Lucinda Hutson’s purple cottage, cantina garden, and Viva Tequila!

Lucinda Hutson’s festive home and garden in Austin

My friend Lucinda Hutson invited me over to her purple cottage on Sunday to see her angel’s trumpets in bloom, plus all the rest of her exuberant, flowery garden.

Lighting up her quiet Rosedale neighborhood street like a fiesta in full swing, Lucinda’s garden is an irresistible mix of color, romance, humor, and creativity. Colorful paint brightens every vertical surface: house (3 different body colors, depending on which side you’re looking at), wooden fences, and a detached garage-turned-shed. Flowering roses, angel’s trumpets, and sweet peas scent the air. Enticing gates and arbors beckon you onward, through a succession of intimate garden rooms. A “tequila cantina” anchors the rear garden with a party-ready set-up and a tequila-bottle bottle tree.

I long ago fell under the spell of Lucinda’s El Jardin Encantador. Perhaps you will too. Come along with me for a tour.

First of all, you can see she owns the cutest house in the world. Painted purple with lavender trim and a rosy-mango door, its arched frame accented with tiles, the house announces that someone with a zest for life lives here.


The front yard is given over to a flowery cottage garden filled with roses, annuals, and native perennials. There’s no lawn except for a narrow, grassy path near the front door.


The promised angel’s trumpets (Brugmansia) were indeed gorgeous. I inhaled their residual sweet scent left over from the evening.


Lucinda is growing sweet peas this year, and they smelled heavenly too.


A closer look at the sweet peas


And another view of the angel’s trumpets


Buttery roses—’Julia Child’ was one—make a sunny backdrop to the sweet peas.


Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) in bloom added another sweet scent to the garden. You can see it behind this white-winged dove, which alit on the birdbath and posed for a photo.


A small angel kneels among salvias and snapdragons.


Yellow snapdragons lit up a partly shaded area under a ginkgo tree, one of a few I’ve encountered in Austin.


Sancho the cat lounged on a purple garden seat.


A wider view of the garden reveals an enormous Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) in full bloom.


Along the left side of the lot is a gravel drive, which no longer leads to the detached garage in the back yard. It stops short, blocked by a stone wall over which heartleaf ice plant (Aptenia cordifolia) cascades and a peaked, wooden arbor supporting a ‘Don Juan’ rose.


An intricate iron gate offers peek-a-boo glimpses of the garden beyond.


I adore this gate! Now we’ve walked through, and here’s a look back, with the front garden abloom in the background.


Another view, with nasturtiums tumbling along the ground


In the very back of her lot, behind her former garage, Lucinda created a festive cantina for her frequent parties. A rustic table serves as a bar, sheltered by an arbor constructed of unpeeled cedar posts topped with a metal agave. On the turquoise wall, a wooden sign proclaims this to be “La Lucinda Cantina.” At left, a tequila bottle tree is mulched with corks, and metal mariachis play. Horseshoes line the eave for luck.


What a perfect setting for Lucinda to show off her brand-new book, Viva Tequila! Cocktails, Cooking, and Other Agave Adventures, soon to be released in May. By the way, if you want to hear the always entertaining Lucinda speak about her new book—and her agave adventures—plan to attend the Garden Club of Austin’s May 23rd meeting, 7 pm, at Zilker Botanical Garden.


I got a sneak peek. It’s a beautiful book!


And the cantina is awfully fun, isn’t it?


Lucinda is bold with color, painting even her wooden privacy fence to festive effect. Here’s her mermaid garden, with blue and green capiz shells creating a watery curtain behind a metal fish and a preening mermaid. Snake plant (Sansevieria) and succulents like ‘Sticks on Fire’ euphorbia add to the wavy, under-the-sea vignette.


Lucinda created this mosaic Madonna altar out of an old bathtub and mortared it into a stone wall.


Mexican folk art is prominently displayed throughout her garden.


These are children’s chairs from Mexico, turned into an artistic collection along an orange wall of her house.


A closer look


In front of her former garage, Lucinda built a large raised bed over her old driveway and planted edibles and more roses.


Silverware flowers pick up the edible theme with a touch of whimsy.


A wider view


An eye-catching flower. This is some sort of African daisy, Lucinda said. Update: This is an Osteospermum hybrid, perhaps ‘Soprano Lilac Spoon’ by Proven Winners.


Aren’t they cool?


This is the dining deck immediately behind the house. A purple umbrella shades the table and cushy chairs. It always amazes me how many distinct garden rooms Lucinda was able to carve out of her tiny lot. And the beauty of it is that they make her garden live much larger than you’d expect.


A frilly metal chair stands by the door to her detached office, where she writes and prepares for her many speaking engagements.


A heart-shaped pad on a spineless prickly pear—Mother Nature’s own valentine?

My thanks to Lucinda for another delightful garden visit! Readers, if you’d like to see more of Lucinda’s festive garden, check out my previous posts:
Lucinda Hutson’s Easter-egg colorful garden, April 2012
Enchanted evening in Lucinda Hutson’s cantina garden, April 2011
El Jardin Encantador: Lucinda Hutson’s garden, October 2009
Lucinda Hutson’s enchanting garden, April 2008

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

26 Responses

  1. Shirley says:

    I can never get enough of this garden, it looks as enchanting and charming as its name. There’s so much to see I scroll up and down several times.

    Thanks for another lovely post on Lucinda’s garden and her new book looks wonderful too.

  2. Such an enchanting cottage garden. Something to see at every angle. Her neighbors are so lucky!

  3. Alison says:

    I love every post you do on Lucinda’s garden. It’s so fun and colorful. What a clever idea to mulch a bottle tree with corks!

  4. Scott Weber says:

    Every bit of that garden is so full of personality…love it!

  5. ricki says:

    Who would have thought that this daring use of color could work so well? It’s the perfect counterpoint to the exuberant gardens surrounding it. Lucky you, to have such an imaginative and playful friend. Thanks for sharing her with us.

  6. Phillip says:

    I love it! Beautiful photos!

  7. sandy lawrence says:

    How fun! Every visit to this garden is just as enjoyable as the first. Did Lucinda happen to mention a nursery where she bought those unnamed African daisies, or maybe she started them from seed? They look like fancy fireworks. Thanks for taking us along on another fab tour.

    I don’t believe she said where she got them, Sandy. You might be able to find them where Proven Winners plants are sold, as they are an Osteospermum hybrid, perhaps ‘Soprano Lilac Spoon’. —Pam

  8. Pedro says:

    I absolutely love it. My Tia Lucinda is an amazing talented woman. Great artical and wonderful pictures. Cant wait for the new book!!! I’m going to have to make a trip to Austin soon. Love you Tia!

  9. I am blessed beyond words to have yall visit my garden and home through the eyes and words of Pam Penick, an incredible photographer and wordsmith. Who but Pam could get a BAD cat and a dove to pose? It is beautiful and I am so proud! Thank you Pam for your generous and beautiful spirit!

    Lucinda, every visit is an absolute pleasure! Thank you so much for sharing your garden with me again. —Pam

  10. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What an inspiration this place is. I love love love all the color in her garden. It looks exuberant yet cozy. Thanks for taking us there.

  11. Such a great post and what a beautiful home! Lucinda will be at the Bullock Texas State History Museum on May 31 sharing the history of Mexico’s most famous libation, along with recipes. A fiesta with tastings and Tex-Mex hors d’oeuvres will follow.

    $35 for Members/$45 for Non-Members
    Advanced reservations are required and may be made by calling (512) 936-4649.

    We are so looking forward to this event! Her book is fantastic!

  12. I remember visiting her garden with you, Pam. It was just as lush then as it is now. I think the mermaid garden was my favorite. So evocative!

  13. Yolanda says:

    Inspiring and beutiful!! Is it just me or do those african daisies (margaritas!) resemble the metal spoon sculpture??!

    Now that you mention it, Yolanda… —Pam

  14. Such a happy garden! Thanks for the visit. The African daisies are an Osteospermum variety, a hybrid, I think. I have some white ones with blue centers – the spoon shaped petals are great.

    Thanks for the ID, Kris. You are right. —Pam

  15. Lori says:

    Lucinda’s garden is glorious, as always! Do you know whether she has a trick to get her brugmansia blooming so early? Mine doesn’t do a thing til fall.

    I know none of her tricks, I’m afraid, Lori. I just admire. ;-) —Pam

  16. Heidi says:

    Pam I thoroughly enjoy your blog, you always have interesting gardens to share and you have a great eye with your photography. Thanks for showing that with a little sweat you can have an attractive yard in Texas!

    Or a lot of sweat—ha! Thanks for reading Digging, Heidi. —Pam

  17. Short of a personal visit with a cold margarita in hand, seeing Lucinda’s garden through your lens is the next best thing. Thanks, Pam!

  18. cheryl says:

    Once again, you’ve captured Lucinda’s yard most excellently!
    those ” spoon petaled” Osteospermum are available at many west coast nurseries and they come in a few different colors. Fun!

    Thanks for the ID, Cheryl. Right you are. —Pam

  19. Peter says:

    I’m totally in love with this fabulous garden! The bold colors sing to me! Thanks for sharing this special place once again!

  20. Layanee says:

    I will see this garden some day. When Fling returns to Austin! :)

    Wouldn’t that be fun, Layanee! And you will have to actually make it here next time. —Pam

  21. Tom E says:

    Your garden tour pics are the best! They capture the beauty and cheerfulness of our cottage gardens! Lucinda is just down the street from our daughter, so we enjoy her garden often. The Montserrat cocktail at the Ocho Bar at Havana hotel in SA has captured my attention lately — viva sotol anejo!

    Sounds like you’re having fun, Tom! —Pam

  22. Mary Beth says:

    Love this garden! I can’t remember if I first saw it in Texas Monthly or Southern Living. Cork mulch – how perfect for the cantina! I’ve seen seashell mulch, corn cob mulch, sea glass mulch, but never corks. Great idea!

  23. sandy lawrence says:

    Just a p.s. to say that I found that marvelous plant Lucinda refers to as possibly being a variety of African daisy. Turns out it is an Osteospermum. I nabbed one at the local nursery here. Love those spoon-shaped petals!

  24. Jenny says:

    Always fun to visit Lucinda’s beautiful garden. That Angel’s trumpet is unspeakably gorgeous.I always think of her when my iris bloom.

  25. Nancy Oliver says:

    I just love love love Lucinda’s home and garden!!!

  26. [...] provide. It reminded me of the colorful cottage gardens I saw on the Buffalo Fling in 2010 and also Lucinda Hutson’s garden in [...]