Garden-tour fluffing and fall Foliage Follow-Up


A new yellow Hesperaloe parviflora peeks around a Yucca rostrata in the lower garden.

I’ve attended many a garden tour, but I had no idea how much work prepping for one requires. Not because anyone tells you to, but because your own sense of perfectionism kicks in when you imagine strangers examining your garden.


Tomorrow my garden will be open to the public for the first time. What has that meant? A year-long push to finish a few projects, the addition of lots of plants and garden art, and many extra hours spent each week (even during the broiling summer — yes, me!) pruning, tidying, and generally fussing over my garden in a way I don’t normally bother with. For the past 4 days, I’ve worked in the garden nearly every waking hour.


‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda with Mexican feathergrass and chile pequin

All of this is to say that a garden prepped for garden tour is not a normally maintained garden. I knew this. But now I understand it. When you finally stop fluffing, it’s not because there’s nothing left to do. Oh no, the garden, sponge-like, can always suck up more of your time and money. No, you finally stop because you’re out of time. And thank goodness for that. Tomorrow I’ll be relieved to put aside the tools and hose and finally welcome visitors into my garden. Talking with fellow gardening enthusiasts, or even the merely curious, will be a fun change of pace. I’m ready!


Today, however, is a day to celebrate the importance of foliage in the garden. For Foliage Follow-Up, I prowled the back garden last evening, taking a few pictures of foliage that caught my eye. Like this Loropetalum chinense ‘Sizzling Pink’, which, as a bit of fall color, sports a handful of crimson leaves among the normal array of green and purplish-hued ones.


A foliage-only combo: paleleaf yucca (Y. pallida) and ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) in the purple pot, with ‘Cream de Mint’ pittosporum and the loropetalum.


I love green-and-white striped ‘Sparkler’ sedge, which grows well in the root-clogged dry soil around live oaks. What a beautiful plant.


This is the long view of the lower garden, where exposed slabs of limestone form a natural path. Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana) in the foreground and live oak in the background are part of my garden’s canopy of trees.


And just for fun, here’s a new piece of garden art. My sister and her wife gave me this dynamic ribbon sculpture from Joshua’s Native Plants in Houston for my birthday. I hung it from one of the live oaks, where I can admire its bold color and form at eye level.

This is my October post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on in your garden this month? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I really appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

_____________________________

Austin-area gardening friends, come to the Inside Austin Gardens Tour this Saturday! My garden will be on tour, along with 6 others. Tour tickets may be purchased at each garden for $5 each or $20 for all. I’ll also have autographed copies of my book Lawn Gone! for sale ($20), if you’re looking for fall reading or an early holiday gift.

Inside Austin Gardens Tour
Saturday, October 17, 2015
9:00 am to 4:00 pm

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

Sedgey evergreen garden of Pat Mozersky for Foliage Follow-Up


Austin designer Mark Word (see my profile about him) designed this serene, green San Antonio garden that you can see on the upcoming Watersaver Landscape Tour on October 24. I got a preview last Friday thanks to Shirley of Rock-Oak-Deer.

The garden belongs to Pat Mozersky, the longtime, recently retired food writer for the San Antonio Express-News. Pat generously allowed us to photograph her garden one day before the Mark Word maintenance crew came for a late-summer clean-up and refresh. Thanks to the garden’s good bones and evergreen plant palette, it looked photo-ready anyway.


Simple, restrained hardscape and swaths of evergreen foliage are the key to year-round good looks. Pat and her husband built this home, downsizing from a larger property and reducing their home and garden maintenance in the process. The new house sits on a small lot, and in place of a traditional lawn, a meadowy swath of Berkeley sedge (Carex divulsa) needs little care and stays green all year. Greening up the garden walls and providing additional privacy from nearby houses are understory viburnums, clethra, redbuds, and Texas persimmons. Live oaks shade nearly the entire garden.


The front yard is protected from deer by a handsome stacked-stone wall and gated entry.


This is the view from the front porch looking toward the gate and the street beyond. As you can see, it’s green and unfussy but has a naturalistic look.


Lueders limestone pavers spaced by ribbons of river rock make up a contemporary front walk and allow runoff to soak into the soil.


At the front porch, on each side of the steps, steel planters are filled with round-leaved ligularia, feathery foxtail fern, and abutilon for seasonal flowering.


Pat took us through her house and out the back door onto a covered back porch. A zinc-topped table and an old factory light from Germany blend well with the custom steel gate.


A few pots filled with low-maintenance succulents offer interesting foliage texture and colors.


Lueders pavers in random widths keep the eye from running straight to a separate patio. An oversized teak bench is the simple focal point. A built-in corner bench offers additional seating that doesn’t take up much space.


The view looking back toward the porch


In the back corner of the garden resides a nearly life-size metal bison, a gift from Pat to her husband and a smile-inducing sculpture in the otherwise serene garden.


Tufty sedges are planted around back of the house too, as pavers thread a narrow pathway through them.


Pat has two friendly cavalier King Charles spaniels, Layla and…I forget the other one’s name.


They appear to enjoy the garden, especially the bamboo muhly! My dog, Cosmo, also loves to nosh on bamboo muhly, so this didn’t surprise me. Luckily, it’s pretty tough and able to recover from dog browsing.


Near the driveway, outside the walled garden in a hot, sunny side yard, evergreen, glossy-leaved star jasmine climbs a wire-panel trellis to hide the A/C unit from view.


And here’s a last look from outside of the front garden wall, of native Texas persimmons standing ghostly amid Berkeley sedge — a tough and drought-tolerant combo.


My thanks to Pat for sharing her lovely garden with us! If you long for an easy-care, evergreen garden because of a busy schedule or physical difficulty in keeping up with maintenance, Pat’s foliage-based garden is an inspiring example.

This is my September post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on in your garden this month, or in one you’ve visited? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I really appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

Up next, also from my San Antonio visit last week: A modern garden that’s a cactus and succulent lover’s dream. For a look back at the gorgeous courtyard xeriscape garden of Linda Peterson, click here.

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

Tough August survivors for Foliage Follow-Up


Mexican honeysuckle adds leafy lushness in the dappled shade of live oaks and is flowering to boot. Its companions include Mexican weeping bamboo, Agave colorata, foxtail fern, and Pennisetum purpureum ‘Vertigo’.

These are “the bitter days in the garden,” according to West Texan Susan Tomlinson, who blogs at The Bicycle Garden. How right she is. Even with the heavy spring rains that ended the interminable Texas drought, our long, hot summer — measured in triple-digit temperatures and no rain since early July — has seemingly erased our gains. Leaves hang droopy and curled on trees and shrubs. Perennials are crispy. Even some of our stalwart agaves are sporting yellowed, sun-damaged leaves.


Shade-tolerant tough guys: inland sea oats and Mexican orchid tree

Still, most of us have survivors and even plants that thrive in the heat, right? Today is Foliage Follow-Up, a meme held on the day after Bloom Day in which we celebrate plants that offer far more than pretty flowers. They give leafy lushness or structure that lasts for months or even all year. Take a look around your August garden and share your hardiest survivors. What’s looking good? Let’s all plant more of those, shall we? And if you live where late summer is a delightful season, by all means, share your faves with us too. We heat-crisped Texans need something to get us through to October, when reasonable weather returns.


In my garden, aside from the shade-tolerant shrubs, grasses, and groundcovers pictured in the top two photos, I’m loving the eggplant-purple leaves of purple oxalis (Oxalis triangularis), which brightens a shady patio. It’s hardly flowering in this prolonged heat, but the leaves look good with a weekly watering.


Painted Fingernails bromeliad, a gift from Houstonites Laurin and Shawn at Ravenscourt Gardens, doesn’t mind the heat at all, so long as it has shade and a weekly watering. The hot-pink tips at the ends of its leaves explain its fun common name. This is a tender tropical in Austin’s climate, so I bring it indoors when it freezes. Also, to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in its water-holding leaves, I sprinkle organic mosquito bits over it every couple of weeks.


My little ‘Espresso’ mangave, a white-striped version of ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave, which I received as a pup from author/designer Scott Ogden a few years ago, is looking good this August. It even produced a few pups recently, which I shared with friends, after saving one particularly nice pup for Scott, who’d lost his original plant to the agave snout-nosed weevil. This is a good reason to share plants, right? If something bad happens to your original, hopefully you’ll have shared enough with others that you can get a division to get started with again.

So what leafy love is going on in your August garden? Please join me for Foliage Follow-Up, giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I really appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

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

Follow