Friday, June 20, 2014


Yesterday I visited a garden no more than a mile away from my house, but for all the look of the plants it could have been on a different planet. How on earth can all these plants be in full bloom already. My plumbago is about one foot tall and will probably not bloom until September as it did last year. My Pride of Barbados still trying to get going after such a cold winter.

Just look how advanced these blooms are on the Pride of Barbados.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Arriving at the front door I couldn't find a door bell to ring but these large wooden doors, which I photographed in the closed position later on, were open.

An inner door held this plaque. Even so I knocked. 

Syd Teague and I had made contact through my blog and when she described her garden I just had to ask if a visit would be possible. Two of her gardening club were also there for the tour and after introductions we began the tour in the front garden. She  pointed out the numerous volunteer plants that have made a home in her garden. Among them windmill palms, American beauty berry and this large American pokeweed, Phytolacca americana. I wonder if the one I had a few years ago came from her garden or hers from mine. Either way Syd is letting hers stay. I removed mine because pretty as their pendant-like droops are when the berries ripen, the mockingbird, unaffected by the alkaloid poison they contain, would eat them and then deposit them all over my furniture. They use these berries as a dye for good reason.

The pokeweed is in good company with the Texas mountain laurel, another poisonous plant. But the real treat was to come when we went through into the back garden.

No lawn, no pool, just gravel, stone and exuberant plantings. The Teagues have had to work hard on their landscape to deal with water issues so there are large rock-filled swales which deal with water.

As we walked down the pathway there were frequent stops to admire the blooms, like this hybrid Texas giant hibiscus with its dinner plate sized blooms.

And the metal garden art.

Syd lived in Arizona where metal garden art abounds among the cactus and other desert plants.

For a moment we turned back to look at the Italian stone pine, Pinus pinea, which came into their home as a table-top plant and has now taken up a dominant position in the gravel swale. There was some discussion about how to prune the tree and dealing with the crape myrtles which keep popping up along the edges of the path.

As soon as we walked into the garden my eye was drawn to the cactus garden I could see at the back of the lot. The pathway led in that direction and we were soon in another world. One more reminiscent of Syd's former home in Arizona.

I see plants here, that I have growing in pots, which I would never dare put in the ground.

Maybe I need to be a little braver.

Well place boulders add definition to the scene.

If a mullein just starts growing in the right place then you are sure to let it stay. If there are three then all the better.

In a more green and serene art of the garden a colorful pot with a sago palm. Notice the orange painted board behind to draw attention.

We now turned to walk alongside the large rock swale. On either side more Pride of Barbados.

And more artfully placed cactus and agaves.

By the house a large planter of Opuntia microdasys,  'Bunny Ears'.

I spy a familiar lady on the wall.

Around the back of the house is a small patio where several baker's racks hold a potted cactus collection. Rather like me Syd prefers terra cotta for her pots but some of them have beautiful glazed decoration.

The pots are made here in Austin by Smith Sisters of Austin.

An unusual disappearing fountain in the same courtyard.

More garden art
Many thanks to Syd for the opportunity to visit. You have designed a beautiful garden.


  1. These spaces are breathtaking. Love the alternation between lush plantings and rock swales. A beautiful solution to a practical problem. I'm wondering if those cacti beds are on a protected south side of a rise and that is how they manage to have so many out in the ground to over winter? However they managed, the results are impressive. Microclimates make such a difference, don't they? Plants that struggle in my spaces are thriving two blocks away. I try to keep in mind I probably have plants doing well here that others might covet, while I don't give them a second thought.

    Speaking of which, I am an avid admirer of poke weed plants but admit, the mockingbird droppings staining seat cushions is a valid reason for them to go. Fortunately ours are all far away from seating areas so the birds can have their fill.

  2. Her garden is beautiful. My plumbago are blooming well now but the pride of Barbados had to limp through the freeze effects and is much smaller than usual. I'm glad you got to visit!

  3. Beautiful garden!
    I especially like the cacti.
    Glad you took us along.

  4. Everything looks wonderfully well cared for. The garden was immaculate! (It makes me think I should head out to my own and sweep up.) Thanks for sharing your tour.

  5. Isn't it a gift when a new gardening friend invites you to visit her garden? I'm so glad you brought your camera along so we could enjoy it too. Syd has created a beautiful and interesting garden. I hope to see it on tour one day!

  6. It always fascinates me how the same plants and materials can be used to create such vastly different environments. I find it so fascinating how she alternated between lush plantings and more spare cactus and agave plantings. I also love that rusted garden art. Thanks for giving us the tour!

  7. Just gorgeous. Thanks for the tour!

  8. Wow, wow, wow! If Syd's garden is ever on tour, I'll make a trip to Austin to see it!

  9. That's a beautiful garden! Everything looks perfect. Really!
    Thanks for the tour. :0) David

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