Dreamy blues and a few surprises in the garden of Lori Daul


When a gardener urges you to come over to see something in bloom, you know you better say yes. Lori Daul of The Gardener of Good and Evil tempted me into a quick visit last Saturday — not with an apple but with “the last of the daffodils.” Of course, I found a lot more than daffodils to swoon over while I was there, including her always-wonderful collection of potted plants, surrounded by the feathery foliage of California poppies, which were just beginning to open.


Lori’s garden is a study in blue. She painted her ordinary wood privacy fence midnight blue a few years ago, transforming it into a rich backdrop for the greens and yellows of her garden. Blue-painted furniture and blue glazed pots continue the color scheme, which echoes her house color.


When I first visited her garden, back in 2010, it was a sunnier space that Lori had filled with roses. By 2013 (click for pics), as trees shaded her garden and drought took its toll, Lori had begun trading out roses for structural agaves, which add welcome architectural interest to her densely planted borders.


Although Lori has a great eye for foliage compositions, flowers still have a large place in her garden, like these columbines. An aloe bloom spike stands tall in their midst, nearly ready to open.


The same garden bed, from a different perspective. The purple-pink flowers are prairie spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis).


A serpentine lawn serves as a broad path through the back garden. The surrounding blue walls and fencing harmonize with all the greens. In the center of the space, a feathery mesquite (sadly in decline) is a living bottle tree adorned with a handful of turquoise and cobalt bottles.


In the deep, curvy borders around the fence line, Lori elevates many of her agaves in containers, including this whale’s tongue (Agave ovatifolia), to give them more presence.


A variegated American agave (Agave americana ‘Variegata’) adds a little zip with yellow stripes. In the background, you can see Lori’s new contemporary fence — painted blue, of course — which she’s completed on one side of the garden.


Orange bulbine flowers at the base of the mesquite, next to a water pan that I assume Lori puts out for wildlife — or her cat, Killer. Killer?? Well, after all, this is the garden of good and evil.


The gate into Lori’s back garden wows at this time of year with flowering ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine (Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine Beauty’) contrasting with the deep-blue paint. Lori encourages the crossvine to drape across the gate, which seems not to impede the gate’s function, as we opened and closed it with no trouble.


The center of the gate is filled with mesh fencing, allowing peek-a-boo views and breezes.


Lori’s sense of humor appears in her containers (she has a collection of half-face pots) and garden art, like this coiled concrete rattlesnake set into the paving of a small front patio, not far from her front door. Mexican beach pebbles laid on edge evoke the rattles on its tail.


Near the front porch, another water pan sits next to a swath of ‘Chocolate Chip’ ajuga in full bloom. In the elevated bed, I think that’s Beschorneria yuccoides ‘Flamingo Glow’ next to a holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum). I wish I’d asked Lori about her beschorneria. It’s a beautiful plant.

But then, so is everything in her Garden of Good and Evil. Thanks for sharing it with me again, Lori. It’s funny that I forgot to take a single picture of the tempting daffodils!

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.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Come meet me at Zilker Garden Festival, Austin, TX, April 2 & 3
Get your gardening mojo on at Zilker Garden Festival! I’ll be at the brand-new Author Booth both days this weekend between 10 am and 2 pm (near the main building entrance), and I’ll be selling signed copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! ($20 each). Zilker Garden Festival is the garden’s only fundraiser (and it needs our support) and offers all-day entertainment, vendor shopping, plant sales, demonstrations, live music, a beer garden and food vendors, children’s activities, a garden train, a flower show, and a docent-led tour of lovely Zilker Botanical Garden. Don’t miss it!

Join me for lunch downtown at Holy Grounds coffee shop and cafe on Wednesday, April 6, at noon. As part of their Coffee with the Author series, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton will interview me and host a Q&A with the audience — i.e., y’all — and 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 is located in the main building of St. David’s Episcopal Church at 301 East 8th Street in downtown Austin. 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.

Spring visit to Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery

A few days ago I visited my favorite North Austin nursery, Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery, which is actually located in Cedar Park, just northwest of Austin. As the name implies, HCWG carries pond plants, fish, fountains, pond equipment, and other water-garden supplies. But over the past few years they’ve also really grown their regular nursery offerings, including a nice selection of native and adapted perennials, woody lilies (agaves, sotols, yuccas, etc.), and trees.

Weeping redbuds (Cercis canadensis var. texensis ‘Traveller’) in full bloom were flying out the door while I was there, and no wonder. Isn’t it a gorgeous small tree? I bought one from Vivero Growers last spring, and while mine is still small it’s blooming beautifully right now. A HCWG employee told me she planted one 10 years ago in a hot, dry spot in her garden, and now it’s 12 feet tall by 10 feet wide and needs hardly any supplemental water. That’s a lot taller than my preliminary online research indicated, but when I ran home with her words ringing in my head and took a look, I decided there’s room if mine gets that large. Bring it, ‘Traveller’.


Here’s another beauty


Texas mountain laurels (Sophora secundiflora) are blooming like crazy too, especially the big ones planted in their display gardens.


Thanks to Nathan, HCWG’s staff horticulturist, you’ll always find cool succulents and cacti here. If you’re a risk-taker and have a taste for the unusual, you can even try Marfa-style ocotillo, which I see at right in this image.


I noticed quite a few Civano Nursery plants for sale, which was a fun surprise. I visited Civano Nursery in Tucson a couple of years ago. HCWG must be seeking out desert species to give Central Texas gardeners more options for their dry gardens. Watch the hardiness zone though; some of these need winter protection in our climate.


The pots and plants at HCWG are always temptingly arranged, and the display gardens will make you want to add pergolas and fire-pit seating in your own garden.


I like these wine-colored pots, especially paired with sunny native four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa).


But I bought a blue pot for myself.


I was sorely tempted by these blue square trellises, a welcome contemporary alternative to the traditional fan-style or scrolled trellises available at the box stores.


More blues and a fun-in-the-sun, mosaic-tile bench


I’ve had vines on the brain lately, so I stopped to admire this morning glory…


…and native coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)…


…and Lady Banks rose. It’s not really a vine, but it grows like one, only bigger. You’ve been warned.


Australian native kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos) — oh, how I want them to grow here. Has anyone reading this had any luck keeping them alive during our steamy summers?


I love those fuzzy flowers.


Over the years I’ve done a lot of birthday and Mother’s Day shopping at HCWG. They always have fun garden decor, like these metal flowers…


…and stone owls…


…and even bonsai.


If you want to add a fountain or pond to your garden, there’s no place better. I bought my disappearing fountain here, as well as the supplies, fish, and plants for my stock-tank pond.


This large raised pond will be afloat with gigantic Victoria amazonica water lily leaves in a couple of months.


Tower-style fountains create a focal point for now.


A tiered fountain is a classic choice for a Spanish courtyard or Mediterranean-style garden.


Or forget the pump and just add succulents for a dripping illusion!


Succulents are so handsome, no matter where you plant them.


Don’t forget evergreen shrubs for forming the backbone of your garden.


You don’t see a lot of pines in Central Texas because our soil is alkaline, not acidic, so I was drawn to these ‘Majestic Beauty’ black pines. They look gorgeous with the black pots and would be lovely in a Japanese-style garden.


The nursery operates out of two houses on the property, one of which also functions as a gift shop. You’ll find helpful employees and a great selection of plants, not to mention events and classes throughout the year (but no online links to those, for some reason). Go in May and June to admire their water lilies.

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.

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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Enter to win a free copy of The Water-Saving Garden this week at Gardening Gone Wild. Or go ahead and order one for yourself, and if you win the giveaway you’ll have a perfect gardener’s gift. :)

Read an excerpt from my new book, The Water-Saving Garden, at Garden Design: “Create the Illusion of Water with Plants: How to use grasses, trees, groundcovers and other plants to evoke water in a dry garden.” Check it out, and let me know if you try any of these creative design ideas.

Do you review? Have you read The Water-Saving Garden? If you liked it or 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!

Come meet me at Zilker Garden Festival, Austin, TX, April 2 & 3
Come see me at Zilker Fest between 10 am and 2 pm, on both Saturday and Sunday, at the Author Booth (near the main building entrance), where I’ll be signing and selling my books ($20 each). Zilker Fest offers all-day entertainment, vendor shopping, plant sales, demonstrations, live music, a beer garden and food vendors, children’s activities, a garden train, a flower show, and a docent-led tour of lovely Zilker Botanical Garden. Click here for full details.

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.

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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.

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