Stock tank planters gone wild!


The Wildflower Center has redesigned part of its demonstration garden, and wowza—look at this! Stock tank mania!


The first three beds are now devoted to stock-tank planters or stock-tank ponds.


But there’s a twist that I’d never seen before: some of the stock tanks have been cut so that one fits into another’s curving side, and a few are stacked like a tiered wedding cake.


I couldn’t take my eyes off it. This is taking stock-tank design to the next level.


This connected series is a water garden: a large tank in the middle holds only water lilies, with four smaller tanks, cut to nest against the central tank, holding various bog plants.


They must have spent a small fortune in stock tanks.


But the glass mulch was probably free from the City of Austin recycling center.


So what do you think? Is it too much or creative and fabulous?

In any case, it kind of puts my stock-tank obsession in perspective.

My thanks to Rock Rose for letting me know about the new stock-tank design at the Wildflower Center.

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

35 Responses

  1. Fabulous! Especially the ones cut to nestle against each other.

    Because of you–thanks to you–I have three stock tanks waiting in my backyard. They are to be the vegetable garden I’ve been wanting but can’t (at the moment, anyway) talk my husband into letting me plant in place of some of our getting-so-expensive-to-water grass.

    We live in the foothills about 20 minutes outside of San Diego. It is hot and dry out here in the summer. Your sort of gardens–with a few tweaks–would work well here.

    If I can just get the husband to give up on the grass!

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. TexasDeb says:

    Oh me oh my…. This has me wanting one (or seven!) stock tanks all my own to play with immediately if not sooner. Wonder if it is too late to request one for Mother’s Day…?

  3. Rachael says:

    I love it! That might be a good idea for losing part of the grass part of the yard. Seems like you need a good bit of space to really make it look good, though.

  4. Darla says:

    Heck no it’s not too much! Lovely ideas and I love the glass mulch……hmmm

  5. Sheila says:

    I think it’s great! Thinking about getting one myself!

  6. Diana says:

    Wow. They make a real statement, don’t they? Gives me an even stronger case of stock tank envy than I already had. Gotta get that back yard plan going with one!

  7. Leslie says:

    I wish I had more space…I would love to experiment like this!

  8. chuck b. says:

    I don’t know…I could go either way on this.

    As a demonstration garden, or a design workshop on creative uses of a stock tank, I it looks great, seems interesting and innovative. Anything that inspires gardening gets a thumbs up from me. In particular, it looks like they’re trying some food gardening; I can see how stock tanks would be great assets in the potager, particularly where critters are a problem.

    But if we’re really advocating filling the garden with stock tanks and iterations on the stock tank purely for the sake of propagating the glory of stock tanks, I’m not so sure. I don’t like exercises in garden design that detract from the plants. For me, I go into the garden to see the plants, not to become the captive of some academic exercise in contrived beauty. Stock tanks can really show off the plants by creating focal points and such. But I’m going to be less interested in a garden where I can’t see the plants for the stock tanks.

  9. chuck b. says:

    P.S. J’adore the glass mulch. For free? Really?! I would be all over that.

  10. Kathleen says:

    Definitely creative and fabulous. I think a couple would look good in my backyard! Wish I could find a way to haul them.

  11. Mr. P. and I were there last Saturday. I thought they looked great. All that might be too much for a residential garden, but it worked at the Wildflower Center.

    I liked the stacked look.

  12. Katina says:

    If I saw all three of the stock tank options in someone’s backyard? probably a bit much. but at the wildflower center? Not too much at all–the whole point is to get people thinking about what to plant in place of grass.

    Maybe that’s the push I need to give my husband–tell him I want to do the stock tank design with 5 tanks and one nestled on top of the other. Then negotiate down to one or two for my cactus and succulents. He’ll be so happy that I’m not doing 5 that he’ll forget that he was totally against the idea to begin with.

  13. I love the stock tanks there… but I have to say that I don’t particularly find their plantings inspiring. Maybe some chunky leaf texture, and/or some additional leaf color? It’s almost like the containers are too cool for the plants in them.

    Oh, and seriously, they give you that glass mulch for free? SWEET.

  14. Jean says:

    It’s not too much for me. And I like how they’ve taken it to the next level with the nesting. Free recycled glass mulch, how nice!

  15. Jen says:

    I think it looks good. The Wildflower center is constantly changing things in that area and experimenting. I think it’s a challenge to keep that area “fresh” looking and this is certainly new. I also think it’s a great promotion for those gardeners who have never used stock tanks. I used to be a docent there “back in the day.” I wish I was there to go vist ;-)

  16. wiseace says:

    I like the design tweek with the nestled tanks and I think it works great in a commercial setting like that. I’d have serious reservations to do it at home though. There’s just too much metal showing for my taste.

  17. Randy says:

    Those are great! It never occurred to me to use them as HUGE planters. Hmmmm… now to find a spot.

  18. Nancy Bond says:

    Creative and FABULOUS to me! I like the stacked tanks and some sort of grass that would splay up and over as it grows would be wonderful there…like a grass fountain. Or, Fountain Grass! I love the idea of the glass mulch, too, and would like a truck load of it. ;)

  19. I’m used to seeing these tanks for small water gardens, but I’ve never seen them cut and tiered like that before, and they’re lovely! I love the glass mulch too, it’s so pretty.

  20. It’s beyond fabulous, Pam. Perhaps I’ll pull out my new plantings in the front sun bed and add more stock tanks to the existing one! Better dirt, easier maintenance, looks cool – which is the most important part, right?

  21. Julie says:

    Land of the giant catfood tins! Too much silver for me — though your photos, as ever, Pam, are beautiful.

  22. kimberly says:

    Hey, Pam! Most assuredly FANTASTIC!!! What a great idea! And the glass mulch is so beautiful..I’d never think of it as a mulch material! I agree, the way the tanks are arranged is the best…very interesting design!

    PS – Congratulations on your nomination for the Mouse and Trowel awards…I voted for you!! :) Good luck!

  23. Meredith says:

    Wow! I love the stock tank combos. I’ll definitely have to go out for another visit soon. I can just imagine you going ga-ga out there, Pam!

    I long for glass mulch — I’m just trying to figure out the right spot for it.

  24. Loree says:

    Fabulous! I love both the cut and stacked treatment. And I enjoyed reading the others comments. Land of the giant cat food tins! Very funny Julie!

  25. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I think it is most interesting. Great in a large area like the WFC. I would love to know how they attached the water/bog gardens and they don’t leak. Very interesting.

  26. Cat food tins is pretty funny, Julie!

    Stock tanks have always looked good in your garden, Pam – they fit in with the hardscape and the kinds of plants you surround them with -especially the agaves! It’s hard to say if there are too many in the demonstration garden right now – it’s too new and the plants are too small to tell. The Antique Rose Emporium was doing some of that stacked container thing, too – but with large pots.

    My setting is quite different from yours. In order to use a stock tank as a portable pond here, I’d have to paint it or encase it in hypertufa or cover the outside with mosaic tile as Henry Mitchell did all those years ago, because that silver-tin color would be an irritant in my garden.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  27. cat says:

    we saw that a few weeks ago over there and just love it! we are planning on some stock tank gardening in our future here at the homestead…just beautiful!

  28. Jenny says:

    I can assure you they did- spend a small fortune that is! what it is to have funds. Hope the price of stock tanks doesn’t go through the roof before I get mine.

  29. Jayne says:

    I like them, but I’m not sure what the homeowners association would say to them!

  30. Pam/Digging says:

    I’m loving all your comments on the stock tank display at the Wildflower Center, especially the hilarious but spot-on comment from Julie about giant cat-food tins! As you all know, I love stock tanks and think this display is pretty cool. But do I think this many tanks would be right for a residential garden? Probably not. Still, I bet there are some gardeners who could pull it off. Thanks, everyone! —Pam

  31. Jenny B. says:

    FABULOUS!!!!!!!! I love this new trend. I am a Landscape Architect in Houston TX and I do residential now and these are all the craze! People love them because they are easy and easy to take care of! I love the idea of using them as levels and “connecting” them togethor. SUPER DUPER FABULOUS!

  32. Layanee says:

    I agree with fabulous. They look great and the plantings are inventive. Love ’em.

  33. I first saw the galvanized garden idea in the Loire Valley and loved the innovative uses of water elements and plantings. Something about using galvanized just tickles me, but I agree with Chuck, too much tin. I applaud the Wildflower Center for their constant changes and stimulating ideas, but I do love the simplicity of the stone, which is the perfect Texas element, and the perfect backdrop for the plants. It never detracts from them.

    I use galvanized troughs in my garden, but found I had to line the inside walls with recycled bubble wrap to stop the heat build up at the roots of plants. I imagine that the heat would also build up in the stock tanks filled with water in plants. I’m wondering how they will deal with that problem.

    Along with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center tops my list of favorite gardens to visit. It is a true jewel of United States gardens…it makes me dream, plot, plan, and finally (and most importantly) PLANT.

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

    I’m thrilled to have a visit and comment from you, Sharon. Thanks for stopping by.

    Actually, I have several stock-tank planters in my current garden, as well as a large stock-tank pond, and I had them in my recent former garden too. It’s true that I planted only heat-loving xeric plants in them, but I never had any problem with heat killing the plants in either the planters or the pond. However, with the pond, if you plan to keep fish, I recommend that hot-climate gardeners site it in partial shade or bank up soil on one side to help moderate temperature extremes.

    I just saw on your website that you are blogging, so I’m off to check it out! —Pam

  34. It is great to see some photos of the Wildflower Center by a photographer who gets it. I designed the little windows in the stone walls to capture views just like the one you noticed. Very special.

    I do like seeing the demonstration garden evolve into a new era with the stock tanks. The round tanks play off of the garden grid beautifully. Now I’ll have to go see them today at the Garden Tour. Thanks for letting us know about it!

    Thanks for your comment, Eleanor! Your windows in the stone walls are one of my favorite details at the Wildflower Center. I’m forever framing views through them. —Pam

  35. […] interesting with well-placed displays of sculpture and garden art, redesigned gardens (like the new stock-tank garden), and wildlife-attracting grounds (see yesterday’s Wildflower Center post for pics of the […]

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