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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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Wednesday, July 04, 2007


The red rose, white Pentas, white salvia and Salvia 'Black& Blue' barely constitute a floral sparkler let alone the explosion of color I was hoping to gather for a photo. Real fireworks, legal or otherwise, can be heard around Austin on every Fourth of July. I like fireworks, but have always felt tense as bottle rockets flew over dried-out roofs in our usual hot, dry summers. They'll be very hard to light this year!

It's still pouring in Texas, and I wonder whether this photo of a puddle in the secret garden might be considered garden porn by those of you who need rain so badly. [Lilac and peony photos fit this category for me!] If you're in a drought area, may gentle, slow soaking rains fall on your gardens soon, allowing the waterlogged places [like Oklahoma City, which had 20 straight days of rain] to dry out a little.

MSS of Zanthan Gardens has concentrated on tomatoes lately and Pam/Digging has been away from her blog for a while. Well, while Pam is busy and you're missing her fabulous photos, my photos might look better ! Here are a few from my garden this week - some have rain and mist, others were taken in sun. When the rain stopped and the sun came out, I covered myself in mosquito spray and went out to weed and prune.

This unnamed oriental lily bloomed in a deck container for a few years, was planted in the ground in 2005, and is somehow living and blooming in our heavy clay soil. There have been a few flowers each year, but there were 10 buds this June - and they're huge, measuring 8-inches across when fully open.

In closeup this lily has little 'bumps' but no spots like the Stargazers. One flower in a vase puts out so much fragrance it can be overpowering inside the house.
The 'City of Portland' canna loves the moisture and keeps blooming. There's a little coral color blended into the brick of our house. This color sets off a war when something in the magenta/pink range is planted near the brick, but growing the cannas near the wall looks okay to me - what do you think?
Another Canna goes by several names, including 'Praetoria' and 'Bengal Tiger', and has striped foliage and orange flowers. I planted it in three places in my garden, liking how it looks near this 'Acoma' crepe myrtle and a self-seeded tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, with Perovskia/Russian sage at the base .
The Zephranthes 'Labuffarosea' rainlilies opened a few flowers, but their numbers are down from last year. I don't think they like being waterlogged - some of the bulbs may have rotted underground.

Last year two Snail Vines, Phaseolous caracalla, ran rampant in my garden. One took over the garden arch and smothered the Coral Honeysuckle, leading me to evict it. The other one covered the metal obelisk so densely that the structure was invisible, but I liked the flowers, so let it finish the season.
Once free of the annual snail vine, the Coral honeysuckle did well, and has taken over the arch. It's been showing off those flowers nonstop since March, framing the garden and attracting hummingbirds.

I planted seeds for Moonvine, Ipomoea alba, and Blue Pea Vine, Clitoria ternatea, at the base of the obelisk a couple of months ago - actually planting them twice, since the first seeds never sprouted. The second set of seeds sprouted and are twining up the metal bars, but are not yet blooming. I like the way the obelisk looks this year, and am not in a big hurry for the flowers. The birds seem delighted with the exposed framework - a hummingbird likes to perch on the crossbar in between sips at the Buddleja, honeysuckle and Salvias and it's also a favorite hangout for the wrens.

I hope you're all having a safe and happy holiday, with some sparkle in your evening.


  1. Happy Independence Day! We're finally getting some rain today. I hope you dry out soon.

    So that's what a rain lily looks like! Mine don't look like much. I love the graceful lines of the obelisk.

  2. I love the cannas next to the brick. They are such a great color, not too hot, not too muted.

  3. Happy Independence Day, Annie! Your choice of red, white, and blue is sweet. The canna against your house are lovely. With all that you have, there's no need for "feeders" for the hummingbirds, right? I can only dream of a garden like yours - it will take me several years and I won't even come close.

    The rains are a gift, coming from one who is watching everything wilt, no matter what we do... The heat, combined with the drought, is taking a toll on our gardens and minds.

    I wish for those being pounded by rain that it ceases and some sunshine brightens their lives... May you have a week of sunny days. Meanwhile, we are doing a rain dance for a little of what you'd love to give away!

  4. Some of your plants must be really confused right now, with all the rain. But confused or not, from your pictures, it looks like they are all doing quite well for you.

    I know some of my plants are confused by not having enough rain. We did have a brief thundstorm this evening, which sounded better to me than any fireworks shot off in the neighborhood! It should help with my weeding tomorrow.

    Hope you also had a safe, happy, sparkly 4th of July holiday!

  5. Annie, your lovely pictures worked! I'm feeling less dusty and dry already. In fact, I just went back up to that gloriously beautiful white oriental lily picture to get another shot of cool, moist relief...

    Ah, if only OK City and Austin could really send some of that rain our way. Our promised storms today came to naught, as will the ones promised tonight as well, I'm sure. You know it's bad when you find yourself wishing for the "severe thunderstorms across the area" to take a swing past your town.

    Both cannas are wonderful right where they are--you can definitely see how well the first one echoes the tones of that brick. Great job there, as usual.

  6. I think the cannas next to the brick look great, but I may not be the one to ask!

    Looks like your garden is doing quite well despite all the rain. Thank you for the puddle photo, I'd almost forgotten what that looked like till some rain, heavenly rain fell tonight after all the fireworks were over. Very obliging, I thought.

    The obelisk is garden art all on its own, isn't it? The birds always love a bare perch to scope things out so it's doing double duty!

  7. What beautiful photos of your garden, Annie. I've been watching CNN and seeing all the horrible damage the torrential rains have done to parts of Texas.

    This week is very hot and dry in Chicago although we had a few good days of rain.

  8. Beautiful.

    Rain in South Texas makes for heaven on earth.

    Green, green, green.

    But Texas rain is what it is... torrential or not all.

    This is all recharging aquifer of my homeland, few miles south of you.

  9. That oriental lily is just gorgeous, and the bumps add great textural interest.
    Annie, your comment about the “overpowering scent” struck me, as I often read about Americans finding the scent of this or that flower “overpowering”. Since I have never heard anyone in the Caribbean say this, (nor have I ever felt so overpowered) this led me to wonder whether Americans have a greater tendency to be overpowered by floral scents! LOL. Or whether we in the Caribbean can simply handle sensory overload more! Or, whether our houses in the tropics are more open, thus the scent disperses over a larger area.

  10. Apple, I've grown rainlilies for a few years and they can tell the difference between hose water and rain - hope yours bloom for you.

    Bonnie, thank you - I know you're fond of cannas, too.

    Hi Mary, the hummingbirds have a lot of choices, and are here everyday, but they dip & sip quickly - your feeders make them hover and you take wonderful photos of them.

    Carol, some things are great, some are awful...just as in a drought year. But what does well in each case is a different set of plants... one reason to have a wide variety!

    Hi BlackswampKim! Hurricanes break some drought cycles here, and in other years we've thought it would be swell if a small hurricane could somehow come ashore without doing too much damage, come here and fill the lakes.

    LostRoses, I'm glad you got some rain!
    The birds do like this stable perch - when the larger birds land on our sapling trees, the branches bend too much.

    Hello Carolyn, Chicago has always had extremes of weather - 105º in late June one year, followed by 4th of July nights where you needed a sweater. We had 16" of rain one August day, and other Augusts where the ground had fissures from drought.
    I sure hope you get some nice, soaking rain soon.

    Hello Hank, you are absolutely right. Susan Albert posted about Central Texas Watersheds. Mine feeds into the Edwards Aquifer - covering the land to the south.

    Thank you,

  11. What a lovely garden you have! I hope you dry out soon, but your flowers seem to be loving the excess. Snail vine is a new flower for me. I'll have to look it up.

  12. The honeysuckle covering your arch is really pretty - so is the obelisk. I like these shots where I get more of a view of your garden than just one plant!

    I also like reading about plants that I can't grow here - well, I suppose I can grow cannas, but then they need to be lifted and I'm not very good with that.

    Annie, your floral sparkler is cute! Happy belated 4th of July!

  13. Annie, once again, your photos are exquisite. Your garden looks wonderful. We have had a lot of rain as well, but summer has finally arrived here. 90 degrees... yay!

    I love the little red, white and blue sparkler.


  14. Hi Annie - this is the first time I've stopped by, and I really like your garden. I found so many of your photos are of the same plants I have posted on my blog. Come visit me at http://medlibber.blogspot.com. Too bad you couldn't send some of that rain in our direction (Silicon Valley, Calif). Of course, it's rare for us to get any rain during the summer. But we didn't get enough this past winter and so we are feeling the "pinch."

  15. Annie...your garden is looking wonderful. I'm not fond of cannas but yours look enticing! I hope you dry out a bit and the mosquitoes subside.

  16. Very lovely oriental lily. Reminds me of the painting by Singer Sargent, girls lighting Japanese lanterns with lilies in the background.


    And wonderful color on the Canna. I think the brick wall makes a great backdrop for the green leaves and bright coral red of the Cannas.

  17. Annie, have you considered giving your plants swimming lessons? I have! ;-) It's been raining a lot over here and it's rather cold too, 15 to 16 C. It feels like Autumn instead of Summer. Hopefully it gets better soon!

    I enjoyed the pics of your garden!

  18. I was searching for some gardening blogs that were in my neck of the woods and came across yours. Words cannot discribe the beauty of your gardens!!! I live in Plantersville, a bit South of you and am looking for some new flowers for a walkway garden that leads from the drive to the house (very long rectangular 100') gets full sun/sandy soil. Any suggestions?? Have an abundance of good composted horse manure too!

    Thank you again!

  19. I love the photo from under your garden arch, Annie. Your flowers are so colorful. Had to smile at your 'garden porn' comment. Heehee!

    Stay dry!

  20. Hi Annie - I stopped by again to let you know that I have tagged you for the Eight Random Facts meme. I hope you don't mind - and you don't have to do it if you don't want to.

  21. Hello Nicole, our comments must have overlapped.
    I grew oriental lilies by the dozens in Illinois, bringing many inside without feeling smothered, so it seems that the overpowering quality belongs to this particular oriental lily, rather than any group of plants. It was from a bargain bag years ago, so I don't even know the cultivar name.

    My house is small and not open, which may make a difference, too.

    Thank you Meresy, the snail vine was pretty, and produced flowers until it froze. But it needs lots of room.

    Kate, it's a small yard and we're working on it bit by bit. The obelisk and arch are two areas that are doing well so they get the 'face time'.

    Your garden plants won't grow here, either, so you seem pretty exotic to me!

    Josie, just don't forget you're a redhead - use that sunscreen ;-]
    I'm glad you have warm weather - you've had long wait for summer.

    Hello MaryC - you guys really do need rain, and I hope you'll get some soon. I'll have to check out the similar plants on your Silicon Valley blog. Thank you for commenting.

    You're not alone in disliking cannas, Leslie - they're too big and gaudy for many gardeners but I fell for them early in life.

    Ki, what an enchanting painting - and very unlike the Sargents I've seen in museums of adult women. Thanks.
    The canna/brick thing was an experiment, and it seems to have worked! g

    Hello Yolanda - nighttime temperatures in the 16º C range sounds delightful - but that's pretty darned cold for a day in July! On the other hand, your flowers probably last longer if your garden feels like a florist's cooler!

    Welcome Julie - my garden is on the NW edge of the city of Austin - according to the online maps Plantersville is mostly East of here - you look close to the Antique Rose Emporium! Wow, 100 feet of garden, leading up to a horse farm, how cool!

    I've always gardened on clay, and have no experience with sandy soil, but it might be fun to play with an equine theme, planting plumed grasses that resemble horse tails, maybe some Silver Pony foot as a ground cover?

    Dawn, the first time I saw the term on a garden blog it cracked me up - glad it gave you a laugh.

    Mary, thanks - but I'm such a blabbermouth it would be hard to even think up something I haven't already told the world! Another version of this game was going around in spring and I spilled my guts then.


  22. Happy belated 4th Annie! Yes, that puddle was garden porn indeed - I would love to see a puddle of water out in my garden! I think that folks were a bit more tentative this year with fireworks here - although all evening they were going off in my corner of the world, and I worried - we have alot of green areas and brush, so not a good combination. I bet it does look beautiful though - I remember spending time outside of Austin some in the spring, during one rainy spring - and it was gorgeous. That pale pink lily oriental lily is beautiful - and I know that it's missing the spots of the Stargazer (but I must confess to not being a huge fan of the latter - they are almost too perfect for me and my chaotic garden). Enjoy the rain.

  23. Hi, Annie! I got home last night after 2 weeks of vacation. I can't believe how much rain Austin got while I was away. My husband was off the hook and didn't have to water the garden, lucky for him. But it's looking rampant and jungly. I need to don the bug spray and hack it back, but that may have to wait until I tackle my trip photos.

    I'm glad you had a good visit at your mom's. See you again soon.

  24. Annie: Happy to hear you got that much needed rain. I love the puddle picture and the obelisk...all the others are, of course, great also. The garden looks happy!

  25. Annie, I'm reading this on the 8th. Still no rain for us. It's hot and humid, the air is picking up moisture off the Lake but not dropping it. It's miserable to be in the garden right now.
    I love your canna by the brick, very striking.
    And your obelisk is wonderful, with or without vines and flowers, as a garden sculpture.

  26. Pam/SC, the rain stopped in time for the huge Austin firework show at Zilker Park - and there was plenty of action here in my neighborhood.
    We've seen Austin green and lush and also seen it brown and crispy -you were lucky!
    Stargazer and its spots were okay, but my favorite has always been 'Casablanca'. I love white lilies.

    Pam/Digging, welcome back! I hope it was wonderful and yes, you do need the bug spray... it's astounding how much the trees and shrubs have grown, and the stems of many perennials are all out of proportion from reaching for sunlight.

    Layanee, thank you - the lakes are full and now snails are appearing everywhere!

    Hello Mike, thank you for commenting. The obelisk was one of those lucky finds, where both Philo and I see something and we both like it at the same instant.

    I'll bet Marie is thinking about doing a raindance to get water for all the daylilies.

    Thank you,


  27. Your garden looks so lush with all that rain. Everything is so green and happy. Enjoy it. We are in the middle of a drought year. I am very nervous about the fire danger. The fourth came and went without an incident. The CFD helicopters fly over on a regular basis. Very nerve racking.

  28. BTW Annie,

    I'd like to tag you for a meme. See “7 Random Things…” on my blog
    for more information.


  29. I think the cannas look great next to the bricks.

    I love the obelisk, too. Isn't it great when you enjoy the structure just as much bare as with blooming flowers!

    We finally got some rain today. I think we are going to get more all week. Maybe my lawn will one day get as nice and green as yours!

  30. Hi dear Annie! Beautiful pics as always.
    The water puddle does look like 'garden porn' to me as rains came with a bang in my part but after some initial thundering display, there hasn't been any follow up.

  31. Chigiy, your weather news in general is pretty scary - if wishes worked on clouds, your blog friends would make it rain for you!

    Dawn, MaryC and Beth tagged me too, so I've made one combination post.

    Zoey, there's a bronze canna in another bed, but my canna lust is not quenched - I covet your Tropicanas!

    Hi Green thumb, my fingers will be crossed for gentle rain in your part of India, and in all the other places that need replenishment.

    Thank you -


  32. Gosh I love this post! Where to begin? The bouquet is really pretty, I love the high contrast. And that lily-pretty and great smelling? Wow! Tropical milkweed? Cool...I thought I'd bought seed for every conceivible variety, now I must try this one for sure! Dig the vines too...sure wish my honeysuckle bloomed as long as yours! I like obelisks as well, though mine are mini's, about 3' tall. Thanks for sharing-your garden's coming along great!

  33. Hi Annie, Just catching up with everyone. I like the cannas by the brick. It definately works. Your back yard seems like an oasis. I love the photo of your garden through the arch.


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