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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, June 16, 2011

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2011

This GBBD post for June 2011 was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.

The ever-quotable Henry Mitchell once said, "It is not nice to garden anywhere.", a phrase from his essay on "The Defiance of Gardeners". This afternoon I defied our Austin weather by buying 5 cut peonies at the local grocery story. The inside of our house may not be cool enough to let them last long, but for now, they smell like peonies! Annieinaustin,grocery peoniesOutside it's hard to summon up defiance after more than 10 days of temperatures over 100°F with the last rain a distant memory and little hope of a break. I've managed to hand-water beds & borders a couple of times a week, water the containers almost every day and have filled the birdbaths over and over. Little is in bloom in front - no roses, no gauras, one surviving purple coneflower, 'Black and Blue' salvias barely alive - even the tough anisacanthus looks ragged. At least in the back yard there's a ring of green grass at the base of the birdbath and a few plants in bloom for June GBBD (photos will expand when clicked).

Annieinaustin,Sunflower, white crepe myrtlesKeeping the sunflowers out of the borders but letting a few grow in the "lawn" is working so far- with less water they're still pretty tall but seem less likely to topple or crack.

Hey, sunflower - let me see your face. The finches have probably calculated how many seeds fit on each flower head.Annieinaustin,sunflower faceThe orange cosmos makes a steady supply of seeds for the lesser goldfinches - the few they miss have sprouted and will make the next crop of buds and flowers. Annieinaustin, orange cosmos

Another yellow daisy-type face is Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'. It's not a big plant but there's enough green around it to make the color pop. The fragrant foliage of Mexican Mint Marigold/Tagetes lucida can be seen at upper left, Salvia farinacea at lower left, one of the last larkspurs still blooming purple at bottom center, an evergreen dwarf yaupon at lower right, and the grassy leaves of Garlic Chives right top, behind the blooms. Annieinaustin, Irish Eyes rudbeckia
Last year Linda from KLRU's Central Texas Gardener featured Dicliptera suberecta, sometimes called Mexican Hummingbird plant and other times called Uruguayan Hummingbird plant or Uruguayan Firecracker. I ran across a starter plant soon after reading her post and it did OK last fall. I like the name Firecracker because the top froze off but this spring the plant came back from the roots with a bang! The hummingbirds do love it. Annieinaustin,dicliptera suberecta
Tropical Milkweed/Asclepias curassavica grows with Blue Plumbago in the bed along the back of the house. The rainchains haven't had any rain to carry in a long time but look closer... a seed from last year's Butterfly Blue Pea Vine/Clitoria ternatea landed there, sprouted and is using the chain for a trellis
Annieinaustin,tropical milkweed & PlumbagoOn the other side of the walk I hope the small 'Zuni' Crepe myrtle is making roots and getting established. The 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia took awhile to catch, but is now starting to spread lacy white skirts around the slender crepe myrtle trunks. Annieinaustin,diamond frost euphorbia

The 'Zuni' flowers are supposed to be Violet but it hasn't bloomed yet. Today I saw buds developing - sure hope the tag is right! Annieinaustin, zuni crepe myrtle buds

The 'Catawba' crepe myrtle was planted in March of 2010 - it hasn't grown much but it's blooming along with the 'Blue River II' Hibiscus. Can you see the browned flower heads of the Oakleaf hydrangea in the background? I hope it will forgive me for planting it in Austin. Annieinaustin,Catawba crepe myrtle, hibiscus
In addition to these two smaller purple-toned crepe myrtles, Philo & I bought and planted the two white, semi-dwarf 'Acoma' crepe myrtles in the NE border.
But the pink ones came free with the house. Full-size hot pink crepe myrtles grow on the three borders of our garden, just outside the fence in all the neighboring yards. We still have six hot-pink crepe myrtles in our own yard. I'm not crazy about the color but this year the smallish one at the entrance to the Secret Garden is looking pretty good. Since the pecan trees were trimmed in February that spot gets more sun, and when the Mediterranean Fan Palm froze back over winter, I tucked the potted palm stump in between this crepe myrtle and a holly bush and the runoff from watering the palm was good enough to make the crepe myrtle happy. Annieinaustin, Crepe myrtle near archSee what's blooming for other gardeners all around the world at Carol in Indiana's June GBBD roundup at May Dreams Gardens.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Thought Pops - 5th Blogiversary, Tomatoes and Ponds

("Thought Pops" started in September 2006 - this is Edition 7)

At the Start of Year Six
On June 7, 2006, the Transplantable Rose blog featured a photo of 'Blue River II' Hibiscus. In swift succession came a complaint about hot pink crepe myrtles, a link list of other blogs in the sidebar, my thoughts on three movies (Prairie Home Companion, Jumping Off Bridges and The Puffy Chair) , a lively discussion with several commenters about mislabled plants, dips into genealogy & passalong plants, notes on a local nursery, ruminations on the botany found in the book Gone With the Wind, a look at the Austin Pond Tour and a photo of a bowl of tomatoes.AnnieinAustin bowl of tomatoes
During the first few weeks comments came from local Austin people and others very far away. MSS of Zanthan Gardens, Pam/Digging, RSorrell, pioneer bloggers MarthaChick and Linda Ball were all from Austin. But Amy Stewart, Trey Pitsenberger, Andrea & Bliss-ful Angela were in California, Anthony was in New Jersey, Amy in Alabama, May Dreams Carol in Indiana, Illegal Hannah and Blackswamp Kim were in Ohio, Lost Roses in Colorado, Xris in Brooklyn, Kerri in New York State, Janet in Ontario, Christopher in Hawaii (he's now in Carolina), Silvia in Ireland, La Gringa in Honduras and Stuart in Australia. What a thrill! Visiting one blog led to another and I reordered the ever-growing linklist by geographic location. It made me feel good when people said my idea helped them find other gardeners with similar conditions.

Five years isn't long ago by most standards but blog-years may be more like dog years. Many blogs I loved to visit are now dormant or disappeared (oh, Hank! How we miss the County Clerk!). Some of those first commenters are gardenblogging superstars! Blogs both active & dormant are in the old sidebar list. Active blogs are also in the blogger list module on Annie's Addendum.

As for me, I'm still here - the posts are less frequent and more conversations take place on Twitter than in the comments, but it's still good to be part of the garden blog world.

Hibiscus 'Blue River II' and Crepe Myrtles
Annieinaustin, Blue River 2 hibiscus, catawba crepe myrtle
The 'Blue River II' Hibiscus moscheutos, subject of my first post, has bloomed for me every year since 1993, moved from Illinois to Austin house #1 to this house. Early heat & no rain have kept the stalks under 4-feet tall this year... in rainy years they've stretched to more than seven feet. Although the pink crepes in post #2 still reign in the neighborhood, my crepe myrtles also bloom in white and purple. I love the white of the hibiscus with the purple of this young 'Catawba' crepe myrtle, which is about the same height as the Blue River 2. Another youngun was labeled 'Zuni', but until it blooms we can't be sure.

Tomatoes of 2011
In cooler 2006 the tomatoes didn't even get going until late June. In super hot, super dry, super windy June 2011 we already had tomatoes in late May ... some large enough to slice for tomato & red onion sandwiches,Annieinaustin,sliced tomato w red onion
Most of the larger tomatoes are already gone and what's left has been pulled off their crisping stems to ripen inside. The regular tomatoes turn red slowly, 2 or 3 at a time along with a few Juliets. We'll enjoy the steady, modest supply while it lasts. ('Juliet' and a couple of cherry tomatoes are the only tomatoes still forming new fruit.)Annieinaustin tomatoes ripen indoors
This year we even savored vine ripened(!!) tomatoes thanks to a couple of passalong wire compost bins from the Wabi-Sabi Home & Garden. (And thank you RBell/ The Lazy Shady Gardener for loading them into my car!)Annieinaustin, passalong compost binInstead of using the bins for compost, my idea was to flip them over to keep squirrels from eating the tomatoes. The protective cages looked pretty cool after Philo painted them and added handles salvaged from previous projects. (That counts as Wabi Sabi, doesn't it?)Annieinaustin upside down compost bin w handleThis cage covered a container planted with 'German Johnson'. MayDreams Carol calls this her favorite tomato, a memory of her grandmother, and I wanted to try it! Would it grow in a pot? With plenty of compost, organic fertilizer and water it did OK - we harvested 5 beautiful tomatoes - true slicing size and absolutely delicious. Annieinaustin german johnson tomato slicedSince critters have swiped most of the netted 'Black Krim' tomatoes that were planted in the garden, my plan is to try 'Black Krim' in a pot under wire next time!

Those are NOT 'Black Pearl' Peppers
In 2011 I bought a couple of 'Black Pearl' ornamental peppers and quite liked them, although birds or critters also liked them so the peppers didn't stay on the plants very long. In late fall I potted one for the windowsill. It survives and now decorates the patio table with its round, almost black fruits.Annieinaustin Black pearl peppers in pot
This spring I noticed unlabeled, dark-leaved peppers in the vegetable section at Countryside Nursery and planted three of them nearer the house. Well, surprise, surprise... my original ID was obviously wrong since the once-dark leaves surrounding the almost-black peppers are purple and green and cream. A search of varieties makes me pretty sure this is 'Purple Flash' pepper. 'Black Pearl' looked good in the triangle bed last year with the orange cosmos, but this one looks just fine in the wall bed. Annieinaustin maybe Purple Flash peppers
The Annual Pond Tour
In July 2006 I made four short posts about the Austin Pond Society's annual Pond Tour (at the time, it was really difficult to upload more than one photo per post to Blogger). We returned for the next tour in July 2007
Annieinaustin 2008 pondFor 2008 we did something a little different - my husband Philo made a music video of my Garden Pond Song filled with photos and video footage of many beautiful gardens we'd visited on the tours. We couldn't attend the 2009 tour but reported on both Saturday and Sunday in 2010.

The 2011 Pond Tour will be held this weekend, June 11th & 12th. Details are at the Austin Pond Society website, linked above, with a preview at KLRU-TV's Central Texas Gardener You-Tube site. One of this year's ponds was a favorite in 2008 - a genuine original home made Austintacious tropical paradise - where even the humble water closet became a water feature:

Annieinaustin, mosaic toilet from pond tourThanks to all of you who have taken the time to leave a comment over the past 5 years. I will keep hoping to meet many of you in person some day.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose