cottage garden

Lush hillside garden delights bloggers at Fling

Filled with a seemingly endless array of textures, colors, and forms, Barbara Katz’s garden provided a cool oasis on a hot summer day at the Garden Bloggers Fling in DC and Norther Virginia.

The back yard, filled with plants, stone and a babbling brook, evoked a Zen-like peacefulness.

The koi added a pop of color to the pond.

Japanese maples, decorative stone and conifers create a blend of beautiful textures.

This combo of bold colors is echoed in many different kinds of plants with similar hues.

The containers highlighted the same vibrant contrasts she wove into her garden.


Bloggers flocked up the steps into the upper lever of the garden.

At the top of the garden, a bench is tucked away waiting to provide a place to enjoy a contemplative moment.

This realistic iguana required a second look as we strolled through the garden.

Lush paths lead around the side of the house.

Bloggers spread out around the front yard, looking for the best shot of this cottage-style garden.

This unique and beautifully designed garden – cottage in the front and  Zen in the back, was delightful.

Flashy natives garden can handle the heat on Inside Austin Gardens tour

Here is another one 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. 

The gardens demonstrate 7 unique styles.  This is my preview of the Flashy Natives Garden.  Enjoy this sneak peek and then see it in person on the tour next weekend.

401 Cloudview Dr Austin, TX 78745

This garden is very much a collector’s garden, with many different varieties of plants to create wonderful combinations of texture and color and form.

 This garden is a very Southwestern cottage style, incorporating yuccas and grasses one might not see in a cooler climate traditional cottage garden.

 Patio pots offer more focal points around the seating areas.

And no cottage garden would be complete without a little picket fence.

 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.

Hop aboard the ferry to Ward’s Island – where cozy cottages welcome Garden Bloggers Fling attendees…

One of my favorite adventures at this year’s Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto was our trek to Wards Island.  An eclectic community, it actually consists of two islands — Ward’s and Algonquin, connected to each other by a small bridge.  There are no vehicles permitted on the island, so residents have to shop in the city and be creative about how they ferry everything back across the water.  We saw many bicycles with creative additions, like this set up, designed to pack as much as possible per trip.

Our ferry ride was short and sweet — the way I like it since I have just a smidge of motion sickness.  It was a grey, blustery day, and we were layered up under the dark skies.

The view of Toronto back across Lake Ontario was amazing, and stood in stark contrast to colorful the homes and gardens we were about to visit.

Residents, visitors and a slew of eager garden bloggers flock off of the ferry.

 The small, mostly cottage-style homes, while varying greatly in their makeup, were all welcoming as we toured up and down the islands’ quaint streets.

Evident throughout the islands, the reduce, reuse and recycle mantra is a way of life for those for whom a trip to Home Depot to grab a few simple building supplies isn’t so simple.

 Houses sported bright colors and creative decor…

 …and beautiful, lovingly cared-for plants.

Islanders don’t actually own their property; they have 99-year leases on the land. A long waiting list means others wanting to move onto the islands where time almost seems to stand still will need decades of patience.

 Around every corner, pops of color, decor and art make each home unique.

 Even while under construction, this house has donned a pretty face.

Welcoming adirondack chairs evoke images of neighbors enjoying an evening outside.

 I love how these tasty-looking tangerine blooms echo the color of the front door.

 Hostas and other woodland plants line this stone path leading to the front door.

 Many of the cottage homes with country charm remind me of times long past.

Even this storage building exudes charm – complete with gentle paint colors, a climbing vine and a little lantern to light the way.

Two of my Texas blogging friends, Pam of Digging and Chris of Running Gardener, enjoy strolling together through these lovely gardens.

Gardening Up!  And just look at those hydrangeas.

This scene seems to say, “come and sit a spell.”

 A storm is brewing over the city.

The rain and the winds picked up and we got drenched running back to board the ferry and then walk to our hotel.  But, we were all in it together, laughing and taking it in stride.

Hidden gems, Ward’s and Algonquin islands — their inhabitants and gardens — welcomed us with open arms and gave us a day of delightful gardening touring.

Saturday, May 3rd, don’t miss the Inside Austin Gardens Tour 2014 for inspiration & ideas

As they do every year, the Travis County Master Gardeners, have put together a great garden tour — full of interesting and inspirational gardens for experienced and novice gardeners alike.

This year’s tour – next Saturday, May 3rd from 9-4 should be on your calendar.

I was invited to preview the gardens with fellow garden bloggers last week, so I have some inside scoop for you here.  This is the first of two posts that will highlight the gardens. 

The first garden was that of Dugie and David Graham, high on a hill in north Austin where they deal with a serious slope and hungry deer.  Their garden was full of beautiful bones and hardscape that made the best of their landscape.

 A beautiful pond cascades down the back hillside, providing a home for plants, wildlife and art.

Stone beds with dappled shade make a lovely home for native and xeric plants.

 On a landing, this beautiful wooden table sits atop a creative stone floor.

Guarding the path down the hill, these columns with trellises provide beautiful and unique support for some stunning roses.

The second garden was Jerry Naiser’s, owner of Real Green Pest and Lawn Service, Naiser’s garden  is controlled by a highly sophisticated 32-zone drip irrigation system.  The system includes moisture sensors that enable him to provide just the right amount of water to each garden zone.

 This focal point as you enter the garden from the side yard is this dramatic trio of fiery fountains.

 With a very lush, tropical feel, the garden sports citrus trees, caladiums, cannas and grasses.

 Vegetables and annuals fill beds and vertical spaces as well.

 As you follow the bed around the back of the garden, this longhorn sculpture guards the entrance to the back patio area.

 A secluded seating area in the back corner of the garden is a hideaway for relaxing in hanging chairs and a hammock.

The covered patio off of the back of the house was transformed into this trendy outdoor kitchen, complete with flat screen tv.

The next landscape was that of Robin Howard Moore.  Her garden was a mix of traditional and eccelctic.  


 Alternately, tropical and cottage-style.

 With a few interesting focal points.

 Cobalt blue pots and a bottle brush tree added color and interest.

 A step back revealed the towering trees covering her beds.

This charming combination against a wall evoked an old-world feel.

Tomorrow, the rest of the beautiful gardens you can see on next week’s tour.

Cottage garden entwined with beautiful edibles highlight of Houston trip

We saw lots of interesting, beautiful and creative gardens when my friend, Pam, of Digging, and I visited Houston for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Day Tour two weeks ago.

My very favorite — a cacophony of color, texture and layers so entwined that taking it all in was a project in and of itself.  But a delightful one, not to be missed.

It wasn’t on the tour; it was recommended by Pam’s sister.  We had high expectations for the house at 605 Peddie Street, and we weren’t disappointed.  The owner, landscape consultant, Terry Gordon Smith, was hand watering the garden with a hose when he found us oohing and ahhing over  his creation.  He was very welcoming and proud of his garden and we enjoyed learning about the garden’s evolution and the weather and conditions in his Houston garden.

No lawn in sight, this garden is filled with evergreens, perennials, annuals, fruits, vegetables and herbs.

The bottle brush trees were pruned very high, making a dramatic statement towering over all the other plants.

Up close and personal – I almost can’t count how many plants are encapsulated in this close-up photo.

With so many plants filling the garden, the view from every angle is unique.

The delphiniums were gorgeous.  I love blue in the garden and there just aren’t that many good choices for us to incorporate it into our gardens.  I’ve had delphiniums, but the deer thought they were tasty!

Even the edibles make beautiful examples of perfect color combinations.

Tight shots like this make the veggies look like abstract art.

 Pam’s working on some of those close ups, too.

 Love the color combo of the delphiniums against the brightly colored house.
This was a delightful garden and, like the garden at 1514 Banks that I posted about, helped to give us a broader perspective of Houston gardens than just those one the tour.  Our weekend was totally garden-licious.  More to come soon about another cool destination nursery and restaurant combo.

Seattle’s Best … Gardens, that is…

Day 1 of the Garden Bloggers Fling, held in Seattle this year, was even more than I could have hoped for.

Our tours today took us to two private gardens, one private/public garden and the Washington University Center for Urban Horticulture.

Come take a stroll with me through the first garden, lovingly created by Shelagh Tucker. This garden was full of little vignettes and pockets of secret gardens around every turn.

The recent rains and cool temperatures in Seattle made all of the plants lush and ready for our visit.

There was a lot of old stonework in this garden, steps and benches and intricate inlaid details that added charm and an old-world feel to the garden.

All the borders and beds were filled to the brim with layers upon layers of plants – complimentary and contrasting colors, shapes, sizes and textures – creating a rich and beautiful palette.

And within each vignette are wonderful little pairings like this one. Her eye for plant combinations made this garden a delightful journey of discovery.