Monday, October 28, 2013

Support Your Independent Nursery Month: The Natural Gardener

During the month of October I'm joining Pam at Digging for Support Your Independent Nursery Month.  Independent nurseries are especially valuable local resources for plants that grow best in our climates.  This week I'm featuring The Natural Gardener in Austin.

Another Austin nursery?  When I visited The Natural Gardener back in February I knew I would enjoy returning to see how it looked later in the year.  I got my chance when gardening friends invited me along on a plant shopping trip to Austin.  In a previous post I wrote about our visit to Barton Springs Nursery and this time it's our stop at The Natural Gardener the same day.  Since I covered much of the nursery grounds back in February I'll focus on some of the areas I missed and those that look best this time of year.

Of course I always take time to visit the spiky plants and The Natural Gardener has plenty of them.

Nolinas, agave, yuccas have a large display area at The Natural Gardener.

The ornamental grass display was completely full this time.

There are plenty of details in the gardens to check out as you browse for plants.  These karst rocks make great succulent planters, I just need to find one with a big opening like this.

A visit to the Gourd House

Those are dried gourds used to decorate the vines.  I tried growing gourds last year and ended up with a few blooms and no gourds.  Seeing these vines makes me want to try again.

The circle herb garden was the spot I most wanted to see again.  When I visited in February only the Rosemary and a few hardy herbs were growing.

This time the herb garden was full and green.  The large leaf plant in the background is Hoja Santa or Root Beer (Piper Auritum) plant.  The peppery leaves are used similar to banana leaves in Mexican cooking for wrapping food.

Coyote fence behind the Medicinal herb section.  I liked this trellis, it reminded me of a windmill without the whirly part.

A close look at the nicely done dry-stack stone work in the center and the intriguing collection of container plants.

I've been collecting photos of cedar arbors for a while and we have begun building one in our back yard so the big reveal will be coming soon.

The wood detail with corrugated metal on the side is an idea I'd like to adapt for the one in my own yard.  The rakes work here but probably not at my place.

Matching bench nearby.  But I didn't sit in it.

Cedar bridge over a small arroyo is one for the idea file too.

Heading on over to the tropical house.

Just part of the display

Silvery and burgundy dyckia

We also visited the butterfly garden which I didn't cover in my February post

When we asked a few questions this knowledgeable associate stayed with us for a nice tour of the beautiful butterfly gardens. My friends Melody, Jeannette, and Cheryl are listening intently while I rush around snapping!  I like the contrast of the sheared yaupons with the more natural butterfly plants in this garden.

Pretty vignette in the garden.

Natural looking water feature

Purple passionflower.  This flower looks like P. Incarnata but is deeper in color and the foliage is very different from the wild ones in my neighborhood.

Next we headed to the labyrinth

Very large lined with smooth stones.

But we were mostly passing through because our destination was the guitar garden tribute to Willie Nelson who has a place in nearby Spicewood.  The guitar (like Willie's famous guitar named "Trigger", a Martin N-20 replicated accurately down to the hole worn through just beneath the sound hole) is usually planted with flowers but was in transition from summer to fall on this day.  Maybe next time.

A closer look at the artful details in the nearby gazebo.

Interestingly, a bridge links the Labyrinth garden and the Willie Nelson guitar garden.  If this is disconcerting you can also go around the labyrinth along a service road.

There is always plenty to see and do at The Natural Gardener.  If you go on the weekend get there early because they can often be crowded.

A few weeks after these photos were taken the Austin area experienced torrential rains.  The grounds at The Natural Gardener sustained significant damage from flooding and they postponed their 25th Anniversary celebration for a few weeks.  I understand they are back on track and their anniversary celebration was held this past weekend.


  1. The Natural Gardener has so many cool things to look at. I see something new every time I go (which is often). I love that rake bench. I'm saving all my old tools from now on. There's so many cool ways to re-purpose old shovels and rakes.

  2. I love nurseries that provide ideas as well as great plants. It's too bad I can visit this one only in pictures.

  3. Shirley, I hope you didn't leave all those cacti at the nursery. And did I see horsetail aka equisetum in a couple of your shots? Any nursery that sells horsetail annnd has a tribute to Willie's legendary guitar is a nursery I like.

  4. Some great looking succulents there and looking forward to the reveal of your cedar arbour!

  5. This place really is an idea factory, even for those of us that can't grow the plants. I love the fence behind your windless windmill and the big green balls...among many other things.

  6. Wow, what a lovely garden! I am so smitten with the small bridges more than the arbors. Obviously it is very well managed and maintained, the plants look very healthy too.

  7. What a cool nursery! I love that gourd house and the giant guitar. I prefer the local nurseries over anything run by a corporation, too.

  8. Think you for the tour and the wonderful collection of alien spiky plants. Must admit I was totally smitten by the shed!

  9. Look so large! And so much to see! Love the dyckias. And the Willie Nelson guitar!

  10. I love butterfly garden and Medicinal herb section. Think The Natural Gardener and nursery is very lovely, most of plants are healthy and beautiful. The pond and small waterfall is a thing that makes the garden more interesting. Thanks for sharing, Shirley!

  11. I love Natural Gardener. Even if you don't buy something...hahaha, like THAT happens!'s a great place for ideas and just strolling around, enjoying.

    Thanks for the tour.

  12. You did so much more posting for Support Your Indep Nursery Month this year than I did. Bravo for your efforts! I enjoyed the N.G tour, especially as there are new gardens that I haven't see yet, like the guitar garden. They're always doing something new and fun.


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