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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 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


  1. Congratulations on your blogiversary! I hope to be reading 'The Transplantable Rose' for many years to come!

  2. Congratulations on your blog birthday and the 'German Johnson' success! That's great that the re-purposed wire compost bins have become good tomato cages. I love my 'Black Pearl' pepper but will keep my eyes open for your 'Purple Flash' pepper because I love its color combo!

  3. Happy anniversary! Your notes and stories always inspire me so much. And good grief on all those tomatoes. And that hibiscus! I also sent my Dad a couple of your songs because I love them so much. Here's to another five wonderful years ahead of garden trials and triumphs!

  4. Congrats Annie. I am so glad to have met you here. I always like to read your thoughts on the garden and any other subject you wish to touch upon. I can't wait to see the posts on the water garden tour if that fancy throne is any indication of what happens this year it will be fantastic.

  5. Oh, Annie, where to begin to celebrate your five years? I am honored that you chose to grow 'German Johnson' tomatoes and thrilled that you loved them. They are the consummate slicing tomato, if you ask me. I've loved your posts, your conversational style, your songs (one in particular is my favorite!) and your dedication to bloom day.

    Thank you for adding to the blogosphere, to Twitter, and now to Facebook. Your blend of gardening, genealogy, songwriting and movie reviewing is truly unique.

    I am still amazed at times that I've had the honor of seeing your garden in person and dining with you and Philo and Melissa in your home. My garden gate is always open for you!

  6. Congratulations on your blogaversary, Annie! It's always fun to visit Austin here and see what is growing, especially when we're in the middle of a typical Illinois winter. Your tomatoes are amazing--my little plants won't be producing any fruit for another six weeks or more. And your hibiscus is beautiful! I bought two for pots this year and am enjoying them so much. But mine won't last for five years, of course, unless I can find a good place to overwinter them.

    Hoping to read your blog for many more years!

  7. Congratulations on your blogiversary Annie. I love the idea of the compost bin covering the tomato plants. That German Johnson looks delicious!

  8. Happy Blogiversary, Annie! I'm going to join the chorus and hope to read your blog for many, many more... no matter how often (or not) you decide to post. :)

  9. Happy Anniversary, and I'm so glad you are able to celebrate with a vine ripened tomato. It looks delicious. And that white Hibiscus is awesome! I didn't know there was a white perennial hibiscus that would grow here.

  10. Annie, Happy blogaversary. Reading your posts has always felt like you were giving me a private tour and that after we sat down on your porch/patio and had a nice cold glass of tea. I hope to be doing that for a good long time~ Warmest, gail PS I love mosaic pots and planters, but, the toilet is stellar! xogail

  11. Congratulations of five magnificent years. I keep my eye on you and am always delighted to see you are well and happy. Well done! - Hank

  12. We started blogging the same summer, Leslie -hope you keep writing, too!

    Thanks, Iris - if I see Purple Flash out there I will grab one for you.

    Oh Linda at CTG - thank you for sending the songs to your dad... that means a lot!

    We only made it to a few of the ponds, Lisa at Greenbow. The photos are not great but I'll try to get a post up after GBBD. Check out this YouTube video of the garden with mosaics.

    You got me all choked up, MayDreams Carol - your innovations like GBBD and the book club really helped us know each other... sure hope I get to Indiana some day!

    Thanks, Prairie Rose - seeing your green gardens is a refuge for us, too. BTW, this is a hardy perennial Hibiscus...dies to the ground each winter and regrows, even in zone 5!

    Thank you Jayne - the wildlife here keeps fences and screens always on my mind ;-)

    Right back at you, Blackswamp Kim - it's fun to read your essays, whenever they pop up!

    We are getting low on tomatoes, Robin Get Grounded, but at least we had some slicers this year. This hibiscus came from Park Seed- don't know who sells it. If we ever get a rainy year I'll try propagating it- haven't had much luck so far.

    Thank you Gail- that's what visiting your blog feels like to me, too - a personal visit. Thanks for being out there!

    Hank!! It's good to hear from you. Thanks for saying hello. Your posts are still the gold standard for intellectual ruminations on botany and history. I do miss your blog.

    Thanks for the comments!

  13. the tomatoes really caught my eye. we are still many weeks away and the squirrel is already eating the green grape tomatoes...so they have taken a short trip across the river...;-0

  14. Five years! They seem to have flown by, but I also feel as if you and I have been blogging forever. You were one of my first reads AND one of my first commenters. I am glad you are still blogging, Annie. Here's to many more years of sharing your garden!

  15. How smart to make a magic tomato cover!! Good for you to be able to reap the rewards of your hard work, Annie! Growing tomatoes in those conditions, in a container?? DEDICATION, my friend!


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