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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, April 12, 2009

Hallelujah, Hail, & Hard Work

On Thursday April 2nd, Philo & I saw Leonard Cohen live in downtown Austin, surrounded by some of the best musicians in the world playing together as the Unified Heart Touring Company (hear them play 'Hallelujah' on YouTube). We are both longtime fans, and it seemed miraculous when I got through to the website two minutes after the tickets went on sale. The show sold out within minutes and an added second show went even faster - we were very lucky! The Long Center is only a year old, a beautiful, comfortable, civilized venue and being there was wonderful, from strolling the courtyards with stunning views of downtown Austin after dark, to the interior spaces and the theater's lighting, accoustics and sightlines. Our seats were in the Mezzanine and this was a pretty expensive evening for us, but it was worth every penny. We couldn't linger in the emotional afterglow for very long - seeing Leonard Cohen would have been the biggest event of a normal April, but in this odd spring, he became the opening act.


The more experienced among you who saw our hail video from March 25th probably guessed right away that it caused significant damage to our house. We knew the skylight was shattered, but last week we found out we'd also need a new roof and many other repairs. If you drive around our area you'll see similar marks on our neighbors' shingles. The ads and flyers began arriving the morning after the storm...now signs for roofing companies are popping up like rainlilies on the lawns. Here's an odd fact of life for gardeners - the insurance might pay for a hail-destroyed ceramic pot...but not the plant growing in it. The hail that tried to smash the 'Ramona' clematis was buffered by the leaves and branches of an overhanging Saucer Magnolia - tough on the magnolia, but good for 'Ramona'!


The tall metal obelisk in the garden came from Howard's nursery, once a favorite shopping place on Koenig Lane . This 2006 post mentioned the nursery closing, the obelisk, and a rescued one-gallon container of Weigelia 'Rumba'. Two rooted stems of the tiny shrub took hold and grew, made it through the heat and drought, and are now blooming beautifully in the Pink Entrance Garden.


We spent Thursday with Leonard, met with insurance folks on Friday, and on Saturday April 4th the Divas of the Dirt met at Buffy's house for her annual project. Part of that day was spent cleaning up broken, dead, smashed foliage and branches from the hailstorm. I'd spent 10 days doing that in my own yard so was in practice! Photos from Buffy's April project won't be posted for awhile, but photos of the project we did for Mindy's garden day on March 21st are now up on the Divas of the Dirt blog. That's Buffy in the photo above - working in Mindy's garden.

I was at Buffy's from 8:30 AM to 7:15 PM - that takes us up to the night of Saturday April 4th. Two beloved, long-awaited out-of-state guests arrived on Sunday the 5th for a visit - a story for the next post.


  1. Did you enjoy Leonard Cohen? I see from our Tv that he is going to perform in NZ, when I didn't pay attention. I don't go to concerts but I like his songs.

  2. Awesome and articulate alliteration, Annie :) You've had a bouncy beginning to April. I'm glad there's been some good times to counteract the bad.
    I love the song, Hallelujah, and enjoyed the YouTube video.
    I'm so sorry you have to replace your roof. What a hardship! That hailstorm was a monster!
    The clematis and weigela are both lucky saves. Beautiful plants, both. Sad about the magnolia, though.
    How fortunate that you were able to fit in a day's work with the Diva's before your company arrived.
    I'm sure you had a wonderful time with your special company and look forward to reading about that happy time.
    I hope you had a joyful Easter celebration!

  3. Annie, it's nice to get caught up with you and all the goings on in your garden and outside the garden, too. That's a beautiful Weigela and the clematis is stunning. It's too bad that the insurance companies don't understand the value of plants! I have just one piece of advice on the roof... go with a local company that has been in business in Austin for awhile, not someone who came in to town and set up shop after the hailstorm. That happens here... we have a hailstorm and suddenly all these roofers come up from Texas that we've never heard of... oh wait, you are in Texas!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  4. Annie, I am listening to Leonard and friends right now on another screen! It is wonderful...The mandolin that one hears just off video is delightful! Thank you!

    Romona and Howard look spectacularly lovely this morning, but I am so very sorry about the roof, thank goodness we all have insurance, even it refuses to be aware of the worth of our plants!

    Have a good week in your garden~~gail

  5. Whew, you have been a busy lady lately. No moss growing on your...Good to hear all is going well. Love that Ramona. I hope mine will be blooming in a few weeks.

  6. We got a little hail on Friday but nothing like you got. The clematis is a beauty!

  7. We were fortunate to miss out on the hail again Friday night. I don't envy you haveing to clean up the mess it makes!--Randy

  8. So glad y'all got to see Leonard Cohen--well worth the splurge, I think! Very sorry to hear about your hail damage. I miss Howard's nursery.

  9. I'm so glad you got to see Leonard Cohen. I'm a big fan, too. I have all his albums and his music figured prominently during many parts of my life. Alas, the ticket prices are out of my range right now. Did he sing Teachers, or Master Song?

  10. Annie, that clematis is stunning. It seems a bit early in the season for it, but perhaps with the 90 degree days, it thinks it's later than it is. We got a new roof about five years ago from a hailstorm - you just have to watch those roofers carefully. They just toss the old shingles off the roof anywhere unless you are there telling them not to throw them down in your beds and on top of plants. Seriously, even if you tell the job site foreman, you have to watch them all day - at least that was my experience. And they STILL threw things in the beds!

  11. I remember Leonard Cohen from my college days; I didn't realize he was still touring--how exciting for you!

    I was afraid when I saw your hailstorm post that you would have some serious damage. After the hailstorm we had about 12 years ago, we had to have both cars repainted and not only have a new roof put on, but new siding as well. The good part was insurance paid for everything, and we wanted new siding anyway:) Seems like insurance should pay for our precious gardens, though. I hope you didn't lose too many of your plants.

    I'm going to have to visit the Divas of the Dirt...sounds like you all have such a good time together!

  12. Nope, not surprised at all by the hail damage, but I do find it amusing (in a sick, twisted way) that insurance covers the pot but not the plant from hail damage. Must be a growing things exclusion. 'Ramona' looks great, too bad about the Magnolia, though.

  13. We were so relieved not to get hail here - we just finished getting our new roof from the last big storm last year. Did the hail damage your loquats much?

  14. Ann, it was wonderful - from the first note to the final encore. We seldom go to concerts but had to try for this one.

    The original title was "The H With Everything", Kerri, but that was too silly.
    We're getting the idea that people here expect that a hailstorm will come. The insurance person said our whole neighborhood was reroofed after a hailstorm 10 years ago.
    Two Diva projects in 15 days may be just too close together!

    Thanks Carol -your advice mirrors what we've been told - roofers are here from all over the country.

    The weigela is only 2 feet tall but covered in flowers - I hope it's becoming established.

    Yay for YouTube, Gail - love how we can link to things we like and share them. You never break even when storms hit, but we hope the insurance will help us recover.

    Wait until you see the post with our Austin visitors, Lisa at Greenbow - they are young and athletic...we can't keep up.

    'Ramona' was a fave in Illinois, too, Phillip, when a plant showed up at a benefit sale, I could not resist.

    Oh, Iris, my husband was so happy that I got those tickets - it was a special, special night.
    We used to buy a lot of gifts at Howard's Nursery - not just plants.

    I have some but not all Leonard Cohen's albums, Chuck B - and don't know the Teachers song. We came late to the banquet in the mid-80's. Heck, I didn't even see McCabe & Mrs Miller until 2 years ago.

    Get Grounded - I have 4 clematis and it seems at least one is blooming mid-April each year. I think Ramona is first because she's in a container, not in the ground.
    We had a roof done at the other house so I know about the shingles and nails! And am pretty hysterical just thinking about it!

    Prairie Rose, he is 74 and is much more limber than I am! The tour schedule looks grueling for any singer, so I hope the love pouring from the audience is enough to sustain all the performers.
    Next post for Divas will have to relate their hail adventures, too!

    Hello Mr McGregor's Daughter - well, we know plants aren't valued properly in the real world! And most of them can't really be replaced, anyway. The Magnolia is the neighbors', hanging over our fence. I just get to look at it ;-]

    Most years my loquats get hit with a late freeze, TexasDeb but this year the tree was loaded with little loquats, almost ripe. Most were knocked off by the hail and the ones on the tree were so bruised from hail that they rotted...so, another year without loquats. Good thing I like how the tree looks!

    Thanks for the comments,


  15. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the Leonard Cohen concert! I didn't know anyone else who went, it's nice to find more fans :)

  16. Hi Annie,
    I was beginning to get a little concerned about you not posting for so long, but now I understand just how busy you've been cleaning up! I'm glad that most of the damage (sans plants, alas) will be covered.

    And to get to see Leonard Cohen, just wow! I'd read he's been touring again and has been getting rave reviews. I had a Cohen phase back in college but have wandered away since then, but still enjoy hearing him when I catch some of his stuff on the French radio station I listen to. Tell you who would motivate me to get out (at whatever cost) and go to a concert again ... Dr. John! I'd like to see him at least once before he retires ... and since the Grateful Dead is no longer here (and I'm way past my Phish Phase) there's not much out there to lure me out these days. Guess I must be getting old, lol!

  17. Ramona is still gorgeous ... she weathered the storm far better than your roof did! I've never really seen what hail damage looks like so I appreciate those pictures.

  18. Hi Tina! I felt the same way when I read your post. There were tweets about the Austin concert, some from people who we'd seen in the audience at the Long Center, but no one we actually knew. Hope your hail repair is coming along okay.

    The clean-up will take a long, long time, IVG, and the blog must always give way for family visitors or meetings with the Divas of the Dirt. I was a mom and a Diva long, long before I was a blogger!
    We discovered Leonard Cohen back when our oldest sons were in college - that should count for a "college phase", LOL. As to Dr John, the Dead and Phish, never could listen to any of them for a whole concert, only in small doses. But over 3 hours of Leonard Cohen flew past.

    I'm too chicken to climb on the roof, Cindy from Katy, but Philo was up there with insurance and roof people and said the impact craters were something to see.

    It's weird to see two plants side-by-side, one pounded and one just grazed, and shape seems to have a lot to do with it. Maybe there's a future post in these kinds of observations?

    Thanks for the comments,


  19. I was thinking of you last night while listening to an hour-long interview with Leonard Cohen from his Montreal home. It was fascinating to hear him speak on all manner of topics, interspersed with some of his tunes. His concerts all sell out quickly in his Canadian venues too ...I could listen to his voice forever.

    I am sorry about the hail damage and your roof. Last fall, I had my roof reshingled ...an expensive proposition. At least insurance will cover yours. Does the insurance contract actually specify that live plants aren't covered? Weird.

    The Ramona Clematis and the Weigela are beautiful.


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