The twinkliest town in the Hill Country


If you want to see trees made of light and a charmingly illuminated main square, go visit Johnson City, a small town of 2,000 residents, located about an hour west of Austin. Every December they turn their town into a beautiful spectacle of light — called Lights Spectacular — and it’s all completely free and free of traffic jams.


We finally escaped a monster traffic jam near downtown Austin during Wednesday rush hour, and from there it was an easy drive with Texas-style Christmas tunes playing on Sun Radio. Ever heard Kacey Musgraves’s “A Willie Nice Christmas”?: May we all get higher than the angel on the top of the tree.

Ahem.


The most incredible display is at Pedernales Electric Co-op, where 1.2 million LED lights transform dozens of mature live oaks around their headquarters into branching, dazzling nebulae. Photos cannot convey how magical it is.


Being live oaks, the trees still have all their leathery leaves, which faintly reflect the lights, creating a cloud-like halo above the sinuous trunks.


And ah, those trunks and branches and limbs of light! Each one is picked out in exquisite detail through masses of lights. Larger lights thread through the leafy canopies above.


Kids run around under the lights, couples hold hands, and families gaze upward, their faces illuminated by the arboreal glow.


After walking around the co-op to view all the trees, we strolled a couple of blocks over to the town square to admire the waterfall effect of lights hanging from the Blanco County Courthouse.


On the courthouse lawn a reindeer paddock contains Santa’s herd until Christmas Eve.


The surrounding businesses get in on the action too.


Lots of lights and plenty of small-town charm.


Maybe some of these are residential homes?


I love this one.


This house has its own tree of light.


Back at the co-op, a light-adorned tractor was pulling hayriders around, and a food truck offered cups of hot chocolate. A guy playing a guitar sang Christmas carols under the trees.


This place will take the stress out of your holiday.


And as Kacey sings in her Willie song:

I hope you have a really
A really, really Willie nice Christmas
And Willie Happy New Year too
Have a Willie happy Hanukkah
Feliz Navidad-ukkah
A Willie happy Kwanzaa ’cause it’s all the same
A Mele Kalikimaka, hey
Whatever way you wanna say
Just have yourself a
Really, really, really
A really, really Willie nice Christmas

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 next May 3-6, 2018! 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 © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Austin shines brightly at Trail of Lights and Zilker Tree


Five years have slipped by since we’ve walked Austin’s beloved holiday light display at Zilker Park called Trail of Lights. When our kids were little we went every year, and our last visit was in 2012, but this year it was just me and my husband keeping the family tradition alive. And it is still magical, silly dinosaur displays and all, mainly because of the park’s majestic trees, themselves transformed into brightly lit, many-armed holiday creatures.


Colored green, pink, orange, and blue, Zilker’s pecans and oaks glow festively along the trail.


Photo-op stages are set up here and there, like this one resembling Austin’s Pennybacker Bridge on Loop 360, with a view of Zilker Christmas Tree beyond.


A Ferris wheel and carousel have been added since we last attended, adding a carnival festivity.


The colorful trees seem to embrace the rides too.


Who doesn’t love an old-fashioned carousel?


Well, maybe that one boy. (But I bet he secretly loves it too.)


It was cold, and we didn’t ride. But I enjoyed the colorful scene.


It would be hard to pick a favorite color tree.


Maybe red?


A glowing blue tree messed with my cell phone camera, but I kind of like the effect.


A serape-wearing, jackalope-riding cowboy delivering toys makes a Texas-style version of Santa Claus.


From the Trail of Lights we walked across Barton Springs Road to see the Zilker Holiday Tree, an Austin tradition for 51 years.


Standing 155 feet tall and anchored by a Moon Tower, this tree of light rises high above the trees in Zilker Park and can be seen glowing from afar against the backdrop of downtown Austin.


But just looking is no good. You have to stand under the lights and spin. When you’re dizzy and laughing, you’ll know you’ve done it right.

1, 2, 3 — SPIN!

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 next May 3-6, 2018! 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 © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Luminations lights up the Wildflower Center for Christmas


Luminations, the annual holiday light display at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, didn’t happen last year. But it returned this year for a 4-night run that ended Sunday night. Our family went last night and had a lovely time viewing the lights along the paths and the garden’s native Texas plants.


Glowing luminarias lined the entry walk along the aqueduct, which was washed with purple and blue light.


The entry pond was otherworldly, transformed by magenta and electric blue light. Luminarias zigzagged up the stone watercourse on the back wall.


Glowing with light, the pathways through the garden were especially enticing.


Even the Central Garden, normally my least favorite area of the gardens, was transformed by light.


Trees lit up in red and green led to a bright window…


…where a UT Tower made of gingerbread was on display.


Every time I visit, the Arizona cypresses in the Family Garden seem to have grown another few feet, and they looked beautiful adorned with ornaments and lights. Starburst-shaped sotols grow in front.


Candlelit luminarias lined the play spiral’s walls, and colored lights illuminated the walking tree stumps (which look like ents, or the aliens in Arrival).


Another view, with glowing trees in the background.


I went gaga over a huge, glowing moon light.


Isn’t it wonderful?


I’m not sure if the moon terrain is printed or projected, but it was beautiful.


A gravelly garden of wheeler sotol and hesperaloe was washed in blue light, as luminarias marched along a low wall.


It’s always so nice to see Austin come together to enjoy the season at events like Luminations.


It’s one of my favorite places in Austin, and one of my favorite times of the year.

For more Luminations photos, from when I attended in 2014, 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

Calling all garden bloggers! You’re invited to register for the annual Garden Bloggers Fling tour and meetup, which will be held in Austin next May 3-6, 2018! 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 © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Follow