About Me
My Photo
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.
View my complete profile

Monday, October 05, 2009

Revival and Survival

Another two-and-one-half inches of rain fell in NW Austin over the weekend, barely budging the lake levels but giving a good drenching to yards and gardens. A few pepper plants make buds in the vegetable plot and a few radish seeds have sprouted, but I didn't plant a fall crop of tomatoes, just left a couple of survivors in the ground. There's enough sun for them in early spring before the leaves come out on the pecan, but it's too shady now. Annieinaustin, 2 inches in gaugePhilo and I are working on a post about lawn equipment we're testing but thunderstorms are in the forecast and we need a dry spell to proceed. Until then we'll enjoy what has revived and rebounded Annieinaustin, passionvine in privetThe Passion flower in the Secret Garden revived and traveled 12-feet from the trellis to open blooms where the variegated privet background could make it look even gaudier.

Annieinaustin, ex-willowSome plants endured the normal heat and drought of previous years but didn't survive this year- our twisted willow is no more.

Annieinaustin, girdled lavender rootsThe Sweet Lavender died not from lack of water but from girdled roots going round and round in heavy clay soil

Annieinaustin, no lambs ears leftA solid band of Lambs Ears is now a solid band of empty dirt. My guess is that they died from baking in afternoon sun rather than lack of water.

Annieinaustin, live lambs earsHere's the reason I think so - the Lambs Ears survived in open shade near the outer edges of the pecan tree's canopy

Annieinaustin, color range clematisThe given-up-for-dead clematis by the back door was only resting! This photo could be in better focus, but it's the first time my camera ever captured the variations in color that these flowers display as they open, expand, and fade. Is this clematis dark red, red-violet or purple? Yes.

annieinaustin, scutellaria dorota blueOn the patio a mysterious little plant bought in early June has finally shown what it can do. The smudged and faded name on the pot appeared to say 'Duranta Blue' skullcap. Assuming it was either a variation on our native scutellarias or one of the fancy new hybrids, I nearly killed it by giving it full sun, then luckily figured out it needed a larger container in part shade. Eventually I found the ID online - not 'Duranta Blue', but Scutellaria indica 'Dorota Blue', a groundcover for part shade. Dorota is Dorothy in Polish - I knew a few Dorothys back in Illinois and am quite taken with the name.

Annieinaustin, scutellaria dorota blue detailDorota is not showy - but in closeup the blue of her flowers is intense.

Annieinaustin front garden reboundsRobin/Get Grounded recently showed us her garden and wondered what survived for other Austin gardeners. In the back all the cupheas lived and so did the hummingbird sage. The roses looked crummy but didn't die. The peach tree is on its last legs but the crepe myrtles are fine. The front central garden lost a few salvias, but most of the dreadful-looking salvias endured, along with Rosa mutabilis, Yellow Bulbine, Phlox sublata, Flame Acanthus, a lilac-colored lantana from Robin, Black foot Daisies and gaura. In other beds the Iris look ratty but live on. So far the monarda and Lycoris are no-shows, but the rest of the bed looks wonderful right now - partly from rain and partly because the Divas of the Dirt were here.
Annieinaustin, Transplantable Rose mutabilisI'm totally in love with my Mutabilis rose! If I ever get cute little business cards this photo is going on them.

Annieninaustin, Brugmansia bellesIn the area along the back wall of the house the Meyer's Lemon has grown and held onto a few lemons. Next to the lemon the Brugmansia - Yellow Angel's Trumpet is putting on quite a show. Morning sun rather than afternoon sun makes all the difference.
Annieinaustin, dwarf pomegranate
The same morning sun, reflective white wall and afternoon shade encouraged the dwarf pomegranate to produce 2 fruits! The standard tree in the Secret Garden has yet to make one.


  1. Annie -- Wow - lots of great stuff bursting forth in your garden. Love the Clematis and the Passionvine and the Brugs. My brugs have done zip, but a small one is happy with all this rain and has grown many new leaves. Love that Dorota Blue Scutellaria. I got some purple ones earlier this year and love them. They are growing slow for now, but it hasn't even been a year. Those lavendar roots make me cringe - it looks like someone tied them in a knot. Glad you got so much rain.

  2. It's a happy day when Annie in Austin blogs!

    The lambs ear does better in shade for me too. In fact, I consider it a shade plant. The bright silvery leaves really stand out spreading in the shade.

    Scary picture of girdled lavender roots. It suddenly strikes me as funny that gardeners have two uses for the word girdle; one for roots, and the other for what vandals do to tree trunks.

  3. Morning sun and afternoon shade is the magic recipe, isn't it? My Lycoris have been no-shows too--until today. A few are poking leaves up. I don't think I'll see flowers this year, having moved them from my old garden last fall.

  4. Gaudy or not: I LOVE that passion flower! Can't believe I'm not familiar with the lovely clematis, but I am still pretty much a newbie. Will check it out. Thanks, Annie!

  5. Annie, thanks for the shout-out, and more thanks for posting what lived through the summer in your wonderful garden. I thought I was the only one to lose salvias (supposedly so drought tolerant?)but apparently I'm not. My brugs didn't make it, so I'll have to replant some new ones. So sad about the willow! I passed along the passalong I got from you to Diana; perhaps she'll have a cutting to give you to start anew. And a peach tree, too bad. My passalong Iris from you seem to be hanging in there, and I guess we'll find out next spring how they fared. Great post, thanks!

  6. It is amazing that everything didn't give it up with that drought Annie. I am glad to see that some things are still blooming and keeping your garden looking good. I have heard of girdled roots before but I have never seen them. No wonder the poor thing couldn't live.

  7. I do enjoy seeing what blooms in the shade as I seem to have a lot more than I thought!

  8. Thanks for showing us the lovely plants that survived the drought. Glad that you are getting a good soaking rain. We need some here in Chicago because September was so dry.

  9. So happy to see your garden has been revived and refreshed with some much-needed rain, Annie! The clematis is beautiful as is your passionflower. Thanks for showing the girdled roots, though I'm sorry about the poor lavender. I'd never seen these before, though I'd heard of them.
    What fun to have a group of gardening companions to work with and share good times! Here, it's just me and the dog:)

  10. My lamb's ears bit the dust too. Sorry your willow didn't make it either.

  11. I love the Passionflower against the variegated foliage. It's such a strong purple that it can pull it off.
    Those are some seriously girdled roots on that Lavender. Do you bareroot your shrubs before planting? The Clematis looks great with the different colored flowers. I'm glad it survived and revived for you.

  12. Clay soil can kill the best of plants.
    So sorry that your other wise xeric rosemary died. I've seen the same girdled roots here on a few shrubs! Annie, I was so glad to read on several Austin blogs that the rains had revived plants so well...What a summer you've all had...gail

  13. I can commiserate with many of your losses. I have only one lambs ears left. Some died from no water and some from too much! Bad drip watering. I love the passion flower that has climbed into your bush. i am looking for small vines to do just the same. This one is too big a vine for my garden.
    You are smart to have the dwarf pom. Have you eaten them yet. Many of mine have rotted because I couldn't keep up with them. It was the year of the bumper crop. I need a commercial processor.
    Do you know the name of your clematis? I must replace mine next year and would like to have one that blooms in the spring and the fall.
    Mutabilis is a beautiful rose but there again another big boy.
    Your garden has made it through the summer and is looking splendid.

  14. Hi Diana - the brug went into the ground in fall 2006 - maybe being established helps? The Dorota was an impulse buy!

    Words like that keep writers going, Chuck ;-]
    I've had friends who were overrun by lambs ears-then poof! All gone. My hope is that by planting some in in every microclimate in the yard, at least one will make it.
    Those meanings for girdle were not what I learned as a girl, but they're sufficient now.

    I'll keep watch for lycoris leaves, Pam/Digging - some non-blooming Oxblood lilies put up leaves so maybe Next Year?

    It was supposed to be 'Incense', Iris but was mismarked. It could be 'Lavender Lady'. This clematis grew in a huge container on our shaded deck for 4 years. About 5 years ago we dug a deep hole between the house and sidewalk and put the whole rootball in with bags of potting soil - it's a very established pampered pet!

    You're welcome, Robin - I loved your post! Looks like this was not the year to get things going... established plants had the edge.
    I rooted a piece of the willow this spring - not sure what I 'll do yet! The peach was something a former owner stuck in under the pecan - surprised it lasted this long!

    I did a lot of handwatering, Lisa at Greenbow - but not grass. My lavender in a big clay pot is okay - but not in this dirt!

    There's shade and there's Shade...right, Tabor? one kind gives ease in summer and one kind smothers!

    That's what happened here two years ago, Carolyn Gail - floods in July and then fell into drought. Sure hope your get good rain now to set those spring buds.

    Thank you, Prairie Rose! If we're in a drier period we'll still need changes for the long term, but short term it's fun to see things bloom.
    We Divas do have fun but with only seven projects each year, not often enough to get boring!

    Fussy little things aren't they, Vertie? You'd think after growing them since the mid-80's that I'd have them pegged.
    I liked the way the willow looked but maybe should just be glad to have it for a while.

    The effect sure caught my eye, Mr Mc Gregor's Daughter but I can't take the credit.
    The lavender didn't start out as a shrub... it was a tiny rooted cutting in a 4' pot in April 2008, grew to 1-foot tall and miraculously lived over winter, then burgeoned into a 30" globe by midsummer. So all the girdling took place in that ground.

    If anyone knows clay it's you, Gail! The amount of composts & other amendments is ridiculous - they just disappear. That's one reason I have so many containers so I can be the boss of the soil ;-]
    With local climate in flux it's hard to know what to do right now - except count up the survivors.

    I hear you, Lancaster Rose! The drip from keeping a hanging basket moist may have knocked off one clump of lambs ears.
    How do I know when the little pomegranate is ripe? We've never had a fruit before!
    This clematis was supposed to be light pink 'Comtesse de Bouchard' but the label was wrong! Looking at photos online hasn't helped me ID it. My 'Ramona' has sometimes bloomed fall & spring both.
    If the mutabilis crowds out the other plants in that front bed, tough on them... she's the queen!

    Thanks for all the comments,


  15. Isn't it amazing what the rains will bring? I'm glad to hear that you are out of the drought mode. We are too, we are actually getting too much rain!

  16. I managed to keep the little divisions of the twisted willow alive--I'm not sure how except that it was in complete shade under the eaves. The cutting you gave me of your brugmansia was looking so happy before we went on vacation. It was the one plant I brought inside not knowing it would rain the whole week we were gone. It lost all its leaves but it is coming back, I think. It hasn't started blooming like its momma yet.

    It's amazing what the rain will do. It seems all the plants that survived are now in overdrive to show that they are really, really happy to be alive.

  17. Hi Phillip -we did have lots of rain in Austin, but our water supply comes from a string of reservoirs made along the dammed up Colorado River. The Highland lakes are still only 40% full so no lifting of Stage 2 drought regulations.

    Guess we'll be in drought until a lot more rain falls on the areas that feed into the manmade lakes. Weird, huh?

    But in the meantime, the grass is actually growing!


  18. I'm so glad to hear you have quite a few tough survivors, Annie, and that you're pleased with your garden now that the rains and the Divas have blessed it :)
    What a wonderful group to belong to!
    Your clematis is beautiful, especially with its variations in color. My Carnaby varies too as the flower opens and eventually fades. I wonder if your vine is Niobe (I hope I've spelled that correctly).
    Your mystery ground cover is a gorgeous shade of blue!
    Your poor lavender. What a way to go!
    Love your Mutabilis. What a delicate shade of pink it is!
    Love the Brugmansia too. Unfortunately my Angel's Trumpet seeds didn't germinate in the spring.
    I Hope you get some more good rains to keep the revival going, Annie!

  19. It is raining here as I write but we have had more than our share this season while your garden now revives under the new moisture. Who wouldn't love that passionflower? I have considered the mutabilis rose but never planted one. That is a delicate pink. Also, the pomegranate plant is a pretty, fine textured plant isn't it.

  20. That Mutabilis is worthy of your admiration and quite a beautiful representative to show on a card, I agree. As to the rest of your plants, I think you, along with the rest of Central Texas gardeners at least, should pat yourself on the back for admitting you continue to care and are continuing in your caring for your plants. There were days this summer when I was ready to throw in the trowel, no question. And lately when everyone around us was getting ample weekend rain? Here in Rollingwood we got about 3/4 of an inch on Saturday and not one drop Sunday. Go figure!

  21. Your gardens look lovely, Annie! I know you're thankful that so many of your plants made it through that hellatious summer. My condolences on the losses. MMD asked whether you bare rooted the lavender and I second her suggestion. If it's like most of the lavenders and bedding plants sold here, it's in a peat-based mix, not at all compatible with our soils. Washing all the soil off a plant's roots and then planting it has worked well for me thus far.

  22. Oh dear...I've just divided and moved lamb's ear to a few new spots that may be too sunny. Maybe I'll get lucky though with my trident maple that might be just big enough to offer some protection. My pomegranate is almost that big...maybe next year I'll get some fruit! I love your brugmansia...it never fails to impress me!

  23. I love that your diva passionflower made the trip to where she could be more dramatically showcased, Annie! *grin*

    Those little pomegranates are adorable, and I'm pretty smitten with your clematis. (Is that 'Niobe'?) If I could get red, red-violet AND purple on the same clematis, I would grow it in a heartbeat.

  24. Love that clematis! I lose lamb's ears every few years too. We've all lost a few things this year but your other beauties make up for it.

  25. Wow, Annie! That Passionflower is drop-dead gorgeous! The Brugmansia is so showy too, your garden looks very dramatic. And how exciting to see your pomegranate producing. Like you, I am enjoying a revival of what has survived in the garden. You so need to have some cards made with that beautiful Mutabilis rose. The coloring is so delicate.

  26. All are amazing. The Mutablis takes my breath and heart away.

    Beautiful, Annie!

    Oh, and here comes more rain, Austin!

  27. Yes, I'm doing the same thing -- trailing around my garden to see what's survived. So many nice surprises, and some sad ones too. That's gardening in central Texas!


A comment from you is like chocolate - maybe I could live without it, but life is more fun with it. I'll try to answer. If someone else's comment piques your interest, please feel free to talk among yourselves.