Fall color and grassy plumes for December Foliage Follow-Up


Despite our one-day snow last week, it still looks pretty autumnal in my garden this Foliage Follow-Up. The Japanese maple stubbornly refuses to acknowledge fall until December, when the Christmas lights go up on the house and red balls go up on the agave by the door. Then, out of solidarity or perhaps a sense of tardiness, it blushes red too. Well, this year it’s more of a rusty red than the brilliant red of more congenial years for fall color in Austin.

Even the native river ferns, sheltered from frost by a live oak canopy overhead, are green and unwithered. Beyond, native dwarf palmettos and golden sedge along the foundation and a potted agave, sotol, and hesperaloe add shades of evergreen. Yellow-variegated ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo adds its own bright foliage and stems in the back corner of the gravel garden.


The ‘Scott’s Turf’ sedge “lawn” has gone a bit tawny in response to the chilly weather, but the white-and-green variegated flax lily is unchanged by a hard freeze as yet — and I am crossing my fingers that this year it doesn’t get knocked back by one.


No such worries with tough native grasses like pine muhly, which is putting on a fine autumnal show with an airy scrim of tan wand-like inflorescences.


I love how it looks with similar fireworks-like explosions of ‘Color Guard’ yucca and Texas sotol.


The frosted, wine-colored and toothy leaves of ‘Burgundy Ice’ dyckia look good no matter the season (so long as we don’t get a prolonged deep freeze) and contrast nicely with the tiny leaves of white skullcap and chartreuse billows of bamboo muhly.

This is my December post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is happening 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’d appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

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.

Snow day in Austin! It only takes a dusting


The flakes started hitting my windshield at 2:30 pm over in central-east Austin. By the time I got home I thought it was all over, but the heavy, gray sky and cold temps convinced me to start pulling pots of tender succulents up against the sheltering walls of the house, and I tossed sheets over them for good measure.


And then fat flakes started falling like something out of a Christmas movie. Hey, this is Austin — it hardly ever snows here, and we had reason to lose our minds.


Snow!!! By dusk it had begun to accumulate — at least on the plants, if not on heat-holding stone and concrete.


We threw a few snowballs scraped off the deck rail, tasted a few snowflakes (they were ripe), and watched the dog frolic in the strange cold stuff.


He’s a cold-weather lover, like his mama.


I can’t remember it ever snowing here this early in the season. When snow or ice storms happen — only about every 5 to 7 years — it’s usually in January or February. Our last real snow was in February 2011.


I measured a half inch of snow at my house. My friends on the south side of town got even more. Even family and friends in Houston — Houston! — joyfully posted pics of snowy yards on Facebook.


Of course school was cancelled today. Don’t laugh (too hard) at us — we don’t know how to drive in this stuff, and we don’t have road de-icing equipment down here. Just let us enjoy a miraculous almost-white Christmas.

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.

Sedgey front garden and xeriscape terrace


For one West Austin homeowner, this is the view from her front door: an undulating, rhythmic front walk of poured-concrete pavers wending through a meadowy swath of Berkeley sedge, soap aloes, and purple heart, with a scrim of yaupon hollies shielding the view of the street. A traditional lawn? No way — who wants to mow?


Here’s the street view at the other end. The left edge of the property is naturalistic under some large live oaks, although a collection of spiky heat-lovers gets some breathing room in a gravelly bed along the path’s edge.


A cluster of Yucca rostrata adds drama (and screening) at the curb. I think that’s ‘Little Ollie’ dwarf olive underfoot.


Whale’s tongue agave and purple heart combines a velvety blue-green with rich eggplant.


Farther up the path it grows shady, and Texas palmetto appears among the Berkeley sedge.


Yaupon berry adds a pop of red in fall and winter.


In the home stretch to the front door, the paver path straightens out, cruising past foxtail fern and sago palm on the left. A concrete wall creates a psychological separation between the public side of the front garden and the more-private entry space. Another wall, barely visible at far-right…


…screens the garage and parking area along the driveway from view of the front door. Here on the door side of the wall, a low-maintenance shade garden contains Berkeley sedge, mahonia, palmetto, and purple heart.


That wall extends straight out into the garden, lowering to knee height as it pulls away from the house. An arching, glossy green sago palm stands alongside.


Low-maintenance evergreens fill in under a big live oak. (I should know this one but need help on the ID.)


On the driveway side of the wall, a rain chain funnels roof runoff into a storm or French drain. Low-care and shade-tolerant Chinese mahonia, variegated flax lily, and palmetto combine with a Japanese maple and bamboo muhly to soften the contemporary design.


The owner installed three light towers near the front door. It would be cool to see these lit up at night.


This fence along the driveway caught my eye. It appears to be made of painted PVC pipes and somehow reminds me of a musical score. Or maybe a downtown skyline. Every other pipe is cut to a set height, but the other pipes are staggered to create up-and-down patterns.


Another section, with a gate to the back yard, shows a more rhythmic pattern.


Believe it or not, this custom fence runs all the way around the back garden. The standard lawn is shrunken to a broad path, with a band of sedge and bamboo muhly grasses along the fence. A gravel-and-steel stair leads past an elevated terrace (which I’ll come back to)…


…to a sloping back yard. A rain garden of Berkeley sedge occupies a wide swale below the house, ready to soak up runoff. Beneath the home’s expansive roofline, a dry gravel garden with whale’s tongue agaves occupies the rain shadow.


There’s still plenty of room left for lawn under a spreading live oak.


Let’s head back up the steps to that elevated terrace.


The terrace is essentially a rooftop garden, with Yucca rostrata, Mexican mint marigold, whale’s tongue agave, and purple heart.


A curved metal rail offers a canyon view. The open space was designed for patio seating, the landscape architect told me. Can you guess who he is?


If you guessed Curt Arnette of Sitio Design, you are right! He’s created another striking and lovely garden for a lucky Austinite. My thanks to the homeowner for allowing me to share her garden with you.

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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