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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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.

Catch me on CTG, at Wildflower Center book-signing & more!


It’s back-to-the-garden time in Texas, and it’s also garden-talk season! I’m making a few appearances around Texas this fall (see below), and you can also catch me this weekend on Austin’s own Central Texas Gardener TV show. Last fall, right before my garden was on tour, CTG producer Linda Lehmusvirta and her crew visited my garden to film it, and me talking about it.


It airs this weekend on KLRU and other stations around the South and Southwest, and it’s already online. Watching myself on TV is not my favorite activity (I’m way too introverted for that), but I hope it conveys what I was going for with my garden. It’s no designer showcase, and it’s far from perfect. It’s a personal garden that makes me happy, where I experiment with plants and design ideas and feel connected with nature. I hope that comes through, and it’s always my hope to share my gardening enthusiasm with others!


Huge thanks to Linda, cameraman Ed, and the rest of the CTG crew for sharing my garden on the show! And for mentioning my books too…


…which (cue suave segue) I’ll be autographing tomorrow (Friday) at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s gift store from 1 to 3 pm. Tomorrow is the members’-day portion of their Fall Native Plant Sale, so if you’re coming out for that, I hope you’ll drop in at the store and say hi. Visitors and members alike, it’s a great time to visit the gardens, which are gorgeous this time of year.

Here are sneak peeks of my two books, which I’ll be signing from 1 to 3 pm. Remember, if you’re a member, you get a 10% discount in the gift store!


In one week, next Saturday the 22nd, I’ll be speaking at Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, and it’s going to be a lot of fun! Activities are going on all that weekend, but the main event is Saturday evening, with beer and wine, live music, an art exhibit, delicious food, and yours truly presenting the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens.” Hope to see all you South Texans there!


Earlier this month, I was super excited to learn that esteemed magazine The American Gardener featured The Water-Saving Garden in its reviews section in the Sept/Oct 2016 issue.


They devoted a whole page, in fact, to books about managing water sustainably in the garden, which is terrific.


Here’s what they say about my book.


Speaking of water-saving gardens, here’s a quick look at my favorite plants this week, as our second spring begins: autumn sage (Salvia greggii) and whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia) in my neighbor’s garden that I planted for her.


And in my own streetside garden, ‘Pink Flamingos’ muhly with hot-pink autumn sage and dark-purple ‘Vertigo’ pennisetum (Pennisetum purpureum ‘Vertigo’ from Proven Winners, a trial plant they sent me) in the background.


And just for fun, a mosaic glass-tile prickly pear at The Domain shopping center in north Austin.


Happy fall, y’all!

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

South Texans, come see me at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, October 22. I’ll be delivering the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” that evening. Tickets are on sale at Quinta Mazatlan. I hope to see you there!

I’ll be speaking at the Antique Rose Emporium Fall Festival 2016 in Brenham, Texas, on Saturday, November 5th, 1:30-2:30 pm. Come on out to the Antique Rose Emporium’s beautiful gardens for a day of speakers and fun! My talk, with plenty of eye-candy photos, is called “Hold the Hose! How to Design a Water-Saving Garden that Wows.” Meet me afterward at the book-signing table!

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!

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

Silobration at Magnolia Market and Fixer Upper fandom


Uninitiated into the world of Chip and Joanna Gaines and their HGTV show Fixer Upper because we don’t have cable TV, I’d nevertheless picked up an inkling of their popularity from fellow bloggers and multiple magazine features. So when we were in Waco last Saturday for one of the kids’ sporting events, I had to see what all the fuss was about.


Once known mainly as the hometown of Dr. Pepper, Baylor University, and the David Koresh doomsday cult, Waco, a mid-size city halfway between Austin and Dallas, is being reinvented thanks to the Gaineses. A year ago, riding a wave of popularity from their TV show, they bought an abandoned cottonseed mill and two silos in downtown Waco and remade them into a tourist destination and fan-girl (and -boy) nirvana.

Their Magnolia Market at the Silos home-decor store and event space now attracts 35,000 visitors each week. Thirty-five thousand! They come to shop, eat at the on-site bakery, wander through a picturesque small garden, play games on a big faux lawn, swing on swings, eat at food trucks, and take selfies in front of the landmark silos.


Last Saturday was Silobration, a multi-day festival marking the one-year anniversary of Magnolia Market’s opening. Having read about long lines to get into the store on an ordinary weekend, we arrived 45 minutes before opening and found a line already out the door for the bakery, which opens earlier.


Instead of waiting for bacon-and-cheddar biscuits, we explored the perfectly manicured grounds, which feature a basil-green 1953 Willys Jeep, picnic tables with stylish black-and-white awnings, string lights, and newly planted trees surrounded by colorful pumpkins and squash.


Enjoy the sunshine & silos. Well, we sure did.


In transforming the silos and mill, the Gaineses wisely left intact the industrial structure and turned it into supports for flower boxes, lighting…


…and swings! The artificial lawn was soon buzzing with young children and parents kicking balls, playing cornhole, and lounging on cushy poofs set out by the staff after opening. A stage just out of view on the left overlooks the lawn, and a band tuned up for the early crowd.


Behind the silos, at the entrance to a cottage garden, this pretty display advertised pumpkins for sale.


Charming flower-and-pumpkin arrangements in bushel baskets provided festive color.


Stacked on hay bales, the pumpkin patch would soon be teeming with parents snapping kids-and-pumpkins pictures.


Nearby, a cedar tepee cloaked with squash vine and hyacinth bean vine made a kid-friendly hideout…


…with toadstool stools inside.


Hyacinth bean vine was in full flower along the fence as well.


Magnolia Seed & Supply offers terracotta and tin flowerpots, seed packets, vases, and other garden decor in a picturesque Texas farmhouse-style building. However, it was jammed door-to-register with people that morning, so I took only a quick peek before beating a retreat back into the garden.


Cheery pink zinnias, the essence of cottage charm


One last look at the garden, with a silo looming behind


By 8:30 am, a line was forming at the door to Magnolia Market, and we joined the throngs lining up along the entry ramp. A festive mood prevailed, with many women taking selfies with the silos in the background. I talked with a woman who was visiting from California with her sister from Austin. I later read that not only do people travel to Waco expressly to visit Magnolia Market, but quite a few are moving to Waco to live the idyllic, friendly, small-town lifestyle portrayed on the show.


At 9 am the doors opened, and the crowd streamed inside. Racks of souvenir T-shirts — DemoDay, Shiplap, Magnolia, they read — were soon mobbed by fans riffling for their size. Cut branches of fluffy cotton were also quickly snapped up.


Decorative displays, like this stag illustration on open books, with a graphic mossy backdrop, reminded me somewhat of Anthropologie’s eye-catching, nature-themed window displays.


The store is nicely merchandised, which disguises the fact that many of the goods, even antique-looking architectural relics, seem to be mass-produced Made in China items. But uniqueness is not really the point, I soon realized. The Gaineses’ show promotes a modern-farmhouse aesthetic that re-imagines “country” with a clean, bold look, and people are clearly in love with it. The shop gives fans an opportunity to bring a little of Joanna’s trademark style back to their own homes. It’s a brilliant marketing move.


But the market as a whole is more than that. It’s a gift to Wacoans, a source of civic pride, and a tourist draw that lifts the city as a whole. It’s also a pretty fun place to hang out on a beautiful October morning, even if you don’t buy anything except a couple of Sic ‘Em on a Chicken biscuit sandwiches from Milo Biscuit Company‘s food truck, which were delicious, by the way.

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

Austinites and native-plant shoppers, I’ll be at the member’s day Fall Plant Sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on Friday, October 14. I’ll be signing books from 1 to 3 pm in the Wild Ideas gift shop. Even if you’re not a member, of course you can still come on out and see the gardens and stop in at Wild Ideas. I hope to see you there!

South Texans, come see me at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, October 22. I’ll be delivering the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” that evening. Tickets are on sale at Quinta Mazatlan. I hope to see you there!

I’ll be speaking at the Antique Rose Emporium Fall Festival 2016 in Brenham, Texas, on Saturday, November 5th, 1:30-2:30 pm. Come on out to the Antique Rose Emporium’s beautiful gardens for a day of speakers and fun! My talk, with plenty of eye-candy photos, is called “Hold the Hose! How to Design a Water-Saving Garden that Wows.” Meet me afterward at the book-signing table!

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!

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

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