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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, October 18, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day October 2010

This is a Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post from Annie in Austin, writing at the Transplantable Rose Blog

The days are still warm here in Austin, but the nights are finally cooling down. La Nina has kept us very dry - the 12-inches of rain from Hermine came fast and left fast and were not part of a weather pattern... more of a weather event. Handwatering and milder weather have made some plants happy; tall trees and lower sun angles combine to make other plants stall from lack of light.

At this time of year the partially sunny front yard has flowers that equal the shadier back yard bunch so on our once-a-month Garden Bloggers Bloom Day quest for what's in flower we should check there first.

The Lycoris radiata/Red spider lilies from the previous post appear to be making seeds now. Annieinaustin, Lycoris gone to seedThis group is nestled into the front butterfly bed, a large oval border that was made by The Divas of the Dirt in 2008, on the spot where an Arizona Ash once grew. The imminent demise of that large tree inspired me to write the song in the sidebar.
annieinaustin front butterfly borderPurple Lantana, Gregg's Mistflower, Blackfoot Daisies, Bengal Tiger Cannas, Black & Blue Salvia, Salvia Nuevo Leon, seedlings of White Gaura, self-seeded Pink Gaura, young plants of yellow-flowered Damianita and a large Rosa mutabilis are in full bloom. On the street side a Forsythia sage/Salvia madrensis struggles to become established... it's half the size expected, but the buds promise blooms later this week
annieinaustin salvia madrensis budsThose are Blackfoot Daisies around the salvia - more of them brighten the parking strip to the west of the butterfly bed. They like good drainage and sun so until these two beds were made I didn't have much success with this pretty little evergreen native flower. Blackfoot daisies have a very pleasant scent if there are enough flowers open at one time and a swath like this can stop you in your tracks when you stroll down the sidewalk. annieinaustin, blackfoot daisies and gulf muhly

This parking strip garden was the 2009 Divas of the Dirt project - a year later the Gulf Muhly grass is so fabulous in bloom that the failure of the Mexican Feather grass isn't even noticed.
annieinaustin gulf muhly grass, blackfoot daisiesOn the South side of the birdbath the Mutabilis Rose is really well established - it was pruned in late summer but is filling out fast.
annieinaustin rosa mutabilis, bengal tiger cannaIn the Pink Entrance Garden on the North side of the drive 'Belinda's Dream' rose has a new flush of bloom, combined here with a no-name, rosy-colored gaura that was planted in February 2007.
annieinaustin, belindas dream roseIn back the brightest color comes from Orange cosmos. The first sowing produced enormous plants by mid-summer. Those plants died but new seedlings are now blooming, backed up by a blazing Pineapple sage/Salvia elegans in the hummingbird border.annieinaustin, orange cosmos

The previous post had photos of Scutellaria indica 'Dorota Blue', White ginger, Sweet Olive/Osmanthus fragrans and a video clip of Salvia vanhouttei, all still blooming. This time we'll look at a Firecracker plant - probably Russelia equisetiformis, a Passalong plant from my friend Ellen.
annieinaustin, Russelia firecracker plantNow check out the Aster frikartii blooming behind the dwarf Greek myrtle. Why is it blooming back there, you ask? Why isn't it out where it can be seen?
Because this is the one that bloomed - the other two had more light and air, but have become tiny non-flowering remnants of what they once were.annieinaustin, aster frikartii

The 'Julia Child' rose has flowers again - the new foliage looks pretty good but the older leaves show how insects have damaged it. These holes are round, so perhaps this is the work of leaf-cutting bees. annieinaustin, julia child rose

Here's the first flower on the Philippine violet. The plant is alive, but it had a bad year, reaching only 1/3 of its usual size.
annieinaustin, first flower barleriaI bought a large Malvaviscus 'Pam Puryear', AKA 'Pam's Pink' Turkscap in late spring. You might also hear it called Wax Mallow I'm not sure this variety will be hardy in my garden and after seeing Trisha Shirey's flower-laden Turkscap plants on Pam/Digging's blog wonder if it wants more sun to bloom well, but at least I've seen a few lovely flowers.
annieinaustin, pam pink malvaviscus

The white form of Turkscap-Waxmallow is blooming, too - but its leaves are tattered. annieinaustin, white turkscap

Mr Brown Thumb's post on the difference between Cardinal vine and Cypress Vine made me realize that Cypress vine is such a great reseeder its presence is taken for granted in my garden. Cypress Vine bloomed each year at our first Austin house and returns every year at this one, pleasing the hummingbirds, sending thousands of seeds out to sprout and be weeded out and growing into green, ferny blobs of foliage that can derail planned traffic patterns. annieinaustin, cypress vine blocks walk

When they run out of support they twine together and make enchanting patterns against the skyannieinaustin, cypress vine entwined in sky

But Ipomoea quamoclit seldom gets photo space on my blog so to make up for that, here are the star-shaped, pure red flowers of the Cypress Vineannieinaustin, closeup cypress vine flower
I'll leave you with the latest Moonflower Vine/Ipomoea alba photo. As long as it keeps blooming, I'll keep taking its picture.
annieinaustin, moonflower vineThis is the main post for May Dreams Carol's Bloom day event - head over to her blog to check out more than 100 other GBBD posts. To find an additional comprehensive list of everything blooming in my garden with botanical names look at the companion blog to the Transplantable Rose, Annie's Addendum. Happy GBBD from Annie in Austin

Sunday, October 10, 2010

At-Ten-Ten-Ten-tion Must Be Paid

Attention has been paid to the design of the garden. Once that Mystery Tree in the last post was identified as a probable Mulberry, it was no longer allowed to overwhelm the new border and it was not transplanted into a pot and nurtured.Annieinaustin, Identified as mulberry According to MSS of Zanthan Gardens her almost identical Mulberry sapling has survived several winters and bounced back after being cut down over and over. This kind of weedy tree might be fine on a few acres or a farm - I've read that the berries are great favorites of pigs - but there is no room for it on our small suburban lot!

I dug deep, and think all the roots came out. Annieinaustin, mulberry roots
MSS gave me Bluebonnet seeds last month and I planted some of them in the now-empty space. In Austin we sow these seeds in fall and then hope the little sprouts make it through cold weather, attacks by pillbugs and constant uprooting by squirrels as they dig holes for pecans.

You can't help but pay attention to the squirrels - they're rampaging everywhere in their fall frenzy - breaking branches while tearing pecan husks from the pecan trees and dropping fragments of husk on every surface. The constant leaping and running and chasing is hard on other trees, too - young Loquat #2 lost several of its lower branches. I guess the squirrels aren't burying all the nuts but are eating a lot of them. This leads to poor judgment by the Tree Rat as to how large a bough is needed to support their weightAnnieinaustin, Loquat damaged by squirrel
The squirrels didn't kill the Culinary Sage - it died not long after the prolonged drenching from Tropical Storm Hermine. Annieinaustin, dead cooking sageIt was interesting to see which plants gave up after 12-inches of rain. Although the Silver Pony foot doubled in size, many of the grey-leaved plants including MoonshineYarrow/Achillea, Lavender plants and most of the Lambs Ears died quickly after the storms. Some salvias, most of the Shasta Daisies, some coneflowers and most portulaca are gone, too. For now those blank spots have been planted with more of the bluebonnet seeds from MSS.

Blooming blue already is that Scutellaria 'Dorota Blue' from last year. It barely survived winter freezes and I kept in into a large pot under the overhang all summer, hoping the part shade could keep the sun from killing it. That overhang also kept the skullcap from being pounded by rain. Now the fall show has begun. Annieinaustin, Scutellaria indica Dorota BlueThe leaves show stress from the past year but the flowers are abundant and beautiful.

That last post about the mystery tree made me neglect some autumn beauties. One plant responded to the rain with an astonishing display - the first blooms ever from red spider lily/Lycoris bulbs, another gift from MSS. What can I say? She is a gardening angel!

The first bud was a surprise - so lovely on its ownAnnieinaustin, Lycoris budThen 6 flower heads rose up and began to open in the center of verbena, Gregg's Mistflower, Black & Blue Salvia, Blackfoot Daisies, Rosa Mutabilis and Bengal Tiger canna leavesAnnieinaustin, Lycoris in butterfly garden They opened over a period of several days, and it was really a smashing combination. Annieinaustin, Red Spider Lily in butterfly garden
I can't help but pay attention to flowers that smell wonderful when I walk out on the patio. A few days ago one of the heads of White Ginger/Hedychium coronarium was perfect. Annieinaustin, Hedychium White Ginger
The fragrance of Sweet Olive is a sure sign of fall in my garden. My three shrubs didn't seem to mind the rain and are covered in tiny fragrant flowers. Annieinaustin, Sweet Olive, osmanthus fragransIf other plants in my garden die, I might take a while to decide whether to replant them. But if I lost Osmanthus/Sweet Olive, I'd be scouring the nurseries for a replacement without a moment's hesitation. I don't want to be without it.

Yesterday was the last project of the year for we members of the Divas of the Dirt, our cooperative gardening group. I've known them since the first project of the 2001 garden season - so yesterday marked 10 years of Digging With The Divas. Most of the story will be on the blog eventually, but for the amusement of my fellow gardenbloggers in Austin, here's a photo of what we spent hours digging up yesterday:Annieinaustin, Horseherb, Calyptocarpus vialisIt's the alternately loved and despised Horseherb - a plant that came in near the top of the Austin gardenbloggers' Most Hated Weed List via Twitter last week, while at the same time it's sold in nurseries and recommended as a native ground cover by other Austin garden people.

There's something to pay attention to in the vegetable patch, too. Most of the tomato plants died soon after Hermine, but just a little liquid fertilizer on the pepper plants brought new fruit. We've enjoyed the sweet frying-type peppers for breakfast Peppers-and-Eggs, but these are a small, rather hot pepper called 'Garden Salsa'.Annieinaustin, Garden Salsa peppers
Philo roasted them, added garlic and turned them into a chunky hot sauce. Science fiction fans are having much fun with the fact that the all important decimal number 42 is rendered 10-10-10 in binary numbers. Philo considered naming his relish the Secret Sauce of the Universe, but instead called it "Thanks For All the Peppers ". Annieinaustin, Thanks for all the Peppers Hot RelishThere are a few more hours left of this day -think I'll keep my massively useful towel handy.

With the sapling mulberry gone, you can now see the amazing size of the Salvia vanhouttei in the new border. I raved last GBBD about the $2, 4" starter plant from Barton Springs Nursery that turned into a temporary shrub, but this plant needs more than photos - it needs attention for just a few seconds on video.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Fast-growing 5-lobed Mystery Plant

here's a new tree in my garden - at least it seems to be a tree- and I didn't plant it. Can someone please help me to identify this unknown plant? I've hunted online and in books but can't seem to figure it out... help!!
(Ed: If you read this post earlier please roll to the bottom - I added another photo with one leaf against a white background so you can see the 5-veined leaves, laddering up alternately on the flexible stem. Mulberry is one suggestion -papaya another. The space between leaf stems seems rather large for papaya, but shade & 12" of rain from Hermine have made other plants very gawky so I'm not ruling anything out quite yet.)

Annieinaustin, mystery tree alternate leaves
The plant appeared in a new flower bed that had been St Augustine lawn until last March. I noticed it in early summer but thought at first it was a seedling of some kind of hibiscus. Just in case it was something good, I decided to let it grow, try to identify it and move it when fall brought cooler weather. Annieinaustin Mystery tree 12 inch leavesOnce its leaves expanded fully it reminded me of a Silver Maple, but maple trees have opposite leaves, and this plant has alternate leaves. The oldest leaves are almost 12-inches long, deeply lobed with pointed tips.

Annieinaustin Mystery tree in flower bedThis tree-shrub-woody perennial is now 5-feet tall and it's not only ruining the way the border looks but is shading its valuable neighbors. It has to go somewhere - the question is whether that somewhere should be another part of the yard, a large container or the compost heap.

Thanks for any advice - Annie in Austin

(Ed at 4 PM: Here's one more photo - thanks to everyone on the blog, Twitter and at GardenWeb Texas Forum for commenting! Read through the comments and see how the plant was identified as a Mulberry.)