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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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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Good Things Emerge in April

Last night the predicted temperatures ranged from low 40's to mid 30's F. We weren't worried that the vegetables would freeze, but tomato & pepper plants sometimes sulk after being that cold so we rigged up some sheets and curtains - hopefully for the last time this spring. Since the thermometer showed 38°F it was worth the effort.

Early this morning the tent was still up -that cloud of white is Philadelphus inodorus, the native Southern scentless mockorange, single-flowered, and a beautiful background shrub for a fence. Annieinaustin, tomatoes coveredWe've just about finished playing 'Dead or Dormant' here at Circus~Cercis, with only a few plants whose fate is undecided. My head is telling me the big Bay Laurel is dead as a doornail, but my heart made me pretend it's dormant for now. Some plants don't need pretending - they're alive!

Whether called Clerodendrum ugandense, Rotheca myricoides 'Ugandense', Blue Butterfly Bush or Blue Glory Bower, it looks as if we'll have Blue Butterfly flowers here. Although the large container I bought last summer froze badly, one sprout has emerged and a few cuttings that I took last fall seem to be rooting.

Even better, the original plant that had looked like a goner after the February deep freezes was tougher than expected - three new sprouts are emerging. Annieinaustin, emerging leaves Blue Clereodendron
In the long fence bed the Dietes bicolor/ Bicolor iris was alive, but barely half the blades were green. When I bought this plant it was labeled as a Butterfly Iris /Dietes grandiflora - that's the one I wanted, but Bicolor Iris is what I got. So a plant I didn't want in the first place was badly winterkilled two years in a row and it never even bloomed in 2010. I decided to just dig the whole thing up - even had the garden fork ready, then a closer look showed not just one but 4 flower stalks.Annieinaustin, buds on Dietes bicolor
How could I trash a plant that was making such an effort? I set to work with garden scissors and spent 40 minutes making it presentable. Annieinaustin, cutting back frozen Bicolor IrisA few days later the open flower still seems more interesting than beautiful, but the plant can stay for now. annieinaustin, bicolor iris flowerThe 'Marilyn's Choice' abutilon was shrub-sized last December, then possibly dead in March and now just a few inches tall. But at least this abutilon is alive - unlike 'Patrick's' abutilon -definitely dead, not dormant. Annieinaustin, Marilyn's choice abutilon sprouting at base
Last spring the 'Ramona' clematis began to bloom almost exactly the same minute that the 'Julia Child' floribunda roses started - a spectacular combination. This year Ramona jumped the gun and was more than half open by last weekend. The many buds on 'Julia Child' were barely showing color yesterday: Annieinaustin, Julia child rose w Ramona Clematis... but today it looks as she's shouting Hey, Ramona - Wait for me! Annieinaustin, Ramona clematis and Julia Child rose
Our Texas Superstar shrub rose 'Belinda's Dream' came through rough weather and is covered in buds - here's Belinda in the area rather grandly designated as The Pink Entrance Garden:Belindas Dream in bud, Annieinaustin
In 2006 I bought a 1-gallon pot with a starter plant of Weigela 'Rumba' at the closing sale for Howard Nursery on Koenig Lane. The stock was down to just a few plants so I picked it up for sentimental reasons - in Illinois we called it 'Cardinal Bush' - not expecting it to live long. But here it is, at 30" tall, slightly larger than last year, and blooming for the 5th spring not far from 'Belinda's Dream'.Weigela Rumba, annieinaustinIt's annoying that the Hesperaloe/ Red yucca at lower left has not been inspired to floral display by its neighbors... although alive and larger than last year, this native plant has produced the desired tall spires of coral-pink-red flowers only once in 6 springs. Annieinaustin, nonblooming Hesperaloe
I pruned the large Mutabilis rose quite severely in mid-February which only made it bloom more - and the scent in the front butterfly border is wonderful. This is its 4th year in the ground. See that spot of orange to the left of the birdbath base? It's a Texas Paintbrush, back for the 3rd spring. Annieinaustin, Mutabilis rose & birdbath
Mutabilis, my sweet baby... Happy April & welcome back!
Annieinaustin, mutabilis rose closeup


  1. I love playing "dead or dormant". I'm still playing it here. Unfortunately after the bad summer we had, followed by an awful winter, plus I had a lot of new plants last year, the score for "dead" may be much too high for my liking.

    Your blooms look spectacular!

  2. You have so much going on in your garden Annie. I love Romona. I moved my established Romona this spring due to overcrowding in its area. I hope to see those beautiful blooms this year. Isn't it wonderful when they choose to bloom with a companion plant?.

  3. Dead or dormant. I like that. I'm still waiting for Duranta but ...

  4. Glad to see so many things springing back. I've been surprised at what died and what survived. Many tender perennials turned out to be root hardy. Woot!

    My red yucca took years to bloom. I thought I had a dud. Then it began flowering a couple of years ago and has been consistent since. It's just starting to send up a scape this week.

  5. Julia Child and Ramona are gorgeous together! I like that you helped the bicolor iris. Like you, I don't think it's particularly beautiful, but it's pretty enough and tough as nails.

  6. Ramona and Julia Child look like they are fast friends! And they are both beautiful. There are a lot of lovely things blooming in your garden. I have the same issues with the bi-color iris, and they get soooo big. I hate having to divide them all the time to keep them from looking mostrous. I love them the first year or two! Maybe I should treat them like annuals!

  7. I agree with Diana. The bicolor irises look really good (when not frozen back in hard winters) for first several years. Then they start to die out in center and look like crud. Dividing them is a chore and a half. Luckily you are practically starting from scratch with yours, so perhaps the day of division is postponed.

  8. The "Dead or Dormant" games are about done here, May Dreams Carol - also many losers. Your garden is really changing!

    That clematis has been a longtime favorite, Lisa at Greenbow - had one at house #2, back when my daughter was reading the Ramona & Beezus books, planted another when we moved to house #3 and couldn't resist trying one here.

    Hi dm - Duranta seldom returns here - good luck with yours!

    Maybe my hesperaloe will shape up, MSS of Zanthan Gardens - your story gives me hope!

    It's a good place for that shape of foliage, Iris - so leaves counted, too ;-]

    The blue and yellow combos are pretty cool this year, Diana! Last year there were huge dead chunks of the bicolor so I had to dig most of it up. This year there were dead leaves but not roots.

    Hi Pam/Digging - it was sort of divided last year so maybe that kicked the bloom up? Digging it up every other year is ridiculous for such a small payoff... this may be a temporary reprieve!

    Thanks for the comments!


  9. Yahoo for waiting! I'm waiting one more week for Patrick but I think it's a goner. So glad your Marilyn made it back; mine didn't. And your bicolor is still lovely. You're right: you can't dig up something that wants to show off for you. Despite a few losses, looks like your garden is lovely as always!!

  10. I laughed when I read "how cold I trash a plant that was making such an effort?"!!! I can't believe you are still dealing with cold...

  11. I love that Clematis. I put up deer fencing and now I need some pretty vines to cover my ugly fence. I have those irises here they are totally invasive. They reseed everywhere and I am constantly digging them up and moving them or giving them away. Do you want some more??

  12. I love Mutabilis Rose...don't grow it, but think its a stunningly beautiful flower. I do love April and Springtime and what shows up when ever it decides to in my garden. My dead plant list after flooding rains and drought is amazingly long! gail

  13. It is good to hear that you cut your Mutabalis back. I need to do that too although it has started blooming already and I won't dare. It is getting rather large. I love that African iris.


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