cacti

Delightful garden tour on a challenging slope …

It’s a treat to get together once a month with other Austin garden bloggers to share stories, enjoy each others’ gardens, eat, drink and pass along plants at our plant swap.

On Saturday, we were treated to double the fun.  In addition to our monthly gathering at the stunning garden of David and Jenny of Rock Rose, we also ventured nearby to their neighbors and were given a guided tour of another beautiful garden.

Located on approximately one and one third acre, this garden’s hills and vales are interwoven with ribbons of rock and drainage solutions that blend into the landscape. 

As we walked into the back yard, I was immediately drawn to this line of dramatic whale’s tongue agaves.  They sit perched atop a river rock berm, surrounded by softer foliage that draws the eye far out into the garden.

Here’s a longer shot of how they are incorporated into this first layer of the overall landscape.

A closer look at the other plants reveals a cottage-like aesthetic, complete with a bird bath, gazing ball and obelisk to serve as focal points throughout the space.

The blend of sun-loving plants crosses traditional garden style boundaries in some areas, making the garden more intriguing.

Then the path evolved into a more desert-like garden, filled with sculptural cacti and agaves and garden art.

As dry as the garden appeared, it was hard to imagine the torrential rains that must have swept through these beds only days before.

As you keep meandering through the back of the garden, you wind your way through a shadier, wooded pathway.

Just as the garden becomes sunnier again, so does the garden decor.  Brilliant pops of orange and cobalt blue are sprinkled throughout this section of the landscape.

Hot garden plants fill the brightly colored planters.

A single orange slice of wall acts as a backdrop for this dramatic planter, home to either a sago palm or a dioon edule.

More beautiful tropicals.

This is a view from the garden back to the house and a covered patio area. 

Another painted wall houses this creative trellis displaying an array of cacti in terra cotta pots.

Just past the driveway, this colorful rooster seems to be peering through the salvia to spy on our group of gardeners.

This chocolate mimosa makes a striking statement against this dark wooden gate the the bright limestone.

This Asian-style bench welcomes visitors as they near the front door — and just beyond — this imposing soldier seems to be guarding the entry area as well.

The garden was spectacular — I loved not only the collection of plants, but also the fascinating garden sculpting to address drainage issues.

Special thanks to the homeowners for inviting us to share in their beautiful space.

Hill country garden charm in the heart of San Antonio…

The last stop on our visit to San Antonio gardens was another xeric garden, filled with drought-tolerant plants, both soft and sculptural. You can come along on the first two gardens of tour with me to see Melody’s and Heather’s gardens here.

Then we toured the garden of Shirley, who blogs at  Rock, Oak, Deer.  I ‘d seen Shirley’s garden through her camera lens many times, yet when we arrived, I was surprised to find that she wasn’t gardening in the country, but in a suburban neighborhood.  Her style and plant choices created an oasis that made the rest of the world seem far away.

Well-placed plants serve to let the grasses and yuccas and perennials all shine.

Shirley uses repetition in her garden to create a dramatic effect.

Definition draws the eye through the space.

In the back yard, the focus is on perennials and grasses.  Her rustic shed with its cedar posts and porch make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.  The arbor on the right is the entry for a deer-proof fence, protecting delicate plants and vegetables from the curious and hungry deer.

Leading to the shed, this circle garden is filled to the brim with flowing perennials and grasses.

Her unique rock garden design is home to a lovely collection of yuccas, cacti and agaves.

Rustic art and pots are scattered about to add interest throughout the garden.

The river rock path guides you around the plant-filled stock tank and circle garden to the shed.

Garden art on a rustic table is tucked away in the shade.

Whimsical elements make true garden art from a simple grapevine.

A collection of sweet somethings brighten up the front of the shed.

Because deer are frequent guests to the back yard, extra protection for new or special plants is a must. This rough cedar fence fits right into the landscape.

Up on the the large, shady deck, succulent planters adorn the windowsills.

All around the deck, pots and paraphernalia bring color to the shady spots.

Even the outdoor fireplace boasts a collection of perky little pots.

Since we’ve toured Austin gardens often with Shirley, it was a special treat to wander through her garden with her.  The entire garden was intentional and peaceful.  She’s clearly mastered the art of gardening with the rocks, oaks and deer that she writes about.  Special thanks to Shirley and her husband for hosting us in your garden.

Flora Grubb delights bloggers with pots, plants and garden design and decor

Come on in.

Where to start?

Our 6th annual Garden Bloggers Fling in the San Francisco area this year was phenomenal.  The Fling crew, Kelly KilpatrickAndrea Fox, Charlotte, Claire and Maggie, did an amazing job of crafting a program filled with beautiful private gardens, public gardens and nurseries.  They babied us and fed us well and it was so fun to gather with friends, old and new, and join together to discover the Bay area.  

As we began our Fling, we all laughingly said that they can grow everything in California.  After these garden tours, I think it may be true!

I’m starting my blog posts from the end.  After numerous problems with my computer and iPhoto (all self- created problems having to do with TOO many files – 18,000 photos – even after moving 5 years worth of photos elsewhere), these are the photos I’ve uploaded so these are the photos you get to see!

Our last stop – a shopping tour and  reception filled with wonderful food and drinks – at the well-known nursery, Flora Grubb.  Wow. 

The nursery had me on garden overload with its unique plants, bursts of hot color and just plain old cool stuff.  Creative vignettes like this classic car overflowing with ferns and phormium captured our attention.

This exotic staghorn fern makes me think of Medusa as it spills out of this Buddha head planter.

The pruning of this palm tree created a live piece of sculptural garden art.

Endless bromeliads – loving the heat and humidity of the Bay area – and paired with hot pots.

Or succulents sitting side-by-side in cool concrete.

Flora Grubb did the landscaping for nearby gardens, and we got a walking tour of the area, which included these great yuccas.

I loved this plant – tibouchina – and was pondering its viability here in Austin, Texas, when Kelly came along, laughed at me, and said: 

“No, it won’t grow in Austin, but it will grow in my garden!”

Then she snatched one up and sauntered up to the cash register!  I had to laugh.  I had a case of serious plant envy by this point without a doubt.

Inside the store, we were surrounded by more beautiful pots and decor.

As things were winding down, and I sat to chat with friends, I almost didn’t notice the cool trenched table inlaid with succulents.  I knew I couldn’t get this in my suitcase.  Think I could make one? Hmmmm…

Each year at the Fling, there seems to be one specific plant that’s in its full glory in almost every garden we visit.  In Buffalo, I remember the mondarda, in Chicago, I remember the alliums.  From the San Francisco fling, I will always remember the over-the-top phormium we found in almost every garden.  We’re a little too hot and a little too dry to grow them here, but you can bet money I’m gonna try!  Maybe in a pot, in a carefully chosen spot and lots of TLC.  (No work involved in trying to grow this plant!) 

Here’s a glimpse of what I brought home in my suitcase – a succulent, a fern and a few tilandsias along with a trio of metal planters and some red long beans.  I would have liked to fill a truck with so much more and drive it home, but that would have been impractical.

This was a spectacular ending to a wonderful Fling.  Thanks to everyone who helped by working, hosting, opening their homes, and sponsoring our special event.

Beautiful, xeric plants in the Sonoran Desert Landscape

Against the backdrop of the rugged Santa Catalina Mountains, tough, structural plants dot the landscape of the Sonoran Desert.

The Garden Writers Association Symposium Tucson, Arizona, included several days of tours of local gardens — an excellent introduction to the unique beauty of the desert.

 This is the view from the lobby of the La Paloma Resort where the symposium was held.

 Cacti, yuccas,  hardy woody perennials and trees thrive in the desert, where the temperatures soar into the 100s throughout the summer, yet also dip below freezing in winter.

 These cool, columnar Mexican Fencepost cacti (Pachycereus marginatus) bring height to the flat desert expanse.

 This desert garden was full of nooks and crannies filled with smaller species of cacti and aloes.  With approximately 2,500 different species of cacti, and about 400 different kinds of aloes, there are plenty from which to choose.

 Pots and other garden art and decor provided strong bursts of color in many of the desert gardens we toured.

 This citrus grove at the Benedictine Order of the Sisters of Adoration was lush with fruit.  The trunks are painted white to help cool the trees.

There were some more tropical plants — like these palms — throughout the desert, though clearly they require much more water to survive the harsh climate.

The light on the mountains at dawn and dusk was stunning. Inspiring hues of coral and lavender wash over the horizon, enveloping the harsh landscape in a robe of gauzy color.