I’m continuing my sneak preview of the upcoming Inside Austin Gardens Tour, hosted by the Travis County Master Gardeners. In my last post I showed you Donnis Doyle’s colorful, whimsical garden. This garden belongs to her next-door neighbors, Ann and Robin Matthews, and they’ve been friends and neighbors for nearly 40 years. The Matthews got started on their garden first, and then Donnis followed suit, and the two gardens riff on each other nicely.
The Matthews’ front-yard garden is lawn free, with decomposed-granite paths winding through curved beds filled with native and largely xeric plants. They favor electric blue accents, like this painted table-and-chair set, positioned behind a screen of plants for privacy while still allowing them to enjoy their front garden and say hi to the neighbors. A swath of Gregg’s mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) blankets the foreground, and you know this attracts swarms of butterflies on warm days.
Sotol (Dasylirion texana) and red-flowering lantana are tough, drought-tolerant survivors—and beautiful too.
The Matthews incorporate a lot of rock into their garden, but it’s not a boring sea of just one kind. They use decomposed granite for paths, light gravel for accent areas, and river rock for decorative touches, like this spiral.
They humorously embrace flaws, like this long crack in their concrete driveway, and turn them into fun features. They filled the crack with a river of blue glass beads, and a nearby sign advises, “When life gives you cracks, make rivers!”
Another look at the front patio. You can see neighbor Donnis’s blue-bottle-and-coffee-mug arch in the background. A friendly path connects the two gardens.
Robin and Ann are serious about collecting rainwater from their roof. When they installed a large cistern directly in front of the house, Robin built this screen of wooden posts and metal pipes to support a star jasmine vine. It screens the cistern so well I didn’t notice it until Robin pointed it out.
Sotol and esperanza (Tecoma stans), with another glimpse of Donnis’s house behind. Notice that she has a screen along the front of her house that echoes the screen Robin made to hide his cistern.
From the corner of the house, looking across the front garden. Isn’t this a nicer view to walk out to than a flat, boring lawn?
Jewels of Opar (Talinum paniculatum) in front of Gregg’s mistflower
More water-collection tanks, which the Matthews have decoratively painted. This will be the garden to see if you want info on harvesting rainwater.
The back garden opens spaciously, with a gravel patio extension providing spillover room for entertaining and eliminating the mowing and watering needs of a lawn.
The back of the property is more wooded, and a colorful bench and lattice arbor provide a sheltered spot to enjoy the view. A curtained faux window made with a mirror brightens up the shady space and creates the illusion of more garden behind.
I love this blue arbor looking onto a circular herb garden anchored in the center with an exuberant blue bottle tree festooned with party lights.
What a cool focal point this must be at night.
Colorful garden decor
Raised beds for vegetables along the back fence
Another view of the herb garden and blue arbor, looking back toward the house
Where the Matthews needed privacy along one side of their yard, they built a faux-stone pictograph wall that represents actual Native American pictographs, which these former schoolteachers have an interest in.
Other Southwestern accents include this metal lizard and cactus-and-succulent planting dish…
…as well as this clever homemade spiral made from metal tubing.
I like that the Matthews made a photo display of the evolution of their garden, which is easier to view on a tour than a photo album. Plus it shows that a garden doesn’t just happen overnight. When they were younger and busier with work, they didn’t have much time for gardening, but as their kids grew up they started making gardens, and in retirement they found time to really transform their yard into a personal retreat.
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 Matthews Garden (same as for the Doyle garden since they are next door to each other)
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
All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.