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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, November 29, 2009

Another Gift for the Garden

Y'all are going to think all we do is shop - but like last Saturday's rain barrel, this week's purchase was also a response to summer's toll. A year ago the peach tree so badly sited by a previous owner was still alive - growing at an angle, non-fruiting and smack under the shade of two pecan trees - but alive.We watched it decline and die inch by inch this summer and by the end of October knew it had to come down. Even before the saw came out of the shed, I'd decided on a replacement.

The Camellia sasanqua 'Shishi Gashira' which is planted next to the shed has done well with a minimum of watering, even through record-breaking heat. Two weeks ago I saw a white-flowered Camellia japonica 'Morning Glow' with a dozen buds and I bought it. The price was less expensive than a bouquet of flowers and I want to see what the flowers look like when they open. The plant should like to grow where the pecan trees add shade in summer with the shed wall to block intense, low winter sun. Philippine violets do well here and so do Oxblood lilies, paperwhites and small daffodils like this unnamed paperwhite above that opened over the weekend.

The trunk came down but the peach roots will take a long time to disintegrate. After the Arizona Ash was removed from the front yard in 2007, we helped the process along by piling on mulch & compost after the stump was ground and sinking container plants on top of the mulch. The water, fertilizer and compost that seeped through seemed to help the roots decompose more quickly. We'll see if a container and mulch will work on peach roots, too.

The shopping word in the plan was "container" - off to the nearby Countryside Nursery we went, in search of an attractive pot to hold the camellia. Countryside carries an assortment of natural and organic products like Medina and Cottonbur Compost. We buy plants there - it's where I found the 'Julia Child' rose you've seen in bud and bloom. And we buy pots there, like the big blue pot in the secret garden - still full of dark purple potato vine as winter approaches.Out on the lot we chose a slightly smaller version of the blue pot, liking it even more after Philo brought it up to the counter and the sale price was 20% off the label. I found more treasure inside the building. Every year I remind myself to order Hyacinthoides hispanica, so I can try to copy the Spanish Bluebell display at Zanthan Gardens. But once again I didn't order any - what a lucky break to find Spanish Bluebell bulbs on the rack at Countryside!

Back home I found a black plastic nursery pot of the right size. Philo sawed off the top few inches so it could fit inside the ceramic pot as a liner. That should make it easier when it's time to transplant the camellia into the ground. As always, I cut pieces of roll window screen to cover the holes in both ceramic pot and plastic inner pot. John Dromgoole says the screen helps keep ant colonies and pillbugs from invading containers. I removed the camellia from its starter pot and planted it with Lady Bug Brand Rose Magic soil mixed with extra peat, watering it in with Maxicrop Seaweed w/Iron. ( Products are named not because anyone is paying me but because my blogs have replaced my memory. If this idea works the names will remind me exactly how it was done.) I hope the Camellia buds open white as promised and I hope the plant can live and grow in the pot for a couple of years. By then the roots may be rotted and the ground mellowed enough to be ready to receive it. Then will come the fun of thinking up something new to plant in the blue-green pot.


  1. Shop on Sister. I think you made some good choices here. I can't wait to see your camillia bloom.

  2. I stopped of at Countryside Nursery after you mentioned it to me and came away with a very nice pot and a reasonable price. I wish I had a reason to visit that part of town more often.

    I see your paperwhites have started blooming. I've had some this early in other years but this year I've gotten a lot of foliage and no flowers. I think they've all split and need to be divided and planted in better dirt.

    Glad you found some Spanish bluebells. I keep digging mine up when I'm planting other things and then forgetting to replant them. I might have to buy some more myself even though they multiple steadily and come back every year.

  3. Good luck with the new japonica! (It looks so nice in your new pot). I arrived back home today and saw a few of mine are in bloom - the salvation of the winter months for us here, and now I find myself not being able to imagine a winter without camellias.

    I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving weekend.

  4. What a great solution, to allow the camellia to grow in the beautiful blue container for a few years until the peach roots are no longer an issue. (And great finds, Annie! :)

  5. Annie, you've made me want a camellia. I've resisted getting them because of their preference for acidic soils. Sounds like your pot is a great idea. And I didn't know about Countryside Nursery; sounds like a great place with lots of natives. You've been having a bit of fun this fall!

  6. What a good idea to get rid of the roots faster.

    By the by, fruit woods,especially pear and peach, are the desirable woods to make wooden kitchen utensils out of. To get rid of the trunk you might give it to a wood worker.

  7. Love the new pot. 'Tis the season to be shopping, at least for your garden, and I can't think of a more deserving gardener to get these nice new things for her garden.

    How's that diamond hoe working? I really want one!

  8. I haven't been to Countryside Nursery either but need to give it a look sometime. When your camellia blooms I'm going to have to invite myself over to bury my nose in the blossom.

  9. I envy that you can leave ceramic pots outside through the winter. Ours would be chipped and cracked.

  10. Annie, I love the blue pot and I'll bet that white camellia will look stunning in it. I think I'd underplant it with blue lobelia and some alyssum. I don't know Countryside and you've just given me another reason to make a trip to Austin! Or maybe I'll send my sister over there to get me some of the Spanish bluebells. If y'all can grow them, I have hopes I can, too.

  11. That sounds like a lot of shopping! I think both the plant and blooms of camellias are so elegant.

  12. It's nursery & garden center shopping time in Texas. You all can't go in the middle of summer. Besides, I'm enjoying this vicarious shopping, especially for a Camellia. Good choice.

  13. A white camellia sounds perfect for a shady spot....and containers add that something special to a garden bed. I wish our nurseries offered more in the winter;) But I can't complain too much~~It is a short winter after all. gail

  14. Now you make me want to try a camellia again! On the stump treatment, I've used that successfully myself. I've also tried the trick of making holes with the drill and pouring in buttermilk (or compost/blood meal). I'll check at Countryside. I've invited them to be on CTG but they're too shy. Maybe you can be our emissary & get them to do it! I definitely want to check out the bluebells there!

  15. Thanks, Lisa at Greenbow - it's cold with rain coming so I'm waiting with crossed fingers!

    This seems so early for paperwhites, MSS of Zanthan Gardens - and the time when we'll need them is January, not November! The Hyacinthoides are mixed blue, white and pink. I didn't get them planted yet, but know where they're going.

    Hi Pam in SC - your camellias are spectacular, and obviously very happy. If this one deigns to open you can believe its photo will immediately appear on this blog!

    I hope it works, Blackswamp Kim - we should have taken down that peach when we moved in, but thought it should have a chance. Now it's time to give the Camellia a chance.

    I don't know if they'd grow in your part of Austin Robin Getting Grounded -ever seen one in your neighborhood? When we first house-hunted in this area we noticed a few people growing camellias, hydrangeas and gardenias so it seemed worth a try.

    The trunk isn't very large in diameter so I just set it along the edge of a shady border, Bob - didn't know its value for kitchen utensils. Philo may find this interesting!

    Isn't the pot a pretty color? You will be ashamed of me May Dreams Carol - I haven't hoed yet! I had no time when it was dry - now it's too wet. You will get a report ;-]

    The street was under construction this year, Pam/Digging -otherwise I'd be there more often. Now those buds had better open so you'll come over!

    So far the heavy glazed pots have been okay, Tabor - you can see them outside in winter all over my neighborhood. But in past winters I've lost terracotta pots to freezes.

    Cindy in Katy - underplanting is a good idea - and another reason for a trip to the nursery? It's not that huge or fancy, but I always find something there.
    My hope is that if the bluebells grow for MSS they'll grow for me!

    Maybe there's something about passing the 5-year mark in a house? I'm not sure if that was it, Nicole, but it seemed like time to stop acting temporary and face the fact we might be permanent. I agree that camellias are elegant!

    Buying plants when we were under drought restrictions wasn't tempting, MMD! The recent rains have made us all more courageous.

    When the soil is cool the plants can make good roots, Gail - this is the recommended planting time for trees and shrubs. Local nurseries like Countryside and Natural Gardener have pretty good selections now - big chains are too busy with Christmas decor!

    Philo already drilled holes, Linda/Central Texas Gardener, and I put on compost but didn't now about the buttermilk.
    CTG is a wonderful show but there a lot of people who don't like having cameras pointed at them, even though the word is that you make it a pleasant experience.

    Thanks for the comments,


  16. Love the color of your attractive pot. Great shopping, Annie. The white Camellia should complement the pink very nicely.
    What a pretty little garden you've made beside the shed. I like the rock edging too.
    I planted my first blue bell bulbs in the late summer...a passalong from our niece. Looking forward to them in the spring.
    I noticed the link to my TG post in your answer to my last comment. Thanks so much :)
    Yes, that urn is a beautiful classic shape.
    Our Thanksgiving was wonderful, thank you. Hope yours was too.
    How lovely to have paperwhites. I must try to find some to force for winter.
    I noticed your weather is supposed to be very chilly for the next few days. That'll be a shock to your systems.

  17. I definitely need to add a camellia to my garden.

  18. The perfect plant, in the perfect pot, in the perfect place. I've run out of garden energy by this time in the season. Your industry will pay off when those white camelia buds open.

  19. Hmm, where is my comment? Blogger, I blame you!

    How nice to make this big improvement, Annie. The camellia will be beautiful no matter the color, it looks so healthy and happy already. That is good to know about the window screen. We always use coffee filters, I remember this was in my other lost comment!, but don't have the fireant problem that Texas does, YET! The angle of the peach tree was unusual, but best given the saw treatment. Your spanish bluebells will be wonderful too. :-)

  20. Such a great idea. I do hope you get those white blooms you want. I hadn't heard of window screen keeping the ants at bay but I will have to try it. Too bad I just repotted my olive tree before hearing of this! Speaking of that, my olive tree had ants in the fall when I thought it would never stop raining but once the rains quit, they went back to the lawn!

  21. I love how the Austin gardeners got out and planted like crazy once the heat subsided. Y'all are made of stern stuff. I love camellias and you'll be so happy you have the new one. Your other plants sound like excellent companions also. It's cold here, and I don't want to be outside.~~Dee


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