Sunday, October 25, 2009


Saturday couldn't have been a more perfect day for a garden tour. This year the theme of the tour was Sustainable Gardening for Urban Wildlife.

The gardens certainly followed through with the theme. At every garden there were talks on wildlife gardening and tables filled with literature to help gardeners achieve such a garden.
What really stood out for me was how four of the gardeners had transformed their typical suburban front gardens, removing most of their grass and taking their plantings right to the kerb.

This was the scene at Lindy McGinnis' garden, located on a busy residential road.

Many of the gardens were using bull pen wire to create anything from bird baths.......

to trellises.
Walking along the pathways there were points of interest. Here, a small water feature with recycled glass mulch surrounding young barrel cactus.

What a fabulous idea to use an old bath for a water feature.

The main feature in Jessica Winslow's garden was the meditation area. Here, fall asters surround a statue of Buddha.

One of the things I thought was really well done on this tour was the labeling of the plants. I hardly had to ask about an identification and in this garden I identified a common flower that is blooming all over my native garden at the moment. When I saw the label I recognized the name but had never put it together with my yellow daisy. Not only were all the important plants named in every garden but the metal tags were beautifully printed.

On to our third garden, that of one of our garden bloggers, Eleanor Pratt. Eleanor lives on a very busy Austin road and I'm sure many a driver has had his attention turned to her beautiful front garden planting. No death strip here. A stone pathway leads up to the front door and on either side the garden is a feast for the eyes. It took me a while to get into the back garden because aside from chatting about the plants with Eleanor, my bridge partner, Joyce Cooper, who is a master gardener, was working at the garden. We resisted talking about bridge!

Here was another interesting idea for a bird bath.

Eleanor's back garden is shaded by a large live oak tree. It looks like there is going to be an early spring in this bed. I noticed a ground orchid flowering in one bed. It seems to be doing OK there and one of the master gardeners told me that, although not long lived, it will do well in Austin. I saw these growing at a BB store and was really tempted. No one seemed interested in them and they languished there for several weeks. I read what Scott Ogden had to say about this plant and that was enough for me to stay clear. Of course I garden in completely different circumstances and I am sure this plant would not like my rocky soils.

This is the amazing garden of another blogger, Cheryl Goveia. Passers by must delight in all they see here.

Cheryl has used logs all over her garden in unusual ways. Here a huge log is buried in the gravel pathway to form a bridge.

Bottle caps.... hundreds of them, strung together to form jangling ribbons hanging from the trees.

Here's Cheryl, beer in hand, which explains where all those bottle tops came from. Oh, and she is sitting on some more logs.

But this one was my favorite. Cheryl even left the sprouts. This is a garden which delights adults as much as children. We walked around taking in all the whimsical garden ornaments, which enhance her planting.

What gorgeous colors for the little shed.

The garden of Randy Case, who blogs at horselips, is yet another garden where plantings extend all the way to the road. Mostly native and adapted they attract a huge variety of butterflies. The opening photograph on this posting was taken at his garden.

He has a large back garden with wide borders. This gives Randy the opportunity to plant a myriad of "must have, spur of the moment" plants. He admits to this weakness. Don't we all have this! He pointed out this Bow Tie flower, Dalechampia dioiscorefolia, which was climbing a wrought iron pillar.

Randy and Cheryl hunt for yard art together. We couldn't decide what this piece of metal with the fleur de lys might have been in a former life.

But seeing this sign reminded us that it was just about time for a lunch break.

The final garden, the garden of Gail Sapp, was located back on the Edward's Plateau where the soils are thin and rocky. You would not know from the lush plantings. This garden has to be seen from up close to the house because from the street you would get no idea of the dense, healthy plantings.

Another view along the front path showing the Angel's trumpet, Brugmansia.

The back garden was unusual in that it had been fenced off creating a fairly narrow strip of planting, both against the house and the fence. These areas were separated from each other by a strip of St Augustine grass which had been overlaid with mulch for the tour. I had heard comment on the tour about three plants in this garden. The clumping, giant tree bamboo, and it was certainly impressive.

This ornamental pepper I had seen growing at the Dallas Arboretum last fall. I never did find out what it was at the time. It really is a stunning plant.

And this Blue Fan Palm, Bismarkis nobilis, which was tucked up against the wall of the house.

This pretty little rose turned out to be a knockout. It looked like an English dog rose.

This was one plant that had no tag but I would love to know because the colors were spectacular.

The palate of colors in this bed was exemplary.
Travis County Master Gardeners and the Texas Agrilife Extension Service did an outstanding job of putting together this tour for Austin gardeners and garden lovers. We owe them a big thank you.


  1. Going on the tour was great fun - so glad we ran into you at Randy's, and even more glad you posted, Jenny - especially the Lindy McGinnis garden.

    You captured the feeling of the different spaces and personalities so well - we didn't take photos, but now have yours as reminders of a fun Saturday in October,

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  2. You got some good shots. I thought I was taking lots of pictures, but must have been too busy 'looking'.
    It was nice to meet you at Cheryl's garden.
    By the way, I think the plant you mention not recognizing may be a Chinese Fringe Flower, Loropetalum.

  3. Thanks for this tour, Jenny. It must have been delightful to see the different styles people use for their gardens in Austin. Lots of inspiring ideas here! :-)

  4. I love these gardens -- there is so much beauty and whimsy. Thank you for taking us along on the tour!

  5. Almost everything that caught my eye, seems to have caught yours. And you managed to get much better photos: the bathtub pond, the beer cap streamers, the huge brugmansia, the 'Black Pearl' ornamental pepper, and the Blue Fan palm. And you saw a lot of things I missed. Your photos make me want to go back for a second look.

    It was a great tour this year. I feel all inspired and ready to get to work again.

  6. Too bad we didn't run into you. But we had a delightful time on the tour. There was such a wide variety of inspiration. Too bad it's going to rain tomorrow, I'm itching to get to work on ... I don't know what ... in the garden! Too many ideas, so little time!

  7. Your post on the tours is just perfect. I love how we all seemed to hone in on the same favorites. I have to wonder which bloggers were in line with me at any point in the tour. We should have all worn name tags!

  8. Oh, and I added your link to my pitifully short post about the tour! :)

  9. Oh, I'm so glad you took so many pictures! We were pressed for time, so I took very few pictures and missed some of the details, like the birdbath made from rocks and bullpen fencing. I may have to steal that idea for my own yard!

  10. You got some really wonderful shots, Jenny. I grew a 'Black Pearl' ornamental pepper this year and really liked it against a bright green abutilon. But in part shade, it wanted more sun to shine. I plan to try it again next year in a sunnier location.

  11. I missed the tour and really appreciate your beautiful pictures--thanks! The charm of Cheryl's is much different than Gail's. I love seeing such diversity!

  12. Annie- It was lovely to meet up with you both. I knew there were other bloggers out there but only ever saw three others. I always wish I had taken more photos but it is really hard to look when you are using the camera. I missed so much and would love to do it all over again. I love garden tours!
    Linda- I'm glad you introduced yourself. I think we need to get special blog tags made! Thanks also for the plant id. I thought it might be that but this was such a beautifully rounded and lush specimen and the color was a show stopper. Then that whole garden looked as though it was on hormones!
    Faire Gardens- Isn't that the truth. Garden styles galore everywhere you go. It was a fun day.
    Sweet bay- Thanks for joining us. All the gardens ad such personality- I guess the personality of their makers.
    MSS- I think the things you mentioned were the things that really stood out as you walked around, although I did get the heads up from Pam on the ornamental pepper. Would I have noticed it. Maybe not. I think Austin will have a run on these next year.
    Diana- You were well ahead of us because I saw you were meeting up at 8:30am. We were just leaving the houses at 9am. I was itching to go but had to wait for my driver! I would have enjoyed the salvage place. Must check it out.
    Meredith- Good idea, let's wear name tags next time.Thanks for adding a link to my post.
    Lori-Yes, I'm good at stealing ideas after all 'imitation is the sincerest of flattery'
    Pam- I was hoping to put that pepper in a shady area. I would like to try it though.
    Iris-Sorry you missed the tour. It really was wonderful and I loved seeing all the front gardens given that new look.

  13. Jenny! Thank you so much for coming to my garden. I think you're the only person who saw something in the old gas lamp I painted maybe...10 years ago? Goodness it needs a "new-doo!" The Metal ornament on Randy's fence is actually a light. He has 4 of them. I love your latest post and look forward to spending some time catching up on everyones old posts...I've been so out of comission! Have a great...rainy day!


  14. Jenny, thanks for coming and for the lovely photos. It's fun seeing my garden through others' eyes.
    I also had at least 3" of rain yesterday--it took a long time for the standing water to soak in.

  15. Wow, these pictures were amazing. I especially liked those bottle caps! What camera are you using? I'm on the market for a new one. I'd like a small compact one for my trip that takes great pictures.

  16. Texas Mom- I see you have your tickets ready for off. How exciting. My camera is a Canon G10. It is a little bigger than the pocket type but still fits in a fanny pack. Philip at ESP takes amazing photos with his pocket camera. If you post on his blog ask him what he is using.

  17. Your post on the tours is just perfect
    The place is simply amazing .. no words to describe the beauty of it