The Austin garden bloggers met up on Sunday in the walled gardens of two talented local gardeners: designer and author Jill Nokes and our own Jenny Stocker, whom you may know as Lancashire Rose on her blog, Rock Rose.
I didn’t take an official count, but I think we numbered 17 garden bloggers on this outing, a size that necessitated name tags. It was a much bigger group than when Jill last invited us into her garden, almost two years ago to the day during the Austin bloggers’ first “Ground Robin” meet-up.
Jill’s Hyde Park garden was our first stop on Sunday afternoon. Jill gladly shares her garden, not just with other gardeners but with neighbors and their children, for whom she leaves trinkets for exchange, and with passersby, one of whom was sitting on the curb as we arrived, one of Jill’s conch shells to her ear, listening intently. The garden invites that kind of interaction. Everywhere you look you see small treasures built into the walls, colorful tin milagros on strings turning in the breeze, and a charming mix of colorful perennials and touchable, textural plants.
A lean-on-your-elbows-height rock wall makes a friendly separation between the public, streetside garden, above, and the intimate family garden inside. An arch encrusted with sentimental pieces from Jill’s children’s art projects, fossils, marbles, and small garden statuary beckons you to enter. Berthold Haas constructed the arch for her; you may remember my post about his own shell-encrusted garden, Stone Palms, last October.
A detail from Jill’s wall
Inside the arch, a gravel courtyard next to the screened back porch offers a comfortable space to sit and listen to birdsong from the neighborhood mockingbirds and the pet canary who’s trying to outdo them.
A St. Francis built into the wall welcomes the birds.
Looking left, a perfect circle of lawn draws you into a corner enclosed by two walls and a large anaqua tree, which I’d never heard of.
Many of Jill’s plants are exotics from Mexico, like this Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea acuminata aztecorum ), which I’d coveted since seeing it towering in a corner of her garden two years ago. She pointed out the most unusual specimens, which would be hard to find in local nurseries; they were given to her over the years from various plantsmen exploring in Mexico or she brought them back herself from her yearly driving trips there.
Most of her plants have stories that remind her of the people who gave them to her. It’s a garden of sentimental favorites and hardy survivors, made for relaxing in with family, not a garden for showing off. It is an utterly comfortable bower of a garden, and I could have sat there listening to the birds sing all day.
Thank you, Jill, for welcoming us into your garden!
Tune in again soon for a look at Jenny’s flower-licious garden.
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