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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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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blooms of Late December

On the official bloomingday the 15th of December, the word wasn't Flower but Flour - it makes me happy to send a few homemade cookies with the Christmas presents to our families. Last week's chilly weather also put me in the mood to stay close to the warm oven and use old favorite recipes while watching vintage movies like Casablanca and Heaven Knows, Mr Allison. World War 2 movies somehow connect to Christmas holidays from childhood - maybe that's what played on TV during those weeks off from school?

Today those packages have reached their destinations, we're almost ready for Christmas and who needs the oven to keep warm when the thermometer reads 69F?

Time for the Solstice T-shirt designed by my son, a few garden tools and a camera

I'd found ranunculus bulbs in a bargain bin on a recent trip to the big box hardware. I'd already planted bags of mixed colors, but these were pink and destined for the Pink Entrance Garden. The chart on the package showed planting in zone 8 as October to December, giving me just a few more days to get them into the ground. My new Diamond Hoe was still shiny and unused - trying it out was a good reason to go outside. Soon the bulbs were planted and the diamond hoe worked exactly the way it was supposed to in the parking strip.

Instead of another session with the leaf rake, I'd rather take notice of the flowers today. After a couple of freezes the survivors are the tiny flowers - white oxalis buried in pecan leaves
Creeping phlox in the front bed
Deep rose Gaura unstoppable in the Pink entrance garden
Seedlings of cilantro and larkspur sprouting near starts of Lunaria
Cold changed the roses- magenta tones appeared on the buds of the Mutabilis rose
Cold deepened the pink of 'Belinda's Dream'
and turned 'Julia Child' buds from butter yellow to orange sherbet

The coral honeysuckle still holds on to old leaves turned yellow even as new leaves and buds unfold. The hummingbirds are long gone - they'll never sip from these flowers and the goldfinches aren't interested in nectar.
The floweriest part of the garden is on the north side of the shed
The stems of the paperwhites Narcissus flopped down in the cold, but most of the individual blossoms remain intact
Only a few flowers of Camellia sasanqua 'Shishi Gashira' are left to drop rosy petals
But the new Camellia japonica 'Morning Glow' is just now beginning to bloom - two flowers are open today.

How odd to live in a place where something like this blooms for Christmas!
However you celebrate, Dear Friends, may your days be merry and bright.



  1. Annie, I want that white Camellia! How gorgeous is that! Thanks for your post, informative for me as always. Hmmm, when can I plant a camellia?

  2. So nice to see blooms still in your garden Annie! Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  3. Happy Holidays, Annie!!!

    (Btw, I adore that gorgeous white camellia... and the puffed-up birdie is too cute.)

    Best wishes for a happy new year to you and yours... :)

  4. Hi Annie, thanks for showing these cheering flowers and the fluffy goldfinch, with a little Humphrey thrown in for good measure! Those camellias are a wonder, no matter where you live, the white one is fabulous. Your cookies were well received, I'm sure. Love the design of the t shirt. May you have the most wonderful of holidays. :-)

  5. Merry Christmas to you too, Annie. That camellia is gorgeous, a perfect Xmas bloom.

  6. I don't know which I like better, Annie, those gorgeous camellias or your son's t-shirt design! Here's wishing you a peaceful and joyful holiday with those you hold dear.

  7. I'm so envious of all the beautiful flowers you have in your garden, Annie. Especially, the Camellia, the state flower of my home state, Alabama, which makes me even more homesick.

    I want to wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years.

  8. The whole shrub was $11, Robin Get Grounded, and it's planted in a container. Even if it turns out to be a temporary resident this was an affordable & portable indulgence. Go for it!

    Happy Holidays to you and yours, too, Garden Girl -hope there's snow if you want some!

    Thank you, Blackswamp Kim- my husband liked the bird's expression...hope your holidays are great.

    It's lovely to see you, Frances/FaireGarden- should have guessed you'd be a Bogart fan! The rosy pink one is pleasing, but the white one really got to me...maybe it will survive Texas. A merry & bright Christmas to you, too.

    Thanks, Tabor - are you snow-covered now?

    I thought of you when it opened, Pam/Digging - imagining you as a child growing up with camellias in bloom. Happy Christmas to all the family.

    Hi Jodi-Bloomingwriter- those are beautiful wishes - may they be true for you, too!

    Oh, Carolyn Gail - I can see how you'd be homesick for a place with flowers in December! Now we have flowers but miss the people in Chicago and the beauty of the city.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family- hope you have fun being Grandma!


  9. Merry Christmas Annie. It was wonderful seeing a few blooms at this time of year. So very cheerful. I have always thought of Camillias as roses. Their blooms reminds me of some old fashioned roses. Now I will think of them as Christmas flowers. Blessings to you and your family.

  10. So nice to see all these lovely blooms at this time of year, Annie! No white Christmas here--just rain, rain, and more rain, creating a brown, soggy mess instead. But at least I don't have to worry about icy roads preventing family from coming over to celebrate.

    Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

  11. How lovely your blooms are! I am seriously digging that Solstice Tshirt, that's definitely my kind of humor. Merry Christmas & best wishes for the New Year!

  12. Love that white camellia! I hope you have a great Christmas, Annie.

    Always Growing

  13. How wonderful to still have so many blooms in your garden. Happy Christmas to you and P.

  14. Annie, I hope you and Philo have had a Christmas season as beautiful as that white Camellia. May 2010 be a great year for you and yours!

  15. Yes, it would seem quite odd to me, too, to have all those blooms in my December garden. Here the 1st paperwhite opened inside, appropriately enough on Christmas Day. Your camellia is beautiful... one wonders if you cut it to take inside to enjoy?

  16. So many beautiful flowers in your garden right now. Merry Christmas my friend. So glad I got to know you in 2008 and that we continue our friendship over blogging and twitter.~~Dee

  17. Your white Camelia is as beautiful as any white Christmas! My hubby bought me Paperwhites for Christmas and I'll think of you when they bloom :)
    How lucky you are to still have Gaura in flower, and all the other dainty blooms...not to mention roses!
    I hope you and your family had a wonderful and very merry Christmas, Annie. Wishing you a happy New Year which includes many delightful days spent in your beautiful garden.

  18. Let me add my wishes, albeit them belated, for a delightful holiday. I can't help but smile and think that Julia Child would love your description of her rose "butter yellow to orange sherbet"! Happy New Year to you and Philo. gail

  19. Happy Holidays to you too Annie. Your table filled with cookies looked wonderful - and yes, isn't it strange (but just spectacular!) to have such flowers blooming in December? Thank God(s) for the Camellias!! I hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday (and the solstice t-shirt is great!).

  20. I hope you had a happy holiday and wish you the best of new years! Thanks for the look at your blooms...my bloom day post sits unfinished in draft form!

  21. Thanks for sharing your lovely December blooms, Annie. I can certainly understand why that finch looks so happy hanging out in your garden. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  22. I always love your holiday posts. Your home is so warm and cozy. I, too, watched Casablanca during holiday prep, and adore all the WWII movies. And guess what: Santa brought me the Rex Stout biography! Happy New Year. Thank you for all the joy and kindness you've brought our way this year.

  23. How lucky you are to live in a place where there are still a few blooms deep in December!

  24. I love, love, love the T-shirt! Happy New Year!! :)

  25. I don't make a habit of reading other peoples posts, but while scrolling down I saw a whole lotta what I was thinking...Great, great T-Shirt...I wish I had one!

    I can't believe you have all those blooms still...I'm afraid to go outside and look in my garden! It's been too cold and I am sick to death of the brown...

    Happy New Year Annie!

  26. After this cold weekend I'm glad the photos are on the blog, Lisa at Greenbow- not sure the remaining Camellia buds will open ;-[

    Happy New Year, Prairie Rose- looks like you are really in the deep freeze now so drive safe!

    I'm glad you liked the shirt too, Mr McGregor's Daughter - and unlike shirts with ornaments & snowmen...this one is good TWICE a year!

    Happy New Year to you, Jan - guess this cold snap means we'll both be buying plants to fill in blank spots in a couple of months.

    Happy New YearLancashire Jenny -it was fun while it lasted and spring will come.

    Hi Cindy McMorris Tournier - I fell hard for that camellia and would do it again. Likewise wishing you in Katy a Happy 2010!

    Ah, how wonderful it must be to walk into that famous garden room in the middle of January, MayDreams Carol - and I did cut a couple of them for a flower bowl. No real scent, but lovely.

    Two weeks later it's a different world, Dee of Red Dirt - glad you saw them before the big freeze and extra glad we met in person!

    Happy New 2010 Kerri - enjoy the paperwhites, hug that DH and may this year bring many happy flowery days to you and yours.

    The story is that Julia selected this one from a group of roses in development just because it looked like butter. I hope the story is true, Gail - don't you? Best wishes for a terrific 2010 to you, too.

    Thanks Leslie - happy 2010 to you! Did you at least take a few photos for the undone bloom day? Even when I don't actually make a post... the photos help me remember what was going on.

    Happy New Year to you, Renee/Renee's Roots - it's been fun to meet you in person after reading your AAS columns - Happy gardening!

    Your comments mean a great deal to me, Linda of Central Texas Gardener- wow- we both watched Casablanca pre-holiday? Let us know how that Rex Stout biography is. The Nero Wolfe books were so much fun and oh, what a tremendous crush I had on Archie Goodwin. Happy 2010!

    Hello Ms Robin - yes, it was lovely right around Christmas - but the poor flowers are frozen now - record low temperatures this weekend have changed things!

    Happy New Year, Beth - think you'd like my son & daughter-in-law....dangerous sense of humor, those two.

    Thanks for making an exception ;-]
    My son has the shirt on Cafe Press, Conscious Gardener - it's pretty cool, I think.
    But as to what's still out there after this weekend? Think it will take a while to even assess the damage. This would be a good week to buy a flowering indoor plant, wouldn't it?

    Thanks for all the comments,


  27. Hi Rose,
    I came back to tell you I think it got down to -14, not as cold as they thought it may, and I don't think it broke a record. We are warming up to highs in the 30s, this week and by Saturday, 41 for the high is predicted. We're looking forward to that!

    I enjoyed reading this post. Your son's shirt design is cool. I'm wondering how these pretty flowers fared in your cold temps. I hope you area warming up, too.

    I bought a bag of tangerines, and one of oranges today, thinking the supply may be going down soon.

  28. Fourteen-below is still plenty cold, Sue! That was about the point in IL where the forsythia buds would freeze off so we'd have only leaves. Glad you have 40's in the forecast and good hunting at the grocery store.


  29. great blog. The camellia pictures are beautiful. I have few tries with ranunculus still waiting the results! :-)


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