Sunday, June 17, 2012


It isn't often that I can be drawn away from my garden in the morning but the chance to visit a bridge playing friend's ranch near Blanco was enough to do it. Friday we drove out though Dripping Springs, making a quick stop at Vivero Gardens, on the way. We arrived at the entrance to the ranch and this splendid gate. A good sign of things to come. Passing through we drove along the rather rough unpaved road, past an uninhabited house and through another open gate in a high fence to reach their hacienda. After the pleasantries of introductions were over we took a tour of the new patio that J has been working on for some time.

I persuaded the two of them to pose beside the structure which houses their pizza oven. J explained that the free standing oven housed inside was build without any mortar; even the domed roof and lintel! And if you don't care for pizza then move over to the barbecue area on the other side.

There is a fire pit for those chilly Texas evenings!

What a classy outdoor shower this is.

This area uses the Texas limestone with which we are so blessed but where concrete has been poured for walkways they are decorated with impressed patterns of large leaves.

So where do you think this door leads? I would have guessed 'a bathroom'. Were we to get the surprise of our lives.
Now we all know what is under the ground where we live here on the Edward's Plateau. Several hundred feet of solid limestone. We may hack away with a pick axe to make a hole large enough to plant a plant but......

Not many of us dig this deep.

Assured that the roof would not be coming down any time soon we climbed down the steps Looking back you can see there is a room in which appears to be a perfect place to store wine. One wall has been provided with such accommodation.

Our host assures us that there is a large slab of extremely hard limestone shelf overhead! We move further on down the narrow passage way. There is evidence of the many layers of limestone formed over times when the shallow seas came in then receded.

large chunks of geodes protruding from the wall surface.

And then the light at the end of the tunnel.

And we were outside looking back.

Wow! Look at all this work. So this is where the project started. At the top of the tunnel there was a small horizontal slit in the hill. Shining a light in there they could see it was a small cave. That is how it began. The floor was gradually lowered so that walking would be comfortable for J who is rather tall. And let me just add here that they dug this whole structure out by hand. The cave was shallow and went nowhere.
We talked about landscaping above the seating area. I favored native agaves and plants with good solid structure. A mullein was already growing there among small shrubs and trees. The cave lies on the edge of the escarpment, the land dropping hundreds of feet to the valley floor.

We ate lunch on the screened porch. You can see how the house is situated on the top of the escarpment.

A Texas style gargoyle.

The rainwater collection system. One of two tanks.

We left through the side gate having spent a fun day on a Texas Ranch with lots of surprises and a full understanding of why J is known as  'The Cave Man of Blanco'


  1. OMG !!! I LOVE that shower !!!!!

  2. What an incredible place. And what I wouldn't give for a water collection system like that! Is that giant tank made of crockery material? Neat!

  3. What an amazing place! The tunnel is just incredible. The view underground and above ground is just wonderful.

  4. What a cool series of spaces and elements. Looks very remote and peaceful, and such stark beauty...and a wine cellar? Then that shower?

    No wonder Mr. Rockrose looks like he's pondering something bigger than moving tons of rocks uphill for the garden.....

  5. Wow! Things I never would have dreamed of. The tunnel with seating area is amazing, and to have a rainwater collection system that big...wonderful.

  6. What a great place! Having your own cave to hide out in must be fun.
    Not so much fun digging it out, though. Whew! Lots of work.
    Thanks for taking us along.

  7. OMG. I am boggled. That tunnel and patio is simply fantastic. All the stonework is amazing, it will age beautifully too.

    And yes, I also noted the lovely rainwater tanks - are they giant crocks? They definitely don't need covering with Boston ivy et al.


  8. Fabulous stonework! I'd be proud to have that shower indoors or out.

  9. What an amazing place! How nice it would be on 100+ degree days to sit in the cool, crisp air of the cave. I wonder if they used a lot of the rock they removed from the cave to make any of the stone walls?

  10. Fascinating, Jenny! I can hardly believe that they dug out all that limestone cave by hand. Did they have help, or are they especially intrepid do-it-yourselfers?