Monday, May 1, 2017


On Saturday May 6th five local gardeners will open their gardens to the public during the Master Gardeners Inside Austin Garden Tour. The theme of this years tour is For Gardeners, by Gardeners. There is no better way to learn about gardening than to talk with gardeners who have made their own gardens.

I had the opportunity to preview the gardens this past week. It was a great reminder of how every garden tells a story of the garden maker and we heard many stories during the day long tour. Plus, I came away from the visits with all kinds of ideas on how to improve my own garden.

Our first visit was to the garden of Peggy Hart at 6301 Belo Horizonte Circle. After moving into her house in 2009, Peggy felt the need to transition her front garden from the more traditional edge garden to one of less grass, more low maintenance, drought-tolerant plantings, while still keeping the planting in tune with the neighboring houses. Although she is somewhat limited in her choices of plantings due to frequent deer visitors, she has managed to combine deer proof plants along with garden art, bird baths, planters and natural features.

A fine cedar stump adds a sculptural quality to an area of mulch.

The land drops of sharply behind the property where steps lead down to the only kind of vegetable gardening possible. A keyhole garden, and several enclosed planters covered by netting have resulted in a successful crop of vegetables.

These adorable goats walk past a stone lined pit which slows down the water as it flows down the hill.

As well as fun and games in the pool I am sure Peggy's grandchildren love spending time with Rocky and the goats in the butterfly and fruit garden.

Peggy is a promoter of Earthkind Gardening, which encourages Water and energy conservation, reducing fertilizers and pesticides and  yard waste. She will have signs around the garden demonstrating ways to do this.

Our next visit was to the garden of Daphne Jeffers, 1405, Ridgemont Drive. Daphne has what I would call a manicured English garden. I thought it was really stunning and ticked all my boxes for its uplifting floral beauty.

Daphne was inspired to create this garden after, many years ago, watching a very elderly lady, who was wearing an old fashioned bonnet, tending her cottage garden. Since they moved into the house in 1988 she has gradually replaced the front lawn with pathways and plantings to benefit wildlife.........and those who walk by.

Purple cone flowers

A memorial to family pets



We walked down the side of the house into their back garden to find ourselves in a Japanese inspired garden.

bamboo panels for a backdrop to the simple Japanese-inspired planting.

I rested for a while beneath the shade of a pruned up Texas mountain laurel listening to the water tricks over the rocks and disappear beneath the river rocks.
Just delightful Daphne.

Velia Sanchez-Ruiz, who gardens on a corner lot at 1213 Southwood rd, has removed all her grass from the front garden.

Plants, contained within stone-lined beds, are accessible by gravel pathways. There is  a cottage garden feel with plants mingling together and spilling over a low wall. The Queen Anne's lace was putting on a delightful display.

Velia is a member of the hemerocallis society and she has extensive collection, some which were in bloom.

In the shady back garden was a plant I had never seen before. A 'Walking iris' so named because after the flower blooms the weight of the stem bends the plant which, touches the ground and makes a new plant.

Because of time constraints we were unable to visit the Agri life gardens  at 1600B Smith Rd where there are testing and demonstration gardens. They will be part of the tour on Saturday.

We had to drive out to Spicewood for the last two gardens. If you plan to drive out to Spicewood I can recommend a lunch stop at Angel's Ice House on Hwy 71, and either before or after visiting the last two gardens, if you like cactus, visit the Living Desert Ranch which is close by.

Dorothy Thering's garden is located at 22306-3 Hazy Hollow Drive. When Dorothy and Mike purchased their acreage it was full of cedar trees. With the help of their son and friends they cleared the land of cedars and began their restoration project. Dorothy delighted in telling us about the quail that are breeding on their grasslands.

When Dorothy was diagnosed with cancer the land became her sanctuary and she would sit in one special place which overlooked the natural terracing that lies below their house. Now on the first of those terraces they have built their vegetable gardens.

The first terrace which was covered with bluebonnets a few weeks ago

Adjacent to the vegetable garden is the goat pen and in the field a miniature Shetland pony.

Dorothy has a beautiful greenhouse where she can spend time reading or potting up her plants. Her garden has played a big part in the healing process and she was proud to tell us that she remains cancer free.

Our final stop was at Shari Bauer's garden located at 16223 Pace Bend Rd Sth. Shari met us at the top of her steep driveway and took us down to her greenhouse. We immediately knew that this was going to be a fun and interesting garden.

Shari is the ultimate repurposer. Give her an object that has seen better times and she is sure to make it shine once again.

A chandelier made out of old silver coffeepots.

Their house overlooks the Pedernales River.

Crosses made by Shari's father on the wall of the house.

I had heard someone refer to it as the 'piano garden' Well, here's the piano up on the hillside full of plants.

But the most fun feature of all was the radiator of an old Willis Jeep repurposed to create a water feature. The headlights even light up at night, as does the whole garden. It is a real fairyland.

If you would like to go on the tour this next Saturday you can find information on Master Gardener website at the link below. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time for $20 or $25 on the day or $5 for each garden.

Inside Austin Master Gardeners' Tour


  1. The Jeep fountain was my favorite feature in her garden as well. Great recap of the tour, Jenny!

  2. Great post!
    I had forgotten some of the stories.
    It was a fun day. So many great gardens.

  3. thanks, Jenny, for this preview. Can't get enough garden tours. The pet memorial was so touching and a great idea to keep track of dates.

  4. I loved the goats - both real and metal. I think I need to add a sign encouraging talking to plants to my garden too.

  5. So happy to read your detailed post since I had to miss the preview tour. It looks like it was a delightful day.