Come see my garden on the Inside Austin Gardens Tour


The Inside Austin Gardens Tour is coming up soon, in a little less than two months, and my garden will be on it. This will be my first time on a public tour, and I hope that you’ll come and say hi.


I love the slogan for this tour — For Gardeners, By Gardeners — because it speaks to the accessibility of the 6 private gardens on tour. This is not a mansion-laden tour of gardens maintained by landscaping crews but a peek into gardeners’ gardens, with all the passions, quirks, and real-life trial-and-error they offer.


Each garden has a theme, and mine is “Oh Deer!” — for obvious reasons. My front garden is largely grassy, with scented and fragrant foliage that deters deer from browsing. They love to sleep in the sedge lawn, though. And yes, I’ll be glad to tell you all about the sedge as a lawn alternative for shade.


In back, where deer are fenced out, I cut loose and plant a variety of other things in terraced beds built around an existing swimming pool. Because of a dense canopy of live oaks, my garden tends to be evergreen, with pockets of seasonal color. It’s accented by a variety of agaves and yuccas, which I love for their sculptural beauty and Texas toughness.


The Inside Austin Gardens tour is held every 18 months (allowing for alternating spring and fall tours) and presented by Travis County Master Gardeners Association and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service-Travis County.


Tour tickets may be purchased online in advance for $19 or at any of the gardens for $20. Click here for tour information and ticket info.

Update 8/28: Also, see Lori Daul’s beautiful photos of my garden, which she took for the tour website.

Inside Austin Gardens Tour
October 17, 2015
9:00 am to 4:00 pm
6 private gardens and 1 public garden

I hope to see you then!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Stained-glass leaves and Crazy Eyes snake


Even a dark-green, fibrous leaf, like that of cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior), glows like a stained-glass window when backlit by the setting sun. In the lowest, shadiest part of my garden, it fringes a native Mexican buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa), which is also aglow.


A tunnel of incandescent leaves. I caught the scene just before sunset and enjoyed the brief show.


The sun was already too low to shine through the new Yucca rostrata‘s leaves. The pale, crooked trunks behind it belong to a pair of Texas persimmons (Diospyros texana), which are loaded with fuzzy, green fruits right now.

Everyone who visits my garden asks about the limestone slabs back here. Yes, they are natural, and yes, they are cool. This part of the garden is basically floored with natural limestone.


Cosmo is standing on one of the large slabs of rock — it looks like a paved path, right? That’s a very slow-growing blue nolina (Nolina nelsonii) and a Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) in bloom just ahead of him.


Moby, my whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia), poses with blue bottles from the bottle tree.


That’s all for now. It’s the weekend, so enjoy!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

New blue tuteur doubles as bee B&B


The sea of green that is my deer-resistant sedge lawn and grassy borders now has a welcome shot of color. When I heard that TerraTrellis, a woman-owned, original-garden-art studio in Los Angeles, was running an online sale, I splurged on their Akoris Jr. tuteur with a bee bungalow finial. I just love it!


It stands tall amid the Berkeley sedge and offers a hip habitat for solitary mason bees, which are beneficial pollinators. The bungalow on top is stuffed with bamboo and sticks with drilled holes, which, to a mason bee, looks like home sweet home. (If you’d like to construct a DIY bee hotel, check out my fellow Austinites’ blog posts: Vicki, Sheryl, and Meredith. You can really get creative while helping your pollinators.)


Last night an older gentleman walking his dog asked if I’d put up a video camera. Confused, I asked, “What?” He pointed at the tuteur, and I said, “Oh! No, it’s a garden tuteur with a bug hotel.” He looked completely baffled, or maybe like he thought I was nuts.


I am definitely nuts for the designs of TerraTrellis and their sister operation TerraSculpture. They’re nice people too. Case in point — along with my order they sent me a free gift: their beautifully sculptural Bird Cafe finial, which they suggested I might want to switch out with the bee bungalow during the winter.

Thank you, TerraTrellis! It’s too pretty to hide away for half the year, plus Austin, ahem, has a lot of rats, and they love birdfeeders (as do deer). So instead I plan to come up with some way of showcasing the Bird Cafe as a sculptural object year-round. Stay tuned!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.