Sedgey front garden and xeriscape terrace


For one West Austin homeowner, this is the view from her front door: an undulating, rhythmic front walk of poured-concrete pavers wending through a meadowy swath of Berkeley sedge, soap aloes, and purple heart, with a scrim of yaupon hollies shielding the view of the street. A traditional lawn? No way — who wants to mow?


Here’s the street view at the other end. The left edge of the property is naturalistic under some large live oaks, although a collection of spiky heat-lovers gets some breathing room in a gravelly bed along the path’s edge.


A cluster of Yucca rostrata adds drama (and screening) at the curb. I think that’s ‘Little Ollie’ dwarf olive underfoot.


Whale’s tongue agave and purple heart combines a velvety blue-green with rich eggplant.


Farther up the path it grows shady, and Texas palmetto appears among the Berkeley sedge.


Yaupon berry adds a pop of red in fall and winter.


In the home stretch to the front door, the paver path straightens out, cruising past foxtail fern and sago palm on the left. A concrete wall creates a psychological separation between the public side of the front garden and the more-private entry space. Another wall, barely visible at far-right…


…screens the garage and parking area along the driveway from view of the front door. Here on the door side of the wall, a low-maintenance shade garden contains Berkeley sedge, mahonia, palmetto, and purple heart.


That wall extends straight out into the garden, lowering to knee height as it pulls away from the house. An arching, glossy green sago palm stands alongside.


Low-maintenance evergreens fill in under a big live oak. (I should know this one but need help on the ID.)


On the driveway side of the wall, a rain chain funnels roof runoff into a storm or French drain. Low-care and shade-tolerant Chinese mahonia, variegated flax lily, and palmetto combine with a Japanese maple and bamboo muhly to soften the contemporary design.


The owner installed three light towers near the front door. It would be cool to see these lit up at night.


This fence along the driveway caught my eye. It appears to be made of painted PVC pipes and somehow reminds me of a musical score. Or maybe a downtown skyline. Every other pipe is cut to a set height, but the other pipes are staggered to create up-and-down patterns.


Another section, with a gate to the back yard, shows a more rhythmic pattern.


Believe it or not, this custom fence runs all the way around the back garden. The standard lawn is shrunken to a broad path, with a band of sedge and bamboo muhly grasses along the fence. A gravel-and-steel stair leads past an elevated terrace (which I’ll come back to)…


…to a sloping back yard. A rain garden of Berkeley sedge occupies a wide swale below the house, ready to soak up runoff. Beneath the home’s expansive roofline, a dry gravel garden with whale’s tongue agaves occupies the rain shadow.


There’s still plenty of room left for lawn under a spreading live oak.


Let’s head back up the steps to that elevated terrace.


The terrace is essentially a rooftop garden, with Yucca rostrata, Mexican mint marigold, whale’s tongue agave, and purple heart.


A curved metal rail offers a canyon view. The open space was designed for patio seating, the landscape architect told me. Can you guess who he is?


If you guessed Curt Arnette of Sitio Design, you are right! He’s created another striking and lovely garden for a lucky Austinite. My thanks to the homeowner for allowing me to share her garden with you.

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.

New roof and Sway Your HOA article in Wildflower magazine


Exciting developments around here. For one, we had our old, hail-beaten roof replaced, and not only does the new roof completely freshen up our home, but the workers took great care not to damage the garden in the process. If you’re in the Austin area and need a new roof, I highly recommend Straight Solutions.


For a comparison, here’s our old, sad roof, with a poor patch job around the porch gable that we added. And now back up — ahh. If anyone’s wondering, we went with composite shingles for cost reasons, and the color is Tamko’s Weathered Wood.


Below the steep roof, plants are looking good — zero damage from the re-roofing. I sure would like to see some rain in that dry creek though. We’ve had a rainless autumn.


One of my favorite shade combos along the dry creek: ‘Sparkler’ sedge, ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia, and ‘Everillo’ sedge


In other news, I have an article in the latest issue of Wildflower, the biannual magazine of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.


It’s called “Sway Your HOA,” and it’s about how to persuade your old-school HOA to permit sustainable landscaping practices like reducing lawn and planting native plants. If you subscribe — and you should (you get the magazine by becoming a member of the Wildflower Center) — look for it on page 42.

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

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.

Water-saving Ridgewood Road Garden: Austin Open Days Tour 2017


The talented Annie Gillespie of Botanical Concerns designed the water-saving garden at Ridgewood Road, the next garden in my recap of Austin’s recent Open Days Tour. From the street you’re invited to stroll through a low-water garden of oaks, grasses, agave, and yucca to reach the house via a stepped-back landing and pea-gravel path.


Here’s the other end of that gravel path where it meets the parking area by the house. Densely layered plants help screen a neighbor’s house from view.


I love these barbed-wire spheres — a Western accent.


From the driveway, a square-paver (or stone) path leads past a pea-gravel patio to the front door. A front-yard patio is a great way to create a sense of welcome, plus it puts to use space typically devoted to lawn. Bamboo muhly lines the path along the foundation.


Rough-hewn wooden chairs at a round table look like works of nature rather than human made.


Such an inviting space, even if just for the eyes.


Near the front door, a vertical stone fountain adds the sound of water.


Where the path turns toward the door, a bench carved from a weathered old tree trunk stops the eye and offers a resting spot.


My friend Cat enjoys a moment amid flowering Mexican bush sage.


Continuing on around the house, we spotted this L-shaped screen creating a private nook around a bathroom window. Adorned with prayer flags, Moroccan-style lanterns, and a Mexican sculpture of the Madonna, the tiny garden is clearly a visual retreat for those enjoying the view from inside.


Tom Spencer, in his old garden (8th photo), used to have a carved Madonna just like this one.


One more view. I’ve seen lanterns like these for sale at Barton Springs Nursery. This is a lovely way to display them.


Coming around the back of the house, a small patio glows like a rainbow with a colorfully painted bench and red flower planter.


Farther along in the gravel path, a roofed cedar swing takes in the view. The path also serves as a filtration trench (hidden under the gravel) to cleanse rainwater runoff, since the steeply sloped back yard sheds water downhill into a watershed.


But the real goal in making a water-wise garden is to keep runoff from happening at all. Annie designed the entire garden to slow the progression of water and give it time to soak in. “What you want to do with water is slow it down,” she says in a Central Texas Gardener episode about this garden.


Terracing behind the house helps keep runoff from eroding the slope. It also creates space for a small patio to bridge the gap between house and garden.


The view from the gravel patio includes a focal-point steel-dish tower planted with an agave, Big Red Sun-style.


The gravel path leads past stacked-stone raised planters behind the house.


Looking back toward the home’s screened porch, there’s the homeowner (in the yellow blouse) talking with visitors.


Winding along the side fence, a nicely designed dry creek directs and slows runoff from the front yard and roof downspouts when it rains.


Pomegranates ripen on a small tree in one of the raised beds.


The gravel path leading out of the back garden is paved with a heavier gravel — clearly made for slowing down runoff.


And here’s that same path as it rounds the corner of the front house back to the driveway. Another dwarf pomegranate with rosy fruits softens the corner. Pink skullcap flowers on either side of the path.


And here’s the fun group of bloggers I was touring with that day: Jennifer of Victory or Death!…in the Garden, Cat of The Whimsical Gardener, me, Shirley of Rock-Oak-Deer (who drove up from San Antonio), Laura of Wills Family Acres, Lori of The Gardener of Good and Evil, and Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden. By the way, 6 of these bloggers will be attending the Garden Bloggers Fling tour and blogger meetup in Austin next May 3-6. If you’re a garden blogger and want to Fling with us, click here for info about signing up. There are only a few spaces left, so don’t delay!

Up next: Designer Tait Moring’s canyon-side garden. For a look back at the waterwise drama of the Lakemoore Drive 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.
_______________________

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.

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