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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, August 16, 2011

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day August 2011

My original intention was to ignore May Dreams Garden's GBBD for this month - here in Austin we've had 62 days over 100 degrees F - just a few days from the record. Rain is just a memory and the few plants with flowers seemed to be the same ones that appeared in July - so what was the point? But then on Saturday a Texas Star Hibiscus that I'd been babying along rewarded me with one bright red flower

I stubbornly held out... then this morning I noticed an open flower on a Stapelia gigantea plant that I'd moved to a semi-sunny spot on the patio. I took the pot to the patio table for a closer look - not just one flower but with 2 more budsI couldn't ignore this! My current herd of Stapelia plants descend from one given to me by my Aunt Phyllis over 20 years ago. "Herd" may not be the official collective noun for Stapelia, but doesn't it seem appropriate for members of the Milk-weed family? Stapelias are container plants here - our winters will kill them if they're left outside. Carrion flower is another name - the meaty scent draws flies.

The Blue Butterfly clerodendron bloomed for July GBBD - but the BLUE is a transient characteristic now, rather than a permanent attribute. Look how bleached the blooms become in this intense sun: The little annual native Zinnia linearis (or if you prefer, Zinnia angustifolia) have been in bloom only because I handwater them. The grass is not so lucky.I also water a container of 'Sun Gold' tomatoes - soaking it well every day. The runoff seeps into the ground, ending up in the roots of the native Sunflower just below the container, keeping the flowers and seedheads in production for the finches.
A similar relationship has developed under this not-quite-established 'Zuni' crepe myrtle, put in last winter with hopes it will someday shade the breakfast room windows. I planted a 'Mexico Midget' tomato under the young tree so watering one waters both.

Keeping the Sunflower and Crepe Myrtle alive means keeping the tiny tomato plants alive & keeping the tomatoes alive means I get a small handful of little tomatoes a couple of times a week. They're very tart and go especially well in tuna salad. The heat means I refill birdbaths and saucers at least once - usually twice- a day. I've been diligent about watering other plants with flowers that are not just decorative, but are important to wildlife. The bees need flowers like the tiny pink & lilac blooms on this Cuphea
Usually my assorted collection of tubular red and blue Salvias keep blooming most of the summer, but this year some Salvias have bailed and others refuse to bloom at all. Some extra water coaxed the Mexican Honeysuckle into taking up the slack as a nectar source for the hummingbirds.
If you think things have gone to the birds around here, you're right! The lawn is toast, the vegetable garden abandoned, and even the cooking sage may have croaked, but I won't give up trying to keep my friends with wings alive.
For a complete list of what's in bloom with botanical names go to my Annie's Addendum blog. To see the GBBD posts of other gardeners go to May Dreams Gardens.