Sunday, October 11, 2015

Inside Austin Gardens Tour: Beautiful View and Plants to Match

We're previewing Austin gardens for the Inside Austin Gardens Tour to be held October 17th.  After visiting Pam Penick's "Oh! Deer!" garden our group of bloggers enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Galaxy Cafe then headed to "Sunbathing Natives" and the fourth garden on our list.

Kirk Walden and his wife Val were recently featured on tour at Central Texas Gardener here.  The original house on this property was torn down due to mold issues so when the Walden's purchased the lot it had been scraped except for a few Crape Myrtles.  The Waldens built a new home and gardens to take full advantage of the site.  Kirk says these handsome pavers were less expensive than concrete which is an idea I plan to keep in mind.

Wooly stemodia adding a silvery ground cover to the front.

The Wooly Stemodia has been mixed with agaves just like I'm trying in my own garden.

Eventually mine will look this good.

Bright gold Lantana lining the drive.  We arrived on a day when everything was in bright bloom.

Large stone pavers extend the drive with a permeable surface.

Kirk is a Travis County Master Gardener and very involved in plant selection and gardening.  Turk's Cap and other native plants by the gate.

Heading around back be prepared for a stunning view of Lake Austin.  Literally breathtaking.

The hot tub pool is inspired by the courtyard pool at Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and reminiscent of natural springs in the Texas Hill Country.

The charming steel sculpture takes on a different look from different angles.  A fish from this view, it can also look like a bird or small animal from the lower garden.

"Pillow" rocks are a striking feature of the rockwork around the pool.

So much bright color throughout the garden just adds to the beauty of the site.

View of the back

Everything was blooming at once and spectacular.

From this angle the sculpture looks more like a bird or small animal.

A combination to copy, white and gold lantana mixed.

A few of the Austin bloggers from our group enjoying the view.

We were treated to the view from Kirk's wife's art studio on the second floor.

Of all the places to sit in the garden Kirk prefers the shade of the porch.  There are a few challenges as the sun changes from blazing to mostly shade across the back of the house making it difficult to plant the bed which runs the length of the porch.

It's that stunning view again.

No need to say more!

There is a bit more to say because you can visit this garden on October 17th during the Inside Austin Gardens Tour.  It's a short drive from San Antonio to Austin so if you're looking for good ideas for your garden this fall it's well worth a day in Austin to enjoy the tour.  You can see my preview of "Shady Natives", "Cottage Natives" and "Oh! Deer!" by starting with this post.

To see more blogger previews visit:

Rock Rose
Sharing Nature's Garden
Garden Ally
The Shovel Ready Garden
The Gardener of Good and Evil

Be sure to check out Central Texas Gardener for more on the tour.

Friday, October 9, 2015

October 9, 2015: Before and After

Shortly after I began this blog in October 2011, I also began a series documenting my front garden with Before and After photos.  I chose that date as the best "Before" shots I had taken from the prior year before I began blogging.

Each year these photos provide a documentation of just how my plants have changed or held up during the previous year.  Although 2015 has been a tough year for San Antonio plants due to drought, from the driveway view things don't appear to have changed much so we need to compare with 2014.

October 9, 2015

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Oh Deer! Finally Here!

With my friend Melody driving I was on the edge of my seat peering through the windshield for the familiar sight of a garden I know only from photos.  It was finally time after seven years of following Digging and four years of blogging:  I get to see Pam's garden!  We're previewing gardens for the upcoming Inside Austin Gardens Tour and, while seeing all the gardens was incentive enough to make the 70 mile drive, seeing Pam Penick's garden for the first time was a special highlight of the day.  Her garden theme for the tour is "Oh! Deer!" which those of us who contend with urban deer can appreciate.

There it is looking great with sedge filling in at the feet of the bright new insect hotel.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wildlife Wednesday October 2015: Foxes, Ringtail Cats plus the Owl Returns

Since the garden has been basically dormant for months it's nice to have Wildlife Wednesday provide a good reason for posts from the garden.  With only few blooms to offer I think the butterflies are passing me by on their southward migration so we'll focus on some larger subjects.  Foxes are back after a long stretch of no sightings.  The water bowl we keep out near the creek is becoming more popular as the weeks without rain add up.  I'm joining Tina at "My Gardener Says..." in posting on wildlife visitors to the garden.

This photo was through the back door glass so as not to scare off Mr Fox.

Common around Texas, Gray Foxes prefer woodland areas like our dry creek.  Gray Foxes are omnivorous and will eat cactus fruits and berries in addition to small animals.  They can even climb trees which helps them keep away from their predator the Coyote.  I went outside to take more pictures (after allowing a long drink) and he departed, but since foxes are very curious animals they usually give a look back at people while leaving.  One last smile for the camera.

We check the wildlife camera on a daily basis and discovered a fox "leaving his mark".
Ewwww, I wonder if the next visitors got the message.


It's fun to now see our wildlife visitors in action.  Here's a very thirsty fox from last night.  Good thing we change that water often!


We hadn't seen Ringtail Cats prior to installing the camera.  Sometimes considered rare, these relatives of the Raccoon are actually fairly common it's just that they are only out around 2AM or so.


The Barred Owl which we spotted almost daily earlier in the summer has been sighted several times in the last few weeks.  This is from last week sitting on top of the back gate after a bath.  Just look at that head turn!

Cutest owl expression ever?

...but it was because a Blue Jay flew by.  Smaller birds often harass the owl.

Here's the bath from the wildlife camera view.


Time to clean that beak.  First one side.

Then the other

Don't forget the top!

And now for the finale, cleaning that tip.

A few weeks ago we heard a noise and found an odd imprint on the back door glass.  An investigation turned up this incident.  The glass apparently reflected the trees and looked like an opening.  This used to happen with our clerestory windows until we added sunshades.  No owls were harmed in the making of this video and the owl has appeared unhurt many times since including in the photos above.


That's a wrap up of wildlife highlights from the past month.  To see more wildlife in all our gardens visit "My gardener says..."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Inside Austin Gardens Tour Preview

Each year the Travis County Master Gardeners hold their Inside Austin Gardens Tour alternating between spring and fall.  This year's tour will be held Saturday, October 17th from 9am to 4pm.   I was so excited to be invited along for a blogger preview day and they even offered to make my friend Melody an honorary blogger for the day so she could join us.  It's a nice idea to invite local garden bloggers to help publicize the tour.

The tour's theme is "By gardeners. For gardeners" and each garden is chock-full of great plants and good ideas for your garden.  It was a full day of touring so I'll preview the gardens in several posts this week.

The first garden we visited is "Shady Natives" and there's nice description on the link to the website.  The first thing we noticed is how much more lush and green this garden is compared to most gardens in San Antonio.  I think Austin has had more rain.  Even the yucca look lush against the wooded background in this streetside view.  The Mullein in the foreground will be quite striking when it blooms.

More lush green down the sedge-lined drive

Across the drive a dry creek cuts through the wooded area to channel rain from occasional deluges.

Melody visited this garden on tour several years ago and remembered the owner had given her a plant.  It turns out the original plant has since died and Melody plans to return with a cutting.  In the wonderful way of gardeners we call that "plant insurance".  The more you share, the better chance you have of replacing a lost plant.

A huge palm with a twinkly bottle tree at its base presides over the pool

Charming garden art and plants ring the pool

Comfy seating and more lush plants in containers on the deck.  Love those foxtail ferns.

A vine covered arbor shades the walk.

The Passionvine blooms were still open that morning.

The second garden is Cottage Natives.  Nicely updated colors with a modern walk of Lueders Limestone add a contemporary vibe to the front of this older home.

Texas rustic style is evident all around in the garden.  Fellow blogger Ally at Garden Ally did a great job capturing this section of the garden.

Lori, the Gardener of Good and Evil and our tour guide for the day, getting a closeup.  An old glider turned into a swing.

Several rainwater collection tanks were in use around the garden.

Purple is a universal color for recycled nonpotable water and the purple hoses indicated they are used for rainwater only.

I liked the pipe holders.  Good use of recycled materials.

What a gate!

Many of the plants will be tagged for the tour and Travis County Master Gardeners will be available to answer your questions.

I recently attended a lecture on the Hugelkultur technique of  building soil by layering wood trimmings and compost with topsoil.  The technique reverses the typical campfire building style with the larger pieces going in first.  It's a great idea for our area where rocky clay soil requires bringing in soil or making your own.  This bed is more true to the technique while I am trying a modified version in my own garden.

The owner's name is Martha.

This iron wheel was mounted so it rotates.  I've seen these at flea markets and wondered what I could do besides leaning it against a tree.   "Wheel of Fortune" style is a fun idea and it defines the seating area.

An interesting mechanism detail using pipes and fittings similar to the hose holder.

Lots of fruit trees and raised beds for vegetables and herbs.  A large rain collection tank is at the back of the garden.

This older neighborhood has a deep space between the street and sidewalk allowing for a sunny streetside garden full of native plants that beautifully buffers traffic.

Loved the silvery Gregg's Dalea draping over the curb.

A pivoting gate between the house and an addition provides needed privacy from the busy street yet allows convenient passage between parts of the garden on a daily basis.

The border looks like springtime to me.  Native plants which have been dormant for months in my garden, Texas Primrose, Wright's Skullcap, and Gaillardia are still blooming away in Austin just 70 miles north.

Wish my Zexmenia looked so good.

Those are just two of the six gardens we visited on our preview tour.  Special thanks to Lori, The Gardener of Good and Evil, for including me in the tour.  It's not that far to Austin so if you're looking for good ideas for your garden this fall it's well worth a day in Austin to enjoy the tour.

You can find all the tour details here.

To see more previews visit:

Rock Rose
Sharing Nature's Garden
Garden Ally
The Shovel Ready Garden
The Gardener of Good and Evil

Check out Central Texas Gardener for more on the tour.