Inside Austin Gardens Tour 2012: Donnis Doyle Garden


The Austin garden bloggers recently got a sneak preview of the upcoming Inside Austin Gardens Tour, hosted by the Travis County Master Gardeners. We visited 5 gardens, and I hope to be able to show them all to you before the tour date on October 20th. I’ll start with the Donnis Doyle Garden, which I predict will be a crowd favorite thanks to the owner’s colorful, whimsical decorating style and the garden’s lawn-free, low-maintenance appeal.

Pictured above is the back patio, a raised oval of concrete backed by a corrugated steel screen, which shields the patio from view of a neighboring park. It’s a charming spot, with colorful chairs, twinkle lights dangling from the screen, and wooden, yellow stars hanging from the eave of the yellow-painted ranch house. Donnis uses repetition to advantage throughout her garden, including a rhythmic placement of stock-tank vegetable planters along the back fence, separated by red, wooden stars tacked to the fence posts.


You first glimpse the back patio from the front side yard, through an arch fancifully adorned with blue bottles, red coffee mugs, and yellow duckies.


A closer look


Your eye is drawn down the path to the raised patio and silver galvanized screen. Notice that there are no privacy fences separating the front garden from the back, allowing for an open view through tree trunks.


The owner has had fun with color here, painting her metal dining set purple and hanging yellow stars along the eave.


Red Adirondacks add more color, as does a metal tree decorated with colored-glass ornaments.


Want to see how that screen is constructed? Wooden posts and crosspieces secure the metal panels, nicely finished and painted red to match the chairs on the other side.


A potted aloe makes an easy-care patio plant for the warm season.


More purple chairs


Another look at the purple dining set, which looks great contrasted with the flowering yellow bells at left.


Hanging nesting material for the birds adds even more color to the garden.


A dry stream funnels water away from the house, and an industrial-style metal bridge keeps the owner’s feet dry when it rains.


It leads to another bottle tree, this one even more outlandishly decorated than the arch. Blue bottles compete with CDs, funnels, Mardi Gras beads, and whirligigs for pride of place on the tree.


Hearts join the stars along the back of the house.


The stars aren’t all the same shape either. Someone spent some time on this!


More fun garden art


The carport is brightly painted too, with turquoise rafters, yellow walls, and colorful metal lanterns hanging from the beams.


All this color feels fun and casual, and very inviting.


From the street, here’s the view of the front garden, which, like the back, is lawn free. A mosaic of cut concrete slabs leads to the front door, with low-maintenance, mostly evergreen shrubs and trees surrounding a generous patio of decomposed granite.


Looking left, prostrate rosemary makes an evergreen, fragrant, and edible groundcover.


And looking right, you see more evergreens and more open patio space instead of lawn. If it were my garden, I’d have patio seating out front as well.


A low, sprawling bottle tree strung with festive lights makes a colorful garden accent.

Tour Info
Date: October 20
Time: 9 am to 4 pm
Tickets for the tour (all of the gardens) are $15 in advance, or $20 on the day of the tour ($5 for individual gardens).

Gardening Demonstrations/Education Sessions at the Donnis Doyle Garden
9:30 am – A Fest for Wildlife with Valerie Bugh
10:15 am – Austin Grows! with Jake Stewart
11:30 am – Unconventional Landscape Snacks – Collecting and Cooking Insects with Wizzie Brown
1:30 pm – Planning an Edible Landscape with Sheryl Williams
All Day – The Wall Trip DVD by Ann and Robin Matthews

Tomorrow join me for a tour of the no-lawn Matthews Garden.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

16 Responses

  1. Another garden tour to put on the schedule, and try to work it in.
    This garden looks like a fun one. Thanks for taking us along.

    There is so much for central Texas gardeners to do in October and November, including garden tours. I try not to miss any of them, and hope you’ll get to see them too, Linda. —Pam

  2. Alison says:

    What an absolutely fabulous garden! So colorful! Love those stars.

  3. Shirley says:

    That’s a fun garden, very well done and so full of personality. I like the bridge, we have the same issue in a side yard and are looking for options.

    Look forward to the rest of the tour.

  4. Scott Weber says:

    Love the metal fence! I actually considered something like it for our backyard, but was afraid the reflected heat would make me feel like I was sitting in an Easy Bake Oven ;-)

    In your Pacific NW climate? Here it seems all too possible. But no one sits outside in the daytime in the summer here anyway. :-) —Pam

  5. The colors of all the furnishings and accessories are so nice, I don’t mind all the stars! Something far more livable about a town with so many garden tours to fit in, even with all that burnt orange:-)

    It’s the crazy-busy garden tour season all right. A bonanza for garden bloggers! —Pam

  6. I love all the colors and use of painted materials. That fence is so cool! Wish I could be in Austin to see the tour.

    I wish you could too, Freda, but your Paris adventures are looking pretty fine. ;-) —Pam

  7. Judy says:

    Love it, love it, love it!

  8. That’s a lot of whimsy and color. I love the corrugated metal screen – very clever.

    I want one of these, Diana. Trying to figure out where… —Pam

  9. vbdb says:

    What I expected to be my least favorite of the tour may turn out to be the most inspirational – absolutely love it (and the talent with which you captured it.)

    Thanks, Vicki. I’m glad you enjoyed the virtual tour. More to come. —Pam

  10. Greggo says:

    Yep, looks mighty fine..I’m using a similar motif on my corrugated tin fence. And Scott you are right the tin has a slightly easy bake oven touch, especially after I removed a large silver maple tree. Ouch.

  11. Beth Kennedy says:

    Absolutely delightful! What whimsy and charm! A very creative soul lives there – I’d love to see what the inside of her house looks like :)

    Me too, Beth. —Pam

  12. Thanks for sharing. Lived in Austin many years ago as a student. Loved it.

  13. Gayle McClure says:

    How wonderful to see a garden I have only heard about, but never seen. I have only just met this person here in Mexico and became very fond of her. I watched her put her house together with the same whimsical imagination as her garden, so now I know from whence the inspiration comes, no surprise. Seeing this garden gives me an even closer look into her soul and it is glorious. Gayle

    It’s a small world on the internet, isn’t it? I am sure San Miguel’s colorful style influences her Austin garden as well. —Pam

  14. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a fun space.

  15. Beth, San Miguel de Allende says:

    Fabulous!!!!!!!!!! What creativity!!!!!!Love it!!!!!!!!

  16. Mar-sea Sanchez says:

    You go Girl! Your garden screams out who you are, no doubt its fearless and beautiful.
    I want to thank you for proving that my “crazy ” idea to use galvanized metal as a fence for privacy is not impossible. San Antonio is growing to fast and what use to be open fields of undeveloped land behind our property is now a row of Condos. I suggested this idea to my husband as a quick fix, and he looked at me like I needed a straight jacket. Thank you sooo much!

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