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