A year in photos: So long, 2013

Last year I had fun selecting my 10 favorite photos from 2012, an annual meme led by Les at A Tidewater Gardener. So here I am again, sitting at my computer in stretchy pants and a cuddly cardigan, with the spicy scent of a baking pumpkin pie wafting into my office, to round up my top ten from 2013.

Following the porch vignette at top, I’ll lead with hot-pink penstemon in bloom during an April visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin.

Next, several from the Bay Area in California, which I visited last summer. Here are golden kangaroo paws at Matt Gil’s garden, one of the stops during the San Francisco Garden Bloggers Fling.

‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda amid chartreuse and purple groundcovers, one of the many masterful plan combinations in Ann Nichols’s garden, another stop on the San Francisco Garden Bloggers Fling.

The wild coastline at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve near San Francisco, one of the day trips my family and I made after the Fling ended.

Back in Austin, a Curt Arnette-designed garden during peak Gulf muhly season.

An angry Texas alligator lizard flashing its blue tongue at me during a fall hike in St. Edward’s Park in west Austin.

Celosia and a queen butterfly glow in autumn light at the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas.

The Rose Emporium’s bottle tree illuminated like stained glass during that same visit.

I hope always to have a photo from my own garden in any “favorites” list. In looking back, I notice I took fewer photos of my garden this year than I’ve ever done since starting this blog in 2006. I often feel that I’ve covered my own space so extensively that I have nothing new to say about it, and so I look for other gardens to post about. And yet my own garden is always on my mind and the first and last thing I see each day, whether I’m enjoying a garden-puttering day or just catching glimpses through the office window as I work.

I don’t go in much for New Year’s resolutions, but if I were to make one, I’d resolve to take more photos of my own garden in 2014 — not to “feed the blog” but just to remind myself, when looking back, of how much beauty it gives me every day.

Happy New Year! See you in 2014!

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Spectacular lighted trees bring holiday joy in Johnson City

We tooled into Johnson City at dusk after a day spent in charming Fredericksburg, in the Hill Country west of Austin. After dinner at a local brew pub, we stopped by the electric company, just a block off the main road, to view the lighted trees that surround the headquarters.

More than a million lights strung on trunks, branches, and twigs transform a grove of live oaks into an enchanted forest. Located at the Pedernales Electric Coop’s headquarters on Avenue F, just off Highway 290, the display is part of Johnson City’s annual Lights Spectacular.

I love Austin’s Zilker Christmas Tree and the Trail of Lights. But if you want to enjoy a fantastic light display sans crowds, make the 1-hour drive west to Johnson City, park your car conveniently on the street, and walk 25 feet to gaze up at these beautifully adorned trees. My only complaint is that a hot-chocolate vendor has set up a mobile cafe at the street corner powered by a generator thrumming like a dozen lawn mowers. The racket significantly diminished our enjoyment of the display, and I’d urge city leaders to keep generators at least a block away from the trees in the future.

Last year when we visited Lights Spectacular, all the lights were white. This year, a few blue trees stood out amid the white ones.

They were truly beautiful.

Live oaks retain their glossy leaves through the winter, and the leafy canopies glowed with reflected light, somewhat resembling a nebula cloud in space.

How I wished someone would cut the cord on that generator so we could enjoy a silent night under the glowing trees…

…or a blue Christmas.

Go see it with your family. It’ll make you feel all warm inside.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all! See you in 2014!

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

My holiday gift ideas for garden lovers are on Pinterest

Somebody stop me! No — don’t! I’m having too much fun pinning my favorite holiday gift ideas on Pinterest.

I’m a Pinterest regular (see my boards for Lawn Gone!, Digging, and Garden Inspiration, among others) because it’s a great way to share ideas and posts with people who love gardens, plants, design, garden art and accessories, gardening for wildlife, and more. Many new readers and even a few design clients have told me they found me via Pinterest, so I know a whole bunch of you are Pinterest surfers too.

Shannon Lester, an Oregon blogger at Blooming Desert’s Daily Dirt and owner of Steel Life, recently invited me to be a guest pinner for a week on her Pinterest board Guest Pinner Holiday Favorite Things. Why not?, I thought. It sounds like fun.

Boy, is it ever! I hope you’ll pop over to Pinterest and check out my pins today through December 17th (my pins have my name and picture at the bottom-left). I’ll be adding new gift ideas every day, and if you see something you love or that would be perfect for someone on your list, I hope you’ll “Like” it or repin it to let me know. Check out too the pins of previous guest pinners on that board. I’ve already spotted several items they pinned that I think would make good gifts — or future self-gifting ideas.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I want to assure you that no one is paying, bribing with cookies, sweetly asking, or otherwise soliciting me to pin their items. These are my own selections, reflecting my own quirky tastes. Consider yourself warned.

I hope this helps you find the perfect gift for someone. Happy pinning!

Note: All images in this post are of items I’ve pinned as recommended gifts. Visit the holiday Pinterest board and click through on each item to visit the seller’s website for purchasing information.

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.