Spiky garden of Matt Shreves


Six months ago I visited the spikylicious garden of Matt Shreves, an Austin gardener I met on Instagram (see his Instagram page at OG_Agave). Last month, he kindly invited the Austin blogger group over (or maybe we invited ourselves over, and he graciously agreed), so I got to enjoy the spike-fest all over again.


His garden on a hilltop near Emma Long Park has many beautiful agave and cactus specimens.


Every plant looks marvelous.


And there are lots of sharp teeth.


Out front, Matt’s yuccas and agaves are set off by the late-season glory of flowering ‘Fireworks’ gomphrena and firecracker fern.


From this half-hidden patio at the top of the tiny but steep entry garden, Matt and his family can perch in relative seclusion and watch the neighbors go by.


Western-style garden art suits the desert-meets-Central Texas garden.


Potted plants carry the display right up the porch steps.


It was a treat to see his garden again. Thanks for sharing your beautiful creation with us, Matt!

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.

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.

Waterwise drama in Lakemoore Drive Garden: Austin Open Days Tour 2017


Continuing my coverage of the November 4th Open Days tour, today I give you the Lakemoore Drive Garden. Regular readers may recognize this garden as one I blogged about, rapturously, in 2013. The outer garden, a sun-loving gravel garden with evergreen xeric plants like agave, yucca, prickly pear, palm, and nolina, is brightened with seasonal color from goldeneye daisy…


…Gulf muhly grass, and crepe myrtle (red leaves in the background).


Curt Arnette of Sitio Design designed the garden in 2012. (Check out his new website. I’ve taken most of his portfolio pictures.) This summer, new owners moved into the house. I’m impressed that they allowed their garden to be on tour so soon after moving in, but the installer, John Gibson, helped whip it into shape, and it looked well-kept and lovely.


Spherical, strappy-leaved plants shimmer in the sunlight, like Wheeler sotol, toothless sotol, and Yucca rostrata.


I believe this is leatherstem (Jatropha dioica), a dry-loving native Texas plant Curt is partial to in his designs.


‘Santa Rita’ prickly pear in woolly stemodia


This used to be all turf grass, and flat as a sheet of paper. Gravelly berms accented with limestone boulders add height for drainage and interest, and wide gravel paths wind through the large garden, creating a dynamic walkway to the house from the street.


A few pine trees remain from before the garden was created, with shaggy bamboo muhly grass sprawling below, along with red-berried yaupon holly.


The gravel that mulches the planting berms is coarser than the packed decomposed-granite paths, but they blend almost seamlessly.


Crepe myrtle in fall color adds a punch of red to the largely evergreen garden.


A small grove of white-trunked Mexican sycamores


A circular driveway curves up to the house, where a steel-mesh gate offers access to the garage.


All I notice are gates these days, as I’ve been contemplating a new one for my garden.


This visitor appears to be giving serious contemplation to something too. The main entry into the inner courtyard garden from the outer garden is signaled by a stepped-back steel raised bed with a concrete pond. A steel-rod arbor tops a gate in the mesh-paneled fence.


I like how this fence keeps out deer and other unwanted visitors, while also allowing friendly views into the inner garden.


Step through the gate and you enjoy more xeric plantings on gravelly berms along one side of the walk, like agave and crepe myrtle.


On the other side of the walk, a narrow, elevated rill made of board-formed concrete draws you in with a flowing waterway that spills into a circular, concrete-edged waterlily and fish pond.


A trio of trunked Yucca rostrata anchors the corner of the garage.


From another angle you see a wing of the house and more dry-loving yuccas, prickly pear, and a winter-wounded shoestring acacia. In the foreground, whale’s tongue agave, ‘Green Goblet’ agave, and red yucca mingle with white salvia and trailing purple lantana. That’s designer and landscape architect Curt Arnette in the green shirt.


Steel-riser gravel steps lead up to a covered walkway between the detached garage and the house.


A sculpture of deer antlers adds a Western touch.


Whale’s tongue agave and the covered walkway, with a raised-edge swimming pool visible beyond.


A closer look at the pool


Swimmers enjoy a nice view of hills and canyons.


The back garden beyond the pond courtyard is shadier, although with enough sun for clumping ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo to thrive. Decomposed-granite paths thread through generous planting beds that take the place of all turf grass. I bet the new owners’ kids love to ride their trikes along the winding paths.


Other toys have been staged (temporarily, I assume) off the paths in the garden beds.


They actually look pretty good placed in a gravel garden, don’t they? But I’m sure this is temporary because the chunky gravel of the beds would be a difficult material to use under a playset of any kind.


Heading back through the pond courtyard, I stop to admire a pine trunk weaving upward past the covered walk’s similar-colored roof.


There were a number of other local designers visiting this garden while I was there, and no wonder. It’s a beauty!

Up next: A water-conserving garden designed by Botanical Concerns. For a look back at the contemporary retreat of designer B. Jane, 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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