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.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens: Colorful perennial and heather gardens


I was not expecting this. None of us were. As we made our way up Highway 1 along the coast of Northern California in early August, naturally I’d planned a few garden stops, including a visit to Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg, expecting little more than an hour or two of pleasant diversion from the road.


Had I paid better attention to the garden’s tagline on its website — “47 acres of botanical bliss fronting the Pacific Ocean” — I would have been better prepared to be blown away by the gorgeous displays.


Botanical bliss indeed


On this summer afternoon, with the usual fog rolling in off the Pacific Ocean just half a mile distant, the light was perfect for photographing the rich hues of the perennial garden, which greets you as you enter.


My family membership to the Wildflower Center in Austin got us a big discount on our admission tickets, which was nice. When I asked the staff member what she recommended we see, she urged us to close our eyes and pass quickly through the perennial garden and head straight for the ocean trail. “Most people never get that far,” she said. “Why close our eyes?” I asked. “Because otherwise you’ll get dazzled,” she said.


Well, I’ve never been able to shut my eyes to botanical beauty, and I wasn’t about to pass up perfect light for photography, so we wandered through the perennial garden two or three times, all of us dazzled. I especially love this combo of smoke tree, ‘Mardi Gras’ helenium, and tall verbena.


An ornamental grass and black-eyed Susans


I tried to find the name of this sculpture online but came up empty. What is she doing — dribbling two invisible basketballs?


Alstroemeria and poppies


Hypericum androsaemum ‘Albury Purple’


The perennial garden was designed by Gary Ratway, whose own remarkable garden I’d just visited at his and his wife Deborah’s Digging Dog Nursery, so I should have realized it would be spectacular.


As the garden’s website explains, “Our mild coastal climate allows herbaceous plants from all over the world to thrive….Frequent fog acts as a cooling and humidifying blanket, reducing the intensity of the full sun, while trees shield the perennials from strong ocean winds and form an attractive backdrop.”


European weeping purple beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea Pendula’) and, I think, a purple geranium


Mounded beds mitigate wet soil from a high water table, ensuring that even dry-loving plants like thyme and sedum thrive.


‘Elfin’ thyme, ‘Red Carpet’ sedum, and Scleranthus biflorus Scotch moss (Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’). (Thanks for the correct ID, Evan and Loree.)


Sedum, Scotch moss, and other low groundcovers make a colorful tapestry.


Weeping beech leaf and Scotch moss


Rich color contrasts


The bigger picture


Wonderful foliage


Stone herons fish at a small pond with pitcher plants.


Herons and fairy wand flower (Dierama pulcherrimum)


Cordyline ‘Jurred’ and Salvia transsilvanica, with a smoke tree echoing the cordyline’s rich color.


A wider view shows tall verbena and a coppery red yarrow.


Salvia transsilvanica and New Zealand burr (Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’)


Astelia chathamica ‘Silver Spear’


Anyone know this one? Update: It’s Angelica stricta ‘Purpurea’. (Thanks to everyone who commented on it!)


Yarrow echoes a golden conifer in the distance.


Pink yarrow too


Lovely color echoes and contrasts


Eucomis comosa ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ and Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Irene Paterson’


Red tussock grass (Chionochloa rubra)


Persicaria and amsonia Spirea thunbergii ‘Ogon’ (thanks for the ID, Evan and Lynn!)


I love this long view of twisted tree trunks and mounds of low foliage.


With fuchsia


Pink anemone


Paperbark maple (Acer griseum)


A stunning Dacrydium cupressinum (Rimu) from New Zealand


Here is where the garden’s acclaimed Heath and Heather Collection begins. “Heaths and heathers are beautiful, undemanding plants that require full sun, and cool soil with perfect drainage. Our mild maritime climate and sandy, acidic soils create an ideal environment for them,” the website explains.


“Heaths (Erica) have needle-like foliage blooming early winter through the summer. Heathers (Calluna) have tighter, overlapping scale-like foliage blooming late summer through the fall.”


‘Pat’s Gold’ heather (Calluna vulgaris) is on the right.


Set amid the mounding plants, Phoenix Tree, a welded-steel tree-like sculpture by Diego Harris, was for sale for $6,000. I saw another of his works on this trip, Time Killer at Sonoma Cornerstone.


‘Sister Anne’ heather (Calluna vulgaris) in the foreground


Moving on…


Green santolina (Santolina virens)


Gray New Zealand tea tree (Leptospermum brevipes)


Giant feather grass (Stipa gigantea) and an unknown but beautiful dark-leaved tree — anyone know it?. Update: It’s peppermint willow (Agonis flexuosa ‘Jervis Bay Afterdark’) from Australia. (Thanks for the ID, Evan and Kris!)

Up next: Part 2 of my visit to Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, including the stunning Dahlia Garden. For a look back at dramatic coastal views along Highway 1 in Northern California, 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.

Pink flower ka-power


Several rosy-cheeked flowers are standing up to the Death Star during this hot midsummer. The ones I’m enjoying most, because the plant is new in my garden, are these satin-petaled, carnation-pink flowers that appear every couple of weeks on a mammillaria cactus.


A spiny stoic cactus, just enduring. And then — boom! A crown of pink flowers with golden stamens appears overnight like a floral halo. Hello, you beauties!


The watermelon-pink crepe myrtle in the back garden is blooming its heart out too. True, a parade’s worth of confetti-like flowers litters the deck stairs below it. But the mess is worth it, to have something looking so happy about our 101-degree days.


A few in-ground bouquets of candy-pink rain lilies (Zephryanthes ‘Labuffarosea’) have also popped up lately, starry-eyed over trace amounts of rain, or maybe just the smell of it in the air.


These pinkies are helping me get through summer. What color is your summer garden?

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

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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