Saturday, May 9, 2009


4662, Rockcliff Rd

This morning I left the house at 8:30 am to be sure to arrive at the gates of Rockcliff Rd by 9am. I had exactly 3 1/2 hours to visit all the gardens on tour before reporting to my volunteer post after lunch. I had watched the preview of this garden on Central Texas Gardener, a couple of weeks ago, but nothing could prepare me for the extensive nature of pathways and water features. As I walked down the pathway I couldn't help but wonder at the variety of native plants growing under the trees. In my garden deer eat every shoot that appears. Here high fences keep the deer at bay and permit the growth of such plants as this unusual white cone flower, Echinacea augustifolia, along with wine cups and heart leaf skullcaps. All native plants and thriving in this most wonderful setting.
The pathways opened onto the back of the house and the origin of a stream that threads its way down through the trees. Collaboration between the architect Paul Lamb and landscape architects Environmental Survey Consulting was obvious.

Here, stepping stones lead into the grotto where the sounds of water echo around the walls.

At a lower level maidenhair ferns and native columbines enjoy the cool stream side setting.

The placement of stones is so natural that the stream looks as though it has been there forever.

What dog wouldn't be happy with this special setting for his weekly bath.

When I first saw this area I thought it was a gathering area but then I saw the doggy door and remembered that someone had told me about the dog bathing area..

A row of olive jars breaks up the basketweave paving.

Another water feature at the front of the house.

It was here I caught up with  David Mahler and Troy Nixon who were the masters behind this wonderful system of trails, water features and native plantings.

5801 Kempson Drive

The next garden was quite a contrast. In this small suburban back garden the owners asked for one side of the garden to be left in its natural state; a wooded area with cedars live oaks and understory plants. Careful removal of invasive species and the introduction of more native plants created a natural, shaded wooded area with cedar mulched pathways. 
The other side of the garden, in full sun comprised large limestone ledge rocks from the area and decomposed granite gravel underfoot. 

Mounds of pink skullcap nestled among the rocks.

Mexican feather grass wafted in the breeze.

Agaves and yuccas complete the xeric planting. This was a delightful low maintenance garden.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing!!

    Particularly love the last garden, especially because it has some of my favorite xeric plants--pink skullcap, Mexican feathergrass, and what appears to be some kind of salvia--maybe Victoria or indigo spires?

  2. I enjoyed seeing these gardens through your eyes, Jenny. I'm working on my post and photos right now. Are you going to post about the others on the tour too?

  3. Smashing write-up.
    A new career there for you. And such lovely descriptive photography.

    What a garden. All that wonderful hard-scaping. Fancy having your own grown-up bridge. I want one :-)

    Well, this post is definitely one of your re-read posts. I will bookmark it individually.

    What a treat, almost as good being there. look forward to the next installment.

  4. Thanks for a great tour, Jenny. I had to miss it this year, but "touring" through others is the next best thing.

  5. Iris- I fell in love with the last garden too. Despite the heat this garden was gorgeous and quite a contrast to the lushness of the first Rockcliff garden. I chose these two because they represent the diversity of Austin gardens.
    Pam- I may not get round to posting about the other gardens, although I did see them all and there were features in all that I liked. A garden like the Rockcliif one would be impossible for us, unless we were to completely fence our property. My style is more in line with the xeric one and has given me some new ideas for how to improve our "parking area"
    Jo- All the gardens we visited were done by landscape designers and architects. Some with no expense spared. It always disappoints me on these tours that the homeowners are rarely there. That is because they play little part in what is going on out there. At one house a lady came out through the door and, having asked her if she was a the homeowner, I asked her the identity of a plant. She quickly said she had no idea and go and ask the designer! This tour becomes not just a showcase for native plants but for the work of the designers. All well and good but we all have to have a hand in the native landscape if it is to grow. Rant rant!!
    Linda- It was a fun day Linda and for a look at other gardens look at the "digging" site.

  6. Gorgeous gardens, love the grasses. Thank you for the beautiful post.

  7. I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.