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.
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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.

Leaf-peeping, zombies, and Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas


Last Friday my husband and I drove up to northern Arkansas for an extended weekend just before Halloween, hoping to see colorful fall foliage while making a first-time visit to Eureka Springs. I didn’t know what to expect from Eureka Springs aside from hilly terrain, natural springs, and Victorian homes from the town’s heyday in the late 1800s, when tourists sought out the “curative” spring water.


Eureka Springs is indeed very hilly — its nickname, Little Switzerland, is well earned — and we did see leaves of gold and red, although overall it hasn’t been a great year for fall color in Arkansas due to unusually dry conditions. The town is utterly charming, with hundred-year-old houses along every street and a bustling downtown of well-preserved Victorian-era buildings turned into shops, hotels, and restaurants.


In town, footpaths bypass the winding roads and offer mountain-goat-friendly shortcuts up and down hills. We climbed one from a downtown park, up through a neighborhood of sweet, front-porched homes, and then up to the iconic if a bit rickety Crescent Hotel, with commanding views of the surrounding hills. And then we walked back down to town for lunch at Mud Street Cafe. It was perfect sweater weather, with bright blue skies and blushing trees and leaves crunching underfoot.

Halloween in Eureka Springs: All-Out Decorating and Zombie Crawl


We stayed at the delightful Heart of the Hills Inn (not pictured), in its cozy and comfortable Carriage House, located on the Historic Loop along Summit Street. Every house in the neighborhood was all-out decorated for Halloween, including this crazy-spooky house-turned-witch just down the street.


We soon learned that Eureka Springs has a contest for best Halloween decorations, and this one took 3rd place, if I recall correctly. Note the ghoul climbing up over the roof!


Friendly porch-sitters waved at rubbernecking passersby.


Downtown, thankfully, there were no early Christmas trees or Santas adorning storefronts. Halloween and fall were being celebrated in full measure, as they deserve.


Even the murals and graffiti in alleyways got into the spirit of things.


The Babadook?


On the Saturday before Halloween, zombies shuffled into town, looking for braaaaiiiins. It was the 6th annual Zombie Crawl parade, and we joined the throngs lining historic Spring Street to watch the undead go by. Amid skele-zombies and go-go zombies…


…an Elvis zombie appeared, taking selfies with his fans. Clown zombies were unamused.


This hospital-patient zombie was downright scary.


Zombie kids were imprisoned in cages (à la the Child Catcher’s wagon in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang — remember that?), attesting to the presence of zombie catchers.


An Umbrella Corporation pickup truck rolled by too, which I spotted the next morning on a Sunday-quiet street.

Thorncrown Chapel: Sanctuary in the Woods


For something completely different, I was excited to finally see the architecturally celebrated Thorncrown Chapel, a soaring, glass-walled chapel in the woods just outside of town.


Designed by architect Fay Jones and completed in 1980, the design reflects both Gothic influences and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style.


The transparent walls seem to bring indoors the surrounding woods and rocky bluffs.


Or perhaps you feel as if you’re outdoors and communing with nature.


It’s a truly beautiful structure.

Ouachita National Forest


In search of fall foliage, we drove through the Ozarks and Ouachita Mountains. The area around Eureka Springs and Bentonville had the best color (I’ll share some in my next post about Crystal Bridges Museum and the Chihuly exhibit there), but here are a few views from the more subdued Ouachita.


Orange and yellow amid the green


We’ll have fall color in Austin — such as it is — in another few weeks. But it was nice to get an early taste in Arkansas.

Up next: Chihuly in the Forest and more at Crystal Bridges Museum.

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.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Saturday, November 4th: Don’t miss the Austin Open Days garden tour sponsored by the Garden Conservancy.

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.

Botanical art at Stutsman garden, plus Dallas/Fort Worth nurseries


I road-tripped up to Dallas/Fort Worth last weekend with a friend for two days of garden visiting and nursery shopping. The Garden Conservancy was hosting an Open Days tour in Fort Worth on Sunday, and my favorite garden turned out to be that of metal artist Wanda Stutsman. I don’t think she made the pieces pictured above, but they make a charming focal point on her garden shed.


Wanda’s specialty is forging botanical creations out of metal, like this light pillar with cut-outs of Japanese maple leaves. It’s beautiful in the daytime and even more so at night, as seen on Wanda’s website Fern Valley Art. She also makes lights with oak and palm leaves.


Displayed throughout her garden, her metalwork adds personality and humor — like the windmill blades in this framed picture, subbing for the sun — to her patio spaces and garden beds.


Her biggest piece was this wide gate at the top of her rural property, with coneflowers, daylilies, canna leaves, and a birdbath represented larger than life.


This gate really announces that a gardener lives here, doesn’t it?


We also visited both Redenta’s Garden nurseries, one in Arlington and the other in Dallas. At the Arlington Redenta’s a patch of frostweed (Verbesina virginica) was attracting dozens of pollinators, like this monarch.


Fueling up for the journey to Mexico.


I’d never seen a great black wasp before — at first I wondered if it was a tarantula hawk — but one of the employees ID’d it for me. It was very large but not scary, intent as it was on those flowers.


At the Dallas Redenta’s, which is smaller and more urban, I admired this lovely arrangement of round pots — one with a pineapple! — and Fermob planting boxes by the entrance.


I spotted this painted pumpkin display at Nicholson-Hardie Nursery in Dallas. But oh my, where I emptied my wallet was at their Garden Center just down the street from the nursery. Much more than a garden center, it’s a home goods and gift shop with a botanical theme. Don’t miss it if you’re in the area.

By the way, today is the San Antonio Open Days tour, organized by my friend Shirley Fox. I’m eager to see the gardens, and I promise you’ll love Linda Peterson’s garden, which I’ve blogged about here and 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.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get ready for fall garden tours in Texas! The Garden Conservancy is sponsoring Open Days tours in San Antonio on Oct. 14th and Austin on Nov. 4th.

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.

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