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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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Monday, April 28, 2008

Dreams of May for Muse Day

This post, "Dreams of May", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.

On the first of each month, Sweet Home & Garden Chicago's Carolyn hosts Gardenblogger's Muse Day. The word Muse may refer to the classic Muses, such as Thalia the Muse of Comedy, but the word may also mean simply "a source of inspiration". Sometimes the Muse comes not in flowing robes but wearing a green shirt and jeans; sometimes she speaks not Greek but in a Hoosier twang.

Last May, Carol told us that the Indianapolis 500 is blacked out in Indianapolis, so she gardens while listening to the radio, adding that when the crowd sings "Back Home in Indiana" at the opening ceremony: Right then, that moment, will signal the beginning of summer for me. Carol's words inspired me to write new lyrics to this song.


It's not quite Muse Day yet, but tomorrow Philo will take me to the airport for a flight to Chicago on family business. I hope to borrow my sister's computer so my hoes won't miss the party on May 3rd.
Will the lilacs be in bloom? I do hope my dreams of lilacs in May will come true!

This post, "Dreams of May", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Enjoying the Unexpected

This post, "Enjoying the Unexpected", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.

Sometimes the things you plant surprise you in good ways - that's what happened here a few times this week. The temperatures are now in the high 80's, even the late iris are almost done and the phlox foliage is about 8" tall, so the season should be early summer in this part of the long fence bed. Look who just showed up-
This is a 'Pink Pride' daffodil, one of a dozen bulbs planted last fall. The bulbs made foliage but I'd given up hope of seeing a bloom.

My daughter and son-in-law had a mini-rose sent to me last year for Mothers Day - they didn't get a choice of color but knew it would be pretty. The shipment had a rough ride from the organic grower in California but the rose recovered enough to make a couple of buds, in a pale peach color.

Because of last summers flooding rain I kept the mini-rose in a container so it wouldn't drown. It didn't bloom again but branched out and then when cold weather came it lost all its leaves. I kept it in the pot, bringing it in the garage whenever we dipped below freezing.

The rose leafed out e
arly this spring and I planted it near the blue scabiosa and the coppery orange ranunculus. Here's the first rose - not a pale peach, but a color like the inside of a melon, which blends perfectly in this border!

I wonder if the more intense color is a response to more heat and sunlight? I don't see any other buds but the whole plant seems to have more substance and vigor since it left the container. Maybe it will take a little longer for this little rose to settle in and display its true color.

You've already seen the true color of the Schlumbergera/Thanksgiving cactuses - they all bloomed in the breakfast window last winter. Once the chance of frost was low, I moved three of them out to the veranda for the summer. All three plants made another set of buds which are now opening. Very unexpected!

Larkspur is one of my favorite annuals - one reason I love the meadow at Zant
han Gardens. I bought double lilac larkspur seeds in fall 2005 after we had the long fence bed started, and threw them around. For three springs they've sprouted and grown, and usually bloomed, but the flowers in Central Austin usually bloom a few weeks earlier than mine here in NW Austin. Larkspur like air and sun so last year's wet spring made their flowering season very short. The double lilac larkspur are blooming now and have reached new heights - I'm 5'6" on a good day and my larkspur are taller than I am. Having larkspur the size of delphiniums was a good surprise for me!

The next unexpected thing was what I ate for lunch today...a radish sandwich. I pulled a few radishes and washed them, then cut them up. I tasted a couple of slices and found them crisp with a good bite.

Next I buttered whole wheat toast, adding layers of thinly sliced radish and a little romaine lettuce. The sandwich was delicious, crunchy but mellow - not hot. The unexpected part isn't that the sandwich tasted good. The unexpected part is that I might never have tried this if another garden blogger, Yolanda Elizabet in Holland, hadn't described her lunch a few weeks ago. Thank you, Yolanda!

Have you ever planted a seed from an apple or orange or the pit from a cherry or peach? Garden experts will tell you not to bother doing this when starting the home orchard - to always buy a named tree instead.
But my nephew and his parents weren't planning a home orchard a few years ago - they just wanted to find out if something special could happen. Grandma had ordered a box of luscious Harry & David peaches for the whole family and
after enjoying the fruit Jake and his mom & dad ceremoniously planted the peach pit in the back yard. The peach seed sprouted and grew and was watched over. Last year it was swaddled in net to protect it from the Seventeen Year cicadas.

Now in its 3rd Spring, the peach is taller than Jake's Dad, and it has chosen to bless my sister's family with a cloud of pink blossoms.
My nephew is justly proud of starting the tree and I'm impressed that my family believed in the power of a seed. Thanks for letting me use your photos, Jake! Whether or not this particular family tree ever bears edible peaches, it's a fine thing to see after a long hard Chicago winter.

This post, "Enjoying the Unexpected", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Follow-Ups, Friends & Neighbors

This post "Follow-Ups, Friends & Neighbors" was written for my Blogspot blog, The Transplantable Rose, by Annie in Austin.

A floral follow-up: The photo-defying shadows made this flower late for blooming day. The little bulbs, labeled Ixia/Corn Lilies, were on sale last fall so I stuck them in the temporary front bed. The package showed all kinds of pastel colors but mine are the colors of ears of corn. Has anyone else tried Ixia? Did it return for you the following spring?

Maybe this follow-up can count for Earth Day. Blackswamp Kim requested a photo of the Passionvine trellis - it's a recycled coatrack, once brass-colored plastic and aluminum, now painted antique white like the repurposed old iron fencework. Philo and I were at the semi-annual Settlement Home Garage Sale last fall and the second I saw it this idea popped into my head. The passionvine likes it, too.

One of the things I miss most about Illinois are Lilacs - when my Pacific Northwest daughter told me about her budding lilacs I was happy for her... but when Lily emailed this photo of what happened last weekend she didn't sound like a happy gardener! With any luck they'll still bloom - lilacs are pretty tough.

Last weekend my friend Pam/Digging and her lovely garden were featured on PBS-TV for the Central Texas Gardener. If you didn't get to see the show, go to the Central Texas Gardener website this week to see the clip - soon it will be available on YouTube.

I didn't take the camera when Rachel/In Bloom and I got to see the new rainwater collection system put in by Vicki/Playin' Outside. Here's her first post about the installation saga. Not only is the system impressive - the way she and her husband have integrated the huge tank into their garden is even more impressive - and the garden is filled with roses, herbs and frog songs.

At Spring Fling we met brother and sister Geoff and Anneliese of Cobrahead Blog. I was the lucky winner of a Cobrahead tool and took it for a test run. I'm used to my Cape Cod weeder, and still prefer that for picky weeding between the flowers in my crowded perennial beds, but the Cobrahead works much better in the vegetable garden, where weeds and grass sprouted overnight.

The action allows the head to go under weeds to get out more of the roots. It didn't take very long to do the tomato patch. [ and to you heirloom growers, yes - those potato-like leaves belong to 'Brandywine'.]

I took my prize Cobrahead along for the most recent Divas of the Dirt workday, and asked the other Divas to try it out and see if they liked it... the answer was a resounding 'yes' - it was especially good at getting weeds out of flowerbeds where they meet sidewalks & drives. It can mix soils and amendments, too.

The weather is warming up so these fragrant purple iris won't be around much longer. While I hope people on my block enjoy them, it's become more important that you enjoy them! What the heck has happened here?

It seems that in some way, the world of garden blogs has become the neighborhood of my heart and mind, so when the nominations for the Mouse & Trowel Awards were announced, it was overwhelming to be nominated a second time as the Garden Blogger You’d Most Like as a Neighbor. Last year the other nominees were May Dreams Carol, Blackswamp Kim and Pam/Digging and it amused me to imagine a neighborhood where we four could make horticultural waves. This year our imaginary neighborhood would let May Dreams Carol of Indianapolis, Jodi/Bloomingwriter of Nova Scotia, Canada, and myself from Austin, Texas have international fun with climate zones!

If you'd like to vote for this year's Mousies - please go here to the Mouse & Trowel website. You do not have to be a garden blogger to vote.

It's been a joy to meet so many of you in person during the past two years and with any luck those real life meetings will continue to happen...maybe someday you and I can sip a root beer float out on the veranda with our feet up on the iron rail and the fragrance of jasmine floating on the air.

This post "Follow-Ups, Friends & Neighbors" was written for my Blogspot blog, The Transplantable Rose, by Annie in Austin.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, April 2008

This post, "Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, April 2008", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.

In the 'other' world April 15th is Tax Day, but in the world of Garden Blogging it's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. You may owe money no matter which day you choose to celebrate, but Blooming Day is sure prettier!

The vines are in the center ring this month at Circus~Cercis. I don't have names for these two varieties of clematis, one white and one reddish-purple. They came planted in one pot, tagged as a pink clematis. The white one is planted at the base of the Lady Banks rose. The rose is already fading as the clematis opens.

The reddish purple clematis is on the back wall, getting morning sun and afternoon shade. At its feet are a cream-colored Salvia greggii, Plumbago and Purple oxalis. This is a big flower - some are over 6 inches tip-to-tip.

Last summer I saw 'Ramona' in a small pot for $2 - she's in a larger pot now, happy and blooming, while she waits for a permanent home.

The Coral honeysuckle bloomed early, shared the spotlight with Lady Banks, and keeps right on blooming now that the rose is done.

In the Secret Garden, the passionvine that bloomed late last summer is full of buds and blooms already! Instead of coaxing it to grow along the fence, I wound it around a repurposed coat rack near the brick wall - the vine stayed green all winter and was ready to bloom months earlier than last year.

Near the steps to the veranda twines a Star Jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides - it's flowers are not that showy but the scent is strong.

April is also a month when herbs go to flower - like this culinary sage in a trough near the stone fountain.

My camera couldn't capture the chives, but did pretty well with these Rosemary flowers.

The Cilantro/Coriander is going to seed in a few places - sometimes I let it stay, sometimes I pull it up.

We use a lot for Salsa but the extras get to bloom just because they look so pretty.

The pale peach iris 'Amethyst Flame' iris and old-fashioned white iris are gone, but Ellen's grapey-scented purple iris are in full bloom in the pink Entrance garden, along with pink gaura, spiraea, weigela, petunias and the new 'Belinda's Dream' rose.

An unnamed Siberian iris grows in back - a passalong from my friend Barbara in Illinois. I was happy to see one flower stalk last year, and am amazed to see 10 stalks this year. It's gone through drought and flood and is situated in morning sun with some afternoon shade.

A medium height violet larkspur seeded itself near the ranunculus from a few posts back. At the other end of the bed a tall double lilac larkspur is just starting to open. I throw the seeds around each year and hope for the best.

The potted 'Meyer's Improved' lemon has had several flushes of bloom and now has tiny lemons. We planted another of these lemons on the back wall. It survived winter, is growing and made a few fragrant flowers but no fruit has set.

All the climbing pink roses from the last post have shattered, so it didn't earn a photograph. I still see some rose buds in development.

The shrub of 'Julia Child' rose appeared in the previous post - here's a closeup. A dozen flowers have opened and then fallen apart, more than a dozen are open now, and at least 20 more are still small and green.

The air actually seems green under the 12-foot tall mockorange growing on both our side and the neighbors's side of the back fence. The individual flowers are large but I miss the traditional Mock orange scent. I think this is Philadelphus inodorus, sometimes called English Dogwood, but it's nothing like the real dogwood that Frances/Faire Garden grows!

The blue-violet petunias planted last fall are pretty happy with our relatively cool weather- some 'Moonshine' Achillea is budding next to the petunias. Look in the center right and you'll see why tree-seedling removal has been one of my most tedious tasks this spring... another pecan planted by the squirrels has sprouted. I pull up a few more every day, in every border and container.

The tall Salvias have no flowers yet but the Salvia greggii is blooming in several colors, including this solid red form from Diva Mindy. When the Divas of the Dirt worked on her entrance beds last year she potted up seedlings for the other Divas - this one is the perfect color for the Hummingbird bed.

Also in bloom are the two new plants of Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips'. The photo of this salvia in last week's post showed red flowers with a little white, but this week's very cool nights trigger pinker flowers with red splotches.

In this wider shot, a 'Mutabilis' rose grows in the container at left with a couple of 'Hot Lips' in the right pot. Across the lawn that hint of violet is the clump of Siberian iris and the Michelia figo shown in the previous post is the evergreen at center back.

A few more bulbs are blooming - here is a red Anemone with an old Christmas amaryllis/ Hippeastrum on the left side of the bulb bed.

On the opposite side the pink ranunculus keeps making new buds, another holiday Amaryllis is making a stalk and the purple oxalis adds to the scene. Maybe this would be enough contrast for Blackswamp Kim.

One more bulb continues blooming on the veranda - it's a pot of cyclamen given to me by Dawn/Suburban Wildlife Garden several months ago. It was languishing inside, but once tucked next to the railing under the overhang, new flowers appeared to remind me of my garden blogging friend.

Last month there were 72 comments when May Dream's Carol made her official Bloom Day post - and that was only March. I wonder how long it will take us to visit everyone in April!

This post, "Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, April 2008", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Post-Fling Rambles

It's been a week since Spring Fling but the cards are still spread out on the dining room table - the seeds from Nancy of Garden Spot and Cindy of My Corner of Katy await planting and the seedling hellebore from Faire Garden Frances has been potted up with crossed fingers.

The camera's focus has been erratic so I only have a few photos, just little reminders of Spring Fling moments.

The Banana shrub reminds me that I made May Dreams Carol take a sniff of the little magnolia-type flowers.

When I water the container of 'Hot Lips' salvia it amuses me to remember baking "Hot Lips Cookie Crisps" with cashews and habanero powder. The recipe was from a China Bayles book and I made them because Carol, Cold Climate Kathy, MSS and I were part of Susan Albert's blog tour. Here are Susan and Kathy at the Wildflower Center.
I'd given orders to a few plants to bloom for Spring Fling, but they listen as well as my children used to. The mismarked, no-name clematis by the back door

The unnamed, fragrant, floppy pink climbing rose near the gate

The Siberian Iris that's not supposed to bloom in Austin

And the 'Julia Child' Rose. All these plants were in bud while guests were here, but they didn't open until this week.

I mowed the lawn today but haven't tried out my cool Cobra Head garden tool door prize won at the dinner at the County Line. Anneliese warned me it was sharp, hence the protective coating for transport.

Maybe it's time to peel off the wrapper and take my new garden toy out to play.

Pam/Digging has compiled links to all the posts about Spring Fling - written by bloggers with more coordinated thoughts who have taken wonderful photos.