Whole Foods garden inspires from ground level to rooftop


Sunday we went to lunch at Whole Foods’ flagship store at 5th and Lamar. I generally treat this amazing downtown grocery store like a tourist destination and visit about as frequently. So it was a real treat to finally get out of the car instead of driving by and look at the lovely landscaping in the cafe seating area at ground level and on their rooftop garden. Check out this xeric border by the parking lot. That agave is close to 8 feet tall.


On the patio, people were enjoying the beautiful weather. In hotter months these unique metal-and-wood trellises would provide welcome shade. The artist who constructed them is the same Chris Levack who created some of the sculptures at Mueller’s Southwest Greenway.


Big planters provide greenery in the parking lot. This one contains giant Yucca rostrata.


Bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa), Knock Out roses, and red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) provide great texture and color nearly year-round.


Climbing a flight of stairs above the cafe you find the store’s rooftop garden, where enormous raised beds contain a super-xeric collection of spineless prickly pear (Opuntia), pink skullcap (Scutellaria suffrutescens), and airy mesquite trees (I think). We brought our lunch up here.


More of Levack’s trellises shade the rooftop patios.


Vines grow in metal cylinders set within the base of the trellises.


The gardens are a refuge amid the busyness of the city and a nice place to bring a book or people-watch. Kudos to Whole Foods for greening their property with such an inspiring garden.

All material © 2006-2009 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

16 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    How clever of you to post about the wonderful gardens at WholeFoods. I know what you mean about taking visitors there. It is always on our list of things to do but we also go there for lunch every weekend after we have walked Lady Bird Lake. You can’t beat their breakfast tacos. Whoever did their landscape plan perfected it with the planting which you have captured so well. If only they could keep those grackles away. I love the water feature, which has not functioned all summer due to water restrictions. It is one of my favorite public places and in keeping with what they sell in the store.

  2. Thanks for taking us along. They’ve done a great job with their plantings and the trellises. I can see why it’s a tourist destination. Sometimes its fun to play tourist in your own town.

  3. You gotta love this area. There are so many beautiful places…even the roof of a grocery store. Well…not just ANY grocery store…but, you get my drift.
    Haven’t been down there in years. Something else for the ‘to do’ list.

  4. Joseph says:

    I was up on Whole Food’s rooftop for the first time a year and a half ago – it is really amazing what they’ve done up there. It looked like you had perfect weather to sit up and there and enjoy it. I love the vines growing up the trellises!

  5. chuck b. says:

    Bravo to them for creating such a nice public space.

  6. Gail says:

    The first time I visited Austin my friend Lynn took me to lunch at WF! I couldn’t imagine why she made such a big deal about it, until we got there! It was delightful~~now I appreciate it even more…In part because you have educated me about the plants! Our WF is smaller but, they have planted many native grasses and even the evergreens are southern natives, inkberries. gail

  7. Wow, very nicely done! Our Whole Foods stores in the Portland area sure didn’t get this treatment! I visited a Whole Foods in Santa Barbara recently and was surprised to see Astelia used in their landscaping. It was a nice touch but nothing compared to this beauty!

    The other Whole Foods stores in Austin didn’t get this treatment either, Loree. But this is the flagship store in a very popular location near downtown, so they pulled out all the stops. —Pam

  8. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Wow, I have never seen such a place. I bet you can get a good snack there too.

  9. Nicole says:

    Wow, that looks like a lovely home garden of a very talented gardener. I would be doing all my groceries there if I lived nearby!

  10. Susie says:

    How lucky you are to have the flagship store….so beautiful! I would be there every day if we did….wait…I’m at our Whole Foods almost every day!

  11. Layanee says:

    Love those ‘umbrellas’. So, what was for lunch? You feasted the eyes but I know that WF has some great lunch selections.

    The food was good, Layanee. Some of our party got steamed noodles with chicken, others opted for sandwiches. The kids enjoyed a treat from the dessert bar afterward. One chose a truffle, the other a chocolate bat. —Pam

  12. I’m tickled that you featured the Whole Foods garden. It’s an oasis. You’ve got a great eye for composition–your photos find the best features.

  13. Les says:

    I really appreciate when businesses go the extra mile to make their properties have distinctive landscapes. So many places only do what the minimum code requires and we end up with a lot of uninspired landscapes.

  14. Frances says:

    That agave is amazing, Pam! You must have lusted after it in your heart. What a nice place to eat outside. The sky looks incredible too.
    Frances

  15. Well they have got a pretty garden. I specially like the large planters they are looking marvelous.

  16. Thanks, Pam – the trellis/parasols are fabulous – the landscape beats the heck out of the Loropetalum cubes outside the Gateway location! That store is so close we pop in there often, but obviously we need to make a trip to the flagship (Mothership?) to check out that roof.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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