Creek Show 2017 lights up Waller Creek, ends tonight


I’m into public art and especially enjoy the annual Waller Creek Conservancy-sponsored Creek Show, a 9-night run of light installations along a scruffy downtown waterway that’s being redeveloped into a chain of urban parks. This is Creek Show’s 4th year, and it ends tonight (November 18), so if you’d like to see it, go between sundown and 10 pm.

This blue-light gateway near always-popular Easy Tiger Beer Garden is Fotan Fable. Words from a modern fairy tale zigzag up and down the beams, starting down along the creek, going vertical over the bridge, and then back down.


I found it intriguing but impossible to read in the crush of people last night.


I liked Submerge better, with ripple-like rings of light blinking overhead and reflecting in the creek below.


I also liked Blind Spot, a video installation with mirrored posts along the creek, but it was too crowded to get a photo. Moving on, then, into one of the Waller Creek tunnels…


…this is Ephemeral Suspension, stalactite-like dripping lights suspended from the tunnel ceiling. It was a pretty effect but mostly resembled a Christmas light display.


Night Garden was the most popular installation, based on the number of selfies being taken here. Hillocks of 80,000 fluorescent pink survey flags massed together, with audio of crickets chirping, makes for a surreal landscape. The artists call it “an inhabitable reverie.”


But my fave was No Lifeguard on Duty, a poolside-evoking set-up along the creek with depth-marking paint, pool stairs, fluorescent-painted potted plants and deck chairs, pool floats in the water, and a cursive neon sign (which I’d love to have in my home or garden) that reads “No Lifeguard on Duty.”


The irony is that Waller Creek is particularly unsuitable for swimming, being shallow, trash-strewn, rubbly, and in every other way not like Barton Springs, our city’s beloved spring-fed swimming hole near downtown.


No diving! The depth is marked as 7 inches, appearing alongside Creek Show’s mascot monster-fish.


In addition to the art installations, the people-watching is quite good, so go if you can. And stop by the Creek Show Lounge at 700 E. Sixth Street to see the eventual parks in virtual reality and perhaps join Waller Creek Conservancy to help make those parks a reality.

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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.

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.

New foundation bed, sedge lawn update, and fall color


The front garden by the house has undergone some major changes since we lost a tree last winter. But after some summer angst as formerly shaded foundation shrubs burned up, and some fixes, I’m feeling good about it again.


Here’s how it looked before, with the live oak before removal.


And here’s the stump and empty swath of lawn — the only lawn that was left in our entire yard — right after the tree came down. It happened in December, and I immediately started worrying about the Japanese maple and foundation shrubs, which would now receive a lot more sun in summer, although the north-facing house does give them some protection. I also knew that last bit of lawn had to go. I’d only kept it because it was chock-full of oak sprouts, which are easier to mow than remove by hand from a planting bed, and I hoped that once we ground out the stump, the sprouts would wither away (sadly that has not been the case).


So out came the lawn and the semicircle of metal edging that had kept it tidy. I laid a natural (not chopped) limestone edge to keep soil and mulch out of the dry stream behind it.


In February I planted rows of 4-inch ‘Scott’s Turf’ sedge (Carex sp.) from Barton Springs Nursery and a toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum) slightly off-center. The sedges looked so tiny!


But 7 months later, the sedge is fluffy and full — not all the way filled in yet, but close. You’ll notice one more change: the foundation bed has been replanted. That just happened. As I’d feared, the shade-loving Chinese mahonias and holly fern that had long occupied the foundation bed burned up under the Death Star’s rays.


Good riddance to the holly fern. I’d hated it. I regretted losing the Chinese mahonias, but I have others. I replaced them with two dwarf Texas palmettos (Sabal minor), as large as I could afford because they’re so slow-growing. I also shifted into more shade an ‘Everillo’ carex that was showing sun stress. Between the palmettos, for height, I placed a tall, narrow pot just outside the drip line of the eave with a ‘Pineapple Express’ mangave and silver ponyfoot. The mangave is a little too small — something with more heft would look better, like ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave — but I really wanted to try this one.


Side view


The combo of ‘Sparkler’ sedge, ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia, and ‘Everillo’ sedge by the front porch stayed pretty shady all summer thanks to the porch roof, so I was able to preserve it.


Happily, the Japanese maple at the far end came through the summer with only a little curling of its leaves by August. It’s getting a half day of morning sun now, but the other trees shade it from the afternoon sun, thank goodness.


On the sunnier side of the porch, these dry-garden plants thrive with only occasional hand-watering: toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum) in the tall pipe, red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) in the red planter, Agave ovatifolia ‘Vanzie’ on the left, dwarf myrtle (Myrtus communis ‘Nana’), and ‘Frazzle Dazzle’ dyckia (Dyckia choristaminea ‘Frazzle Dazzle’) in the small steel planter.


After the two quick deep freezes last winter, it look a long time for the normally evergreen flax lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’) to recover, but by midsummer it was looking good again. I like how the stepping-stone path seems to cut through a swath of it — the eye reads it as one mass.


The surviving Chinese mahonia are growing in a loose hedge along the fence.


Farther out along the driveway, there’s white skullcap, bamboo muhly, and ‘Burgundy Ice’ dyckia.


And beyond that are new ‘Micron’ dwarf yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria ‘Micron’) and foxtail fern (Asparagus meyeri), plus Texas sotol (Dasylirion texana), gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida), spineless prickly pear, and golden thryallis (Galphimia gracilis).


Peeking around from my neighbors’ vantage point, there’s purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) mixed in with the golden thryallis, plus gray globemallow (Sphaeralcea incana) starting to bloom.


By the street, crouching low — because this is a small plant — you see purple skullcap (Scutellaria wrightii), a super performer in a hot, sunny, gravelly site often visited by passing dogs. Not a browned spot is visible anywhere on it. Those are ‘Color Guard’ yuccas in the background.


The big ‘Green Goblet’ agave in the terraced bed on the other side of the driveway is doing well. Woolly stemodia (Stemodia lanata) carpets the ground beneath it.


Ruffled, fuzzy mullein is a silver accent.


My other sedge “lawn,” this one planted with ‘Berkeley’ sedge (Carex divulsa), is looking OK although not as fluffy as I would like.


Maybe it would be happier with more sun. At any rate, it does remain green with little maintenance. That’s a wide-leaf giant hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera ssp. chiangii) and white Turk’s cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii ‘Alba’) on the right.


I’m always pretending the neighbors’ plantings are mine (I did plant them for them). Here’s lantana with a little Turk’s cap that self-seeded and Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) in fall bloom.


The side path to the heart gate is quieter with masses of two grasses: inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) and bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa). On the cedar table…


…is a galvanized cake stand I punched a few drainage holes in, which holds some silver balls, stone hearts, a shell fossil, my friend Dustin’s cast-stone diamond, and pine cones.


Wow, the Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) has really grown this year. I do nothing with this — ever. So easy!


On the back deck, my little Moby Jrs are growing too.


It’s so much easier to enjoy the garden in fall — and maybe soon we’ll have actual fall temperatures along with the recent welcome rains. Come on, October!

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 ready for fall garden tours in Texas! The Garden Conservancy is sponsoring Open Days tours in Fort Worth on Oct. 8th, San Antonio on Oct. 14th, and Austin on Nov. 4th.

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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