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.
Congratulations to the winners of the Flowering Tree Photo contest! I enjoyed clicking around the complete list at Gardening Gone Wild seeing flowering trees from other places. Who knew so many of us love redbuds?
For everyone who entered there was something special - renowned photographer-judge Rob Cardillo was kind enough to comment on every entry. The March 2009 photo that I entered wasn't taken for a contest or for the blog but to help me remember what the front yard looked like in spring. Rob's comment about the composition made me resolve to pay attention even for these kinds of "mapping shots", but some of his words made me laugh:
“I like the off centered redbud and how the house line works but this choice view might look even better on an overcast day.”
Frankly Rob, not only the photos but all life in Central Texas might look better if we had more overcast days!
Many of you already know Amanda the zany gardener who writes a blog for Horticulture Magazine as Kiss My Aster.She's lots of fun both on the blog and on Twitter. Amanda recently invited me to premiere my new song on the Horticulture website and it was fun to be able to say "Yes".
Like Anna in "The King and I" doing her best to quell her fears by whistling a happy tune, I've tried to make it through this summer by writing a funny song and having Philo make it into a video.
Some amazing photographers have entered this month's Picture This Photo Contest at Gardening Gone Wild. My photos are seldom amazing but it's worth taking them as documentation and as memories, no matter their artistic value. I'm entering this photo because it shows all three forms of our Redbuds/Cercis canadensis in bloom last spring. I named my garden Circus~Cercis because of these trees: (Please click to enlarge)
At left near the Pink Garden a Texas Redbud is getting established, waving arms to its cousin the Texas Whitebud across the drive in the sunny native and adapted bed that now fills the footprint where a huge ash once grew. Between them, way back in the shadows at the far end of the house you can see the dark leaves and deep pink flowers of the 'Forest Pansy' redbud, planted in fall 2004.
We're in deep drought here in Central Texas, and have already racked up more than 30 days over 100°F with all of August and September yet to come. I've been watering the trees, but sometimes the ground stays so warm and the nights are so hot that even good-sized trees just give up the fight to stay alive. With a little luck the three redbuds will make it through to live and bloom again.
There isn't much to see here at Circus~Cercis this month - having flowers bloom is less of a goal than keeping a core of life in the garden, in the hope that rain and normal temperatures will return to Central Texas someday. I cannot bear to let you see the sunny front yard and it's too depressing to look closely in the back. Maybe we can peek between our fingers at a few bright spots...well actually most of the survivors aren't in bright spots, but are in semi-shade, like the orange crocosmia and purple setcreasia above.
In the filtered shade on the patio where the containers get water a fragrant yellow Plumeria blooms with a few red flowers produced by the Spicy Jatropha bought in South Austin last fall. The two white 'Acoma' crepe myrtles carry on - providing a hideout for a green garden spider and some dappled shade for a white Echinacea. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.) The coneflower looks much better as a tiny blur in the background...up close the petals have brown edges. Is anyone else still watering their tomatoes? If mine stopped setting fruit I'd let them go, but both 'Early Girl' and 'Juliet' keep making flowers and tiny tomatoes and such valor deserves a little water and a great deal of appreciation.
The volunteer pattypan squash has flowers, too, and the few squash it's produced have been delicious. Last night our dinner menu gave a nod to Bastille Day, with one pattypan squash sliced and sautéed with onion and green pepper, then added to some cubed chicken that had been poached with herbs. I filled a few crêpes with this mixture, topped them with a cheese and wine sauce and served them with salad that had a couple of tomatoes from the garden in it.
There's a list of everything with a flower at my Annie's Addendumblog. Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (AKA GBBD) is the invention of Carol at May Dreams Gardens. For links to the many gardeners worldwide who are part of GBBD, please go to Carol's Blog.
Yes, the weather is hot and it's very dry. Yes, we could be heading to the kind of historic drought that gripped Central Texas in the 1950's. At my house the container plants get water and so do the borders. I water the tomato patch and the young trees and non-established shrubs but not the lawn. The grass looks okay where it grows next to the borders, the lawn is hanging on unwatered in the shade, and it is dying in the parkway and in the sunny parts of the front yard.
But I don't want to talk about any of that! Today I want to be Scarlet O'Hara, ignoring reality to concentrate on what's still good as we mark a "late-1970's ranch-style home" anniversary...it was five years ago that Philo & I bought this house, got the keys and began the move here, bringing a pile of plants along.We'd spent the previous 5 years living in another part of Austin, in a tall house on a canyon with deer in the front yard, a view, and nearly 100 pots of plants hiding from the deer on the deck. Losing the view was not fun and it would be very different to live with a flat, fenced back yard. That almost-blank slate was pretty exciting, even though the backyard was smaller than the front yard and shaped like a trapezoid. In the photo above you see the original long view across the back of the oddly-shaped back yard. Two pecans grew at the far end and most of the yard was grass. The concrete patio was a rectangle large enough to hold the table & grill. When you entered at the gate a few medium-sized pink crepe myrtles grew along the left fence and a metal shed held tools and the mower. Nothing terrible, just normal and kind of boring. But what we wanted was something interesting. We wanted to walk out the back door and feel as if we were going Somewhere.
Five years in are we closer to that goal? When we open the gate the white Acoma crepe myrtles have filled in along the fence and reached up to soften the magenta explosion from the next yard:
Look down the long axis today and it's obvious that the pecan trees have grown, that the grass has been turned into mixed borders and that the patio has expanded. Our original view from the breakfast room window was the inside of the old shed - now we look out to watch the fountain add sound and motion to the life-giving water flowing for birds & beasts.Whether you come in the gate or come out from inside the house there's always something to do, something to see, somewhere to go - perhaps to check out a magnolia with edges browning almost as soon as it unfurled, its decrepit beauty still appreciated by a bee. Maybe I could take a photo of an open flower on the Bauhinia/Orchid tree from my friend Ellen so the image can be used to help identify the species. I can take back my earlier complaints about partial shade delaying the formation of blue blooms on the Duranta and instead rejoice that the shade gives the plant some relief from the intense sun. Taking out the trash can be an adventure since it brings me near enough to admire the yellow Plumeria/Frangipani against the blue sky, even while hoping for dark clouds! I can bend down to pull a few weeds and see the Crocosmia flames and Yarrow sparks at the base of the white Acoma crepe myrtle Against the back fence a few tomatoes haven't given up - not the sturdy grape tomato 'Juliet', which sets fruit in heat and not the old favorite 'Early Girl'. A couple of 'Carmello's have set and might grow to maturity while the single plant of 'Costoluto Genovese' produces one small fruit every day. That's not shade cloth from a garden store - it's an old cotton curtain bought for a slider door, then used on an interior doorway, now draped over the birdnetting, held up by Philo's homemade wooden tomato scaffold.
At the back of the small plot the volunteer Pattypan makes tiny perfect squashes. And in the shade under the curtain the tomatoes do their best. As you saw in the last post, I bring them in the second they show any color and put them on the counter, ripening just fine because the kitchen is always at least 80°F. Developing inside is a good idea right now. I've finally caught up with the 2009 events at the Divas of the Dirt blog and am gradually reworking the archives from 2001 to 2008, using the text from the original website with added photos. A new song is in the works, too, but until then, here's the Pond Song I wrote last summer - the 18th and 19th of July are the dates for this year's Austin Pond Society Tour.