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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, June 21, 2010

Austin Pond Tour 2010, Part 1

The Austin Pond Society held its 2010 Austin Pond Tour on June 12th & 13th with 26 ponds scattered over the entire Austin metro area. Some were small city backyards, others were suburban yards of a quarter or half-acre, and a few were estates with huge water features that would make many a municipality envious.

This year we visited ponds both days, making it to 9 of the 12 South ponds that were open on Saturday. (Most of the photos should enlarge when clicked. Some enlarge more when clicked a second time).

How lovely it must be to have this tranquil view from the adjoining family room! Annieinaustin, pond 1, viewI liked the rain chain's solidity and the way it led to a sort of dry creek lined with stones. Kevin Wood, the landscape designer, told us the chain was there when the pond was made and it had to be worked into the design. Annieinaustin Pond 1 Rain chainHere's a lengthwise view along the back of the house. The space isn't large but the pond and walk fit into the terrain perfectly, transporting the owners into a private world.Annieinaustin, long view pond 1


The kinds of plants lining the walk uphill from the street was the first clue that this garden was made by someone who knew how to use plants that were beautiful but Austin-tough. Annieinaustin, pond 2, wise plantingThe pond itself was serene and lovely but the area is near to a busy street. The waterfall was designed to mask the street sounds with water sounds.

Annieinaustin, contemplative pond 2When we started talking to the pond design person she seemed very familiar - it was Sheryl McLaughlin! She's Kevin Wood's partner, and I knew her great Central Texas voice from her Sunday morning radio call-in show

Annieinaustin, pond 2, lilies & rocksWe enjoyed the colorful mix of native and adapted shrubs and perennials on the walk back to the car and headed Northeast.
Annieinaustin, walk from pond 2


This very cool pond deserves many photos, but they'd be filled with human legs, heads and back ends... this was one popular pond! Although the garden's size meant tight quarters for a tour, it was perfectly sized for the daily life of a friendly family who live in harmony with each other and with nature. We had fun watching assorted chickens & ducklings in one part of the garden, then went into a separate area where another small pond set a child's imagination free.
Annieinaustin child pond 3Take a closer look - all pieces of existing toys put together by a budding engineer.
Annieinaustin child pond 3 closeThe owner did the work himself- digging the ponds and building a floating deck in the back, using the available space in creative ways.


This garden had a great deck and the beautiful pond had a cool rock wall, but the many cameras were all pointed at an enormous pink waterlily...or maybe this is a Lotus? annieinaustin, pond 4 pink lotus 1

Not-quite-invisible netting was hung above and along the back fence - like many Austin pond owners, the people who lived here had to find a way to foil fish-loving herons from gliding in for lunch. The owner said he was pretty thrilled that the lotus opened on the right day. I waited my turn to get in closer, liking the shadows on the leavesannieinaustin, pond 4 pink lotus 2And even closer - the structure of these water lotus flowers is fascinating.

annieinaustin, pond 4 pink lotus 3
Then I took a "wait until next year" photo - we were told this space will be a new feature that will knock your socks off in another year or two!
Annieinaustin, pond 4, next project


A flurry of dragonflies swirled around the next pond. This rectangular back garden had a 'Little Gem' Magnolia, wisteria and many interesting containers. A red dragonfly sits on the tall cattail with a blue dragonfly on the shorter plant.

Annieinaustin, pond 5, blue red dragonfliesThe red dragonfly stayed still for another couple of seconds

Annieinaustin, pond 5, red dragonfly close
The waterfall had a good sound and the plants were both dramatic and fun
Annieinaustin, colorful pond 5

We walked across the lawn, passed through a vine covered arch and entered an enclosed world slightly below street level. A lot with a sharp drop and a retaining wall may have been a detriment to a less creative person, but to this couple it was obviously the right space for a waterfall pond. The resulting multi-level pond was fun and it felt right. Annieinaustin, pond 6 waterfall
This was a pleasant place to be,with the sound and sparkle of water falling from one part of the pond to another and the area around the pond filled with the collection of a plant loving owner.Annieinaustin, pond 6 closeup


We made a return visit to a cool garden and pond we'd enjoyed a few years ago. The art is still whimsical (feel free to insert jokes about the "State Bird" right here)

Annieinaustin, pond 7 mosquitoThe dragonflies and fish are still abundant
Annieinaustin, pond 7 fish & dragonfly
The connected ponds seemed more beautiful and the tropical plants more lushAnnieinaustin, pond 7 colocasia
But the annual plants were no longer the country-style mixed Zinnias of 2008
Annieinaustin, pond 7 zinnias of 2008
They were the dramatic 'Black Pearl' peppers and Blackfoot daisies we've fallen in love with in 2010. I'd seen them on Pam's Digging blog but this was my first in-person encounter. When DivaAnnie (from the Divas of the Dirt) and I were nursery hopping last Friday we found Black Pearls at Shoal Creek Nursery and I bought a few plants, too.
Annieinaustin, pond 7, black pearl peppers
The adjoining deer-fenced vegetable garden was full of beautiful tomato plants with orange fruit picked and sitting on benches to finish ripening. Even netted tomatoes can be chomped in our yard - I asked the owner why the squirrels didn't get them... his answer? Dachshunds don't like squirrels.

I must show you one more dragonfly!
Annieinaustin, pond 7, Dragonfly orange


The house was a mansion, with large statuary announcing its presence, fully equipped with all the trappings of Austin mansionhood: grand gates and approaches, luxurious patios and a zero-edge pool...but then something odd happened. We were directed down a steep set of steps at the back of the house where a path led to a very large pool surrounded by chunks of rocks. We'd left mansionhood for a water garden that was more natural and more pleasing and maybe more revealing that the rest of the place.

Annieinaustin, pond 8 lily pool
In this peaceful and beautiful pond the lotus flowers had gone wild
Annieinaustin, pond 8, lotus close


Walk through the back garden, under a vine-covered arch and turn left. Tucked back in the corner of this city lot is a waterfall pond with a soothing sound and a rock wall This is a wall with space for memories... not just stone bought from a building supply but rocks that were gathered for their shapes and stories and whimsical resemblance to other things
Annieinaustin, pond 9 waterfallOne of the owner's favorites looks like a smiling bear.... I hope she won't mind my getting a little whimsical and making him even more like a cartoon.

Annieinaustin, pond 9, bear rockNext up- a few North Ponds from the Sunday Pond Tour.

Austin Pond Tour 2010, Part 2

The Austin Pond Society moved the date of their annual tour to mid-June for 2010 - it was still hot but the heat was less intense than last summer. This change kind of screwed up the lyrics of the Garden Pond Song I wrote in 2008 where "July" is rhymed with "DragonFly".

Guess I'll let the video alone - who knows what month the committee will choose next summer! What rhymes with May?

To read about the 9 ponds we saw on Saturday's South 2010 Austin Pond Society Tour see this Saturday Tour post. On Sunday June 13 we visited four of the 14 North Ponds open for the tour.

POND #10

An expanse of lawn under dappled shade was very inviting on a hot day in Austin- with trees enclosing the good-sized yard.
Most gardens we've visited have a bench or two, or a couple of chairs, but this garden had tables and seating tucked in everywhere - it looked ready for a lawn party and the hosts were so charming we wished our names were on the guest list
We talked to the owner about some of her beautiful plants - she also grows and loves the Blue Clerodendron that appears on this blog and on Robin's Get Grounded blog- instant bonding over blue petals!

Rather than a display garden and pond, this was a place where people live. They use tools and plant and inhabit the garden and do things. I liked this clever idea for storing pots and equipment around the corner of the house.
The owners had placed the pond so it could be enjoyed from a covered porch at the back of the house... a most civilized arrangement!

Making one pond frequently leads to the desire for another - here's the current project

After they get done with this adventure they'll need that hammock!

POND #11

This waterfall pond is in a courtyard off a front drive under a wisteria-covered pergola, with the sound softening the air and calling in wildlife. (we just missed seeing a pair of mallards).The owner told us they'd placed it here to allow room for a swimming pool in the back yard, but once the pond was constructed it changed the way the whole front garden felt and worked. The courtyard was full of visitors so I could only get a couple of closeups. So often side gardens are just patches of 'nothing'... I liked the way the rock waterfall wall set the front garden off from the street and the pergola set green boundaries, forming a pleasant courtyard.

Next came a long drive through the outlying suburbs to a long parkway with Hill Country scenery
This kind of scenery can look wonderful when seen through the window of an air-conditioned car, especially when the sky has such beautiful cloud formations and you're wearing your strongest sunglasses. It's less wonderful if you're outside the car in 95°F heat.

Full Disclosure: This was a nice place to visit but even if I won the lottery, it's doubtful I could ever live here.

But that doesn't mean you wouldn't love it! Many, many people think they've found a slice of heaven in the hills of this master planned community, begun in the mid-1990's with a municipally-owned golf course and clubhouse at its heart, as these roof-covered hilltops demonstrate.

We found our way to two of the three ponds within the gates - somehow missed a turn and decided not to backtrack to find the third one.

POND #12

Isn't this flag patio and rock edge cool? The pond starts in sun but has shaded Texas-type woodland behind it...

When we walked closer we could see how beautiful the lilies were

And what a great job the owners had done with the waterfall
Looking back toward the house -

The owners have plans for expanding and building a stream in this more shaded area in future.

POND # 13

The last garden we visited had two ponds and a stream arranged on a five-acre property. The ponds were made about 9-years ago, so they've had time to mellow.

It's almost startling to see cattails against the Hill Country background
This is such a peaceful seat

You can walk around the whole pond and see various species of trees planted at the edges

Here's a look at the length of the stream

We bailed after this pond and didn't try to get up to Georgetown and Sun City. Maybe next year we'll run into you somewhere along the route on the Austin Pond Tour?

For video of some of the 2010 ponds check out the sidebar on our local PBS Station KLRU YouTube website. You'll find Central Texas Gardener shows with Tom Spencer posted by producer (and CTG Gardenblogger) Linda Lehmusvirta.

Edit June 23: MSS @Zanthan Gardens has posted about this tour. She visited some some gardens that we missed: 2010 Austin Pond Tour at Zanthan Gardens Blog.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2010

The 'Blue River II' Hibiscus was the star of my first blog post on June 7, 2006. This year the ground warmed up slowly so there were no hibiscus flowers on June 7, 2010, but my Movealong plant came through for GBBD. Annieinaustin, Blue River II Hibiscus text
Four years ago I posted about two white 'Acoma' crepe myrtles that had been planted to soften a fence after 5 years of stressful living on a hot deck in terracotta containers. The left one looked like this in June 2006Annieinaustin, 2006 Acoma Crepe myrtles left
And the right one looked so pitiful in 2006 that I wasn't sure it could ever turn from a scraggly shrub into a treeAnnieinaustin, 2006 Acoma Crepe myrtles rightBut now they stand tall and in full bloom - so lovely that the recently murdered pink crepe on the other side of the fence barely impacts my garden Annieinaustin Acoma Crepe Myrtles 2010
Back in 2006 I tried in vain to snap a photos of the hummingbirds on salvias - now the 'Provence' lavender brings them closer to the windowAnnieinaustin Hummingbird in lavender
It's been a hot, buggy May & June, with enough rain for green grass and swarms of mosquitoes. Bird poop caterpillars (larvae of a Giant Swallowtail) reappeared on the Meyer's lemonAnnieinaustin, Giant Swallowtail caterpillar - this one is full grown but there are new eggs for the next generation. Annieinaustin giant swallowtail egg on citrus
Does anyone know how to ID swallowtail butterflies? Is this adult Swallowtail on the Purple coneflowers the right kind to have laid the eggs on the lemon tree? Annieinaustin, swallowtail butterfly on coneflower
Still-blooming Burgundy oxalis and just-starting Blue Plumbago cuddle up with a tropical milkweed seedling that blew in from last year's plant. It's a little too close to the sidewalk but I'll let it stay here just in case Monarch butterflies show up.Annieinaustin, Oxalis, plumbago, asclepiasThe cannas show buds just as daylily season winds down -
Flowers open daily on some the large daylilies but they'll run out of buds soon. Perovskia adds blue to Hemerocallis citrina, Hibiscus 'Blue River II' and 'Hot Lips' Salvia.Annieinaustin, hibiscus, daylilies, salvia I wonder if goldfinches can recognize the self-sown Sunflowers as the source of future treats. Can you see that bag of pecan caterpillars hanging to the lower left of the sunflower? How I wish for an archer to shoot an arrow through the webby stuff. Once the bag was opened wasps could have caterpillars as treats! Annieinaustin sunflower against sky
'Julia Child' made a few more butter-color roses under the white crepe myrtles. 'Belinda's Dream' made flowers, too- but they look way too ratty for photos.Annieinaustin Julia Child Rose
In front a bluebonnet lurks in a patch of Blackfoot daisies, refusing to cry uncle to summer's heat. Annieinaustin, June bluebonnet
In back an Orange Cosmos (maybe Cosmos sulphurea?) towers over a Texas Paintbrush in another patch of Blackfoot Daisies. Some of what grows in this garden came from a nursery or garden center. The plants that came from family and friends are called Passalong plants and those hauled from previous gardens could be called Movealong plants. But the cosmos falls in a different category.annieinaustin, orange cosmos Last fall I saw enormous beds of these flowers in every stage of bud, bloom and gone-to-seed, growing outside of our favorite Korean Restaurant. A few seeds just happened to fall into my pocket and then I just happened to save them and just happened to plant them a few months ago. Can I call it a Snitchalong plant?

For the round-up of Garden Blogs see head Blogger-wrangler Carol at May Dreams Gardens.
To see the botanical name of every single thing I can find in bloom check the list at Annie's Addendum.