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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, May 06, 2009

Thought Pops, Edition 6: Roofs, Roots, Retrospection and Lavender

The Hail-damaged roof is gone and the new one seems to suit our cottage very well! I had been dreading the process, fearful for the many, many plants both in the ground and in containers on all sides of the house. Then someone in our extended family recommended Mitchell Construction. In addition to the way the roof itself was done, I was pleased that the company treated my concerns seriously and the way all the hard-working people involved avoided damage to the garden. Attention to detail and care with picking up every bit of debris made it much more pleasant than a previous roofing experience. When the work was finished Alan Barber asked Philo to climb on the roof with him to survey the new shingles. From this angle you can see the stacks painted to blend with roof - a nice touch.


For the last week I've been on a genealogy bender, ever since my friend Ruth recommended that I give the Pilot Search feature at FamilySearch.org a look. I've used the site before, but hadn't tried that particular search engine. Just about every name on my lists was plugged in and many records appeared that I hadn't seen before. One part of the family tree used to stop with Kunigunda but not any more! It was amusing but not surprising that my great-great-great grandparents turned out to be 'Joseph' and 'Elizabeth'... those names appear over and over through the generations.

Ten years ago today, I snapped the garden photo above, then my youngest son & I drove to O'Hare Airport in Chicago, flying to the old Mueller Airport during its last days of operation. We got off the plane, met Philo, and took our first look at our future hometown of Austin, Texas. Philo had been working here for a few months, commuting back and forth to Illinois so this was his chance to show us around the new territory. We drove through likely neighborhoods, walked around downtown and saw 6th Street, checked out the University area, drove along the scenic Capital of Texas highway over the Pennybacker Bridge, ate at The Old Pecan Street Cafe and became acquainted with Taco Cabana. We returned to Illinois, then a month later we flew into the brand-new Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and went househunting. These flowers opened today on a daylily called 'Vi's Apricot', a plant that was happy in our llinois garden. We brought it along with us, to bloom and grow in Texas. The original deal was we'd stay 3 years. We're all still here.

This year a couple of Sweet Lavender plants lived over winter, then made enough long stems to make a sweet and simple Lavender Stick as described by Elizabeth Lawrence in Through The Garden Gate. You can find step-by-step instructions at my other blog, Annie's Addendum. A lot of stuff seems to end up over there lately! You might also enjoy old Illinois iris lists or the photo of a Cactus with daffodils.


  1. A genealogy bender, hmmm... I could go on one of those easily enough. (I do miss posting on my grandma's diary blog!)

    Thanks for sharing your 10 year anniversary in Austin with us, and the great "how to" on making lavender sticks!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. Your new roof looks great Annie. My Dearly Beloved likes to mess with genealogy. My family is traceable way back on my fathers mothers side. Interesting.

    Those lavender sticks are the best gifts. I love to make them but I can't get lavender to grow for me. Your lavender looks just perfect for some sticks.

  3. New roof looks great, Annie. My lavender (Provencal) hasn't bloomed in ages--don't know what I'm doing wrong, if anything.

    Congratulations on being here 10 years! I was a waitress and hostess at Pecan Street Cafe for a few years ages ago. Nostalgia.

  4. Your first look around Austin includes many of the same things we did, but I also remember climbing up Mt. Bonnell and finding the Texas mountain laurels, which I'd never seen or smelled before, all in bloom. Heavenly! We also ate at County Line several times. Yum.

  5. I'm glad the roofing guys were careful. It would have been awful if reroofing had been as traumatizing as the hail storm that preceded it!

    The first time I visited Austin, I didn't do many of the touristy things except eat at Chuy's and walk around Town Lake. I do remember that the Mountain Laurels were blooming, though, and that was love at the first sight. :)

  6. You new roof looks wonderful. So glad that it was a good experience. My lavender will be great this year for the first time and I am so excited.

  7. That's a fine new roof Annie. I'm off to check out the FamilySearch site. :-)-- Randy

  8. Benders...yes. When the WWI draft cards were released a few years back, I stayed up almost all night. Not too many of us are so lucky to have a resource like your Grandma Ruth's Diaries, Carol - they are special.

    Most of what I've done is less going back than going sideways, Lisa at Greenbow - have people online who were researching same names...turned out we are cousins!

    Hi Iris - my Provence lavender had some flowers last year but nothing this year. Maybe just don't like the weather?
    Official 10 years comes in late July - the number still astounds me. Maybe should go back to Pecan Street.

    What I remember seeing were Ratibida/Mexican Hats and Red Yucca blooming everywhere. It sounds like you had a longer visit than we did, Pam/Digging, with those repeat trips for BBQ at County Line! We only had a couple of days - arrived late Thursday & flew out midday Sunday.

    I'd heard some awful stories about crushed shrubs, Lori, and after a roof at a previous house debris was all over.
    So the scent and sight of Mountain Laurels seduced both you and Pam, eh, kind of Love's First Kiss. I came when it was already 90°F and did not fall in love.

    Hi Tabor - how cool that you're having a good Lavender year - but even when it doesn't bloom, the foliage is wonderful, isn't it?

    Thanks, Randy - and the shed got one, too. We are so coordinated. Good hunting on the family history site!

    Thanks for the comments,


  9. Hi Annie,
    Glad to see you have your new roof and it was trauma free! We need to get a new one, but will be very picky about the crew for exactly the same reasons you had. I'm thinking maybe we could wait until fall and things are pretty much done so the damage will be minimal.

    Early congrats on the 10 yr anniversary of your garden! You have achieved a lot in that time (hmm, just realized ours is 10 yrs old this spring too!) and it is truly lovely. I love seeing what you have going down there, though I don't ever expect to garden in that climate ... When I came back to IA after my sojourn, I planned to stay and now my roots are too implanted and stubborn to leave again! :-)

    BTW: Our new Tree Peony is due to arrive on Friday! Yippee!

  10. Actually, IVG, the Ten Year Anniversary was of setting foot in the state of Texas and City of Austin - didn't move here until end of summer 1999, and it wasn't to this house, but to a different part of Austin, on a canyon with deer and decks.

    We've been in this house less than 5 years, so you've had twice as long in your garden - plenty of time for a Tree Peony - or three!


  11. It was February, Annie, and we had nearly a week to house-hunt. We didn't find a house on that visit (the market was oh so hot then, so unlike now), but we found BBQ, the Texas mountain laurels, the Drag, Hyde Park, Kerby Lane Cafe, and many things that still charm us about Austin.

    It was cold in Raleigh but balmy in Austin when we arrived. The redbuds were all in bloom. It seemed like heaven. Then we got a blue norther while we were here, which caught us by surprise one afternoon while out with the realtor in shorts and t-shirts. Brr!

    We moved in April, to an apt. in northwest Austin while we continued to house-hunt. That first summer was one of the rainiest and mildest I've ever known in Austin, so it wasn't until a year later that I really understood the power of the Death Star.

    I love this place anyway.

  12. I love your story, Pam! Thank you for talking about how you came to Austin - think those who arrived in cool & rainy spring 2007 had a similar experience?


  13. So glad you had roofers that cared for your garden. I had a similar experience when we had our roof replaced a while back. The roofers went out of their way to move the shingles off the roof at a place that would not hurt my gardens, and every single day the last thing they did was go around the house and pick up all the debris that missed their trucks. At the end of the job the rolled the area with a huge magnet and picked up almost every stray nail too. I really only found two or three they missed.

  14. I'm glad you had a positive experience with your new roof. So many times these days you find people who don't seem to have any pride in their work. This is very refreshing.
    I haven't seen the new site on Family search. I got lots of info off the IGI years ago but now there isn't much left to see. Must take another look. Like you I have been doing some work on my family history. I am writing up everything I know about my paternal grandma's family. Writing something that I am happy with doesn't come easy to me.
    Ah- loved the old airport. So easy to get to and so small town Austin. We have grown up since then.
    I'm glad you are happy here. We love Austin too.

  15. Annie, I can't believe how much you've done in 10 years, and such a plant expert too!

    I love the new roof and I bet Philo was just waiting for this chance to climb around on the roof.

    Your garden is just precious. Linda

  16. The new roof certainly looks great and fits in well with the house and garden. Co-incidentally we are also currently doing our roof!
    Nice that you are able to dig even deeper into your genealogy. Love the pic of the lavender sticks.

  17. The new roof looks great Annie - compliments your lovely cottage very nicely. Painting the stacks - wow - great attention to detail! How lucky you were to find a roofer who took such care around your plants. Our roof was re-done about three years ago, and we still find nails and pieces of shingles and sharp pieces of flashing in the foundation beds. Fortunately no plants were harmed, but I don't garden barefoot around here anymore!

  18. Congratulations on your new roof, Annie. You were very lucky to find such conscientious roofers. We are planning to re-roof this summer, and I intend to keep on eye on my plants the whole time!
    I am very fortunate that my parents have spent a lot of time researching our family history. I find genealogy fascinating, but I'm not sure I'd have the patience to stick with it. They have everything organized, so that all I have to do is ask for a printout:)

    Vi's Apricot is a beauty! Apparently she likes Austin as well as Illinois. Have a happy Mother's Day!

  19. That's a lovely photo of your cottage, Annie, and the new roof looks wonderful. I love the pic of the guys on the roof too :)
    Genealogy sounds like fun but I haven't dared try it yet. I'm wondering where the name Kunigunda comes from. It has an aboriginal ring to it :) Is it German?
    Both you and Philo are "stayers"..just like Vi's Apricot. She's a beauty!
    Lavender is a very picky plant here. I haven't managed to keep one alive for more than one winter so far, but I'll keep trying. I just need to find the right spot for it.
    Happy day after Mother's Day! I hope you had a lovely one.

  20. Your cottage looks cozy and safe now. I do love your yellow chair with lavender spikes.

  21. So glad that you are pleased with your new roof and, just as importantly, that the contractors were respectful of your garden. Nice to keep track of who those good contractors are!

  22. Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

  23. Annie, I'm so glad you found roofers who were careful and attentive to your garden's needs. Any time we have work done, I'm on tenterhooks worrying about my plants. Actually, any time EM works anywhere outside, I worry about them. He does not watch his step!

  24. I'm glad your roof worked out well, Healing Magic Hands - we also had the rolling magnet.

    I thought the IGI site had been totally mined, Lancashire Rose - but new records had been added.
    When you're used to O'Hare, even the larger new airport feels like flying into a small town - simple layout.

    It's actually almost 5 years, Linda from CTG - those first 5 years were spent at a different house in Austin, experimenting with plants on the deck.
    You are right about Philo! Even as a teenager he liked climbing around roofs.

    Thanks, Nicole - good luck- probably your tropical climate calls for different materials?

    Hi GardenGirl - we had a messier experience at the last house so this was a pleasant surprise.

    Good luck with the roof, Prairie Rose - and the plant protection.
    I like the hunt, so ended up doing gen searches for other people. It makes you feel like a detective.
    Vi's Apricot is a recross of Stella d'Oro - still reblooms but with a softer color.

    Thank you Kerri - and you guessed right that Kunigunda is German. I think it would be 'Constance' in English.
    Vi's Apricot has lived in 4 different gardens since 1995 - maybe not as much of a stayer as you think! Longest that Philo & I stayed in one place was 12 years, so who knows.
    Lavender is supposed to take very cold winters when grown in gritty, really well drained soil. It's frozen wet feet that kill it. Have an old gravel pit?

    It feels better with an intact roof and skylight over our heads, Layanee!

    This may amuse you, MSS of Zanthan- the owner asked me if I'd ever heard of the Austin Pond Tour! He & his wife like to go on it, too.

    Think you're an ad, CCNA, and should delete you but am feeling mellow tonight.

    We still have gutters that need replacing, Cindy - still a few tenterhooks ahead here, too.

    Thanks for the comments,


  25. Annie, Came to your site today by way of Randy and Jamie at Creating our Eden. WOW. I love the landscaping and your yard. I hope that one day ours will be as awesome. We will be back looking for more exiting ideas and inspiration. Thanks for sharing..

  26. Hi Annie,
    I found your blog only today and I love the way you write it. You have got great photographic skills. They look great.
    Thanks for sharing.


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