Drive-By Gardens: Home with the armadillo on South Lamar


“All the fun of a real armadillo family with no unpleasant aftertaste,” is how the artist at 20 Digit Design describes his steel creatures. I’ve rubbernecked at these fun armadillo sculptures many a time while driving down South Lamar Boulevard toward Mockingbird Domestics, one of my favorite home-goods shops. On Wednesday I finally stopped at the Post South Lamar apartment/retail complex to take a few pics.

“Armadillo Family” captures the not-so-charming-in-real-life-but-plenty-cute-in-art behavior of a digging armadillo.


The other armadillo sculptures are more fanciful. I love the humor of “Planter Invading Armadillo,” standing on his hindquarters with his head hidden in a stand of horsetail reed. What an awesome, curving steel planter too.


He seems to be trying to peek through at the patio diners sitting behind the horsetail screen.


“Hey, darlin’, how are yew?” “Oh, I cain’t complain.”

“Talking Armadillos” are fully anthropomorphized, standing erect and jawing like co-workers at the water cooler. I’d totally put any of these in my own garden. So much better than the real thing, which regularly tear up my garden beds, although they are cute.


The plaza planters are nice too. Check out this gigantic steel bowl planted with a Yucca rostrata, two whale’s tongue agaves, asparagus fern, and cool-weather pansies.


Another view


Surprisingly, there’s even some chard in there!


Around the northern perimeter of the plaza, a mix of mostly xeric plants in a variety of blue and bronze pots screens the street view.


At the southern end, next to a restaurant’s outdoor seating, I admired this arrangement of Yucca rostrata, sago palm, and what looks like bicolor iris, all underplanted nicely with perennial groundcovers like trailing purple lantana and silver ponyfoot and some sort of annual color. Sorry I don’t respect you more, annual color, but you look pretty good here.

Oh, and if you’re not from Texas and are wondering about my blog title, take a listen to “London Homesick Blues.”

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

Decked and swinging at the Wildflower Center


The weather has been so beautiful lately — Austin’s payoff for making it through another summer. Last Sunday, the whole family joined me for an afternoon stroll at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, one of my very favorite places. Right now it’s a mix of fall color and Christmas decorations, one of those quirks of Austin’s cooler season, which compresses fall, winter, and spring between October and April.


The garden is decked out for Luminations this Saturday and Sunday, a holiday tradition I highly recommend. (Here are my pics from last year.) This year the staff has upped their game, with red and green Christmas balls adorning the spiny arms of agaves in the Family Garden.


Arizona cypresses, which last year glowed with simple white lights, this year sport colorful Christmas balls too, for daytime and nighttime enjoyment.


Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica) makes a perfect outdoor Christmas tree, complete with fir-like fragrance.


Nearby, a gray-trunked Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana) seems to shelter a handsome buck, one of the many bronze animal sculptures placed throughout the Family Garden.


A spiral wall for kids to play on, tiled with numbers in the Fibonacci sequence, always catches my eye.


The flowers depicted in this section are Turk’s cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii), one of several plants with spiraling features planted nearby.


Here’s some of that fall color I mentioned: Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) turning orangey red on the aqueduct along the entry walk.


It harmonizes nicely with the warm stone of the pillars.


We walked all the way out along the Texas Arboretum trail, a relatively new section of the gardens. My son goes tree-hugger with a live oak, as David, my husband, looks on.


Daughter was perched in the low branches like a bird. In case you’re wondering, we don’t normally climb trees (or any other plant) at public gardens. But it seems to be encouraged with this particular tree, which at some point fell over while remaining rooted and alive. A well-kept mulched path leads to it and encircles it, inviting you to sit on its horizontal trunk and clamber up.


Nearby, my favorite part of the arboretum is even more tree-interactive. A picturesque glade of mighty live oaks is hung with an assortment of swings: swinging armchairs, swinging benches, board swings, spinning disc swings, and even a few child swings with safety bars.


We tried them all out (except the baby swings), gliding and spinning and pushing for nearly an hour.


It was so much fun!


And even a little zen.


We climbed the big viewing tower before we left, and I stopped to admire this possumhaw (Ilex decidua) in full berry. When the leaves drop it’ll be even more stunning.


Here’s one more picture of the festive agaves to remind you of Luminations this weekend. It’s a fun holiday activity for the whole family. Go early to see the gardens before it gets completely dark, or go later to avoid the kiddie crowd. Either way, it’ll give you a warm glow!

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

Friday fun, a garden gift, and a birth announcement


Here’s the fun! This giant steel spider sculpture — it’s friendly, I think; notice the leg wave — can be found at Mueller neighborhood’s Southwest Greenway, my in-laws’ new neighborhood (which means I’ll be doing garden drive-bys in Mueller a lot more often). With a bellyful of blue and green gazing balls, Spiderzilla towers over my husband and daughter, even as they perch on a boulder.


More Friday fun — from last Friday, that is. On Black Friday, I snapped this shot through the kitchen window in honor of REI’s #OptOutside meme. Drizzly and cool, the day was perfect for curling up inside with a book, and even though I didn’t go hiking or, heaven forbid, snowboarding, I did enjoy the garden view.


Here’s the garden gift! The Travis County Master Gardeners gave me this beautiful canvas print of Lori Daul‘s photograph of my summer garden as a thank-you for participating in the Inside Austin Gardens Tour. How cool, right? I’m going to hang it in my office and enjoy that peaceful summer view all winter. Thank you, Lori and TCMG!


And here’s the birth announcement. My new book, The Water-Saving Garden, has been born! At a healthy 13 ounces and 233 pages long, an advance copy was delivered by stork yesterday evening. I’ve been lovingly rocking it ever since. OK, not really. (Maybe a little.)


I couldn’t be more excited, and I can’t wait to share it with you soon. Publication is set for February 23. While it won’t be available in time for the holidays, you could pre-order for someone and let the lucky recipient know it’ll arrive in time for spring garden planning. Just thinking aloud here…

Happy Friday, y’all!

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

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