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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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Friday, February 29, 2008

Garden Bloggers Geography Project

This post, "Garden Bloggers Geography Project ", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.
Pam/Digging's post about Austin is wonderful and comprehensive - go there for the main dish about our city. I'm posting a few photos of places that Pam didn't mention as my addition to Jodi's fun project. Some of you with sharp eyes may note the presence of a small paper person in a few of these photos - we've taken several editions of Flat Stanley out to tour Austin.

Nine years ago I landed at Mueller Airport and saw Austin for the first time - our Illinois house was up for sale and we intended to move to Austin at the end of the summer. It was a whirlwind meeting - just a couple of days driving around to get an idea of what it might be like to live here. Later that spring I returned for house shopping - but didn't land at Mueller... within that time frame Mueller closed and the Austin-Bergstrom Airport opened. So you bloggers coming in for Spring Fling will land at a converted Air Force Base, while ex-airport Mueller is now the site of Austin Studios and innovative new housing.

Until companies like 3M moved in (this explains the high percentage of ex-Minnesotans in Austin) and the high tech boom began, Austin was a two-horse town. One horse was government - Austin is the capital of Texas - above is the dome of the state capitol.

The other horse was the University of Texas - UT. Burnt orange pennants of alumni fly all over town but if the flags are red and white they'll belong to rival Texas A & M alums, subject of many an Aggie joke.

Soon after we got here the University of Texas unveiled a wonderful new sculpture of Dr Martin Luther King - we've frequently taken visitors to see it.

When visitors come we also take them for a ride along Loop 360, originally a scenic highway, now a crowded but still scenic thoroughfare. The Pennybacker Bridge, opened in 1982, caught my eye on the first trip.

Drive a little to the north and you can visit Innerspace Caverns in Georgetown - this cool cave was discovered by the highway department when IH35 was being built.

Drive to the Southeast and you'll find McKinney Falls State Park... here the falls are flowing. It was strange to walk over this area on a day when drought had dried up the water and the air temperature was 110 °F.

[edited Friday morning: Philo noticed that last night I'd posted a photo of Bull Creek rather than McKinney Falls. McKinney comes off Onion Creek. You now see a photo of the real McKinney Falls above with Bull Creek below.
Bull Creek is on the NW side of Austin. Both of these streams were at flood stage when the photos were taken, and can look quite different depending on the amount of rain that's fallen.]

Drive far to the Southwest and you can find Hamilton Pool. When approaching it from the top you'll see what looks like more of the usual juniper-live oak landscape, but deep in a crevasse is another world, with bald cypress trees, ferns and a stream attached to the Pedernales river, ending in a grotto. The preserve, home to endangered species, is part of the Balcones Canyonland Preserve. This enchanted world is endangered by development and pollution.

Maybe there are some Stevie Ray Vaughan fans among you - this iconic blues guitarist died in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin in August 1990, and the city where he paid his dues as a young man erected a memorial to him on the banks of Town Lake - well it's not called Town Lake any more - now it's called Lady Bird Lake, in memory of Lady Bird Johnson.

We say "Lake", and the system of Highland Lakes also include Lake Austin, Lake Travis and more - but these are actually reservoirs formed from the Colorado River [no not that Colorado River in Colorado - this one in Texas] which traverses more than 850 miles of our state. Before the dams were built, the Colorado was just a stream under normal circumstances, running through the small capital city - but when a storm hit, the floods were horrific. Dams were built - some failed causing death and destruction- some held, allowing this part of Texas to grow and prosper and allowing this peaceful paddleboat scene in downtown Austin.

In Hyde Park, north of the University area, you'll see another peaceful scene - the Elisabet Ney Museum, once the studio of an interesting Austin sculptor, a German artist who came to Austin in the late 1800's with her husband Edmund Montgomery. He was a philosopher and she created dramatic biography in marble, riding from their farm to what was then the outskirts of the city. I can't explain why, but this is one of the places I love best in Austin.

Thanks for letting me tell you about the city where I live.
This post, "Garden Bloggers Geography Project ", was written for my blogspot blog called The Transplantable Rose by Annie in Austin.


  1. Annie, your look at Austin is wonderful. There is so much of interest around a larger city. I bet each Austin gardener could pick out different places to show us. I can see the draw to the building you have in the last photo. There is a magnetic quality. Thanks for the tour.

  2. Annie, Austin sounds wonderful, I would have never thought of caves and waterfalls as part of the scenery though! Being a Stevie Ray fan, we need to visit his statue if we have time during the Fling!

    Frances at Faire Garden

  3. The Elizabeth Ney building looks like it could have been made of Hoosier limestone, though I'm sure that is a stone from the Austin area. Like, Frances, I was surprised to read about the cave and waterfalls, neither of which I would have guessed you would find in Austin.

    I'm looking forward to my visit to see of the sites in person.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  4. Oh, Annie, all that green and the lakes. Just beautiful. I wanted to sit at the falls and look over the lakes. I can't wait to see your fair city. It's only a month or so now.~~Dee

  5. I'd love to visit your fascinating city and have you as my tour guide Annie :) Your descriptions and photos have given me an idea of how varied and interesting Austin is, with many beautiful sights to see.
    You've accomplished a great deal in your gardens during the past 9 years!

  6. This is wonderful, Annie; gives us a very different look at Austin and surrounding environs. What I really have loved is that I'm getting to see aspects of each community that might be promoted regularly to attract visitors, but seen through local residents eyes makes them fresh and wonderful. Plus everyone has some gems in their posts that probably aren't well known. So good on ya!

  7. Hi Annie, I am already deep in love with Austin. No doubt Austin is a beautiful place, but I am sure reading your take on the city makes it appear even more wonderful.
    Your post has driven my desire to know more about Austin; thanks to internet I'll be better equipped to share your city sentiments by the next post.

  8. Austin was a favorite weekend destination for me and my pals in my youth. We knew a grad student with a house near the university that was never locked where we could always crash on a couch or the floor. Mostly I remember hanging around Barton Springs pool - do the girls still go topless there? - and the Armadillo World Headquarters, and eating migas for breakfast on the East Side.

    Austin was just a small town then. Nowadays in my set when the subject of Austin comes up it is unfortunately mostly in the context of, "how can I drive from here to there without having to go through Austin."

    But I am just being an old fogie now. Actually I am looking forward to seeing Austin from a different side.

  9. Austin has so much to offer for nature/garden enthusiasts; I'm impressed. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I can't wait, I can't wait! Spring Fling! Having a statue of Stevie Ray is just too cool. You have such Beautiful scenery around too. I bet you're not missing Chicago right now - we just got another 1.5 inches of snow, in the 35th "snow event" of the season.

  11. Hi Lisa at Greenbow - thank you. I like Austin but my home was Chicagoland. Austin seems like a small city to me!

    Central Texas is porous limestone, Frances, with the Balcones Fault dividing East from West. You need a car to get to the caves and waterfalls but they're not far out. Stevie Ray is in the heart of town - everyone needs a photo with him ;-]

    Carol, the Elisabet Ney is built of native Texas limestone - your instincts are good!
    Most of Austin is housing, but there are some natural surprises left. We think you'll like our city!

    Hi Dee from Red Dirt - it's not always green and the lakes can be too full or pathetically low, but they're there! I hope we get some rain before you get here so it will be green for you.

    Kerri, that's exactly how I feel about visiting your Leatherstocking area of Upstate New York - you made it real for your readers. Maybe we'll both get lucky and travel some day.

    Your idea was a good one, Jodi- guess we all focus on different parts of our worlds, and some of it probably depends on whether the place is our hometown or we are recent arrivals. You might get a completely different post from someone who grew up in Austin!

    Hello GreenThumb. I'm glad you liked the post and have enjoyed the way you've taken us on tour in India. But I must confess to you that while I like Austin a great deal, the relationship is not always 'love'!

    Hiya Bill - see, that's the part I can never know. By the time we arrived I was a grandmother, not a grad student, and people were already moaning about how much Austin had changed from the mellow Good Olde Days of no traffic, cheap housing, hippies, grass, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray and no Californians to screw up the ambience.

    To me, "downtown" meant Chicago: Marshall Fields, the Art Institute, universities in high rise buildings, Buckingham Fountain, fabulous architecture, the lakefront and museums and Lincoln Park Zoo. "Downtown" Austin is quite different.

    I enjoy living in Austin but still see it as a charming but small city. Guess I'm more of an old fogie than you are!

    Hello Robin from Nesting Place - thanks - there is a lot of natural beauty here!

    We'll make sure you and Frances get there, Mr McGregor's Daughter! Okay, I'm not missing Chicago weather right now...but I absolutely must get to the Field Museum, Morton Arboretum and Chicago Botanical Gardens one of these days. When the snow is gone ;-]

    Thanks for the comments,


  12. Thanks for sharing. I heard that Austin is an oasis in TX. I'd love to visit ... like now (as I look outside at all the snow).

  13. Annie, I'm so glad another Austinite posted about our town for Jodi's geography project. I was curious to know how someone else who lives here would present it. Great post, especially letting everyone know about our beautiful caves, waterfalls, and grottos, thanks to the porous limestone we have here.

    Bill, I bet you remember Austin the way a lot of people would still like Austin to be: much slower, smaller, and more hippie-like. I can attest to the fact that some women still swim and sunbathe topless at Barton Springs Pool. I'm not one of them, however!

    I can't wait for the out-of-town Spring Flingers to come to Austin. I really love my adopted hometown and want to share it with everyone.

  14. I've never been to Austin, or Texas, or that area of the country at all. I feel deprived. But maybe in the future we will travel more and I'll keep it on my travel agenda. It's never too late to tackle your wish list.

  15. You definitely debunked some of my preconceived notions about TX geography--waterfall, caves! Loved taking the tour Annie. Am soooo glad I'm not the only blogger who posted a pic with Flat Stanley in it!

  16. I lived in Austin briefly in 1992, before moving to New Braunfels. I now live in Tyler. Austin was a bustling, crowded city even then. Haven't been back in awhile. Beautiful city, though. Thanks for the memories.

  17. Thanks for the tour, Annie. I didn't know much about Austin and now I feel like I've got a little better feel for the area even though I'll be playing along at home for the Spring Fling. Maybe next year??!

  18. This is a wonderful presentation of the sights and feel of Austin. It looks like a beautiful city, and thank you for sharing your corner of the world with us.

  19. Gee, thanks for the tour of Austin and all the things I didn't see when I visited many years ago. I didn't even see the bats emerging from their perches under the bridges. :(

  20. I only saw Flat Stanley in one of the pictures. Is that some game or meme I'm not familiar with?

  21. Until my husband's career took us here, I knew nothing about Austin Rosemarie - but think we ended up in a pretty cool place. I'll bet you'd enjoy a visit and then I could meet you ;-]

    You really are an ambassador for our city, Pam/Digging - your affection would make you a candidate for an "I wasn't born in Austin but I got here as fast as I could!" bumpersticker, right?

    The more garden blogs we read, the more places we want to visit, right Jane Marie?

    I noticed your Flat Stanley, WingNut and Curmudgeon of WWA... and people have preconceived notions about Seattle, too - maybe the geography project is good for this!

    Hi Brenda Kula - you're welcome... it sounds as if you've sampled life in a few different parts of Texas. One of these days I'd like to visit the Rose City of Tyler.

    Until gardenblogs came along, all I knew about California was from movies, so we're even, Leslie.
    It would be fun to meet you someday. I'm excited about Spring Fling but a little nervous, too - we've been meeting each other gradually up to now, but this will be a big group and it includes quite a few professional writers.

    Ki, this town is in constant flux - we've seen such changes in our NW part of Austin in less than 9 years. Restaurants come and go quickly, and so do stores and roads.

    I don't know when you were in Austin, but that bridge wasn't constructed until 1980 and the sculpture didn't appear until 1998. Maybe you were just too early for the hoopla?

    Kathy, the character of Flat Stanley appeared in a children's book back in the sixties... a paper man who traveled via envelopes in mail.
    At some point schools used him for geography projects, with students coloring and cutting out their own Stanley and mailing him to farflung friends and family, who photograph him and document what he does in their town, then mail him to someone else.
    Getting high mileage onto a Stanley has turned into a very competitive sport - with many of the mothers using all their executive powers to get that Stanley around the world!
    Stanley was at the Ney museum and I thought he was with Stevie Ray - guess that was a different photo. We took him to a farmers market and also propped him up on a camellia.

    Thank you for the comments,


  22. What a great little tour of Austin, Annie. It gives me a sense of it as you see it... as a quaint little city, with lots of interesting natural resources surrounding it. :)

  23. Wow...I never knew you had scenery like that in Austin! The waterfalls remind me of several places here in Wisconsin, as well as Tahquamenon Falls in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I like the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue, too...one of my friends was AT that show. Now I see how much exploring I should do up here! Ten years in northeast Wisconsin, and I don't know THAT much about the place.

  24. Annie: Thanks for coming by my geography post. Austin is one of those cities that has a great reputation for being a good place to visit. I've not been there but your post has given me new ways to think about your city. I love the bridge photo and the waterfalls I wouldn't have guessed to find there. Reading the variety of posts on this project has been eye opening and fun.

    Meems @ HoeandShovel

  25. Thanks for telling me about the city where I live, too. I have yet to visit the Elisabet Ney museum or the MLK statue. Your photos are so beautiful!

    I'm glad that I stumbled upon your blog-- it'll be a frequent read for me.

  26. It's great to see your contribution to the geography project; a different take on Austin than Pam's but just as enjoyable. Loved the cave and the waterfalls!

  27. Pam/Digging and I did kind of concentrate on the fun stuff, Blackswamp OH Kim...we didn't show you all the sprawling housing developments and strip malls ;-]

    Hello Lisa in WI...we originally planned on staying here for 3 years and used Austin guidebooks like a checklist anytime out-of-state visitors came. We learned a lot while trying to impress our families.

    The Tahquamenon Falls look spectacular! I hope you find some cool places in NE Wisconsin.

    Hiya Meems from FL - I think your post did the same for my ideas of Florida - the project has been wonderful!

    Welcome Hanoko - thank you for stopping and commenting - good luck with your new blog!
    You many find it easier to get to the MLK statue when UT is not in session - there are other sculptures scattered all over the campus. Have you been to the Umlaut sculpture gardens near Zilker Park?

    Hello Yolanda Elizabet! Thank you - there are plenty of hot, dry places here so we gravitate to whatever small bodies of water are available. Quite different from your Holland where the ocean tries to reach you!

    Thank you for the comments,



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