Classical beauty with a modern edge in Margie McClurg’s garden

I’ve been fortunate this spring to visit a number of new-to-me gardens. One of my favorites is this one, the creation of talented landscape architect Jackson Broussard of Sprout. Located in the Rollingwood neighborhood, the garden belongs to Margie McClurg and is a refresh of an existing garden that, according to Jackson, had plenty of cottage color but not much structure or interest once the flowers faded.

To provide structure and year-round appeal, Jackson carved out space for a dining patio in the heart of the garden. Low limestone walls define the space and offer extra seating as well as a place to display potted plants (see top picture). In the center, a farmhouse table and chairs invite relaxation and al fresco dining. The space is roofed with an arbor of four Bradford pears espaliered to a metal frame — reminiscent of Deborah Hornickel’s Bradford pear arbor. Jackson explained that the ornamental pear’s flexible limbs and fast growth make it well suited to espalier.

The double line of trees, walls, and long table lead the eye straight to an overscaled terracotta urn elevated on a circular plinth and framed by a striking cluster of powder-blue Yucca rostrata. It’s a stunning composition.

The structure and openness of the dining patio — amid a lushly planted garden — draws the eye wherever you stand. Here’s the view from the back gate, looking across a tapestry-style shade garden.

And a little closer, with roses in the foreground

Those yuccas, though! They’re like blue fireworks exploding above blooming aloes and poppies. The brick wall at the end of the path separates the garden from the pool patio behind the house. The seclusion creates a secret-garden mood.

Entering the garden from the gate by the house, the urn is the focal point.

Throughout the flowering perennials and annuals, evergreens like blue nolina (Nolina nelsonii) add structure and beauty that doesn’t fade away in winter.

More blue nolinas mingling with poppies, roses, and iris. Italian cypresses add vertical punctuation.

Poppies along the path

And looking the other direction

A metal raven holds a colored stone in its beak atop a round pedestal, with blue nolina leaves in the foreground.

Flowering roses add romance and spring color.

Curving along the back of the garden, the path is edged with pink phlox and false foxglove penstemon (I think) Chinese foxglove (Rehmannia elata). A clipped boxwood in a terracotta pot makes a classical accent.

A close-up of the false foxglove penstemon Chinese foxglove

The main path bisects the garden, with the shade tapestry and pear-arbor patio on the left and the sunny flower garden on the right.

The shade garden is spectacular, with a lushness usually reserved for more-temperate climates. Red amaryllis blazes in the foreground.

Shades of green, with a pop of red, and a killer focal point

Dwarf Japanese maple, persicaria, and leopard plant make up the tapestry of foliage in the shade garden, with amaryllis sprinkled throughout, some in bud and some in flower.

The back gate offers a sneak peek of the garden inside.

My thanks to the owners and to Jackson Broussard of Sprout for allowing me to visit and share this beautiful garden with you!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

37 Responses

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Wow, love the blue fireworks. Quite exciting. So much to take in here. A wonderful garden.

  2. Gorgeous! What a lovely garden. Tranquility.

  3. Cheryl Hawes says:

    Beautiful garden!

  4. Lori says:

    Oh, this is so fantastic! I completely adore those yucca rostratas as punctuation and the espaliered dining patio. I know I’m gonna be returning to this post for inspiration on a regular basis! Do you know what those bright little bushes are in the shade bed? Are they all dwarf Japanese maple?

  5. Judy says:

    Is this a private residence? Is it ever on a garden tour? It’s beautiful.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Yes, it’s a residential garden, Judy. I think it’s going to be on the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour this fall. But since that tour landed on the same day as the Inside Austin Gardens tour, which my own garden will be on, I hope you’ll be able to make time for both. ;-) —Pam

  6. Alison says:

    Thanks for showing us this rework of an already existing garden. That view from the dining arbor to the Yucca rostratas is spectacular. The shade garden is a masterpiece of foliage contrast.

  7. paula says:

    Spectacular. I love the varied foliage under the trees. And smart to have elevated the terra cotta urn

  8. Wow! This is gorgeous.

    Some great photography, too.

  9. Kris P says:

    Yucca rostrata is growing on me – it does a great job adding structure in this garden. The garden is beautiful. I love the mix of persicaria, maple and Farfugium.

  10. Carol says:

    This is really interesting and lovely. I think the foxglove-looking plant looks like the chinese foxglove, Rehmannia elata, I have in my own garden.

  11. Shirley says:

    The repetition of color and form, especially the foliage tapestry looks so good. Massed spiky plants are unexpected in a garden which is fuller and greener visually than the typical xeric garden. The goal of adding structure was accomplished and then some!

  12. ks says:

    How beautifully done …hats off to Mr Broussard for a fearless and stunning design. I hope you will have an opportunity to share more of his work with us Pam..

  13. Jenny says:

    I am wondering if you got to see photographs of how the garden looked before. Always fun to see those. The after photos show how important structure is. If all the plants were to go away the garden would still be a wonderful place of interest. I certainly hope they don’t because those yuccas are fabulous and I love their skirts. Not a great fan of cleaning up yuccas. Is that a bird bath with the raven? Thanks for taking us to visit this secret garden!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      No, I didn’t meet the owners or see any “before” pictures, Jenny. It would be enlightening to see exactly how it changed though, wouldn’t it? The raven was sitting on a sort of pedestal. —Pam

  14. Jason says:

    Wow, I love that dining patio. And the yuccas with the red poppies! They really add a sense of excitement to the garden.

  15. Jeanette says:

    What a beautiful garden. The blue fireworks are amazing. I wonder how old they are? Thanks for sharing your lovely photographs in this virtual tour.~J

  16. Luisa says:

    What a beautiful garden. I too love the Y. rostratas, and although I usually prefer them without their old foliage, these look wonderful. Great photos!

  17. Denise says:

    Love this one, Pam. I think I might even prefer it when there’s not so much in bloom, the design is that strong.

  18. TexasDeb says:

    Fascinating. If you saw the photos without any guidance as to where this garden is placed, I wonder where folks would guess it is?

    An inspiring primer on massed plantings and even more impressive considering the water restrictions in place in our neighborhood. You’re going to have me driving around s l o w l y, trying to figure out which house is hiding this wonder!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Deb, it’s going to be on the October Open Days tour, so you can see for yourself. I won’t be publicizing that tour as heavily as I usually do because it’s competing with the tour that I’m supporting this year by opening my own garden, the Inside Austin Gardens Tour. But I hope you’ll consider buying tickets to both, thus supporting both good causes. ;-) —Pam

  19. Nice find…the yuccas with the poppies / other upright flowers really add a note of excitement there, which the cottage garden just cannot do. But you knew I’d say that! I just hope we don;t burn ourselves out on Yucca rostrata…

    The first photo and the square pot is my favorite…”serenity now.”