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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, November 15, 2012

Blue Clerodendons & Pecans for November GBBD

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

Our Austin gardens have flirted with Jack Frost a few times, in the hours just before dawn on clear dark nights, but Mr. Frost has not yet done the deed. The Forsythia Sage/Salvia madrensis still spreads her blossoms unmolested in the big front bed.


One Blue Butterfly Clerodendron cavorted with a Mutabilis rose a few weeks ago but their romance faded as the sun's angle changed and the shade from our two pecan trees deepened.



The rose stopped blooming and the Blue Butterflies float alone now. After the leaves fall the strong winter sun may tempt the rose to bloom again, but the clerodendron plant will die down once the temperatures drop below 30°F.

The pecan trees dominate the back garden year round, casting light shade when leafless, so we can grow a spring vegetable garden, but in late fall their shade is at its heaviest, casting a gothic gloom over the south end of the yard.





I first sang to the trees in public in March 2007 when the demise of an Arizona Ash called for a music video. That was nearly six years ago! The pecans are even more important in our little garden world so they should have a turn, too. Last weekend my husband Philo and I turned my "For A Tree That Keeps On Giving, Plant Pecan!" song into a music video, intended to amuse anyone who has ever lived with a very large, very messy tree:






I hope you'll soon be singing along ..."for a Tree that keeps on giving "Plant Pecan!"
A collection of our garden songs and videos are at our Roots in Austin YouTube station


Since so many of the plants in bloom right now are the same flowers that have been in bloom for months, they'll go in a Garden Bloggers Bloom Day List (with more photos and my best shot at the botanical names) over on my companion blog Annie's Addendum That way the rest of this page can be filled with photos of the Blue Butterflies still whirling while old Jack F. lurks in the shadows with his ice-crystal knife.


I'm not sure what name will on the tag if you buy this plant in a nursery... it could say Blue Butterfly Clerodendron or Blue Cat Whiskers, Clerodendrum ugandense, Clerodendrum myricoides 'Ugandense' or perhaps Rotheca myricoides 'Ugandense'. The zone 9 plant is marginally hardy here in Austin - a couple of my plants have lived through winters with temperatures around 18°F, but even with heavy mulching they died back hard and were slow to recover the next spring. I've tried to hedge my bets by keeping at least one plant in a container in the garage over winter.

Here's the plant that was in the garage last year, now on the patio





The Blue Butterfly plant is so lovely that I wanted more! I've had some luck getting cuttings to root in potting soil lightened by the addition of perlite. (Don't be shocked when the not-lovely scent of the cut or crushed foliage reaches your nose... it stinks!) Some of the cuttings failed but a few plants made it. They were very slow to get going, but two were finally robust enough to go to friends this spring. A third was planted here near the Meyer's lemon on the back housewall. This bed is my magic spot, with a faucet nearby, the area bathed in morning sun but protected from hot west sun and north winds, the soil regularly composted and the plants tenderly mulched. No wonder the Clerodendron is More than Happy!





Since the winter months of January and February 2012 were relatively mild, the original passalong plant from my friend Ellen had an early start in the triangle bed. Now it's more than 5-feet tall and still blooming, with wide spread branches. I took this photo this afternoon and decided to make it into a poster.






Happy Garden Blogger's Bloom Day from Annie & Philo in Austin! Please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see her roundup of garden bloom posts from all over the world.


29 comments:

  1. I loved your song Annie. I will be hummin that tune all day. I am looking forward to some of that pecan pie at Thanksgiving. Yumm... I love that blue flower. I haven't seen it before. At least not around here.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! We had pumpkin & mince pies when I was a kid but after my sister started making pecan pies they became a necessary dessert for Thanksgiving!

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  2. Hi Annie!
    Love the Blue Butterfly Clerodendron, alas it is not hardy in my zone. :0( You got my mouth watering with that pecan pie, and me trying to drop a couple of pounds too! What a tease!

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    1. Wouldn't a big container of blue clerodendron be a good excuse to own a greenhouse??

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  3. You have lovely blooms this Bloom Day. Nice song (and pie), too!

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  4. The Blue Butterfly Clerodendron is my new favorite, although I'm in 7b. Still, I think I need to find space in the greenhouse, because it's just lovely. Thanks so much for sharing, and happy GBBD!

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    1. I hope you find the space & the plant, Julie!

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  5. Why do I always forget that not every place is as cold as my little corner? Probably it's a coping mechanism. To hear that you haven't had frost yet, when the day here started out at 20F took me back a bit. I am glad you are enjoying that blue butterfly clerodendron. Hopefully it is compensation for those scorching summers you have! Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Kathy. It's around 70F today - a very nice November day in Austin. You are right - we seldom want to be on the patio from June to September!

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  6. My butterfly bush finally has some bud's on it, Annie. These are bushes that I left in the ground to overwinter without protection; perhaps that accounts for the late blooms. And nothing was happening until your photo shamed them - and maybe also because I finally gave them some bloom food!

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    1. Mine are still making buds too, Robin. I can't remember giving them bloom food but know they had Revitalizer Compost and mulch last winter. I hope you see flowers soon!

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  7. Your blue butterfly is a stunner. I have never seen it but I suspect a few nurseries will be getting requests after seeing these pictures. Happy Bloom Day

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    1. I'd seen a few photos before my friend Ellen gave me the starter plant but tiny blue orchid-shaped flowers in person proved irresistible. Happy Thanksgiving, J!

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  8. Those Clerodendron are unreal...so beautiful!

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  9. I'm so glad those clerodendrons are still blooming...they are beautiful! Loved the song but it is not really likely to encourage anyone to grow one. Unless they LIKE raking!

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    1. Anyone who plants a pecan tree in a small yard after watching this music video must be what my mom called "a glutton for punishment", Leslie! I'll bet you could grow the blue clerodendrons outside. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  10. I absolutely adore pecan nuts - especially in cakes and pastries but also in savoury dishes like salads and stews. It was cool to hear how you pronounce the word pecan, here in England we pronounce it pee-can, with emphasis on the first vowel. Things like that never cross my mind when I am just reading people’s posts, getting a song was so unusual and fun :-)
    By the way, I found you through Carol’s GBBD, will be back some other day for a second helping!

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    1. How exciting to have a London visitor, Helene! How interesting that you know this very American nut - pecans were called the Illinois Nut when the explorers first encountered them.
      I love pecans in salads but don't think I've had them with meat dishes like stews. People use different pronunciations here, with various theories floating around about the reasons.

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  11. Blue butterfly clerodendron? Annie, the plants in Austin are so foreign to me it's almost like you're gardening in another world from mine. Heavenly!

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    1. Since it's not a native plant, Lost Roses - Clerodendrum ugandense originates in Uganda & Kenya in Africa - I wonder whether many people grow them in Austin? The plant my friend Ellen shared with me was cloned from a mother plant in the Houston area.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

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  12. I love clerodendrons and have been promising myself that I will find a spot in my garden for one. You Blue Butterfly is lovely, and I love the colour of the Salvia madrensis.

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    1. I hope you find one and enjoy it, Marisa!

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  13. I would love to be able to grow that clerodendron. And I loved the new video/song. Well done!

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    1. It might be worth a try in your plant room, Carol! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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  14. Love your clerodendron--what a gorgeous shade of blue! Your video made me laugh. I was just thinking how lucky you were to have your own pecans, considering the price of them in the supermarket. But if you consider all the labor you put in to get those pecans--those that the squirrels don't get, that is--maybe buying the ones in the store isn't so pricey after all:) That pie sure looks yummy, though!

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    1. Rose, we thought we'd have a better crop this year because there was a little more rain, but the squirrels took most of the good nuts. Of the ones we snagged, after hours of opening husks we have stained hands and a ratio of 1 good nut to 10 duds. So I'll still be buying pecans this year.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

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  15. Clerodendron is a tender perennial best for containers here in Zone 6. Will start looking for a source based on these images alone. Thanks, so much,

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