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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, September 28, 2008

Shutter Snapping, Spraying & Shopping

Does anyone out there know what caused these bumps on clematis buds? I've never noticed them before this year. Vertie is taking an entomology course - maybe she'll know the answer.
After that bud opened the flower still looked pretty against the white wall, but the bumps showed through the reddish-purple petals as white spots.
Root Beer Plant/Piper auritum has huge leaves that are used in Central Mexican cuisine. It's more common name is Hoja Santa and its odd white flowers were so hard to photograph that I just listed them for bloom day instead of showing them. I hope this photo can finally give you an idea of what they're like. I also hope the photo will enlarge if you click on it.
Although the Hoja Santa planted in a border is struggling, this plant is in a container and had enough water to bloom. Mine are interesting novelties but the Hoja Santa at EastSide Patch is a major player in the landscape!

Last October Pam/Digging took us along when she visited the Chicago Botanical Gardens. and showed us Salvia madrensis. I found a pot of this tall yellow-blooming salvia at the Natural Gardener last spring and watched it grow slowly from a small plant to its present seven-foot height. Can you see it peeking out behind the plumeria? No wonder its common name is Forsythia Sage! But it's so tall that any photos of the blossoms are either lost in green foliage or washed out against the unrelenting blue sky.
So many things that I want to photograph are way over my head! This mockingbird has been singing non-stop. I watched the bird for half-an-hour as it flitted from one branch to another within the canopy of a large yaupon. I'd previously noticed mockingbird feathers scattered in several places around the front garden and wonder if one of the wandering neighborhood cats caught this bird's mate.
Is he disappointed in love or just dismayed that the gardener was too busy taking pictures to brush out and refill the birdbath?

Philo and I had a great time at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market yesterday - a friendly, lively place with live music, wonderful food and many cool plants.

I'm still browsing through recipes for the White Patty Pan squash but these incredibly delicious tomatoes, the wonderful whole wheat pita from the Mediterranean Chef and delicious Rosemary-Spinach pesto from Sgt Pepper's Sauces didn't need any recipes!
This small Kaffir lime tree was only $6! The leaves are used as flavoring, especially in Thai cooking. (This is something I learned from the movies - not from real life.) It's a tender tree so I'll grow it in a container and bring it inside during cold weather.

We scooped the last gallon of compost tea from the Ladybug Products booth. Fresh compost tea is perishable - buying it meant we had to use it in the garden within a few hours. We sprayed it everywhere and hope it helps the plants deal with the stresses of this year.
Last night I took the camera out to play with the night flash again, snapping one of the geckos that hang out under the roof overhang.
Because the intense yellow of the Forsythia Sage/Salvia madrensis didn't show up against the sky in daylight, I got the idea to see how it looked with the night flash. Pretty dramatic, isn't it?
I then turned the lens to the Moonflower vine/Ipomoea alba once again, using the night flash to see its heart, glowing like a star in the night.

Today is the last day of the Austin City Limits Fest - and as a loyal Austinite, I'm glad the crowd stayed dry. But once the fest is over, I sure wish we could sing along with the Beatles to September In The Rain.


  1. You seem to be having a lot of fun with your new camera, and it is helping you, and us, see your garden in new ways. I do like that Forsythia Sage, and since Pam saw it at the Chicago Botanical Garden, I guess that means it would be hardy in my garden?

    I don't know what those bumps on the clematis are. They almost seem too symmetrical to be caused by an insect, but you never know! Stranger things occure in nature.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. Thanks for sharing the pictures. If you find a good recipe for Patty Pan squash, let me know. I just saute like zucchini and the crowd is less than thrilled.

  3. What is the clematis Annie? I would love one that flowered at this time of year. Glad you had success with the Salvia madrensis- mine succumbed to the winter cold. i would so like to have a yellow one. I would also like a kaffir lime tree. What a bargain you got and it looks so healthy. Cute little face on the gecko. Do you know why they call it a gecko?- we decided we knew the answer to that when we were in the Philippines. We had a gecko in the bedroom and its call is gecko, gecko, gecko winding down as it goes. It was 10 times larger than anything I have seen here.

  4. Hi Annie, I am in awe of your new camera. Would you mind sharing the make and model? If you mentioned it before I must have missed it. Of course reading the book might help too, but Christmas will be coming up here before you know it, Lowe's has their fake trees up already, and I have a good idea of a present for me that would make me very happy! Love your salvia, doesn't Chuck B. grow that too in CA?

  5. Your night photos are lovely. I think my favorite this time is the bird on the birdbath--but partly because your caption for it is so funny.

    Glad you're having fun with your camera. You'll be all ready for next Saturday's Open Days tour...not having camera failure problems like at the pond tour.

  6. Carol - the Forsythia Sage was in the Annual garden in Chicago, and it might be annual here if we get a bad winter!
    Maybe the bumps are like allergic hives?

    My cheap gene kicked in when I saw them, Kathy - they were only 50 cents each. A few of the online recipes call for $10 of ingredients to make them into stuffed patty pans. I'll keep looking!

    This clematis was mismarked so it's some unnamed hybrid, Lancashire Jenny. My other clematis also bloom in spring, look awful all summer, then bounce back and rebloom in fall.
    I love the gecko story!

    It's no secret, Frances - it's a Canon PowerShot A590, fancy enough for what I need, and it fits in my pocket. You don't seem to need any help with your photography, however!
    Chuck's wonderful garden is so packed with unusual plants that the Salvia madrensis could be in there somewhere. Fellow Austin blogger Tara from Fifty Acorns was also growing this plant, but I don't know if she took it with her when she moved.

    Thank you very much, MSS at Zanthan - when I saw that mockingbird I felt guilty...but took the photo first!
    Getting photos on big tours isn't something at which I excel, but I'll take the camera along, just in case ;-]

    Thanks from Annie

  7. What an amazing color that clematis is! Striking! Your photos are lovely -- I'm glad you're enjoying your new camera. :)

  8. Dee/reddirtramblingsSun Sep 28, 07:34:00 PM 2008

    Annie, that was a fun tour with you around and above the garden. Great photos. I don't know what the bumps are, but they're like the ones on okra blossoms.~~Dee

  9. Hi Annie, looks like you're having fun with your new camera! Great photos! Love the gecko and the mockingbird shots. Love the night shots! They're very dramatic.

  10. Wow! You got that forsythia sage to show up wonderfully. I also love the mockingbird photo from below. How cool and you have lots of pretties.

  11. Annie - Let me say first that your photos with the new camera are great. I love the night photo of the Forsythia Sage - wow - that's impressive. You did get a good deal on the Kafir Lime tree - I used to have one in the ground but lost it last winter - love to put the leaves in Thai soup with noodles and peppers and cilantro and shrimp!

  12. Your night photos are great Annie. That gecko seems to be playing peek-a-boo with you. It is a great idea to picture light colored blooms during the night. The dark background makes them pop.

  13. You've definitely got the knack for the night photos, Annie. And your day ones are mighty nice too. I'm still wowed by the moonflower vine. I took a few pics of mine this evening, but I haven't uploaded them yet to see whether they turned out. Thanks for the link, by the way.

  14. You got some great pictures. I am glad you are enjoying digital photography. I tried to get moonflowers this year but plants and seeds were all gone by the time I shopped...maybe next year.

  15. My salvia madrensis was killed the first winter it saw and that was not a very cold one either. Pretty yes, but I think it would be better in a pot if you want to keep it.
    Wish I could manage a camera like that regardless of the brand of camera.

  16. Your night photos certainly are dramatic. I've never seen a salvia that would grow that tall! It's always interesting to see some of the unusual--to me--things growing in your Austin garden, Annie. The Hoja Santa as well as the Kaffir lime sound very exotic; I don't think they would grow in my Illinois garden. And the only geckos we see are in TV commercials:)

  17. Hi Annie, I think that might be scale but it's awfully hard for me to tell without a specimen. You knew that was coming, right? Were you able to pick one of the spots off? Was it a scaly (no pun intended) covering? Could you pull it open?

    However, like Carol said, that is an awfully symmetical alignment.


    My Hoja Santa bit the dust this summer. Yours look great, and I'm sure it smells wonderful.

  18. Hello NancyBond-it's a relief when that clematis has revived each fall - they don't like our summers!

    Hi Red Dirt Dee - thank you. I didn't think about okra but it does have that shape.

    Thank you GardenGirl. When I download the photos there are always surprises that I can't see with my own eyes.

    Until we moved to Texas nine years ago, Mockingbirds were just something I'd seen in bird books, Tina. It was fun to catch a photo of one.

    Hi Diana - thank you! The seller told me the Lime should stay in a container and come inside...your experience confirms that advice, and that soup sounds wonderful.

    The gecko may have felt safe since he was about 10-feet up, Lisa at Greenbow. The geckos at eye level ran before I could focus.

    Thank you for liking my photos,Pam at Digging - we all love yours! I'm having fun with that moonflower.

    Hi Tabor. I didn't want that old EasyShare to break, but must admit the new one is fun. Good luck with moonflowers next year.

    Welcome Anonymous. I'm sorry the S madrensis didn't live through your winter. What zone are you in? The websites suggest this Salvia can survive zone 8 and I'm in 8B so have fingers crossed.

    Hello Prairie Rose! Salvia madrensis is from the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico and it's an annual in the north. I think people take cuttings to root and overwinter.
    The Kaffir Lime will also come inside. My zone 8B garden is on the edge of the safe zone for the Hoja Santa so you're out of luck on that one, too.
    The gecko didn't speak in an Australian accent!

    Scale I would recognize. The bumps don't appear to be anything extraneous, Vertie, but structural. More like the stretch marks made if you pressed a pencil point into a thin plastic film without actually puncturing it. Maybe something lived inside and emerged when the bud opened?
    Sorry about the hoja santa - was it in the ground? If it had time to make runners you might be surprised to see shoots far away from the original plant!

    Thanks for the comments,


  19. If it isn't Earwig damage, it's weird bumps on the Clematis bloom. Because the marks are so symmetrical, I suspect some sort of mechanical damage during bud formation, possibly caused by an insect, but it sure is a mystery.
    That is one funky flower on the Hoja. It almost reminds me of an Arum. Your photos are so wonderful, but I especially like the peeping Gecko. It's so cute.

  20. Hi, Annie. This is a test. I'm trying to help Dee.

  21. MMD, about an hour ago I cut the bumps apart on a few petals and found nothing inside. Maybe it's like an allergic human getting hives?

    Kathy at Cold Climate - clicking your took me directly to your page. Hope you can help Dee!


  22. Annie, those are absolutely smashing night shots! Wow, wow, wow. I have Salvia madrensis in several places but I have yet to find a spot where it seems really happy. Or maybe it's that I have yet to find a spot where I'm happy with IT! Mine send out runners which turn into baby plants. Lancashire Rose/Jenny, I'd be happy to bring you some on my next trip to Austin.

  23. Do thrips feed on Clematis? That looks a lot like the bumps I see on daylily buds from thrips. Never that tidy and symmetrical though.

    Kaffir limes are tough plants, or at least mine is. I leave it in the unheated garage all winter and it never complains. The flavor of the leaves is intriguing - we use them on chicken wings and on top of some Thai curries.

  24. Great job on your pictures, especially the moonflower! White is difficult to photograph especially at night.

    It has been a crazy, busy summer and I haven't been blogging or visiting as much as I'd like. I'm not sure how my blogroll got so messed up but somehow your blog was accidentally deleted as was several other favorites. I became dependent on Blotanical for blog updates and didn't notice until now that you had been deleted too. I have added you back now. Sorry about that.

  25. I loved the little camera-shy gecko! Your Clematis is very dramatic in spite of the "bumps". I wonder if it is some kind of fungus? Your moonflower is heavenly. I have it on my ever-growing list of things to plant next year.

    I have a personal question. Feel free to not answer, if you don't want to...Did you ever work at an antique mall? I could swear (I know, I know, I shouldn't)I know you and worked with you AGES ago.

  26. MMD - now I see one or two bumps on other buds so the symmetry may have been coincidental.

    I noticed that the Hoja santa flowers also resemble their houseplant cousins the Peperomias.

    Thank you Cindy from Katy! I haven't seen runners on the Salvia but will watch out for them. Whether it survives winter here is another question!

    Entangled, wouldn't thrips shrivel the buds and stop them from opening? The flower was full-sized.
    Thanks for the lime advice - hope I can get it to grow enough to snitch some leaves!

    Thanks Robin of Nesting Place - the Moonflower photo surprised me! I have a terrible time taking white flowers in the daytime here, and the advice about overcast days is useless this year. I might try taking other white flowers with the night flash.

    Thanks for adding me back to your list!

    Hi Morning Glories in Round Rock - the gecko was so high up and so tiny that I couldn't see his fingers until I downloaded the photo onto the computer - a fun surprise.
    There aren't any antique malls in my past, but you're not the first person to think we've met before, although sometimes it turned out they lived in Texas and I was still in Illinois at the time! Guess I just have one of those 'mom' kinds of faces?

    Thanks for the comments!


  27. Annie: I will send you some rain...it has been raining here for about a week! Love those photos especially the yellow Salvia madrensis because it is so dramatic. My moonflowers are fading from the lowering light levels and the coolness but I did enjoy them this summer. So white!

  28. Hi Annie, Some flowers are next to impossible to photograph. Your idea of night flashing is a good one! Maybe I can capture the salvias that keep hiding their beauty in blurry faced photos... gail

  29. Annie, I think it depends on how many thrips there are. On the daylilies, especially the light-colored ones and if there aren't too many thrips, you never even notice a problem once the flower is opened. The buds though, have those weird projections all over them.

  30. Annie, I have not grown clematis, sorry.

    I'm in Austin too, originally from Canada, and the Neal Sperry book was my bible when I began the Zone 8 quest.

    Almost time to put in pansies, my favorite flowers!! Gotta love this zone.

    Found your blog by the "songwriting" tag on Blogger, as I write songs too and how serendipitous you're in Austin.


  31. Thanks for stopping by my site, Annie.

    I like your beautiful blog a lot, it looks like you've got many cool things going for you. I'd love to have a listen to your botanically-based songs some time. Don't be too quick to judge them as being too specific - you never know! The reason I'm writing a musical around my songs is they are pretty specific too. Can't fit them into Nashville so I'm fitting them into something that works best for me!

    I'm jazzed about said musical, got some good ideas on the plot-line today. Parts of it are still nebulous but my ah-ha moment today was that it'll be set at an outdoor cafe. Yay!

    Best to you.

  32. Ooh that night flash photo turned out impressive indeed!

  33. I hear you about the rain? How long has it been, I don't even remember. Just looked and saw we have a chance of rain coming up in a week- but who knows if that forecast will hold.

  34. I have a 2-CD set of garden songs that my friend Ron made for me. I want to listen to yours, but can't tonight. I will be back. So cool that you write them. I have a lot of clematis but none of them have ever had that problem--the bumps are strangely regular!

    Th garden looks great.

  35. Thanks for the photo tour. I truly enjoyed it. It reminded me that tonight my moonflower has three blossoms all together in a group on top of the pergola. Beautiful.

    My favorite photo was the gecko. How adorable he is!

    Enjoy your camera. I sure enjoyed what you did with it.


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