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

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bloom Day & Genealogy

WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?? Annieinaustin,last purple clematis
Maybe you recognized that line as a riff on the recent family history series "Who Do You Think You Are?" It was fun to see Twitter-friend Megan Smolenyak on the show, helping celebrities find out answers to mysteries of their family's past. My time and brain cells have been devoted more to genealogy than to gardening lately - and until last night's blessed 2-inches of rain fell, the gardening mostly consisted of watering.
Annieinaustin, old group photoSomehow old records suddenly appeared, solving some puzzles while sprinkling new question marks all over the charts.

Some of the findings are fun: A previously unknown great-grand-aunt appeared out of thin air on the Zoelle branch! Researching this name has produced such variations as Zolle, Zolla, Zoller, Zello, Seller & Colley.

Some of the findings are disturbing: so many death certificates had forms of tuberculosis as the cause of death that I started reading about its effects on Chicago in the late 1800's-early 1900's. Now I'm feeling emotionally overwhelmed with sympathy for my poor immigrant ancestors, many of them born before TB was recognized as infectious rather than an inherited tendency. Logic and reason remind me this happened so long ago that they'd all be dead by now... even without consumption to carry them off...how is it possible to mourn for and with people you never knew?

Enough of Family Trees for now! It's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, begun by May Dreams Carol. Even in that relationship genealogy comes into play... I first found Carol in a web search- not through her garden blog, but at her Grandmother's Diary.

In other months my GBBD posts may feature plants that will only grow where winters are comparatively mild - Texas mountain laurel, Carolina jessamine, White ginger or bluebonnets.Annieinaustin, yellow and blue borderBut sometimes a vignette like this one looks quite similar to some place 1200 miles away and a dozen years ago.

This little reblooming daylily, a recross of 'Stella d'Oro' called 'Vi's Apricot', used to flower in Illinois -
Annieinaustin,apricot daylilyBut it bloomed in July rather than May, and never at the feet of a 'Meyer's Improved' lemon tree! Annieinaustin, daylily with lemon
Tomato blossoms are beautiful no matter where or when they bloom.
Annieinaustin,tomato blossoms
Calibrachoa and green beans are pretty universal, aren't they? Annieinaustin, Millionbells

The so-called Ditch Lily (Hemerocallis fulva) really did grow in roadside drainage ditches in Illinois. It was so common that I didn't bother to bring a piece with me to Texas. It's been nearly 11 years since I saw one blooming but thanks to Good and Evil Lori this Wisconsin-born orange daylily opened flowers today. Annieinaustin, ditch lily
And thanks to the inspiration of MSS of Zanthan Gardens, the daylilies opened with a cloud of 'Royal Wedding' sweet peas above them Annieinaustin, orange daylily with white sweet peas

In Illinois the yellow rose would have been 'Graham Thomas' instead of 'Julia Child', the pine was a dwarf Mugho Pine instead of an Italian Stone Pine and the pale purple bells of Mexican Oregano would never survive winter, but the vine in the background would be the same -a Clematis 'Ramona' eventually shows up in all my gardens, no matter where we live.Annieinaustin, julia child rose with Poliomintha

So does the light yellow daylily, Hemerocallis 'Happy Returns' - here with other old favorites blue larkspur, yarrow Achillea 'Moonshine', yellow snapdragons and Salvia farinacea. The main difference in this scene versus one in Illinois is that the rocks are free in Texas! Annieinaustin, larkspur with Happy Returns daylily

If I see a beloved plant from the past on the distressed/sale table there's a good chance I'll try to grow it here. This Oakleaf Hydrangea followed me home from Countryside Nursery last winter

Annieinaustin, Oakleaf Hydrangea

But before anyone calls the Reality Police and tells them to stage an intervention, here is proof that I really do know where I am. This is Austin, Texas, where Salvia 'Black & Blue' grows like a weedAnnieianaustin, Black and Blue salvia

Where exotic fruits like Pineapple Guava are used as garden shrubs
Annieianaustin pineapple guava flowers

And tender fruit trees like 'Wonderful' Pomegranate live through the winter and bloomAnnieinaustin, pomegranate flower

Where 'Celeste' figs grow uncovered and unprotected as landscape elements
Annieinaustin, little figs
Where a fragrant double yellow Oleander from Plant Delights Annieinaustin, yellow oleander
Combines with fragrant white Confederate jasmine Annieinaustin, Star jasmine

And a fragrant white 'Little Gem' magnolia to scent the air and make one feel like a superannuated Scarlet O'HaraAnnieinaustin, Little gem magnolia flower

Austin is a place where odd lilies like Eucomis copy pineapples Annieinaustin, pineapple lily
A Justicia pretends to be a ShrimpAnnieinaustin,shrimp plant

And Cuphea llaevea mimics a Bat's faceAnnieinaustin,batface cuphea

Where Pam's passalong Aloe can survive hail and cold in the shelter of a holly tree to bloom in the shadeAnnieinaustin,aloe bloom

Where wildflowers like Texas Paintbrush can be picked up at local nurseries to grow as container plants on the patio (last year's plants even seeded in the front lawn!)Annieinaustin, Texas Paintbrush
And where the tender Rosa Mutabilis that I once sighed over in out-of-zone gardening books elbows out every other plant in the front borderAnnieinaustin, mutabilis rose
Here's one more look at the 'Royal Wedding' Sweet peas, caught a few days ago as the sun came through their petals in early morning light. The seeds came from the Natural Gardener - a little gift when we bought our second rainbarrel last winter.
Annieinaustin,Sweet peas

Happy Blooming Day! Celebrate by checking out the gardens linked to the GBBD post at May Dreams Gardens. Soon I'll get a list together of everything in bloom with botanical names at Annie's Addendum.

(The GBBD List is now up)


  1. Well, the exotic guava did it for me but those sweet peas are something I might try next year!

  2. I didn't know that about tuberculosis--people thinking it was genetic. Amazing. We're very fortunate to live now and not then. But maybe they thought the same thing, back in the day. Is it okay to take basic survival for granted? That's a luxury for many millions of people in the world today even.

    My favorite family story along these lines comes from my great, great-grandparents who lived in Maine. One summer the barn burned down and all five children died of diphtheria. They started again with a new barn and had five more kids. One summer the barn burned down and four kids died of diphtheria. My whole family comes from the surviving child, Charles. We've always admired their fortitude and it's been a lesson in our family all my life.

    Anyway... my Rosa mutabilis is starting to send up some strong stems. For year it was just a rooted cutting. Now it's becoming a real plant, and I'll be watching out for those elbows.

  3. Forget what I said in my tweet. My browser tricked me by opening a new window instead of a new tab. Didn't see it in the task bar.

    Anyway, I haven't gotten back to genealogy in so long. I'm almost afraid to, it will suck all the time out of my day!

    I really enjoyed the comparison between up north and down south flowers. The iris you gave me will be blooming in a couple of weeks. It was sure confused that first year.

  4. I love how the spirits of the past pervade your garden today. We are the sum of all who came before and you've gotten me much more interested in exploring my own past than I've ever been. The garden reminds us of the turn of seasons over the years--a bit like rolling the die, varying combinations within a set of possibilities--always a bit different but always a bit familiar.

  5. You really were having a 'bloomin' day over in your garden. I, too, combine gardening with genealogy. TB was also a big killer in England as well as typhoid. They had no idea they were contaminating their own water. When I give a tour at the WFC I always ask if the visitors are native to the state in which they live. Few are. They are the exotics others the natives. Those ancestors who came to these shores long ago brought their own plants with them. Many have become a part of the areas flora although they are not true natives. All your blooms are lovely Annie native or exotic.

  6. Hey Annie, I enjoyed reading your geneology. I've also done some about our families, and consumption was once a terrible killer. Of course, there is a also an antibiotic resistant strain of TB now which hunts the homeless of our city.

    Your flowers are lovely. I'm so glad you got some rain.~~Dee

  7. How funny that you now have that old ditch lily in your garden. That sure is a bit of the old home. The pomegranate bloom is just gorgeous, what a treat to have that in your garden. Your garden is such a wonderful mix of hardy and less hardy plants all mingling together in harmony.

  8. It is funny Annie that I found Carol's garden blog by looking at her Grandmothers diary. I love to read those old diaries/journals. My families geneanology has been mushed through by older generations and there is always someone bringing it up to date so I feel well grounded. I do wish I knew more about their lives, through diaries or journals.
    Your garden is really looking great. My favorite rose is the yellow rose. The one you have is beautiful. You have so many semi tropical plants I have never heard of except on blogs. It is fun to see them all.

  9. Egad, Chuck's poor ancestors! To lose 9 children to disease like that. I'm not sure I'd have the fortitude to go on. He comes from tough stock.

    I enjoyed all your blooms, Annie, though I smiled to read your descriptions of "tender" plants like Texas mountain laurel and pomegranate, whose hardiness I completely take for granted, having always lived in the lower south (though not always in TX). It would be as if I'd moved to south Florida or Hawaii, I suppose.

  10. Genealogy is such an interesting study. I've dabbled in it a little bit and would like to get into it more. Such fascinating - and sometimes tragic - things we learn about our histories. It just makes us appreciate our ancestors and what they went through.

    Oh yes - and your flowers are gorgeous! Wonderful pictures. Happy Bloom Day!

  11. I love reading and hearing about family history, and am so glad my grandmother's did some research and both family trees are "familiar" complete. Your blooms always look pretty and well cared for. One day I'll be back to see them again!

  12. Ha! Yes, you do know where you are Annie. But isn't it nice to have some of the same plants from where you first started gardening? I do that with my succulents, hold overs from my Austin days. :-) I just love your sweet peas! I've tried growing them but haven't had much luck. I also love the ditch daylilies (although I think I just know them as tawny daylilies). Things are looking great in your garden right now!

  13. Knowing where you are, but remembering from whence you came, is always a great combination... right?

    This has been a great Bloom Day show! I only wish that the guava and pomegranate would be as happy here in NE Ohio as the coral honeysuckle is. ;)

  14. Your garden is simply amazing! And fabulous post. Love family history. I, too, really enjoy Carol's grandmother's history.

  15. Nice to see some familiar faces among your exotic Texas blooms, Annie. I had to laugh at your comment about the free rocks. My uncle, who is a farmer, has been clearing one of his fields that is particularly rocky and offered me all the rocks I wanted--if I toted them home myself. He was surprised when I jumped at the chance for some free rocks to edge a new bed with, but even more surprised when I told him that people actually went to garden centers to buy rocks!

    Genealogy is fun, but also very time-consuming. I'm so fortunate that my parents have spent countless hours tracing our family history back several hundred years. It's fascinating to read the results of all their hard work.

  16. Genealogy has made me a much better student of history, wanting to understand the context in which our ancestors lived. My great-grandfather, a dairy farmer, organized a group of farmers against proposed requirements for TB testing in cows. And this was in the 1920s! Someday I'd like to write up that story, but there are too many people still living who might feel shamed or embarrassed by it.

    Anyhow...a couple of years ago, I saw my first Pomegranate flower on someone's GBBD post and thought "Wow, who would even care about the fruit with flowers like that!". The same thought came to me just now looking at your Pineapple Guava. Wow!

  17. What a sweet and thoughtful post! I love that ditch lilly, saw it on Diana's blog...which for some strange reason won't let me post to.

    We do live in a magical garden land don't we! Love your show Annie, what a sweet, sweet garden:)
    I hope to see it in person sometime!

  18. Funny thing, Tabor, is that the Royal Wedding sweet peas were almost ready to bloom when I hit a mention of them while rereading Jamaica Kincaid's My Garden.

    Oh, ChuckB - your incredible comment is the reason I haven't answered. I was amazed at what you shared and kept thinking about the heartbreaking story of your great great grandparents losing 9 of 10 children. Fortitude seems inadequate to describe their strength.
    The mutabilis will need its elbows in your garden ;-]

    I've missed things by not rolling to the right on a 3-column blog, Kathy -easy stuff to do.
    And you are right - genealogy takes huge chunks of time and concentrated attention - not a good fit for mothers of young children!
    How cool the iris lived and will bloom!

    My turtle shell has many layers, MSS of Zanthan, a lot to drag, but I wouldn't be a turtle without it!
    Family history is addictive, isn't it?

    We learned a little about TB in elementary school, Lancashire Rose, and I still remember kids fainting during whole-school tuberculin tests, but seeing the words on family documents made it personal.
    Of course with natives you also have to ask "Native when?"...my garden is native to Pangaea!

    From what I've read TB has been fought but not conquered, Dee of Red Dirt Rambling -the story is not over.

    In Illinois Hemerocallis fulva did not rate a major flower bed, Mr McGregor's Daughter, but I sure was glad to see it. "Wonderful mix" sounds better than MishMash so thanks!

    Carol's Grandmother Ruth was a very forward thinking young woman, wasn't she, Lisa at Greenbow - a blogger who had to wait 80 years until her posts were uploaded!
    Some cousins are working on their branches, but the closest thing I've seen to family trees for my group was a few pages torn from the middle of a family bible.

    We had Zone 6 envy up in IL, Pam/Digging - and even people in North Texas have problems growing Texas Mountain Laurels. We found out how tender our plants were this winter, didn't we!

    Hello, Birdwoman- many times I've appreciated whoever got on a ship and made it across the ocean to the US. My motion sickness is so bad that we'd still be in Europe if I were the pivotal ancestress LOL

    And one day I hope to get to Indiana and see your garden, May Dreams Carol - it will be even better with your new design!

    Hi Jean - actually, the first place we gardened after we were married was in South Carolina - then went back to Illinois. So the mental baggage includes Southern along with the Midwest and Texan.
    My luck with sweet peas has been very erratic but this year they're taller than I am!

    That sounds good, Blackswamp Kim, but how to choose which things to know and which to remember...and which to forget?
    If the guava and pomegranate were happy the lilacs and peonies would not be ;-]

    Thank you, Linda of Central Texas Gardener, AKA Linda of the Linden Brook, but remember I do try to direct your eyes away as well as toward.

    How cool that you used Family Stones for the bed edges, Prairie Rose - I used birthday money to buy some in Illinois.
    How interesting that your parents got into genealogy - did they travel back to ancestral lands?

    Totally agree, Entangled - we need context! The TB & dairy cows link came up when I was reading, too - even Koch himself doubted the connection so your grandfather had company.
    I'm a little annoyed that the patio Pomegranate, which I pass a dozen time a day, has no blooms...these are on the one at the end of the secret garden - have to go there on purpose to see them.

    Diana and I got them from Lori - Conscious Gardener- she hauled pots of daylilies back from Wisconsin.
    I hope so, too - thank you.

    Hope your gardens are making you happy!


  19. Genealogy is always so interesting, and very similar to gardening; you never know what you are going to dig up next.

  20. Your garden is so lovely, Annie. That Pomegranate bloom is stunning. It seems you have managed to balance your pasts gardens with the present...what a gift! I would love to have some of those "ditch" lilies too! Driving through the midwest, they are like little oasis in the midst of farm land.

    I have always found genealogy fascinating. I am blessed with many relatives who have delved into family history for years. We will be going to our second annual family reunion on my mother's side in June. Last year we toured all the old country cemeteries that only a few remember where they are. That was an experience.

  21. I haven't been out in my garden for a while, but if I decide to add another tree to my garden it will be a pineapple guava. I love the flowers. Is the fruit good?
    Yours is beautiful.

  22. I missed your Garden Blogger's Bloom Day post this month Annie. I'm sorry I did too, you have some wonderful combinations that will certainly inspire me as my garden design takes shape.

  23. So many wonderful things in bloom. I first saw the "Who Do You Think You Are" program on CBC (Canadian station) and was surprised to see it later in the U.S. So interesting--cool you know on of the people involved.

  24. Annie, I so enjoyed reading your zone comparisons~and knowing what you grew there and what you have substituted in your Austin Zone 8 garden. One thing about growing wildflowers there are many that grow in my garden, in warmer gardens like yours and in an Illinois garden like Mr Mcgregor's Daughter. I love gardening and connecting to other gardeners~

    One of my cousins in very into our family genealogy, but, she will not share any info! I'll have to search on my own.


  25. The garden is looking lovely, Annie! I hope it continues to do so despite this early onset of summer heat!

  26. Not only our plants have roots we do too in the shape of our ancestors. Many people died from TB until they found the cure for it. People also died from things that are now considered pretty harmless like a broken leg or an infection.

    It's good to see your sweet peas in flower, have to wait a few more weeks before mine will flower.

    BTW you are right about Tara. After I gor back from Malvern she followed me around all day for 5 days running. It felt very much like me and my shadow. ;-) Luckily she's more relaxed now but (don't tell her this) I'm going away to France soon.

  27. Researching geneology must be a little like reading a good mystery. I'm glad you made some interesting discoveries, even though some were so disturbing.
    Those Pineapple Guava flowers are amazing! And the Pomegranate blooms would make any gardener happy. How lovely!
    My mother grew Jasmine on the stair railing of her back deck and I always adored it's wonderfully scented flowers.
    Your garden is a beautiful mixture of north and south, Annie. You and Philo have created a peaceful and lovely haven for yourselves and others to enjoy. I'm so glad you share it with us.
    I love your blues and yellows!


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.