planters

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.

Succulent planter filled with fun foliage…

When we put gutters on the cabana, I took down my rain chain and moved the large, smooth stone-filled terra cotta basin sitting at the bottom of it.

I rehung the rain chain (for decor only) from a tree, since we had no other place for it to channel rain. The basin sat in the woods, forgotten, for quite some time.

This weekend I decided to put it to good use, turning it into a lovely succulent planter. I collected several different kinds of succulents to provide interesting texture, form and color. I filled the basin with lots of large rocks at the bottom, then used decomposed granite mixed with soil for the fill and placed another layer of DG for the top.

Then came the dilemma – where to place it? I couldn’t really put it out front in an existing bed – the deer would eat it there. I didn’t have an appropriate sunny space in the back where I would get to see it.

So I decided I wouldn’t put it on the ground inside of a bed, I’d raise it up on a stand so it wouldn’t get lost.

After a trip to At Home (what used to be Garden Ridge – I think I’m doomed to call it Garden Ridge forever! Or at least “what used to be Garden Ridge!”), I found a stable enough plant table of a suitable height.

I’ve placed it by the front door. The deer DO come up to the door on rare occasions – I know I am taking a risk, but I like it here. And I can see it, especially now that we have created a kitchen and breakfast room in the entryway while our kitchen and family room are being remodeled.

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.


Stunning L.A. garden’s lovely vignettes delight at every turn…

We discovered a rustic paradise among the gardens we visited in L.A. last weekend (you can see the other garden I’ve already blogged about here).  We drove around and around to the top of a steep hill with spectacular views of the mountains, where our generous hosts, Joy and Roland, welcomed us.

A large, sleek kitchen, entertaining and living area became part of the outdoor experience, with huge floor-to-ceiling glass doors that opened entirely. As the inside intermingled with the outdoors, multiple seating and viewing vignettes were scattered around the fully cleared top of the hill.

After some wine and appetizers, we headed to the path to make our way down the hill.

 Sumptuous succulents filled containers, nooks, and crannies at every turn.

 A whole host of focal points shine at strategic places winding down the hill.

 These succulents spill off of the hill as you approach the house from the driveway.

The Joy and Roland have added layers and pathways over many years, creating mini beds and spots to sit and appreciate the view different vantage points.

 This is a collector’s garden – filled with a wide variety of succulents and other plants, adding interesting contrast, color and texure.

Carefully crafted stonework with unique designs defines the slope — a artful masterpiece in itself.

The attention to detail is so striking.

 More nooks and crannies flank the entrance to the spectacular wine cellar.

 Cut into the side of the earth, the cellar was mercifully cool on a 100+ degree day.  I felt as if I had stepped back in time – with cool stone and rows of bottles inside – offering just enough room for an intimate wine party.  A long hallway will soon be connected via tunnel to just outside the house, the next major project already planned and waiting to be implemented.

This would be my favorite seat in the garden.  Close up and far away, both views equally enchanting.

 Empty on the way down, but by the time we came by again, someone had taken up residence in my spot.

Fully content and unfazed by visitors to his garden, the dog, Domino,  thinks this is a great spot, too.

In front of the bench, a delightful pond filled with koi provides entertainment as the Koi dart around under the shade of beautiful plants.

A statuesque heron stands guard over the koi, who also have many deep areas to hide for predators, just in case the heron falls asleep on the job!

Don’t forget to look up.

I could sit for hours and watch the fish and the view; electronic devices have nothing on this.

Another outdoor room awaits.

More vertical gardening — these mid-century modern hanging planters from Potted bring color and contrast to this magical hot tub oasis.  (More posts to come, as we visited both Potted and the home of the store’s owner on this fabulous trip.)

Rustic and natural, this hideaway brings outdoor living to a new dimension.

 I also saw these planters in the garden of a fellow blogger in Seattle who blogs at Danger Garden.

The echo of a subtle orange glow on the tips of these succulents is an artful planting design touch.

Another view up the hill, filled with interesting plants, containers and found garden art that Joy has collected over the years, like this sweet deer statue.

The mostly mild California climate yields big, beautiful plants like these aloes.

 The repetition of these gorgeous anemones creates a dramatic ridge along the hillside.

I’ve tried to grow these in Austin with no success.  But I’ve see them used as stunning elements in LA, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle gardens.

Nestled ear the top of the hill, this greenhouse is home to garden tools and pots now, and awaits more delicate plants as the weather cools.

By the end of our visit, Domino tired of us and went back to his own bed to take a break from the sweltering heat.

A huge thanks to Joy and Roland, for your hospitality and for opening your home and garden to us. The garden is magical, and masterfully crafted and I loved spending time in it and I’m pleased to be able to share a small part of it with others through this blog post.

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.

Dramatic Danger Garden makes a point to welcome visitors from Portland Garden Bloggers Fling

The Portland Garden Bloggers Fling this summer delivered on every level.  I love visiting gardens all around the country and getting to know so many of the garden bloggers that I follow online. 

Learning about new plants from different zones is sometimes a double-edged sword. After falling  love with them, I realize they are not appropriate for my garden, and I’m forced to walk away from them at local nurseries because they don’t make the survivability cut for my suitcase. 

But not so in Danger Garden‘s amazing landscape.  Filled with agaves and yuccas and cacti that will not only grow but thrive in my Central Texas garden, it was dangerous indeed.  The danger – that I will come home inspired to search for many of the fascinating plants in her garden.

Garden bloggers prepare for the big tour – cameras at the ready!

Succulents like these like plenty of drainage — pea gravel and decomposed granite make excellent growing mediums for them.

We were welcomed to the garden with refreshing cold drinks and snacks.  A blistering hot day (for Portland and an outdoor garden tour) seemed appropriate as we ooohed and aaahed over Danger Garden’s heat-loving plants.

With space at a premium in this garden, container vegetables lined the driveway.

Pavers and bricks and patio stones created unique design angles to lead visitors through the garden and provide contrast to neighboring plants.

Leaving no area empty, trendy and perky hanging planters were scattered throughout the garden.

A riot of color and form, many non-succulent plants provided a softer foil to the more dangerous elements in the garden.

A small square of grass provides a place for the eye to rest while feasting on all the delightful plant specimens that surround it.

Agaves, yuccas and … hostas?  Yep – these water and shade-loving plants work side-by-side in this garden.

So many unique succulents to see.

Tucked in the back is a Zen-like covered patio area for relaxing.

These shiny metal planters give height and interest to the sea of succulents.

And pots — pots everywhere.  Each and every one different.

With clean lines and a contemporary feel, the patio offers a peaceful respite from the sun.

No empty spaces, here, either…

A unique horizontal fence is flanked in the back corner of the garden by tall plants of every conceivable kind.

Even within a bed, containers showcase specimen plants.

Little pops of color make me smile.

This bed looks like a miniature forest of tiny succulents.

The biggest danger in this garden?  Falling in love with the wonderful plants and the delightful design.