Blackbird to bring good cheer


Seeing Blackbird, a new sculpture in Austin’s Republic Square Park, for the first time last week, I couldn’t help hearing Paul McCartney’s lilting voice in my head:

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly


A spark of hope in dark times


All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.

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

Calling all garden bloggers! You’re invited to register for the annual Garden Bloggers Fling tour and meetup, which will be held in Austin next May 3-6, 2018! Click this link for information about registering, and you can see our itinerary here. Space is limited, so don’t delay. The 2018 Fling will be the event’s 10th anniversary, which started in Austin in 2008.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks! Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by inspiring designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Canyon-side garden of Tait Moring: Austin Open Days Tour 2017


The final garden from the Austin Open Days Tour earlier this month is landscape architect Tait Moring‘s personal garden, which perches on a canyon’s rim just off Bee Caves Road. His entry garden is an appealing mix of formality (boxwood hedging, geometric raised pond, fig ivy neatly trimmed on the wall) and rustic informality (loosely planted Mexican feathergrass, colorful pots zigzagging on the steps, a country-style gravel driveway).


Color blocking with fig ivy and white limestone coping


Tait said a branch fell into the pond, and he decided to leave it for the goldfish to enjoy.


Waterfall detail, with ceramic turtle


A chunky pillar and low wall display oversized pots, one with grasses and salvia, the others with hesperaloe.


Across the driveway, a cactus dish sits on a limestone boulder amid grasses and goldeneye daisy.


A decomposed-granite trail leads back toward the property’s entrance. The busy highway just beyond is completely obscured by trees and bamboo along the property line. Gigantic stone spheres rest along the trail, leading you to a free-standing and inviting wooden gate.


Architectural relics lie alongside the stone spheres. These spheres once accented the planting beds in the Rollingwood Randall’s shopping center. When that shopping center redid its landscaping, Tait was lucky enough to acquire the spheres and brought them home to his own garden.


The wooden gate with unique fasteners and a hand knocker opens to a lawn circle anchored by a glossy black pot.


A wall of bamboo encircles the lawn. An opening with a stepping-stone path leads out of the garden to the highway shoulder just beyond.


The view from the bamboo doorway


Heading back through the wooden gate, I managed to photobomb Lori’s picture.


A round pot on a stone plinth echoes the sphere’s shape.


Another pot contains the sword-like foliage of a tall yucca.


Tait’s home doubles as his design studio, and his garden has storage space for plants for installations. A greenhouse, collection of white planters, and chandelier hanging from a tree give structure and interest to his plant-storage space.


An Indonesian-style turquoise post stands alongside a cedar fence post and echoes the blue of coiled hoses.


Painted post detail


A flora-themed wrought-iron gate divides the driveway between visitor parking and work equipment parking.


Fence detail


A rubble wall with gothic-arch niche and cedar gate marks the entry to Tait’s back garden.


The niche makes a fun display space for a trio of skull planters.


The detail of the wall itself is amazing, studded with geodes, turquoise glass, and fossils amid the rocks.


Let’s go through the gate to see the rest. I love the curved cedar trunk arching above the gate, and notice the skull and prickly pear tucked in the fig ivy atop the stone gatepost.


Straight ahead — a canyon view, with newly built houses cropping up on the ridge line. A cantera stone pillar topped with an agave dish and a round pond draw the eye across the lawn.


A closer view


Looking back through the gate


A planter pocket built into this side of the wall contains grama grass. Just beyond…


…a ‘Green Goblet’ agave (I think) in a blue pot


The rubble wall deserves a close inspection on this side as well.


Altar niche with hanging lantern


Fossils, green glass, and is that an amethyst geode?


It all fits together so beautifully.


Another carved cantera column supports a potted agave on this side of the lawn as well.


With a vine creeping up the column, a jungly mood is created.


On a perpendicular axis to the canyon view, the lawn stretches out beneath a large cedar (juniper) tree and leads to a swimming pool.


Hanging above Turk’s cap and inland sea oats, as if over an indoor dining table, a capiz-shell chandelier is a surprising sight as it tinkles in the breeze.


A lushly planted strip behind the pool runs alongside a stacked-limestone wall topped with a cedar fence.


The long view


Another cantera stone column stands here. It used to have a tiki-style stone head atop it, which I miss.


From shade into sun, the view back toward the house


Tait’s garden largely consists of water-conserving native plants and wildscape in the upper canyon. This swath by the pool is the only lawn Tait has, and he doesn’t baby it with excess water.


Heading into the canyon via a woodsy trail, you pass intimate seating areas, like this motel-chair grouping…


…and a contemplative stone bench.


The payoff comes along the canyon’s rim, below the house, where Tait built a beautifully crafted, semicircular bench around a stone fire pit.


Imagine sitting here and watching the sun set over the hills, and then roasting marshmallows around a cozy campfire.


Tait also nurtures — and by nurtures I mean he carefully leaves alone — a native Texas madrone. These white-trunked trees are notoriously picky about growing conditions and don’t appreciate well-intentioned “improvements” like removing cedar trees around them. Tait has wisely left his tree in its native condition.


A large Texas nolina sprawls nearby, like green spaghetti or a shaggy head of hair.


A rustic deck off the back of the house displays a collection of potted plants.


A patchwork path of stone and brick leftover from other projects leads from the deck…


…past native swaths of goldeneye daisy…


…to Tait’s vegetable garden, a potager of rectangular stone beds.


And here’s Tait, the tamer of the canyon’s edge and protector of its wildness. Thanks for sharing your garden, Tait!

This concludes my recap of the 2017 Austin Open Days Tour. For a look back at the water-saving garden on Ridgewood Road, click here.

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

Calling all garden bloggers! You’re invited to register for the annual Garden Bloggers Fling tour and meetup, which will be held in Austin next May 3-6, 2018! Click this link for information about registering, and you can see our itinerary here. Space is limited, so don’t delay. The 2018 Fling will be the event’s 10th anniversary, which started in Austin in 2008.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks! Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by inspiring designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Water-saving Ridgewood Road Garden: Austin Open Days Tour 2017


The talented Annie Gillespie of Botanical Concerns designed the water-saving garden at Ridgewood Road, the next garden in my recap of Austin’s recent Open Days Tour. From the street you’re invited to stroll through a low-water garden of oaks, grasses, agave, and yucca to reach the house via a stepped-back landing and pea-gravel path.


Here’s the other end of that gravel path where it meets the parking area by the house. Densely layered plants help screen a neighbor’s house from view.


I love these barbed-wire spheres — a Western accent.


From the driveway, a square-paver (or stone) path leads past a pea-gravel patio to the front door. A front-yard patio is a great way to create a sense of welcome, plus it puts to use space typically devoted to lawn. Bamboo muhly lines the path along the foundation.


Rough-hewn wooden chairs at a round table look like works of nature rather than human made.


Such an inviting space, even if just for the eyes.


Near the front door, a vertical stone fountain adds the sound of water.


Where the path turns toward the door, a bench carved from a weathered old tree trunk stops the eye and offers a resting spot.


My friend Cat enjoys a moment amid flowering Mexican bush sage.


Continuing on around the house, we spotted this L-shaped screen creating a private nook around a bathroom window. Adorned with prayer flags, Moroccan-style lanterns, and a Mexican sculpture of the Madonna, the tiny garden is clearly a visual retreat for those enjoying the view from inside.


Tom Spencer, in his old garden (8th photo), used to have a carved Madonna just like this one.


One more view. I’ve seen lanterns like these for sale at Barton Springs Nursery. This is a lovely way to display them.


Coming around the back of the house, a small patio glows like a rainbow with a colorfully painted bench and red flower planter.


Farther along in the gravel path, a roofed cedar swing takes in the view. The path also serves as a filtration trench (hidden under the gravel) to cleanse rainwater runoff, since the steeply sloped back yard sheds water downhill into a watershed.


But the real goal in making a water-wise garden is to keep runoff from happening at all. Annie designed the entire garden to slow the progression of water and give it time to soak in. “What you want to do with water is slow it down,” she says in a Central Texas Gardener episode about this garden.


Terracing behind the house helps keep runoff from eroding the slope. It also creates space for a small patio to bridge the gap between house and garden.


The view from the gravel patio includes a focal-point steel-dish tower planted with an agave, Big Red Sun-style.


The gravel path leads past stacked-stone raised planters behind the house.


Looking back toward the home’s screened porch, there’s the homeowner (in the yellow blouse) talking with visitors.


Winding along the side fence, a nicely designed dry creek directs and slows runoff from the front yard and roof downspouts when it rains.


Pomegranates ripen on a small tree in one of the raised beds.


The gravel path leading out of the back garden is paved with a heavier gravel — clearly made for slowing down runoff.


And here’s that same path as it rounds the corner of the front house back to the driveway. Another dwarf pomegranate with rosy fruits softens the corner. Pink skullcap flowers on either side of the path.


And here’s the fun group of bloggers I was touring with that day: Jennifer of Victory or Death!…in the Garden, Cat of The Whimsical Gardener, me, Shirley of Rock-Oak-Deer (who drove up from San Antonio), Laura of Wills Family Acres, Lori of The Gardener of Good and Evil, and Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden. By the way, 6 of these bloggers will be attending the Garden Bloggers Fling tour and blogger meetup in Austin next May 3-6. If you’re a garden blogger and want to Fling with us, click here for info about signing up. There are only a few spaces left, so don’t delay!

Up next: Designer Tait Moring’s canyon-side garden. For a look back at the waterwise drama of the Lakemoore Drive Garden, click here.

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

Calling all garden bloggers! You’re invited to register for the annual Garden Bloggers Fling tour and meetup, which will be held in Austin next May 3-6, 2018! Click this link for information about registering, and you can see our itinerary here. Space is limited, so don’t delay. The 2018 Fling will be the event’s 10th anniversary, which started in Austin in 2008.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks! Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by inspiring designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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