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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, November 09, 2008

The Shadiest Time of the Year

This is our fifth autumn in this house and as each October ends we've noticed that the air-conditioner seldom kicks on no matter how warm the day. The sun is so low that it can't penetrate the still-full, green canopy of the two tall pecan trees to heat the rooms on that end of the house. The east end of the garden gets sun in the morning, but by the middle of the day the back garden is all shadows. As the sun swings around to the west around 3 PM, it illuminates the outside edge of the garden along the fence and then shines on the vegetable patch. Spanish Spice peppersAfter barely surviving the long hot summer, the pepper plants obey their biological imperative, using the sun at low power to reproduce and set a couple of dozen peppers. We'll let the peppers run their race to grow until the freeze warning comes - and will be glad to have even a small crop!

In late afternoon enough sun falls on the Secret Garden to trigger a few Confederate Rose blooms. Hibiscus mutabilis is a close relative of hardy Hibiscus like my 'Blue River II'. Hibiscus mutabilis, Confederate RoseConfederate Rose can grow to tree size in Austin if sited well, but my small plant is new this year - a passalong from my friend Carole, it's still in a 10" container.

Camellia sasanqua 'Shishi Gashira' Enough sun fell through the pecan leaves to set buds on the Camellia sasanqua 'Shishi Gashira' a few months ago. The taller, older Camellia japonica did not enjoy this summer. It looks stressed and may have a handful of flowers this winter. In contrast this little sasanqua didn't seem to suffer one bit and is prepared to open dozens of blossoms.

When I wrote about berries in October I had to leave out the most spectacular berry in our yard - a tall Yaupon near the gate. The paperbark type of birch tree was always something I admired for decades but could never own. They didn't do well in Illinois and could not survive here. Now the sight of bright berries, beautiful trunks and white bark have vanquished any longing for birches... I love my yaupon!

Brugmansia buds in progressThe morning sun is enough to make these Brugmansia set buds but they develop more slowly than they did a month ago. If frost comes too soon these buds will never become yellow trumpets and the peppers and warm weather annuals will die and these passionvines will turn to threads, but the garden won't go to sleep.

Instead, as the pecans let loose their leaves, the winter sun will shine through the spaces between the bare branches.
Loquat Tree in BloomWhen the shadows turn again to sun it will be time to plant pansies and snapdragons, alyssum and dianthus. The loquat will keep opening fragrant flowers and when we take our coffee out to the patio, we'll be glad to have the patio umbrella over our heads.


  1. Hi Annie!
    Your garden looks so inviting and lovely for November ... not so for ours, of course! It will be interesting to see how our back yard is next year once we get the rest of that downed maple out!

    I'm glad you got a few peppers, because as I've complained over the summer at my place, ours were a fiasco. They did perk up once things cooled down, but couldn't grow fast enough to develop any real fruit. Maybe next year....

    I've heard of that Confederate Rose before and was interested in it because it's a hibiscus, but what an odd one! It really does look like a wild type rose! Fernymoss is probably happy that it's not hardy here or I'd have to have one! :-)

    Interested in a Blue River original (not II)? Mine has tons of seed pods on it, hehe.

  2. Hi Annie, that looks like some welcome shade for a hot climate like yours. It made me a little chilly! I can imagine the sun streaming in when the leaves drop and the life that will give to the plants. I adore yaupons too, what a graceful grower it is.
    So sorry you didn't get to go to Peckerwood, I would love to hear your impressions of it.

  3. Most of my plants are now going dormant to the ground or losing their leaves. Fall is here in full force and my pansies are in their pots.

  4. Hi Annie, I can see why you love the yaupon. It's beautiful. Your November garden is gorgeous. Your peppers look wonderful! I'm looking forward to having a veggie garden next spring!

  5. Any color is welcome here this time of year, so thanks for sharing yours. I'm certain that there are some lovely berries out back here but I can't see them from the window. I dug up my hibiscus and brought it inside hoping to save it. Your's is such a pretty color that I hope it grows into a large shrub quickly.

  6. Annie, your chair sitting in that shade would be a magnet for me. I would love to be sitting there enjoying your shaded garden. Looking at your plants make me feel like you are in a tropical area but when you mention a freeze I know it isn't so.

  7. Annie,

    I always enjoy walking and talking with you in your garden....btw, the hibiscus unfurls to a beautiful flower, your passion vine in flower is spectacularly exotic and who wouldn't love the Yaupon Holly....it is a perfect little southern gentleman.

    Have a lovely day in your garden shaded by pecan trees!


  8. What a lovely walk around your garden. I just love this time of year. It's as though the garden takes a big sigh of relief from the heat of summer and puts on a final show of the season. The Yaupon is beautiful, and I know the birds appreciate the berries.

  9. Annie,
    It looks as though you still have a lot going on in your garden. You have so much shade it must be wonderful in the Summer. I love the passion flower blooms!-Randy

  10. The confederate rose is so pretty. I see more and more of them growing in my area. I am convinced that the zones are changing!

  11. Although we can grow many of the same plants it is always interesting to me that the timing is not the same...my sasanqua is finished already. I'm glad for you that you get this lovely time to enjoy your garden before the freeze decides to hit.

  12. Annie, I never realized the Confederate Rose was in the hibiscus family! Thanks for that beautiful picture of it. I love those red berries, too - I have them on my pyracanthea instead of the Yaupon, but they look similar. thanks for sharing these fall photos.

  13. Posts like yours teach me - again - that garden bloggers inhabit different climates. Imagine getting peppers in November! My first lettuce crop has already been consumed by squirrels.
    Your camellia pics are lovely. I've never found a happy place for them to inhabit in my yard, and have finally stopped planting them, only to see them languish and die.
    Hope you enjoy your shady autumn, and get all your planting done while the seasons permit

  14. I'm sure there's a lot more loveliness to come in your garden, Annie. I used to have yaupons aplenty in my garden but dug them up and gave them away when seized by a new vision. I do love their beautiful red berries ... maybe I'll look for a weeping yaupon to serve as a specimen tree.

  15. That's just the kind of shade I'd love to have. It seems a bit dappled, the kind that lures you out to sit a spell and enjoy the garden. Grow, trees, grow!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  16. Hello IVG - just remember it was not that inviting when we had 50 days of 100 degrees! Peppers are very iffy in our garden, too. I really need to rethink and research better techniques before spring.

    The shade isn't as dense in summer when the sun comes in through the top.

    Frances - and in spring when it was so hot the leaves hadn't expanded so it wasn't shady then.
    Diana did a great job of organizing the Peckerwood Tour and Pam/Digging has links to the bloggers who went - I'm enjoying all the posts!

    Tabor, frost will come here too, and lots of trees and plants will lose their leaves. We're definitely sub...not tropical!

    Thanks be to whatever previous owner planted the yaupon tree, Garden Linda! In IL we frequently got one last pepper-picking in late October - this isn't too far off.

    You have a much tougher winter, Apple - I sure hope your hibiscus will make it inside. And maybe next spring plant something with berries where you can see it through the glass?

    Lisa at Greenbow, we Austin gardeners can't resist pushing the zone limits, planting things that need covering or taking in... not sensible but fun!

    Thank you very much, Gail. The yaupon is actually a tall & handsome Southern gentleman - it's the tree form and is now about 12 feet tall!

    Hi Morning Glories in Round Rock - that's a good analogy... a sigh of relief. If we'd get some rain we'd all be relieved!

    Randy, the shade is not so deep in summer but very welcome. That passionvine sat without flowers for months, and now has a dozen buds and blooms.

    A neighbor has the one that opens white - must be 10-feet tall, Phillip. The owner told me it's been there for years and years. Maybe you can find a microclimate?

    The similarity in our plant list has intrigued me too, Leslie - and this is early for my sasanqua. It blooms right before Christmas in some years.

    Those hibiscus plants get around, don't they, Get Grounded? Even okra fits in that category! Pyracantha is beautiful, but the thorns are deadly - think I'll keep the yaupon ;-]

    Weeping Sore, maybe I notice this dense November shade more because it didn't happen in the north? But we had peppers up there until frost killed the plants.
    The bigger camellia is not happy but is not dead, so while there's life, there's hope!

    We planted the dwarf round hedging kind of yaupons at our previous Austin house, Cindy in Katy and they were okay, but this tall tree form really won my heart. I'll bet it's pretty old!

    Carol, the tree is plenty big, thank you! Don't encourage it to shade the vegetable patch ;-]

    Thank you for all the comments,


  17. You would never believe that this was a November garden. I love the confederate rose. Such pretty petals and your Brugmansia. I heard them threaten frost for this next weekend but like as not it will just be at our house!

  18. The yaupons are always so spectacular! My camellia is just starting to get some buds on it so I look forward to seeing how it will do in it's 2nd year in the ground.

  19. Great photos ... and looks like an equally great spot, thanks to those pecan trees.

  20. I will have to smell me some loquat blossoms. Those trees are planted everywhere here, yet I have not made the acquaintance of their fragrance.

  21. Interesting that the C. sasanqua didn't mind your hot dry summer. I planted my first 2 of those in the spring, and was very surprised that they did so well during our hot dry summer (not as hot and dry as yours though). They were tiny plants and one even has a flower bud.

  22. It's so nice to see all these blooms in your garden, Annie. It's freezing here in Illinois, and the garden is barer of blossoms each day.

    I'd never heard of the yaupon before, but I can see why you love it--a gorgeous tree!

    I am envious of your camellias and fresh peppers at this time of year, but I remember now how hot and dry it was for you this summer--you deserve this lovely time in the shade!

  23. You have some lovely mature trees to provide much needed shade to part of your garden, Annie. And I love your Yaupon, it's a winner!

    We both garden in zone 8 but time and time again I'm struck by the fact that you are having far too much sun as I have far too little. You are running for cover when the sun is out while I try to catch every available ray of sunshine. Both in zone 8 but as like as chalk and cheese.

  24. In the shade of the pecan trees...a good beginning for your novel. How inviting you garden is at this time of year. I enjoyed walking through it with you.

  25. Having a post about how, this time of year you're air conditioner doesn't run much is SO cruel... 17 degrees here last night in Iowa!


  26. Oooh, I like that Confederate rose! I haven't heard about it before, but I the twisted-looking petals are pretty cool-looking.

    I particularly love fall this year because it's stayed cool for most of my fall flush of roses. They've been at their peak for at least a week now, whereas in the summer everything would open and be done within a day. And is it just me, or is the garden far more fragrant now than it is any other time of the year?

  27. I have an east facing house, and the front is bathed in sunlight every morning. The description could very well have been of my garden except that I couldn't have put it as beautifully.

  28. We have had a hard freeze already and everything is looking very early winter here. We had a little bonfire last night to get rid of some of the last of the trash from the ice storm two years ago. Had to burn the leaves from the vineyard in an attempt to keep the fungus from reproducing. They had just a little copper sulphate residue left on them from when Jim was battling the black rot fungus during the spring and early summer with Bordeaux mix on them. So for a while we had beautiful green flames to watch.

    I guess that makes up for not having any of the pretty flowers you are enjoying right now.

    I'll be you are happy that it has cooled off some.

  29. Ooh... your garden is pretty, even in those cooler temperatures. I am completely in love with your Confederate Rose, Annie... although I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be hardy here, even without checking. And if I'm going to try to stretch my zone boundaries, it would be with one of those gorgeous camellias instead. :)

  30. Shade trees are certainly welcome when the sun gets hot. Even here in upstate NY our big Sugar Maple is much appreciated on hot summer days, keeping our front porch a cool and pleasant refuge. We had 2, but had to reluctantly take the other one down a few years ago. Now the remaining tree is slowly dying, and will have to come down in the not-too-distant future. We'll miss it terribly, and so will our feathered friends.
    I enjoyed those long shots of your lovely yard, Annie.
    I can see why you love the Yaupon - it's beautiful!
    I also love your Confederate Rose. What a gorgeous form it has, and the color....so pretty! I'd like to smell the Loquat. Mmmm!

  31. Hiya Annie,

    All looks like midsummer to me. Wanting to sit in the shade in November: a different world.
    Camellia's outdoors, Passion Flower, all very enviable. And then that Yaupon bark to offset the lovely red berries. Xmas card in the making.

    I need some song writing advice, can I email you?

    Thanks for the cheery GBBD post.

  32. Beautiful, Annie. Your gardens are well thought out and planned to please you throughout the year. Your shady autumn looks like our mid-summer.


  33. Hi Annie, I'm late commenting on your Nov. GBBD photos, but hopefully not TOO late! (It's almost time for Decembers GBBD!). I enjoyed your garden photos and as I viewed them thought, "Gee, many of these plants/flowers I don't have in MY garden!". Some of them just don't grow well here in Northern VA. It's great to be here on your interesting site. And, one more thing: As I read the previous post, "Autumn Critters", I was surprised by the photo of the swallowtail caterpiller. I really love butterflies, especially swallowtails--but have never seen the caterpillar from whence they come. Just another bit of evidence that almost anything can be turned into something beautiful, if given time...and, that we can't always judge a book by it's cover! Jan


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