Dreamy blues and a few surprises in the garden of Lori Daul

When a gardener urges you to come over to see something in bloom, you know you better say yes. Lori Daul of The Gardener of Good and Evil tempted me into a quick visit last Saturday — not with an apple but with “the last of the daffodils.” Of course, I found a lot more than daffodils to swoon over while I was there, including her always-wonderful collection of potted plants, surrounded by the feathery foliage of California poppies, which were just beginning to open.

Lori’s garden is a study in blue. She painted her ordinary wood privacy fence midnight blue a few years ago, transforming it into a rich backdrop for the greens and yellows of her garden. Blue-painted furniture and blue glazed pots continue the color scheme, which echoes her house color.

When I first visited her garden, back in 2010, it was a sunnier space that Lori had filled with roses. By 2013 (click for pics), as trees shaded her garden and drought took its toll, Lori had begun trading out roses for structural agaves, which add welcome architectural interest to her densely planted borders.

Although Lori has a great eye for foliage compositions, flowers still have a large place in her garden, like these columbines. An aloe bloom spike stands tall in their midst, nearly ready to open.

The same garden bed, from a different perspective. The purple-pink flowers are prairie spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis).

A serpentine lawn serves as a broad path through the back garden. The surrounding blue walls and fencing harmonize with all the greens. In the center of the space, a feathery mesquite (sadly in decline) is a living bottle tree adorned with a handful of turquoise and cobalt bottles.

In the deep, curvy borders around the fence line, Lori elevates many of her agaves in containers, including this whale’s tongue (Agave ovatifolia), to give them more presence.

A variegated American agave (Agave americana ‘Variegata’) adds a little zip with yellow stripes. In the background, you can see Lori’s new contemporary fence — painted blue, of course — which she’s completed on one side of the garden.

Orange bulbine flowers at the base of the mesquite, next to a water pan that I assume Lori puts out for wildlife — or her cat, Killer. Killer?? Well, after all, this is the garden of good and evil.

The gate into Lori’s back garden wows at this time of year with flowering ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine (Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine Beauty’) contrasting with the deep-blue paint. Lori encourages the crossvine to drape across the gate, which seems not to impede the gate’s function, as we opened and closed it with no trouble.

The center of the gate is filled with mesh fencing, allowing peek-a-boo views and breezes.

Lori’s sense of humor appears in her containers (she has a collection of half-face pots) and garden art, like this coiled concrete rattlesnake set into the paving of a small front patio, not far from her front door. Mexican beach pebbles laid on edge evoke the rattles on its tail.

Near the front porch, another water pan sits next to a swath of ‘Chocolate Chip’ ajuga in full bloom. In the elevated bed, I think that’s Beschorneria yuccoides ‘Flamingo Glow’ next to a holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum). I wish I’d asked Lori about her beschorneria. It’s a beautiful plant.

But then, so is everything in her Garden of Good and Evil. Thanks for sharing it with me again, Lori. It’s funny that I forgot to take a single picture of the tempting daffodils!

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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Come meet me at Zilker Garden Festival, Austin, TX, April 2 & 3
Get your gardening mojo on at Zilker Garden Festival! I’ll be at the brand-new Author Booth both days this weekend between 10 am and 2 pm (near the main building entrance), and I’ll be selling signed copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! ($20 each). Zilker Garden Festival is the garden’s only fundraiser (and it needs our support) and offers all-day entertainment, vendor shopping, plant sales, demonstrations, live music, a beer garden and food vendors, children’s activities, a garden train, a flower show, and a docent-led tour of lovely Zilker Botanical Garden. Don’t miss it!

Join me for lunch downtown at Holy Grounds coffee shop and cafe on Wednesday, April 6, at noon. As part of their Coffee with the Author series, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton will interview me and host a Q&A with the audience — i.e., y’all — and afterward I’ll sign copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone!. I hope to see you there for this intimate, lunchtime event. Holy Grounds is located in the main building of St. David’s Episcopal Church at 301 East 8th Street in downtown Austin. You can park in the surface lot in front of St. David’s main doors.

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27 Responses

  1. Thanks for the tour.
    Lori’s garden is always amazing. So much going on there.

  2. I like that blue fence. I am going through a blue phase right now too.

  3. Indie says:

    Beautiful! I love all those touches of blue in the garden, and how it is such a great unifying force. That crossvine over the fence is simply gorgeous!

  4. Wendy says:

    So beautiful! Thanks for sharing! Come to Iowa… our daffodils are just beginning to bloom. It’s always fun for me to see the more tropical blooms of Texas! :)

  5. Sasser says:

    Great pictures! My new cross vine is in full bloom also. I was going to ask for suggestions on woodland plants but came across a live rattler – would have preferred the concrete one in this garden. What aloes or agaves would work in dappled shade and frequent deer visits?

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Check out my list of agaves and aloes I’m growing, Sasser. http://www.penick.net/digging/?page_id=15002 – scroll down to “Woody Lilies & Bromeliads.” My garden is all about dappled shade and bright shade. As for deer, they’ll eat yucca blooms and maybe aloe leaves (I don’t put any fleshy succulents in my front garden for that reason). They’ll also antler agaves and yuccas to smithereens during the fall rutting season. Good luck! —Pam

  6. Shirley says:

    Lori’s garden is always a treat and I love seeing how she adapts to changing light and drought. I took away so many ideas and much inspiration from her garden on tour.

  7. Karen Miller says:

    How are the bottles “attached” to the tree for the bottle tree? I love everything about this garden!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I believe she put long screws into the branch and stuck the bottles on those. Her garden really is a delight. Maybe she’ll have it on tour again one day. —Pam

  8. That’s a beautiful, yet welcoming garden–not too formal, but nicely organized. I really like the idea of the water pans and the potted plants. I’m thinking about adding some shallow butterfly pans with rocks this summer, as well as more potted plants. Lovely.

  9. rickii says:

    I do love surprises!

  10. Jenny says:

    Lori has such a fun garden. Always something new at every turn and she has so many great ideas. You know I have never noticed that gate with the see through panel.

  11. I’ve loved Lori’s garden ever since I saw it on Central Texas Gardener years ago! She seems super fun, I love her style and humor. And I love roses, too. So sad about the mesquite being in decline, they’re sculpturally beautiful trees. And having to redesign around its being cut down, or falling down, would be a pain, sorry Lori!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Yes, the mesquite will be a loss. Lori believes she inadvertently did it in when she planted a garden around it, impacting the root zone and moisture levels for a very dry-loving tree. I’m sure, however, that when it goes she’ll come up with something wonderful to plant in its place. —Pam

  12. Gail says:

    I really enjoyed this tour of Lori’s garden~ and her blue fence is inspiring me! Thanks, Pam.

  13. Wendy Moore says:

    When I went over there a few weeks ago (to pick up some discarded cactus) it was all I could do to keep my jaw from dropping. So beautiful!! She’d had a long day so I couldn’t bring myself to demand a tour. ;-)

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