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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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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Absolutely April

This post about my garden in Austin, Texas was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.

Three weeks can make a big difference in the garden! Since that last post the garden plant spreadsheet shows fewer plants with question marks next to their names.
The Barbados Cherries appear to be alive. They also appear to be about 6" tall now. But you don't want to see that photo and I don't want to take it. Averted eyes is the way to carry on while the boxwoods decide exactly where they'll regrow - don't want to take that photo either.

This photo of the ice-and-freeze damaged Oleander was taken at the beginning of April. It grows near the steps from the house to the drive so it was very hard to not only avert my eyes but to refrain from picking up the lopping shears.


Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Early last week tiny green leaves began to sprout along the oleander trunk and by Thursday it was clear which branches were doing well and where to make the cuts. I don't think there will be flowers this spring, but the Oleander should live and grow.

So let's ignore the battered shrubs and let them recover in private. As to the rest of the garden? Even though we're still in drought, something about the long cold rest seems to have benefited the roses - they're shouting that it is now Absolutely April.
'Julia Child' opens new flowers every morning, standing nearly 5-ft tall, with scores of buds still swelling, surrounded by self-sown poppies and larkspurs, by Four-nerve daisies and the last bluebonnets.

I've read that this rose was chosen by Julia Child herself to bear her name, because it looked like butter.

I still don't have a positive ID on the pink climber that came with the house, but 'Climbing Pink Peace' seems to be a possibility. My husband Philo built a wooden trellis over the gate and the rose has stretched out and up to cover it.


A few big blossoms joined white 'Climbing Iceberg' in a bowl.

This apricot mini-rose finally looks established - last spring it had two flowers.

The frozen Rosa mutabilis quickly outgrew the damage and is reblooming in its patio container.

The color of the clematis next to the back door is hard to describe - it goes through so many changes from bud to blown blossom.

The Oakleaf Hydrangea flaunts something between a bud and a flower.

Up in front most of the native plants in the parkway strip are waking up and thinking about buds, but only the Damianita is in full bloom.

The Texas Mountain Laurel flowers froze in March 2014, but the shrubs are already making buds for Spring 2015.

Fingers crossed these new plants of Damianita, purple skullcap, creeping phlox and Blackfoot daisies can take hold in a new bed up front.

Tomorrow's forecast promises temperatures in the nineties so the individual flowers don't last too long, but April has been absolutely lovely for a while.

This post about my garden in Austin, Texas was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

In like a Lion and Out like a Shorn Lamb

This post about my garden in Austin, Texas was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.

Did my February post listing all the trees in the garden put a hex on them? This part of the privacy screen looked pretty good six weeks ago.

By the first of March tiny leaves and buds had appeared on Spiraea, Redbud, roses, Arizona Ash, Fig and dwarf Pomegranate, and flower buds swelled on the native Texas Mountain Laurel

But then came the March 3rd-4th Thundersleet that bent the Loropetalum to the ground

While the iced Oleander leaned over to block the steps to the driveway

The trees and shrubs soon bounced back from the ice, but unlike plants in a northern place where dormant plants sleep, insulated by snow from cold air, our plants were wide awake and full of sap, making leaves and setting buds. When the temperature dropped to 19°F on March 6th even the native plants were shocked at the cold.

The results have slowly revealed themselves over the last few weeks.
All the leaves dropped off the Arizona ash and the pomegranates, every leaf and bud froze on the redbud trees and on the fig tree, leaves fell from the 'Climbing Iceberg' and the Meyer's Lemon, the flowers froze on the Texas Mountain Laurel, and leaves on all four Confederate Jasmines began to turn brown. Friends who grow agaves and aloes say they're badly damaged.

Plants that were dormant are mostly OK. Evergreen plants like Salvia greggii, Skullcaps and Salvia 'Hot Lips' froze way back but most are alive at the base. Semi-evergreens like Mexican honeysuckle, Philippine Violet and Turkscap died to the ground. Plants like iris and daffodils didn't die, but most buds froze.

The Lady Banks rose lost all its leaves and buds

The ends of every boxwood twig and branch began to die back, with stems turning light tan instead of green - something I've never seen in 15-years of growing them in Central Texas. The Barbados Cherries were already iffy - now they look dead.

Last spring I took many photos of the garden in bloom, but never got around to making a post at the end of March 2013 to celebrate the end of that unusually mild winter. The garden in those photos seems like fiction this year.

On March 30th, 2013, the Lady Banks was in full bloom.

On March 29th, 2013 the Mutabilis rose looked like a dream of spring

On March 29th, 2013 several Bluebonnets popped up with yellow Four-Nerve daisies, the tall fragrant Peach Iris, and white Salvia coccinea AKA Hummingbird Sage.

On March 30th, 2013 the white rose 'Climbing Iceberg' filled the left side of the sweetheart arch with blooms while the white-flowering Confederate/Star Jasmine filled the right side.

On March 30th, 2013 another Confederate Jasmine grew 8-feet high on the shed trellis with Spanish Bluebells at the base.

We were busy nursery-hopping and planting tomatoes at the end of March in 2013 - no guests arrived to see the garden clothed in blooms but we appreciated them every day.

Any longtime gardener can take the bad years along with the good years - of course, we can! And I know that much of the cold damage to this year's garden will grow out and repair itself and make flowers again some other day or some other year.
But the thing that made me want to scream was that this year there were garden visitors - real, talk-Latin-to-me, gardener-type garden visitors. 

Flash forward to the end of March 2014... and what do this year's guests get to see?

How about a frozen and browned Loropetalum chinense var rubrum 'Plum Delight', no longer a screen but a see-through shrub?

Or the pitiful remains of the Jasmine on the shed trellis with one stem of Hyacinthoides?

At least the Rosa 'Mutabilis' had begun to releaf, even though it had no flowers

The Lady Banks rose also has made leaves, and may yet bring forth a few golden blossoms

What a trouper! After losing the main crop of buds and leaves, the Texas Redbud produced a second batch of buds for a light but lovely show of blooms.

The Confederate Jasmine is now 8-inches high instead of 8-ft tall, but the white 'Climbing Iceberg' has releafed and is forming buds. The Magnolia figo/ Banana Shrub is almost bare of leaves but tiny new leaf buds show green.

Only two-thirds of the knee-high Mexican Buckeye is alive, but the little tree was in bloom to greet the guests.

The buds froze on the white iris and the peach iris, and most of the dozens of Salvia coccinea AKA Hummingbird Sage plants died, but the Four-Nerve daisies are a cheerful lot, and some bluebonnets are in bloom, saying This is Texas. It's not a dream of a garden, but still a real one. Let the pruning-back begin!

This post about my garden in Austin, Texas was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.