Hungry garden visitors


High-pitched, whistling cries have filled the skies lately, alerting me to our cedar waxwing visitors. Flocking into berry-laden junipers (i.e., “cedars”), possumhaw and yaupon hollies, hackberries, and even invasive ligustrum to gorge themselves, these beautiful crested and masked birds can strip a tree clean of berries in minutes.


Last weekend, a flock gathered for a nosh and a rest in a tall hackberry beyond my garden fence. I heard them before I saw them. Grabbing binoculars and then my telephoto lens, I got a few shots — muddy and silhouetted at this distance, but recognizable nonetheless.


Full? Nah, maybe just one more.


They are such beautiful birds! I hope to see a flock a little closer before they all head north for the summer.


We’ve had other visitors too — and their dining habits are even greedier.


Soon enough there will be fawns in our neighborhood again. But what I look forward to even more is the antler drop — when the bucks lose their antlers and my agaves, hesperaloes, and ornamental trees are safe again.

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 this May 3rd-6th! 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 © 2006-2018 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Fair grounds at Fareground food hall in downtown Austin


Twice last week I visited buzzed-about Fareground food hall on Congress Avenue in downtown Austin, killing time before shows at the Paramount Theater. I’ve yet to see Fareground in the daytime, but at night the softly lit landscaping and plaza sure are enticing. (The stairs and outer plaza seating could actually use a little more light, for safety and usability.)

Looking down into the sunken plaza from street level, you view a hillside planted with Texas dwarf palmetto, sedge, and other low-maintenance, shade-tolerant natives. Stairs and a zigzagging ramp lead you toward a perforated white arbor sheltering a few dining tables.


The shade arbor floats over the outdoor dining area like a paper airplane wing. Daniel Woodroffe of Studio DWG, the landscape architect for the project, commented on one of my Instagram pics that the shade structure is called Nimbus.


Nearby, in the center of the plaza, stands a light sculpture consisting of 12 tall rods, which Daniel called Cloudscape. He said it “atomizes water into actual clouds that are choreographed into a show with light.” According to Studio DWG’s website, “Cloudscape, the iconic water feature at the center of the project, is powered by AC-condensation harvested from the tower.” Both times I visited, Cloudscape only shifted color slightly, from violet to purple, with no cloud-like formations that I could detect. Does it happen at certain times, I wonder? I’d like to see it.


Being a garden geek, I didn’t take a single picture inside the beautiful food hall itself. But I admired the contemporary seating options in the plaza and on the hillside, where turquoise Acapulco wire chairs are gathered around portable round-top tables. The lawn is faux, which is a smart choice for this dry-shade hillside that will see tons of foot traffic and butt lounging.


A wintry tree — a redbud, by the looks of it — awaits spring’s greening touch.


But overall the grounds look green and lush, in spite of our unusually cold winter. On the chilly nights when I visited, only a few hardy diners were sitting on the patio. Everyone else was packed into the indoor seating. But soon enough Fareground’s plaza and hillside lawn will be filled with happily noshing Austinites and visitors.

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 this May 3rd-6th! 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 © 2006-2018 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Yippee Ki Yay! Austin has its own Stickwork sculpture in Pease Park


Have you ever seen a bowerbird’s elaborate, woven-twig structure? That’s what the Stickwork creations of North Carolina artist Patrick Dougherty remind me of. I’ve admired his twiggy sculptures in other cities and gardens. And now we have one in Austin at Pease Park.


Titled Yippee Ki Yay, Austin’s Stickwork consists of 5 woven-branch structures that resemble slumping hay bales, with slanted oval windows and doors. (From above they look like mushy alphabet-soup letters.) It’s sculpture with which you’re meant to interact, to touch, to walk inside…


…or perhaps to play hide-and-seek in.


The weaving itself is fascinating.


In some ways it resembles an oversized bird’s nest.


Of course the artist and his helpers have hands. Imagine how birds do this, with only beak and claw.


The straw huts lean fancifully, as if peering over each other’s shoulders.


The short passageways inside them twist and turn, maze-like.


Gazing through tilted, twiggy windows, you see frame after frame after frame.


If you visit, you can frame yourself.


In a Statesman interview, Dougherty says he expects a Stickwork to have one great year, then one pretty good year, and then start to fall apart. When it’s finally ready to be condemned, the sticks will be shredded and turned into mulch for park plantings. Ashes to ashes and twigs to mulch.


The sculpture is already open to the public, but a public opening ceremony is scheduled for next Saturday, February 10th, from 1 to 3 pm, and even the mayor will be there. Now that sounds like a “yippee ki yay” kind of celebration.

By the way, if you were one of the many local volunteers who helped build this Stickwork, I hope you’ll leave a comment telling us what it was like, or what the artist is like, or anything interesting you learned about weaving a giant stick house.

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 this May 3rd-6th! 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 © 2006-2018 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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