Austin bloggers

One for me, one for you, one for me, one for you…

Passalong.  One of my favorite words.  This simple word represents the cornerstone of gardening.  Just as heirloom vegetable seeds, carefully preserved and handed down from generation to generation, passalong plants represent the intricately woven past of our gardens.

I’m fortunate to be part of a group of more than 50 other gardeners in the Austin area that write garden blogs.  While not everyone in the group is active, a core group of gardeners meets once a month at someone’s garden to oooh and ahhh, commiserate, eat, drink, teach, and share in the joy of gardening.  Oh, and we pass along plants.

The plant swap gives us the opportunity to trial new things in our gardens and to share extras with those who are building or rebuilding in their landscapes.  I feel blessed to have been the recipient of so many wonderful gifts. 

And, yes, sometimes plants even make it full circle. 

For a while, I was sharing off shoots of my ‘grandfather’s pipe’ plant (not as in MY grandfather, but the grandfather’s pipe plant that I was growing – confusing right?)  After I had handed out pieces for a few years, others began to bring them to the swap to share theirs, because the plant is so prolific and easy to grow.  “Wait a minute,” I said, “you can’t ditch your extras of my plant here – that’s mine to push on everyone.” 

Sharing is a wonderful thing.  So, today I will be digging some more in my garden – planting little plants that I bought to put in pots — yes, more plants and more pots.  My latest collection is gathered in the wooden box on the little table in the photo above. 

And, on the ground below it are all of the plants that I am passing along.  Today, I will continue digging up some pups and reseeded plants to share with a friend who needs to fill in her garden and to share with some of my clients who are avid newbie gardeners and are eager to try new things.

Plants that will be finding new homes this week include: squid agaves, quadricolor agaves, lamb’s ears, datura, echinacea (coneflower), catmint, silver ponyfoot, pale pavonia, Mexican feather grass,  and Nuevo Leon salvia.  

In my own garden, I know that I have enjoyed the beauty of so many passalongs.  To name but a few, Green goblet agave from Pam of Digging, white cemetery iris from The Transplantable Rose, a lovely peach iris from Robin of Getting Grounded, agave pups from so many of my blogging friends, larkspur seeds from Zanthan Gardens and Caroline of The Shovel Ready Garden, Klondike cosmos seeds from my neighbor Holly, a collection of seeds brought to me by my friend, Maria, from Monet’s garden at Giverny, and countless other plants from other gardeners.

These Klondike cosmos are a riot of hot summer color, but watch out, they reseed like crazy!

 I love the blue hues of larkspur in the late spring garden.

The green goblet agave has a unique color, and I love how the dark emerald green leaves contrast with other grey-green plants in the dry garden, like this euphorbia rigida.

Strolling around the garden infuses me with a sense of peace and serenity, and it reminds me of my good friends, enjoying the some of the same plants in their gardens.  My garden blog turns 8 this July — it hardly seems possible.  I’m so thankful to have it and all the friends, both near and far, that it has brought into my life. 

Beautiful Austin gardens on Wildflower Center tour inspire with details and structure…

One of my annual Mother’s Day treats — the day before Mother’s Day — is to spend the day on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s annual garden tour with my garden blogging friends. 

This year’s tour included exceptional gardens that were previously featured during past tours.  Since I had previously seen three of the gardens,  it was a great opportunity to see how they had evolved over time. 

Our first stop was an early invite to catch the morning sun in Tait Moring’s garden before the crowds arrived.  Situated on a hilltop with an amazing canyon view, this garden is always a treat to visit.  It includes classic elements and eclectic focal points — finely-honed view corridors and magnificent vistas.  Several water features and a range of plants from xeric to native to tropical fill garden rooms with unique appeal.

This beautiful iron gate – which matches several others around the property, is the gateway to the beautiful view.

Strategically placed pottery and other objects serve as focal points around the garden.

Pots decorate patios, too.

I remembered the wonderful sculptural pruning of this pittosporum and after several more years of growth – it was even more beautiful than before.

 More simple, understated pots with lush plants made a perfect match with the clean lines of the house.

Along the side of the house, these dramatic pots planted with yellow hesperaloe grab your attention.

In another vignette – this hardscaping elevates these pots with oversized agaves, both in height and in interest.

This ornate gate mirrors the other iron work on the property.

This wall was created with stones from Moring’s childhood rock collection and other memorabilia and art.

Pieces of glass are interspersed with the rocks in the wall, and a trio of pots adds more color to the display.

 We couldn’t decide if this carving was Aztec or Southeast Asian in origin — but it was very cool.

 And a field of native plants and wildflowers cascades down the hill.

 Wonder what my tour mates are laughing about?  I know!

 This fence was definitely not meant to keep these beautiful blooms on one side of the fence or the other. 

Pops of spring color.

I’m not sure this guy paid for a tour ticket!

This hammock, hidden down in the woods, called to my blogging buddy.

 Intricate raised stone beds in the potager were filled with vegetables and flowers.

 Artichokes on tour.

A small pocket of sun in a secret sitting area in the woods illuminates a blooming cactus.

After a long trek down the hillside and through the woods (no river), we found a beautiful Texas madrone tree.  The Texas madrone is known for is its distinctive exfoliating bark. When the older layers come off, the new bark is smooth and can be white – like this one – or orange or even red. The madrone needs a xeric climate and very good drainage.

Another addition since our last visit – a beautifuldark-bottomed swimming pool.  Subtle and simple, it fades into the backdrop of the garden.

A collection of tropical plants lines the stone wall and wood fence that serve as the backdrop for the pool.

This made me feel like I was in the Yucatan!

A delightful and fascinating garden, I left feeling peaceful and inspired.

Blogging Buddies….

What a wonderful treat we Austin Garden Bloggers had on Sunday.  We toured two local bloggers’ gardens and enjoyed delightful refreshments and great company.  The first garden was Lee’s, of The Grackle

It was so … zen.  It was simple and elegant and peaceful.  The clean lines drew my attention from one interesting feature to the next.  From the cut limestone linear path to the bench and unique wooden screen in front of the AC and then onto a little cedar fence (all of those features hand made) on either side of a rustic pathway and garden.  

I just loved the tiny split rail-like fence — it was delicate and rustic at the same time.  I don’t have more photos to show because I just got busy visiting and learning about the garden.  And even though I don’t have a photo of it, I loved the brick decorative patio area with pea gravel.  I hope some of the other Austin bloggers got photos of it.
Then we moved onto Phillip’s garden of East Side Patch
Jam-packed with beds and paths and nooks and crannies and stock tanks and water features, this garden was a lush Utopia of unique plants and interesting combinations.  Not a patch of grass in sight!  Just an endless creative cosmos — which, if you’ve read Phillip’s blog, is an appropriate analogy!  (He’s got the wildest, most creative stuff on this blog — it’s gardening and oh-so-much more.)
We were all enthralled with this relatively new garden bed and its unique succulents.  We were particularly taken with the Donkey’s Ears Kalanchoe on the right side with it’s long leaves (are they leaves?) and its speckles.

Lots of Agaves and tropicals side by side.  And then a huge tank with goldfish, lilypads, and a Cypress Tree — yes, that’s right, a Cypress tree.
And this beautiful squash plant was tucked right in with flowering perennials.  I love those little surprises!
Lee and Phillip, our two hosts, stop to pontificate over critical gardening information…or maybe they were talking about the Sangria – I’m not sure.

The garden had several beautiful towering Amaranths — a stunning fuchsia.
Mexican Bush Sage, Firecracker bush, grasses and a treasure trove of other perennials call this garden home.


So, this is the story of the day.  Apparently Phillip had a Century Plant flower and produce a 6-8 foot bloom – full of THOUSANDS of Agave pups, and he put our names on paper spread down the length of the bloom for each of us to take a handful, or two, or three!  I know how it works, the mother plant dies and this is how they go on, but I’d never seen it up close and there are almost no words to describe how amazing it is.  

THANK YOU to Lee and Phillip and their families for inviting us into their homes and gardens.  They were all delightful hosts, dogs and kids included, too.