Canyon-side garden of Tait Moring: Austin Open Days Tour 2017


The final garden from the Austin Open Days Tour earlier this month is landscape architect Tait Moring‘s personal garden, which perches on a canyon’s rim just off Bee Caves Road. His entry garden is an appealing mix of formality (boxwood hedging, geometric raised pond, fig ivy neatly trimmed on the wall) and rustic informality (loosely planted Mexican feathergrass, colorful pots zigzagging on the steps, a country-style gravel driveway).


Color blocking with fig ivy and white limestone coping


Tait said a branch fell into the pond, and he decided to leave it for the goldfish to enjoy.


Waterfall detail, with ceramic turtle


A chunky pillar and low wall display oversized pots, one with grasses and salvia, the others with hesperaloe.


Across the driveway, a cactus dish sits on a limestone boulder amid grasses and goldeneye daisy.


A decomposed-granite trail leads back toward the property’s entrance. The busy highway just beyond is completely obscured by trees and bamboo along the property line. Gigantic stone spheres rest along the trail, leading you to a free-standing and inviting wooden gate.


Architectural relics lie alongside the stone spheres. These spheres once accented the planting beds in the Rollingwood Randall’s shopping center. When that shopping center redid its landscaping, Tait was lucky enough to acquire the spheres and brought them home to his own garden.


The wooden gate with unique fasteners and a hand knocker opens to a lawn circle anchored by a glossy black pot.


A wall of bamboo encircles the lawn. An opening with a stepping-stone path leads out of the garden to the highway shoulder just beyond.


The view from the bamboo doorway


Heading back through the wooden gate, I managed to photobomb Lori’s picture.


A round pot on a stone plinth echoes the sphere’s shape.


Another pot contains the sword-like foliage of a tall yucca.


Tait’s home doubles as his design studio, and his garden has storage space for plants for installations. A greenhouse, collection of white planters, and chandelier hanging from a tree give structure and interest to his plant-storage space.


An Indonesian-style turquoise post stands alongside a cedar fence post and echoes the blue of coiled hoses.


Painted post detail


A flora-themed wrought-iron gate divides the driveway between visitor parking and work equipment parking.


Fence detail


A rubble wall with gothic-arch niche and cedar gate marks the entry to Tait’s back garden.


The niche makes a fun display space for a trio of skull planters.


The detail of the wall itself is amazing, studded with geodes, turquoise glass, and fossils amid the rocks.


Let’s go through the gate to see the rest. I love the curved cedar trunk arching above the gate, and notice the skull and prickly pear tucked in the fig ivy atop the stone gatepost.


Straight ahead — a canyon view, with newly built houses cropping up on the ridge line. A cantera stone pillar topped with an agave dish and a round pond draw the eye across the lawn.


A closer view


Looking back through the gate


A planter pocket built into this side of the wall contains grama grass. Just beyond…


…a ‘Green Goblet’ agave (I think) in a blue pot


The rubble wall deserves a close inspection on this side as well.


Altar niche with hanging lantern


Fossils, green glass, and is that an amethyst geode?


It all fits together so beautifully.


Another carved cantera column supports a potted agave on this side of the lawn as well.


With a vine creeping up the column, a jungly mood is created.


On a perpendicular axis to the canyon view, the lawn stretches out beneath a large cedar (juniper) tree and leads to a swimming pool.


Hanging above Turk’s cap and inland sea oats, as if over an indoor dining table, a capiz-shell chandelier is a surprising sight as it tinkles in the breeze.


A lushly planted strip behind the pool runs alongside a stacked-limestone wall topped with a cedar fence.


The long view


Another cantera stone column stands here. It used to have a tiki-style stone head atop it, which I miss.


From shade into sun, the view back toward the house


Tait’s garden largely consists of water-conserving native plants and wildscape in the upper canyon. This swath by the pool is the only lawn Tait has, and he doesn’t baby it with excess water.


Heading into the canyon via a woodsy trail, you pass intimate seating areas, like this motel-chair grouping…


…and a contemplative stone bench.


The payoff comes along the canyon’s rim, below the house, where Tait built a beautifully crafted, semicircular bench around a stone fire pit.


Imagine sitting here and watching the sun set over the hills, and then roasting marshmallows around a cozy campfire.


Tait also nurtures — and by nurtures I mean he carefully leaves alone — a native Texas madrone. These white-trunked trees are notoriously picky about growing conditions and don’t appreciate well-intentioned “improvements” like removing cedar trees around them. Tait has wisely left his tree in its native condition.


A large Texas nolina sprawls nearby, like green spaghetti or a shaggy head of hair.


A rustic deck off the back of the house displays a collection of potted plants.


A patchwork path of stone and brick leftover from other projects leads from the deck…


…past native swaths of goldeneye daisy…


…to Tait’s vegetable garden, a potager of rectangular stone beds.


And here’s Tait, the tamer of the canyon’s edge and protector of its wildness. Thanks for sharing your garden, Tait!

This concludes my recap of the 2017 Austin Open Days Tour. For a look back at the water-saving garden on Ridgewood Road, 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.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Calling all garden bloggers! You’re invited to register for the annual Garden Bloggers Fling tour and meetup, which will be held in Austin next May 3-6, 2018! Click this link for information about registering, and you can see our itinerary here. Space is limited, so don’t delay. The 2018 Fling will be the event’s 10th anniversary, which started in Austin in 2008.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks! Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by inspiring 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.

Garden rooms and green roof at Cloverleaf Drive Garden: Austin Open Days Tour 2017


This year’s Garden Conservancy-sponsored Open Days tour in Austin featured gardens in a variety of styles and a variety of neighborhoods (not just West Austin). I especially enjoyed exploring the Cloverleaf Drive garden, which, along with Jackson Broussard’s, is located east of I-35 in a “regular-folks” neighborhood. It was designed by Casey Boyter, one of 3 female designers represented among the 6 private gardens, which I also think is a great move by the tour organizer.


Let’s start with the street view, and this unusual sight: an arch of normally upright, columnar ‘Will Fleming’ yaupons. I was quite surprised to see ‘Will Fleming’ used this way, and I wondered if it was planned from the start or decided on later.


A deep curbside bed of low-water plants like agave, gopher plant, purple coneflower, and woolly stemodia shrinks the lawn to a more manageable size.


A pretty garden gate on a wood-slat fence admits you into the back garden…


…and a nicely fitted limestone patio and what Casey calls a rubble wall, with bricks and other salvaged materials tucked among the stones. Casey specializes in this sort of wall, as does Jackson and Tait Moring, whose garden was also on tour. I’m starting to think of a rubble wall as a distinctive Austin look.


Looking left along the house, you see a gravel patio with a willow bench, red-flowering container plants, and other enticements.


But first let’s take the gravel path that curves invitingly from the gate through mistflower, spineless prickly pear, and native palmetto to a low curved wall…


…which offers seating around a portable fire pit. I love this. It reads like a council ring, one of my favorite design features in a garden. Native inland sea oats grasses nod in the foreground.


Another view. Check out that wall detailing.


And one more, with agave, salvia, grasses, and roses adding greenery all around.


A rectangular lawn adds a swath of soft green — and a play space for kids or dogs — in the center of the back yard. But the majority of the yard is a gravel-path ramble through generous garden beds of native and adapted plants, leading to various patio destinations. This kind of garden really appeals to me. Also, notice the galvanized-panel fence, which adds a contemporary note — or industrial, depending on how you look at it — to the garden.


Instead of tucking the garden shed in a back corner, Casey placed it in the middle of the rear property line, which serves to divide the yard into two distinct spaces. Creating multiple garden rooms makes any garden feel larger, and it works here too. Charmingly, the shed is topped with a green roof of prickly pear and native grasses. Casey is a green roof pioneer in Austin.


You might ask, do the homeowners want to look out their windows at a shed, even as cute a shed as this one? Well, they don’t. A two-level, wood-slat screen draped with an evergreen vine creates another garden-room division between the patio with the willow bench and the rest of the yard. On this side of the screen, inland sea oats line the lawn — a fun juxtaposition of native grass and turf grass.


The long view


A closer look at the shed and its green roof. I like the sliding barn door and its chevron-pattern construction and the built-in potting bench along the side.


From the shed area, you peek over a narrow planting bed and see another gravel patio with two Adirondack chairs.


Walking around to see what’s there, you find a small stock-tank pond with tall papyrus and a yellow waterlily.


A sweet discovery


Here’s the designer, Casey Boyter, who was on hand to answer questions about the garden.


Along the side fence, an Adirondack loveseat offers a resting place amid sedge and oakleaf hydrangeas.


A double gate of wood slats offers access on this side.


From here you enjoy a long diagonal view across the garden to the fire-pit patio.


Agaves grow in and around a traditional concrete birdbath — another fun little surprise.


View of the shed and a loquat tree to the right


I can’t get enough of that agave in the birdbath. It makes a cool focal point.


Heading around to the willow-bench patio at the back of the house


The horizontal wood-slat screen draped with coral honeysuckle vine makes a nice backdrop to this open patio furnished with charming willow loveseats and chairs. I don’t know what the red-flowering plant is — something tropical, I think — but it adds a nice jolt of color to this largely evergreen garden.


I like how the screen keeps you from seeing the whole garden at one glance. You have a reason to go outside and explore, with tantalizing glimpses of other garden rooms around each side.


A metal sun hangs from the screen — no need for nails if you use a hook. The screen is constructed in 3 parts, with the center section stepped back about 4 inches and built about 6 inches taller than the panels on either side, giving the screen depth and a nice symmetry.


The rustic pots work well with the rustic willow furniture.


Utterly charming, don’t you think? And attainable. These are inexpensive gravel paths and DIY-able screens and readily available native plants. The key is thinking through the space and how you want to divide it, while keeping a certain openness in the garden rooms you make. Or hiring a designer to figure that out for you!


And what a great way to get rid of a lot of lawn too.


I enjoyed this garden and know it must be very liveable for the lucky owners.

Up next: The contemporary garden and poolside retreat of designer B. Jane. For a look back at landscape architect Jackson Broussard’s personal garden, 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.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Calling all garden bloggers! You’re invited to register for the annual Garden Bloggers Fling tour and meetup, which will be held in Austin next May 3-6, 2018! Click this link for information about registering, and you can see our itinerary here. Space is limited, so don’t delay. The 2018 Fling will be the event’s 10th anniversary, which started in Austin in 2008.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks! Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by inspiring 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.

Autumn stroll around Lady Bird Lake


Autumn rarely sets our trees aflame here in central Texas, and this year’s fall color looks to be more of a dud than usual. But still, you can find a few russet tinges if you squint, especially in the coppery needles of bald cypresses around Lady Bird Lake.


My family and I walked the 3-mile loop between MoPac and the Pfluger Bridge over the Thanksgiving holiday.


Well, they ran and I meandered with Cosmo, taking lots of photos along the way. I love walking here when the weather cools off.


On this gray day, it wasn’t very crowded, which was nice.


Virginia creeper climbing a bald cypress is putting on a mini fall show of its own.


Bald cypress roots, drinking deeply


The cypresses line the hike-and-bike trail like a giant’s hallway.


Yes, I will apparently even take photos of a public restroom if the design is interesting.


The Trail Foundation has really upped its game in the design of public toilets along the trail.


The Heron Creek restrooms, designed by Mell Lawrence Architects, look like monk cowls made of raw steel and board-formed concrete.


Moving on


Turtles! I’m familiar with the red-eared slider, perching below the other two. But what kind of turtle is at the top of the branch? A soft-shell?


Almost at the turning point: the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge


A spiral ramp leads up to the bridge on the north side of the lake, but let’s pause in the Pfluger Circle, designed by Austin’s own Christy Ten Eyck, before we go up. With limestone-block benches around the circle, surrounded by Anacacho orchid trees, palmettos, and other native plants, it functions like a large council ring, one of my favorite design motifs.

Here’s a nice article about council rings, although — surprise! — the author used one of my photos without asking or even linking back to my site, which I wish people wouldn’t do. Respecting copyright (is it yours? If not, ask before using) is easy to do — and the right thing to do.


My rant over, let’s go up the ramp cloaked in fig ivy. Yes, it does seem as if we’re walking backwards, doesn’t it?


Looking down on the circle from the top of the ramp


My daughter is checking her phone down there.


A wider view captures a glimpse of the state capitol in the distance.


Beachy, curvy, wooden side-walls line a portion of the bridge.


Along the main part of the bridge, steel rails allow for views of the water.


Graffiti on the train bridge: Ninja Style Kung Fu Grip, reads one, which I’m sure the guy needed as he hung from the bridge to spray-paint. Never Give Up, reads another with Pac-Man outrunning killer ghosts.


Greening up the bridge are several raised garden beds maintained by volunteers. A couple were a bit anemic, but this one totally rocked.


Well done, Joan McGaffigan!


Back on the trail on the south side of the lake, this bench offers a nice overlook of the historic Lamar Boulevard Bridge — and an Austin-style re-creation of the bridge scene from Manhattan.


Where the trail diverts along Barton Creek for half a mile or so, I stopped on the wooden pedestrian bridge to watch kayakers…


…and paddleboarders.


Looks like fun


A little more fall color


And more orangey bald cypress


I sat in this spot for a little while, admiring the turquoise water of spring-fed Barton Creek and the orange needles and knobby “knees” of a solitary bald cypress.


Kayakers paddled up the creek…


…and, after a bit, paddled back toward the lake.


So peaceful


Nearby, the steel gazebo at Lou Neff Point offers a nice vista of downtown…


…between the trees.


Firecracker fern was still in full bloom, with a sulphur butterfly nectaring there.


Check out those yellow eyes!


Yuccas, agaves, and native flowering perennials and trees grow in terraced beds on the hillside here.


Beautiful yuccas, like exploding fireworks


Regular trail denizen Woode Wood was serenading passers-by.


A little gold adds to the subtle fall color along the trail.


Near the end of my loop, as I crossed the MoPac Pedestrian Bridge, I noticed that an old Live a Great Story sticker continues to hang on. I took a similar picture of this sticker, with a paddleboarder below, a couple of years ago, when we were having a much more colorful autumn (click for the fall glory).


Downtown beyond the trees


Yes, Austin is pretty wonderful!

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

Want to know how I got started as a garden writer? Read page 16 of On the QT, the newsletter for GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators. I’m honored to be featured in an article by Carol Michel of May Dreams Gardens!

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!

What’s hot in garden design — or about to be? I interviewed designers and retailers across the U.S. to find out! Natural dye gardens, hyperlocalism, dwarf shrubs, haute houseplants, sustainability tech, color blocking, and more — check out my 2017 Trends article for Garden Design and see if anything surprises you.

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

Follow