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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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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day September 2010

A week ago Tropical Storm Hermine dumped 12" of rain in my neighborhood in less than one day, filling the rain gauge over & over, and making a garden tub left on the patio overflow. We were mighty nervous and we were very lucky - our lot has a very slight slope but that was enough to channel the water away from the house so it didn't come inside. Within a 10-mile radius dozens of houses were ruined, their owners now moved in with relatives, not knowing what the future holds. For other Central Texans, the loss was greater, as the floodwaters that came with Hermine also swept away people. You can read some words of Austinites as the flood happened in this compilation by KXAN here.

Annieinaustin,12 inches rain in tub
With that devastation in mind I'd better not complain about losing a few plants to Ms Hermine's pounding and immersion! Any early September rain brings on the Oxblood Lilies, also known as Schoolhouse Lilies/Rhodophiala bifidia, blooming when the children traditionally returned to school. They may not be native, but they sure are Austin.
Annieinaustin, oxbloods front garden

MSS of Zanthan Gardens is the Oxblood Lily Queen of Austin - she kindly shared bulbs with me in 2006 and every year their appearance reminds me of her generosity.Annieinaustin, oxbloods with vetiver grassWhen the Oxblood-Schoolhouse lilies bloom with Persian Shield, it reminds me that I once would have been hesitant about my garden wearing purple with red. But my old lady garden doesn't care much about fashion rules.
Annieinaustin, Persian Shield and Schoolhouse lilies
The rain brought the blooms, but a week of temperatures over 90°F fried them quickly - only a few still look fresh.
Annieinaustin,fading oxblood lilies

Salvia greggii is rebounding, and Salvia farinacea looks okay, but the usually beautiful Salvia guaranitica & Salvia 'Black & Blue' look so ragged and pitiful that I'm considering cutting them to the ground to start over. Their cousin Salvia vanhouttei, however, is very happy. I poked this $2 starter plant in the ground in late spring and it's now a sprawling 6-foot X 5-foot semi-shrub with many, many dark ruby flowers. The hummingbirds like it.
Annieinaustin,salvia vanhouttei

Another favorite is the 'Provence' lavender, still blooming in the big clay pot near the patio and fountain, with a pot of Evolvolus 'Blue Daze' nearby and a tomato plant in a container, proving the gardener hasn't learned anything from the past few years, but still hopes for tomatoes. Remember the cute little net bags in my tomato post? Critters gnawed the plant, taking tomato, bag & entire stem away with them.
Annieinaustin Provence lavender and Evolvolus Blue Daze

The hummingbirds also like the Cypress Vine/Ipomoea quamoclit, a sticky-stemmed, seedy mess that sends out long winding vines in every direction. A hummer buzzed me this morning while I was taking photos so I know they're still around... but once the birds leave this vine will be leaving, too.
Annieinaustin,cypress vine out of control
Maybe the yard is just gone to the birds? I've left the sunflower skeletons in place so the finches can clean the seedheads, but they certainly aren't decorative. Wrens and other little birds tear up everything planted in the baskets under the overhang. On the other hand, what could I get to grow in this basket that would look cuter than two Titmice?
Annieinaustin, titmice through windowI've read that Central Texas is home to both the Tufted Titmouse and the Black Crested Titmouse... supposedly there are crosses between these two birds, so I'm not sure what kind these are - the photo was taken through the window and screen.

An herb on the patio makes some weird looking flowers and seed heads. This is marjoram, one of my favorites.
Annieinaustin,marjoram in bloom
I plant lots of yellow and orange but those flowers are over or dead now. The centers of zinnia linearis and Blackfoot daisies a few Asclepias & Cosmos flowers and one blooming stalk on a Plumeria can't complete with the reds & blues of September. Because I can't get the camera high enough for a closeup you also see the purple flowers of Cenizo/Barometer Bush responding to the rain, and the 'Acoma' crepe myrtles gone to seed.
Annieinaustin,plumeria and cenizo
White Hummingbird sage, Salvia coccinea, reseeds itself in the decomposed granite around the patio every summer. The plants stayed small until the rain came - now they're 3-feet tall.
Annieinaustin,salvia coccinea alba
The rain meant lots of buds on the Moonflower Vine/Ipomoea alba - at least one or two shimmery white flowers open every night.
Annieinaustin,moonflower vine
In the morning the Moon flowers give up and the Blue Butterfly Pea/Clitoria ternatea takes the day shift.
Annieinaustin,clitoria ternatea, blue pea vine
The Blue pea throws long vines all over that triangle bed and it can get a stranglehold on the other plants. I left this one in place long enough to take a photo, then set the Blue Butterfly Clerodendron & Russelia/Firecracker Plant free.
Annieinaustin,blue clerodendron, blue pea with firecracker plant
Near the patio a $3 miniature 'Red Cascade' rose planted at the base of a bird tower has grown and is blooming... I really like the red and dark green with the Silver Ponyfoot Dichondra.
Annieinaustin,Red Cascade minirose with Silver Ponyfoot

The blue Plumbago was frozen to the ground but you'd never know it now - just as in previous years it starts to block the sidewalk and stops the back door from closing ... I hack it back, it waits a week and starts climbing and spreading again. Thank heavens for easy plants in hard years. If you click to enlarge the photo you'll also see the seed pods - they love to hitch rides on pantlegs and cloth sandal straps.
Annieinaustin,Blue Plumbago with seedheads
The most unusual bloom this month was one I haven't seen in a couple of years - my Aunt Phyll's passalong Stapelia. I still haven't figured out what triggers the bloom but I enjoy their short-lived, stinky presence whenever they suddenly appear!

September 10th
Annieinaustin,Stapelia bud

September 12th
Annieinaustin,Stapelia bud swells

September 14th
Annieinaustin,Stapelia full bloom

September 15th
Annieinaustin,Stapelia spent blossom

If you are more interested in vegetables than in ornamentals, there is Good news-Bad news. The bad news is that the ''Solar Fire and 'Early Girl' tomatoes were starting to make new leaves & buds when the rain hit... they turned to brown sticks within days of the deluge.

But the peppers? They responded to the rain like this:
Annieinaustin,Spanish Spice peppersFor the monthly lists of every single thing that's in bloom with botanical names you can go to Annie's Addendum.

Please go to MAY DREAMS GARDENS to see all the posts that Carol has gathered into the Garden Blogger Bloom Day fold - a once-a-month, worldwide festival of what's in bloom. Brilliant idea!


  1. "Thank heavens for easy plants in hard years." No truer statement was ever written! Your garden has some great blooms. Now, in less than 2 years, you know what is drought tolerant, and what is "one foot of rain in a day" tolerant. Thanks for sharing it all with us for bloom day!

    And congrats on the Stapelia blooming. If you figure out what gets it to bloom, let me know so I can see if I can get mine to bloom, too.

  2. IMHO, it's a good thing to let your garden "go to the birds!" Especially when the results are so beautiful. Too bad that cypress vine is so messy, because it's gorgeous even without flowers--I love that fine texture and bright green color.

    But I'm most in love with those oxblood lilies... every time I see the reds, I make up my mind that I'm going to try some of the reportedly almost-hardy ones here. And then I chicken out!

  3. Oooo--I love that Salvia vanhouttei! I have a hard time finding flowers in that really deep red shade. My red cascade rose isn't blooming right now, but I yours looks fantastic contrasted with the silver ponyfoot. I'm glad Hermine made your garden so lush and didn't damage your home!

  4. I am so glad you were spared from the wrath of Hermine. Your garden looks so lovely one would never know you had so much rain. WE could use a foot of rain here but hopefully over a few days. Beautiful and new to me ... your Stapelia is fantastic.

  5. Wow - the color on that salvia vanhoutii is really something. You got a lot more rain than we did- about twice as much. But glad it didn't cause serious damage for you. The bloom on your Stapelia is extraordinary. I've never watched one bloom, and loved your sequence of photos to take us along. Happy GBBD!

  6. I love that stapelia. I'm so glad you included the before and after photos of it too. It seems like a happy starfish when it's open.

    You're right. The silver ponyfoot really sets off the 'Red Cascade'. I have both, just not together. I need to introduce them.

    The blue butterfly pea is still my favorite. What a lovely blue! I'm happy the oxblood lilies are blooming for you.

  7. Annie, your Oxblood Lilies are are lovely consolation prize for having to endure Hermine's pounding and immersion. I feel for those who suffered damage and loss. How devastating for them!
    I'm in love with Salvias and so pleased to be trying some in my garden! Your $2 Salvia vanhouttei has rewarded you very nicely in a short time.
    Do you think my Evolvolus 'Blue Daze' might overwinter inside? I've been wondering if I could save it.
    The Titmice are definitely as decorative as anything you could plant...and more entertaining :) Aren't they adorable little birds?
    Your blues are beautiful!!
    And yes, the red rose and silver...gorgeous!
    I just read that Plumbago is hardy to zone 5. Perhaps I'll give it a try someday. I need more plants ;)
    The Stapelia bloom is intriguing. Truly amazing!
    My tomatoes, so healthy and productive for many weeks, have now succumbed to late blight...yes, it's back, sad to say.
    We do seem to have a knack for posting our Bloom Day offerings around the same late hour. A late night drink and snack would be a fun reward :)
    The bees love the anemones too :)
    No frost until Thanksgiving...I could live with that!
    Wishing you sunny skies, gentle rain and mild temps, dear friend.

  8. Your garden looks great to me. It has to contend with heat, drought and now flood. The cypress vine grows in my garden too. The hummingbirds love it. I am always delighted when birds "take over". That is really what I garden for, the wildlife. Happy GBBD. I am glad to hear your property or person was not damaged in the flooding rain.

  9. 12" of rain?! Holy cow? Just half for me. I'm glad to know the silver ponyfoot made it. I do love against your $3 Red Cascade, another rose on my list. Beautiful bloom day!

  10. That is certainly an unusual bloom on the Stapelia! I guess I haven't been paying much attention to the news lately; I wasn't aware of all the damage caused by Hermine. 12" in one day is awful; I'm glad to know you are safe and escaped any real damage. Love those blue sweet peas!

  11. Oh! Those flowers caught my attention. It seems you have a great flower gardens. How I wish I could have a cool garden like yours. Keep it up!



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