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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, January 26, 2009

Thought Pops, Edition 4: Tropic Thunder

This post, Thought Pops, Edition 4: Tropic Thunder , was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.

Can it really be almost two years since the last "Thought Pops" post? That tag was made up to designate a post with unconnected ideas, so it's useful for this misty day in January. We're getting only mist- not rain - but with possibilities for freezing sleet and rain tomorrow night. The pale peach iris that opened this morning may be in for an unpleasant surprise.Annieinaustin, Pale peach iris

Texas Home and Garden Show

Philo and I went to the Texas Home and Garden Show yesterday courtesy of Lindsey George. Thanks, Lindsey! We didn't expect a lot of gardening products so weren't disappointed that the emphasis was home improvement. After interesting conversations with many of the exhibitors we came home with a few purchases and lots of information and literature about future house projects. Philo likes browsing (and grazing) at the food booths - he found some good stuff at Joy Peppers of Austin. We bought the Blueberry jalapeno jelly and love it!Joypepper.com via Annieinaustin

Someone Has Eaten My Daylily

For GBBD on the 15th I showed you a confused daylily in bud. That bud opened and more buds were in waiting. How odd to see a daylily in flower with narcissus!January daylily, Annieinaustin

There are no buds in waiting now - the entire stalk has been bitten off - by a squirrel, no doubt.
Bitten daylily, Annieinaustin

Another Flower Open
The Camellia japonica 'Pius X' had no open flower for Bloom Day, but there's one today. Only two more buds left - sure hope squirrels don't find them delicious, too.Pius X camellia, Annieinaustin

Attn Ben Stiller!

Although the all-male cast was irresistible (Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Steve Coogan, Matthew McConaughey, Nick Nolte, etc.), I refrained from seeing Tropic Thunder at the theater last summer. Seeing Mamma Mia with an audience was fun, but I wasn't so sure about seeing this rowdy comedy with a crowd. When Robert Downey Jr was nominated for the Oscar for best supporting actor last week, the DVD was serendipitously waiting on the coffee table.
JBlack, Tropic Thunder websiteDid anyone else see this loud, violent, funny, very 'R', over-the-top movie about making a movie? Should I admit how much I liked it? I also watched the actors' commentary track and if there were an Oscar for acting on the extra tracks of a DVD, Robert Downey Jr. should probably get that one!
The commentary told which scenes on the DVD were not in the original movie - including many of the scenes I liked best. Directors feel obliged to cut out exposition and dialogue and amusing asides to move a movie forward and make it commercially viable.

But like Tristram Shandy, I'm all about the asides.

This post, Thought Pops, Edition 4: Tropic Thunder , was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cookies for My President

In a few hours it will be Inauguration Day, and in a small, domestic way I'll witness and celebrate the Inauguration of Barack Obama, our 44th president. There will be floral trumpets!

Annieinaustin,amaryllis Red Dragon
There will be special cookies. Today I picked a Meyer's Lemon from the little tree in the breakfast room...Annieinaustin, Meyer's Lemon
...using the microplane to get all the zest. Lemon and orange zest, amaretto and cake flour are some of the ingredients in Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies. The recipe was in Family Circle Magazine. Annieinaustin,Obama shortbread
Instead of using regular white sugar I decided to sprinkle the cookies with Hawaiian sugar. They are fabulous. Annieinaustin,Obama wreath
And there will be red, white and blue decorations. This homemade grapevine wreath won't win any awards but I like the starry blue ribbon and the gold glittery stems poked in to represent fireworks. And as a gardener I also had to tuck in a few green leaves. Representing hope.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, January 2009

View from shed, AnnieinaustinBlooms? A few. But evergreens are what make the winter landscape pleasant. Four years ago this was a garden of bare branches. Now it has some green bones. View from bench,Annieinaustin

The first freeze hit my part of Austin on December 5th, followed by weeks of wildly swinging temperatures: lows of 28 F/2.2 C to highs of 80 F/26.6 C.

When my friend Carole shared divisions of her yellow bulbine last March I never imagined it would still be making buds and blooms in JanuaryYellow bulbine,AnnieinaustinWhite oxalis still blooms in the hanging baskets along the verandaWhite oxalis, Annieinaustin
Who could resist bringing home a little viola called 'Tiger Eye'?Viola Tiger Eye,Annieinaustin
The two Champagne mini-roses had a couple of flowers - the leaves have dropped but the red stems are ready to unfold a fresh setChampagne minirose,Annieinaustin
The minute blossoms of Sweet Olive don't make a show but you know they're open when the fragrance wafts your waySweet olive blossom,Annieinaustin

The vines couldn't resist the recent warm days so there are almost-open buds on Carolina JessamineCarolina jessamine,Annieinaustin
And several clusters of open flowers on the Coral Honeysuckle. Lonicera sempervivens, Annieinaustin
The Loropetalum/Chinese Witch Hazel is in full bloom for the first time since we planted it in May 2005.
Loropetalum chinense,AnnieinaustinThese patriotic primroses are ringers - bought this week and brought inside each night.
Grocery store primroses,AnnieinaustinThis not-yet-planted Passalong daylily from Good & Evil Gardener Lori, is just plain confused!
January daylily bud, Annieinaustin
And so is this fragrant peachy irisJanuary iris bud, Annieinaustin
Mexican honeysuckle joined the garden team nearly a year ago but sat on the bench without playing until a few weeks ago.
Mexican honeysuckle,Annieinaustin
A few rag-tag blossoms hang on the Salvia greggii near the mailbox. I took their photo then got out the clippers and pruned the twiggy plant back severely, following advice from Linda, the producer of KLRU television's Central Texas Gardener. She writes the CTG garden blog.

Salvia greggii,AnnieinaustinThe pink rose from the last post had expanded and faded but was still recognizably a rose.
Big pink climbing rose,Annieinaustin

Gift paperwhites that once bloomed inside now flower in the back yard. These small daffodils, labeled as 'Grand Primo', were planted to greet visitors near the veranda steps. Grand Primo narcissus,Annieinaustin.
The also unplanted Dwarf Pomegranate has retained leaves, buds and flowers because it's huddles against the house wall.Dwarf pomegranate, Annieinaustin
A self-seeded Mother of Thousands soared and flowered outside the breakfast room where indoor plants lean toward the panes. Kalanchoe,mother of 1000s, AnnieinaustinOn the other side of the wall a smaller, potted Mother-of-Thousands blooms with a cyclamen and the salmon pelargonium on the breakfast room windowshelf.
Cyclamen,mother of thousands,Annieinaustin

My grab-bag prize from the Divas of the Dirt Christmas party was a double-budded double-flowered Smith & Hawken amaryllis. One bud is opening 6 individual flowers on a stalk, with the second stalk not yet emerged. The box-store amaryllis at right is developing smaller, single flowers on two stalks at once.Red Dragon amaryllis, Annieinaustin We've had frost warnings the last couple of nights so the Mexican Lime and Meyer's Lemon wore their Citrus Ghost costumes - sacks sewn of horticultural thermal fabric with mini-lights aglow within.
Citrus Ghost,Annieinaustin
Another bloom day, another photo of the Yellow snapdragons, rebudded and undaunted every month since Christmas 2007.Snapdragon buds,AnnieinaustinA list of what is in bloom today with botanical names is at Annie's Addendum.
Carol of MayDreams Gardens is the inventor of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, held on the 15th of each month. Last weekend, Carol and Bloom Day were featured in an article by Renee Studebaker for the Austin American Statesman. Go to Carol's blog to see what's blooming in other garden today.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Five-Gallon Plant in a Three-Hour Hole

Yaupon berries, AnnieinaustinThe tall native Yaupon Holly at the garage side of the house gives food and shelter to the birds and delights the eye with its white bark, evergreen leaves and red berries. But it's not visible from our windows - we need another yaupon, planted where we can see it. In mid-December we bought a small, berried Ilex vomitoria at the Natural Gardener and for a couple of weeks moved the container around the yard, looking at it from the breakfast room window, from the bench near the gate and from the table on the patio. We settled on this spot with morning sun and afternoon shade. If we live long enough, the slow-growing yaupon may soften our view of the neighboring house.
Where plant yaupon, Annieinaustin
Wouldn't planting a tree on New Year's Day be a good way to start 2009? It should be a snap for two people to plant one 5-gallon container. We know how to plant native trees in Austin: dig the hole no deeper than the depth of the rootball but at least 2 or 3 times as wide. But knowing and doing are not the same thing when we've been here only 4 and 1/2 years while the house and garden have existed for 3 decades.
Two Cobrahead tools removed grass easily and the digging fork and spade made a small dent - time to bring out the mattock.Mattock at work, AnnieinaustinThe expected fist-sized rocks appear but what the heck is under the grass? With effort we pry out something in 3-inch thick, broad, flat chunks. This seems to be a rather broad and solid layer of ....what? Not exactly rock....it's hard but the edges crumble when smashed with a tool.... could it be compressed sand?
Philo examines grooves molded into this not-quite-sandstone substance
He thinks the grooves were made by the plastic liner of an above-ground pool or pond. Perhaps the weight of the water compressed a thick layer of sand into this rock-like layer. The chunks of compressed sand are hauled off to the no-man's land between vegetable garden and fence.
Sailing is still not smooth - mattock, breaker bar and sledge hammer are needed to crack up larger subsurface rocks so at last they can be taken out in pieces. We need all our tools. That's Philo's older Cobrahead with the yellow handle; my prize from Spring Fling is light blue. The breaker bar is heavy black iron. Philo made the bench.
Tools on wooden bench,AnnieinaustinThe rock chunks are added to the pile under the pecan on the south end of the yard.
Three hours after beginning this project the yaupon is watered in. Grow little tree!
After all these photos of rocks and dirt you deserve something pretty. The pink climbing rose has one bloom - out of focus because I had to hold the camera way over my head.
Pink rose in January, Annieinaustin

One camellia flower shows behind the Chinese Witch Hazel/RazzleDazzle/Loropetalum chinense, which is unexpectedly in bloom now.Loropetalum in January, AnnieinaustinOne paperwhite has opened in translucent beauty. Lori the Gardener of Good & Evil has been tweeting her attempts to find a good-smelling paperwhite. This bulb has been in the garden a few years but it was originally potted for indoor forcing with no species listed on the gift package. Paperwhite narcissus in January,Annieinaustin When it bloomed on the windowsill its beauty was equalled by its stinkyness - I'm glad paperwhites can grow outside in Austin!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Look Back At 2008

Annieinaustin,2008 xmas treeCan we take an over-the-shoulder glance at last year's posts before diving into 2009? January 2008 began with a tribute to those Stubborn Irish People From Chicago who keep the decorations up and the lights turned on until January 6th - Epiphany or Feast of Three Kings. When affirmative comments came from other gardeners who celebrated the 12 Days of Christmas, they warmed me like a cozy quilt around my shoulders. Yolanda Elizabet from Holland, Entangled from Virginia, Leslie from California, Barbara from Switzerland, MSS from Austin, TX, Therese from Louisiana, Kate from Saskatchewan, Kerri from New York State, Mr McGregor's Daughter from Chicago, Lisa at Greenbow, Indiana, Red Dirt Dee from Oklahoma, Nicole in the Caribbean, Josie in Vancouver and Dawn from Austin also had traditions of leaving the light glow a little longer.Annieinaustin,bee on salvia A few weeks later May Dreams Carol made up the acronym GADS, for Gardeners Attention Distraction Syndrome. My answer to her was to Embrace The GADS! I'm a bee, not an ant - so buzzing from project to project is my nature. Carol not only took my advice and tried hard to "Embrace the GADS", she decided to Embrace "Embracing"! That label on her blog pulls up a whole subset of Embrace posts.

Annieinaustin, Baltimore orioleInstalling our Disappearing Fountain changed the way the garden looks and sounds. We now see birds sip and splash just a few feet from the breakfast room window. Who knew we had orioles and goldfinches? Annieinaustin, Garden fairyThe secret garden was touched by a little magic when A Fairy Garden Consultant arrived from the Pacific Northwest.

Annieinaustin, Black & Blue SalviaI recorded a couple of songs last spring - one was "Salvia, Salvia, Save Me" (from the deer), which has turned out to be my biggest 'hit'.
Annieinaustin, May Dreams song, titleThe lyrics to "May Dreams in Indiana" were written in 2007, when Carol was an online friend with a great garden blog. But last spring, the very real Carol and MSS of Zanthan Gardens sat next to my piano and listened to preview the song before Philo & I made it into a YouTube.
Annieinaustin, Kathy & Susan AlbertEveryone who was part of Spring Fling was touched by a little magic! We Austin Garden bloggers had been meeting off and on since July 2006 -but last winter Pam/Digging had the idea to go national and Diana, MSS and Bonnie helped her make it a reality. It was wonderful to meet Susan Albert and see Cold Climate Kathy again!

Annieinaustin, Baghead posterPhilo & I went to the movies in June, partly to enjoy the film, and partly to see if our scene extras in the Austin Indie film Baghead made it to the screen. The DVD of Baghead has just been released - it's on Netflix, too. Since we're visible for a few seconds, I guess we need to buy a copy!

Annieinaustin, Jake's peach treeWarm, dry Spring turned to sweltering Summer in Austin but it was a lovely, peachy summer in the faraway gardens of our family . Our grand dog Penny was already helping out in Lily's garden. Annieinaustin, garden dogWe mourned George Carlin and enjoyed a few great tomatoes. Annieinaustin, tomatoes & CarlinThere were plenty of flowers here in spite of the heat and drought - Annieinaustin, oriental lilyfor eleven months of 2008 the 15th was celebrated with a bloom day post - but intermittent camera problems meant July's entry was a simple list at Annie's Addendum rather than a post with flower portraits. Annieinaustin,lilies on pondPhilo and I were delighted to have the company of MSS of Zanthan on the annual Austin Pond Society Tour. In mid-tour, my old Kodak EasyShare camera stopped working completely but we had such a good time that I was inspired to write more music. At the same time that Philo and I were putting together the video of The Pond Song, our son and daughter-in-law in Illinois were uploading our co-written love song to Lilac Time in Lombard, 'I Don't Want to Live In Texas When It's May". Annieinaustin,spider on moonflowerWe tried two cameras before settling on a Canon PowerShot A590. It was fun to see what it could do after a little rain fell on the garden. The new camera helped me share the visits of unusual critters like the Bird Poop Caterpillar, decollate snails and a mantidfly. Annieinaustin, metallic green beeInspired by inspired by fellow bloggers Vertie and Iris and by the website of genuine Austin entomologist Wizzie Brown, I wrote a comedy song called My Austin Entomologist. Annieinaustin, 1959 Snowball fightOne final song for 2008 needed the scanner, rather than the camera - images from old albums filled the screen for the nostalgic and wistful "Can I Recover Christmas"

This year was not exactly a great gardening year - too hot, too dry
, too many other things going on. But it was a great year for meeting and talking to gardeners! Some of these friends were part of my real-world, including my beloved friends the Divas of the DirtAnnieinaustin, Divas of the Dirt, Elsi'salso in the real world were the bloggers who came to Spring Fling, friends and gardeners on the Conservancy Tour with Pam/Digging all those at the fun October meet-up- Renee and RockRose Jenny and Good & Evil Lori at Eastside Patch and The Grackle. It's always seemed as if we are friends when we read and comment on each other's blogs. Joining Twitter in September meant immediate conversations - some with people known in person. When reading tweets, I can sort of hear them saying the words in my mind. Annieinaustin, bee on Meyer's lemonThere are no goals or resolutions for this blog in 2009, no plans for more frequent posting or better photos or higher numbers on the stat counters or more income from the ads. There are no counters and there are no ads. Just words and pictures from one slow bumblebee of a blogger who likes to visit y'all and hum to you once in awhile. May 2009 be good to all of you.