Festival of Flowers in San Antonio this Saturday: I’ll be speaking!


Central and south Texas gardening friends, are you going to the Festival of Flowers in San Antonio this Saturday? I am! In fact, I’ll be giving a presentation at 10:30 am about how to make a garden that is both water thrifty and beautiful. With eye-candy photos and my top water-saving techniques and water-evoking design ideas, it’ll be a mix of the practical and the creative! After my talk, I’ll be at the book-signing table with copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone!, so come on over and say hi and maybe pick up an autographed book for yourself or as a gift.


Other speakers are on tap all day, including Dr. Calvin Finch on butterfly gardening, “Skip” Richter on natural pest control, and Ray Elizondo on growing daylilies. In the afternoon, catch an organic-gardening roundtable discussion with four experts including Austin’s own John Dromgoole of The Natural Gardener and KLBJ radio show “Gardening Naturally with John Dromgoole.”


Of course there will be plants and garden goods for sale. If you get there early, you may even receive a FREE xeriscape (drought-tolerant) plant, while supplies last, courtesy of San Antonio Water System, co-host of the Festival of Flowers.

Here are the official details:

Saturday, May 28
9 am to 5 pm
San Antonio (Alzafar) Shrine Auditorium
901 N. Loop 1604 West

(Between US Hwy 281 N. and Blanco Rd.)

Tickets available at the door.
Admission $6 adults
Children under 10 free
Free Parking

Carts and wagons welcome. Come and go with hand-stamp. Free plant and package check-room.
ATM on site. Concessions available all day from Augie’s Barbed Wire Barbeque

I hope to see you there!

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

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!

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

Drive-By Gardens: Contemporary curb appeal in Shoalwood


Last week, while cruising around north-central Austin’s Shoalwood and south Allandale neighborhoods, I noticed a trend: contemporary curb appeal with gravel and concrete-paver paths, low walls and fences to separate public and private areas, and turf reduction in favor of lower-water plants.

Take this 1950s ranch, for example. Located in my old neighborhood, this house has had a landscaping facelift since I last saw it. Check out the “before” picture in this Trulia link. The wildscaped “before” garden has been transformed into this clean-lined, geometric space that I think better suits the style of the home. The low, board-formed concrete wall subtly separates the home’s “personal space” from the public sidewalk and street — a modern equivalent of the picket fence. Notice the cool detailing where the house numbers appear on separated sections of the wall.


A pillowy swath of sedge replaces traditional turf to the left of the poured-paver walk. More sedge softens the front of the wall. Lawn grass, neatly defined by steel edging, makes a green carpet to the right of the walk. The hell strip between the sidewalk and the street is paved, simply and effectively, with water-permeable decomposed granite, which makes a welcoming landing pad for visitors exiting their cars.


Similar elements are at work in this front garden: a low fence defining public and private spaces, gravel paving in the hell strip, and a reduced geometric lawn defined by steel edging. Regular readers may remember that I’ve featured this garden before — in 2012, to be exact — and it’s been well maintained since then. If it were mine, I’d continue the poured-concrete paver path through the lawn to the front steps, but that’s me.


More poured-concrete pavers lead the way to this home’s front porch, where a semi-translucent wall screens a small sitting area from the street. The burgundy tree at left nicely echoes the color of the home’s siding.


This new-construction home in a contemporary-farmhouse style has gone casual-modern with its landscaping: a field of dark-gray gravel in lieu of lawn, a poured-paver walk, and steel risers leading to the front porch. Planting is minimal, just a solitary yucca and agave in front, with bamboo closer to the house.

The layout has an appealing geometric simplicity, and the permeable paving allows rainwater to soak in. Unfortunately, the larger tan gravel in the hell strip distracts the eye; I’d use the dark-gray gravel for both sections, with one more poured paver connecting with the street — or, since it’s in the city easement, perhaps a row of off-the-shelf square concrete pavers aligned with the poured pavers. A few more plants — perhaps a cluster of ‘Color Guard’ yuccas and blackfoot daisies? — would soften the gravel too.


A plant lover clearly lives here, with a naturalistic garden with a few contemporary touches. A curving flagstone-and-gravel path is bordered by a xeriscape garden with grasses, santolina, agave, and other low-water plants. Modern L-shaped path lights add a contemporary note, as does what looks like geometric steel edging in the garden bed. It’s a welcoming garden walk that invites people and wildlife.


This last garden isn’t contemporary, but it has some similarities to the others: a decomposed-granite landing pad along the street, reduced lawn, and steel-edged definition. But I confess what really caught my eye are the colorful birdcages hanging from a graceful old live oak. What a playful, whimsical touch! I enjoy seeing people having fun in their front yards.

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

Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, 10:30-11:30 am. Get inspired to save water in your garden during my presentation at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. I’ll be at the book-signing table after the talk, with copies of both The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! available for purchase. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

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!

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

Read This: Gardens of Awe and Folly


Have you ever dawdled over the pages of a book because you didn’t want it to end? Vivian Swift’s Gardens of Awe and Folly: A Traveler’s Journal on the Meaning of Life and Gardening (Bloomsbury, 2016) is one of those books. I find that I’m poring over each page, often laughing aloud over a humorous observation of the author’s, lingering over her watercolor illustrations, and then setting it down, drawing out the pleasure of reading it. Perhaps when I reach the end, I’ll flip to the beginning and start again.


Equal parts travelogue, artist sketchpad, and musings on garden history and design, Gardens of Awe and Folly offers an intimate view of nine gardens (or the gardening culture of a particular place) that the author has visited on her travels. Each chapter is devoted to a garden in Paris, Key West, Marrakesh, New Orleans, Long Island (two gardens), Edinburgh, London, and Rio de Janeiro.

Swift’s conversational observations make you feel as if you’re there with her, and she’s a witty and sparkling companion. She zooms wide enough to set up the history of the place, and then zooms in with a perceptive eye on small but meaningful details: how a gate sets the mood, why a door in a wall entices the imagination, why a Hurricane Katrina survivor planted 12 roses as she rebuilt her home and garden.


It would be easy to mistake Gardens of Awe and Folly for a pretty picture book, and the hand-colored drawings of garden vignettes that fill each page are indeed beautifully rendered. But Swift’s thoughtful and joyful musings about each garden are what make this book such a jewel. Together, her words and watercolors magically transport you to each garden.


The gardens, under Swift’s observant eye and inquisitive musings, are not merely places to visit but exist to help us understand our own place in the world. For example, after sharing the history of an old public garden in Paris, she writes:

Big ideas in small places is what the garden of the Square du Vert-Galant is all about. Here’s what I think: if you ever start to feel as if yours is a measly 2/3 acre life, remember the Square du Vert-Galant. And then nothing about you, your ideas, or your garden will ever feel small again.

All images from the book are used with permission from Bloomsbury. My thanks to Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings for recommending this book, otherwise I might not have discovered it.

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

Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, 10:30-11:30 am. Get inspired to save water in your garden during my presentation at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. I’ll be at the book-signing table after the talk, with copies of both The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! available for purchase. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

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!

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

posted in Books, Design, Travel
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