Refreshed porch pots and tiki hut


Happy Sunday morning! After a week of family illness at Chez Penick, I finally got in some gardening time this weekend. Here are my refreshed containers on the back porch steps. The purple oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) in the turquoise pot gets all the oohs, and no wonder. It’s a beauty. It goes partially dormant in winter but always comes roaring back in spring.

I repotted the Texas license plate planter (purchased from Potted a couple of years ago) with cuttings of the succulent I had in there before. It had gotten leggy and rootbound, and it was time for a refresh. So easy — you just cut off the tops of the succulents, set them somewhere shady and warm for a couple of days to let the cuts harden off, and then replant in cactus mix and top with fine gravel.

I impulsively purchased two dianthus (EverLast series ‘Lavender Lace’ and ‘Light Pink + Eye’) at Shoal Creek Nursery recently, and after dithering about where to plant them, I stuck them both in an empty pot. I’m enjoying the clove-scented bouquet, but I’ve moved them to a sunnier spot so they’ll keep blooming for a while.


If you’re wondering about the tiki hut mentioned in the title, no, it’s not mine. While shopping at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery, I couldn’t help admiring their plant-bedecked palapa. How fun! Wouldn’t this be great to lounge under, next to a swimming pool?

That’s all for now. I hope you’re enjoying some garden time this weekend too!

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Outdoors at The Domain’s Rock Rose


My mother and I had lunch in the new Rock Rose section of The Domain (a New Urbanist-style live/work/shop development in North Austin) last week and poked around in the shops afterward. Naturally, I yanked my phone out along the way to take pictures of cool landscaping features, like this steel planter that doubles as a patio retaining wall at The Dogwood bar. Foxtail fern, silver ponyfoot, and red roses make a pretty, sun-loving combo. I like their painted sign-mural too.


Here’s a simple idea, taken from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture store: a prickly pear pad (or two) stuck in contemporary pot topped with gravel. Why haven’t I ever done this with prunings from my opuntias?


A cloud-like arbor of aluminum or stainless steel floats over a public plaza near the Northside Lawn. It’s eye-catching as a sculptural element, and I suppose it offers filtered shade on hotter days.


A John Lennon song lyric mural is just begging to be used as a backdrop for engagement photos. It struck me as a hopeful message for these turbulent times too.

Rock Rose at The Domain, with a slew of local restaurants that we north Austinites formerly had to drive downtown or to South Austin to enjoy, feels a little like Disneyland, with its clean, walkable streets and idealized-Austin vibe. It has its haters, but it’s OK with me. A walkable shopping/dining area that’s not inside a mall (yuck) and that’s beautifully landscaped made for a nice day out with my mom. I’ll be back next time to try out East Side King’s Thai Kun.

Click for a look at the landscaping and public art in the original section of The Domain.

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Need a holiday gift for the gardener, new homeowner, or environmentalist on your list?
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All material © 2006-2016 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.
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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.

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