Lucinda Hutson‘s purple cottage in the Rosedale neighborhood of central Austin is a wonderland of Mexican folk art, colorful furnishings, and brightly painted walls. I had the pleasure of re-visiting last Friday, and brought along new friend Paula Panich, a Los Angeles writer and teacher of garden writing.
Lucinda’s Day of the Dead parties and decor are legendary, but her Christmas decorating is equally charming and rooted in Mexican culture.
Atop her dining table, a carved and painted Joseph leads a haloed (but surprisingly flat-stomached) Mary on a donkey, alongside a small, curlicued tree adorned with colorful glass ornaments…
…like this sombrero-wearing señora and pinata donkey…
…and sash-draped señor.
Even Lucinda’s lampshade is decorated with a cheeky assortment of ornaments: a golden tequila bottle, an angel-winged man clutching a bottle, a smiling red devil, the Virgin Mary, and, in back, a margarita glass.
On a sideboard stands a glazed-clay Our Lady of Guadalupe, surrounded by cherubs — one of Lucinda’s prize pieces.
A closer look reveals agave-painted glasses arrayed at her feet, along with evergreen branches and candles. Garden, tequila, and Mexican folk art — three of Lucinda’s interests in one lovely arrangement.
Our Lady appears in Lucinda’s garden as well. Here she’s a tile mosaic in an altar made from a blue-painted bathtub.
Echoes of Gustav Klimt?
Here, a carven Our Lady adorns a rustic writing cottage behind the house, seeming to bless all who enter.
In the tradition of Mexican folk gardens, other religious figures are given homemade altars as well, like this St. Anthony framed by an old wheelbarrow tray.
A tiled picture of St. Francis and his birds brightens the fence behind a raised bed of vegetables and edible flowers. A fork flower and half-buried dishes continue the edible theme.
In her Grotto Garden, instead of saints and madonnas Lucinda favors mermaids and sea creatures. A cast-iron mermaid poses against a turquoise-painted fence under an arbor draped with shells. Strands of blue and white capiz shells and strings of tiny mirrors add sea-like sparkle.
Here is Lucinda’s writing cottage, accessed via a large back deck that always looks party-ready.
A frilly, blue-painted chair and blue and orange glass lanterns add color and an invitation to linger.
Two art tiles — a dancing woman…
…and a hand with a heart — stand out against the dark wood siding.
Turning around you take in the full force of Lucinda’s fearless love of color. Rich purple paint turns what might have been the boring wall of a detached garage into a focal-point display space. A homemade buffet/altar of stacked benches covered in floral oilcloth gives Lucinda room to stage food, drinks, or her Day of the Dead decorations.
A wider view shows how Lucinda has adorned the eave of her house with a slatted awning of wood, giving it tropical flair.
Because our first hard freeze is running late this year, blue sky vine (Thunbergia grandiflora) still blooms with abandon on a peaked arbor. That’s Lucinda in black, talking with Paula.
Colorful peppers soak up the sunshine in the front garden.
Lucinda’s purple cottage reminds me of the house in American Gothic, but all loosened up and ready to party! Gold-flowering cosmos towers over the entry walk.
A visit to Lucinda’s wouldn’t be complete without stopping by her La Lucinda Cantina, a tequila bar under a cedar arbor at the very back of the garden.
Inside is where she keeps the good stuff, though, on an altar devoted to tequila, from its origins in the agave harvest to tequila-sipping cups.
Lucinda’s fascination with Mexico and its national liquor led her to write ¡Viva Tequila!: Cocktails, Cooking, and Other Agave Adventures. Published in 2013, it’s a gorgeous ode to tequila, filled with personal photos and stories from Lucinda’s 40 years of travel through Mexico, cooking and drink recipes, and tequila party-hosting ideas. Through her story-telling and photos, Lucinda opens a window onto Mexican culture, and she’ll have you thirsting to try her recipes. I think the book would make a great gift for the mixologist or tequila enthusiast on your list and anyone who loves the color and spice of Mexico. Lucinda mentioned that it also makes a fun and unique groomsman gift, especially if accompanied by a nice bottle of tequila and a couple of glasses. (I like how she thinks outside the box to market her book!) Spring wedding-planning, anyone?
Thanks, Lucinda, for sharing your colorful home and garden with me again! Readers, if you’d like to see more of Lucinda’s garden, here are my other posts about it:
Lucinda Hutson’s purple cottage, cantina garden, and Viva Tequila!, April 2013
Lucinda Hutson’s Easter-egg colorful garden, April 2012
Enchanted evening in Lucinda Hutson’s cantina garden, April 2011
El Jardin Encantador: Lucinda Hutson’s garden, October 2009
Lucinda Hutson’s enchanting garden, April 2008
All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.