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Garden Bloggers Fling cottage-style garden of Casa Mariposa

Long, hot days and late nights aside, the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling, held two weekends ago in the Northern Virginia/DC area, had it all.  Surrounded by friends old and new, we toured botanical gardens, private gardens and the many gardens along the National Mall in D.C.

The Fling team did a fabulous job of hosting and things ran like clockwork.  Our chief organizer and hostess writes a garden blog at Casa Mariposa.  We were all excited to see her garden in person.

This quaint arbor and gate mark the entrance to the back garden.

The back garden was overflowing with a rainbow of blooms .

The back was a pollinator’s paradise,

Sweet birdhouses dotted the garden.

A collection of pots and garden art lined the back steps into the house.

A dry creek helps with drainage and provides a hardscape contrast to the delicate flowers.

The shady parts of the garden are brightened by variegated plants.

Bloggers, bloggers everywhere!

I may have to steal this clever idea.  Since dogs always want to run the fence line, we need to work with them, not against them! A cleverly concealed little fence gives the dogs room to run to their hearts’ content without tearing through the beds.

I loved all of the complimentary and contrasting colors in her garden.  I think this combination was my favorite. Opposites really do attract!

Stayed tuned for many more posts about the beautiful Fling gardens.

Morning sun in a shady spot…

There was an undercurrent of cool in the air this morning.  It almost felt like fall.  Almost.  But the forecast for today is 97.  No kidding.  Unbelievable.

Standing on the front porch watering pots, the light was beautiful, highlighting a very shady corner of the garden with the only sun it ever gets.  Surrounded on 3 sides by house and growing under the high canopy of majestic oaks and a pomegranate, it only gets a dribble of filtered morning sun through the trees.

Because it’s so protected and the area takes a long time to dry out after rain or watering, it doesn’t need a lot of extra water, which is a plus.

Root beer plant (Hoya santo ) – which means sacred leaf in Spanish) forms a commanding background for Pam’s pink Turk’s cap (Malavisious drummondii ‘Pam Puryear’)and Persian Shield (Stobilanthes dyerianus). Look closely and you can see the Poms coming on in the tree.

I’ll propagate the Persian shield before it gets cold and those new plants will live through the winter in the greenhouse.  It is an annual here and I have to replace the plants every year.  Such a striking plant in the garden, I wouldn’t be without them.  The deer will eat them, but these are up against the house and I’ve been lucky with them in this spot.  The deer would almost have to ring the doorbell to get at them. (And now, of course, they’ll get eaten since I bragged that I’ve outsmarted them!)

Though it’s a later bloomer than it’s red Turk’s cap cousin, I love the pop of pink it adds to this space.

This umbrella plant (Cypereus involucratus), just across the dry creek from the other plants, comes back year after year, giving a great texture and contrast to this space.

This is one of my favorite spots in the garden.  And, it requires absolutely no care and it bursts forth beautifully every year without any help from me.  You can’t beat that kind of performance.

Inside Austin Gardens tour showcases an oasis in Texas heat

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

Flashy Natives – bright and colorful
Sunbathing Natives – brutal, full sun
Shady Natives – shade and under trees
Death-Defying Natives – especially hardy, minimal water
Cottage Natives – Texas tough classics
Oh Deer! – deer-resistant, not deer-proof
Native Testing Ground – new varieties and proven winners

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.

Shady Natives at 4603 Palisade Drive
This lush garden feels like an oasis in our Texas heat.  With great garden bones and a hardy plant palette, a wide variety of plants play off one another, incorporating contrasting textures, forms and colors.  The garden is very colorful, but even when plants aren’t blooming, the array of interesting foliage makes this a beautiful garden year-round.  This garden was started in 1980, and the owners had their work cut out for them as the property was overrun with Asian jasmine ground cover and had to treat for oak wilt 3 times.  It’s a stunning garden – one of my favorites of the tour.  Don’t miss this one!

Golden champagne sky dusts Turk’s cap…

After a whirlwind 5 days in Los Angeles touring friends’ gardens and attending the Garden Writers Association Annual Symposium, it felt good to be home today, tending to business again.  I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and promise to post about it soon.  As soon as I go through the 1,029 photos that I took!

But tonight I’ve taken a break.  As I watered and walked through the garden this evening, the setting sun painted a lovely glow on the Turk’s cap.

It’s good to be back in my garden again.