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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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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bringing the Plants Inside

This post, "Bringing the Plants Inside", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.
Last Wednesday I planted bulbs while wearing shorts, because it was 89°F in early afternoon. The temperatures quickly dropped and we woke to 38°F on Thanksgiving morning. The cool weather lasted all weekend bringing an inch-and-a-half of needed rain. When I heard that a frost warning was issued for pre-dawn on Monday I was glad the two 7-foot tall plumerias were already inside the garage. It takes two people and a wheeled dolly to move them, but the smaller plants are easy to grab and move inside the garage. Just in case we dipped below freezing, I also cut one stem of the iris in its improbably late November bloom.

The frost was very light - just the basil, the tips of the impatiens and the sweet potato vines looked injured. The frost did less damage than last week's fight between a cat and a raccoon - that loud, midnight skirmish destroyed a large container of impatiens.

The Meyer's Lemon can shuttle between garage and patio until it gets really cold, but what about the four Christmas-type cactus, the aloe, the small jade plant and the unnamed Haworthia? They summer outside but they're frost-tender and the only window with enough winter sun for plants is in the breakfast room. Some of the plants had grown so much they had to be repotted and some of the pots were too big for the narrow sill. Philo came up with a solution. He built a two-legged table that fits over the sill, doubling the depth so more plants can fit.

Three of the Christmas cactus had set buds and went on the new shelf. The poky fourth one went out to the patio table.... maybe it will still set buds and catch up.
The salmon geranium at right has been blooming in the breakfast room window since March of 2006 but the red cyclamen at left was a recent impulse purchase. One of the jade plants was tucked in, a just budded Mother-of-Thousands came in from the patio to stand on the floor at left and the aloe vera is jammed in back. When it gets colder the Meyer's Lemon can stand on the floor on the right.

So our inside garden will be safe when the real freeze arrives. Perhaps I should have left the iris outside to take its chances but there's something so interesting and surreal in seeing them on the table [with a couple of sprigs of lavender!] on November 27th.
Outside, the light frost hadn't affected the Cestrum nocturnum on the south wall. This night-blooming jasmine usually releases its scent only after dark but I could smell its powdery scent today at 10 AM.

The 'Champagne' mini rose continues to bud and flower in the secret garden.

Cilantro plants go to seed when the heat arrives. The leaves are cilantro, but the seeds are coriander. After the seeds dried on last spring's plants I tossed them around and a few seedlings have sprouted to grow in cooler weather.

Most of the pecan and ash leaves are still on the tree - actually they're still green - but there were lots of wet, brown pecan leaves to rake. They don't add much fall color, do they? In the background you can see the second Meyer's Lemon, planted in the ground near the south wall, still shrouded in its frost-cover.

While raking I found a bunch of pecans and picked them all up. You know how you sort of learn to guess the relative weight of an object with experience? When I was in college I worked in a deli, and after some time could know what a half-pound was. This fall we learned to pick up pecans and know instantly which nutshells will be full, which empty, and which only partially developed. The good nuts are the smaller group lined up at the bottom and the larger group at the top are all empties.
Pecans and iris at the same time! Who could have guessed this would be our November harvest?
This post, "Bringing the Plants Inside", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.


  1. Annie...it looks like you're just about ready for frost. I really like your window table! It looks wonderful with the blooming plants. My Meyer's Lemon stays outside...this year with new piazza lights to raise the temp on those cold nights. And cilantro! I've tried before but my timing is always off...I wonder if I'd have any luck if I got some going now?!

  2. I was surprised to find that my coriander/cilantro survived a 21 degree night last weekend - totally unprotected. These were plants that were started in midsummer and had sprouted new leaves after being harvested.

    That's a great idea for extending the window sill! Now I just need a Philo to build one for me ;-)

  3. Philo is so handy. The windowsill table is a good idea. You have more to move inside than I do, but then again, you'll have lemons and Xmas cactus flowers and I won't. Enjoy!

  4. So how do you like what seems to be the yo yo weather of Austin compared to the certainty of winter in Illinois?

    It seems you all have to watch the weather more closely in Austin to determine when there will be frost, and then take action to protect everything. Then it warms up and you are back in business out in the garden. Whereas in Indiana/Illinois and other parts north, when it is over, it is over until spring.

    Will you have to watch all winter and move plants in and out with the weather changes?

  5. Oh Annie, reading about your garden activities is like a breath of fresh, warm air.

    The iris are very pretty. Your new shelf is great. That Philo is a gem.

  6. Annie, the table is a great idea and one that I just might copy from you. I have several windows that get plenty of sunshine, (when the sun is actually shining that is) and I've wished many times before that my window sills were larger.

    I just bought a Christmas cactus and posted the picture on my blog. Yours looks so healthy. Do you always keep it outside during the summer?

  7. Placed in a shadier part of the garden and having survived the heat of a hot Mediterranean sun our seed sown coriander/cilantro crop was devoured by the millions of snails we seem to get. I chop and freeze the leaves which keep well in the freezer. Supermarkets here sell such piddly little packets which are expensive to boot. We need a snail proof method.

    Are the pecans easily grown?

  8. Clever table! I want one on every window...do you suppose I can cajole my LSS into making me half a dozen or so?
    It seems strange to hear you speak of frost when you've been so very much warmer than a lot of us for the past 6-7 months or more. I'm really learning a lot about geography and gardening....:-)

  9. Annie, this is a test. I see that Blogger has changed the comment field on everyone's blogs. The "Other" option is gone, leaving me---a non-Blogger would-be commenter---with the choice of opening a Blogger account or leaving a "Nickname" comment without my website link. Neither option is very appealing.

    Did you get a notice about the change? Is the "Other" option still available to you?

  10. Leslie - there's always a lot of cleanup once a freeze arrives- there are still quite a few tender annuals in containers. We're experimenting with the lemons - one will come in and I'll try Christmas light on the one planted outside.

    Cilantro hates hot nights - so now or late winter might work for you.

    Entangled, I used to have it reseed really well in a sheltered spot in Illinois- sprouted in very early spring, made several generations and lasted until it was eventually turned to mush. I hope to get it to reseed around here, too.

    Pam/Digging - this little table was made from a shelf he bought 30 years ago- schlepped from one house to another. And the legs came from an old oak futon frame. He likes to shop for lumber in his own garage.

    Hi Carol! In Illinois the first real freeze was so final - we expected the garden to go dormant and stay that way for awhile. Here we sometimes get periodic cold snaps separated by weeks of active growth. I'll keep the plumeria inside the garage, and the stuff on the new window shelf will stay there, but the Meyer's Lemon and the Stapelia from Aunt Phyl will go in and out with the weather.

    Hi Lisa at Greenbow - the iris has a nice scent, too. If it does this again next year I guess it's one of the reblooming varieties. Philo was a gem at 17, too - I caught him young.

    Robin, I liked Philo's idea because it isn't permament, so it doesn't change the integrity of the window, wall, or sill.
    I bought three budded Christmas cactus in November 2006 and this is the first time I put them outside - the advice was on somebody's blog... but now I can't remember whose!

    Hello Colin & Carol - thank you for coming and commenting! We had lots of rain in early summer, and saw slugs and snails then - I hope our cilantro escapes. We can buy cilantro for less than $1, so it's available, but sometimes you just need a little.

    Our trees were over 20 years old when we bought this house in 2004 - I think they need to be 7-10 years old to bear. We were lucky - the rain gave us a pecan crop, but some parts of Central Texas had terrible flooding.

    Jodi - I hope it works for your - if I designed a house all the windowsills would be a lot bigger than the standard skinny ones!
    The geography lessons work both ways - who knew we'd all be looking on maps to find landmarks in Nova Scotia? It's been fun!

    Hi again Pam - I've always had "anyone can comment" checked on my dashboard. I went to the dashboard and looked and it still says anyone, but I no longer see 'other'.

    I saw your note at Garden Rant, wondering whether it's a business decision to force you to get a blogspot blog. That could be true, but I wonder whether the recent batch of sploggers is another cause. I've seen some awful comments out there! I heard that people are being hired to enter the letter recognition codes and add comments that look fairly legitimate but have links to sales sites. Could the new comment rules be an attempt to have some control over these new spam techniques?

    In order to comment on LiveJournal my only option has been to be 'anonymous' so I cut and paste my blog address after my signature in the comment field.

    Thanks for the comments -


  11. Annie,

    That's a great use of some old wood. I was going to comment on how the edges are even finished off.

    Your window table reminded me of a picture I saw a while back of an apartment building in an Asian country. This building had dozens of window tables hanging out the outside of the windows and they all had bonsai. It was pretty cool seeing the lengths people go to for their little trees.

    I'm going to have to keep my eyes open for some scrap wood-I like your idea.

  12. You are obviously a lady with exquisite taste, even at an early age.

    Have a nice weekend.

  13. I just never have enough frost-free space in the Winter. Windowsills, sheds, greenhouse all just fill up!

  14. Annie, when you said it was 89 early afternoon, I croaked. I thought our 75 last week was warm!

    We've had a hard frost that finally damaged the mini roses (the last to give up). There's nothing left to look at in the gardens except for the gardenias and newly planted pansies. I'll be in my waders soon to remove the waterlilies in the pond as they need to be put to rest.

    Your inside garden looks as lovely as your outdoor garden! That's a lot of work but worth it, if you know what you are doing...and you do.

    You reminded me how much I like cyclamen. I think I'll pick one up at the grocery store tomorrow.

  15. Hi, Annie, I love your blog; your photos are fabulous. Thanks for visiting my blog and making me feel welcome among the austin garden blogs. There really should be a shortcut name coinage don't you think? Sodders? Bloggeners?
    Libby at Aurora Primavera

  16. Annie, I'm so glad that you posted this when you did... I had just come up with templates for fitting a new temporary sill over two of my existing kitchen sills in order to add width for plant pots. But I love Philo's answer to this problem so much--it will involve WAY less cutting, and not require anything being screwed to the existing window frame--that I'm stealing it. A big THANK YOU to you and Philo both!

    (By the way, thanks for the response on the notices on the top and bottom of your post. Like you said, it's kind of fruitless to keep trying to put these fires out, though... I wish we really knew how to summon those Flying Monkeys!)

  17. I had seen an option on the bottom of Annie's blogposts to post as anonymous when I posted my response just now... so in the interest of adding to Pam & Annie's discussion above, I'm testing this out here. (Kim)

  18. I just wrote a comment and received a message that Blogger was unable to process my request. Grrr... Wordpress is becoming more appealing.

    I loved seeing some Iris - I haven't seen any for ages. It's cool that they are blooming now.

    Your plant shelf is a great idea. I have large, old windowsills, but sometimes I wish they were wider so I could larger plants on them. Oh well... the floor serves well too.

    Do you have to worry about frost all winter long or do the frost warnings lift at some point? it is fascinating to learn more about the climate in other areas (especially at the moment when we are in the midst of a deep freeze).

  19. On my request the under-gardener made kingsize windowsills at my home a few years ago. Not for the plants though but for all the cats to lounge on and bask in the heat of the radiator beneath during winter. My indoor plants have to be contented with either a spot in the greenhouse (unheated) or the conservatory (heated).

    I love that Cestrum nocturnum of yours, perhaps I could grow it in my conservatory. Have to see if I can find one here. I love fragrant plants!

    Your Iris blooms made me smile, how very special to have those in flower now Annie. Enjoy!

    BTW we had no nightfrost when you did. Weird!

  20. Cool table - I want to make one too so my cat will have more room to sleep.

    As for the blogger change you can just leave a link to your blog in the body of you comment.

    - bill

  21. let see if this works

  22. Gosh, Annie, I had no idea you had frost in Austin. Does it snow there as well? We're covered with a blanket of snow today and I have a couple of plants I should have brought inside as well.

    I always enjoy looking at your photographs. Gorgeous!

  23. Thank you, Mr Brown Thumb - the bonsai shelves make sense, too... those little trees need to be outside, but not freeze.

    Good luck with getting some good bargain lumber!

    Lisa at Greenbow,, Philo can thank you for that compliment. I guess I was a pretty smart 15-year old ;-]

    Welcome Matron - our non-hardy plants may give us more crowded winters indoors, but much more interesting summers outdoors!

    Hello Mary, it goes up and down - supposed to be 80°F [abt 27C] again today but 42°F [abt 5.5C] tomorrow night.

    When we first moved here it amazed me to see cyclamen planted by the hundreds in commercial landscapes outside in winter.

    Hi Libby - your blog is fun to read and you've added another dimension [and neighborhood] to the Austin garden blogging scene. I put you in my Austin blogging links.

    As to the name, one I've seen is "Hort-bloggers" but you'd better emphasize the 't' in that word. Flora-bloggers? Leaf-blogs?

    Glad to be of help with the shelf Blackswamp Kim - even if I can't wave my wand and banish the content-scrapers.

    We may end up with a new window one of these years, so temporary and portable was what we wanted here, too.

    Kate, it appears that Blogger is in flux right now... when I write a comment I clip and paste it to notepad before hitting preview or post. If it gets eaten or the unable to process post appears, I pull up the window, paste the comment and try again.

    Seeing an iris at the end of November is almost freaky, even here! We do have to watch out for frost all winter, and sudden late freezes can be a disaster when everything is in full bloom. Look at my archives for April 12 and you'll see!

    Hi Yolanda Elizabet - your cats have a wonderful life! A few houses ago Philo upgraded the windowsills, too, and we may do that again as we change out windows. My plants have to be contented with a spot in the breakfast room, or hibernate in the gloomy but above freezing garage.

    The Cestrum is fragrant, Yolanda... for some people it's overwhelming. I like it outdoors, but the scent gave me a headache when a branch was in a vase inside the house.

    Another gardener who favors the cats over the plants, eh Bill?

    Yay for you! In your second comment you've figured out to come from another journal format and comment on blogspot without losing the linking! Now Pam/Digging and MSS/Zanthan might be able to comment, too. Are you going to put up a tutorial on your blog?

    Josie, we're called subtropical, so there is usually some pretty cold weather each winter. When my trees and shrubs were encased in ice and bent to the ground last January I was really upset... only blogging about it kept me from hysteria!

    Thank you for the comments,


  24. I have a set of widgets on my computer that I look at every morning, and they are for the weekly forecast for here, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, and Bend -Oregon (which I have just switched to Saluda, North Carolina). In any case, I have been very surprised by how warm it was in Austin all the way to Thanksgiving and then how it got suddenly cold. Is that typical for your parts?
    Philo is a very clever guy, isn't he?

  25. Hey annie,

    From Kim's comment above about the notice at the top of your blog I'm going to guess that you're having problems too with content scrapers on your blog?

    I've been dealing with them lately and one of the things that I've noticed they're doing is creating backlinks to their websites and splogs. I see there is someone who is linking to most of y our posts to create backlinks.

    If you're not associated with them or don't like that they're creating links on your blog entries to get traffic to their sites click on your post title.

    After you've clicked on your post title scroll past all the comments and click the trash icon next to the link to delete it. I just spent the am deleting a bunch of back links to places that are just reposting parts of my blog.

    I noticed you have someone riding on your blog when I was reading the bloom day post. There is a site called The Grow Spot with a backlink there. If you know the site or don't care you can leave it but these people just do it to create links and traffic to their site.

    If you register your blog with technorati it makes it easier to spot them because it shows you the links to your blog with sites/blogs that are also signed up. It also makes you vulnerable because it exposes you to more people who do this. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

  26. Anna Maria, I've got a few cities plugged into my weather page, too - including Austin, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Cork, Ireland and Florence, Italy, half of which I've never seen but track anyway.

    In Texas we expect sudden changes and if it's been hot for a long time, we hope for them! There's not much that can be called "moderate" about this place.

    Thank you Mr Brown Thumb - I hadn't signed up with any trackers, and maybe will not bother.
    As to the links - believe me... if the trashcan icon had appeared next to that link it would have been gone days ago. Even when signed onto blogger first, all that shows is some little stylized flower shape. Oh Blogspot! Where is my trashcan!!

    On the other hand, I no longer see a link to that site on the juglone post, and it used to have one. How did that happen?


  27. What a clever idea on the table Philo made!

    I can just imagine you sitting at the breakfast table sipping coffee among all those blooming Christmas catcus.

    So nice to see an iris bloom at this late date.

  28. Annie,

    I loved you post. Wacky weather you're having. Irises and Christmas cactus and pecans who new.

    Thank you for your comment on my blog and for the change information. I'm so annoyed with blogger right now. Please complain. Maybe if enough people complain we can get them to change back.

    They have made it impossible for anyone to leave a live link back to their non-blogger blog.

    I'm going to try pasting it in.
    Here goes.
    Chigiy at Gardener"s anonymous


  29. Annie,

    I've noticed that the option to delete them goes away after a while. So I keep an eye on those links the first couple of days after I publish a post. Technorati is just a way to keep up with your favorite blogs that are registered and see what's going on in the blogosphere. The feature that shows you who linked to you is just a bonus and helps you see who is linking to your blog. It is a good way of making "blogging friends."

    I'm sure you know but you can also choose to not show your trackbacks and after the hits/visit dry up for her she'll probably move on. Also maybe toggling them off/on will get the trashcan to reappear.

    I've done some Googling on the website owner and have found a bit of info. You can fight back and use your blog as a platform by making a post about what they're doing, how it isn't kosher yadda yadda. You have a higher PR and when people search for that site you're bound to come up in the results. I'll even help or I'll put out the hit piece myself if you give the OK.

  30. Hi Annie...if you are interested I've tagged you with the Eight Things I'm Happy About meme that came to me from Garden Wise Guy.

  31. Gardener’s Anonymous
Hi Annie,
    I'm trying out the quick fix that tangled branches posted. let's see how it works.
    Thanks for the info.

  32. That iris is great! I hope it is a rebloomer, as not all rebloomers are fragrant. If it makes you feel any better, Northern Illinois just got over 6" of snow. You don't miss shoveling snow, do you? It's fun to see gardens that are still going strong in December.

  33. Zoey, that's exactly what it's like - I'm enjoying it!

    Chigiy, the whole thing has me puzzled - what's the reason it was changed?

    Mr Brown Thumb, I put my blog url in the technorati search and saw a few of the weird content links and scrapers with my words on pages with someone else purporting to be the author, but unlike the stuff back on March 8th [when I first posted about content stealing], these blogs do link to this page. I guess I'm not sure what level of pissed off I should be about this!

    I need to find out more about how things work. Up to now I've been purposely avoiding things like site-counters. I'll check into the trackback thing and see if I can learn to toggle!

    Okay -next thing you said that I didn't understand was a PR - which I now know stands for Page Rank. So if I have this higher PR, does that make me more of a target for content scrapers?

    It sounds pathetic, but I was really trying not to care about the numbers of visitors, or hits and I didn't want to put ads on my page. I just wanted to write and have other gardeners to talk with. But "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in". If you think using the Transplantable Rose as a platform would do any good, I'm willing to try.

    Leslie - I'll try to get to it - but the timing is not too hot!

    Well, Chigiy, it isn't elegant, but it's some kind of solution. Blogger has been acting weird all day - not sending emails about answers or new posts - maybe they're doing something else new?

    Hi Mr McGregor's Daughter, I sure hope it's a rebloomer, too... there are three stalks on it with buds right now.
    As far as the snow - I hate to drive in it, but sort of liked shoveling a few inches - not the ridiculous kind of snowfall like those 20" in January, 1999, the winter before we left Illinois!

    Thank you for the comments and suggestions and help -


  34. You seem to have a great deal of temp fluctuation this time of year! It is now just cold here! Winter has arrived just in time for the holidays! I like your pecan 'smile'!

  35. Planting bulbs in 89 degrees and in shorts ?! That's my idea of great fun.

    I could lend you my snow shovel, Annie. We've got about 8 or more inches on the ground right now. It is lovely, but I've had enough winter already.

    Iris in November? I'm so envious. My daughter gave me 6 reblooming orange iris and I can't wait to see them next Spring and perhaps Fall, too.

    That Philo is my kinda guy. I know what it's like to have a DIYer around the house.

    The ups and downs of the Austin weather would drive me nuts keeping up with all the stuff you have to do.

    Those pecans remind me of every Fall in Alabama when we'd gather them up and make some lucious Pecan Pie.

  36. I meant to comment on that neat window table idea last night, but got sidetracked with the post above :)
    What a wonderful idea! I just showed Ross and he immediately said, "How many windows sills do you want them on?" We'll start with one! Isn't it great to have husbands who are handy, and willing to do these nifty things for us? :)
    Oh that Cyclamen..I must go and buy one!
    I love that night-blooming Jasmine and wish I could smell it!
    Those iris are truly amazing. What a bonus! And the mini rose is so sweet.
    You've just taught me where coriander comes from. Thanks!

  37. Layanee, and Carolyn, there's a lot of temperature variation here - and the changes come fast. Sometimes it drives me nuts, too, but at least it's not boring.

    I used to be pretty good with a snow shovel - but don't own one now!

    Hello Kerri - Philo was happy to know his idea was useful to other people. It's made the breakfast room so much nicer this winter.

    Thanks for the comments,



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