Thanks for coming to Zilker Garden Festival


Despite Friday’s surprising chilly rainstorm, the weekend turned out to be perfect, weather-wise. And gardening enthusiasts turned out in droves to attend Zilker Garden Festival, which is Zilker Botanical Garden‘s big fundraiser — money that goes toward keeping the gardens maintained and beautiful in this era of low city funding. Thank you to everyone who came, especially if you visited the Author Booth! Here I am working the booth and visiting with cactus and succulent expert Jeff Pavlat and Bob Barth of Oracle Gorge Nursery, who stopped by.


I met so many wonderful gardeners and readers, including this delightful Digging fan who told me she and her husband drove all the way from Katy, Texas, to meet me. How cool is that? I tried to talk her into starting a blog so she can join the online garden chatting and sharing. After all, she could be inspiring the next gardener to come along. Katy friend, if you start one, let me know, OK? :)


Aside from meeting readers and fellow gardeners, I had a great time hanging out with my fellow authors, like funny lady and goat breeder (just kidding, sort of) Jenny Peterson (who took this photo and the one above — thank you, Jenny!).


On Saturday I shared the booth with two terrific women, Judy Barrett and Cheryl Beesley.


And on Sunday, Jenny (in white) and I switched off with KLRU’s Trisha Shirey (in purple), Judy (in green), and Lucinda Hutson (in stripes). I was honored to share the booth with these talented women who’ve contributed so much to Austin’s gardening scene.


Huge thanks to Zilker Garden Festival organizers, especially Syd Teague and Cathy Wood, for hosting the author booth and giving me an opportunity to sell my books. I hope the festival raised piles of cash for Zilker Garden. And they really rocked it with this year’s hipster American Gothic poster too.

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

THIS WEDNESDAY: Join me for Coffee with the Author at noon on April 6 at Holy Grounds
KUT’s Jennifer Stayton will interview me about water-saving gardening and host a Q&A with the audience — which I hope will include YOU. Afterward I’ll sign copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone!. I hope to see you there for this intimate, lunchtime event. Holy Grounds coffee shop is located in downtown Austin in the main building of St. David’s Episcopal Church at 301 East 8th Street. You can park in the surface lot in front of St. David’s main doors.

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Belting It Out along the boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake


I’ve walked the hike-and-bike trail around Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin many times. But on Saturday, for the first time, I walked the relatively new boardwalk portion of the trail (completed in 2014), which starts east of the Congress Avenue Bridge and ends at International Shores Park on South Lakeshore Boulevard, just east of I-35.

My daughter joined me, and we only intended to explore a little way. But the morning was as soft as a cloud, and the temperature pleasantly cool, so we kept going all the way to the 1st Street Bridge. Along the way we stopped to watch herons, turtles, and ducks galore, as well as rowing crews skimming across the water.


It was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed the relative quiet of this end of the trail, as well as the new perspective on downtown Austin.


All along the boardwalk, lifelike sculptures of tooled leather, western-style belts are attached to the steel handrails, each engraved with a lyric from a country song. I got caught up in discovering each one and trying to remember how each song goes and who sang it. As I later learned, there are 36 cast-bronze belts, which make up a public art project commissioned by the City of Austin called Belting It Out. Artist Ken Little created them, using lyrics from songs by well-known Texas singers and songwriters.

Here are my favorites I spotted along the way, starting with (of course) a Willie Nelson hit. Pictured above: Pancho was a bandit, boys, from “Pancho and Lefty” by Townes Van Zandt. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard made it a hit.


The road goes on forever and the party never ends, from “The Road Goes on Forever,” Robert Earl Keen


In dreams I walk with you, from “In Dreams,” Roy Orbison


My love is bigger than a Cadillac, from “Not Fade Away,” Buddy Holly


Blue light was my baby, red light was my mind, from “Love in Vain,” Robert Johnson


Me upon my pony on my boat, from “If I Had a Boat,” Lyle Lovett


I wanna go home with the armadillo, from “London Homesick Blues,” Gary P Nunn


Hey Baby, que paso?, from “(Hey Baby) Que Paso,” The Texas Tornados


Gonna get me a mojo hand, from “Mojo Hand,” Lightnin’ Hopkins


Crazy for cryin’, crazy for trying’, from “Crazy,” Willie Nelson. Also a Patsy Cline hit.


La ti da!!, from “La Ti Da,” Marcia Ball


Como la flor con tanto amor, from “Como La Flor,” Selena


Too old to die young, from “Till’ I’m Too Old To Die Young,” Moe Bandy


Amarillo by morning, from “Amarillo by Morning,” George Strait


Alla en el rancho grande, from “Alla En El Rancho Grande,” traditional


Wind me up! Watch me go!, from “Wind Me Up,” Terri Hendrix


Take the ribbon from your hair, from “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” Kris Kristofferson


She needs wide open spaces, from “Wide Open Spaces,” Dixie Chicks


Here’s my own Dixie chick enjoying the wide open spaces of Lady Bird Lake. You will too. Go walk it.

_______________________

Upcoming Events and News

My new book, The Water-Saving Garden: How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water, comes out tomorrow! Click the link for more info and, if you like, to order online from the retailer of your choice. Check back next Monday for a book-release blog party with lots of giveaways of water-saving gardening items!

Join me for my kick-off garden talk this Saturday, February 27, at 10 am, at The Natural Gardener nursery in southwest Austin. My talk is called “Hold the Hose! How to Make Your Garden Water Thrifty and Beautiful,” and it’s free to the public. Afterward I’ll have signed books available for purchase ($20 each, includes tax) and will be glad to autograph one for you! Dress for the weather, as the talk will be held in the big tent outside.

Look for me on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Dining on Vinaigrette’s garden patio in South Austin


I’m not a foodie, and I don’t get too excited about new restaurants opening on a daily basis here in Austin. And yet something about salad bistro Vinaigrette caught my attention when author Amy Stewart shared (from Eureka, CA!) an Austin Eater article about its recent opening.


Could it have been the gardening books — including Piet Oudolf’s recent Hummelo and Amy’s own The Drunken Botanist — displayed on a table near the bar? Yes, indeed. That did it. I had to know what this garden-loving restaurant was all about.


So it was that two days after Vinaigrette opened its doors on College Avenue, in Tree House Italian Grill’s former location, I arrived for an early dinner with Chicago blogger, author, and motivational speaker Shawna Coronado, who was passing through on her way to a conference. Shawna’s long devoted her own front yard to growing vegetables, but with a recent diagnosis of spinal osteoarthritis, she’s now transforming her garden into a low-maintenance space and focusing in her writing and speaking on wellness and healthy living. (Check out her site for lots of garden eye candy, DIY projects, and wellness inspiration.)


Before I arrived, Shawna (pictured at right) had already met owner Erin Wade (on the left) and was photographing the restaurant and its wares with a foodie’s attention to detail. And no wonder. The place is irresistible.


And so is Erin. A self-taught farmer from Santa Fe who opened a salad restaurant in order to offer healthy, delicious food like she’d enjoyed during a year in Italy, Erin now operates three locations of Vinaigrette in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and, most recently, Austin. She also owns the farms that supply her chefs with fresh, organic ingredients. Food waste from the restaurants goes back to the farms to feed her pigs or be used for compost.


I raved about the beautiful patio garden, which is swathed in native groundcovers like Texas bluegrass (Poa arachnifera) and accented with drought-tolerant architectural plants like spineless prickly pear and agave. (There are no expanses of brown mulch in this brand-new garden. Thomas Rainer would be proud.)


A curving, stone-edged gravel path leads through the grasses and skirts the biggest live oak I’ve ever seen, which, Erin explained, was surrounded by a concrete patio when she bought the place.


She immediately ripped out the concrete and laid permeable decomposed granite instead, kept in place with substantial steel edging.


A rammed-earth wall and steel-and-wood-slat fence surrounds the garden, shielding views of the parking lot and street. “Who helped you with the landscape design?” I asked Erin, expecting to hear designer Mark Word’s name. “I read a lot of books and did the design myself,” Erin replied. Is there nothing this enterprising woman can’t do?


Shawna and I chose a table under the magnificent oak, and it was a joyful experience to sit under its spreading canopy.


I kept popping up to take more garden pictures. It was a balmy, golden afternoon, and the place was not yet crowded with other diners.


Red accents appear throughout the garden and inside the restaurant as well.


Even in the potted cacti that adorn each table and a deck rail.


Am I the only one interested in the decor of restaurant bathrooms? I think not. In keeping with the restaurant’s clean-lined, modern-farmhouse interior (oddly, I took no photos of the indoor seating), the lavatory design is spa-like — with the surprise of charcoal-colored river rocks in the stainless-steel sink basins…


…and a Michael Pollan quote on the bathroom wall.


Shawna’s friend Austin (whose garden I’ve had the pleasure of touring) and his partner, Jorge (on the left), joined us for dinner, and we enjoyed a fine meal together. My thanks to Shawna for inviting me, and to Erin for sharing her beautiful restaurant with us. Vinaigrette’s patio garden is currently my favorite outdoor dining space in Austin.

_______________________

Upcoming Events and News

My new book, The Water-Saving Garden: How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water, comes out next Tuesday! Click the link for more info and, if you like, to order online from the retailer of your choice. Check back soon for my book-release blog party with lots of giveaways of water-saving gardening items!

Join me for my kick-off garden talk for my new book, The Water-Saving Garden, on February 27, at 10 am, at The Natural Gardener nursery in southwest Austin. My talk is called “Hold the Hose! How to Make Your Garden Water Thrifty and Beautiful,” and it’s free to the public. Afterward I’ll have books available for purchase and will be glad to autograph one for you! Dress for the weather, as the talk will be held in the big tent outside.

Look for me on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Follow