Hill Country style in Sitio-designed garden of architect Duke Garwood

A month ago I visited a Rollingwood garden designed by landscape architect Curt Arnette of Sitio Design. It’s owned by the architect of the contemporary Hill Country-style home, Duke Garwood, whom I also had the pleasure of meeting.

Let’s start in back, where a limestone patio bordered with shaggy zoysia turf flows out to a resort-worthy swimming pool. A palm- and Yucca rostrata-studded garden steps up around the pool and creates an enticing view from inside.

In the foreground, a circular stone fire pit filled with fire-safe blue glass stands ready to warm chilly evenings. I love the meadowy (unmown), ‘Emerald’ zoysia grass edging the patio.

Fan-like giant hesperaloe grows along the foundation, underplanted with cascading silver ponyfoot.

The pool’s edge is beautifully constructed of cut limestone, while limestone boulders hold the slope behind the pool and form the naturalistic waterfall, as well as a diving rock at right.

Gorgeous stonework

Beyond the pool, massive boulders terrace the slope and create planting beds for palms, yuccas, firebush, golden thryallis, and coral bean, which combine to create a tropicalesque look.

Yucca rostrata in the foreground, with pomegranate and coral bean

Natural stone supports the curved and notched waterfall wall, and extends underwater like limestone at natural springs all around Austin.

One last wide shot

Now let’s tour the front garden. Water figures prominently here too, leading visitors along the front walk via a rill that traverses a series of limestone walls. To the right of the limestone walk, whale’s tongue agaves and tufts of Berkeley sedge fill in gaps among flat-topped boulders.

The walls also create a safety rail of sorts, blocking a steep drop-off behind them, and the tops function as planters.

Red yucca and silver ponyfoot thrive up top.

Pipes jut from the golden limestone upper walls and spill water into the pale limestone troughs below. The water flows along the rill…

…and into a galvanized-steel sluice, which pours into a cylindrical pond that evokes an old stone cistern. Bristly heads of Yucca rostrata peek up from the slope behind the rill and pond.

I believe that’s bigfoot water clover (Marsilea macropoda) encircling one side of the pond.

Along the front walk, ‘Blonde Ambition’ blue grama grass…

…and orange narrowleaf zinnia thrive in hot, sunny conditions.

The cut-limestone paving of the front walk is fitted around natural boulders.

Just past the circular pool, a stair leads down to a landing, and from there down to the garage. Another stair off that landing leads up to Duke’s home office (at left).

The limestone stair with natural boulders holding a planting bed of palmetto and Berkeley sedge. Contained by the paving (and maybe a sunken barrier too?), horsetail reed grows vertically against the house at the top of the steps.

Texas palmetto and firebush

Steel sluice fountain, as seen from the steps

The garage and driveway sit at the bottom of the slope, with a row of bamboo muhly at left. To orient yourself, the limestone wall-fountain runs along the front walk behind the yuccas at top-right.

It’s woodsy and more natural looking here. Morning glory twines charmingly up a native juniper. Nandina grows below. (Although beautiful and tough, nandina is an invasive plant in our greenbelts and toxic to birds, and so it’s one of the few plants I recommend eradicating.)

I believe Curt told me that Duke designed this cool contemporary steel fence and gate. That’ll never rot!

It’s always a pleasure to see a beautiful house and garden so well integrated. My thanks to Duke for giving me a tour of his home too!

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11 Responses

  1. Pamela Duffy says:

    Thanks for the heads-up about the nandinas. I knew they were invasive, but not that they were toxic to animals. Also, did he mention what kind of zoysia grass they used? It really softens all the rock and stone in those areas…Pam

  2. Kris P says:

    I love the stonework but the rill is my favorite feature.

  3. What a stunning and amazing garden. But I will make a little criticism that the one photo where the limestone edging does not go right up to the boulder’s edge really jumped out at me. When a garden is that high-end and perfect, every tiny imperfection looms large. I would not criticize it if I had not watched our stone/driveway artist cut every paver to edge the boulders.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      You have a discerning eye, Linda. I admit I did not notice until you pointed it out. I like that you refer to your stone/driveway person as an artist. That says a lot about their quality of work! —Pam

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Love all that natural stone. A neat place.

  5. I don’t know anything about the modern vernacular achitecture of Texas, but if this is an example, I love it! The stonework really makes this garden, along with the limited palette of great plant choices. Such a wonderful collaboration between architect and landscape designer!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Limestone and metal roofs are traditional building materials in central Texas, Jane, and this house gives those a fresh, contemporary spin. The inside was beautiful too! —Pam

  6. These are beautiful gardens. The stonework and water features make an amazing statement. It is the ultimate contemporary design! Thank you for sharing Pam. http://landscapedesignbylee.blogspot.com/2017/05/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-foliage.html#.WRzsDOsrKUk

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