Easy livin’ at Lake Livingston


Lake lounging. Wine sipping. Sunrise and sunset watching. That’s what we did over the weekend at the getaway cottage my sister and sister-in-law own on Lake Livingston in the pineywoods of East Texas. Here’s a sunrise view from their back porch.


Around 12 hours later, here’s the sunset view. Ahhhh.


We cuddled with their loving Sammy, an exuberant but lovable German shorthaired pointer…


..roasted s’mores over a campfire, and enjoyed a nice bottle of wine.


Good times with family — that’s what this time of year is all about.

If you’d like to see more of Lake Livingston, here’s a post I wrote about bird life on the lake a couple years ago.

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.

Out and about in Austin nurseries and parks


Lately I’m taking as many garden photos with my phone as with my “real” camera, and these often get posted to my Instagram. But not all of them, and sometimes I like to share them on my blog too. So here’s some cool stuff I spotted last week at my favorite local nurseries, Lady Bird Lake, and — why not? — even a medical center’s parking lot.

Pictured above, from said medical center’s parking lot, is one of my favorite scenes from the week: a silver-green agave with striking banding and leaf imprints, rising star-shaped from a mat of silver ponyfoot. Simple and beautiful.


At the same center (this is somewhere off Hwy. 620), island beds of Knock Out roses and Mexican feathergrass are anchored by pruned-up, spiky-headed Yucca rostrata.


Now let’s visit some of Austin’s best nurseries, starting with Barton Springs Nursery. Every year I love to catch their enormous American beautyberry in full berry, with cobalt-blue pots adding a harmonizing hue.


This plant is probably 10 feet across. Here’s a look at the other side. If you’re not growing American beautyberry, why not?


Inside BSN’s gift shop, I spotted these fun saguaro vases and ring holders. I resisted the camp on my first visit, but I came back a couple days later, with my daughter in tow, and when she went gaga for them too I snagged the powder-blue saguaro on the left.


A herd of dinosaurs — colorfully painted plastic toys with cut-out holes planted with succulents — roved near the registers. My sister-in-law got me a dino planter for Christmas last year — the blue brachiosaurus — and it brightens my home-office windowsill.


Maybe I need a set.


Up in Cedar Park, I stopped in at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery for a few things and paused to admire this new water feature with tough-as-nails blackfoot daisy and some type of succulent (a cold-tender euphorbia, maybe?) planted alongside it.


Back down to South Austin for a morning visit to The Natural Gardener, where I spotted this furled flower almost ready to open.


And in the gift shop, my books — one of each — were on the bookshelf. I know it’s not easy for nurseries to stock books in this era of Amazon and in conditions where books might get soiled (i.e., unsellable), so I really appreciate those like The Natural Gardener that make the effort. After all, not every local gardener knows the best books for Texas gardening, and nurseries can help by showcasing regionally appropriate titles, or even by keeping a suggested reading list on their website. A website reading list need not be purely regional, of course; it can be staff favorites for all kinds of popular gardening topics! By the way, here’s my own suggested reading list.


Over to Lady Bird Lake’s hike-and-bike trail, where I admired a copper-colored dragonfly hanging out near the water.


I looked at him, and he looked at me with those big bug eyes.


I also saw lots of bald cypress and native palmettos along the lakeshore.


Swans, ducks, and turtles too. They all thought I might have some food and swam right over. Sorry, guys!


And off they went into the setting sun.

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

Austinites and native-plant shoppers, I’ll be at the member’s day Fall Plant Sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 14, and I hope to see you there! I’ll be signing books between 1 and 3 pm in the Wild Ideas gift shop. If you’re not a member, of course you can still come on out and see the gardens and stop in at Wild Ideas. Hope to see you there!

South Texans, come see me at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, October 22. I’ll be delivering the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” that evening. Tickets are on sale at Quinta Mazatlan. I hope to see you there!

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!

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

Scenes from Minneapolis gardens, sightseeing, and bloggers: Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling


This is my 10th post about the recent Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling, and I have two more coming up that cover one very special garden. Even so, I won’t have shown you every garden we visited. There were just too many! But here are a few images from three other gardens, as well as some Minneapolis sights and blogger friends.

Lee & Jerry Shannon Garden


The St. Paul garden of Lee and Jerry Shannon surprises you, appearing rather small from the street but then, in back, stretching on and on to two-thirds of an acre. In mid-July, it was bright with flowering lilies…


…daylilies…


…and yarrow studded with poppy seedheads.


A carved-wood goat sculpture cavorts atop a garden shed’s green roof.


Elsewhere, a small pond is nearly hidden under iris and waterlily leaves.


I was pleased to meet Mary Schier of My Northern Garden here. Mary, in the white striped shirt, put together the jam-packed itinerary for the Fling, but she missed attending due to a death in the family. She was able to say a quick hello to the Flingers at the Shannon garden. That’s her co-planner Amy Andrychowicz of Get Busy Gardening! on the right.

Nancy Guldberg Garden


We enjoyed a relaxing lunch one day in Nancy Guldberg’s back garden overlooking Lake Minnetonka.


With an upper deck overlooking the lake and an inviting play lawn and grandchild-friendly garden below, the place is lake living at its finest.


This small area proved the most fascinating part of the garden for many of the bloggers, myself included. Nancy and her children and grandchildren have composed vignettes out of small objects and figurines placed amid the plants, each representing special moments in their lives. One composition, for example, shows family members watching a movie outdoors in an aunt’s garden. Miniature lounging people gaze at a tiny screen showing a scene from Prince’s movie Purple Rain. Each charming and creative vignette serves as a scrapbook memory about the family.

Vera’s Garden


Vera’s Garden is a community garden along the Midtown Greenway and bike path in Minneapolis.


Seeing what dedicated volunteers can create out of a neglected urban space on a minimal budget is eye-opening.


Today it’s a beautiful strip of flowers, trees, and shrubs that passing bikers as well as nearby apartment dwellers can enjoy.

Bloggers and Minneapolis sightseeing

Aside from seeing lots of gardens, getting to know new bloggers and reconnecting with longtime blogging friends is what makes the Fling such a fun event. Here are a few pictures from our opening night reception.


Southern gals: Karin of Southern Meadows (Georgia), Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings (Oklahoma), Jean of Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog (Louisiana), and Gail of Clay and Limestone (Tennessee).


Texans Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden and Susan of The Bicycle Garden, along with 1st-time attendee Sarah of Recreational Gardener (Minnesota).


Northern gals: Joanne of Down2Earth (Canada); last year’s co-host of the Toronto Fling, Helen of Toronto Gardens (Canada); and Beth of Plant Postings (Wisconsin).


And a troop of happy Flingers from all over. Front row, left to right: Minneapolis Fling co-host Amy of Get Busy Gardening! (Minnesota), Lisa of Natural Gardening (North Carolina), Janet of The Queen of Seaford (South Carolina) and Julie of Garden Delights (South Carolina). Back row, left to right: Shawn and Laurin of Ravenscourt Gardens (Texas), Bren of Creative Living and Growing with Bren (Ohio), and co-host Kathleen of 29 Minute Gardener (Minnesota).


Our hotel was located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, where there were plenty of sights to see, including this colorful Bob Dylan mural.


Just down the block was First Avenue nightclub, where hometown hero Prince filmed a scene for his movie Purple Rain. The club’s black exterior walls are gridded with painted silver stars bearing musicians’ names. After Prince died, his star was painted gold and attracts throngs of fans who take selfies in front of it.


I’ve been a Prince fan since 1999 in the early ’80s. I love Lucinda Williams too, and she also has a star.


My friend Diana and me — well, you know a couple of Austinites are gonna love another music town like Minneapolis!

Up next: Part one of my final garden visit from the Minneapolis Fling, sculptor and mosaic artist Wouterina De Raad’s garden. For a look back at Noerenberg Memorial Gardens, the Kelley-Carmichiel Garden, and Kelley & Kelley Nursery’s display 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

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!

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

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