Lucinda’s ginkgo in yellow leaf


Ginkgo trees may be commonplace in cooler climates, but they’re unusual in Austin. I’ve seen one at Zilker Botanical Garden, and then there’s this beautiful, mature ginkgo in author Lucinda Huton‘s garden in the Rosedale neighborhood. On her Facebook page, she often posts pics when it turns golden yellow in late November, just before it drops all its leaves in a sudden whoosh.


Lucinda has kindly been emailing me updates on its color. Yesterday sounded like the day to swing by, so I did — and acted like a crazed tree paparazzi with my cell phone camera. Even though 2017 isn’t panning out to be a great year for fall color in Austin (too dry maybe?), Lucinda’s ginkgo is still putting on a dazzling show. And doesn’t the black (metal) cat in the tree add just the right accent?


Back at home, fall color in my own garden is pretty much a dud this year — not much from the pomegranate, Mexican buckeye, or crepe myrtle, though I’m still holding out hope for the Japanese maple — but there’s always plenty of subtler color to enjoy, like this pretty little ‘Cream Spike’ agave, its terracotta-colored spikes echoing its pot and orange chairs around the table.

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.

Festive color and a little Dia de los Muertos in Lucinda Hutson’s garden


A visit to Lucinda Hutson‘s home and garden always feels like being at a party. Brightly colored walls and accessories, garden rooms with playful themes (like the mermaid garden pictured here), and Lucinda’s own excitement at showing you what’s flowering or fruiting create a feeling of festivity.


An under-the-sea theme suits Lucinda’s mermaid garden

Lucinda kindly opened her garden gate to me and Seattle author/designer Karen Chapman, who was in town for my latest Garden Spark event and to get photos for her upcoming book about deer-resistant gardens. Lucinda doesn’t contend with deer herself, but she was in the midst of decorating for Dia de los Muertos, and I was eager to see her garden again and share it with Karen.


In the mermaid garden, Lucinda’s mermaid grotto consists of a tiny pond backed by a rugged limestone wall, adorned by a large mermaid bowl and statue. Water-loving plants green up the scene.


Seashells accent the bowl, which, even with a deep crack, makes a charming focal point.


A seashell wreath sets the tone on the garden gate. It’s hard to see, but the wreath is hung around a mermaid on the gate.


A fishy stepping stone continues the theme.


In the next garden room, La Tina — Our Lady of the Bathtub — is mosaicked into an actual bathtub set upright in another limestone wall.


A colorful metal agave occupies a cedar bench, with chartreuse sweet potato vine contrasting with a blue-painted fence.


A mosaic of colorful tiles — including ears of corn! — decorates the exterior of Lucinda’s kitchen window, while painted wooden chickens on the windowsill give us the side-eye. Pink-flowering queen’s wreath vine clambers up the purple wall.


Colorful pots and plates in the vegetable garden


A saffron-colored wall holds a collection of painted children’s chairs from Mexico.


Behind the house is Lucinda’s party deck, with an umbrella-shaded table…


…an oilcloth-covered buffet table with succulents in colorful pots…


…and rustic cedar chairs and wall display shelves.


At the very back of the garden, behind the garage, is Lucinda’s tequila cantina — a rustic “cantina” for tequila tastings under a cedar pergola topped with a flame-like metal agave.


A metal mariachi saws away at his fiddle, with a tequila bottle tree making a fun accent behind him.


A tiled stairway leads through an enclosed porch and into the house.


Lucinda had already hung up her Day of the Dead lady monarch, her purple wings glowing in the sunlight.


From the front, a gentle (not scary) skeleton face welcomes you to the party that is Lucinda’s autumn garden.


Me, Karen, and Lucinda

Thank you, Lucinda, for the lovely tour around your garden, and may your Dia de los Muertos be filled with sweet remembrances of dearly departed loved ones.

To see Lucinda’s garden in full Dia de los Muertos glory, click here for a peek at last year’s adornments.

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

Don’t miss the Austin Open Days garden tour sponsored by the Garden Conservancy on November 4.

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.

Garden of Gary Ratway and Deborah Whigham and their Digging Dog Nursery


Stepping through a dark-leaved doorway in a beech hedge into the display gardens at Digging Dog Nursery, located in Albion, California, you feel a bit like Alice falling into the rabbit hole. What awaits on the other side? A potted boxwood draws you through the hedge…


…and then wow! A ribbon of emerald lawn leads you past a deep bed of flowering perennials, shrubs, and trees, set off by a mist of blue catmint in front.


Owners Deborah Whigham and Gary Ratway, the husband-and-wife team who founded Digging Dog 35 years ago and operate it as a mail-order nursery of unusual and hard-to-find plants, kindly allowed me to stop by earlier this month, on a day the nursery was closed. I was passing through on a family road trip up the Northern California coast, and I was thrilled to visit the nursery’s display gardens that I’ve heard so much about over the years.


Fog was settling over the gardens on that late August afternoon, softening the light and making foliage and flowers, like these eryngium, seem to glow.


I didn’t recognize most of the plants, so I can’t ID them for you. You cool-climate gardeners may know them anyway, and we hot-climate gardeners probably can’t grow them. So let’s just soak in the beauty, shall we?


Flowers the color of crushed peppermints


Looking back along the path


Steely blue eryngium


At the end of that long grassy path, steps are planted with geranium and other low growers.


From the steps you get a view of another long path, and an unusual sight…


…weeping silver pears (Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’) trained on vertical arcs of rusty steel along the path. They remind me of leaping dolphins, or the crests of large waves.


A tidy pot of horsetail reed acts as a focal point and marks a crossroads where another path leads off to the right.


Past the horsetail pot, the path terminates at a wooden bench. But let’s turn right at the intersecting path, where you see…


…a raised circular pond, taller than any stock-tank ponds I’ve seen, encircled by perforated steel panels. Very cool!


Waterlilies float on the surface, including coral-pink ‘Colorado’, which I grow in my own pond. Beyond the pond, hornbeam columns and a wavy, Oudolf-inspired hedge add geometry and architecture to a meadowy garden. Pointy conifers make a sawtoothed frame in the distance.


I stepped around the pond and then looked back to admire those striking weeping pears, silver against a dark-green hedge, with the early-turning foliage of some other trees (I forget the name) beyond the hedge. In the foreground, small burgundy-leaved shrubs add yet more foliage color.


Here’s Gary, the designer of this beautiful garden. He’s also a landscape architect and founder/owner of Integrated Design, and a delight to talk with.


Tall grasses and flowering perennials mingle in harmony.


Great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis), one of my favorites here.


Another view


Rattlesnake master rising tall and pale


Vivid crocosmia against a backdrop of tawny ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass


All these vivid colors, not to mention the cool weather (around 60F), made it feel like late October or early November to this Texan.


Hydrangea and grasses


My daughter took this picture of a globe thistle (Echinops) and shared it with me. I wish I could grow these!


One of many handcrafted benches in the garden


This small overlook offers a view of the hornbeam columns and wavy hedge.


Fuchsia dangling alongside the path. These were blooming everywhere in the Mendocino area.


Another lovely path with a bench at the end


Jerusalem sage (Phlomis) and red hot poker (Kniphofia)


Such beautiful scenes, everywhere I looked


Even the non-gardeners were enjoying the visit.


A small orchard and vegetable garden, sited where there’s enough sunlight amid all the tall redwoods on the property.


The walls and columns that provide architecture and create garden rooms are Gary’s creation, made of rammed earth, and blend in nicely with the plants and gravel paving.


A clematis scrambles up a column.


Inviting paths to explore, everywhere you turn. I could spend hours here.


More fuchsia


A nearly black shrub makes a perfect foil for bright-green fern and hot-pink anemone.


Anemone closeup


The peeling ginger trunks of paperbark maple glowed in the late afternoon light. (Thanks for the ID, Evan.)


At its base, a shining white anemone


A closer look


Gary and Deborah’s home is located on the property, behind the nursery. I’m not sure how much of the gardens is their personal space versus nursery display gardens. It seemed to blend seamlessly as Gary led us through. This, however, is their own back patio, where a sunset-hued succulent wreath hanging on a metal chair frame caught my eye.


Lovely


A grotto-like pond filled with waterlilies is accented with potted plants including a stunning Stachys ‘Bello Grigio’. On a back ledge sits a toy VW Bus, a reminder of one Gary once drove.


More glowing succulents and grasses (sedges?) on a dining table


And more unique pots and plants by the back door, including a giraffe-necked, nearly black aeonium.


I adore that pinched pot on the right.


One of Digging Dog’s many four-footed ambassadors


At the front of the house, you walk through a sparkler-like tunnel of giant feather grass (Stipa gigantea).


Grasses and rammed-earth wall panels


Huge thanks to Digging Dog owners Deborah and Gary for welcoming us into their home and garden and showing us all the beauty they’ve made there! It was a delight to meet them.


If you’re not familiar with Digging Dog Nursery, check out their online catalog and see what treasures you can find. If you’re in the area and want to visit, they do also sell retail, but check their hours, as they’re off the beaten path and not open to visitors every day. Their website lists their summer hours currently as Tuesday by appointment only; Wednesday-Saturday 10 am to 4 pm.

Up next: Dramatic coastal views at Goat Rock Beach, Mendocino, and Russian Gulch State Park. For a look back at the beautiful Sunset Test Gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma, 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

The Austin Cactus & Succulent Society hosts its Fall Show and Sale on September 2 & 3, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, at Zilker Botanical Garden (2220 Barton Springs Road). Come see rare and beautiful cacti and succulents and shop for plants and handcrafted pottery. Admission is free with paid entry to Zilker Botanical Garden ($2 adults, $1 children and seniors).

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented 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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