Come to my free talk at Antique Rose Emporium this Saturday

Texas gardeners, come on out to The Antique Rose Emporium Fall Festival in Brenham, Texas, this weekend for entertaining and educational garden speakers, beautiful display gardens, and fun! I’ll be speaking this Saturday, November 5th, from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. My talk, with plenty of eye-candy photos, is called “Hold the Hose! How to Design a Water-Saving Garden that Wows.”

Meet me afterward at the book-signing table, where you can purchase a signed copy of Lawn Gone! or The Water-Saving Garden. They make great holiday gifts!

Until then, here are a few water-saving garden — and faux garden — pics I’ve shared on my Instagram lately:


Dry shade-tolerant plantings around my back-yard pool


Waterwise containers on the back deck


And — why not? — a fun paper cactus display and wall sketches in the store window at Anthropologie in Austin! Even clothing stores recognize the beauty of waterwise plants, it seems. Click here to see more of Anthropologie’s gorgeous cactus window displays.

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.

Visit to Quinta Mazatlan, birding, and Planta Nativa Festival


Texas is a big state, and living in the center of it means that whichever direction you travel, it’s a long drive to the state line. Last weekend, that meant a 5-hour drive to the Rio Grande Valley, where Texas shares a border with Mexico. My destination? Quinta Mazatlan, a city-owned nature and birding center on the grounds of a 1930s Spanish Revival-style estate, where I’d been invited to give the keynote presentation at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa Festival on October 22.


My husband and I drove down on Friday and arrived in time for an early-evening stroll around the grounds. I’d never been to the Valley before (which is not actually a valley but a flat river delta), and I imagined a lusher, rainier climate than Austin’s, with citrus orchards as far as the eye could see. However, while temps are nearly tropical (zone 9b), McAllen is surprisingly dry, with 22 inches of annual rainfall — 11 fewer inches than Austin receives.


The gardens at Quinta bristle with rustling palm leaves, including native Texas palmetto (Sabal mexicana) and imported L.A.-style Mexican fan palms (Washington robusta).


Cacti mingle easily with the palms and other xeric plants.


A dozen or so bronze animal sculptures appear throughout the gardens, including this bird-osaurus sort of creature on a twiggy rebar stand.


The actual birds we encountered were exotic to our eyes, with exotic-sounding names as well, like the chachalaca, a chicken-sized bird that darted around at ground level like a roadrunner, occasionally fluttering into low trees.


Tame and seemingly ready for a handout, the chachalaca may be the center’s mascot.


In an hour’s stroll, we saw many other species as well, including a beautiful yellow-bellied bird called the great kiskadee and circling flocks of whistling ducks, whose whistle-like cries could be heard overhead.


We sat for a while in this boulder-seat amphitheater facing a shallow pond, where birds came to drink as the sun went down.


We didn’t see any of these critters during our stroll, but we kept an eye out, just in case.


I’d love to see a horny toad one day, the state reptile of Texas.


Heron sculpture at a pond


Around back of the main house, we found a charming dance space under the outstretched limbs of a large tree. A wooden stage stands ready for the band, with string lights overhead to illuminate the sandy dance floor.


Entering a gated arch, with tall palms adding Hollywood glamor overhead…


…we found ourselves in a walled courtyard with pergola-shaded seating.


Cantera stone columns support a tile-and-beam ceiling. An in-ground water feature bisects part of the courtyard. This space would be filled with festival guests the following evening.


Bougainvillea clambering along a wall


Another gated arch led to a lawn set up with chairs for my talk. The next day, a big LED screen and stage were set up.


These Spanish-style gates are so inviting.


At the front of the house, an old stone fountain has been converted into a planter filled with succulents and bird of paradise, the latter appropriate for a center that’s a magnet for bird watchers during the big spring and fall migrations.


The Valley is on the migratory flight path for many species, making it a birder’s paradise at certain times of the year. Inside, a board shows what species are currently visiting the grounds.


I was also delighted to see several lovely displays of my books set up in the gift shop!


How nice!


Lots of wonderful gift items were displayed throughout the shop, and we didn’t leave empty handed.


Exploring the mansion, we found South Texas native plants lining the main hall, ready for the next day’s plant sale.


An agave tapestry


The next evening, I headed back to Quinta Mazatlan for a pre-talk book signing while festival attendees shopped for plants, bid on art…


…and enjoyed food and drinks under softly glowing strings lights in the courtyard.


Just before 8 pm, drummers moved out to the stage and began tapping a booty-moving rhythm.


It worked like a charm. People followed the music and took their seats. Some couldn’t resist the beat and were soon dancing in front of the stage.


It was the most festive group I’d ever spoken to, with a velvety sky overhead, an occasional bat swooping silently on the hunt, and a happy crowd interested in new ideas for gardening with less water, more native plants, more wildlife, and more beauty!


I met many interesting people passionate about the native ecology of South Texas while I was there, not least these women who organized Planta Nativa: Carol Goolsby, Environment Education Supervisor at Quinta; Colleen Hook, manager of Quinta Mazatlan; and Betty Perez, owner of Perez Ranch Nursery. (I neglected to get a photo during the festival, but I have this one from a speaking event in San Antonio last spring, which they attended.) Huge thanks to them and other members of the board for hosting me.


I came home with memories of a new and interesting place, new connections made, and even some beautiful homegrown limes — evidence of those citrus orchards I expected! — given to me by a lovely woman named Chris. Thanks to all who came!

Up next: Sightseeing along the Rio Grande, where a hand-pulled ferry still operates today.

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

I’ll be speaking at the Antique Rose Emporium Fall Festival 2016 in Brenham, Texas, on Saturday, November 5th, 1:30-2:30 pm. Come on out to the Antique Rose Emporium’s beautiful gardens for a day of speakers and fun! My talk, with plenty of eye-candy photos, is called “Hold the Hose! How to Design a Water-Saving Garden that Wows.” Meet me afterward at the book-signing table!

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.

Catch me on CTG, at Wildflower Center book-signing & more!


It’s back-to-the-garden time in Texas, and it’s also garden-talk season! I’m making a few appearances around Texas this fall (see below), and you can also catch me this weekend on Austin’s own Central Texas Gardener TV show. Last fall, right before my garden was on tour, CTG producer Linda Lehmusvirta and her crew visited my garden to film it, and me talking about it.


It airs this weekend on KLRU and other stations around the South and Southwest, and it’s already online. Watching myself on TV is not my favorite activity (I’m way too introverted for that), but I hope it conveys what I was going for with my garden. It’s no designer showcase, and it’s far from perfect. It’s a personal garden that makes me happy, where I experiment with plants and design ideas and feel connected with nature. I hope that comes through, and it’s always my hope to share my gardening enthusiasm with others!


Huge thanks to Linda, cameraman Ed, and the rest of the CTG crew for sharing my garden on the show! And for mentioning my books too…


…which (cue suave segue) I’ll be autographing tomorrow (Friday) at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s gift store from 1 to 3 pm. Tomorrow is the members’-day portion of their Fall Native Plant Sale, so if you’re coming out for that, I hope you’ll drop in at the store and say hi. Visitors and members alike, it’s a great time to visit the gardens, which are gorgeous this time of year.

Here are sneak peeks of my two books, which I’ll be signing from 1 to 3 pm. Remember, if you’re a member, you get a 10% discount in the gift store!


In one week, next Saturday the 22nd, I’ll be speaking at Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, and it’s going to be a lot of fun! Activities are going on all that weekend, but the main event is Saturday evening, with beer and wine, live music, an art exhibit, delicious food, and yours truly presenting the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens.” Hope to see all you South Texans there!


Earlier this month, I was super excited to learn that esteemed magazine The American Gardener featured The Water-Saving Garden in its reviews section in the Sept/Oct 2016 issue.


They devoted a whole page, in fact, to books about managing water sustainably in the garden, which is terrific.


Here’s what they say about my book.


Speaking of water-saving gardens, here’s a quick look at my favorite plants this week, as our second spring begins: autumn sage (Salvia greggii) and whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia) in my neighbor’s garden that I planted for her.


And in my own streetside garden, ‘Pink Flamingos’ muhly with hot-pink autumn sage and dark-purple ‘Vertigo’ pennisetum (Pennisetum purpureum ‘Vertigo’ from Proven Winners, a trial plant they sent me) in the background.


And just for fun, a mosaic glass-tile prickly pear at The Domain shopping center in north Austin.


Happy fall, y’all!

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

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!

I’ll be speaking at the Antique Rose Emporium Fall Festival 2016 in Brenham, Texas, on Saturday, November 5th, 1:30-2:30 pm. Come on out to the Antique Rose Emporium’s beautiful gardens for a day of speakers and fun! My talk, with plenty of eye-candy photos, is called “Hold the Hose! How to Design a Water-Saving Garden that Wows.” Meet me afterward at the book-signing table!

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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