Hot art and design spice up Portland De Sousa Fling garden

Full to the brim with ideas and a mile-long wish list of plants that I know I can’t grow here, I’m reacclimating to Austin and my own garden after 6 glorious days in Portland, OR.

My seventh Garden Bloggers Fling beckoned last weekend – with an agenda full of great friends, gardens, nurseries, and gift shops. 

The whirlwind started early and ended late and wowed me all day long every day.  Because there were so many gardens in every imaginable style – I just closed my eyes today and blindly picked one to begin my posting.

The JJ De Sousa garden was one of my favorites.  Hot colors created a riot of interest in the garden – plants and art and seating everywhere shouting “look at me, look at me.”  The rich and sophisticated hues of tropical colors were designed to brighten the shady spots of this garden and to celebrate the hot, sunny spaces.

 This whimsical gate welcomes visitors.

 The colors of the tropics permeate everything in the garden, plants, pottery and decor.

 The plants looked happy and healthy everywhere I turned.  Ah, the benefits of some rain in the garden.

 Pots and gazing balls coordinate and contrast.

 The side garden ends with a fabulous wooden gate — which leads to another pocket of paradise.

 Come on in, the party’s in here!

 More whimsical art sets the mood for this garden.

 Every little nook and cranny was filled with some sweet something designed to delight the senses.

 This precious little statue is squirreling away succulents instead of seeds.

 This regal Egyptian dog statue comes down to earth with clematis and nasturtiums trailing all around.

 These tall, elegant vases, capped with aeonium, added a little note of sophistication.

 One of many seating areas that welcomed visitors to sit a spell.

Color joined texture in this garden — smooth ceramic pots, gritty gray concrete and the sleek look of the corrugated tin made a cool combo.

 Ahhh – I could sit here for hours!

 And, a little humor.  Chicken nesting boxes now home to hens and chicks … ha ha.

And just past the shrimp plant in this bed, a colorful stock tank water feature with a metal shrimp  sculpture and glass globes.  Look up whimsy in the dictionary — this is the photo you’ll find.

The same burst of colors that enriched the shady front garden, with a drier, sunnier twist.

 More whimsy around the corner.

 This Buddha statue, hidden among the trees, looked just like a giant gummi bear.

 There were little vignettes like this everywhere.

More color, radiating everywhere.

And back through the gate again.

This was one of many Portland gardens on the tour to feature trendy tropical-style colors and decor.  But beyond the design, this hot garden would brighten any cloudy day.  It certainly brightened mine.

Striking waterwise garden a hidden gem in the heart of the city…

A gardening road trip beckoned this weekend as I joined my friend and fellow blogger, Pam Penick, for a visit to Houston for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Day’s Tour.

 This was my favorite garden in Houston, and it wasn’t even on the tour.  We were leaving the last house on the tour and lo and behold around the corner we happened upon this amazing display.

This garden is so uncharacteristic for Houston, where most of the gardens we toured were filled with azaleas blooming in a riot of pinks, nestled in with boxwoods and other manicured evergreen shrubs.

We parked immediately and hopped out to oggle the space and take some photos.  Hearing us from the balcony above, the owner, an architect, popped her head over and asked if we’d like to come in and see the rest of the garden.

“Oh, YES, please.”   (You don’t have to ask us twice!)

The front was filled with soap aloes, sedums, cacti, agaves, and silver pony foot – cascading and winding its way in between an ocean of water wise succulents.

Rustic pipes added an element of elevation to one end of the garden and put this blue glow agave on a pedestal for display.

These succulents arranged in the shallow pipe created a cacophony of color, echoing the colors of the other plants in the garden.

At the corner of the front gate, we get a little peek into and out of the front courtyard.  The fencing is entwined with a dragon fruit, giving the view both ways an interesting perspective, almost as exotic as the fruit itself.

Since it IS Houston, we weren’t surprised to see this planter with a beautiful aeonium, a succulent that I have found a little hard to grow in the dry environment in Austin.  It seems happy in Houston.

This beautiful current pool is both refreshing to the eye and great for exercising, in spite of its location in a smaller courtyard.

Adjacent to the pool inside the courtyard is a lush vegetable garden.  As we were visiting with the owner, who designed the garden and the house herself, she shared with us that the house is sustainable and filled with eco friendly features, from rainwater collection to solar panels and many other cutting edge elements.  We went around the side to get a good look at their rainwater collection tank, which holds water funneled down from the house roof.

Overflowing with hospitality, she then invited us up to see the balcony, which gave us a wonderful view of the courtyard below.  She and her husband also have a home the lake near Austin, where she was inspired by the more “Austin-esque” aesthetic she incorporated into their Houston home.

The back patio area was serene and minimalist, with a cool, almost Asian feel to it.

Pam and I couldn’t believe our luck.  First, in finding this gem, and second, in the opportunity to visit at length with an architect and designer who created this amazing space.

Garden fest delights…

A gaggle of garden geeks took over the Zilker Botanical Gardens on Saturday and Sunday for the annual Zilker Garden Fest.

Mom and Dad and I were there bright and early when they opened at 10 a.m. Saturday.  Two wagons in tow, we were prepared to fill them to the brim.

The festival includes everything garden, not just plants.  These gourd planters were among the most creative things I saw.

Love these little birds — I keep thinking I want one hanging in my garden and wish I’d gotten one now that I see my picture!

And then there are the beautiful gardens — being surrounded by all the beautiful plants and vignettes of Zilker would inspire anyone to buy plants and stuff!

East Austin Succulents had a great display of their plants.  I bought one – keep reading and I’ll show it to you.

More of beautiful Zilker Garden.

The plant I didn’t get.  I browse a little first and then sometimes go back to buy things – sadly, someone else had already snatched up all three of these.

But this aeonium did come home with me and found its happy place in a tall copper pot.

This is another of my finds.  I know it’s made for a window – but I’m dying to hang it somewhere in my garden for the light to shine through it outside.

I was wowed by this ceramic art – I kept eyeing the turquoise and copper flower tile, but left without it this year.

Mom and Dad — we’ve been going to this Festival for more than 20 years together.  It’s my favorite event of the year in Austin – a city full of great stuff to do.

Here are more goodies from other festivals and my sentimental memories of our outings there with my now-grown son, when he bought my Mother’s Day gifts there for years as a young boy.

The rose garden was amazing – this was my very favorite rose.

I still want some ligularia in my garden, and I have some yellow columbines just like these … hmmm… now that’s an idea!

These baby blue eyes (Nemophila maculata) were everywhere – a perky ground cover erupting in bloom.

And off we went with our goodies…home to plant and hang and pot.  Until next year…