Have a bright and merry Christmas!


Several neighbors on a nearby street go all out with Christmas lights and inflatables every year, and we enjoy crawling past with our headlights dimmed to take it all in. This is my favorite display on the block.


It’s a fantasia of colored lights that run vertically up a large tree and turn to dripping icicles at the tips of the branches.


A rainbow of miniature Christmas trees adorns the lawn, and colorful rivulets spill off the eaves of the house onto bushes below, splashing them with bright color.


The tree even wears a skirt of banded light.


I love the creativity of the display and look forward to seeing it each year. And I look forward to seeing you next year, dear reader. Happy holiday wishes to you and your loved ones, and I’ll see you in 2015!

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

posted in Holidays, Lighting, Trees

Wildflower Center aglow with the spirit of the season


Luminarias glowed and tree lights twinkled throughout the native-plant gardens at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center during last weekend’s annual Luminations event. I’ve been several times over the years, but this time the lights extended all the way to the new Family Garden.


We got there at opening and enjoyed the lights as evening fell.


My young nephew was with us, so we headed straight for the Family Garden, passing this golden bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum) along the way. That’s a russet bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) at the turn in the path.


In the fading light I was wowed by a mass planting of Lindheimer muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri), whose bleached inflorescences stood tall enough to partially hide a bench. I wish the border of Lindheimer muhly in my own garden looked this fabulous, but it doesn’t get full sun and the grasses remain much smaller and floppier.


Wrapped in lights, a row of Arizona cypresses (Cuppressus arizonica) in the Family Garden made living Christmas trees.


Musical performances were scheduled throughout the garden’s pavilions, including this one, adding a holiday soundtrack to the festivities.


Luminarias lit the way back to the main gardens.


It struck me as kind of strange to be walking through dark gardens by candlelight, where all you could see was glowing paper bags. But it was nice too.


Back in the main courtyard, it was a party, with a steel band playing, people smiling and talking, and hot chocolate being handed out.


We popped into the gift shop. Of course.


I found a glass armadillo ornament, which I immediately realized we needed for our tree. I also perused the shop’s extensive garden-book selection.


Oh, looky here — autographed copies of Lawn Gone! are on display right up front!


At last it was time to go, and at the exit we stopped to ooh and ahh over this enormous live oak, seemingly lit with fairy lights all the way up into the evergreen branches. I was even more impressed to realize that the lights were not physical lights but projected images from four upward-pointing projectors at ground level. How clever, and no ladders required!

Merry Christmas, y’all!

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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.