El Jardin Encantador: Lucinda Hutson’s garden

Ooh la la, Lucinda! Local author and designer Lucinda Hutson, she of the purple cottage in central Austin’s Rosedale neighborhood, welcomes you into her garden with open arms, offers of cuttings, and an exuberance for giving a tour. “Y’all, look at this!” she calls as she leads you through gateways and into hidden gardens. And, “Ta-da! Look what I did here!” She’s totally charming, her enthusiasm contagious.

By chance, I ran into Lucinda in Cheryl’s garden last weekend, and she invited me over for a fall tour. I was delighted to accept and brought along Jenny of Rock Rose, who was visiting my garden yesterday.

I’d last seen Lucinda’s garden in April 2008, when the plants were small with new spring growth. How different to see her beautiful garden in the blowsy glory of fall.

She’d been too busy all summer and too discouraged by the heat and drought to do much gardening, she told us. “God took care of the garden this year.” Well, no wonder it looks so great.

An unknown rose with a lovely fragrance

Lucinda is known for her extravagantly decorated yet intimate Day of the Dead parties.

So I expected to see her home and garden decked out for the post-Halloween, celebratory Mexican holiday. But she didn’t have the energy for it this year, she told us. Still, her garden displays quite a few skeletons and pumpkins.

The yellow spikes of Salvia madrensis attracted our attention.

It’s lovely, don’t you think?

Lucinda converted her long driveway to garden long ago (she’s been gardening here for more than 30 years), and she built a wall across it to create privacy and division of space. A tall arbor draped with blue sky vine and a beautiful metal gate make an enticing entry.

Blue sky vine (Thunbergia grandiflora) blooms in the fall and dies back in the winter. Lucinda told us there’s a ‘Don Juan’ rose under here that comes back to life after the sky vine dies back, producing red roses around Valentine’s Day.

A tequila, or blue, agave (A. tequilana) grows by the arbor.

On top of the wall (not pictured) an American agave grows in a planting pocket, and two pups have pushed their way out between the stones.

Entering the back garden…

…you look down a long flagstone path to a glimpse of purple shed (formerly a detached garage).

Immediately on the left is a small sitting area by a mermaid grotto built into the wall.

Along the path, an orange brugmansia echoes the warm colors of the house.

Mermaids and fish are a recurring theme in Lucinda’s “Texican” garden, as she calls it.

A fish pot and another mermaid

This beautiful stepping stone is set amid colored glass in the flagstone path.

Another look at the brugmansia

A Queen’s wreath vine, AKA coral vine (Antigonon leptopus), engulfs another arbor between a greenhouse on the left and the house on the right, creating a tunnel that leads to a vegetable garden. Jenny and Lucinda take in the view.

The purple garden shed has a mosaic-tile eave. Lucinda’s garden is full of creative detail like this. On the left, the vegetable garden has gone to seed at the end of the summer.

A colorful collection of children’s chairs from Mexico hang on the wall of the house, which is painted golden yellow back here. Lucinda is fearless with paint, and her home and garden structures pulse with festive color.

A playful bathtub shrine

Despite our recent cooler weather, many tropicals were still blooming, like this hibiscus.

The trick to making a small garden feel larger is to divide it into “rooms,” as Lucinda has done. This garden gate reading El Jardin Encantador (The Enchanting Garden) leads to a deck at the rear of the house, a detached home office, a “tequila cantina,” and an outdoor shower. The garden just keeps going.

Colorful potted crotons line a pink wall.

This is the side wall of the purple shed shown earlier. I love how Lucinda uses all sides of her house and shed for walls in her various garden rooms, even painting them different colors.

Detail of the cantina-like roofing along the back eave of the house

Patrick’s abutilon

At the very end of the garden, a tequila bottle tree is mulched with corks and edged with more bottles. A metal señor enjoys a swig of tequila too.

An outdoor shower provides a place to clean up after working in the garden.

After an hour or so, it was time to go. Back through the garden to the sky vine arbor…

…and another look at the vine’s beautiful blue flowers, and then we said goodbye.

Thank you so much, Lucinda, for the tour, the plants, and your warm hospitality!

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

37 Responses

  1. Diana says:

    What a cool tour you’ve taken us on, Pam. I was enchanted seeing Lucinda’s garden the last time you posted about it, but I never tire of seeing more. I just love all the little rooms and the art scattered about. Thanks for taking us all with you.

  2. Blowsy fall glory, indeed! What a delightful garden. Makes me want to get out there and start painting chairs and stuffing plants everywhere…

  3. Frances says:

    I remember Lucinda’s truly enchanting garden from your previous post. Everywhere you look there is inspiration and delightful details. The tile along the roof is brilliant. It all is. Thanks, Pam.

  4. I have seen this garden featured in a magazine and it continues to amaze me. Thanks so much for posting so many photos of the details. I love, love the purple cottage! I can’t imagine how anyone could be anything but happy and smiling in such a garden.


  5. Love the yellow of the Salvia madrensis–a nice change from too many lavenders.

  6. nancy says:

    Interesting to see how much the vibrant colors set off the plants. So often my garden looks washed out because it lacks some really vibrant permanent color. There is a vibrant blue bird bath I’ve been lusting over for a year..I think that will be this years Christmas present to myself.

  7. Cheryl says:

    Ohhh lala! It looks like 30 years of artistic design, amazing! I wanna see it! I think we have the same
    yellow paint? How fun, thank you for sharing your visit!

  8. Chris G says:

    Thanks so much for sharing Pam – what a garden. What a work of art!

  9. Nicole says:

    I love the super abundance/spilling over look. The antigonon is interesting as I have always liked it, and note its almost never used in the Caribbean in gardens-though its so easy and pretty. I finally managed to get one from cuttings I got at the roadside and it has just started to bloom.

  10. Sweet Bay says:

    What a beautiful garden. I don’t even know where to start. The composition, the color, the pieces of artwork all work wonderfully together.

  11. What a fabulous garden. All that color! I love that yellow salvia.
    Thanks for taking us on this tour. Great photos, as usual.

  12. Gail says:

    Such a delightfully inspiring and fun garden to visit…What a good time you and Jenny must have had with Lucinda on your private tour. Thank you for sharing it with us. gail

  13. Another of your wonderful tours. I always feel like I’ve had a vacation when when I read these posts. And this might be my all-time favorite–love seeing the vibrancy and the way color is tucked into unexpected ends. The blue sky vine is awesome. Makes me want some (now that summer’s scorch is over, I’m starting to plant again–hope I’m not sorry next summer). Have you ever seen it for sale?

    You featured Heartleaf Hibiscus recently, thanks! A friend gave me a small plant and I’ve been holding off planting it, not sure where to put it. Appreciated your comment on micro clime. I’ve got a spot close to the house, out of the drift of the north wind, where it will shine.

    The sky vine is usually for sale at Barton Springs Nursery. But I would look for it in the spring, Kathleen, as I think it’s a little cold-tender, plus it goes dormant in winter. —Pam

  14. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Like your previous post on Lucinda’s eclectic and imaginative garden, this post makes me determined that I must see it for myself one day! I’m enjoying your virtual tours until I have the opportunity for a real one … you’re an excellent tour guide!

  15. Christie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Lucinda’s garden. I first saw Lucinda’s garden on HGTV’s The Gardener’s Diary and absolutely fell in love with it. She is a very charming lady and her garden is as equally charming.

  16. Meredith says:

    I can never tire seeing pictures of Lucinda’s garden — I hope someday to see it in person. Your wonderful tour reminded me to get back on the San Miguel photos that I’m still sorting through (sorting between family, journal, and gardening, so it’s taking awhile!).

  17. 30 years! Wow. You would really be so intimately involved with every bit of soil. So pretty bright and colorful, and of course my fav was the agave pups bursting through the wall.

  18. Janet says:

    Wow what a tour! I love that yellow salvia, what a bright yellow. I need those mermaids in my garden to keep my mermaid company. :-)
    Those agave pups growing out of the wall….do they need to be removed to prevent damage to the wall as they get bigger?

    I would expect so, Janet. I bet they could bust right through the mortar and move stones as they get bigger. —Pam

  19. TexasDeb says:

    Very thoughtful. I am appreciative of your liberal use of photographs to capture the highlights. And there were clearly many. Next best thing to being there myself. Thanks for sharing your private tour!

  20. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I have never seen the Salvia madrensis. It is a great color. Her garden is divine. Thanks so much to you for bringing it to us. WOW…Love that color.

    I first saw Salvia madrensis in Chicago Botanic Garden’s Circle Garden and fell in love with it. Annie in Austin ID’d it for me, and then I picked it up from another Austin gardener (can’t remember who) at a plant swap among the bloggers. Mine is just starting to bloom. —Pam

  21. Mamaholt says:

    AKKK! I wanna live THERE. Pam, such amazing pictures. Oh my goodness, that is MY kind of place. Awe-inspiring!

  22. Susie says:

    What a tour & beautiful garden…she really knows how to show off color! I love that yellow sage & the pumpkins on the purple chair.

  23. Absolutely Awesome! Thanks for sharing with us(-:

  24. Jenny says:

    I had a simply wonderful day yesterday. First at your garden where I think we went over every plant and nook and cranny in your garden. It was fun sharing ideas. I still have so much to learn and all these garden visits are teaching me a lot about plants of which I have never heard. The question is, have I room and if not who will have to go. Then we went over to Lucinda’s. It was my second visit but I could go back time and time again and still not take in everything. You were both so generous. I was hoping to get round to posting myself but D got home unexpectedly yesterday afternoon which sort of crimped my evening plans and today I was out all day and then the Volunteer dinner tonight. Many things I missed I enjoyed reading your post. Lucinda is such a bubbly fun gal just like her garden.

    I enjoyed visiting with you, Jenny, over gardens and lunch. Looking forward to seeing Lucinda’s garden through your lens. —Pam

  25. Pam, every time a photo of Lucinda Hutson’s magical garden appears, I remember the wonderful visit with the garden bloggers in 2008. How cool to see Autumn in her garden. Lucinda is so daring with color!

    One of the plants I brought to the plant swap was a Salvia madrensis so maybe that’s where your plant came from. Mine is in full bloom now, too.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    I bet it was your S. madrensis I got then. I have pics of it on my post today! —Pam

  26. Thanks for the sky vine answer. I’ll put a note in my garden file for spring.

  27. LU says:

    What fun! I loved the tour and glad I happened to be visiting your garden,Pam, when you took a tour of Lucinda’s as well. Thanks for taking us along!

  28. What a delightful write-up Pam. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to your blog today. Annie in Austin sent me again of course. We were talking about sheds and she just loved this one and I do too although you can’t call it a shed. You’ve got the most engaging way of writing. Just beautiful!

  29. Chookie says:

    What a lovely place! Thank you for showing it to us.

  30. Mary Beth says:

    I first saw this garden on the pages of Southern Living – it left me wanting more so thanks for sharing so many more shots of Lucinda’s happy garden! I have never been happy with my brugmasia – Love how the bottom of her stems are bare – the flowers really stand out when they aren’t competing with leaves.

  31. Pam/Digging says:

    Thanks for your kind comments, everyone. I’m glad you enjoyed the tour. Lucinda’s garden is such a treat, and I’m happy to be able to share it with you. —Pam

  32. Becky Alfrey says:

    Hi Pam. Love the garden tour you did with Lucinda! And Lucinda’s house is beautiful. She’s also my cousin. Thanks!

  33. […] the end of a long allee or on the far side of an arbor, to entice visitors through (Lucinda Hutson’s garden, […]

  34. […] Another passalong from Annie, Salvia madrensis, is beginning to bloom. I first saw this plant in the Circle Garden at Chicago Botanic Garden, and recently I admired a large swath in Lucinda Hutson’s garden. […]

  35. […] posted about Lucinda’s garden twice before. Click on the links for more: Lucinda’s garden in October 2009 (with some Dia de los Muertos decorations) Lucinda’s garden in April […]

  36. Trish Koontz says:

    What a wonderful tour of a fabulously creative and beautiful garden!! I’m going to paint my shed the exact color of yours. Your love shines through in this garden.