My article about garden art is in Garden Design magazine


Placing art in the garden is, well, an art in itself, as I learned when visiting Bedrock Gardens in New Hampshire this summer. I wrote about the garden and its art for an online piece in Garden Design, called “Placing Art in the Garden”. Whether you’re a confirmed lover of garden art or unsure about it, I hope you’ll check it out. Click here for my article.

Update: If you’d like to see more of this garden, click here for part 1 of my tour of Bedrock Gardens.


By the way, if you don’t already know, Garden Design is back, after going out of business in 2013, with a revamped website and a quarterly “bookazine”-style magazine that’s completely ad-free and subscriber based. A higher subscription price frees the magazine from chasing diminishing advertising dollars and covers four 132-page issues per year. The second issue is coming out soon. I’ve been checking my mailbox every day. If you’re interested you can subscribe here.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

I’m in HGTV Magazine October 2014 issue


While waiting in line at the grocery store checkout this morning, I flipped through the latest issue of HGTV Magazine and was absurdly pleased to see my own name on page 27, in their monthly feature, “How Bad Is It…”

You’re right, it really doesn’t take much to make me happy. Especially when grocery shopping, one of my least favorite household chores. (Laundry is my favorite.)


HGTV writer Jessica Dodell-Feder recently interviewed me to ask, “How bad is it to never rake?” My cheerful advice is that a mulching mower will put your rake out of business — good news for those whose least favorite household chore is raking leaves.

So how about you? Do you rake your leaves in Zen meditation or as an aerobic workout? Or do you enjoy running over them with a mulching mower (preferably electric for less noise and no pollution), shredding them into compost for your soil, zip-zip and you’re done? I prefer the latter — when I have a lawn at all.

I’m off to read the rest of the magazine over lunch. It looks like a good issue, with lots of house makeovers and ideas for using stone in your garden. Luckily it’s too early for any of us to be raking or mower-mulching autumn leaves, right?

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Switch Hit: Substituting local plants to recreate gardens you admire in magazines


Do you ever mentally substitute plants that grow well in your region for non-hardy plants you see in a magazine or blog picture from another region? As a gardener in a part of the country not well represented by national gardening magazines, I often find that the pretty pictures of gardens from the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, and California feature plants that won’t survive in my Death Star-blasted, water-deprived, alkaline-soil central Texas garden.

Luckily, a garden you admire can often be approximated by substituting hardy plants from your own region that have similar shapes and colors. Take the photo above, for example. I tore out this page from the December 2009 issue of Fine Gardening because I loved the mix of blue, purple, and gold and the contrasting shapes of the plants. Most likely this is a frost-free California garden because of the presence of those clusters of echeverias. And what is that yellow-striped plant with the sword-like leaves? Furcraea? Phormium? Neither is hardy here.


But some of these plants will grow for us, like Jerusalem sage (Phlomis frutescens) and catmint (Nepeta) — at least I think that’s a catmint. You could also use mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea) in its place. ‘Color Guard’ yucca would substitute nicely for the furcraea/phormium, and Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) for the bronze New Zealand sedge or whatever kind of grass that is at the front. The echeverias are harder to replace — their shape is so unique — but for a similar color and groundcovering height you could substitute gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida), ‘Bath’s Pink’ dianthus, or even wooly stemodia (Stemodia lanata).

The next time you feel frustrated by your inability to use the temperate-zone plants we see all the time in magazines, use your imagination — or stroll through a nursery with your photo in hand, looking for similar shapes — to come up with locally adapted plants that can mimic that look. Just make sure all your substitutes can take the same conditions of light, heat/frost, soil type, and water to ensure that they’ll grow well together.

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.