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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, January 20, 2008

Embrace The GADS!

This post, "Embrace the GADS!", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.
Over at May Dreams Gardens, Carol gave some hints for living with GADS [that's Garden Attention Distraction Syndrome] while admitting that she no longer tries to overcome it but goes with the flow.

I agreed with her advice to go with the flow and commented that gardeners might do well to act "less like ants glued to a task and a trail, and more like bumblebees among the hollyhocks, appreciating every blossom." I had some ant moments today, but even without hollyhocks, it was better to Be The Bumblebee.

Friday and Saturday nights were relatively cold for Central Texas - down to 26 degrees F/minus 3.3 C. Before the freeze I hauled 4 potted roses and a few other containers inside the garage where the plumerias wait for spring.
For the Meyer's Lemon planted next to the garage I tried a method I'd heard about from several sources - one may have been horticulturalist Skip Richter on Central Texas Gardener.
In theory, the heat from mini-lights suspended under a sheet or floating row cover may be just enough to keep citrus from being killed by cold, without cooking or overheating the plant.

The air was well below freezing this morning when I ran out in my robe to pour warm water on top of the ice in the birdbaths. A few hours later the sun had warmed the patio so I buzzed out to look at the camellia - the open flowers were frozen, but there's a good chance the buds will be okay. I counted at least 2 dozen buds still unopened. The flowers look interesting - like faded fabric flowers pinned onto a real shrub.

I didn't like what I saw on the left end of that border - once again a branch on the 'Chindo' viburnum looks bad in spite of the zone 7 hardiness rating. More than half the original plant has died in the two years since it was planted, one limb at a time, always right after a dip into the twenties. This Viburnum awabuki 'Chindo' should have been a functioning member of the Green Screen team by now - maybe it's time to interview new candidates.

Back to the garage I went, staying glued to my trail, removing the sheets from lemon and palm and remembering to unplug the mini-lights. I started bringing out the roses but stopped before putting them where they belonged. As I passed the patio table I got the idea to first pull off some yellowed or black-spotted leaves, clip off dead twigs and remove dried tree leaves from the surface of the soil.

Hmmm - with the leaves gone I could see a funny sort of depression in this container - aha! A squirrel planted a pecan about 6-inches down. It had begun to split open, ready to germinate.

The other 'Champagne' rose had no pecan, but an acorn from a live oak landed in the pot, split and sent a root down. A seedling of "Coral Nymph' salvia hid in the base of the rose. With dozens of seedlings popping up in every border we're not likely to run out of 'Coral Nymph', so the Cape Cod weeder is fetched to tease this one out before it overshadows the intended inhabitant.

As I carried the roses back to their places in the Secret Garden I looked up at a scraggly crepe myrtle and remembered that mid-February is a good time for shaping them.... wasn't I supposed to look for a special pruning tool? And oh, look - there's something green next to the fence. I flew over to check it out.

I'm pretty sure these pretty, fresh-looking leaves belong to Ranunculus. Julie of the Human Flower Project wrote a compelling post about these flowers in the buttercup family. Last fall I finally remembered to buy and plant a package of Ranunculus asiaticus.

On the way back to the patio I stopped to admire more green leaves - they look similar because they're also in the Buttercup/Ranunculacea family - these leaves belong to Anemone coronaria - not the perennial anemones grown by Ki - but Windflower types sold in packages of corms in autumn.

Back at the table I took a photo of the nuts, feeling that it was a good idea to be the bumblebee today, stopping to groom the roses and admire the tiny red leaf buds. If I'd kept walking the ant-trail with those pots, instead of roses there would soon be a pecan tree growing in one pot and an oak tree in the other. Darn it - the camera shut itself off before I got a good shot - weren't there some batteries in the desk drawer?

Nope - no camera batteries in the desk drawer, but as long as I'm in the office I'll check email and oh, yeah - maybe google around and see if I can find out where to buy something called a concave cutter.
Another gardener told me this bonsai tool would be useful for the kind of shaping I'm doing on the crepe myrtles.
Maybe there's a source at the Austin Bonsai Society and ....oh look - here's a dealer in Pflugerville, not close but not a bad drive...and the shop is open now.
Philo is interested enough in bonsai to go for a ride - just has to turn a pot of turkey soup down to simmer first.
We find MBP Bonsai Studio without getting lost - and meet the owner of this charming place. Mike and Candy Hansen have studied bonsai for 35 years, first enjoying it as a hobby, then establishing their first bonsai studio 25 years ago.
I buy just one tool, but notice wonderful pots, books and decorative items. I also notice Philo examining the array of tools and looking out at the plant nursery. He has "that look" - and I know we'll be back for another visit.
Embracing the GADS enabled us to find this new tool, oust unwanted trees, meet a fellow gardener, discover an interesting place, and we bumblebees even remembered to buy batteries on the way home.
This post, "Embrace the GADS!", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.


  1. You and Carol are priceless, Annie--and there's a lot of truth behind the humour. I wouldn't want to be GADsLess, myself. I just wish I wouldn't forget some of the things on my lists when I go 'over the mountain' to do errands. Or forget the list. ;-)

  2. Whew, I'm ready for a rest just reading about all the GADding about you were doing this day, Annie. But, boy, have I had pleasurable days spent in similar bumblebee-like pursuits in the garden myself.

  3. "Be the Bumblebee", Annie in Austin. We should remember that the bees still take pollen back to the hive each evening. I guess that's one of the reasons GADS works for us gardeners. Generally "stuff" does get done, just maybe not what we had planned to do.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens
    (Very envious that you have a bonsai shop nearby!)

  4. I never knew if the cause of my GADS was having too much to do, having ADD, or getting older, but after reading about your recent experience with GADS, I think it may be that gardeners just enjoy being out in their gardens so much it is hard to focus.

  5. It was great fun GADing about with you today Annie. What a successful day!

  6. That sounds like an extraordinarily pleasant day! You could write a self-help book - Embrace Your Inner Bumblebee ;-)

  7. Sounds like a wonderful day giving into your inner bumblebee. And yet, you managed to be organized enough to document the process (or lack there-of).

    I'm glad you and Carol have "given me permission" to act the way I act. I feel a lot less guilty already.

  8. Annie: LOL at that convoluted trail you left behind! Entertaining and eloquence in a post is what we all strive for! And, some pretty pictures also. That new tool looks a bit scary. A concave cutter? Hmmmm let's see it in action! Thanks always!

  9. It works for you, it works for me -GADding about definitely is the way to go most days in the garden. Don't you love how the squirrels always plant their nuts in the easiest to dig soil, the bushy tailed little rats? (Which usually means in the pots.) So, do you actually park your car in the garage, or is it just a place in which to stuff plants when freezes threaten? :^D

  10. I'm so glad that you and Carol have put a name to my "disorder" (GAD). I have "been the bumblebee" for years. But I have called it "braided work" -- many strands criss crossing making up a whole.

  11. Hi Annie,

    It made me dizzy just reading your post ! Wish I had those kind of chores to do in the winter but as you know your old hometown Chicago closes up the garden in December.

    GADS is so common among us gardeners that we might as well embrace it 'cause there certainly is no cure for it !

  12. I just clicked your link and buzzed over to Carol's for a chuckle, but now I'm back and have managed to focus long enough to follow you through your 'buzzy' day :)
    It's fun to know we gardeners have such similar characteristics. I've seriously considered that I have ADD, but maybe I'm normal after all!
    That looks like an interesting store.
    I'm glad you remembered the batteries! Thanks for the smile Annie :)

  13. Nice to see someone else that follows meandering paths as their brain leads them from thought to thought.

  14. You have a lot to tend to, Annie. We are all affected by the GADS syndrome but I think you have a good handle on the disease. You just need to keep an eye on the battery situation and you'll be OK.

    My GADS starts in early spring and lasts through the end of summer :o/ I need to work on that.

  15. Hi Jodi - the number of posts that Carol inspires me to write is quite large... it's like making dinner - I'll cook anything my family wants as long as I don't have to come up with the menu!

    Pam/Digging, as you can guess, this was just part of a day. And there was a "bitty" character to what needed to be done. Philo & I can really be ants when we're trying to get pruning done and out for brush collection!
    I think your time spent taking photos may be your bumblebee moments ;-]

    Good point, Carol! When you're working with living things in the natural world, the garden may have a different agenda than we do.
    You could go visit that bonsai place in April!
    BTW - Happy Birthday!

    Hello Jan from Louisiana! I hope you have fun in the world of gardenblogging. If Garden Attention Distraction Syndrome gets worse as we get older I'm really in trouble.

    I got a few things done, Lisa at Greenbow, and it's been raining today so it's a good thing I toured the garden yesterday.

    Well you've given me the title, Entangled, and Carol thought up the Bumb-ler Sticker phrase last fall ... the rest should be easy?

    Hello MSS - oh yes - really organized... that's why I was loading the dinner dishes into the dishwasher at 1 AM.

    Thank you very much, Layanee - the idea seems to be that this tool removes branches slightly below the collar line, so that after healing the cut is somewhat less likely to produce those ugly sprays of twig growth.

    But the truth is I saw it and wanted it.

    It's hard to believe you have it too HealingMagicHands - just the things you accomplish in between massage clients makes me tired! Braided work -nice term.

    Hi Carolyn - no way my puttering could make you dizzy! I've seen your photos of your projects.
    Yesterday was a nice day in between some not-so-nice ones...this way I could be out on our heat-trapping patio.

    Glad we made you laugh, Kerri - and I really do think it's an intelligent response to what the garden needs. Guess that means we're both some kind of normal?

    Hello Bonnie - I really kept it under control when there were young children around - so don't take too many flights as yet ;-]

    Mary - you have to be affected - how else could you keep up with the birds and get those pictures?

    Trying to get close-ups in focus seems to make the batteries go faster - I used them up trying to make those tiny blooming day flowers look bigger than a nickel!

    Thanks for the comments!


  16. What a fun day you had!

    I'm a bumblebee too, usually flitting from one task to another. I often have way too many projects going at once because of this incurable syndrome.

  17. In a perfect world, I could go without sleeping and be the bumblebee 24/7.

  18. Duh to me, Annie...I never noticed before that I could change the timestamp. I've corrected that now. Now I just gotta make sure the TIME is registering correctly. I think Blogger wants to put me on Newfoundland STandard Time (half an hour later than here). And glad you like the new look. It was a little terrifying to do, but it seems to be working.

  19. What a wonderful day gadding about. I like the analogy with the bees and the ants. I'd much rather be the bee!

    I'm jealous of all of your blooming plants!

  20. Still nicely bumbling away I see.;-) Annie I never thought that I would live to see the day, well whole weekend in fact, when it was colder in Austin Texas than in Dinteloord, the Netherlands. Over here it was extremely mild for the time of year, temperatures during the day 10 to a whopping 13 C and well above zero C (freezing point) during the night.

    Your Viburnum looks like a goner, best start interviewing some new candidates for your green screen.

  21. Following your post was like going on a treasure hunt, a prize at each stop along the way. The final prize, the concave cutters, being a treasure beyond measure.

  22. What a fun adventure of a day... thank you for taking us along with you, as always! Since I'm not likely to be able to find myself any similar outside adventures anytime soon, it was a balm. :)

    By the way, did you plant up the pecan?

  23. Well, as someone who suffers from a horrid case of GADS - and happily so - I'm with you. One never knows what a new day will bring. (And I need to learn a little something about that tool - it looks interesting).

  24. That's a cool looking pruning GADget. I'd have Philo's look on my face too if I saw those tools. :)

    Your Camellia buds will probably be ok if our plant is any indication of their hardiness. Even the C. sasanqua which is not as cold tolerant will bloom again when the weather warms up.

    I did plant some Anemone coronaria last fall but don't see any sign of them. I hope they do come up but they were 1/2 price from Sams so I will be delighted if some flower in spring.

    I was taken aback by the bare limbs of your plumeria then remembered that most are deciduous. We have the evergreen Singapore variety so it adds tropical greenery to the interior during the winter. Our garage gets quite cold. I have a thermometer in the attached garage - don't ask me why- and it often reads below 40 degrees. Our plumeria wouldn't survive there. Sorry for this long comment but I just saw the movie "Perfume" last weekend. The movie mentioned frangipani as one of the scents used in perfumery. I borrowed the book to see what was left out of the movie and was interested to find out that frangipani was named after Mauritius Frangipani an Italian monk who discovered that scents were soluble in the spirits of wine and provided a method for conserving the scent of a flower thereby the first to create a perfume. An interesting movie on the order of the obsessed genius in Amadeus only of scent rather than sound.

  25. Hello Robin - maybe having multiple projects in process is like not keeping all your honey in one hive??

    Oh Chuck - there would always be sleeping in my perfect world! We need those ZZZZZ's to dream.

    Hi Jodi - it seems that if you don't go into comments' settings and make a choice, the default shows time of day with no date. I find it very useful to know the date because comments sometimes come in months after the original post went up.
    Not only does you blog page have a new look - if you get bored again you'll know how to change it again!

    Hi Sherry - your place seems to be such a busy hive - you have to be a bee! Plus there already is an "Ant Carol" in your family.

    Bumbling is the right word for me on most days, Yolanda Elizabet! We've been stuck in the 35-to-44 degree F/2-to-7 degree C range for the last week. Just blah - not dangerous like the Chicago temperatures.
    I'm really annoyed about that Viburnum! It's now lost garden money, and a better plant would have filled in that spot by now. Phooey!

    Hi Frances - I haven't done anything with the concave cutters yet - but my fingers are twitching!

    You might get a surprise warm spell, BlackswampKim, and find things that can be done.
    Pot up a pecan? They're just weeds in my containers and borders. Garden advice here is to buy a named variety so you know the nuts will be good.

    Pam, it works well when there's no real agenda... but sometimes you have to be the ant!
    As soon as I heard about the existence of this tool I wanted one... pretty weird.

    Good play on words, Ki! Aren't the tools one of the main reasons guys like bonsai ;-]
    So far the C. japonica buds look firm so I think they'll open one of these days. Last year it had lots of open blooms two weeks after the ice storm.
    Doesn't everyone have a thermometer in their attached garage? It's 50 F/10C out there now, but has been lower overnight. So far the trunks are green.
    I'm not too sure about adding the "Perfume" movie to my queue...reviews make it sound pretty creepy! Julie at the Human Flower Project had an interesting post about how mistreatment of Frangipani caused an uproar on a Thai TV soap opera.


    Thank you all for the comments,


  26. I'm trying again tonight to leave a comment - I tried twice this morning and then my internet connection went out. Grrr... not a good computer day. It was a classic GADs day, winter-style, which is why I'm only just trying to remember everything I wrote this morning.

    So here goes - you've blown my sense of Austin as being a warm place all year long. Even though I knew that you had a big frost last January, I thought it was just an anomaly. I wish I could visit the bonsai store. It looks like a wonderful place.

    Your squirrels are definitely industrious about ensuring a supply of pecans and acorns from future trees.

    Being a bumblebee is so much better than being a plodding-along ant, methinks.

    And what a cool idea with the miniature Christmas lights - I hope the tree did well.

    It was good to know that I'm not the only gardener who runs out to the garden in my robe (well, I haven't done that since last fall!)

    I enjoyed reading this post, Annie!

  27. Hi Annie, I like your new hearder. Very nice. I've been thinking about doing something with my blog header... I do have a thermometer in my garage. It stays pretty warm out there in the winter because it is fully insulated and all. I just checked...60 degrees in the garage (up by the door to the house, it is probably colder by the overhead door), 27 outside. Not too bad.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  28. Thanks for sharing your bumblebee ramblings and buzzing about. And for giving us all some insight into our inherent nature. It's good to know that I'm among kindred spirits!!

  29. Hi Annie
    I was interested to learn that your Chindo viburnum doesn't seem to take the cold well. I was thinking about getting one myself, but we have nights in the teens every winter, so maybe I'll rethink that one.

  30. Wow! that is very motivating. I see now, how I can have my hands full even when the chips are down; I hope i can imbibe a bit of your bumblebee routine in my own schedule when it is a bit drab.

  31. Hi annie,

    I was catching up with some of your posts. Shame about that weather, I thought it didn't get that cold in Austin. I am not sure which is worse having nothing all winter (like around here) or battling up and down low temperatures like you have to.

  32. Hear hear! I love this post...not only the idea of embracing GADS (which I have to do since I can't help it), but now we have an awesome pollinator's nickname! I hearby proclaim myself a Bumblebee! Thank you!


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