Long views and classic garden rooms in Brinitzer Garden: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling


Much as I love my contemporary-naturalistic garden, and enjoyed puttering in my flowery cottage garden before that, my next garden — whenever and wherever that turns out to be — is going to be more like this one: smaller, with formal garden rooms laid out along axis views, and planted mainly with evergreens for less seasonal maintenance.

This beautiful and classic garden belongs to Arlington, Virginia designer Scott Brinitzer, and we saw it on the second day of touring during the Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling in late June. We entered the garden via this long gravel path, drawn in by a striking focal point: a potted purple cordyline in a dusty blue pot in front of a pumpkin-colored shed door.


You can see the same pot in this photo, pulling double duty now as a focal point viewed from a spacious stone patio off the back of the house. Framed by a low hedge of clipped boxwood, feathery clumping bamboo, and panels of gray lattice fencing, the pot works like a visual magnet, drawing the eye into the next space along the L-shaped gravel path that connects various garden rooms.


I might have mirrored the lattice panels for additional privacy, but leaving them open provides more air flow, which is a plus in a Southern garden.


I love the color choices, which give a contemporary edge to the classic design. (Compare with the door’s previous incarnation in blue, as seen in Scott’s portfolio pics on his website.)


Here’s the opposite view, looking away from the shed toward a small circular patio and a pair of white Adirondacks. This pathway is a double axis, with carefully considered views that pull your eye toward focal points in each direction — an effective design technique for directing the movement of people through a garden and making the most of a small space.


The circular patio acts as a visual pause at the end of the path…


…as well as a turning point for a pathway to the driveway.


The old garage still sits at the end of what was once a long driveway. Scott told us that he kept part of the driveway up by the street and converted the rest into a water-permeable gravel path and garden, helping to cut down on water runoff from his property. Yes, that makes it a water-saving garden!


Heading back to the stone patio, wire chairs take up very little space, visually, as they cluster around a lion’s-head wall fountain.


I love how the fountain is cloaked with moisture-loving moss and softened by a clematis vine. A yellow hosta echoes the yellow-themed container planting at left…


…filled with ‘Color Guard’ yucca, variegated Solomon’s seal, and (I think) ‘Moonbeam’ coreopsis.


Lion’s-head fountain and purple clematis


Other patio pots contain caramel-colored plants, for an interesting change of pace.


New Zealand sedges, I think


Enveloped by the garden, the house is shaded by lovely trees, which Scott planted in his own and his neighbors’ yards as part of a streetwide beautification effort. A swooping wall of concrete aggregate encloses the front garden and the front porch — the creation of the home’s former owner.


Built-in urns are planted with a variety of succulents.


Scott’s dog, a cute Norwich terrier named Kobe, hung out with us as we toured the garden and enjoyed the wine and snacks the owners generously provided.


He seems pretty happy living here, doesn’t he?

Up next: My visit to the Smithsonian Gardens and U.S. Botanic Garden on the National Mall. For a look back at the pollinator-friendly Casa Mariposa garden of Fling planner Tammy Schmitt, plus a winery and garden center visit, 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

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.

Next Garden Spark talk is my own, includes book and garden tour

After hosting two other speakers this spring (Scott Ogden and James David), I’ve decided to offer a talk of my own for my fledgling Garden Spark series. On May 18, I’ll present “Water-Saving Gardens That Wow,” which will also include a signed copy of The Water-Saving Garden and a pre-talk guided tour of my garden.

Update 4/3/17: ***THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT. If you’d like to hear about future Garden Spark talks, please get on the mailing list. Send me an email and let me know you’d like to be added.***

“The recent Texas drought taught us that conserving water in our landscapes is crucially important. But that doesn’t mean our gardening options are limited to cacti and rocks! I’ll talk about design techniques that make the most of natural rainfall and simple ways to conserve water in your garden. I’ll also inspire you to create outdoor spaces that are so beautiful and inviting, it’s hard to believe they are water thrifty.”

Speaker bio: Pam Penick is author of The Water-Saving Garden: How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water and the bestselling Lawn Gone! Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard. She’s a contributor to such magazines as Garden Design, Country Gardens, and Wildflower, and her photographs have appeared in many books and magazines. On her award-winning blog, Digging, she offers an inspirational mash-up of garden tours, design tips, posts about drought-tolerant plants, and plenty of examples of water-saving gardens. She lives, gardens, and shakes her fist at the plant-noshing deer in Austin.

After the talk, I’ll have light refreshments to enjoy.

What: Garden talk by Pam Penick, “Water-Saving Gardens That Wow,” including a signed copy of her book The Water-Saving Garden and a pre-talk guided tour of Pam’s garden

When: Thursday, May 18, 2017, 7:30-8:30 pm. Pre-talk garden tour begins at 6:30 pm.

Where: Private home in northwest Austin (zip 78759)

How to attend: Send me an email requesting an invitation, and I’ll send you the link to the event page. By the way, email-list subscribers (just ask, and I’ll add you) get advance notification of these limited-attendance events.

Please note: Ticket sales are final. If the event doesn’t fill or is cancelled due to any unforeseen reason, full refunds will be given.

Garden Spark is a speaker series on garden design, open by invitation and hosted in my home. Admission goes entirely to compensate our excellent speakers.

To hear about future Garden Spark talks, send me an email and let me know you’d like to be added to the email list. Talks are limited-attendance, and invitations are sent first to those on the email list. If any spots remain, talks are announced publicly on Digging.

What is Garden Spark?

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 top-notch design speakers out of my home, and I’m calling it Garden Spark!

Garden Spark talks are for anyone with an interest in gardening, garden design, and learning from design experts. You won’t find anything else like this in Austin! I know because I’m always looking for garden presentations geared to avid and experienced gardeners, by well-known designers and authors, and they just don’t come around that often.

Hosting at home keeps down expenses and creates a fun, intimate experience for a small number of guests: just 30 people. To attract excellent speakers I’m paying them a fair speaker fee, raised through ticket sales. For the cost of a movie, drinks, and popcorn, you can enjoy seeing a great garden speaker in a cozy, personal setting. I expect to host 3 to 4 talks per year.

Speakers will be announced on the Garden Spark page as well as in blog posts. Subscribe to Digging to have my blog posts delivered to your inbox. And if you join the Garden Spark email list, you’ll get advance notice of upcoming talks (and I’ll never share or sell your email address).

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.

Talking waterwise gardens, blogging & more on Still Growing Podcast


Have a seat at the kitchen table, and let’s have a chat! At least, that’s how it felt to be interviewed last week by Jennifer Ebeling, host of the popular Still Growing Podcast, for an episode about making water-saving gardens that airs today.


Jennifer Ebeling, host of Still Growing Podcast and blogger at 6ftmama (courtesy of Still Growing)

Jennifer and I weren’t really sitting at the table over a cup of coffee — she broadcasts out of Minnesota and I’m in Texas — but her personable, in-depth questions made for a casual, fun conversation with her about, oh, everything: my recent book The Water-Saving Garden; blogging; my family; how the Garden Bloggers Fling got started (hosted this year in Washington DC/Northern VA; register today!); and goodness knows what else.


Listen to my interview on Still Growing here. If you want to zip right to it, my interview starts at the 18:35-minute mark.


And just for fun, here are a few succulent dishes — very waterwise! — I’m enjoying right now. These do need freeze protection, even in my zone 8b garden, but I put them back outside in between our occasional freezes, and they brighten up the patio.


Also, you might have noticed that I got a little behind on my book review posts this week, but I have three more books to share with you very soon — reviews of Gardenista, Hummingbird Plants of the Southwest, and The Cocktail Hour Garden, so stay tuned! For a look back at my recent reviews of Texas Month-by-Month Gardening, Photographing Austin, San Antonio & the Texas Hill Country, and The Garden Bible, just click on the links.

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

2/25/17: Come to my talk at the Wildflower Center. I’ll be speaking at the day-long Native Plant Society of Texas Spring Symposium at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. My talk is called “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” and it’s about creating water-wise home gardens that don’t sacrifice beauty. The symposium is open to the public. Click here for registration. I’ll be offering signed copies of my books, The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone!, after my talk ($20 each; tax is included). I hope to see you there!

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. The first talk with Scott Ogden has sold out, but join the Garden Spark email list for speaker announcements delivered to your inbox; 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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