Datura glowing at twilight


After a sunset that turned the sky gold last evening, I took a twilight stroll through the garden*, Ruth Wilcox-style, and stopped to admire several datura blossoms perfuming the air.


Still sparkling from an afternoon downpour, the plate-sized, horned blossoms unfurled as the moon rose.


Now bring on the sphinx moths.

*Plant IDs in the top photo: ‘Monterrey Frost’ squid agave (Agave bracteosa ‘Monterrey Frost’), Datura wrightii, ‘Frazzle Dazzle’ dyckia (Dyckia choristaminea ‘Frazzle Dazzle’), whale’s tongue agave (Agave ovatifolia), and silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea).

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 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.

Early summer flowers brighten my Texas garden


I didn’t realize how many white flowers I’m growing until I photographed what’s blooming this week. Let’s start with pale pavonia, aka Brazilian rock rose (Pavonia hastata). I love the tissuey white flower with a maroon eye and veins.


I grew a moonflower vine (Ipomoea alba), one of my old favorites, from seed this year, and it’s growing up a cattle-panel trellis on the deck, reaching for the sun. The plate-sized flowers are delightfully fragrant when they open in the evening.


Well, OK, this magnolia isn’t in my garden but a neighbor’s, but I’m enjoying the flowers on my walks. I don’t actually love the trees themselves here in Austin because they always look a bit dry and chlorotic in our alkaline, relatively shallow soils. But the enormous, creamy white flowers of Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) are something to behold and to smell — so gorgeous and lemony fragrant.


They remind me of my childhood in South Carolina, where magnolias grow better than in Austin thanks to acidic soil and higher rainfall.


One last white flower in my garden right now is the white variety of pink skullcap (Scutellaria suffrutescens ‘White’), such a tidy, pretty native plant for bright shade. The ivory flowers stand out against a steel-pipe planter and dark-leaved ‘Burgundy Ice’ dyckias.


Purple flowers are abundant too, starting with summer-blooming vitex (Vitex agnus-castus), which I keep shrub-sized through regular pruning and cutting to the ground every February.


‘Peter’s Purple’ bee balm (Monarda fistulosa ‘Peter’s Purple’) is putting on a big show right now, getting plenty of attention from visitors and bees.


And heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata), a spring-blooming native, is almost done. Here’s a picture from a week or two ago, at peak bloom.


And why not — I’ll throw in a big, blue rose of a plant, my neighbor’s whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia), surrounded by red autumn sage (Salvia greggii), part of a curb-side garden I planted for her to blend with my own. These are tried-and-true plants for sun or morning sun/afternoon shade.

So what’s blooming in your garden right now that you really love?

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 Daylily Society will host a free garden tour on Sunday, May 28, from 10 am to 2 pm. Four private gardens featuring lots of daylilies will be open to the public, including Tanglewild Gardens and Tom Ellison’s lovely Tarrytown garden.

Calling all pond lovers! The Austin Pond & Garden Tour is coming up June 3rd (North Austin ponds and night pond) and 4th (South Austin ponds). Tickets, which are $20, can be purchased online and include entry to all 20 ponds.

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.

Three more gardens on Inside Austin Gardens Tour 2017


I’ve already posted about two of the gardens on this Saturday’s Inside Austin Gardens Tour, and today I’m showing a sneak peek of three more private gardens on the tour.

Garden of Dorothy Thering


Gardening on 23 acres in Spicewood, Dorothy Thering has room for a spacious and colorful greenhouse with welcoming patios (see top picture too).


Potted plants live in and around the greenhouse, and garden beds, a small pond, and a fire-pit patio add country-living ambience, not to mention acres of rugged Hill Country views.


Dorothy and her husband, Mike (pictured here), also have a fenced vegetable garden, chickens, beehives, a pony, and a pair of mini Nubian goats, Ethel and Lucy.

Garden of Peggy Hart


In suburban west Austin, Peggy Hart gardens sustainably with low-water plants, rainwater collection, and a pollinator garden.


A cheerful metal longhorn guards the back forty amid the cedars.


And a huuuuuge deck, only glimpsed here in the window reflection, provides a view of downtown and the UT Tower, plus lots of comfortable places to relax. Peggy accents the deck with fun art, like this metal spiderweb, and potted plants.

Garden of Velia Sanchez-Ruiz


In south Austin, Velia Sanchez-Ruiz contends with deep shade in her back garden, brightening it with mirrors, white pots and garden art, and lush greenery.


A metal angel reaches for the stars amid star-shaped leaves of Virginia creeper.


This pretty yellow-and-pink columbine doesn’t mind the shade.


Walking iris hasn’t walked out either.


Fragrant star jasmine flowers behind a meditative Buddha.


Out front, Velia grows sun-loving flowers, including an extensive collection of daylilies and even Queen Anne’s lace.

That’s it for my sneak peek of the tour, coming up Saturday, May 6th! For a look back at the cottage-meets-Zen garden of Daphne Jeffers and Shari Bauer’s whimsical found-art garden, both of which will also be on Saturday’s tour, 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

Mark your calendar for the Inside Austin Gardens Tour on May 6, sponsored by Travis County Master Gardeners. This fun garden tour occurs every 18 months and features a mix of homegrown gardens “for gardeners, by gardeners,” as their tagline says.

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts — performances in private homes, which support musicians and give a small audience an up-close and personal musical experience — I’m hosting a series of garden talks by design speakers 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.

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