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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

At-Ten-Ten-Ten-tion Must Be Paid

Attention has been paid to the design of the garden. Once that Mystery Tree in the last post was identified as a probable Mulberry, it was no longer allowed to overwhelm the new border and it was not transplanted into a pot and nurtured.Annieinaustin, Identified as mulberry According to MSS of Zanthan Gardens her almost identical Mulberry sapling has survived several winters and bounced back after being cut down over and over. This kind of weedy tree might be fine on a few acres or a farm - I've read that the berries are great favorites of pigs - but there is no room for it on our small suburban lot!

I dug deep, and think all the roots came out. Annieinaustin, mulberry roots
MSS gave me Bluebonnet seeds last month and I planted some of them in the now-empty space. In Austin we sow these seeds in fall and then hope the little sprouts make it through cold weather, attacks by pillbugs and constant uprooting by squirrels as they dig holes for pecans.

You can't help but pay attention to the squirrels - they're rampaging everywhere in their fall frenzy - breaking branches while tearing pecan husks from the pecan trees and dropping fragments of husk on every surface. The constant leaping and running and chasing is hard on other trees, too - young Loquat #2 lost several of its lower branches. I guess the squirrels aren't burying all the nuts but are eating a lot of them. This leads to poor judgment by the Tree Rat as to how large a bough is needed to support their weightAnnieinaustin, Loquat damaged by squirrel
The squirrels didn't kill the Culinary Sage - it died not long after the prolonged drenching from Tropical Storm Hermine. Annieinaustin, dead cooking sageIt was interesting to see which plants gave up after 12-inches of rain. Although the Silver Pony foot doubled in size, many of the grey-leaved plants including MoonshineYarrow/Achillea, Lavender plants and most of the Lambs Ears died quickly after the storms. Some salvias, most of the Shasta Daisies, some coneflowers and most portulaca are gone, too. For now those blank spots have been planted with more of the bluebonnet seeds from MSS.

Blooming blue already is that Scutellaria 'Dorota Blue' from last year. It barely survived winter freezes and I kept in into a large pot under the overhang all summer, hoping the part shade could keep the sun from killing it. That overhang also kept the skullcap from being pounded by rain. Now the fall show has begun. Annieinaustin, Scutellaria indica Dorota BlueThe leaves show stress from the past year but the flowers are abundant and beautiful.

That last post about the mystery tree made me neglect some autumn beauties. One plant responded to the rain with an astonishing display - the first blooms ever from red spider lily/Lycoris bulbs, another gift from MSS. What can I say? She is a gardening angel!

The first bud was a surprise - so lovely on its ownAnnieinaustin, Lycoris budThen 6 flower heads rose up and began to open in the center of verbena, Gregg's Mistflower, Black & Blue Salvia, Blackfoot Daisies, Rosa Mutabilis and Bengal Tiger canna leavesAnnieinaustin, Lycoris in butterfly garden They opened over a period of several days, and it was really a smashing combination. Annieinaustin, Red Spider Lily in butterfly garden
I can't help but pay attention to flowers that smell wonderful when I walk out on the patio. A few days ago one of the heads of White Ginger/Hedychium coronarium was perfect. Annieinaustin, Hedychium White Ginger
The fragrance of Sweet Olive is a sure sign of fall in my garden. My three shrubs didn't seem to mind the rain and are covered in tiny fragrant flowers. Annieinaustin, Sweet Olive, osmanthus fragransIf other plants in my garden die, I might take a while to decide whether to replant them. But if I lost Osmanthus/Sweet Olive, I'd be scouring the nurseries for a replacement without a moment's hesitation. I don't want to be without it.

Yesterday was the last project of the year for we members of the Divas of the Dirt, our cooperative gardening group. I've known them since the first project of the 2001 garden season - so yesterday marked 10 years of Digging With The Divas. Most of the story will be on the blog eventually, but for the amusement of my fellow gardenbloggers in Austin, here's a photo of what we spent hours digging up yesterday:Annieinaustin, Horseherb, Calyptocarpus vialisIt's the alternately loved and despised Horseherb - a plant that came in near the top of the Austin gardenbloggers' Most Hated Weed List via Twitter last week, while at the same time it's sold in nurseries and recommended as a native ground cover by other Austin garden people.

There's something to pay attention to in the vegetable patch, too. Most of the tomato plants died soon after Hermine, but just a little liquid fertilizer on the pepper plants brought new fruit. We've enjoyed the sweet frying-type peppers for breakfast Peppers-and-Eggs, but these are a small, rather hot pepper called 'Garden Salsa'.Annieinaustin, Garden Salsa peppers
Philo roasted them, added garlic and turned them into a chunky hot sauce. Science fiction fans are having much fun with the fact that the all important decimal number 42 is rendered 10-10-10 in binary numbers. Philo considered naming his relish the Secret Sauce of the Universe, but instead called it "Thanks For All the Peppers ". Annieinaustin, Thanks for all the Peppers Hot RelishThere are a few more hours left of this day -think I'll keep my massively useful towel handy.

With the sapling mulberry gone, you can now see the amazing size of the Salvia vanhouttei in the new border. I raved last GBBD about the $2, 4" starter plant from Barton Springs Nursery that turned into a temporary shrub, but this plant needs more than photos - it needs attention for just a few seconds on video.


  1. Lots going on in your fall garden, Annie. You got a much better spider lily show than I did. Guess mine need another year or two to settle in after their recent (2 years ago!) move. Or maybe they're just in too much shade. Who knows.

    Congrats on the 10th anniversary of Divas of the Dirt. That was clearly an idea whose time had come, and I'm impressed that you're still gardening together all these years later.

  2. We were so stupid this year that we forgot to use up the abundance of tomatoes and peppers into salsa until just this week! I like that you post your plant demises. It makes me feel that I am not a total failure if even you can have garden problems.

  3. So much happening there Annie. I see your sage succumbs to the same thing mine does. I need to find the right place for mine for I need it in autumn!

    Squirrels are wreaking havoc here as well. No pecans this year so they're attacking the seed heads of the crapemyrtles, throwing them all over the bluestone patio.

    You've reminded me to plant bluebonnets, thanks!

  4. Yes, I can never keep sage alive for long, and I lost a lot of the silvers and others with the rain.

    I still laugh at some of the unidentified trees/shrubs I let grow up. When I figured out what they were, out they went! Why can't I get a "neat" stray?!

    Wow, I wish I could get my gingers to bloom. Do you fertilize or do you just have a greener thumb?!

    Congratulations on 10 years of Divas!

  5. I'm glad the red spider lilies bloomed for you. I rather regret digging them all out now (not the ones I gave to you but the hundreds of small offsets I threw out). Some managed to escape and they've been lovely this last week.

    I lost a lot of my xeriscape plants, too, and we got only half the rain you got from Hermine. The hardest hit have been the lavender and the Jerusalem sage.

    Drat those squirrels!

  6. Your salvia does look very beautiful and happy! I would be right along with you seeking out a new Sweet Olive Annie. I can only grow it in a container here in New England. You have so many gorgeous blooms right now. Your Ginger flower is lovely! I am so envious of your spider lily . . . but most of all I wish I could have shrubs of Sweet Olive! ;>)

  7. The spider lily is wonderful...I'm glad the rain didn't bother it! Mother Nature was certainly overenthusiastic with the rain for you to have lost so many plants...I hope you get an easy winter in exchange!

  8. Annie, I've had bad luck with Salvia Van Houttei ... I'm delighted to see yours doing so splendidly!

  9. That salvia is magnificent Annie. While you are dealing with the deluge of rain we here in SW IN are dealing with the drought. I will have areas to replant next year. That is if this drought goes away. The ground cover you mentioned reminds me of Bishops weed here. It is so invasive and they sell it at nurseries. I can't believe it is sold. Worse yet people purchase it.

  10. Your Salvia vanhouttei really does look like my 'Wendy's Wish'! I can't find the tag right now to make sure, but they do look similar. I love this plant, but I know it's just an annual here, so I will try to take some cuttings and cross my fingers that I'll have a few starts for next year. Isn't it amazing how much it grew in one season? I'll be interested in seeing if yours is hardy how big it might get by next year!

    Glad you took care of the mulberry tree--they are so persistent; I wish other shrubs and trees were so easy to start.

    The red lycoris are so striking; I'd never seen them before this year.

    Wish some of that excessive rain had made its way here--we could certainly use some. Now there's a twist--in the past, I've always been trying to send you some rain, Annie:)

  11. Gardening - never a dull moment. One year you are watering like crazy to keep plants from dying in the heat and drought, the next year you get a huge rainstorm that kills off some plants.

    But in all years, you always have good blooms and good luck with your plants.

  12. Annie,

    Your posts are always lovely, but I especially enjoy these posts that feature your tropical blooms!

    Is it a coincidence that all the plants with gray foliage died because of the rain or is there something about plants with gray foliage that makes them prone to rot?

  13. If you wnat to try other Salvias Annie, Forever Gardens out this way has about twenty diffent kinds. Your having a great fall, my favorite gardening time of the year.

  14. I smiled when I saw the Bonne Maman jars! My favorite jars for potting up chutney and marmalade. What is it with culinary sage. I have the worst luck with it. Can't decide exactly what it needs to thrive. It sulks when too dry and dies when too wet. No happy medium here. I think you did the right thing in getting out the mulberry-stuff of nursery rhymes only. There is one at the Senior Center on 29th and it is a dangerous place to walk when the fruits drop to he ground.

  15. Bloggers are so helpful when you have a mystery plant! Glad you took care of the invader. It sure looked healthy. If Mulberry trees grow as big here as they do in Australia it would end up huge! Growing up, I used to love eating the fruit straight from the tree (usually hanging over a neighbor's fence) with my brother and friends.
    The bad squirrel must have been a plump fellow!
    It's interesting to read which plants succumbed to the too wet conditions. That's a lot of rain all at once!
    Your Spider Lilies are beautiful.
    And oh, to be able to stick my nose into the White Ginger and Sweet Olive blooms! I don't think I've ever smelled either one, but I know I'd love them.
    I've had my own 'war with a weed' (catchweed bedstraw) this past week or so, but I'm finally winning (although, I had thoughts along the way of just burying that garden)!
    I like the 'Secret Sauce' monika :)
    Love that Salvia!! Thanks for sharing the video.
    Missed you at Carol's Bloom Day Mr. Linky :)
    Happy 10th year with the Divas. Wow! How much fun you must've had working together through all those years.

  16. Wow. In my neck of the woods, I'd suspect fat raccoon did that damage to the tree. But squirrels have also wreacked havoc for me! I loved being able to snoop a little in your garden again. Thanks.

  17. Wow, a lot going on Annie! Your peppers look great!

  18. Maybe this clump of Lycoris just likes its bed, Pam/Digging? I planted bulbs in 4 different places in late summer 2008 but others were no-shows.

    What luxury to have so many tomatoes and peppers that you have to "use them up", Tabor- was like that in IL but never in ATX. My garden spreadsheet has many plants with ZZ - my code for dead plant. Glad to make you feel better!

    This particular plant lasted a few years, Jean - but they sure are not long-lived by my standards.
    I'll have to replant the bluebonnets... &*$%@! squirrels keep digging.

    Sage seems to hate humidity, doesn't it, Linda from CTG? Jean's right - we need it for Thanksgiving -wrong time to bail.
    Are your gingers the Hedychium coronaria? That's the only one I can get to bloom.
    I love the Divas - but I'm 10 years older! After a project I wonder if it's time to stop digging with them and just write about them.

    It was very exciting, MSS at Zanthan Gardens- couldn't remember seeing leaves last winter and I thought they were gone. Now leaves have appeared on the non-blooming clumps, giving me hope for next year, too!

    In Through the Garden Gate, Elizabeth Lawrence says that in the olden days, Sweet Olive/Osmanthus used to be grown in heated conservatories as a "stove plant" -guess you are following an honored tradition, Carol from New England... I never even saw one until we moved here in 1999.

    The lycoris is making seeds now, Leslie- doesn't look beautiful, but is still interesting. As to winter, a dry one is predicted, but at least the lake levels are up enough so I can handwater!

    The salvia is in partial shade, amended clay, on a slight slope for drainage, Cindy from Katy,- and I did water regularly. If you can get it going bet it would be perennial in your area!

    It kind of knocked me over by the color & blooms, Lisa at Greenbow, but the other plants in the border are not thrilled at how enormous their neighbor has become. The horseherb is a native plant and can live with little watering... but it's incredibly aggressive.

    Splitting up my comments...

  19. Part 2
    Prairie Rose - I think they're sort of related but both hybridized somewhere along the line. I'm trying to prepare myself for this one to be NOT hardy... and also take cuttings with crossed fingers! That rain is long gone- super dry now.

    We're watering like crazy now to try to make something sprout where the excess rain killed the plants! Oh Carol - did anyone have a good gardening year in 2010? Doesn't sound like it!

    I think that gray foliage is designed to help plants withstand dry conditions, so that's some of it, Mr Brown Thumb, but the ones that died here also dislike clay. Well, so do I, but that's what we're stuck with.

    Hi Bob - thanks for the recommendation. I have a dozen species right now - think the greggii has at least six different colors. Did you ever see the song I wrote & sang in tribute to Salvias?

    Oh Lancashire Jenny what is it about those little jars? Four years ago I walked into MSS of Zanthans' house and saw a couple of 'empties' on a shelf and it was instant bonding!
    I wish the culinary sage would live, but at least my marjoram survives!

    It seems strange not to recognize mulberry, Kerri, but it never looked like this in Illinois!
    The original piece of White Ginger was a souvenir from Hawaii, which makes it very special to me.

    Hi Kati! You're back? It's good to hear from you. Raccoons do live around here, but I've seen the squirrels in action & am sure it is their work ;-]

    It took me a long time to realize that peppers don't like to get spring chilled and don't like to ever get dry, Conscious Gardener - this year they went out later & didn't let them wilt. Yippee!

    Thanks for the comments,


  20. Those peppers look absolutely delicious! If it were me, I'd just eat them raw...good eats. They look like cow horn peppers. I'm going to give those a try next year. I'm over in Fort Worth. Peppers do well in Texas. Love your blog. Thanks for sharing.

    The Garden Cloche | Premium Garden Cloches


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.