Support Your Independent Nursery Month: The Great Outdoors

It’s Support Your Independent Nursery month! Each Wednesday in October I’m posting about one of my favorite independent garden centers in the Austin area. Today I’m shining a spotlight on The Great Outdoors, located just south of the hip strip known as SoCo on South Congress Avenue. (This is an update of a recent post I wrote about TGO.)


For a nursery within spitting distance of downtown, The Great Outdoors is surprisingly large, which befits a place featuring a nearly life-size topiary elephant as its mascot and another on its sign.


From the street you glimpse a colorful mural, a screen of ornamental grasses, cannas, Pride of Barbados…


…and a rainbow of flowering purslane.


The nursery is situated on a sloping, live oak-shaded property, with shady paths leading to well-marked plant sections.


The succulent and cactus area is always tempting.


Mmm, look at all that agave goodness.


They’re all so gorgeous.


This is one of my current faves: Agave americana mediopicta ‘Alba.’


Down the hill, a gift shop surprises with a green roof.


Smaller cacti and succulents are offered here.


A lot of these are tender in our climate, but they can be treated as annuals or brought inside for the winter.


Fun garden decor abounds.


Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.


Tempting displays of glazed pots and fountains


Here’s a nice combo: white echinacea and silver artemesia. This would be perfect for a moonlight garden, and it’s visually cooling during the day.


This is inspirational: silvery plants (acacia, silver ponyfoot, gopher plant) paired with white pots.


The sun-loving perennials and butterfly-attracting plants occupy the main part of the nursery, with a vegetable section under the arbor.


Pots for those hot-hued plants


And when the death star is trying to kill your gardening joy, embrace summer (or Halloween) with grim reaper garden art.


More pots—a rainbow of choices.


These metal roosters would be the perfect decor for all those Austin hen houses, and they’re quiet too.


Zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa) in lemon-yellow pots


An eye-catching wall display near the checkout counter


The Great Outdoors carries a good selection of natives and well-adapted perennials, as well as clumping bamboo, semi-hardy Australian acacias, tropicals, and agaves and other succulents. The garden art is fun and mostly of the kitschy variety, and you can find lots of glazed pots and a few water features for sale. A cafe with a shady deck sits at street level and overlooks the nursery, providing a great spot to take a break and ponder your plant list, which you’re about to deviate from with some impulse buys. And who can blame you?

Join me next Wednesday as I post about Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery. For a look back at my post about The Natural Gardener, click here. And please check out my sidebar link Area Nurseries, where I’ve posted photo tours of many of our local garden centers and described what I like about each one. Austin gardeners are blessed with so many good local nurseries. Let’s support them in this tough economy and help them stay in business. I can’t imagine gardening without them. Can you?

Also, check out these posts about The Great Outdoors by other Austin garden bloggers:
J Peterson Garden Design
Gardening in Austin

And don’t forget about the Austin Nurseries Giveaway, going on now through October 26. I’m hosting a giveaway for a $100 gift certificate and Fall Power Package from Barton Springs Nursery, and 7 other Austin bloggers are hosting giveaways from other area nurseries. Visit all 8 posts and leave comments to enter!

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

17 Responses

  1. Lola says:

    Gorgeous. Pam, in the 11th pic there are 2 succulents that I have & don’t know their names. 1 plant is to the right, it grows in 2 directions. The 2nd plant is more to the left that looks like a stick with barbs on it. They are not hard so not to prick your hand. If you could help me ID these beauties I would be ever so appreciative.

    Hi, Lola. I wish I could help you, but I don’t know the names of those two. Maybe another commenter will be able to ID them for you? —Pam

  2. commonweeder says:

    Now I don’t only have a touch of zone envy, I have sign envy. Our garden centers are on a whole other scale – small. With no fancy signs.

  3. Went there once in 2004, on my first Austin trip. It looks to have an even nicer selection than back then, but still with the grove of live oaks as a “ceiling” over part…unique! And glad you worked “death star” into the post, too.

    I’m going to have to get that grim reaper yard art if this drought keeps up, David. —Pam

  4. Eric says:

    That’s one of my favorite Austin nurseries! I’m always finding something I NEED for my garden.

  5. […] Update: Please follow the links to my weekly posts about local nurseries. Barton Springs Nursery The Natural Gardener The Great Outdoors […]

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I would love several of those pots. Almost every plant would have to be brought inside here. UGH… You should see my collection of house plants. I just had to move them inside. Where did the dog go?? tee hee….

  7. Shirley Fox says:

    The Great Outdoors is the one Austin nursery I’ve visited so far and really enjoyed their inspiring displays and excellent selection.

    This week I visit the second Rainbow Gardens location in San Antonio:

    http://rockoakdeer.blogspot.com/2011/10/double-rainbow-rainbow-gardens-1.html

    Thanks for posting about your local nursery, Shirley. —Pam

  8. Cyndi K. says:

    I love this place and have a few items on my wish list- (another) bird bath and the “egg” rocking chairs (!) that look too cool to be comfortable, but they are! Recently bought some succulents and stepping stones at very fair prices here. Lovely that you (and friends) are drawing attention to local nurseries~

  9. Roberta says:

    I love The Great Outdoors but do not visit nearly enough. I think my favorite thing there is the enormous oak tree with the giant windchime suspended from one of the branches. It’s a nice stroll whether you come home with something or not. You took some very nice photos while there!

  10. Greggo says:

    ok, here’s my list. I want those roosters for my texas garden. can you think of a better gift for a cocky rooster? (thats what my wife calls me when I become a little smart-alecky). I’ll pay you back when I visit. lol.

    You need one, Greggo! —Pam

  11. Agave goodness indeed! Pam I NEED to go to TGO!!!! Today I posted about a nursery I need to visit near me, in 2012 for sure! http://dangergarden.blogspot.com/2011/10/support-your-independent-nursery.html

    I’ll take you when you visit Austin, Loree. Thanks for posting about Portland nurseries. —Pam

  12. chuck b. says:

    “Mmmmm!” to the silvery plants with white pots! So cool. I brought some dichondra into my garden after loving it on so many garden blogs. It’s very mis-paired with a pink/yellow cordyline and semi-yellow pot, but I try not to care.

  13. Abbey says:

    I stopped in at this nursery on a recent day trip to Austin and I was so impressed. They have a fabulous selection! I hope you’ll pick me and give me another excuse to visit them.

  14. Pam, I want to go there with you. Maybe we should add turquoise pots to our cobalt blue ones? What do you think?~~Dee

  15. Optimista says:

    Such beautiful photos! That agave closeup is gorgeous.

  16. Terese says:

    Still haven’t been here. The photos make it look very inviting.

  17. Jackie Stence says:

    We became enamored with Barton Springs Nursery when it was located on Barton Springs Road. They are always knowledgable and helpful. Nice photos here!

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