Out and about in Austin nurseries and parks


Lately I’m taking as many garden photos with my phone as with my “real” camera, and these often get posted to my Instagram. But not all of them, and sometimes I like to share them on my blog too. So here’s some cool stuff I spotted last week at my favorite local nurseries, Lady Bird Lake, and — why not? — even a medical center’s parking lot.

Pictured above, from said medical center’s parking lot, is one of my favorite scenes from the week: a silver-green agave with striking banding and leaf imprints, rising star-shaped from a mat of silver ponyfoot. Simple and beautiful.


At the same center (this is somewhere off Hwy. 620), island beds of Knock Out roses and Mexican feathergrass are anchored by pruned-up, spiky-headed Yucca rostrata.


Now let’s visit some of Austin’s best nurseries, starting with Barton Springs Nursery. Every year I love to catch their enormous American beautyberry in full berry, with cobalt-blue pots adding a harmonizing hue.


This plant is probably 10 feet across. Here’s a look at the other side. If you’re not growing American beautyberry, why not?


Inside BSN’s gift shop, I spotted these fun saguaro vases and ring holders. I resisted the camp on my first visit, but I came back a couple days later, with my daughter in tow, and when she went gaga for them too I snagged the powder-blue saguaro on the left.


A herd of dinosaurs — colorfully painted plastic toys with cut-out holes planted with succulents — roved near the registers. My sister-in-law got me a dino planter for Christmas last year — the blue brachiosaurus — and it brightens my home-office windowsill.


Maybe I need a set.


Up in Cedar Park, I stopped in at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery for a few things and paused to admire this new water feature with tough-as-nails blackfoot daisy and some type of succulent (a cold-tender euphorbia, maybe?) planted alongside it.


Back down to South Austin for a morning visit to The Natural Gardener, where I spotted this furled flower almost ready to open.


And in the gift shop, my books — one of each — were on the bookshelf. I know it’s not easy for nurseries to stock books in this era of Amazon and in conditions where books might get soiled (i.e., unsellable), so I really appreciate those like The Natural Gardener that make the effort. After all, not every local gardener knows the best books for Texas gardening, and nurseries can help by showcasing regionally appropriate titles, or even by keeping a suggested reading list on their website. A website reading list need not be purely regional, of course; it can be staff favorites for all kinds of popular gardening topics! By the way, here’s my own suggested reading list.


Over to Lady Bird Lake’s hike-and-bike trail, where I admired a copper-colored dragonfly hanging out near the water.


I looked at him, and he looked at me with those big bug eyes.


I also saw lots of bald cypress and native palmettos along the lakeshore.


Swans, ducks, and turtles too. They all thought I might have some food and swam right over. Sorry, guys!


And off they went into the setting sun.

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

Austinites and native-plant shoppers, I’ll be at the member’s day Fall Plant Sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 14, and I hope to see you there! I’ll be signing books between 1 and 3 pm in the Wild Ideas gift shop. If you’re not a member, of course you can still come on out and see the gardens and stop in at Wild Ideas. Hope to see you there!

South Texans, come see me at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, October 22. I’ll be delivering the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” that evening. Tickets are on sale at Quinta Mazatlan. I hope to see you there!

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Inspired at Squire House Gardens: Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling


Our tour buses took us out of Minneapolis on the last day of the recent Garden Bloggers Fling — an annual event with 60+ garden bloggers touring Minneapolis this year — through St. Paul and on into charming Afton, Minnesota, where we visited nursery and gift shop Squire House Gardens, which operates out of a nearly 150-year-old home.


A formal garden, surprisingly planted with many native plants, flows out from the house/gift shop. Where two paths intersect, a focal-point urn draws the eye, as do giant silver thistles.


A strikingly unusual choice


Elsewhere in the garden, still-blooming thistles proved irresistible to bees.


Nearby, a formal pool surrounded by potted plants adds the cooling music of splashing water.


A small, hedged garden room along one sunny border holds a lawn, a bench…


…and a druid-adorned sundial.


But much of the garden is quite shady, with white statuary and garden decor, like this ram’s head, to brighten dimly lit spaces.


I believe this is black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), a lovely native plant that unfortunately, to my nose, has a strong bug-spray scent. But others didn’t seem to mind it. It lit up the shady garden so nicely.


Another look


A small Zen-style garden offers a quiet place to sit…


…and contemplate life.


At the back of the property, a sunny space makes a perfect spot for a large vegetable garden, formally laid out and screened from a neighboring house with tall junipers.


Tall wood-and-wire trellises add additional screening, structure, and support for climbing plants.


The owners of Squire House generously treated us to beverages and refreshments, and we wandered with our glasses, enjoying the garden and the beautiful day. Here are Ally and Layanee being eavesdropped on by an intent young man.


The Texas bloggers — always the largest group from any state at the Fling — posed here for a group shot taken by the mischievous Barbara Wise (thank you, Barbara!). From left to right: Shawn and Laurin of Ravenscourt Gardens (Houston); Pam (moi) of Digging (Austin); Chris of Watching My Garden Grow (Austin); Vicki of Playin’ Outside (Austin); Andrea of Grow Where You’re Planted (College Station); Caroline of The Shovel-Ready Garden (Austin); Ally of Garden Ally (Austin); Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden (Austin); Laura of Wills Family Acres (Austin); Susan of The Bicycle Garden (Lubbock); and Rebecca of Rebecca’s Retreat (Buda).

Up next: A snapshot of Noerenberg Memorial Gardens plus the gardens of nursery owners Steve Kelley & Arla Carmichiel. For a look back at Marge Hols’s elegant St. Paul garden, 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

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Touring Linden Hill Gardens with Nan Ondra


I’ve been reading author and plantswoman Nancy Ondra’s blog, Hayefield, for nearly a decade. Although we’d never met, we’ve been friendly online. After all, she donated one of her books as a door prize for the first Garden Bloggers Fling in Austin in 2008, I’ve written about one of her books, and she published some of my photos in her latest book, The Perennial Matchmaker.

So when my friend Diana and I were planning our Philadelphia-area garden-touring trip for early June, I asked Nan if we might stop by for a visit. She kindly gave us a tour of her beautiful, sunny garden, which wraps around her charming log home, and even introduced us to her pet alpacas (aloof yet so cute!).


Afterward, she treated us to a personal tour of Linden Hill Gardens, the gorgeous display garden and retail nursery owned by designer Jerry Fritz. Nan helps Jerry with the gardens, and she’s intimately familiar with the plants and design.


Being from a far different climate, I’m unfamiliar with many of the plants, so I won’t focus on IDs. But I hope you’ll enjoy the views and design as much as I did, starting with this elegant formal garden, where Nan told us a wedding had recently been held.


Linden Hill is located in bucolic Ottsville, Pennsylvania — farm country — and when you turn into the parking lot, a massive old stone barn and silo greet you. The barn is the central focal point of the gardens…


…and eye-catching from every angle, here with a jolt of chartreuse from painted picnic tables.


In back, lushly planted formal beds make a tapestry of color against a sweeping lawn…


…set off by a low stone wall.


An old farmhouse with blue trim stands closer to the road. A kitchen garden is planned for this space.


A long border facing the road advertises the nursery and design business and was lush in early June with purple iris and gold, green, and burgundy foliage.


Wine-colored smoke bush was in full “smoke” (fluffy hairs on the spent flowers).


One more look


Nearby, a dawn redwood allee offers a shady respite from the sun.


Along the back of the property, a winding path leads through a deer-resistant garden highlighted with clusters of golden-leaved shrubs.


Rustic stone pillars are used to mark transition points.


A large pond occupies a sunny spot.


I like this sculpted stone bench.


A black-painted, shed-like office sits in the central garden, a striking backdrop for green, gold, and purple-flowering plants in the surrounding cottage beds.


Delphiniums


Wine-red and orange look fabulous against that black paint too.


But chartreuse — ahhh!


That modern jolt of chartreuse is carried through on the door as well. A groundcover with sparkling blue flowers edges a flagstone path to the front steps.


Elsewhere, gold-flowering sedum traces flagstones in a patio.


In one corner, blue, lavender, and purple plants rule in the Blue Profusion Garden.


Golden foliage adds welcome contrast.


Here’s Nan (in the sunglasses and hat) talking to Diana and taking notes about what needs to be done in the gardens — a born multitasker!


This rustic shed caught my eye because of the tiny flowerpot edging by the front steps.


Behind the barn, the nursery tables and more display gardens vie for attention.


A massive slab of stone bridges the lawn and gravel paths, with flowering heuchera on either side.


With wine-red and silvery-pink leaves and flowers dotted with pink and cream, it’s a stunner.


Love!


Even the nursery tables are artfully arranged.


A raised planter made of old shutters and a rebar tuteur? Yes, please! The retail shed is lovely too.


A wooden arbor bridges shed and barn.


The beautiful old barn


A linden allee leads into the garden from the gravel patios behind the barn.


A side view of the linden allee


Behind the barn, a French-style gravel patio runs its length, with pairs of wrought-iron chairs and small tables inviting you to sit and enjoy the view.


What a beautiful place to work, eh?


A pretty vignette under an old window framing watering cans


Thank you, Nan, for sharing Linden Hill Gardens with us and your own special corner of Bucks County!

This concludes my series about Philadelphia-area gardens I visited in early June. For a look back at the amazing Chanticleer Garden, click here; you’ll find links to additional posts at the end.

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

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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