Austin Open Days Tour 2010: David-Peese garden


Like a contemporary fairy-tale cottage, the home of James David and Gary Peese is glimpsed through the embrace of the surrounding garden: a fascinating, wow-inducing, richly planted—and richly hardscaped—yet intimate and surprisingly unpretentious garden. This was my final stop on last Saturday’s Open Days garden tour.


James is a landscape architect and plantsman who founded the now-defunct Gardens and who chairs the Garden Conservancy‘s Open Days program. His partner Gary is also his partner at David/Peese Design. Both were on hand at mid-afternoon when I toured their garden, asking each guest if he or she was doing OK and answering questions. Pictured above is their sunny entry garden, anchored by a ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia) and a topiary pomegranate tree.


Another look at the ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave


To the left, a woodland garden is planted with an understory of palms (Sabal minor?) and holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum). Sunlight beams in through an opening in the tree canopy.


Coral vine (Antigonon leptopus) drapes from the trees, reaching for the light. This vine is so beautiful all over Austin right now.


Among an informal yet carefully arranged container display at the front door, this grassy-looking plant caught my eye. Is it a Nolina?


I love the dangling prickly pear (Opuntia) in this one.


Gorgeous combo! The leaves look like coleus, but they’re growing like a vine across the boxwood. Anyone have an ID? Update: Cissus discolor, or Rex Begonia Vine. Thanks for the ID, Joseph!


A stone arrangement in the woodland garden


Their garden is built on a steeply sloping lot, so limestone steps figure prominently in the design.


A frosty looking Dyckia


James and Gary favor narrow paths through much of their garden. This area is the narrowest of all: a geometric design of diagonal, straight-line paths through waist-high, clipped boxwood. Most visitors hesitate before walking through, unsure whether these are meant to be used. You feel almost as if you’re wading through water, or like Moses parting the Red Sea. Your hips brush the shrubbery on either side, and you hold up your arms to keep them clear. It’s fun to walk through. And look how the center line (a little wider) frames that olive jar.


This sweet, delicate vine twined through a Texas mountain laurel.


Gary keeps chickens in this charmingly rustic coop. The silkies got the most attention from visitors.


But I only got pictures of these. He’s a handsome fellow, isn’t he?


A dovecote anchors one end of a long, narrow dining terrace just below the house. The string lights run the length of the terrace.


Flowers do not play a starring role in James and Gary’s garden. It’s all about foliage and texture. But flowers do pop up as accents throughout the garden, including these yellow spider lilies (Lycoris chinensis).


Below the dining terrace appears the defining image of their garden: a long, straight limestone stair bordered by ‘Will Fleming’ yaupons and bisected by a rill running down to a large pond at the base of the steps.


A longer view


There’s that little girl again! She and her family toured the gardens in roughly the same order as I did (I snapped her picture at East Side Patch), and she was always in good spirits. I was impressed by her stamina and her sartorial style.


Mexican sycamore canopy at the base of the hill, turning golden yellow


Its bark is fabulously colored too.


A wider view of the Mexican sycamores. The wooden boardwalk (no handrails make for an adventurous touring experience here and elsewhere throughout the garden) crosses a wet-weather garden; to its right is the pond at the base of the limestone steps with the rill.


A large greenhouse stood largely empty at this time of year, but a limestone shelf of cactus outside shows what plant collectors these guys are.


In the newest section of their garden, a rock-filled gabion wall supports a steel pipe that sends water splashing into a rectangular pond.


From above


A gravel garden is planted nearby, with columnar cacti, sotols, and agave. Doesn’t this one look googly-eyed?


Near the house, a vine-covered arbor is illuminated by the afternoon sun.


A pyramidal, galvanized-metal shed, with boxwoods clipped to match, adds yet another beautiful structure to the garden.

Long-time readers may remember my earlier posts about this magnificent garden:
October 2006 Open Days tour of the David-Peese garden
October 2008 Open Days tour of the David-Peese garden (scroll down; it’s the third garden in that post).
I also visited, but did not take photographs, during the first Garden Bloggers Spring Fling in April 2008, when James and Gary generously gave our group a personal tour. You’ll find many attendees’ posts about the garden listed there.

For a look back at the other gardens on this year’s Open Days tour, click here for a link to the Jones garden. You’ll find links to the other gardens I toured at the end of each post.

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Austin Open Days Tour 2010: Jones garden


Continuing my westward route across Austin on Saturday’s Open Days tour, I headed to the Westlake garden at the Jones residence multimillion-dollar, 11,000 square foot mansion (as per Trulia). This is the view from their elevated front terrace. What? Those buildings? Downtown Austin, of course.


I was welcomed at the gate by designer Scott Thurmon of Yardworks. He maintains this acre-and-a-half showplace. To view Scott’s recent appearance on Central Texas Gardener to talk about this garden, click here.


Elegant stairs on either side of the porte-cochère lead to a terrace with a view of downtown (top picture).


Another look at that million-dollar view


Descending the stairs, you get a good view of a striking boxwood and loropetalum parterre enclosing a palm.


A fun Halloween display was all set to spook trick-or-treaters.


Downtown views are all very nice, but they don’t make a memorable garden. Details like this classical hidden-garden staircase do. It calls out to be explored.


You ascend past evergreen shrubs, which create a restful mood and reduce the need for maintenance.


At the top, this shady seating area overlooks the back of the house. I didn’t get pictures, but a children’s play area is nearby, including a playhouse, swingset, putting green, and fairy garden.


As you traverse the hill behind the house, you are treated to views of Lake Austin. In fact, a swimming pool built along the side of the house looks over Lake Austin on one side and downtown Austin on the other. (See Vert’s Open Days post for pictures.) Impressive, but I find I am drawn to enclosures, not open space, so I spent more time admiring the fig-ivy-covered walls and numerous wall fountains.


Here’s my favorite space in the garden: a curving wall of fig ivy, trained up a structural retaining wall (Scott talks about it in the video I linked to), with an antique French wall fountain and a formal fish pond in the center of the space. What a beautiful, serene space.


A detail of the wall fountain


Another antique French fountain anchors a wall near the doors to a conservatory.


A narrow passage leads from the sheltered fish pond garden, past this tuteur, to the parking court.


A statue of a dapper little boy watches you pass.


Leaning against an ivy-covered retaining wall by the parking court, the white stone frame of an old door or window peeks through the fig ivy, imparting a feeling of age to the garden.

Tune in tomorrow for the final garden I visited, the splendid David-Peese garden. Click here for a look back at Deborah Hornickel’s formal, intimate garden.

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Austin Open Days Tour 2010: Deborah Hornickel garden


Deborah Hornickel added on to her charming Bryker Woods home a couple of years ago, extending its footprint into her back garden, which you can see pre-remodel in my Open Days 2006 post about Deborah’s garden. Visiting post-remodel on Saturday’s Open Days tour, I found it to be more cleanly delineated and even more inviting as a result.

Pictured above, as before the remodel, a relaxed dining set is sheltered beneath an arbor against the back of the garage. Notice how the arbor echoes the angle of the roofline. A large mirror adds light and openness against the dark wall, and a candle chandelier hangs over the table, positioned so that the mirror reflects its glow. The wire-panel arbor is new, but the effect is very similar to what Deborah had before.


The defining feature of the garden is this Bradford pear allee, which divides the garden into two halves. On one side is a formal rectangular lawn. On the other, the lawn has been replaced with a pea-graveled space that contains a new, contemporary-style raised pond and a massive limestone table. The table used to have chairs around it, but now it stands solo, perhaps as a buffet table for parties. A boxwood parterre surrounding a Texas mountain laurel has been removed from the right side also, helping to open the space.


The new focal point for this side is the concrete pond with metal-pipe fountain. This style of pond looks great in a formal or contemporary garden.


A closer look reveals a delicate copper-leaved plant intermingling with lily pads.


Behind the pond, a tight stand of bamboo adds a lovely accent.


Closer to the house, boxwood encircles a deep birdbath set on a concrete pillar. A sunken stock-tank pond used to be here. But after about 10 years it began to corrode, Deborah told me, so she “bit the bullet” and had her new pond built. The old tank was left in place, holes were drilled in the bottom, and the birdbath was placed there instead.


A new back porch offers a garden-friendly transition between indoors and out. Deborah pointed inside through a glass door to indicate where the house used to end and said she loved having a covered porch.


Her decorating touches are always lovely.


Inside the garage, a potting table by the window held a grid of bulbs just beginning to sprout.


A narrow side path leads past a line of blue Arizona cypresses to the driveway and front garden.


I spotted a passionflower blooming next to the cypresses.


Her front porch displays a collection of succulents in terracotta pots…


…plus this planter with silver ponyfoot cascading down its side.


Pumpkins and a glittery, orange skeleton on the door added fun seasonal color.


Deborah’s formally lined front walk breaks free from rigid lines closer to the driveway, on the right, where firebush and ornamental grasses provide a looseness, hot color, and movement that contrasts with the clipped boxwood.

Tune in tomorrow for a tour of the Jones garden overlooking downtown Austin. Click here for a look back at the Pemberton Heights Courtyard garden.

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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