Read This: Garden Design magazine


Little did I know when the Garden Bloggers Fling kicked off in 2008 with 37 attendees that a few years later the publisher of one of the most respected gardening magazines in the U.S. would be a regular Fling attendee. Garden Design publisher Jim Peterson (pictured above at the Portland Fling) purchased the magazine in 2014, a year after it abruptly ceased publication — one more casualty of the all-too-familiar publishing downturn. Undeterred, Jim moved the magazine’s headquarters from New York to Southern California, and he and new editor-in-chief Thad Orr completely overhauled the venerable publication and its website.

Abandoning the traditional ad-based model, but not print, they restructured the monthly magazine as a quarterly “bookazine” that’s completely ad-free and funded by reader subscriptions. With 132 content-filled pages per issue, well-written articles (one of my favorite staff writers is Genevieve Schmidt) and beautiful photos, and a continued emphasis on design (you won’t find generic “how to stake your tomatoes” or “winterize your deck” articles here), the magazine is a great value for the money.


The current issue of Garden Design has a killer cover photo. I covet this fire pit and orange Adirondacks. The redwoods aren’t bad either.

Before restarting the magazine, Jim reached out to garden writers, bloggers, readers, and former contributors to find out what they wanted in a design-based gardening publication — and he listened. The magazine supports the garden writing community as well; it’s been a sponsor of Garden Bloggers Fling for the past two years, and Jim attends the yearly event and spends time getting to know the bloggers.


My favorite article in the current issue (Summer 2015) features 9 enticing garden getaways, with design ideas you’ll be dreaming about for your own back yard, like the fire pit on the cover.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know him, and I feel a strong loyalty to the magazine that’s published two of my articles that ended up winning awards from Garden Writers Association (here and here).


A contemporary Texas Hill Country garden is featured in the current issue.

If you enjoy reading about beautifully designed gardens, check it out. I think you’ll like it too. Garden Design costs $45 (U.S.) for a year’s subscription, or you can buy it per issue on newsstands. You’ll be reading each issue for at least a week. It also makes a great gift for garden lovers. Click here to subscribe.

Magazine images courtesy of Garden Design.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

posted in Design, Magazines

Lively formality in the garden of Deborah Hornickel


If you admired the beautiful details of James David’s grand Rollingwood garden, which I had the privilege of visiting last spring, you may have wondered what a smaller, more economically built garden of his might look like. And I’m here to show you, thanks to James’s longtime friend, Deborah Hornickel, who kindly let me photograph her Bryker Woods garden last week.

Deborah’s garden is 24 years old, and she attributes to James “all of the credit for the design of my garden starting back in 1991.” I first visited her garden in 2006 and again in 2010 during the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour, on which her garden will again be included this October.

From the street to the front porch, a double line of round and teardrop-shaped boxwood topiaries marches along a narrow limestone walk, giving formal structure and a strong leading line for the eye to follow. But the formal symmetry is subverted to the right and left thanks to towering sunflowers, layers of small trees (desert willow and pruned-up loropetalum), and a large, strappy yucca or nolina.


Halfway down the walk, a side path leads left through clipped boxwood to a bench hidden near the shrub-screened property line.


By the porch, pink crinums are finishing up while a dark-leaved canna offers a rich color echo.


Looking back along the front walk, the widely spaced topiaries lead your eye firmly but playfully to the street — and a neighbor’s perfectly positioned tree. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they put in a complementary garden at the base of that tree? (Sometimes one can only dream of gardening neighbors.)


Deborah’s porch is enticing, with a pair of narrow pots overflowing with silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea) and a stainless steel bench displaying a collection of potted cacti and succulents. A green-black door contrasts with the pale celery green of the house.


Terracotta pots unify the collection.


More pots sit along the walk by the porch.


On the shady, east-facing porch, a mantel-like limestone table holds hurricane candles and a striking begonia.


A concrete walk runs along the front porch from the driveway, and Deborah has made a focal point at the end to terminate the view: a tall, terracotta pot filled with Jewels of Opar.


The driveway doubles as a path to the rear garden and offers a view of the porch across a plane of clipped boxwood.


Specimen plants are tucked in here and there, like this Texas dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) and variegated American agave.


It’s not often I get to say this, but I love the view between the side of the house and the pea-graveled driveway. A russet-and-green-leaved Japanese maple is color-echoed by oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) with faded blossoms. The detached garage, which functions as an open carport, looks to be painted the same charcoal-green as the front door.


Let’s stop to admire the Japanese maple and oakleaf hydrangea combo. The maple is underplanted with prostrate yew, also known as Japanese plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Prostrata’), whose shiny, deep-green needles offer a pleasing contrast. I really need to plant this slow-growing, shade-loving, deer-resistant evergreen in my own garden.


Looking back toward the front garden


The long view down the driveway reveals a row of pruned-up ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona cypress trees. Click through to my 2006 visit to Deborah’s garden for a view of these trees before they were pruned up. They are lovely trees, and although the lower limbs had to be pruned up to allow passage, the scaly trunks and blue-green needles overhead create a woodsy Colorado vibe. I like the mix of loose and clipped shrubs beneath them too.


To access the back garden, you pass through the carport/garage, which is also Deborah’s potting shed, and enter a comfortably furnished covered porch.


Deborah is very selective with regard to garden adornment. Each piece counts and is never crowded by another.


She likes a few quirky touches as well, like this skull planter.


The porch commands a view of the entire back garden: fire-pit patio, buffet table, and pond on the left; Bradford pear allee in the middle; and rectangular lawn on the right.


The patchwork-paver patio is Deborah’s latest addition. Jackson Broussard of Sprout and James David worked together on the patio design, Deborah told me.


It reminds me of Tait Moring’s patchwork path.


Four chairs cluster around a circular steel table. When the lid comes off, it doubles as a fire pit. The fire pit is Jackson’s design, and you can see more of his work in my post about a Rollingwood garden he designed.


A circular boxwood hedge once enclosed a stock-tank pond. But when it eventually corroded Deborah replaced it with a simple bird bath. Notice the strong line of clipped boxwood along the edge of the gravel patio. It “holds back” a shrub bed approximately 10 feet wide along the property line, which makes a buffering green wall around the garden’s living spaces.


A wider view


A limestone-slab table by the umbrella holds a couple of potted plants and a bowl of shells. Perhaps it gets put to use during parties.


Seashells and slag glass make a pretty combo.


Deborah’s back porch. I love her house colors. The window in the dark wall looks into the garage/potting shed.


A gravelly planting bed sits just off the porch, containing a crepe myrtle and an assortment of potted plants.


Echeverias in an oval pot resemble water lilies floating in a pond. The metal dachshund is a boot scraper.


The main hallway of the garden is an allee of Bradford pears espaliered on a rebar framework into a long tunnel. This axis is aligned with the back door of the house, creating a strong indoor-outdoor connection.


But before we walk down it, let’s look right to another seating area behind the garage. Wire panels atop steel poles make a sheltering trellis over the space. A frameless mirror mimics a window and reflects candlelight at night. A grill occupies the outer edge.


Candelabras hang over the table for nighttime enjoyment.


There are also lights — cafe-style string lights — running the length of the pear allee. A potted cardboard palm (Zamia furfuracea) on a stone plinth terminates the view.


Deborah says this beautiful plant (not actually a palm) requires protection from winter freezes. The grassy plants on either side, which have speckled, narrow leaves, may be Aspidistra minutiflora ‘Leopard’.


The right side of the garden is devoted to a cool, green lawn, anchored by a simple, chalky urn atop a cylindrical pedestal. Clipped boxwood lines this side as well, with a deep shrub border along the property line.


Looking left, you see a glimpse of the rebar structure that helped train the pears when they were young and supple. A blue bench is positioned in the shade for a view of a pond.


Looking back toward the house


This contemporary, poured-concrete pond was built as a replacement for the original stock-tank pond. The tall plant is Thalia dealbata.


I believe that’s ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo (Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’) behind it. A long steel pipe extends from the boxwood hedge to pour a recirculating stream of water into the pond…


…where water lilies bloom and colorful fish swim.


From the back you see how the pipe is supported.


I am smitten with this pond and the surrounding plants. There’s a sense of openness, but subtropical lushness too.


Deborah has been generous in sharing her garden with Austin over the years, putting it on tour many times. Of James David, her friend who’s helped her with the design for a quarter-century, Deborah says simply, “He is the most talented and creative mind I have ever known, and I am beyond fortunate to have had his assistance.”

My thanks to Deborah for sharing her gorgeous garden with me once again! If you’d like to see it too, it’ll be on tour through Garden Conservancy Open Days on October 17. But I do hope you’ll also save room on your tour schedule that day to see my own garden (very different from Deborah’s) and the other gardeners’ gardens on the Inside Austin Gardens Tour — yep, on the same day.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Golden brocade garden of Marion Jarvie: Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling


All that is gold does not glitter, especially in the Toronto, Ontario, garden of designer and speaker Marion Jarvie. Her home garden was our midday stop on the 2nd day of touring at Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling. High and bright, the sun flattened and shadowed my photos of her richly textured, foliage-focused, collector’s garden, which she ties together through the repetition of color, particularly gold and burgundy. I’m sure the garden simply glows in the mellower light of morning or late afternoon. But it was pretty amazing even at high noon.


For 40 years Marion has been tending this half-acre garden in a suburban neighborhood north of Toronto. The front contains a sloping lawn, lushly bordered, but the back is where she really cuts loose, planting up manmade, curvy berms with seeming abandon, but which are in fact carefully orchestrated.


This white ceramic bust greets you as you enter the back garden…


…which opens before you like a rolling landscape. A large pond creates negative space and a focal point near the back patio.


Yellow iris and white water lilies were blooming during our early June visit.


But Marion mainly favors purple flowers, it seems, which complement the golds and harmonize with the burgundies.


The garden reminded of gold brocade fabric: heavily textured with conifers, glowing with golden foliage, richly accented with specimen plants. It would be easy for a garden like this to become a jumble. But color repetition blends it into an intentional tapestry.


Expansive berms swoop around a narrow, curvy lawn, which functions as a path through the garden. The berms elevate the plants and help screen neighboring houses, plus they provide good drainage. Some of the conifers had been browned during last year’s especially cold winter (I noticed this in a number of Toronto gardens), and Marion’s gardening helper told me she was in the process of replacing those with more cold-tolerant pines.


The lawn also functions as essential negative space amid the busily planted beds.


Peonies aglow in sunlight


Anyone know what this flowering shrub is? Update: The consensus among commenters is that it’s a weigela.


I loved these star-shaped pink flowers atop narrow, blue-green leaves — a dianthus perhaps?


One could wander this garden for hours, I think, and still not see everything.


I’m always proud of how many bloggers from Texas, and particularly from Austin, attend the Fling each year, no matter how distant the host city. This year 13 Texans “flung,” and we got together for a group photo in Marion’s garden. Back row, left to right: Shawn and Laurin of Ravenscourt Gardens (Houston), Linda of Central Texas Gardener (Austin), Sheryl of Yard Fanatic (Austin), Rebecca of Rebecca’s Retreat (Buda), me (Austin), Vicki of Playin’ Outside (Austin), Andrea of Grow Where You’re Planted (College Station), and Chris of Watching My Garden Grow (Austin). In the front row: Cindy of From My Corner of Katy (Katy), Susan of The Bicycle Garden (Lubbock), and Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden (Austin). We were missing Jennifer of The Blotanical Journey (Houston), a Fling first-timer I’d meet on the following day’s tours.


These bloggers were having fun too: Amy of Get Busy Gardening, who’s the lead planner of next year’s Fling in Minneapolis, and Julie of Garden Delights, one of the fun Carolina gals. The hat-wearing photobomber is Helen of Gardening with Confidence.


Allium and clematis make a pretty color echo as you look toward the back patio — and the only seating in the garden. This is a strolling garden, meant for exploring. And how fun it was to explore with my blogger friends!

Coming up next: Cabbagetown garden art and the Hugh Garner Co-Op Green Roof. For a look back at a lush but disciplined contemporary garden in Forest Hill, click here.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.