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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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Monday, April 27, 2009

Through the Garden Gate, Monday April 27, 2009

Cindy From My Corner of Katy had an interesting idea a few weeks ago, to take a look though her garden gate every Monday. When she asked her readers to share the views from their gates, Robin from Get Grounded joined in. I'm not organized enough to do this very often, Cindy, but I'd like to join in today.

If you've got time for a fast spin around the back yard, grab the handle and swing open the gate.

Look to the right, and the last flowers on the tall pink climbing rose lean down, tempting you to see if they have a scent. (They do!)

Look to the left and you see a long border along the fence, anchored by two 'Acoma' crepe myrtles. They're now fully leafed out but aren't showing buds yet. You can see a wooden framework in the vegetable patch along the back fence - those tomatoes and peppers better hurry and make fruit fast before the heat settles in and gets them.

Colors like yellows and violets and silvers and whites hang out along the fence on our left, punctuated by orange and purples. The creamy yellow Bicolor iris and buttery yellow 'Julia Child' rose both have flowers and this week we see another flower in a sharper yellow hue.
It's the small reblooming daylily 'Happy Returns', looking pretty bouncy, with 'Perfume Deep Purple' Nicotiana and Setcreasea/"Purple Heart" behind it.
Now pivot and turn right, and you'll see the long axis of the back garden. The two triangle beds cut across the axis at center left and the fountain, herb troughs, umbrella table and chairs cluster on the patio in the middle right. Look hard and you might see a bright spot of color way back past the garden shed under the partially leafed-out pecans.

Let's walk to that end to take a closer look - the red is in the bulb bed against the opposite fence. A few years ago I rounded up Amaryllis bulbs leftover from previous holidays, remnants of Easter lilies, stray oxalis, hitchhiking gladiolis and occasional bargain bulb 'rescues' and stuck them all into this well-drained, raised bed. Sometimes the bulbs just send up leaves, sometimes they disappear and sometimes they bloom. Four of the amaryllis have bloom stalks this week.

We'll turn around and head back with the shady back fence on our right. Oh, look at the poor Michelia figo/Banana shrub, valiantly trying to recover from that fierce hailstorm on March 25th. Damaged leaves are dropping, but new ones are forming.
Just past the Michelia a passalong Siberian iris is in bloom. There are only a few flowers left today but I caught the clump at its peak last week.

This is not a large garden -just a 12-foot jog to the left can land you near the patio. A couple of flowers decorate the Pineapple guava in the terracotta pot. The
hail drastically pruned the Coral honeysuckle, stripping off many leaves and all open flowers. Over the last month it's recovered well enough to lightly rebloom.

Oh, look! Down in the gravel at the base of the arch there are unexpected leaves and a flower. I was sure the squirrels ate the Tulipa clusiana bulbs when nothing appeared by mid-April. They're so late they should be Tulipa tarda, instead. But tardy does not mean unwelcome!

We're heading back now, past Philo's yellow chair, past the smaller triangle bed with those tenacious yellow snapdragons, past the Spanish lavender and the Sweet lavender, and past the larger triangle bed with the 'Little Gem' Magnolia.

Some buds are swelling on the magnolia now - with luck these remaining flowers can open normally. Although the hail didn't knock all leaves completely off the tree, it sure left them looking ragged.

Out the gate we go, past a hanging basket planted with a Calabrachoa in bright, desert-y colors.
Your car's in the drive, hidden around the corner on your left, past the Pink Entrance Garden. But do you really have to leave? A hummingbird zoomed next to my ear when I was snapping off spent blossoms from those fragrant purple iris. If we sit on the bench sipping coffee and tea, he might come back.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tourists in Our Own Town

Last Saturday our daughter Lily and her dear husband returned home after a visit with their Austin relatives - but most of that special time is not the stuff of blog posts. We were glad to be together and also glad Austin displayed spectacular blue skies. It's been a long, cold, wet winter in the Pacific Northwest.Annieinaustin, Snowman
When guests come from out-of state, it gives us a chance to act like tourists in our own town - that's the part I want to share with you.

Annieinaustin, Peter Pan MinigolfA favorite place to take visitors is a funky mini-golf course on Barton Springs Road, south of the river. Nearly 60-years old, Peter Pan golf was created by the Dismukes family. It's not a tournament-type course, but can present interesting challenges to the players, especially at night.

Annieinaustin, Mellow Johnny's bike shopYou might not think of a bike store as a tourist attraction, but when the shop is called Mellow Johnny's and it belongs to Lance Armstrong, it's a must-go-there destination, especially for a guy who bikes in triathlons and a gal who will be part of the Livestrong Challenge this summer. Within the bike store we found a coffee shop named Juan Pelota cafe in ironic tribute to Lance's battle with cancer. It was very cool to see bikes Lance rode in races on display in the shop.
Annieinaustin, inside Mellow Johnny's
Even when we have no company to impress we occasionally head down to South Congress for Home Slice Pizza. What a fabulous crust on those pies - and such perfect toppings. And it's right across the street from Tesoros Trading Company. Lily & I bought identical oval black clay bowls. Here's mine with some beautifully decorated, blown-out eggs that our daughter made as a gift and hand-carried on the plane.Annieinaustin, Blue eggs, Tesoros bowlAfter we went to Tesoros, I realized that exactly one year earlier during Austin Spring Fling, Garden Bloggers from all over the country ambled together down South Congress in search of souvenirs. Shout out to Kathy Purdy & her friend Cynthia!

Annieinaustin,Bench at Natural GardenerWhen the Garden Bloggers met in Austin last year another place everyone wanted to go was the Natural Gardener. We love to take people there! Not only is it a wonderful nursery but it's a great place to stroll around and think and dream - with a butterfly garden, vegetable demonstration gardens and water features. Philo and I usually make a stop at the dig-it-yourself Soil Yard whenever we drive down. This time we had four people wielding shovels, so filling the back of the car with bags of John Dromgoole's Rose Magic and Revitalizer Compost was a very speedy process, giving us more time to wander the nursery lanes.

Annieinaustin,Turtles on Lady Bird LakeI couldn't resist snapping a stack of turtles in Lady Bird Lake. The name used to be Town Lake, but after Lady Bird Johnson died, the downtown section of the Colorado River was renamed in her honor. Annieinaustin,Off leash parkWe walked the part of the very popular hike and bike trail that passes the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, the Long Center for the Performing Arts (just a few days after we'd been there for the Leonard Cohen concert), and the off-leash dog park. When we strolled the paved hike and bike trail it wasn't much of a workout, but it was a little hotter and dustier when we climbed up the trails at Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve . This preserve is not manicured and you have to watch where you put your feet. Wildflowers grow along the trails, At some points there are views of Loop 360 to the West and a pond surprises you when it appears in this arid setting. It had been a few years since we'd been to Wild Basin with a different set of visitors. That hike turned out to be quite an ordeal because the temperatures were over 100°F...guess it took us awhile to get over the experience! It was funny to realize that because I can now identify more of the trees and plants in the woods, walking there was somehow more enjoyable than in the past.

Annieinaustin, Flat Creek Estate WinerySix of us went to the Flat Creek Estate Winery for a wine tasting - a fun new thing for some of us and a chance for the experienced to show off their sophistication. The drive out to the beautiful Tuscan-style buildings and grounds near Marble Falls was long enough to be interesting without being tedious.

Annieinaustin, Bucking horse red wineWe enjoyed the different wines, bringing home a few bottles. (If you go to the winery on the weekends the Bistro will be open. Because we were there mid-week, instead of snacking on Mediterranean fare after the tasting, we ended up at a roadside Sonic in the nearby town of Lago Vista.)

Our daughter admired the label on the Bucking Horse Red which featured an image of "Cage Johnson Spurs 'Em Up Aboard Cyclone" by famed Texas Artist Bob Wade.

The tasting had proved to us that the inside of the bottle was as fine as the outside - this red was perfect with delicious pies from Reale's Pizza. For our group there is no such thing as too much pizza.
Annieinaustin, Pizza from Reale's
Mayfield Park was once the private home of the Mayfield family with the gardens developed over a long time by Mary Mayfield Gutsch and her husband Milton Gutsch.Annieinaustin, Mayfield Park peacock Some of the plants have been here since the 1920's with peacocks and peahens added in 1935. Philo & I first saw this park in September 1999, soon after we moved to Austin. Mayfield proved to me that beautiful flowers could grow in this climate. Maybe MSS of Zanthan Gardens can tell us whether these lovely red flowers are St Joseph Lilies or something else in the amaryllis family. Annieinaustin, red lilies, mayfield parkNot too far from Mayfield is a favorite place to buy plants, Shoal Creek nursery - we stopped there to walk around and look at the pottery. I couldn't make a decision on the pots, but found another Loropetalum and some Purple Nicotiana. Lily & BJ and Philo & I are all gardeners so if we lived closer to each other, visiting nurseries together would be a normal thing to do on weekends. We cherish these chances to act normal and just hang out!

Hanging out in Austin also means enjoying Tex-Mex restaurants. Our son suggested Serranos, which is especially fun on 2-for-1 Enchilada night when the chips & queso are hot and the margaritas refreshing. Taco Cabana is more casual, which can be handy when you're out touring.

Annieinaustin, Elisabet Ney museumThe Elisabet Ney museum is an old museum- so it's probably okay to use an old photo. I forgot to take a new picture when we visited this museum, the studio of early Austin's fascinating woman sculptor. Click to enlarge the photo so you can see another visitor we took to the Ney Museum...the paper person called Flat Stanley.

Annieinaustin, RealAle SiloWe all had one final outing the day before our guests flew home - a short ride out to Blanco for a tour of the Real Ale Brewery. This was too much fun - beer we like (and can buy locally) and an amazingly detailed tour and explanation of how beer is made. When we lived in Illinois, Philo and our older sons did some home brewing and the process is interesting to all of us. I'm fond of the Rio Blanco Pale Ale and Philo, who looks for high IBU numbers, prefers the Full Moon Pale Rye Ale. He also likes the Real Heavy, which is available seasonally but on draught, not in bottles. The Brewmaster AKA "Tyrant" was a wonderful tour guide, witty and ironic, languidly imparting quite specific information.

The vagaries of Texas law allows the brewery to give tours and samples of the various brews but unlike wineries, breweries can't sell any of the product to their visitors so we couldn't bring home a sampler 6-pack. This inequity has recently been a subject of much discussion in the beer-brewing and beer-loving community.

Annieinaustin, clematis at back doorThe backdoor clematis bloomed too late for our visitors and too late for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - but it opened just in time to be the end photo of this PLEASE COME VISIT AUSTIN post. Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, April 2009

This bloom day is better than I thought it would be a couple of weeks ago - the garden is hail-scarred but the buds that weren't knocked off keep opening.Annieinaustin, Hailed amaryllisSeven amaryllis from long-ago Christmases grow in the bulb bed - four are in bud and this one opened today. Some have no leaves left at all.

Annieinaustin, Rosa Julia Child'Julia Child' lost a lot of leaves and I found a dozen unopened buds on the ground the morning after the hail. But she's releafing and there were many more buds in reserve.

Annieinaustin, pink climbing roseThe unnamed tall pink climbing rose grows under the roof overhang - unharmed and happy. The flowers seem much larger than last year... maybe because I remembered to fertilize it last month?

Annieinaustin, pineapple guava flowerOut on the patio, one blossom opened on the smaller Pineapple guava/Feijoa sellowiana. This plant and a more established one in the Secret Garden were bashed pretty hard, especially toward the top of the shrubs. But nearer the base of each plant a few buds were sheltered by the branches. I won't hope for fruit, but will enjoy the flowers.

Annieinaustin, passionflowerThe hail did some damage to the Secret Garden Passionvine but most of the holes in the flowers and leaves aren't weather-related. They're the work of caterpillars which will grow up to be Gulf Fritillary butterflies. There were a dozen of them on this vine yesterday. Annieinaustin, gulf frit larvaA few years ago, when the new Passionvine plant consisted of one struggling strand with a few leaves, I killed any caterpillars that appeared. The plant was too fragile and there wasn't enough substance to the plant for the cats to reach the pupa stage. Now that the vine is established and can take the munching, I enjoy the uneaten flowers and let the rest support the butterfly larvae.

Annieinaustin, confederate jasmineThe Confederate Jasmine on the end of the front veranda began to open on Sunday - soon after our guests left. Just walking from the front door to the car can be an intoxicating experience.

Annieinaustin, grape-scented irisIn the Bat-shaped bed, Bridal Wreath spirea is the background for the tall, grape-scented passalong iris from my friend Ellen.

Annieinaustin, hesperaloe parvifloraThe adjacent Pink Entrance Bed is just plain gaudy now - the Weigela 'Rumba' seen in the last post are still blooming, along with deep pink Gaura, the coral colored Hesperaloe parviflora seen above, two pink mini-roses, creeping ice plant and a 'Belinda's Dream' rose which will show up below.

Annieinaustin, siberian irisIn the back yard the dappled sun under the pecan trees made this unnamed Siberian iris look striped, but it's really solid violet-blue. I'm thrilled to have it not only survive but be happy in Austin - there are 15 bloom stalks this year.

Annieinaustin, red anemoneNot too far from the Siberian iris I planted some mixed Anemone bulbs last fall. For me Anemones bloom but don't return. The red one above looks similar to red anemones from other springs.

Annieinaustin, white anemoneBut I've never seen a white anemone with this shape before. It's really pretty and different.

Annieinaustin, philadelphus inodorusAlong the back fence a Southern variety of MockOrange grows. It's Philadelphus inodorus, also called English Dogwood, and although it's lovely, it's also unscented.

Annieinaustin, Spanish lavenderThe Spanish Lavender is cheerful and pretty but its rather pleasant scent is somehow not quite the same as 'real' lavender. The Fernleaf lavender that grew in this bed last year had no lavender scent at all. Luckily it was tender and the Fernleaf plant croaked over the winter. Once the Fernleaf was gone, the Spanish Lavender/Lavendula stoechas and the Sweet Lavender/Lavendula heterophylla started to expand and grow. The Sweet lavender is just making buds - so far they smell like the real thing!

Annieinaustin, calibrachoa hanging basketAt our last house the hummingbirds would come for Calibrachoa - this basket hangs outside the breakfast room in hopes it will entice them close so we can see them.

Annieinaustin, Clematis RamonaThe 'Ramona' clematis isn't in the ground, but grows in a container on the bench near the shed. It's got about 7 or 8 large flowers right now.

Annieinaustin, Salvia roemerianaThis is a new Salvia - Cedar sage/Salvia roemeriana. It's a native plant, frequently found growing under junipers AKA cedar trees. In my yard it's planted next to the new small Yaupon holly with cedar mulch all around it...think it will be fooled?

Below are all the photos Blogger insisted on uploading sideways, even though they've been formatted and saved in landscape form. This happens every bloom day and is a huge, time-sucking pain! The last few times I've reopened every incorrectly oriented photo in Photoshop Elements, resaving them from jpgs to pngs then uploading again. It seems to work but the pngs are huge files compared to jpgs. Blogger churns as it uploads and my portion of Blogger MB's shrinks too quickly. Philo and I are trying to decide on a new roof and I'm too tired and cranky to mess around fixing them tonight, so even if the words wrap around them and look stupid, too bad.
Annieinaustin, pale apricot miniroseThe first open flower on a pale apricot mini-rose that was a gift from our daughter and son-in-law a couple of springs ago. I love the color and it's making buds and flowers so maybe it's finally in the right place!

Annieinaustin, rose Belinda's DreamRosa 'Belinda's Dream' from the Pink Entrance Bed in the front, with oregano and ice plant below.

Annieinaustin, ClematisThis clematis twines up at the base of the Lady Banks rose. It was mislabled but looks a lot like the photos of 'Miss Bateman' which is close enough for me. Think there are six flowers right now.

Annieinaustin, Ixia, corn liliesIxia/Corn lilies planted in fall 2007 bloomed last spring and then returned this year. And instead of being smaller the second year - the florets are larger!

Sooner or later I'll get a list of all that is in bloom today (with botanical names) up on Annie's Addendum. Have fun visiting the other blogs participating in
Carol of May Dreams Garden's monthly roundup of what's in flower at Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.