Savannah Garden Diary

April 7, 2008

Spring Fling in Austin

A million thanks to , , , , and all the other Austin bloggers who made this such a success.

to Pam’s overview.
Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center
Here we are at the Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center. On the left is our docent, Jenny, who has the most n, immortalized by Pam the day before.
Here is a gorgeous clump of Phlox drummondii in the formal part of the garden. It is gorgeous because it is the wild type, with all those wonderful colors. The ones I grew last year were a horrid assortment of pale pink and browny purple, which was all I could get from Thompson & Morgan. (By the end of this trip, I had acquired what I hope are wild type seeds from Natural Gardens.)
Hinckley columbine
This is the lovely Texas native columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana, another plant I covet, since I miss Aquilegia canadensis, and this Aquilegia is reputed to survive in Savannah. Note that here it is in pretty shady, shade. I see, from Googling it, that dry shade is recommended. (Someone suggests shade of deciduous trees is ideal so that it gets some winter sun.) Now all I have to do is find some seed or cajole some from Pam later this month when she has some.
green roof
I am quite impressed with the environmental consciousness of Austin (although the natives seem to think they are pretty backward). Here is the green roof on a Starbucks in a shopping center. Very sensible plants–grasses and succulents.
Every garden seems to have rain barrels, Vicki is installing a monster cistern in hers, and here are the cisterns at that Starbucks, draining water from a metal roof.


  1. What I’m enjoying most about the Spring Fling, since I was stuck here in my house for the entirety of it, is the chance to learn about new (to me) garden blogs like yours!

    Nice post–and I agree with you, I’d be THRILLED if there were more green roofs, cisterns, and rain barrels in my city. :)

    Comment by — April 7, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

  2. Karen,

    How did I miss the fabulous roof garden or the cisterns?…Where was my attention! You have some good photos and I love your commentary. I would also love the yellow columbine seeds,
    (Pam are you reading this?) I may go searching for them on the internet…

    Karen, it was lovely to meet you and there was so much going on I am glad we had time to visit in the car. Let us know what happens with the Live oak.


    Comment by — April 7, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

  3. Of course I’m reading this, Gail. ;-) Karen and Gail, I will be more than happy to save Hinckley columbine seeds for you. Perhaps by the end of the month they’ll be ready for harvesting. Don’t let me forget!

    Great photos of the green roof and those cisterns, which I absolutely covet, but where would I squeeze one in? Maybe if I tore down the garage…

    Comment by — April 7, 2008 @ 1:35 pm

  4. Karen… my sister’s neighbors have what I think is this same columbine growing in their Zone 5 garden and I think it has been there for several years. It is indeed growing in dry shade, on the southside of the house under the canopy of some pin oaks. Perhaps that is how it has survived this far north? I plan to get some seeds from it, or dig up a start of it this spring. It won’t really bloom until May. This post has a picture of it down near the end.

    Comment by — April 7, 2008 @ 2:35 pm

  5. Carol: I just looked at your photo and it certainly looks like Hinckley’s, but I’m not sure because of what appears to be some white on the outside of the flower. Have a look at this one:
    which I found when I was trying to track Hinckley down on the web. That one is a variety of Aquilegia canadensis, which grows beautifully in zone 5.

    Comment by karen — April 7, 2008 @ 3:23 pm

  6. Pam: You can’t possibly squeeze in a cistern! Don’t even try. Your garden is an exquisite little gem. Not having room for a million things you want is the price you pay for a garden most of us feel would be small enough for us to keep tidy. (We also envy your photographic skills and design sense, but that’s past praying for.)

    Comment by karen — April 7, 2008 @ 3:26 pm

  7. Oh Gail, woe is me. By the time I got home they had cut down the 2 live oaks we were trying to save. (They snuck in and did the dastardly deed at dawn on Saturday to try and avoid local attention, the lily-livered wimps.) I spent 20 hours being horribly depressed and plotting improbable vengeance on all the county commissioners. But then a couple of cheering things happened (including finding these delightful comments), so I’m feeling a little better. (But still plotting vengeance.)

    I discover that I was horribly mistaken when I pronounced at the wild flower center that those weren’t “real live oaks.” Me and my big mouth. You do have real live oaks–Quercus virginiana. I am now left to try and figure out why they are so incredibly tiny compared with ours. Annual rainfall doesn’t account for it because they just grow slower with less rain, but they still get about 4 times the size of any I saw in Texas. Only theory I can come up with is that your soil is very shallow.

    It was great talking to you in the car. What an interesting group of people.

    Comment by karen — April 7, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

  8. Wow - I must have been blinded by the Bluebonnets - I totally missed those brigth Phlox. I’m so glad you got a shot of them. It was so great to meet you. I’m sorry about your trees - I bet they did wait until you were gone to cut them down, the rotten cowards!

    Comment by — April 7, 2008 @ 3:52 pm

  9. Thanks for the sympathy. Yes, I’m pretty devoted to Phlox drummondii because it reliably comes back/reseeds here. All you have to do is add a few seeds occasionally if the patch is getting thin. And it blooms for a really long time.

    Comment by karen — April 7, 2008 @ 4:00 pm

  10. Hi Karen, love your photos and narrative of the Spring Fling activities. I am still dreaming about those columbines also. The A. canadensis struggles even here in the heat of zone 7a Tennessee, but I have managed to keep one alive for a couple of years. The new A. chrysantha ‘Hot Mama’ I bought at Natural Gardener is yellow, not that mix like I had thought, so the old and the new are planted next to each other. Now all we need is some bee action. It was delightful speaking with you at the wildflower center. Good luck with the Hinkley, we had one in our Houston garden that did very well in shade, even with the sprinkler system watering it every other day.

    Comment by — April 7, 2008 @ 7:57 pm

  11. Hello Karen,

    What a lovely photo of the Phlox drummondii. Their colors really popped that day. I’ll bet the hummingbirds are attracted to them. It’s wonderful to read your perspective of the Spring Fling. I’m so pleased you had a pleasant time here. You certainly made my Spring Fling experience completely positive.

    I wish you success with the Aquilegia. I managed to kill two plants last year and am planting 4 new victims this Spring. Thank you for the dry shade tip. I will definitely try it! :-)


    Comment by — April 8, 2008 @ 10:50 am

  12. Hi Karen. The phlox are too blousey for my taste, but I love the cactus and the spiky grasses in the photo. Simon.

    Comment by — April 8, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  13. Yes, Simon, Austin is delightfully lime/pretty arid. There are loads of gardens with deserty things in gravel. Can’t do that in Savannah. We’re too soggy. Which means the weeds grow horribly fast and anything colorful like the phlox that will take care of itself and provide a little color year after year is very welcome. Or maybe I just like blowsy? I think perhaps I do.

    Comment by karen — April 8, 2008 @ 2:32 pm

  14. Yo, Dawn, good luck with the Aquilegia. I guiltily admit that I, too, have ordered a couple, with no idea whether they’ll grow here and it’s much too late to plant anything, anyway…..

    Comment by karen — April 8, 2008 @ 2:34 pm

  15. Karen, I so enjoyed talking with you throughout the day. I’m glad that you were able to come to Austin but very angry that those evil men in authority chose that moment to cut down your beloved oaks. Maybe if we garden bloggers could bring it to the Garden Ranters attention they could spark a national outrage. They’ve done it before when someone filed a complaint against a gardener growing wildflowers in her front yard instead of a lawn.

    I’m glad that you were able to see my little wild garden even though at that point I think we were all to tired to do anything but sit numbly in it. I’m looking forward to your bog garden post to inspire me to go ahead with my own bog garden.

    Comment by — April 8, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

  16. Hi Karen,

    It was wonderful to meet you in Austin! And I’m just fascinated at seeing all the photos that everyone took of the event. We really need to spend more time talking next year in Chicago. (Mr. McGregor’s Daughter’s is feeling the heat, I think!) I could use your advice on places to go when I visit family in Savannah. My relatives there don’t garden.

    Robin at Bumblebee

    Comment by — April 8, 2008 @ 10:50 pm

  17. Hi Karen,

    There were so many things going on at once! I missed the exciting live oak conversation, and am sorry yours lost their heads while you were gone.

    I’m not sure how much of Austin you saw - most of the events took place in the SW quadrant of Travis County. Just as Austin is a meeting place for Garden bloggers, there is a conjunction of different types of land in the Austin area. I have several maps but they don’t agree! Most maps show at least three types of land overlapping: the drier, limestone Edward’s plateau, the Cross timbers & Prairies, and the deep clay Blackland prairie with a fourth type, the Post Oak Savannah, weaving fingers through the Blackland from the East. You’ll find larger [and different types] of trees in other parts of Austin. Also, many of the plants at the Wildflower Center aren’t too happy in winter up in the NW section of Austin where I live.

    I’m glad you came to Spring Fling!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Comment by — April 9, 2008 @ 11:11 am

  18. Ugh! How unfair of those rat bastards to cut down the trees while you were away. I hope that it won’t taint your memories of Austin.

    It was nice getting to meet you. Good luck on your textbook.

    Comment by — April 9, 2008 @ 11:51 am

  19. Thank you, vertie. No the tree-cutting won’t taint memories of Austin. Just made us mad and I think they are going to be very very sorry!

    Comment by karen — April 10, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

  20. Rain barrel water collection is big and growing out here in Houston too.

    I love your pond building entry ( just after this one ) it’s a wonderful pond.

    I tried dry shade with my columbine here last year and it wasn’t happy. I’m trying dryish sun now.

    Comment by — April 12, 2008 @ 11:11 am

  21. The columbine is obviously going to take some experimentation.

    Comment by karen — April 13, 2008 @ 7:04 am

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