You’ve seen Tom Spencer’s garden, which I visited on Mother’s Day weekend as part of Gardens on Tour 2008, a self-guided tour of Austin gardens that feature native plants and green-gardening practices. Sponsored by the Wildflower Center, the tour’s focus has varied wildly over the three years I’ve attended. On the 2006 Gardens on Tour, many of the houses and their million-dollar views overshadowed the gardens themselves; however, I had the great pleasure of discovering Jenny Stocker’s garden on that tour—a true gardener’s garden—which led to our meeting again a year later and becoming friends.
Reassessing its focus, the 2007 Gardens on Tour got it right. The gardens, not the views or the houses, commanded all the attention, and they seemed to reflect the owner’s personalities, whether designed by the homeowner or a professional designer. I ended up covering each garden with a separate post that year.
This year’s tour was more of a mixed bag. Tom Spencer’s garden and Mark Hansen’s garden (sadly, no photographs were allowed) really wowed me with strong designs, intriguing plant choices, and garden decor that complemented the gardens and infused each with a sense of individuality. Mark was setting up an ambitious rainwater-collection system in his beautiful garden, which we asked him about, and in the course of conversation we learned that he is a fellow Rice U grad, so naturally we hit it off.
Of the other three gardens, one was more of a nature trail than a garden, and while it was interesting to see what the devoted homeowner-naturalists had accomplished in preserving the native plants and natural beauty of their 8-acre canyon-side property, it wasn’t exactly a garden tour. The other two properties were quite nice though more modest in design than Tom’s and Mark’s. Here are a few photos from the three remaining gardens, including the vignette at the top of this post : a blue sphere among pink evening primrose in the Northington garden.
The Northingtons enjoy a mix of sun and shade in their Circle C garden, with a generous dry streambed dividing the garden and providing a naturalistic focal point. Non-native Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus ) grows alongside the dry stream, adding soft color in the shade of the oaks.
At the Bunny Run garden, designed to tame a steep slope down to Lake Austin, the lake view was stealing the show, as probably it should.
At the very bottom of the garden, along the lake’s edge, in fact, I noticed this dainty native clematis (Clematis pitcheri ), which I’d love to have in my own garden.
Something else I’m determined to have in my garden one day is a sweep of silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea ) groundcover, as seen in the entry to the Weber garden. I think it’s stunning and plan to grow it under my ‘Radrazz’ Knockout rose, if it isn’t too late to plant it already.
See what a garden tour will do? It’ll make me break my rule about not planting anything but cacti after May 1. Well, maybe we’ll have another cool, rainy summer like last year’s. I can dream, right?
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