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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.