Outdoors at The Domain’s Rock Rose


My mother and I had lunch in the new Rock Rose section of The Domain (a New Urbanist-style live/work/shop development in North Austin) last week and poked around in the shops afterward. Naturally, I yanked my phone out along the way to take pictures of cool landscaping features, like this steel planter that doubles as a patio retaining wall at The Dogwood bar. Foxtail fern, silver ponyfoot, and red roses make a pretty, sun-loving combo. I like their painted sign-mural too.


Here’s a simple idea, taken from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture store: a prickly pear pad (or two) stuck in contemporary pot topped with gravel. Why haven’t I ever done this with prunings from my opuntias?


A cloud-like arbor of aluminum or stainless steel floats over a public plaza near the Northside Lawn. It’s eye-catching as a sculptural element, and I suppose it offers filtered shade on hotter days.


A John Lennon song lyric mural is just begging to be used as a backdrop for engagement photos. It struck me as a hopeful message for these turbulent times too.

Rock Rose at The Domain, with a slew of local restaurants that we north Austinites formerly had to drive downtown or to South Austin to enjoy, feels a little like Disneyland, with its clean, walkable streets and idealized-Austin vibe. It has its haters, but it’s OK with me. A walkable shopping/dining area that’s not inside a mall (yuck) and that’s beautifully landscaped made for a nice day out with my mom. I’ll be back next time to try out East Side King’s Thai Kun.

Click for a look at the landscaping and public art in the original section of The Domain.

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“In an era of drought and unpredictable weather patterns, The Water-Saving Garden could not come at a better time. With striking photographs and a designer’s eye, Penick shows us just how gorgeous a water-wise garden can be. This is the must-have garden book of the year!”
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“This thoughtful, inviting, and thoroughly useful book should be required for every new homeowner at closing. It has the power to transform residential landscapes from coast to coast and change the world we all share.”
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All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Purple pom-poms and stripey leaves


I’m drinking up this grapey, effervescent combo of ‘Grapes’ gomphrena and variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’) in my garden right now. The tiny purple blooms of ‘Grapes’ look like miniature pom-poms, and it certainly cheers its way through autumn, its spindly stems supported by white-striped flax lily.


Magenta and cool stripes


It’s true love.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Need a holiday gift for the gardener, new homeowner, or environmentalist on your list?
Please consider giving one (or both!) of my books. They’re packed with plenty of how-to info for newbies as well as lots of inspirational photos and design ideas for more experienced gardeners! Order today from Amazon (Water-Saving Garden / Lawn Gone!) or other online booksellers (Water-Saving Garden / Lawn Gone!), or find them anywhere books are sold.

“In an era of drought and unpredictable weather patterns, The Water-Saving Garden could not come at a better time. With striking photographs and a designer’s eye, Penick shows us just how gorgeous a water-wise garden can be. This is the must-have garden book of the year!”
Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants

“This thoughtful, inviting, and thoroughly useful book should be required for every new homeowner at closing. It has the power to transform residential landscapes from coast to coast and change the world we all share.”
Lauren Springer Ogden, author of The Undaunted Garden and coauthor of Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens

For a sneak peek before you buy, check out my book trailers!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Bull Creek beauty worth fighting for


Bull Creek winds through one of the most scenic areas of Austin, under vertical limestone cliffs softened with maidenhair fern and dripping with water from numerous springs. In spring and summer, Austinites love to swim in the creek’s deep-water holes (although high levels of bacteria, often from dog poo washing into the creek, have in recent years made swimming less appealing). But autumn and winter are my favorite seasons for exploring the creek and hiking the trails that crisscross its length.


We can access Bull Creek just a mile from our house, at Spicewood Springs Road and Capital of Texas Highway, so that’s where we usually go. But last Sunday, David and I explored a different stretch, entering Bull Creek District Park at 6701 Lakewood Drive.


It’s a lovely stretch, with steep cliffs and enormous slabs of rock, long ago eroded from the cliff walls, creating picnic-worthy islands.


Kids scrambled on the rocks, and we saw a bouldering group setting up fall mats nearby.


Although it’s been dry lately, the creek was running nicely.


This shallow section was popular with people who brought their dogs.


We’d read on a park kiosk about wagon tracks from the 1800s in the limestone bed of the creek here, and we found them just upstream from the park entrance.


I can’t find more details online, but we speculated that farmers bringing goods to town traveled the edge of the creek to bypass the cliffs, and over the years their metal-rimmed wheels carved channels into the soft limestone.


We were amused to see small fish swimming in the channels where wagons once rolled.


There’s also a lovely grotto here, with maidenhair fern and bright-green moss wallpapering the underside of a rocky overhang.


Water drip, drip, drips from the mossy walls like a gentle rainshower…


…filling a small pool of clear water below.


Just beyond the grotto, the wagon tracks diverge into two paths and then fade away where, I’m guessing, the wagons would climb back up the creek bank to continue on. It really brings history to life to see these old tracks.


Beyond that, a weir creates a low waterfall. We turned around here and headed back downstream…


…passing a deep swimming hole under a natural waterfall.


The black, writhing trunks and limbs of live oaks evoke calligraphy, don’t they?


Flameleaf sumac (I think) starting to turn


We also drove to the section of the creek nearest to our house and walked Inga’s Trail. The wooded trail following the creek was much less crowded than the Lakewood area.


There are lovely, deep holes along the creek here too.


Wild places in our city, like Bull Creek, are a treasure we must preserve for all of us. But right now a developer is proposing to build an 11-story hotel right along Bull Creek at Old Spicewood Springs Road and Yaupon Drive, on a particularly fragile piece of land that’s also one of the most scenic drives in Austin. I’m not anti-growth, and I believe in urban infill projects that can help reduce sprawl, but an 11-story hotel along the creek, along with requisite parking and traffic, will certainly negatively impact water quality and the scenic beauty of the area.

I don’t know whether we can stop it, but we need to try. Please sign this petition against the project, which asks the City of Austin to annex the property so it will be subject to city development oversight, and asks the county not to approve the plan. Let’s be smart about Austin’s growth and save what makes Austin so special to residents and visitors alike!

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Want to know how I got started as a garden writer? Read page 16 of On the QT, the newsletter for GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators. I’m honored to be featured in an article by Carol Michel of May Dreams Gardens!

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

What’s hot in garden design — or about to be? I interviewed designers and retailers across the U.S. to find out! Natural dye gardens, hyperlocalism, dwarf shrubs, haute houseplants, sustainability tech, color blocking, and more — check out my 2017 Trends article for Garden Design and see if anything surprises you.

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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