Just saying “Aloe!” and mullein around


Aloe there! (Anyone else into horticultural puns? Add yours in the comments, and show us aloe you can go.) I spotted this row of speckled soap aloes still blooming at Lady Bird Lake last weekend. Their coral-red candelabra blooms look especially pretty against a lime-green rebar fence.


I also enjoyed the view of Lady Bird Lake and the Lamar Bridge from the Pfluger pedestrian bridge. Someone is taking good care of a planter box on the bridge.


Back at home, I’ve been mullin’ where to add a few more mullein plants since my friend Tait Moring gave me some seeds this fall. This mullein is still blooming post-snow.


The little succulent planter is still doing fine too. With good drainage, Coahuila lace cactus and ghost plant can take our Central Texas winters in stride. The smaller sedum in the middle does well too.


Mullein sunshine. An Instagram reader recently advised that mullein is terribly invasive in drier regions like West Texas and beyond. I haven’t found it to be so in my own garden, although it does seed itself around like native Mexican feathergrass and inland sea oats. At any rate, it’s always smart to check your region’s invasive species list or ask a knowledgeable plant person before introducing a new plant into your garden.


I leave you with a menagerie of succulent planters I spotted at Blue Genie Art Bazaar. An Instagram reader saw this on my IG (@pamdigging) and expressed horror that anyone would kill a sea turtle and make a planter out of it. Hee hee — well, they DO look pretty real. But no, these are plastic animals that someone has been rather creative with.


They’re turtley fun! What a great way to add a little pandamonium (see what I did there?) to your windowsill garden this year.

All you pun-lovers, there are some amazing aloe and horticultural pun gifts on Etsy. Check ’em out.

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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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.

Sharing nature’s beauty in the garden of Diana Kirby


I’ve enjoyed many a visit at the garden of my good friend Diana Kirby, designer at Diana’s Designs, garden columnist at the Austin American-Statesman, and publisher of the blog Sharing Nature’s Garden. But inexplicably I’ve never done a photo tour of her lovely garden, and I’m remedying that today with photos from a mid-October visit.

Diana’s garden rocks tropical-style color and bold foliage in back by her swimming pool, but in front along the street, where it’s hot and dry, she created a large, tiered bed with drought-tolerant native and adapted plants like autumn sage (Salvia greggii), society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), whale’s tongue agave (Agave ovatifolia), fall aster (Aster oblongifolius), and gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida). Silvery foliage and purple and pink flowers offer a cool but colorful look for hot summers.


Yellow appears in fall when golden thryallis (Galphimia gracilis) starts to bloom. All these plants are deer resistant, by the way. The deer in Diana’s southwest Austin garden don’t seem to be as voracious (or pesky in terms of antlering damage) as in other parts of town, but they will eat obvious deer candy like roses and tender succulents, so she chooses plants with strongly scented, hairy, or fibrous leaves.


Closer to the house, along the front walk, variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’), purple-leaved Chinese fringeflower (Loropetalum chinense), and annual zinnias thrive. (Zinnias get eaten in my garden, for comparison.)


The garden gets much shadier by the front door, with several small trees along the stone-edged walk
and a lush understory.


I love this shady combo of ‘Sparkler’ sedge (Carex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler’), Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus), sago palm (Cycas revoluta), and root beer plant, aka hoja santa (Piper auritum).


Persian shield, ‘Sparkler’ sedge, and asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’)


I am in love with this spiky pink hairdo of a plant, Dracaena marginata ‘Tricolor’, which I assume Diana brings inside in winter. Its pink coloring is enhanced by surrounding pink lantana and the rosy fruits of a pomegranate tree.


Like an exploding firework, right?


Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) adds vibrant purple spires nearby.


Heading around to the back garden, you pass through a woodland trail, where stepping stones sitting flush with river rock double as a dry stream during downpours.


This naturalistic garden is chock-full of shade-loving plants.


A cool oasis on a hot summer’s day


And these adorable ceramic fish love it too! I was with Diana when she bought these at The Arbor Gate in Tomball, Texas.


Cobalt appears again in a ceramic pot with ‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda and a ceramic bird.


A bubbling birdbath fountain is for the birds — and maybe the deer. Diana is more tenderhearted than I — ha!


A serene Buddha head rests against a tree.


And a plantable lady’s head wears a squid agave (Agave bracteosa) hairdo.


Fishhooks senecio trails from a steel wall planter with a little ceramic mushroom tucked in.


Diana keeps her pots interesting in the backyard too, like this blue starburst of a yucca entwined with chartreuse sweet potato vine.


More potted plants and colorful decor adorn her back porch.


Potted plants on a table by a window create a pretty view inside and out.


And there’s a comfy place to sit too. I love that little orange foo dog!


Diana may love color as much as I do.


A galvanized metal tray and fun potted plants jazz up a table display.


Diana is a total dog lover, and one even shows up in her garden decor.


Chocolatey red, orange, and yellow — plus a pumpkin — combine for a pretty fall container.


Just off the back porch, a shady pocket garden sits between a party-sized covered cabana and an outdoor kitchen — perfect for entertaining, which Diana and her husband enjoy doing. I didn’t get pictures of those spaces, which is ironic, because they’re where I’ve spent the most time in Diana’s garden. Next time!


I also didn’t get a photo of Diana’s lovely swimming pool — must have been too focused on the plants — but it’s the focal point of the cabana and the back porch. All around the pool and patio, Diana has planted an exuberant mix of tropical and subtropical plants for a lush, colorful garden that’s really at its peak in mid-summer. Here you see a burgundy-variegated banana, yellow bells, hibiscus, and mounds and mounds of lime-green sweet potato vine. The limestone steps lead down from the pool deck to the lower garden behind the pool.


Potted succulent in a cobalt pot surrounded by sweet potato vine


Bat-face cuphea (Cuphea llavea) adds red-hot color and cute little bat faces.


In the lower garden just outside a fence that keeps the deer out of her back yard, Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida) blooms amid agaves and ornamental trees, with a neighbor-screening backdrop of evergreen junipers behind them.


Whale’s tongue agave (Agave ovatifolia), one of my faves


‘Sharkskin’ agave — one I covet but don’t have a good spot for, with those stiff, dagger-sharp leaves


Fading hibiscus flower, lovely even past peak


The dangling, tubular flowers of Iochroma ‘Royal Queen’ remind me of chandelier earrings.


I think of hibiscus as Diana’s signature plant because she has several varieties and often posts pictures of their salad-plate-sized flowers. They add such a tropical look to her garden, even though they are winter hardy.


Duranta aglow with dangling yellow fruits — the golden dewdrops that give this plant its common name.


From the pool patio, a new flagstone path winds through the lawn to a new rose garden that Diana is working on (no pics, since it’s currently a work in progress, and Diana will, I’m sure, do a big reveal on her own blog), as well as to her vegetable garden and greenhouse. Planting pockets built into the path allow heat-loving portulaca to add colorful bouquets along the walk.


Looking back along the portulaca path toward the pool cabana and surrounding garden


A large greenhouse is tucked behind a scrim of annual cosmos and hardy lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus). The family vegetable garden is visible at left, behind a fence swathed in cypress vine, which keeps out two active dogs.


Self-sowing annual cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) has even twined onto the veggie-garden gate, but it still opens just fine.


Dainty, tubular red flowers and ferny foliage are signature qualities of cypress vine. It can be an aggressive self-seeder in the right conditions, but in my own garden it didn’t return.


Beautiful artichoke foliage


And back into the front garden, along the side of the house, flowery senna (Senna corymbosa) was awash in golden blooms.


Cool purple spires of Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) make the senna glow even brighter.


My thanks to Diana for letting me photograph her garden, and for sharing it so generously over the years!

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.

Easy outdoor living in garden of designer B. Jane: Austin Open Days Tour 2017


For a refreshing contemporary design with fun colors and a restrained palette of tough-as-nails native plants, designer B. Jane‘s garden is the place to hang out. Her personal garden in Austin’s Brentwood neighborhood was featured on the Garden Conservancy-sponsored Open Days tour a couple of weeks ago. Turquoise, orange, and gray set the color scheme for her garden decor on the front porch.


But before we head to her back-yard getaway, let’s explore the no-lawn front garden, where linear masses of agave, Gulf muhly grass, and prickly pear grow, with silver ponyfoot filling in all around. A low concrete wall at the L-turn in the Lueders limestone front walk displays the house number.


It abuts a curved wall at right, creating a nook for a recirculating water feature.


An angular, stepping-stone path path leads through a gap in the curved wall to a circular secret-garden space, where lush foliage helps screen the neighbor’s driveway and garbage cans from view.


B. makes circles around her trees with pea gravel and generously spaced edging — here a concrete ring. I like the way it sets off the tree trunks and creates a little tree patio. Asparagus fern and ginger add subtropical lushness.


Here’s the view back toward the street. Wouldn’t this make a fun hideaway play space for kids?


Another tree circle as seen from the driveway, with fan-like palmetto and fluffy asparagus fern.


As you enter the back garden, the first thing you see is a rectangular swimming pool with colorful tiles — in shades of turquoise, orange, and gray — at the water line. B.’s husband offices in the orange-doored room with a cool steel awning.


A dining patio and sitting area connect the home’s kitchen with…


…a wood-burning grill and outdoor kitchen. This place is made for entertaining and relaxing.


Cactus bowl with glass mulch


B. tossed in a bunch of colorful beach balls to echo the tile colors and add a fun vibe. A chaise lounge deck at the other end of the pool has a punch of color too, with orange cube tables and striped pillows. A notched concrete wall backs the chairs and creates privacy.


Beautifully furnished and Instagram ready


‘Gracilis’ bamboo lines much of the garden’s perimeter for additional privacy. Bamboo needs to be pruned up regularly (like, really regularly) to keep it looking its best, and B.’s is nicely pruned to show off the yellow and blue-green culms.


A steel planter box with succulents, a small Buddha, and gray river stones make a Zen-like vignette amid the bamboo.


A stone fire pit and surrounding seat wall occupies the far corner of the garden. Aztec grass brightens up the shady corner. Notice the modern concrete wall topped with a steel trellis — a clean-lined backdrop for the garden.


The diagonal view back toward the house and dining patio


Another patio is tucked in the arbor-shaded niche between the outdoor kitchen and her husband’s office. A narrow storage space is hidden behind the patio’s wooden screen.


Beyond the chaise lounge deck is a semi-private patio with a hot tub. An ipe gate in a concrete wall can be closed for complete privacy from the main garden.


Entry detail, with fig ivy winding its way up the concrete wall.


The hot tub deck is inviting with a Zen-like seating area and an outdoor shower. B. offices in the orange-doored room at the end of the deck.


Bamboo creates a narrow wall of greenery, and a cardboard palm mulched with round river rock grows in the white bullet planter.


From the hot tub deck, you look out on the lounge deck. What a place to relax or play, eh?


Thanks for sharing your garden on tour, B.! If you’d like another tour around B.’s garden from last spring, click here.

Up next: The Lakemoore Drive garden designed by Curt Arnette. For a look back at the lovely Casey Boyter-designed garden at Cloverleaf Drive, 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.

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