Garden-tour fluffing and fall Foliage Follow-Up

A new yellow Hesperaloe parviflora peeks around a Yucca rostrata in the lower garden.

I’ve attended many a garden tour, but I had no idea how much work prepping for one requires. Not because anyone tells you to, but because your own sense of perfectionism kicks in when you imagine strangers examining your garden.

Tomorrow my garden will be open to the public for the first time. What has that meant? A year-long push to finish a few projects, the addition of lots of plants and garden art, and many extra hours spent each week (even during the broiling summer — yes, me!) pruning, tidying, and generally fussing over my garden in a way I don’t normally bother with. For the past 4 days, I’ve worked in the garden nearly every waking hour.

‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda with Mexican feathergrass and chile pequin

All of this is to say that a garden prepped for garden tour is not a normally maintained garden. I knew this. But now I understand it. When you finally stop fluffing, it’s not because there’s nothing left to do. Oh no, the garden, sponge-like, can always suck up more of your time and money. No, you finally stop because you’re out of time. And thank goodness for that. Tomorrow I’ll be relieved to put aside the tools and hose and finally welcome visitors into my garden. Talking with fellow gardening enthusiasts, or even the merely curious, will be a fun change of pace. I’m ready!

Today, however, is a day to celebrate the importance of foliage in the garden. For Foliage Follow-Up, I prowled the back garden last evening, taking a few pictures of foliage that caught my eye. Like this Loropetalum chinense ‘Sizzling Pink’, which, as a bit of fall color, sports a handful of crimson leaves among the normal array of green and purplish-hued ones.

A foliage-only combo: paleleaf yucca (Y. pallida) and ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) in the purple pot, with ‘Cream de Mint’ pittosporum and the loropetalum.

I love green-and-white striped ‘Sparkler’ sedge, which grows well in the root-clogged dry soil around live oaks. What a beautiful plant.

This is the long view of the lower garden, where exposed slabs of limestone form a natural path. Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana) in the foreground and live oak in the background are part of my garden’s canopy of trees.

And just for fun, here’s a new piece of garden art. My sister and her wife gave me this dynamic ribbon sculpture from Joshua’s Native Plants in Houston for my birthday. I hung it from one of the live oaks, where I can admire its bold color and form at eye level.

This is my October post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on in your garden this month? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I really appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.


Austin-area gardening friends, come to the Inside Austin Gardens Tour this Saturday! My garden will be on tour, along with 6 others. Tour tickets may be purchased at each garden for $5 each or $20 for all. I’ll also have autographed copies of my book Lawn Gone! for sale ($20), if you’re looking for fall reading or an early holiday gift.

Inside Austin Gardens Tour
Saturday, October 17, 2015
9:00 am to 4:00 pm

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

27 Responses

  1. Saurs says:

    Wishing you all the best (or break a pot, or whatever the correctly superstitious idiom might be). Your visitors are in for a treat.

  2. Diana Studer says:

    I bring Melianthus with leaves that are cherished way beyond its own space.

    Going to be lots of happy gardeners in your space – then it will be your own space again.

  3. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Oh my, what an amazing amount of work it would be to get a garden ready for touring eyes. Glad it’s you and not me but your garden is looking gorgeous as always with a little extra polish. Hope you enjoy Saturday as much as your guests are certain to.

    My foliage follow-up includes a tribute to your Moby and can be found here:

  4. Alison says:

    Although I’m not going to be there for your tour, I just wanted to say kudos to you for the extra work you’ve done getting ready. I’ve been on several tours where it was obvious no one had done any fluffing at all, and it’s always so disappointing. It’s a lot of extra work, and I hope everyone who comes to your garden tomorrow appreciates it!

    For my FF, I’m showing fall color on my pin oak. My post is here:

  5. TexasDeb says:

    I’ve always maintained the best way to motivate a deep cleaning for any home is to schedule visitors. There is nothing like the idea of other (critical) eyes around to inspire a push to get all those “going to do” projects moved onto “to do” followed by “done!”. Same holds for gardens, obviously. And I deeply appreciate and understand it is not anybody else’s standards guiding your efforts – it is your own inner standard of how things “should” be.

    As somebody with a ridiculous need for the illusion of control, I applaud you opening up your garden to the world this way. I hope you’ll honestly experience the day as “worth” your time and energies, with some rewards you weren’t expecting stirred in to sweeten the pot. May all the delight your garden spaces bring others be returned to you doubled!

  6. Good luck with the tour.
    I predict your garden will be a huge hit.

  7. Lori says:

    Oh, I am getting tour PTSD reading this post! But your garden is gonna be a smash hit, there’s no question. See you tomorrow! :D

  8. I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow and that it’s as a rewarding experience for you as it was for me. (and yes…speaking as a fellow perfectionist I know just how much work you did!)

  9. (yikes…not that my garden was perfect!…and here I am finally remembering to change back my info)

  10. love that Sparkler sedge. It’s not one I grow but I think I may add it in the spring. Would you believe that I posted last night and then forgot to come and mention it! My sympathies on prepping for the tour. I am already deep into it and my tour isn’t until next June. But any day it will be too late in this climate to do anything until spring, so I am feeling under the gun already! We sure do know how to make ourselves crazy.

  11. Jenny says:

    Have a truly wonderful day. Despite all the incredible work it is an amazing experience. When everyone is gone make sure you go out and celebrate or at least have someone over. You may be exhausted but you need to ease out of the experience of having so many visitors.

  12. Seetha says:

    Can’t wait to see your garden tomorrow! I just started reading your blog recently and I’m really looking forward to seeing it in person. All your hard work will not be lost on those of us visiting. :)

  13. Evan says:

    I hope you have a great day tomorrow. I’m sure people will love your serene, beautiful garden. I pale at the thought of opening my garden to tours, but then, it’s technically my parents’ garden and I’m just the gardener anyway. My foliage follow-up focuses on fall color, which is starting to light up the PNW.

  14. peter schaar says:

    And I thought I was an obsessive housewife getting my garden ready for a tour! Wow. Wish I could be there to see the results. From your pics, it looks pretty impressive!

  15. Maggie Carpenter says:

    I’m planning to visit tomorrow and have been looking forward to it since you first mentioned being on the tour months ago. Thanks so much for all your hard work – a tour is obviously not for the faint of heart!

  16. Kris P says:

    Pam, with all the hard work done, I hope you can put the anxiety behind you tomorrow (or, given our time difference, today!) and thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to meet the mass gathering of people delighted to view your garden in person. I wish I could be there!

    Here’s my foliage follow-up post:

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Hedges gone wild! You have a LOT of hedges, Kris. People are much more into fences here (instant gratification), but it’s nice to see green borders. When they are in the right spot and work well, of course. —Pam

  17. Anna K says:

    I hope you have a stellar time tomorrow, and I bet you will! I have no doubt it will be fabulous. My post is reveling in the slanted rays of fall.

  18. What’s ‘blooming’ in my neighbourhood at the moment more than anything else is the fall foliage, so I am using the same post for GGBD and FF – enjoy the glowing elm foliage here:

  19. Pam, I can’t imagine how you spent so much time in the garden. It always looks garden tour ready. Everyone will adore your garden. It has so much going on and is so beautiful. I really like your new sculpture. Relax and have fun now.

  20. hoov says:

    Your garden always looks perfect–what’s different? Hope your tour is fun and fabulous.

    I ponder foliage here: Law Or Conspiracy?

  21. […] Gardens Tour last Saturday. It was my first time to participate in a public garden tour, and after all the garden prep, it was wonderful to finally put down the pruners and the shovel and welcome people into my […]

  22. Your gardens always look wonderful. Hope you enjoyed the day!
    Thanks for hosting Foliage Follow-Up. Here is my post a little late!