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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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Sunday, May 22, 2011

First 2011 Tomatoes by Variety

Experience has taught us to bring our tomatoes inside to ripen on the counter, picking them just as soon as they show any color. Anything left on the vine too long will be destroyed by birds and squirrels and bugs.

Philo & I shared two 'Black Cherry' tomatoes last week - guess they were the first little tomatoes of 2011. Here's what's on the counter right now, minus what we'll count as the first regular tomato- the larger 'Early Girl' at bottom in the photo was sliced for breakfast. (Click to enlarge the photo)
AnnieinAustin,2011,05, tomatoes with IDs
We've already lost a couple of green tomatoes to bird pecks - once punctured they tend to rot. That very green 'German Johnson' at upper right in the photo fell off the vine. We had a couple of 'Gypsy' peppers this weekend. A few weeks ago we had great hopes for the 'Mariachi' pepper, but it suddenly collapsed, much like the heirloom tomatoes 'Paul Robeson' and 'Green Zebra' did last year. This is a worry - and one reason the heirloom 'German Johnson' is in a large container instead of in the garden soil.
A couple of mystery squashes are developing small fruit - who will get them first? The squash vine borers, the critters, or us?

Edit Monday AM: Good thing some tomatoes were inside - something (probably a squirrel) attacked one of the few 'Black Krim' tomatoes this AM while it was still solid green -it's in the compost now. And another pepper plant collapsed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day May 2011

For those of us who have posted for GBBD from its beginnings in February 2007, this is the fifth time that we're showing our May blooms. Participation in this ritual may now require alcohol ... one drink to celebrate those parts of the garden that are better after 5 seasons... and a second glass raised as consolation after viewing GBBD photos of dead-and-gone lovelies.Annieinaustin,2009 malva zebrinaWoe for the Passionvine, the 'Happy Returns' daylily, the Sweet Peas, the Malva zebrina AKA French hollyhocks, the gardenia, the single mockorange, the aloe in flower!

Most of my flowers are the same plants that have appeared here every May - their return is comforting and rhythmic, giving the illusion of stability in the garden, even in the erratic climate of Austin,Texas.

'Best of Friends' daylily from Pam seems happy and established: Annieinaustin,Best of friends daylilyThe small rebloomer known as 'Vi's Apricot' has been divided into several plants, adding repetition to the borders. A GBBD photo reminds me to appreciate the individual flowers:Annieinaustin,Vi's Apricot daylilyHemerocallis 'Devonshire' has been here a couple of years and so has the orange Ditch Lily kindly passed along by Lori the Gardener of Good and Evil. The larkspur is an annual - first added in 2005. Last year there were just a few reseeded plants but this year it appeared everywhere! Annieinaustin,Devonshire daylily
After 5 years the 'Little Gem' magnolia has filled out. It was not quite in bloom for April GBBD but there have been dozens of fragrant flowers in the past four weeks. Today's bloom now fades as new buds swell: Annieinaustin,little gem fading Four weeks ago the reddish purple Clematis by the back door was in full bloom. The very last flower opened today. Annieinaustin,red-purple clematisOn the other side of the back door there are Tropical Milkweed plants in bloom and the first flowers of the blue plumbago. The plumbago dies to the ground each winter. The milkweed can survive a mild winter but last February was not mild. I bought a couple of new plants in early spring and since then seedlings have appeared from last summer's plants - they'll catch up soon.

Annieinaustin,tropical milkweed w plumbage Salvia guaranitica grew near the back fence when we bought this house - we brought Salvia 'Black and Blue' with us in a deck pot and introduced them to each other in 2005:Annieinaustin,salvias guaranitica and Black & Blue
With those two blues as background, a patriotic May border just sort of happened. The Shasta daisies came from the previous house, a pure red Salvia greggii was a passalong from my Divas of the Dirt friend Mindy. Salvia elegans/Pineapple sage seemed to fit in easily. A visit to the garden of Jill Nokes made me seek out Salvia 'Hot Lips'. Seeing 'Diamond Frost' Euphorbia in the garden of Pam/Digging made me want it- growing the Euphorbia last year turned me into a fan.
Annieinaustin,red & Blue salvias with shasta daisies
'Blue River II' Hibiscus grew in our Illinois garden, survived 5 years in the previous deck garden, and is now established here. It isn't in bloom yet but the buds promise many large white flowers. Annieinaustin, hardy hibiscus buds
The Bluebonnets & Texas Paintbrush that looked good for April GBBD are still flowering in the mini-meadow, joined now by the reseeding orange cosmos.Annieinaustin,bluebonnets, paintbrush, cosmos
Last year I let too many self-seeded sunflowers grow wherever they sprouted. One of them shaded two small orchid-purple Salvia greggii plants at the end of the meadow bed, stunting their growth. This year the sunflowers are confined to another spot. The salvias are already responding to the space & light.
Annieinaustin,salvia greggii with bluebonnetsAnother plant also appreciates the new Sunflower rules. Last year this Perovskia/Russian sage grew sideways in the shade - this year it stands upright, making a see-through mist of tiny blue-purple flowers. The magenta and white flowers of Rose of Sharon are barely visible at back-top of the fence. Annieinaustin,see-through perovskiaBetween the Rose of Sharon and the lavender-blue Perovskia is another small-flowered plant tending more to pinky-lilac in color - Poliomintha bustamanta/Mexican OreganoAnnieinaustin,Poliomintha bustamanta
Up front in the Pink Entrance Garden the pink skullcaps/Scutellaria suffrutescens have rebounded after winter's deadwood was snipped off:

Annieinaustin,Pink skullcapA native skullcap blooms in the parkway strip, Purple skullcap/Scutellaria wrightii. It's done so well that I bought a few starter plants to try in other places.

Annieinaustin,purple skullcap
Last winter the 'Patrick' abutilon froze in its pot in the Secret Garden so this replacement 'Patrick' will come inside when it gets cold. The 2010 Patrick grew as one single stalk but this year's plant has been cut back to see if it will make multiple stems. I gave Patrick a Torenia for company.
Annieinaustin,Patrick Abutilon w ToreniaTwo plants surprised me this month - both native plants. For the April GBBD I photographed a newly planted Salvia regla/Mountain sage in bloom - but it had buds when I bought it so that wasn't the surprise. Now the established older plant has bloomed- it's never made flowers in spring before - only in autumn. Is this a result of our odd weather or did something about the new one having flowers trigger the bloom?Annieinaustin,Salvia regla in MayFragrant mistflower/Ageratina havanensis has always been an autumn bloomer, too - but this May I'm seeing Mistflower with Larkspur.
Annieinaustin,Ageratina Mistflower with LarkspurA recent surprise wasn't a flower - it was another bird sighting to add to those in the last few posts. Local bird expert Mikael Behrens identified this green visitor to the birdbath fountain for me... it's a female Painted Bunting. Seeing a colorful male would also be fun.Annieinaustin,female Painted Bunting

I'll bet you'll find many more surprises in the posts linked at Carol/May Dreams Gardens Garden Bloggers Bloom Day Roundup.

(added abt 3 PM on May 16th - complete bloom day LIST with botanical names and more photos has been posted at Annie's Addendum Broke 100 this month!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

People in Austin are seeing interesting bird visitors this week. I'd hoped for a painted bunting but was quite happy when this Yellow-Billed Cuckoo stopped at our garden today!Annieinaustin, yellow-billed cuckoo

I took the photo through the window - my presence didn't seem to make the bird jump, but a clumsy grackle & a white-winged dove sent it flying. (Photos will enlarge when clicked.)Annieinaustin, yellow-billed cuckoo w eye

There's a slight chance of rain over the next couple of days - we need it so badly, while along the Mississippi people are dealing with floods.Annieinaustin, orange daylilies, larkspur, salvia, rainchain I've hand-watered the daylilies so there are some flowers in bloom on both sides of the back walk. Will the rainchains finally get to do what they're designed to do?