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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, May 24, 2012

A Three Sisters Bloom Day for May 2012

 This post was written by me, Annie in Austin, for my Transplantable Rose Blog.

Philo and I enjoyed the flowers that bloomed here on the 15th but May 15th was not my target date this month. The truly important date came a few days later when my sisters popped in from Illinois for a long weekend. They really came to visit our Austin family, not to see plants, but I still wanted the garden to shine.

Josie and Hannah have visited Austin before but only in fall. This time my gardening sisters and I would have our own special Garden Bloom Day for May. Some favorite plants didn't cooperate... 'Julia Child' rose had just finished a bloom cycle and it's too early for the 'Acoma' crepe myrtles

but a few Magnolia buds looked promising


We planned on meeting other family members at local restaurants for some meals but in a pre-houseguest tizzy I also cooked old favorites like Shredded Chicken with Peppers and baked a Cheesecake. Philo and I could hardly wait for our beloved guests to arrive! 

The front-garden greeting committee included the Mutabilis Rose. This enormous shrub rose used to be in shade by mid-May, but since the recent demise of Arizona Ash #2, it's still in sun and has continued to bloom.

Although Hesperaloe is called Red Yucca, it sure looks fluorescent pink to me. That's why this native relative of asparagus grows in the Pink Entrance Garden with Cherry Skullcap at its feet. Things would have been even more gaudy but the 'Belinda's Dream' rose behind the Hesperaloe was Resting Between Engagements.

The Vitex agnus-castus/Chaste tree caught Josie's eye as she went to the veranda steps. It had started to open over the weekend, the shrub resembling the unrelated Butterfly bushes while the color and shape of the blooms look a little like lilacs.
Like many plants here, the look of the flower draws you to smell it, but Vitex flower heads have only a vaguely herby-meadowy smell rather than a scent worth making into perfumes. 

In a similar way you can be drawn to the beauty of many Salvias while being repelled by the funky smell. Mexican Mint marigold flowers are not as beautiful as salvias, but the foliage smells better in an inside vase.    

For more than 50 years a peony that once grew in my grandmother's garden has been divided and shared around the family. In Illinois, Peonies and Lilacs rule the month of May with both color and fragrance but they can't live here so I had to leave them behind.
Luckily, Grandma's peony still blooms in the gardens of my sisters and cousins. My sister Hannah cut three flowers that were just beginning to show petal color and tucked them into her suitcase. I recut them and put them in water, and the first one opened two days later. 

My sisters' daylilies bloom at the end of June and during July, but in Austin they flower in late April and May. The old-fashioned orange daylily bloomed with Larkspur in April but by the time my sisters came it was done and the larkspur was going to seed. 'Devonshire' had open flowers, with purple-blue supplied by Mealy blue sage.

I brought 'Prairie Blue Eyes' to Austin with me in 1999 and it still looks good. 


A passalong daylily from Pam Penick, 'Best of Friends', was having a spectacular year - nine stems with 8 huge flowers open at once

 The dwarf 'Vi's Apricot' daylily had been blooming for weeks, a passalong from a friend in Illinois. My sisters took divisions of this little flower home to plant in their gardens - even though Vi can no longer garden, her special plant will keep on blooming.

My sisters saw the buds of the citron daylily - the original plant didn't live through summer 2011 but I'd moved a small division near the house. One flower opened yesterday.

The Cenizo/Texas sage had popped some flowers - today it's covered in blooms

Hannah & Josie liked the 'Red Cascade' climbing mini-rose mixed into the Rosemary

They liked the two-tone flowers of 'Hot Lips' salvia

They wondered how tropical milkweed would do in Illinois

And liked the pure light blue of Plumbago with Purple oxalis

They were here when the Hydrangea x Bliss 'Sweet Carol' bloomed for the first time since 2008.

They got to see dwarf pomegranates forming

 and to see small Meyer's lemons growing on the tree behind the house

The garden was full of birds this week - we watched them from the breakfast room and in the garden- here's a white-winged dove herding a fledgling under cover

And before they left, they encountered a genuinely lovely Southern scent - Magnolia blossoms on the 'Little Gem' tree.


We had a wonderful time but the few days went by in a blur - the entire family group liked Trudy's patio

 But all too soon they were rolling the suitcases away 

Now it seems like summer instead of May... yesterday we got the first tomatoes of 2012. 

This post was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose Blog... probably much too late for the roundup of GBBD posts by May Dreams Carol 

Ed May 25, 2012. The complete list is now up at Annie's Addendum. 


  1. What a beautiful post in every way! All your daylilies are lovely, but that citron one is particularly unusual. My Red Cascade isn't blooming right now. And you beat me to first ripe tomato. Mine are still green. What a TREAT to have that precious peony in your house!

    1. Thank you, Iris- hope your tomatoes come soon! I was a very young gardener when the Hemerocallis citrina was passed along to me by a 74-year old gardening friend who got this daylily from her own mother back in the 1940's. Cool, huh?

  2. There was so much blooming for your Sisters. They had a good taste of TX blooms while visiting this time Annie. What fun. Thanks for sharing with us.

    1. Thanks for reading, Lisa! I'm so glad they came.

  3. Sounds like a fun weekend. A perfect reason to delay bloom day!

  4. I'm just now reading your Bloom Day post. I was expecting to read about corn, squash and beans -- and was pleasantly surprised! Everything looks really lovely, Annie. I just adore 'Best of Friends' daylilies. I've never lived anywhere I could grow a peony, they're so gorgeous -- can't believe they survived the suitcase so well!

    1. Thanks, Caroline! Almost every house I knew in the north had a peony or two or ten... maybe you'd miss crepe myrtles or evergreen magnolias?

  5. We are three sisters in my family as well, Annie. So nice to see your lovely garden and sisters-I can see that good looks run in the family. As you know I've returned to my Southern roots and am liking it very much.

    1. It was a delirious couple of days, Carolyn! The best of luck to you in your new Sweet Home & Garden Carolina - I've added it to the blog list on Annie's Addendum. Tomatoes!


  6. Another set of three sisters here, Annie. How nice for you all to get together and your garden performed beautifully! When I have visitors I'm always more concerned with how the garden will look than the inside of the house. Priorities!

    1. Hi Lost Roses! I was pretty darned concerned with how the guest room & guest bathroom looked but did count on being outside a lot.
      I just added your blog to the Annie's Addendum list - didn't realize it was missing and that you were posting again... cool!

  7. What a nice visit! Your garden looks as if it was very happy to have those special visitors...good memories for everyone.

    1. The garden did good and the weather was summery but not sweltering, a real boon, Leslie... we're back to dry ground, humid air & 90's now so they came just in time!

      Thanks from Annie

  8. I didn't know you could do that with a Peony, bring it long distance and enjoy the bloom. You have so many things growing in your garden that I can't in our east Texas area, such as citrus....drool.


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