Pull up a chair in Randy Case’s eclectic garden
I’ve shown you three of the six wonderful gardens on last Saturday’s Inside Austin Gardens tour. Time constraints and harsh midday sunlight kept me from taking as many pictures in the other three gardens, but they were lovely too. Today I’ll show you the features that grabbed me in each one.
Randy Case’s east Austin garden showcases a variety of bold, beautiful plants. I admired this Aloe ‘Pink Perfection,’ which looks a lot like my Aloe striata.
I could hardly tear my eyes away from this Queen Victoria agave (A. victoriae-reginae), a small, slow-growing agave whose mature form resembles an artichoke.
I caught up with Randy, who blogs at Horselips’s Horse Sense, on his back patio, where he was fielding numerous questions and generously offering seeds from his plants to anyone who expressed an interest. I want to point out his patio in particular for its generous proportions. Constructed simply of decomposed granite, the patio bows out from the rear of his house, seamlessly connecting with the rear elevation, and flows into the yard to take up between one-third and one-half of the depth of the garden.
It’s easy to make patios and other hardscaping too small, especially when you love plants and want to leave lots of room for them. But Randy’s large patio illustrates that bigger is better. I bet it seemed enormous when he was laying out the design on his lawn, but it looks just right now, with plenty of room for a table and chairs and space to move around them or just stand and talk—perfectly illustrating the lesson that it’s better to have a generous hardscape than a meager one. It gives definition to the entire garden and invites people out into it. Plus, from a green standpoint, you don’t have to water hardscaping, as opposed to a big, endless lawn.
In the garden of Lindy McGinnis in the Rollingwood neighborhood of southwest Austin, a beautiful heartleaf hibiscus (Hibiscus martianus) blooming in the front garden reminded me that I’ve been wanting to try this plant. Native to warmer parts of Texas, it’s hardy only to 20 degrees, making it perhaps a bit tender for Austin but safe in a warm microclimate.
Like other gardeners on the tour, Lindy is using cattle panel wire creatively in her garden to construct three-sided trellises. I love this idea. Cattle panel is fairly inexpensive and so versatile. It can be purchased at Callahan’s General Store in Austin, but the trick, unless you have a pickup truck, is getting it home; it comes in 10-ft. lengths that are 6-ft. tall. When you get it home you can cut it with bolt cutters to the dimensions you want. Lindy uses plastic zip ties to hold her three-sided towers together and spray-paints them in fun colors. I expect she’s anchored them to the ground somehow.
Here’s a taller orange one supporting a climbing vine. I may make a few of these to support my ‘Senorita Rosalita’ cleomes, which are susceptible to splitting.
In Jessica Winslow’s west-central Austin hillside garden, a meditation house decorated with colorful prayer flags anchors one side of the garden and enjoys a view. When I was there it was filling up with visitors who had gathered for one of the master gardeners’ talks. But for the homeowners I expect it serves as a contemplative retreat. I thought it was lovely.
I had a wonderful time visiting all the gardens on this tour. My thanks to each homeowner for generously opening their garden gates and sharing their creativity with us.
This being Austin, home of a billion garden bloggers, I did make time during the tour for lunch at Thistle Cafe (tasty!) with three of them: Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden, Robin of Getting Grounded, and MSS of Zanthan Gardens, who were touring together. And I ran into several others while touring the gardens: Vertie of Vert, Vicki of Playin’ Outside, Jenny of Rock Rose, and Annie of The Transplantable Rose. I know others were touring also, but we missed each other. What a great gardening—and blogging—town this is!
For a look back at my visit to the garden of Eleanor Pratt, plus links to my other posts about the tour, click here.
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