where I'm desperately trying to attract birds!

  38. Congrats on the rain and the camera! I have a Canon PowerShot SD900 Elph, it's a point-and-shoot digital also, and I really like it. Sure, a big fancy SLR would be nice, but this does the job for now! (Mine doesn't have the image stabalization, and I find that I could really use it as I age ;-) I have "Gulf Frit Envy", but I'm growing Dutchman's Pipe vine, so maybe next year...

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  40. Hi Katina - you're welcome! My Rose of Sharon was a couple of passalong seedlings that grew into one shrub...they turned out to be single flowers rather than your doubles, some white and some purple, all with dark crimson eyes...there are a lot of varieties out there!

    It's been a week now Blackswamp Kim, so a little rain would be welcome again. There were a couple of Gulf frit cats and a handful of Passionflower buds - the race is on!

    The camera's working out for me, WiseAcre. And this is as much as I want to spend. One thing I like is that it has the kind of lens that closes automatically rather than the little dangling plastic cap.

    It would be nice to see rain in the right places, which would not include New Orleans, Prairie Rose! The Persian Shield looks worse than ever. Who knows?
    There were a few Monarchs this week and they won't sit still either.

    The other one would probably be great for a different, possibly younger, person, Leslie - with more flexible eyes and fingers! A whole garden full of unphotographable hummers must have been very frustrating.

    Your gardens are incredibly lovely, Healing Magic Hands - and the grapes knocked me over.
    I grew rain lilies in Illinois like dahlias, gladiolus, calla lilies and other summer bulbs...dug up, stored in perlite in a cool, frostfree place and then restarted in spring in pots.

    Hello Arija from Australia! I wish for rain to come to you, soon.
    The burgundy leaves on the flowering plum would be a plus.
    The loquat tree survives in Austin, but freezes mean chancy crops. Last year we had a few delicious fruits. If we're lucky again I'll keep your hint in mind. Thanks!

    Good thing I found this site, Yolanda Elizabet, so I knew what 'chuffed' meant ;-]
    I was chuffed enough to make that bee into a cartoon> on the Addendum. Sure wish we could find a balance between too much rain and not enough, but then what would we complain about?

    Hello Garden Girl Linda -so far it's working well. If we get some more moderate weather there may be something pretty to photograph.

    Thank you very much, Mr McGregor's Daughter.

    Tara, the one that just broke was from 2002 but I still liked it. This one doesn't have an enormous zoom, but I don't want to fool around with tripods so that's okay.
    Planting cypress vines is like getting married in 1950 - it only needed to be done once LOL. They reseed like mad and drive some gardeners crazy but the hummers do love them. They die with cold weather and even when planted in early spring will just sit there until the weather gets warm and then turn into thugs.

    Thanks Lisa - my husband would have liked an SLR, but he'll have to do that on his own. The image stabalization helps if the photographer moves, right? But many times my problem is wind moving the flower.

    Hello Carolyn, thank you for stopping by.

    Thanks to everyone for commenting!



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