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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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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thought Pops, Edition 5: Buds to Iron Man to Rain


Annieinaustin, Michelia figoThis Michelia figo was in bloom on April 3rd, 2008 when MSS of Zanthan Gardens brought MayDreams Carol to my garden but this year the flowers are open in March. We're expecting visitors in a few weeks and I hope a few flowers hold on so the guests can feel the silkiness of the petals and catch the fragrance that gives this plant its common name "Banana Shrub".

Annieinaustin, Bee TX mountain laurelMy April guests won't be here in time to drink in the grape soda scent of the "Big Drunk Bean" above (Nicknames for Sophora secundiflora include Mescal Bean, Big Drunk Bean and Texas Mountain Laurel) but this March guest buzzed in on time.

Annieinaustin,lady banks rose & coral honeysuckleA month from now the Coral Honeysuckle/Lonicera sempervirens might still be blooming but the 'Lady Banks' rose/Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' will be done. The entwined green leaves enhance the metal arch year-round but this electric combination happens only briefly each spring.

Philo was quite surprised when I moved Iron Man to the top of the queue because he didn't think it was my kind of movie. We watched it last night. It was pretty silly, and it sure would be great to see Jeff Bridges in a more Dude-like role instead of as a typecast power-driven executive with a shaved head. But I enjoyed most of it. Apparently any movie that has Robert Downey Jr in it is my kind of movie.

Annieinaustin, Hesperaloe parvifloraSLOW GARDENING
When our guests come the white iris will be done but the native Red Yucca above should be flaunting its first flowers along that stalk. In Spring 2005 I paid less than $2 for a tiny plant of Hesperaloe parviflora, but had no flower bed ready for it. The small plant grew and I repotted it into a larger container. Then in March 2007 Philo and I began the Pink Entrance Garden and the Hesperaloe had a home.
Could I have had instant impact by buying a blooming-size plant right away? Of course - but I would have lost the pleasure of seeing it grow and develop until it become mature enough to bloom.

Annieinaustin, Palm flowersPALM FLOWERS Do those weird yellow growths on the Mediterranean Fan Palm look like a promise of flowers to you? If Kerri hadn't blogged about flowers on her potted palm I might have thought it was some kind of fungus. Isn't it cool that an Illinois-born woman gardening in Austin, Texas can learn about Palm flowers from an Australian-born woman who gardens in upstate, snowbound, non-Mediterranean New York?

Annieinaustin, yellow snapdragonsDRY SPRING IN TEXAS
The white iris (probably Iris albicans) are blooming in three borders - seen here with some snapdragons that just started reblooming after making it through a second winter.

Annieinaustin, 3 kinds iris, snapdragonsIn two facing borders the tall, fragrant, pale peach iris are in full bloom. Now 'Amethyst Fire' iris from Pam/Digging are in flower, too.
I hope Henry Mitchell is wrong, and that the perfection of the iris will not call down a major hailstorm. But if the iris must be sacrificed to make the clouds rain down on us so be it - we need rain that badly!
Annieinaustin, TX barometer bushThe Leucophyllum frutescens, AKA Cenizo AKA Purple Sage AKA Texas Barometer Bush says it might rain and so does Jim Spencer. Annieinaustin, rain gauge readyAnd I have a new rain gauge ready to go.


  1. Hi Annie,
    Wow what a blooming crowd you have going down there! Our first Snowdrops just started blooming in the vast mud expanse that is our garden of late, and the cold lingers on and on....

    At first I thought those snapdragons were daffodils! Wow, I doubt if any of ours made it through the winter, but yours look fantastic! And irises... honeysuckle and other blooms ... just makes me want to go *waaahhhh!* Oh well, Spring will get here sometime...

    I have to see Ironman finally after hearing so many good things from so many people. Our movies last weekend were Jean Harlow and Clark Gable in Hold Your Man and John Waters' A Dirty Shame ... how's that for diversity? :-)

    We're both huge fans of Harlow's stuff and fortunately Turner Classic Movies plays her stuff frequently!

  2. Your yard is so lovely already. You must be thrilled. We are about 3 inches behind in moisture for the year even after that 10-12 inches of snow!

  3. It is delightful touring your garden today Annie. Our lonicera is only barely getting some leaves right now. The garden is barely awakening. I do hope you get some rain. We are just back from a TX vacation and have seen the drought in person. A scary sight.

  4. I do remember those Michelia blooms, and now wonder about who that shrub is named after. I need to look that up and also try to figure out how to pronounce it.

    Your garden is so full of bloom now, but I suspect it will also be filled with bloom in a few weeks when your guests arrive. How could it not be? You always have one of the longest bloom day lists each month on the 15th.

    "May your rain gauge be filled to overflowing as often as you need it to be..."

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  5. Annie, how lovely to see your prelude-to-spring blooms on this rainy morning. We've had overnight and morning rain 4 days in a row. Wish I could send you some!
    The little bee is loving that "Big Drunk Bean" and I would too, if I could see (and smell) it in person.
    The Lady Banks and Honeysuckle are putting on a wonderful show and your snaps sure are troopers. Is that Spirea I'm noticing behind the beautiful white iris?
    I'll be interested to see whether or not those weird yellow growths on your Palm turn into flowers. Yes, it's very cool that we can learn from each other even though we're many miles apart and have such different backgrounds and climates. Thanks for the link :)
    I'm hoping to see our 'redbuds' blooming again this spring! ;)
    You're a versatile girl when it comes to movies :)
    I'm sure your garden will be delightful when your happily anticipated company arrives. Meanwhile, I'll try hard to shoo the rain your way!

  6. Your Spring garden looks wonderful in spite of our dry weather. Your rain gauge may get a work out this week. I woke to the lovely sound of rain against the windows this a.m. Maybe we should buy new rain guages every week if they bring us moisture! ;-)

  7. I like that fine new rain gauge. Let's hope it's filled to the brim over the next three days.

  8. I love your rain gauge! I hope we get some measurable precipitation in the next few days so you can try it out.

  9. It seems to me that March is the perfect garden time in Texas. Your garden looks wonderful!
    I really like 'Iron Man,' and Robert Downey, Jr., was perfect for the role. You've got to love a superhero movie where the superhero is over 40.

  10. I don't think any flower in my garden could rival the beauty of a full rain gauge at this point in time!

  11. I hope we see a shot of that rain gauge with some water in it soon! I wonder if the Big Drunk Bean is named that for a reason you know? The flowers are lovely!

  12. Hi Annie.
    I had no idea the Med.fan palm flowered! how old is yours? I have one planted in the ground in my front yard that is doing great. I really like this palm. Is yours multi-trunked?

    I must get myself a rain gauge at some point, but first I need a new camera! I left mine outside last night on a canvass seat that promptly filled with water. Arrgh what are the chances? Our only rain in how long! My camera is in my oven as I write!

    I also liked Iron Man, and thought Robert Downey Jr was really good in it. Talk about someone who just hangs in there!

    A camera-less,

  13. Annie, I will be happy to participate in buying a new weekly rain gauge if it helps make it rain here! I love the Lady Banksia combined with the Honeysuckle, even if it is a short show. And I'm envious of your fragrant, peach colored Iris - that's one I've been wanting to add myself. Show me a picture of it close up next post, ok? And enjoy the rain while it's here, even in tiny amounts!

  14. IVG - after all those days in the eighties it's 40°F and we have mud - more than 2 inches of rain have fallen since early Wednesday morning.
    Diversity in movies is your hallmark, that's for sure LOL.

    Thank you, Tabor. Doesn't 8-10 inches of snow = one inch of rain, or something like that? We were about 17" down so whatever we get helps but won't erase the debt.

    Things were very awake here, Lisa at Greenbow - must have been a shock when the plants got cold 40's but we are so grateful this morning.

    Although Michelia sounds as if it were in honor of a person named Michel, Wikipedea says it's named for the Florentine botanist Pietro Antonio Micheli (1679-1737. Here's a photo of a statue of Micheli. Think of him next time you have Chicken Florentine!

    Hello Kerri, the good wishes from garden bloggers must have worked! There have been over 5 inches of rain in outlying areas.
    Doesn't the bee look ecstatic?
    Because of your post I went looking for photos of other palm flowers and found some like mine. Not so pretty but interesting.
    Your crabapple tree has something redbuds don't - fragrance!

    I'll bet your rain gauge is really full, Morning Glories in Round Rock! The new rain gauge is a flop at measuring...glad the not-so-pretty old one was still in place.

    Pam/Digging and Rachel in Bloom - nice form has trumped scientific function!! The new rain gauge is very decorative but can't measure worth squat...the water poured over the top when the other gauges had only 2 inches in them. It will be a vase now.

    Hello Mr McGregor's Daughter - bet all the people here in Austin for the film part of SXSW don't think March is perfect! They're cold and wet, but at least all the movies are inside.
    Glad you liked Robert Downey Jr in the movie, too.

    We are so grateful for the rain today, Cindy from Katy!

    As mentioned above, Leslie - raingauge FAIL. Rain - success!
    Story is the poisonous seeds were used in rituals to produce trances and visions.

    ESP - it amazed me to see that bud-thing on the palm. This came from Natural Gardener in spring 2007 and has always been in a container, guess only one trunk?
    Get a rain gauge that works, instead of just looking cute! Sorry about the camera - the oven was a joke, right?
    Philo told me you can bury electronic devices in container of dry, uncooked rice and let it sit a week or so to dry out. Think he read that in NYTimes.
    Hope Robert Downey Jr keeps hanging in - his versatility is amazing, from those romantic comedies 20 years ago to wonderful recent movies like Zodiac. I'm up for Sherlock Holmes, how about you?

    The similarity of the internal color of the honeysuckle flowers to the Lady Banks was the reason I made that combination. If it lasted all summer it would be tiresome but it's very short in duration!
    Divisions of the peach iris have gone from my garden to many others around Austin, Robin of Get Grounded - I'll be glad to share with you. This iris has appeared on the blog over and over! This post has closeups and some history of how I got it.
    Over 2 and 1/2 inches here so far- Yay!

    Thank you for all the comments,


  15. I always see something here, Annie, that I've never seen before! Although if the "Big Drunk Bean" is the same as Texas mountain laurel, perhaps I do know that one.

    After reading your movie comments, just wanted to tell you that I watched "Tropic Thunder" a few weeks ago, and thought it was hilarious. Robert Downey, Jr. was amazing in it!

    I think you've captured the attraction of blogging so well--getting information from an Australian living in New York. It is a small world, indeed.

  16. pictures are real eye catchy, especially the third one. I was imagining myself strolling in that garden enjoying some fresh air. really rejuvenating.

  17. Could I have had instant impact by buying a blooming-size plant right away? Of course - but I would have lost the pleasure of seeing it grow and develop until it become mature enough to bloom ... I think you've captured a lot of certainly my pleasure in gardening in those 2 sentences.

    BTW do you have a pic of the whole of your garden anywhere on the site, so I can get an idea of its range?

  18. My husband was also surprised when I told him I put Iron Man on our queue. I think he was even more surprised when I said I liked it. Definitely because of Robert Downey.

    Your yard looks lovely. I'm sure it's even happier now with all the rain!

  19. Two thoughts: First, your rain gauge will indeed make a lovely vase - good thinking and two points for being flexible.

    Second - DO watch Tropic Thunder if you are a Robert Downey fan - you will not be disappointed. That movie is wickedly funny and I too, am excited at the Sherlock Holmes movie. Since we have this lovely chilly rainy weather (oh how I love being able to type those words) this weekend will be good movie watching I think. WooHOO!

  20. Hello Prairie Rose - yes, the Big Drunk Bean and Mescal Bean and Texas Mountain Laurel are all the same plant.
    I loved Tropic Thunder, too! Knew Heath Ledger had the oscar but was glad RD jr was nominated.
    Isn't it fun to span the globe with our keyboards?

    Hello Vinita - the arch is supposed to be the transition from the hard, manmade concrete of the patio to the shrubs, trees and flowers. At least that's how it works in my mind! Thanks for commenting.

    The whole thing isn't that big, Ed Rowe. Our lot is barely 1/4 acre, and the house, garage, drive, etc. take up about half of that. I keep intending to make a post that shows the layout...maybe your comment will inspire me to actually do it!

    One of my daughters-in-law was quite surprised at how much she liked Iron Man, Vertie - I think many husbands underestimate RD's effect on females! Didn't they realize he was the only reason some people put up with Ally McBeal?

    Thanks for the points and the comment, TexasDeb.

    I loved Tropic Thunder - HERE'S a post I wrote about that movie and RD Jr.
    A few episodes of The Darling Buds of May are waiting for the weekend. Will going from Iron Man to old British domestic comedy get me another point?

    Thanks for commenting,

  21. I'm envious as ever of your garden. Love the bean and the antirrhinums.

  22. I'm a Robert Downey Jr. Fan too Annie although I haven't seen Ironman. I need to check it out. I am admiring your cool new rain gauge ~ I'd love to have that in my garden!


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