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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, February 23, 2009

Wandering through February

Wandering through February was written by "Annie in Austin" for her Transplantable Rose blog.

From gate,AnnieinaustinIf you were gardenblog-hopping last week you may have been surprised at how widely winter temperatures can vary in different parts of Austin. Around 2003 or 2004 I discovered that both Zanthan Gardens and Rantomat wrote about what grew in their Austin gardens. Their posts clued me in that freezes in Central Austin were fewer and less severe than those hitting my far NW Austin garden. As more and more garden blogs have appeared, the differences between gardens in all parts of town surprise me. Toward the east Renee's salvias and Mexican honeysuckle bloomed unfazed by cold, Pam/Digging had aloe and abutilon blooming in her new garden, and to the SW Lori had bulbine and Rainbow Knockout Roses and Robin had Spring Bouquet viburnum and potato vine in bloom. Yellow chair and jessamine,Annieinaustin Up here in my NW Austin garden, the salvias, abutilon, bulbine, Mexican honeysuckle and roses were all nipped back, and only the yellow flowers of Carolina Jessamine echo the yellow chair in the sun. But don't feel sorry for me! Although I hate to see perennial plants totally die...it's just fine if they die back or go dormant. This year the fountain, the triangle borders, a few trees grown taller than the fence and evergreens with some size on them have added structure and hint at that sense of enclosure we're trying to achieve. View from table,AnnieinaustinWhen I sit at the patio table and look around, I don't need flowers in bloom to know that I'm in a garden and as someone who spent most of her decades in climates with true winter, the spare look doesn't say dormant to me...it says tranquil. I don't think this works the same way for people who are from Texas or other warmer places - the unrelieved green makes them antcy and they want to know where the flowers are!

Feb loquats,AnnieinaustinSo far it's been a comparatively mild 'winter'. This year the loquats haven't frozen - growing to the size of almonds, still attached to the tree. Durantas have been an annual here, so I buy new plants each spring, but this year one Duranta is acting like a perennial and making new leaves. The Philippine violet/Barleria cristata usually freezes to the ground but now I see new leaves pushing out along the undamaged stems. Philippine violet,feb,Annieinaustin Last week I crossed into an even warmer climate zone by driving a few miles to Zanthan Gardens to meet MSS. In her plan for the day dessert came first so we drove to Moonlight Bakery on South Lamar. MSS likes to introduce me to new places...she's been here before but it was new to me. The shop is of modest size but the variety is amazing and everything looked (and tasted) wonderful. It was hard to choose just a few kinds of pastries from such a variety! Finally I asked David Coleman to package some Chocolate Croissants & Cherry Danish and when he mentioned that the Ciabatta was good for sandwiches, decided that to take a loaf home. David was a good sport and let me take his picture - thanks, David- we enjoyed meeting you! David Coleman,Moonlight,AnnieinaustinThe pastries were delectable - best Cherry danish I've had in years. At dinner that evening Philo & I agreed that the bread was perfect for fish sandwiches. MSS drove from the bakery to South Congress and we picked up Tres Leches Coffee at the Garden District Coffee House, just above the Great Outdoors Nursery (audio starts when you click the nursery's informative website. ) We sipped and strolled and made plans for future purchases and talked. I bought some annuals and a new hat rated high in sun-protection, just right for garden strolling. We stopped at another fun nursery on South Lamar but I didn't get a chance to take photos or talk to the owners so will just have to make a return trip!

Annieinaustin, LaurelbarposterAbove is a poster-photo I made of Texas Mountain Laurel in 2004. We saw tall laurel bushes blooming on the way back to Zanthan Gardens, and lots of redbud trees, too. Once arrived we were greeted by the heavenly-scented 'Souvenir de Malmaison' roses in bloom along with Port St Johns creeper, narcissus, snow flakes, and more. The larkspur grew 9" tall, in enormous swathes of fresh green. Arugula & peapods sat ready in the vegetable garden. Luckily for me some of that cilantro had seeded in the wrong place. MSS weeded out several stray plants and I brought them home. The germination has been terrible for my coriander/cilantro seeds - just a handful of one-inch tall seedlings. I used some of the cilantro leaves from MSS for shrimp spring rolls and planted the rest. Maybe they'll inspire my puny seedlings. So is it really spring? The leafing-out Arizona Ash seems to think so. The early daffodils have already frizzled up and some of the Bridal Wreath spiraeas have buds. The small Texas Mountain Laurel has buds, too. The flowers froze off in other years, but as Pam/Digging so sensibly advised me, if we get frost this year I'll throw a cover over it. The Loquat tree has dozens of developing fruits but I can't cover a 12-foot tree - to keep the loquats safe all I can do is cross my fingers.

Wandering through February was written by "Annie in Austin" for her Transplantable Rose blog.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sing & Cheer for the Austin Marathon

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day had to be bumped to Annie's Addendum - this year February 15th the day to celebrate our annual Austin Marathon in song.

I may personally be built for comfort, not for speed, but Philo and I are experienced at hosting out-of-town runners! We've had lots of fun being part of the action by taking marathoners to the Expo to get their packets & chips, stoking them up the day befor, getting them to the start line on time, driving around to a few points along the 26.2 mile route to wave and cheer, whooping it up at the finish line and then taking the victors out to dinner.

I hope you enjoy this little tune about seeing the Austin Marathon as a fan and member of the support team. It was written with love - maybe it can count as a late Valentine!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Departures, Arrivals and Amaryllis

This post, Departures, Arrivals and Amaryllis, was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose Blog.

POST-FREEZE REPORT FROM NW AUSTIN Mother of Thousands, AnnieinaustinRemember the Mother of Thousands standing tall against the window in January?

Frozen Kalanchoe, AnnieinaustinAlas, it exists no more - frozen to mush by three repeated hard freezes, with temperatures in the mid-twenties.

Frozen bulbine, AnnieinaustinThe necks of dozens of blooming stalks of Yellow Bulbine in the front garden were snapped by the same freeze .

Surviving lavender, Annieinaustin For most of the summer the Fern-leaf lavender threatened to engulf two other varieties, blooming month after month. After the freezes the sweet lavender and Spanish lavender look fine, but the Fern-leafed lavender looks dead. It's been a rather mild winter here so none of these losses are more than what was expected.
Now temperatures are pleasant, but it's really windy and no rain means warnings about fire danger.

Annieinaustin, abstract barline

In a recent blog post MSS of Zanthan Gardens says the hard freezes in some parts of Austin never arrived in the central part of town. She also notes that she's busy transplanting Larkspur seedlings. Larkspur seedling, Annieinaustin I have no intention of disturbing the single larkspur seedling seen above. It sprouted in the Hummingbird garden - sure hope there will be more! A few radish sprouts popped up in the vegetable plot, but there's no sign of the Cilantro that usually self-seeds all over the place. In a panic at the thought of no Cilantro, I planted fresh seed a few weeks ago but have seen no sign of germination yet.

Seed starting tray, AnnieinaustinIn the early 1990's, Philo built a large, lighted and heated plant table. We had a big garden then and needed to start lots of seeds. That set-up had to be left behind but we kept this earlier, smaller edition with us as we moved from house to house. I recently found it and plugged it in for the first time since we arrived in Texas in 1999, hoping that it can still sprout tomato plants.

Annieinaustin, abstract barlineCAN YOU TELL THEM APART?

Small Narcissus blithely ignore most freezes. I showed you some early Narcissus in the January Bloom Day post, and mistakenly said they were 'Grand Primo'. I don't remember planting them, but a few weeks later the mystery narcissus were joined by the real Narcissus tazetta 'Grand Primo', which I did plant, less than a foot away . The differences are subtle.
January narcissus, AnnieinaustinThe unnamed variety above bloomed in mid-January, with flowers on stalks about 2-feet tall.

Narcissus Grand Primo, AnnieinaustinThe narcissus labeled 'Grand Primo' open in mid-February and they're about 15" tall.

Narcissus & ruler, AnnieinaustinMSS suggested the unnamed narcissus wasn't a paperwhite since those have thinner leaves. Maybe it's 'Avalanche' or 'Nazareth'? To me the individual flowers look slightly smaller than the 'Grand Primo', with more of a point to the petals. The long strappy leaves are wider than paperwhites but narrower than that on 'Grand Primo.

Grand Primo & ruler, AnnieinaustinThe 'Grand Primo' flowers seen seem to be a little larger and the petals seem to flare out a little more before coming to a point. The cups in the earlier photo are closer to the real-life color - the cups in this one aren't quite yellow enough, although they do fade. This identification is tentative but one thing is sure... the scent! Lori is looking for a good smelling small narcissus. The unnamed narcissus isn't too bad, but it's a sure bet I would never let 'Grand Primo' bloom inside. You'll have to keep looking for a sweeter scented variety.

Annieinaustin, abstract barlineMICROCLIMATES

All is not frost and freeze - as
May Dreams Carol has discovered, Microclimates make a difference. Passionvine caterpillar, AnnieinaustinIn a protected corner where fence meets wall in the Secret garden, the 'Amethyst' Passionvine stays green, providing the habitat for what looks like a Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar.

Feb microclimate, AnnieinaustinA few feet away from the Passionvine a bedding geranium stays in bloom. The white impatiens in the same pot has had some freeze damage, but it's alive and rebudding.

Baby Meyer lemon, AnnieinaustinWhere's the safest microclimate at my house? Inside the breakfast room! The Meyer's Lemon lives there for winter, and it's loaded with buds. A couple of open flowers smell sweet and some tiny lemons are developing.

Stargazer Amaryllis, AnnieinaustinThe dark 'Red Dragon' amaryllis at right slowly opened six huge double blooms over a period of nearly three weeks. The first stalk is now reduced to one fading flower and the second stalk has stayed tight at the base. Attention turns to the two flowery stalks of a taller, flashier striped amaryllis named 'Stargazer', with almost all the flowers open at once. The show won't be as long but for the moment, it is spectacular.

This post, Departures, Arrivals and Amaryllis, was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose Blog.