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.
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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.

Garden of Sprout-owner Jackson Broussard: Austin Open Days Tour 2017


For landscape architect Jackson Broussard of Sprout, you really can go home again. He was raised in this modest ranch house in east-central Austin, and after he took ownership he freshened up the house and leased it out and built himself a detached, two-story addition in the back yard. The front garden is enjoyed by his tenants, with a formal but quirky front walk and a semi-screened patio up by the house.

Jackson has an eye for cast-off materials that make interesting architectural accents or can be used in mosaic stonework in the garden. He uses old bricks and pieces of stone and metal to cloak board-formed concrete towers or pedestals, like the square blocks lining the front walk. An arbor of 4 Bradford pears is being trained on metal rebar into an arched tunnel over the path, à la Deborah Hornickel’s garden.


Mosaic stonework (with metal plates and bricks) on one of the pedestal blocks along the path. Notice the two metal toy cars embedded in this one.


Here’s the view from the gravel driveway, with the airy lavender blooms of Russian sage in the foreground. A curved boxwood hedge is one of those quirky details that disrupts the linearity of the front walk.


Within the curved hedge, a perfect mirror of water cradled by a chunk of basalt reflects the sky. It’s unusual to see basalt here in Texas, although it’s common in gardens in the Pacific Northwest. I believe Jackson told me he acquired this and other pieces in California via China.


From the driveway looking toward the front porch and patio, with exquisite details like the lavender-filled terracotta pot sitting atop a circular limestone pedestal on a steel table. Dusty mauve ghost plant faintly echoes the lavender’s purple, and a terracotta tile with star design echoes the lavender’s pot. The pastel paint on the patio’s wood-slat chairs picks up the soft colors.


Such a sweet little spot to hang out, with extra seating provided by a low concrete wall.


A steel porch post is etched with the house number. A collection of potted plants disguises the gas meter.


A woven steel gate around the side of the house offers access.


For added privacy, and presumably to reduce the view of neighboring cars, a cattle panel trellis supports an evergreen vine — star jasmine, I think — along the property line.


A gigantic block of wood makes a rustic yet modern bench.


Access to Jackson’s house in the backyard is through an open-sided carport, which he’s turned into a hangout space with a buffet table, a large mirror to reflect light, and a long seating table (not visible). Interesting scrap metal and architectural remnants adorn the buffet.


Mosaic wall detail along the driveway


As you enter the back garden, you see two board-formed concrete columns that Jackson is gradually finishing with a mosaic of stone and brick. A low wall in front displays succulents in terracotta pots.


There’s a narrow path through here to Jackson’s back door. Or maybe it’s the front door.


A low boxwood hedge leads the eye along the path…


…to a pretty cluster of potted plants. Notice how he elevates some of them on plinths, plus there’s a second, smaller basalt water vessel.


Architectural and frog details and a single bulb in a square pot


Looking back, there are more potted succulents on this side of the wall.


Potted agave with stones and turtle


Speaking of turtles, check out this spigot handle!


At right of the low wall…


…a sliding steel-and-rebar gate offers entry to the back garden, with an olive tree standing sentry.


A tall curving hedge separates the main house (and its windows) from Jackson’s personal space out back. A tiny pot of succulents is the finial on a pedestal, and an iron rooster struts atop a round steel plinth in front of the hedge.


The rear garden is laid out along a diagonal, which makes the small space feel larger as it draws your eye along the longest possible axis. A deck runs along the house to a gravel patio with a fire pit, and a newly sodded lawn offers access to a swinging bench under a shade tree.


A steel arbor marks the doorway into the back patio, where a custom BBQ grill stands ready for cookouts.


An old bell on top of the arbor can be rung by pulling on a chain. Dinnertime!


A coyote fence of cut cedar posts (native juniper, actually, but we call it cedar around here) gives privacy from neighboring yards and adds a natural rusticity.


In a swath of mondo grass, a cylinder of steel mesh makes an architectural accent alongside a Japanese maple and strappy-leaved potted plant (crinum? amaryllis?).


The elevated deck is angled not only along the long edge but at the end too, where it accesses the fire-pit patio. A skinny picnic table echoes these diagonal lines with a triangle of faded red paint on top. A board-formed concrete pond sits half on and half off the deck, cattycorner to the house.


Water pours into the pond from an old fire-hose nozzle. A small block in front gives a boost to Jackson’s young niece when she wants to visit the goldfish. Planted directly in the gravel patio is a young sycamore tree (Mexican sycamore?). A teddy-bear-like potted pine sits next to it. If you’re wondering about all of Jackson’s wonderful terracotta pots, he imports them from Italy and sells them once or twice a year in a flash sale.


Motel chairs painted a dusty seafoam green surround a fire pit made from a steel pipe remnant. A concrete BBQ grill holds firewood in its base.


Another beautiful steel gate offers access to a small field or park space behind Jackson’s house.


An old container with a handle holds water for a tiny bog pond.


A closer look at the pond, which was a magnet for everyone who visited. It makes a nice spot to sit too.


Industrial-style steel pipe fountain with fire-hose nozzle


A two-story airy screened porch contains a hammock for lounging sans mosquitoes and a small table and chairs.


No space goes unused in Jackson’s garden, including the narrow strip behind the screened porch. A persimmon laden with orange fruit leads the eye to a steel post with a birdhouse on top. Along the porch foundation, a huge chain adds another industrial touch.


Persimmons


Perfectly timed for the tour


Birdhouse post (notice the two little birds at the base), with a giant hesperaloe tucked in the corner


And around the corner, even the working space and firewood storage is beautiful. A clean-lined outdoor shower in the foreground has wood-slat siding spaced for privacy at the bottom, with wider spacing above (you can tell it’s built for a man — ha!). A steel window looks out at the garden.


I’m sure the scrolled ironwork of the gate that leads to the shower has a history.


Ferns sprout from the mosaic paving inside the shower.


A quick peek at Jackson’s potting bench and work area


And a last look at that teddy-bear pine (this is my name for it, mind you; I didn’t get the ID) and fire-pit patio. One more thought about the gravel patio, deck, and mondo grass groundcover: they allow Jackson to shrink the lawn to just the size he needs it to be, which saves water and effort. (I talk more about this concept in my book Lawn Gone!)


A couple of my touring companions, Cat and Diana, looking pretty blissed out at our first stop of the Open Days tour, sponsored by The Garden Conservancy.


Terracotta flowers holding down Jackson’s business cards and brochures — so many thoughtful details in this garden!


And here’s Jackson himself, looking cool as a cucumber and not at all like he sweated his butt off getting his garden perfect for the tour. Surely it doesn’t look this perfect all the time…does it?? No, it probably does. :)


Thanks for sharing it with us, Jackson!

Up next: The Cloverleaf Drive Garden with a green-roof shed designed by Casey Boyter.

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.

Leaf-peeping, zombies, and Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas


Last Friday my husband and I drove up to northern Arkansas for an extended weekend just before Halloween, hoping to see colorful fall foliage while making a first-time visit to Eureka Springs. I didn’t know what to expect from Eureka Springs aside from hilly terrain, natural springs, and Victorian homes from the town’s heyday in the late 1800s, when tourists sought out the “curative” spring water.


Eureka Springs is indeed very hilly — its nickname, Little Switzerland, is well earned — and we did see leaves of gold and red, although overall it hasn’t been a great year for fall color in Arkansas due to unusually dry conditions. The town is utterly charming, with hundred-year-old houses along every street and a bustling downtown of well-preserved Victorian-era buildings turned into shops, hotels, and restaurants.


In town, footpaths bypass the winding roads and offer mountain-goat-friendly shortcuts up and down hills. We climbed one from a downtown park, up through a neighborhood of sweet, front-porched homes, and then up to the iconic if a bit rickety Crescent Hotel, with commanding views of the surrounding hills. And then we walked back down to town for lunch at Mud Street Cafe. It was perfect sweater weather, with bright blue skies and blushing trees and leaves crunching underfoot.

Halloween in Eureka Springs: All-Out Decorating and Zombie Crawl


We stayed at the delightful Heart of the Hills Inn (not pictured), in its cozy and comfortable Carriage House, located on the Historic Loop along Summit Street. Every house in the neighborhood was all-out decorated for Halloween, including this crazy-spooky house-turned-witch just down the street.


We soon learned that Eureka Springs has a contest for best Halloween decorations, and this one took 3rd place, if I recall correctly. Note the ghoul climbing up over the roof!


Friendly porch-sitters waved at rubbernecking passersby.


Downtown, thankfully, there were no early Christmas trees or Santas adorning storefronts. Halloween and fall were being celebrated in full measure, as they deserve.


Even the murals and graffiti in alleyways got into the spirit of things.


The Babadook?


On the Saturday before Halloween, zombies shuffled into town, looking for braaaaiiiins. It was the 6th annual Zombie Crawl parade, and we joined the throngs lining historic Spring Street to watch the undead go by. Amid skele-zombies and go-go zombies…


…an Elvis zombie appeared, taking selfies with his fans. Clown zombies were unamused.


This hospital-patient zombie was downright scary.


Zombie kids were imprisoned in cages (à la the Child Catcher’s wagon in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang — remember that?), attesting to the presence of zombie catchers.


An Umbrella Corporation pickup truck rolled by too, which I spotted the next morning on a Sunday-quiet street.

Thorncrown Chapel: Sanctuary in the Woods


For something completely different, I was excited to finally see the architecturally celebrated Thorncrown Chapel, a soaring, glass-walled chapel in the woods just outside of town.


Designed by architect Fay Jones and completed in 1980, the design reflects both Gothic influences and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style.


The transparent walls seem to bring indoors the surrounding woods and rocky bluffs.


Or perhaps you feel as if you’re outdoors and communing with nature.


It’s a truly beautiful structure.

Ouachita National Forest


In search of fall foliage, we drove through the Ozarks and Ouachita Mountains. The area around Eureka Springs and Bentonville had the best color (I’ll share some in my next post about Crystal Bridges Museum and the Chihuly exhibit there), but here are a few views from the more subdued Ouachita.


Orange and yellow amid the green


We’ll have fall color in Austin — such as it is — in another few weeks. But it was nice to get an early taste in Arkansas.

Up next: Chihuly in the Forest and more at Crystal Bridges Museum.

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

Saturday, November 4th: Don’t miss the Austin Open Days garden tour sponsored by the Garden Conservancy.

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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