The Kickoff Welcome Party for this year’s Garden Bloggers Fling in Austin, Texas, was at the new public library in downtown Austin. Although I’m a total nut for libraries, you really don’t have to be to appreciate this one. Among a long list of pluses is exciting artwork, a large and growing collection of zines, and varied types of reading spaces for all ages, including a rooftop garden with an impressive view of downtown and the hill country surrounding Austin.
The Austin Central Library was designed to reflect and support the local culture while providing flexible spaces to learn and congregate. I loved hearing that rainwater is collected and used in the bathrooms and to water the landscape plants. What’s not to like about native plant landscaping, award-winning architecture, half a million books in mobile stacks, and native plant landscaping? (It’s worth saying twice!)
After joining the rest of the pre-Fling garden bloggers for a taste of Texas (fajitas), I hit the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, accessible just a few steps away from the library entrance, and explored this beautiful natural area before returning to walk through the library atrium and up to the rooftop garden.
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Isn’t the light pretty just before the sun sets? My deciduous azalea, ‘My Mary’, has been beautiful this year, but now she’s nearly bloomed out. Looks like she decided to wear Fuchsia earrings as her going away outfit.
On the way in is a white peony at her feet. The buds have burst; there must be a million petals. I posted about it years ago when it was a total surprise — all my peonies prior had been pink. Now it has many blooms every year and it may be my favorite of all.
Baby sweetshrubs and spicebushes have leafed out, and painted buckeyes are coming along, in pots for now. I was really excited when some Georgia holly seedlings I planted in January 2017 started sprouting this spring, just when I was about to give up and compost that soil!
A little project between our porch and the storage room was to add some stone and under plant a Japanese maple we have there. I like the idea of native ground covers so I had already put green-and-gold in that spot a couple of years ago. I recently added the spiderwort, though, and I do like how they look together.
Once the oak trees have dropped all their pollen we will finish with the gravel, which will make a bit of a service area back behind the tree. Can you see all those pollen strands all over the ground? It was a big blooming year for the oak trees. In some spots we had clumps of spent catkins six inches deep.
On the windowsill, I’ve been amazed by my fall blooming cactuses — the Christmas, or Thanksgiving, cactuses (Schlumbergera truncata hybrids) — which have not stopped blooming since November. They aren’t showing any signs of slowing down yet, either.
On the other hand, I got all my amaryllis bulbs into dormancy either way too late or not at all. Only the butterfly amaryllis (Hippeastrum papilio) sent up a big, fat bud and bloomed anyway. I jumped up and down over that.
I had a birthday recently and my daughters took me to the McGill Rose Garden in Charlotte. It was such a nice time together, and the roses (and the baby grandson) were wonderful.
A neighbor asked me what the tree with lavender blooms was in an empty lot near us. Paulownia blooms this time of year, frequently along road sides and in empty lots. The leaves can look a lot like catalpa, which is what you might guess if you didn’t know otherwise, but the flowers of paulownia are purple, catalpa has white or yellowish flowers. And the leaves are in opposite pairs along the stems, not whorled like catalpa. Paulownia is common here (a potentially invasive exotic), catalpa is not. It’s not difficult to tell them apart once you know these things.