My garden on tour: highlights from the whirlwind


I opened my garden as part of the Inside Austin 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 garden.


Approximately 400 people came through the garden, including many readers of Digging, some of whom drove in from out of town to see a garden that they’d been reading about for years. I wish I’d taken more selfies with Digging fans like these lovely visitors from Dallas (if I remember correctly?). Anyone who travels 8 hours round-trip for a garden tour is a bona fide tour nut — like me! — so I felt an instant connection. So here’s a shout-out to all the “Diggers” who came to see me! I loved meeting you all.


My friend and tour volunteer Lori Daul kindly shared her pictures with me, which I appreciate because I didn’t have time to take any. Lori blogs at The Gardener of Good and Evil, and here she is (on the right) with Annie of The Transplantable Rose, one of the first garden bloggers I ever met, back in the early old days of blogging, around 2007. They’re wearing the same hat!


After a week of temps in the upper 90s leading up to the tour, the weather on tour day was idyllic: sunny and upper 80s F with low humidity. Hats were in abundance to keep the bright sun at bay, but under the live oaks it was very pleasant.


There I am in the center background, explaining how to make a stock-tank pond. By far, though, my most-asked question was, “Did you bring in the big rock slabs behind the pool, or were they always there?” I think I answered that question about 30 times. For the record, yes, they’ve always been there. And yeah, they’re very cool.


Another question I got asked a lot was some variation of, “Did you make the berms in the front yard and plant the trees on them?” Answer: No, that’s a natural feature of our property. I believe the undeveloped lot had a long natural berm that stretched across the front yard and into our neighbor’s yard. When the house was built, the developer carved into the berm in order to pour the circular driveway, which resulted in two small berms with a cluster of live oaks on each.

Aside from berms and rocks, visitors were most curious or complimentary about the sedge lawn, bamboo muhly grass, garden art, ‘Vertigo’ pennisetum, cinderblock succulent wall, stock-tank pond, ‘Amistad’ salvia, mirrored trellises, Philippine violet, and ‘Sparkler’ sedge. I told many people about my plant list, with hyperlinks to detailed posts I’ve written, for more info about many of the plants.


I must thank the army of Travis County Master Gardener volunteers who worked in my garden all day, selling tickets, answering questions, and even selling my books for me (I sold an entire box of 24 books — yay!). My friend Vicki Blachman of Playin’ Outside was my Garden Captain, and she kept the ship afloat with smooth sailing. Thank you all!


Thank you, too, to everyone who came to see my garden. You made the day really fun!

For those wanting to replicate some of the projects they saw in my garden, here are links to my how-to posts:
How to make a container pond in a stock tank
How to make mirrored trellises
How to plant a sedge lawn
Make a cinderblock wall planter

For more “How I Did It” posts, click here. And if you’re curious to see before-and-after pics of the garden, you’ll enjoy this post I wrote last spring.

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

26 Responses

  1. 400 people! Wow. I know each and every one of them came away with ideas and inspirations for their garden. Now you can kick back and put your feet up…until that is when some of these people start calling wanting your help. :)

  2. Isn’t it odd to have people that read your blog come visit your garden? They know so intimately. Never sure if I should be complemented, or call the police. Glad you enjoyed the “show garden” experience – some don’t – they find it too stressful. Showing off your hard work, sharing your expertise, socializing, and taking complements for a weekend is never a bad thing!

  3. Having toured your garden, I know just how great it is.
    And, it’s perfect for a tour, with the paths all the way around. That’s a goal for my garden.

    Glad you had such a good day. Now, you deserve a break.

  4. Marilyn Rodriguez says:

    You have a beautiful garden. I am largely shade gardener and found so many good ideas how to enhance my own. I went to all the gardens on the tour. What great variety. In my opinion, the tour was outstanding! Each garden had something special to offer.

  5. Dee Nash says:

    Great wrap up post Pam. I’m sure you were a huge hit. I’ve lived both of your gardens. Hugs! Dee

  6. Kris P says:

    I knew your garden would be a big draw. Congratulations on your turn-out. I’m glad you had a good time. Now you can relax a while and just enjoy your spiffed up garden!

  7. Phillip says:

    That is great. 400 people! Lucky them. It seems like it was just a year or two ago that you started this new garden?

  8. Congrats on a great tour! I really wanted to come over for it but we had family in town for the game. Our MG tour is this coming weekend, and thankfully, mine isn’t on it this year ;) Enjoy having your garden in pristine condition!

  9. TexasDeb says:

    That is an impressive turnout. I’m sure the organizers must be incredibly pleased. So what is your takeaway from the experience now the dust has settled? Was it all worthwhile? Will your garden be a regular feature now on tours? (And a box of books sold as icing on the cupcake! Not too shabby!).

    • Pam/Digging says:

      It was certainly a worthwhile experience, Deb, and it taught me great appreciation for others who open their gardens to the public. I wouldn’t do it often, but I’d never say never about doing it again one day. —Pam

  10. Margo Kuykendall says:

    I really enjoyed meeting you and seeing your awesome garden. The pictures you post on your blog are wonderful and very inspiring, but seeing it all put together in person was a real treat. After reading your blog for so long, I found myself telling my friend about your garden. “That big agave over there is Moby” or “I remember when she built the cinder block wall”…LOL. Thank you for opening your personal garden for us too see.

  11. Diana Studer says:

    Glad to hear the weather was delivered as requested.

  12. Although I’ve visited your garden before, seeing it shine for the hundreds of visitors on tour was so much fun! And bumping into so many garden blogger friends made it even more special.

    I’d still like to know how you arranged for such a pleasant day after the hot, dry, stressful summer we’ve had.

    Pam, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to watch you make a yard with potential into a spectacular garden.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  13. Ally says:

    What a great tour! We were so lucky to have such wonderful weather and fabulous gardens for the tour. Everyone seemed to be in such good spirits about the cool morning. It was definitely perfect timing for some fall temperatures. I thoroughly enjoyed the day. Thanks for sharing your garden.

  14. Scott Weber says:

    Big Congrats! You not only survived, but it sounds like a great success…now you can kick back, relax and enjoy the rest of the season :-)

  15. peter schaar says:

    Congratulations! 400! Wish I could have been one of them, to see how it has progressed since I saw it last. The photos show a garden at its best!

  16. Luisa says:

    Congratulations! I can only imagine the prep involved to make everything look so effortlessly great — and yes, as others have commented, now it’s time to put your feet up and relax :~)

  17. Tom Goodman says:

    My wife (Diane) and I enjoyed the visit and walked away with a lot of good ideas for our own place. Thanks for hosting. (Diane was the one who asked about controlling oak shoots under your oak trees.)

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Thanks for coming, Tom and Diane! I wish I could share a magic bullet for those oak sprouts, but all there is is mowing, weed-eating, or disguising them with taller plants. —Pam

  18. Ginny says:

    Congrats on pulling off your first garden tour, Pam! The idea will never be as scary again, will it? Now you know you can do it and your garden is fun and enjoyable. Yay for you!

  19. Wendy Moore says:

    Congratulations!! You must be elated and exhausted! I can’t fathom the stress and hard work that went into this success – I hope you’re doing some serious slacking now! ;-)

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Not yet, Wendy. Linda from Central Texas Gardener is scheduled to come film on Monday, and there’s a very soggy, messy garden to clean up first. —Pam

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