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

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

GBBD, GBBC & Foliage: A Portmanteau Post

Apparently Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year and the 2010 Winter Olympics weren't enough for one weekend so we're also observing Garden Bloggers Bloom Day with May Dreams Carol, Foliage Follow-up with Pam/Digging and the Great Backyard Bird Count with Cornell University's Ornithology Lab.

In the race for available time an extensive genealogy-photo project for Valentine's Day took Gold, watching Moguls and Pairs Skating got the Silver and the Great Backyard Bird Count won Bronze... with just a few photos of Spring trying to come to Austin, Texas for Pam & Carol.


Some of the usual suspects appeared during the times I kept watch for the Great Backyard Bird Count, but the Chickadees hid and it was surprising to see only one White-Winged Dove. If the Cedar Waxwings would come to the fountain we could see their faces better but these seasonal visitors swoop into the neighbors' yards for Waxleaf Ligustrum berries, then perch high overhead in the pecan trees making all my photos look like this
The numbers weren't very high for this count - lower than what I see on many a non-counting day - I think the strong winds encouraged the birds to hide in the large old evergreens all over my neighborhood for much of the weekend. I know they were just out of sight on the other side of the fence! Will our shrubs ever grow big enough to provide the thicket they crave in my garden?


Most of the flowers are reruns from last month - both white-flowering upright and blue-flowering trailing Rosemarys are blooming, the Carolina Jessamine opens flowers that sometimes freeze, but the hundreds of buds ensure they'll keep coming

The oldest Camellia japonica kept its buds, but 'Pius IX' is not supposed to be striped! That's freeze damage.

The early paperwhites froze at 13 in January, but the 'Grand Primo' narcissus aren't bothered by the lighter freezes

Out in the parking strip some daffodils blaze yellow

'Woodstock' Hyacinths planted in 2007 have returned - opened on their stalks near the brick wall of the Secret Garden

but just showing florets in the more exposed Pink Entrance Garden.

The Dianthus 'Telstar Hybrids' are opening flowers again - they'd be annuals if I had them in the ground, but in well-drained containers can go on for years.

This winter-planted Pansies is now blooming on a shepherd's hook near the big loquat. The loquat tree is fine, but most of the small fruits were frozen and the few still attached don't seem to be developing.

The Coral Honeysuckle did not get a swelled head over being the star of last month's music video, just buckled down to replace the frozen foliage and keeps pumping out flowers. Against the sky on the other side of the arch the Lady Banks Rose is also beginning to releaf.

The weather was beautiful at midday when we drove down to the rather new Sunday HOPE Farmers Market on Sunday - bumping into friends made it even better. Philo liked the Four Onion Soup from one vendor and I had terrific Ricotta-Spinach pie from Me Myself & Pie. After buying vegetables we decided a stroll at Zilker Botanical Gardens would be perfect for Valentine's Day.

For Foliage Follow-up come walk the Bamboo Path with us and listen to that rustling sound. Most of the bamboos looked okay, some palms were frozen, others fine, and there were very few flower buds developing on the Texas Mountain Laurels.

Many of the water features were drained for cleaning and sealing but turtles sunned and koi flashed in this pond while children ran and squealed on every path

Eventually we wandered over to the Hartman Prehistoric Garden and found drained ponds and work-in-progress there, too. That palm tree was hit hard by cold!

This year has not been kind to cycads either - wherever we go browned Sago Palms show how cold it's been - but I'd hoped that the more sheltered and protected location of Zilker Park would have made a difference. The bases of the plants above still hold some green - maybe they'll survive but how can they ever regain their perfect form and magnificence? This garden will never be the same.

Other cycads look dead and their bronze color has a weird beauty.

I keep the camera near the breakfast room window, hoping for new birds. The official bird count may be over but trying to catch images of the winged visitors is a game that never stops -And trying to keep the many wandering neighborhood cats from reducing those bird count numbers is another game with no end....hey, you lurking in the garden - go home!

Ed 5:19PM - forgot to include Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras and Lithuanian Independence Day in that list, along with Westminster Dog Show as Linda notes...now trying to think up a menu that combines Lithuanian & Louisiana cuisine! Also - thanks very much to Mikael Behrens' Birding on Broadmeade website for help with bird ID's


  1. Thanks for making time for the Great Backyard Bird Count. So far it looks like Austin has submitted 135 checklists and 116 species!

  2. Yea, lots going on including the Westminster Dog Show! I'm not seeing that many birds either, except for a pair of hawks, a rare sight in my neighborhood. Hope they didn't eat all the little ones. And yesterday, a huge yellow bird on the wire, maybe one of those Monk parakeets? Interesting to see what the annual bird count reveals. And beautiful flowers you have there, too. (oh, I can divide some leucojums for you)

  3. Made my head bizzy, so much going on, but I enjoyed your post immensely.

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one doing a late combo post. Your Paperwhites & Daffodils look so cheery, but those Cycads are just plain sad. They really show how cold it's been in Austin.

  5. Wonderful combo post Annie. You have some beautiful blooms in your garden. I'm seeing a lot of brown cycads around here too. Too soon to know if they will revive come spring.

  6. Oh wow... if not for the destruction, I would be loving that photo of the bronzed cycads. You're right about it having a weird beauty.

    Your 'Grand Primo' are indeed! :)

  7. Annie, this is one of the best combo posts that I've read! I'm trying to think of some other holiday we can throw in there, just for fun!

  8. Oh Lord that was a packed weekend for me, too!

  9. What a packed portmanteau. Looking at all of those old photographs must have made you think of that old fashioned word. Perfect for this post. We have neighborhood cats that make me crazy with their skulking around murdering birds. Too bad we couldnt train them to kill House Sparrows and Starling only. I am happy to see your daffodils. I can't wait until the snow recedes here. There might be a bud there if it warms up some.

  10. I'm so jealous of all your flowers. Spring will be very late coming to my garden this year. cedar waxwings too- I didn't know they were here already. We usually have flocks of them but they don't come until well into spring. They come for my berries then poop all over the windows. We usually have a few fly into the windows too which makes me sad. Amazing that the Hartman sago palms were so damaged. Mine look like that too but just a few miles away ESP has perfectly green ones. Hard to fathom. Happy spring bloom day.

  11. I feel badly for all the plants that were damaged by the odd weather, but I do love the look of the cycad. I hope it recuperates.

  12. Hi Mikael Behrens from Broadmeade - maybe next year there'll be more species in my backyard to count - your extensive list makes me want to see a Cara-Cara!

    So many extra-curricular activities & not enough time, Linda from CTC, right?
    Huge yellow bird - is Sesame Street on Ice in town?

    Thank you, Nell Jean always glad to hear from you!

    Two posts in two days doesn't work for me, Mr McGregor's Daughter - yours was fun.

    A cycad like this in my far NW part of Austin would be expected... not at Zilker!

    Thank you Jayne - up close they're pretty cool but it mostly looks green & brown.
    Wait and see is everyone's motto this spring.

    The one with the lovely bronze color was an Australian variety, Blackswamp Kim- guess they're not as hardy as everyone hoped.
    The'Grand Primo' need the macro lens! Such a name for a 2" flower ;-]

    Wow, thanks May Dreams Carol- but not sure I can handle another celebration! Have to mosey over and get on the list tomorrow.

    Hi Nicole - at least all those vitamins in your beautiful tropical fruits will keep you going!

    Hello Lisa at Greenbow - the photographs sometimes get me so choked up I can't work fast, but I'm glad my family shares everything digitally.
    I don't dislike cats but sure don't like finding pieces of birds in my garden. Especially Mockingbirds.
    There used to be more daffodils - they increased in Illinois, but that doesn't seem to happen here. I should make a note to plant more in fall.

    Those cedar waxwings are so odd, aren't they Lancashire Jenny? I've missed seeing them some years - be gone a couple of days then go outside to see all the berries stripped from the shrubs.
    We always take houseguests to the Hartman so have photos of everyone with the sagos - it was a shock to see them.

    I hope you keep finding survivors!

    Thanks for the comments,


  13. Whoops! Hi Jodi -the Hartman garden is only about a decade old and a lot of the plants are kind of marginal - it will be interesting to see what happens.
    Stay warm and keep enjoying the wonderful show your country is putting on for the world!


  14. Lovely blooms of camellia and narcissus. This is my first visit to your blog and found it very interesting. your photos are very clear and well taken.

  15. Excuse me but you forgot Jello Week, Random Acts of Kindness Day, Have a Heart Day, and Freelance Writers Appreciation Day :-)

    I feel as though I've just been on a Spring garden walk, Annie. So nice to see all the lovely bulbs peeking up and the variety of birds visiting your garden. I'm delighted to see the beautiful red cardinals, the Illinois state bird, in abundance in my yard.

  16. All your bulbs give you the early flowers that I don't have in this garden yet. Need to plan for that next year. I'm glad the Texas mountain laurels aren't budding much yet. Maybe they'll be spared from any late freezes this year.

    Too bad about the sago palms at the Hartman garden. They fit in so well there. I would think those freeze-browned plants need to be taken out and started over with new plants. It'll be interesting to see what they do with them. Sago grows pretty fast with extra water, so perhaps "never the same again" is a little pessimistic? ;-)

    Thanks for squeezing in Foliage Follow-Up, Annie!

  17. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    I think there is hope for the cycads. Mine is ten years old or so. Some damage this year, but not like I've seen on Florida and Texas blogs. When it was newer, it used to lose the previous year's fronds every winter. When it put out a new set, I trimmed away the dead ones. Finally I was tired of the bare stem that was leaving, so I put soil and mulch to hide it. Since then, the damage has been less. I thought it was because the planted aged.

    You asked about Vetiver. A friend brought me some from New Orleans some years back. It has thrived here, even in part sun. I think it might thrive for you. It can't get invasive because cold comes before it can put on blooms. It bloomed once. I cut them off. It forms widening clumps that can be divided, but doesn't send out stolons like some grasses do.

  18. That is a full list of important to note holidays and activities! The palms do have a weird beauty to them....much like some brown sedges that I added to the garden last year! Now that I am looking at nothing but brown left it seems odd to have deliberately added more! have a good day Annie! gail

  19. Whew, I'm with you on the amount of things going on this past weekend. I never did get a Foliage Follow-up going. But GBBC I did and had the usual suspects. The unusuals never seem to show up when I want them. I see you have the same problem with neighborhood cats that I do. Drives me nuts.

    It's nice to see your bulbs starting to bloom. Mine are still sulking but if we will finally get some sun and warm weather it should be a nice but late showing. I've also noticed all the dead looking sago palms around my town. That rusty one you saw looks kinda cool though. I'm wondering if this means that all of them should be cut back before new growth starts.

  20. There WAS a lot going on this past weekend, wasn't there? But you've managed to pull it all together beautifully. I can't wait to see those Cedar Waxwings here. They love our Serviceberry tree fruits.
    I posted a link to this post on my GBBC follow-up post. Thanks, Annie!

  21. Annie - No lack of things to celebrate or do this last weekend, was there?! I'm surprised you have this many blooms - especially on the honeysuckle and the Camellia. The color on that Hyacinth is just beautiful. Those cycads sure are sad, aren't they? I have several that look like that, mercifully my two really big ones were mostly untouched. They, like many things in our gardens, will be a long time recovering this year, I fear. Happy GBBD!

  22. It certainly looks like spring in your garden, Annie! The Sago palms at the park look quite pretty with their bronze foliage, but that's not a happy thing if they have been permanently damaged by the frost.

    Getting good photos of the birds has to be the hardest photo shoot of all. I participated in the Bird Count this weekend, too, but like you was a little disappointed that a few of the regulars didn't show up. Thanks goodness for the snow, though--more of them came to the feeders with the ground covered with white.

  23. Annie, even though you are supposedly colder than me (though I've discovered with my new outdoor thermometer that I'm also in a cold spot for the city), your plants are ahead of mine. My returning Hyacinth are just now peeking out, and Coral Honeysuckle doesn't have a bud yet. Glad things are alive and kicking in your garden!

    And you forgot about International Bagpipe in the Nude Day!

  24. I like the way the Camellia looks w/freeze damage! It's more interesting that way.

    I must remember to get some Grand Primo for next year!

  25. What an activity laden weekend we all had! Added to ours was youngest grandson's 6th birthday so we were away celebrating with our son and his family for 2 and a half of the GBBC days. Alas, there were no birds in their backyard but we did watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics on a bigger TV than ours :)
    I counted our birds on Monday but have yet to post about it. I'm working on it!
    How lucky you are to have daffodils and hyacinths already! I love the color of "Woodstock" and those "Grand Primos" are gorgeous.
    A stroll through Zilker Botanical Gardens sounds very romantic to me :)
    The cold weather has been very unkind to the poor cycads, but they do look rather pretty in their tan and bronze shades.
    We didn't eat pancakes for Fat Tuesday. Did you?
    I love that old photo of you, Annie. Are the other girls your sisters?
    Even well fed kitties think birds make a good snack. I have to watch our Hannah very carefully when she goes outside because she loves to hunt. Luckily though, she dislikes the cold so she comes in quickly these days.
    Happy "all-of-the-above" days!

  26. Hello Muhammad khabbab - thank you for commenting and enjoying the flowers. Your dahlias are lovely!

    That's too much for one weekend, Carolyn Gail! And someone else will have to make the Jello.
    My mom used to have a poem about the Cardinal in February tacked to her bulletin board...we have a pair here, but don't see groups. Hang in there - spring will get to you.

    It's nice to have something blooming Pam/Digging, but this is not much of a show considering how many I've planted over the past 5 years... bulbs increased in IL...disappear here!
    Even if new plants flourish, I think the proportions will always be off - I remember how carefully sized and placed all the plants were when the garden was constructed, so they'd grow up in relation to each other. That's the part that can't be the same.

    That's good to know, Nell Jean - I lost my Sago a couple of years ago when the heart froze.
    Your vetiver sounds more and more interesting!

    That Tina Turner carex always looked like fun, too, Gail but I never got around to buying one... bet it would have the same effect in winter!

    Hello Jean - your quince is beautiful but it does need walking-around space, doesn't it!
    I like birds but I like cats, too... so mostly settle for shooing them off. Most of the ones I see have collars so guess they're fed!
    We're hearing that the sagos shouldn't be cut back until warm weather arrives and they start growing. More freezes predicted here for next week.

    Thanks for linking, Kylee from Our Little Acre - when there is a flock of the Cedar Waxwings they make the sweetest sort of peeping sounds, too!

    There were only a few Camellia flowers left, Diana, but the honeysuckle is pretty happy looking. I see many dead-looking palms around our neighborhood, too - including two in pots that I forgot to put in the garage so glad yours are okay ;-]

    There are a few pops of spring, Prairie Rose - spring here is never as exciting as it was in Illinois.
    The best photos I get are at the fountain when the weather is dry - white snow and feeders seem like a sure thing!

    Hi Robin Get Grounded - the open hyacinth is near the brick wall, and that honeysuckle has frozen back in other years - maybe it's better because of all the rain?
    Since you remembered IBND... you get to play Annie Laurie in your birthday suit!

    Any camellia is still interesting to me, Cindy from Katy - hope the white one lives and the blooms are okay next year. Scott Ogden is a big fan of Grand Primo!

    That's a wonderful reason to celebrate, Kerri - how cool that you could be together with your boys and watch some of the Olympics.
    You have had such incredible bird posts and your photos are so wonderful... they make me jealous!
    Other hyacinths disappeared but this is the third year for the Woodstocks - guess they ended up in the right places.
    The photo is my mom & two of her sisters - the genealogy photo project went way back!

    Thanks for the comments,


  27. Busy week! I am happy for you that you have bulbs blooming (JEALOUS), and I wish you continued good weather (honestly I do, but still jealous :)

  28. You missed Chinese New Year's on the 14th! How about red beans and fried rice? Moo Shu gumbo?

  29. It seems odd that such big plants would succumb...it must have been very cold. Bummer!

  30. From snow to blooms ~ I should have read your posts in reverse order. I really enjoyed listening to your coral honeysuckle tune yesterday ~ and am enjoying the view of the daffodils, hyacinths, pansies and camellias. I'll never look at coral honeysuckle without hearing the words of your song. (The cat in the photo looks suspiciously similar to Finn ~)

  31. Dang, I forgot to do the bird count this year!!! I had a gazillion today - robins (tons this year) and cedar waxwings - okay, I'll have to remember next year.

    The sagos that were out in the open here really got hit too - a number of palm species did too. Some look like they were partially damaged and should recover - but I agree with you, it will take a long time for them to recover to their full glory. I was in Pensacola, FL last weekend - and they had some much colder weather this winter too, and the palms were in terrible shape down there.

    Happy belated...multiple holidays!

  32. Erg! I can't believe how far ahead of us your season is. I'm weeping at seeing those lovely hyacinths! Um, I mean, I'm so happy for you. Also love the cedar waxwings. We get them here, but I only ever saw one once, flying. They have the coolest, smooth look to them.

  33. Better late than never I am visiting GBBD posts. I'm happy to see you have a nice collection of blooms and things are cheering up there. I love the waxwings! We see them here for a short while at Christmas...they come for the fruit on the Bradford pear. I hope the camellia will recover and that is just temporary freeze damage.

  34. Just wanted to say I love your blog! I came across it through the picture of the loquat and the pansy - two of my favorite plants :)

    <3 Teri


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.