Articulture turns plants into art


Manchaca Road in South Austin may as well be on the other side of the planet for this northwest Austinite, or so it seems most days while parked on our city’s interminably clogged highways and streets. But the stars aligned yesterday for a cross-town jaunt, and I headed directly to garden boutique and design studio Articulture, which has been getting serious buzz in local publications and among the garden savvy since its new shop, studio, and event space opened a few months ago.


Articulture is located in an old turquoise house that’s been opened up into an airy display space for living pictures, wall planters, planted tables, and fun and funky decorative objects just waiting for your own creative compositions.


Picture-framed botanical arrangements — living works of art — decorate the walls.


Aren’t these beautiful?


A freestanding chartreuse wall seems ready to reach out and grab you thanks to a collection of hand holders — iron and wooden hands that dangle succulent terrariums, feathers adorned with tillandsias, and other interesting objects.


Those with a playful sense of humor will go ga-ga over metallic-finished dinosaur planters.


Rawr! Notice the acrylic table has planting pockets, filled with succulents, tillandsias, and colored sand. Fun!


Porcupine quills add elegant drama to the succulents planted in this silver triceratops.


In addition to planted dinosaurs, planted furniture is big here. Check out the succulentscape in the under-table tray of this unique coffee table. On the black Victorian settee, art pillows with images of deer…


…play off colorfully painted deer and antelope skulls displayed throughout the shop.


Natural objects like this hornet’s nest (accented with faux butterflies) are displayed alongside striking containers and succulent arrangements.


I fell hard for the vaguely Chinese-style, colorful pots in the background, but they were beyond my budget. But what I love about this shop is that there are beautiful objects at many price points. And look at the jewel-box arrangement in the blue lidded box — what a great gift idea.


Single antlers wrapped in colorful thready bands make unusual hanging ornaments or can be displayed on a tabletop. Wall planters of all kinds are stuffed with cactus, tillandsias, and succulents, and accented with driftwood and slag glass.


This circular one filled with kalanchoes and tillandsias is especially pretty.


Or how about this dainty, pinched pod stuffed like a baked potato with cobweb houseleeks and bright green moss?


Going larger, here’s a succulent planter in a mod coffee table with a colorful circle mosaic.


The back of the freestanding chartreuse wall is “papered” with touchable, pillowy moss. I’m not sure if this is simply a fun decorating choice or an example of Articulture’s living walls, which adorn businesses, shops, and other locales around town.


At one end of the shop, a metal-mesh door partially screens owner Monique Capanelli’s purple design studio and is a living wall itself, adorned with several Tillandsia xerographica and dried fans of sea coral. I met Monique while I was shopping, and she’s friendly and enthusiastic about her creations. She’s also excited about her new outdoor event space (shown below) and has plans to engage the local gardening community with regular classes and other outreach.


Speaking of outdoors, let’s step outside and see what Articulture’s got going on. The front garden, still a work-in-progress, is anchored by this sculptural tree stump surrounded by small agaves and succulents. It’s a large-scale version of the smaller botanical arrangements found inside, and sets an expectation for creative and fun design.


Out back, a curated selection of larger plants — columnar cactus, ponytail palms, large succulents — await potting up, I imagine, for cool interior displays.


Oversized steel dishes powder-coated in Crayola colors are displayed too, perfect for arrangements of plants and natural objects.


Big Red Sun popularized rusty steel plow-disc planters, which are commonplace around Austin. But these colorful steel dishes are a fun alternative. Those modern plinths are nice too.


A cloud-pruned evergreen and prickly pear — uncommon companions for a whimsical lounging hut.


The real surprise in the back yard is its size — 3/4 of an acre. The place is enormous! Several large pecan trees shade a gray gravel patio punctuated by circular islands of artificial lawn. This is a low-water alternative to a big mown lawn, and it allows Articulture to host classes (succulent arranging, yoga, and more) and even rent out the place for weddings.


There’s even a wooden swing.


On the back porch, another beautiful arrangement caught my eye. Pairing living cactus with sea urchins, coral, and driftwood makes for a sea-evoking display.


So, what did I come home with, besides photos and lots of design inspiration? Oh, a few playful things: a pink deer skull, a lazy orange rhino, and a swooshy chartreuse dish. A little color pick-me-up!


Articulture fills a void in the Austin garden-shop scene that occurred when Big Red Sun’s boutique closed years ago. I’m happy to have finally made it across town for a visit and look forward to watching owner Monique’s interview on Central Texas Gardener this weekend.

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, 10:30-11:30 am. Get inspired to save water in your garden during my presentation at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. I’ll be at the book-signing table after the talk, with copies of both The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! available for purchase. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

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.

Come to my talk at Cedar Park nursery festival this Saturday


This fun flower, held aloft on a 6-foot stalk, is blooming right now in multiple spots in my garden: ‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda (Manfreda undulata ‘Chocolate Chips’), my absolute favorite manfreda, with ruffled, succulent leaves covered in chocolatey freckles. It’s a beautiful, dry-loving plant that’s perfect for a sunny container, especially when paired with Mexican feathergrass.

And that’s my segue into my upcoming speaking event about water-saving gardening, this coming Saturday…


I’ll be speaking at noon this Saturday, April 30, at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery’s Lily Blossom Festival in Cedar Park, just barely north of Austin. My free talk is called “How to Garden Water-Wise, Not Water-Wasteful.”


As an old proverb reminds us, “The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.” Don’t be a water-guzzling frog! I’ll be sharing my tips for making a garden that is water-wise, not water-wasteful. Stick around after my talk for a book signing, with autographed copies of Lawn Gone! and The Water-Saving Garden available for purchase ($20 each).


Before you ask what a water-garden nursery is doing, hosting a talk about water-saving gardening, especially during a waterlily festival, let me point out that HCWG carries a LOT of drought-tolerant native and adapted plants, and they have a particularly good succulent section. Also, as I point out in The Water-Saving Garden, a non-wasteful water feature — like a disappearing fountain; a reflective bowl; or a fish-friendly stock-tank pond — can be a powerful focal point and symbol of abundance in an otherwise water-thrifty garden. Moreover, a (non-spraying) water feature typically uses less water than a similar sized patch of lawn grass.

The festival includes a plant sale, free food (while it lasts), live music, and — best of all, right? — all-day garden talks. I hope you’ll join me at noon for my 30-minute talk, followed by a book signing. It should be lots of fun!

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, time TBA. Learn more about water-saving gardening during my presentation at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. I’ll be at the book-signing table after the talk, with copies of both The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! available for purchase. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

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!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

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

Succulicious Foliage Follow-Up


I get succulent fever every time I see a display like this. A luscious succulent fountain dripping with string-of-pearls senecio — what better way to introduce a “watery” feature into your garden without using much actual H2O?


Let’s take a little field trip to Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery this Foliage Follow-Up and bask in the succulent goodness.


They’re like candy, aren’t they? HCWG really has a flair for displaying their plants and pots. I wanted one of each…but resisted, as I have cuttings of my own to use right now.


Back at home, this image may be a bit of a cheat for Foliage Follow-Up because the soaring bloom stalk of Moby, my whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia), is all you notice right now. That giant asparagus spear will eventually support a candelabra of flowers at its tip, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. For a little while longer, though, Moby is still the best-looking foliage plant in my garden.

This is my April post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on in your garden this month? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I’d appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

I welcome your comments! If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.

_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, time TBA. Learn more about water-saving gardening during my talk at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. Get a signed copy of my book after the talk. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

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!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

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

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