The spring garden…pots, pots and more pots!

Spring is usually pretty warm here in Central Texas, and this year is no exception.  A few spring bloomers actually had a shorter lifespan because it got hot pretty quickly, but it’s been delightful to see Jerusalem sage, salvias and black foot daisies in bloom.

I’ve spent the last week or so working on clean-up chores and some planting.  We had company for dinner outside last night and so Friday and Saturday were spent planting the pots on the back patio and scrubbing the oak pollen and blowing leaves. (It’s all back this morning – with a vengeance – but it’s a rite of passage and I know it won’t last forever.)

I had a great idea as I was trying to be efficient in crafting combinations for the outside pots — take a picture of each pot so I could see what was missing or what was already in a pot nearby so I could coordinate colors, textures, forms, etc.  Wow.  What a smart idea.  And then I forgot to do it and  I still found myself at the nursery buying annuals trying to remember and guess and buy enough.  I always think of it like Thanksgiving dinner – you have to finish with that perfect combo of food on your last forkful, or you need more potatoes, or gravy…  I need another filler, or another spiller…  If you’re addicted to pots like I am, you get it.

And, yes, every year — EVERY year — I say …less pots, less pots…and then plants just jump into my nursery cart.

They’re all so pretty and bright.

I love all the hot, tropical color combinations.

Of course the dogs have to help!

It looks so inviting.  I wanted to sit down, I really did, but there was pollen to blow!

This is my favorite spot.  I’ll get to sit there soon — maybe tomorrow morning with a quick cup of tea before the week hits in full force.

More Chanticleer magic — the Tea Cup Garden

I really had no sense of the vastness that awaited me in all three of the gardens that my friend, Pam, of Digging, and I visited on our recent trip to the Brandywine Valley area of Pennsylvania.

Upon entering the third garden, Chanticleer, on the third morning of our trip, the sun was already high in the sky and the day was heating up. The entrance area is rather small – a covered outdoor area on a patio with a nice selection of planters and a desk where the staff politely welcomed us. We started where most people start, entering through the small Kitchen Courtyard Garden just beyond the entrance.

The initial courtyard is filled with creative planters as well as fresh flowers.

Each day, the gardeners scatter fresh-cut flowers in vases and containers like this throughout the garden. These float gently on top of the water in this pot.

Filled with an array of tempting tropicals, the next garden, beyond the ornate gate, is the Tea Cup Garden. It is said to change significantly from year to year or even season to season, as most of its plants don’t overwinter in the this cold-climate garden. Come on in, the weather’s fine.

Taken by this delicate display, Pam captures it with her camera.

Now, my turn!

I love the reflection of the light in the sky against the glass table top, adding another dimension to this vignette.

The namesake of this garden, a tea cup-like planter, provides the focal point of the inner courtyard filled with tropical plants.

Groupings of pots add interest around the perimeter of the courtyard on the right.

The left side of the courtyard includes a raised bed garden, filled with alliums, punctuated by two stunning ceramic planters with silver ponyfoot and bromeliads.

This marks only the beginning of the garden’s vast display of bromeliads. To add to the level of detail in both garden design and identification, Chanticleer’s website includes a meticulously created plant list for each garden. Which, by the way, changes with the seasons and the years. I assumed it would just be an alphabetical list, which would have made IDing plants complicated. Then I clicked on the link and found this
— amazing.

With a small collection of bromeliads, I can’t wait to get all my posts done and then take a good look at the plant list to start making my own wish list!

This delicate peach Brugmansia, ‘Charles Grimaldi,’ rests in a clever container, contrasting beautifully with the rich, eggplant colors of Begonia ‘sparks will fly’ and Neoregelia ‘Elwood.’
So, finally I get to the alliums.

My love affair with alliums began in 2009 at the site of the second Garden Bloggers Fling in Chicago. You can see my post about that tour here

I tried twice to grow them in Austin, but our weather heated up much too quickly for them (at least in the years I tried to grow them) and the foliage was fried to a crisp before they reached 1/2 of their mature height. I even planted varieties specifically known to grow in Zone 9, but it just wasn’t meant to be. So, they hold a special interest for me on garden tours to more temperate climates. I’ll have to settle for enjoying the onion blooms in my veggie garden.

Their kaleidoscope structure is even more intriguing up close and personal.

Naturally, Pam and I had to take a selfie with them, though they sort of look like they’re coming out of the back of our heads!

There were so many more beautiful plants and vignettes in the Tea Cup Garden — these are just the highlights. Next, we’ll venture further into the garden. If you missed my first two posts about our fabulous garden trip, you can find them here – Chanticleer’s Ruin Garden
, and here – Longwood Conservatory Garden post #1
(also filled with bromeliads).

I haven’t had time to post all week, but it feels great to “stroll” through my garden photos and share my memories with you. I’ll have another one soon!

Inside Austin Gardens tour features delightful deer resistant garden…

Last week I got a preview of the wonderful gardens that will be on the popular  Master Gardeners Inside Austin Gardens Tour 2015 on Saturday, October 17.  The tour provides a rare look inside six private gardens and a public experimental garden. 

With the theme of For Gardeners, By Gardenersthe tour showcases 7 gardens with distinctly different garden styles.  Each garden focuses on practical beauty, plant variety, and native or well-adapted plants.

Tickets for all 7 gardens are $19 in advance or $20 at any garden location on the day of the tour. Single garden tickets for $5 can also be purchased at each garden.  Purchase advance tickets here.

This is my sneak peek into the Oh Deer! – deer-resistant, not deer-proof garden at:
4503 Mountain Path Dr 78759

This is a garden I’ve had the pleasure of visiting many times.  It belongs to my good friend, Pam Penick, author of the garden blog, Digging, and the book, Lawn Gone. I’ve watched her transform this deer-resistant garden from a pedestrian suburban space when she and her husband bought this house, to the magical creation it is today.  She’s taken advantage of each of the garden’s unique spaces, adding interesting elements, a wonderful plant palette and a unique blend of styles.  Her recent addition of brightly colored stucco walls makes a dramatic impact in her garden.  Water features, eclectic art and a wonderful array of  plants await you at this delightful garden.  And the entire front garden frustrates Bambi and her family with its deer resistant variety of plants.  You don’t want to miss it.

Beautiful garden outshines the view on this LA hilltop home…

Last week I flew out to trendy Los Angeles with my garden travel friend, Pam Penick, of Digging, for the Garden Writers Symposium.  We started our trip to the Golden State with some visits to the gardens of fellow garden bloggers, writers and designers.

Our first stop was the garden of Kris Peterson, who blogs at Late to the Garden Party.  We were late arriving, due to a flight delay, and missed meeting several other bloggers who were gathering to have lunch with us.  We were sad to miss the other gardeners and another garden tour, and we were sad to miss lunch! (We followed my standard M.O. for travel:  eat at every opportunity – you never know when you’ll get your next meal!)

We blew in like the wind – dismayed at being late and in a hurry to get there and meet Kris in person.

We took one look outside and stopped dead in our tracks.

You were going to ask why, weren’t you?  But now there’s no need to ask, is there?

This is the backyard view from her garden.  It’s amazing.  And her garden is equally amazing.  I soon lost track of the view as she led us from one beautiful vignette to another.  Creatively composed and expertly woven, the garden is a collector’s garden that flows like the water in the distance.

Nestled in many parts of her garden, Kris has included a wide variety of containers with water-wise succulents like these.

These little lovelies caught my attention.  While the hot, unforgiving sunlight made photographing the garden difficult, I did the best I could with these Eustoma grandiflorum ‘Echo Pink’ flowers.

Through much of the side garden, hardy ground covers spread between the stones.

Entwined among the layers of the garden, these beautiful Pennisetum advena ‘rubrum’ blow in the breeze.

 I love this stunning color and texture combination.

This arbor frames the view of the harbor as the garden path transitions from the side to the back. Talk about a focal point!

Mimicking the arbor on the side (or vice versa, depending on which approach you’re taking), this is the entrance to the front door.

 Lovely wooden benches with colorful pillows and potted plants flank the entrance.

Along the street, Kris has created a wonderful succulent garden with a cornucopia of textures, colors and forms.

My garden touring pal, Pam, of Digging, stops to smile for the camera, and me, before we head out of the garden.

 This stunning and lovingly crafted garden was the perfect start to our adventures around L.A.  Thanks, again, Kris, for your hospitality.  Loved getting to share in your garden.

Summer gardening with nice weather and good soil…

Every year, we travel to Indiana to visit Jeff’s family.  About an hour north of Indianapolis in farm country, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

The weather is cooler, the soil is blacker, the life is simpler.  I feel the stress of life back home drift away as we whiz by field after field of corn and soybeans.  Each visit includes some exploration into native plants and unfamiliar gardens filled with peonies, lilacs, conifers and other plants that would turn to toast in Central Texas.

My mother-in-law’s planters are always stunning.  The feathery grass between my toes provides a sharp contrast between the no-bare-feet-ever policy I adhere to at home to protect myself from biting fire ants.

And then there are the tomatoes.  Oh my.  Seriously delicious.  Real seasons, rich soil, cooler summer nights … I don’t know why, but Eleanor’s tomatoes seem better than any others here on earth.  And we ate them, along with fresh sweet corn, morning, noon and night. Yumm-o.

Jeff’s family also raises Belgian draft horses – gentle giants that punctuate the landscape.  Four mares are making their home there this summer, but 20 years ago there were 28 in the lots and barns around the farm.  One of the highlights of our summer visit, the Indiana State Fair Draft Horse Show has been run and worked by Ellers for four generations now.

Jeff, his sister, Lisa, and nephew, Ashton.

I’m also a junk food junkie, and I avail myself of every opportunity to eat something fried, greasy, or sugary.  This year, I had a beef sundae for breakfast at the beef producers’ tent.  Tender, pull apart roast beef, covered with mashed potatoes, corn and gravy.  Mmmmmm. So good.  My nephew, Ashton, who is on the State Fair Board, took us to breakfast in his golf cart and then we toured the Agriculture and Horticulture building, which he helps oversee and run.  He opted for a hotdog — the $2 Tuesday special that day.  Two lemonade/iced tea shake-ups and some cheese fries found their way into me before we left for the day.

My favorite in the Ag/Hort Building?  The giant cheese sculpture!  How.  I could really make some queso with that!

Can’t forget the midway.

Look at that HAIR!!!!

Our last event of the day — the dog show.  These wonderful rescue pups performed daring feats of acrobatic skill and delighted the crowd.  And the cute factor was off of the charts!

One morning we woke to a cool, damp 57 degrees, with a whisper of fog settling over the fields. This photo captures the peaceful, picturesque countryside of Indiana farmland.

Back home in Indiana, 2015.

Art defines stunning garden on Ohio visit to Louise and Kylee…

After visiting Kylee of Our Little Acre ‘s garden in northwest Ohio on Monday, we had a delightful lunch with her mother, Louise, of Two Girls with a Purpose, who many garden bloggers know and remember from so many Garden Bloggers Flings as Kylee’s traveling companion. 

Louise’s garden overflows with beautiful garden art.  From family carvings and creations to blown glass and commissioned art, the art is as much a part of the garden as the plants.

A very recent addition, Louise commissioned the creation of the giant metal scroll in the front garden What a statement as you enter the front walkway.

Sadly, in this photo I accidentally cut off the bird’s head at the top of this sculpture – but here’s a better view of it below.  She’s now having another bird made to replace the one she added to the rocks below the sculpture.

He’s ready for his cousin to come join him.

These gorgeous horizontal planters flank the front door.  Welcome!

Bright blue glass globes light up this little bed.

 This colorful vertical planter adds Garden Up interest to the brick wall.

A quiet little corner of her side bed evokes a zen-like feeling with this iron pot (originally from China), junipers, conifers and the gentle Buddha.

As we strolled around the beds, this looked like a wonderful place to take a rest.

Oops, can’t sit there!  How clever.

Water features adorn her garden around every corner – whimsical places for birds to drink and bathe.

The sculptural pruning of this tree creates a lovely backdrop for the roses and grasses.

 After the rains, these drooping pine needles and cones were stunning.  I so wish we could grow some of these evergreens in Austin.  I have tree envy.

As we wandered further into the garden, Louise said it was really wet and we should take off our shoes.  I can’t tell you how absolutely delightful it was to walk through the soft, cool grass.  Without fear of vicious fire ants, cracked earth, limestone rocks or other unpleasant creatures.  It took me back to my childhood and time spent on my Mammaw and Pappaw’s farm in Kentucky – running barefoot through the wispy Kentucky blue grass. 

 Hmmm…the perfect idea for using extra pavers or bricks.

 A little protected outside nook houses more art.

 How many garden decor items can you count in this sweet vignette?

Frog antics in yet another birdbath.

 Oh my, ferns and heuchera and creeping jenny and a mushroom!  All familiar things I enjoy in my garden, too.

 I recognize that — it’s a giant saucer hibiscus — not the same variety as mine, but just as tall.

The blooms were really putting on a show for us.

One of my favorite color combinations.  Can you tell which one of these purple blooms is a piece of metal garden art and which is a spent allium?

And around the corner to another little peaceful space with moving art that Louise bought when we were at the fling in Seattle.

 This I loved — Kylee and her mom both had one of these trellises – one of  Kylee’s  Lowe’s projects.

 Birdbath and sculpture all in one.

 A brief glimpse through the trees.

 This looks like a great place to sit with an iced tea and ponder your next garden project.

 Another long view of the bed border with the succulent chair on the very right.

And now for a big garden room for spending the afternoon with friends.

 Although, those swings look like they’d be perfect for napping!

 These glass balls, created by a local artist, include textured pieces that allow butterflies to land on them.

 Precious little details on the posts of the garden room.

What a cool planter hanging in the garden room – and another interesting vertical focal point.

Love these rudbeckias — I might have to try to find some for my garden.

More places for bird to drink.

This intricately-carved man standing watch over the garden was carved by someone in Louise’s family but I can’t remember if it was her father or Kylee’s father – Louise?

So many lovely vignettes and creative ideas greeted me throughout this garden.  Louise’s personality and love for art was evident everywhere I turned. 

Next, a tour of the amazing Children’s Garden and park that Louise helped plan and create in her home town.