Gardening How-To magazine features my former garden


When photographer and all-around nice guy Rob Cardillo photographed my former garden two years ago, he explained that he’d be pitching his images to a magazine for a story idea about regional or xeric design. I was delighted and flattered by his interest but didn’t really expect anything to come of it. Then, just two months after Rob’s visit, my husband and I spontaneously decided to move to a new home here in Austin, and I partially dismantled the garden in order to take treasured plants with me, like the big ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave that anchored the front garden. I got busy making a new garden and seldom thought about the old one.


So imagine my surprise and excitement when editor Elizabeth Noll from Gardening How-To, the subscriber magazine for the National Home Gardening Club, contacted me a few months ago to interview me for a story to go with Rob’s images. I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with Elizabeth about my old garden, its inspiration and evolution, and the combinations of native and adapted xeric plants that worked for me.


Elizabeth’s article, a 6-page spread entitled “Rose Meets Cactus,” appears in the July/August 2010 issue (available only through subscription) on page 38.


All this has made me suddenly nostalgic for my former garden.


I am grateful to Gardening How-To, Elizabeth, and Rob for memorializing it for me in peak summer glory.

And if any new readers arrive at Digging via the article, welcome! I’m glad you’re here. I hope you’ll follow along as my gardening adventures continue at my new home.

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

24 Responses

  1. Jen says:

    Awesome pictures, I’ll have to go back and look at some of your older entries, as I only started following you around when you moved to your new home. The old place looked beautiful!

    Thanks, Jen. The old place was very different from my new conditions: flat versus hilly, deep clay soil versus rockier soil, full sun versus shade, no deer versus nightly visits. I thought of it as a Tex-Mex English cottage garden. —Pam

  2. David says:

    Very nice and thanks for sharing.

    I sort of like their description of your area…”where the humid South shakes hands with the high desert”.

    Yes, it has a nice ring, although Austin isn’t really high desert. I think of it as where the humid, lush South meets the rugged, arid scrub of the Hill Country. The confusion might have arisen from my use of and conversation about desert plants in my garden like agave, opuntia, and the like. —Pam

  3. Diana says:

    Wow! You go girl – that is a wonderful piece and the photos are great. Seeing this is like running into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while.

    And for me, like bumping into an old flame. I’m feeling very sentimental about the old place today! —Pam

  4. Phillip says:

    How exciting – I can’t wait to take a look at it.

    Thanks, Phillip. I know you understand the excitement and wistfulness that comes from contemplating a move and leaving a garden behind. It’s nice to have a record of what it once was. Of course blogging provides that too. —Pam

  5. Darla says:

    how exciting…

    Thanks, Darla. —Pam

  6. Monica says:

    I saw the article, then found your site….I’ve enjoyed catching up with your older entries and looking at all your pictures. You sure have lots of energy and great ideas…I’m in Houston (but love Austin)…

    Hi, Monica, and thanks for visiting Digging! It’s always nice to “meet” a fellow Texas gardener. —Pam

  7. Floridagirl says:

    That is the coolest thing in the world! I know what it’s like to miss an old garden that you poured so much blood, sweat, and tears into. What a great legacy you have in this article! Next in order will be getting your newer garden published!

    I can dream of getting it to that point one day, Floridagirl. Of course by then it will be time to move again–ha! —Pam

  8. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Congrats Pam. It was a fantastic garden. I bet you do miss it from time to time.

    Thank you, Lisa. I had been pretty pragmatic about the move, and the garden hasn’t really been “mine” since I left it almost two years ago. But this article is bringing back many fond memories. —Pam

  9. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Great article, Pam! I know your old garden has a lot of happy memories planted along with the roses and cactus. There are happy memories to be made in the new garden, too. But first … Buffalo!

    Yes, Buffalo! Looking forward to the garden-blogger festivities next week! —Pam

  10. Lola says:

    Congrats Pam. Brought tears as I looked at your old garden. It sure was pretty. You are making your new one just so.

    Aw, thanks, Lola. Even I didn’t get teary, but I do feel a little sentimental today. —Pam

  11. carolyn says:

    Fantastic, Pam! Like winning the garden lottery :-) Your garden is ever so lovely.

    Thanks a bunch, Carolyn! —Pam

  12. michelle d. says:

    Congrats on the publication !!
    And what an honor to have Rob Cardillo do the photography. Beautiful images of a lovely garden.

    Thank you, Michelle. Yes, it felt like quite an honor to have Rob in my garden taking pictures. He’s a very talented photographer. —Pam

  13. How exciting! It’s always great, when an artist gets published. And you are an artist…painting with plants.
    Congratulations….

    What a nice compliment! Thank you, Linda. :-) —Pam

  14. Chookie says:

    Those photos are great, and I loved the box that gives the basic facts about the garden too, such as years of ownership and soil amendments. They picked up on your talent with texture. too.

    Rob’s photos are very nice, aren’t they? And Elizabeth did a great job with the article too, providing so much information. —Pam

  15. Frances says:

    What a wonderful piece, Pam. The old garden was a wonder of design and well loved by not only you, but your long time readers and those of us lucky enough to see it in person.

    The old garden was made infinitely more special to me for having hosted you and other garden-blogging friends at the first Spring Fling. I’m so glad that day was memorialized in various blog posts! —Pam

  16. Les says:

    Congratulations, how wonderful for you!

    Thanks, Les. —Pam

  17. Jenny says:

    How wonderful and what great pictures Rob Cardillo takes. Not that he didn’t have beautiful subject material. Your garden was lovely and I’m sure he will be out again to photograph your new garden. He won’t find the dovecote, will he? I missed my chance to have him over. We had just got back from being away for 6 weeks and felt it would not be a good time to have him over. At the time I didn’t even know who he was. Darn it!

    No, we will not find the dovecote if ever he stops by again! (I am glad you have it in your garden now.) He would have found much loveliness to photograph in your garden, Jenny, even if it had been untended for a while. If you get another chance, don’t say no, even if you’ve been gone all summer! —Pam

  18. Denise says:

    Congratulations, Pam! So nice to see the old garden in all its glory.

    For me too, Denise. Thanks. —Pam

  19. Kathleen says:

    That’s a wonderful article Pam. I remember how awesome your first garden was ~ it was one of the first I saw when I started blogging and I knew then I had a long way to go! Congrats to you ~ both you and the garden are so deserving of the recognition.

    Thanks for your kind comment, Kathleen. Of course you must remember that photos on blogs and even magazines are selective, and there are always portions of the garden that are not shown, and for very good reasons. Ha! Believe me when I say that my former garden was far from “finished” when I moved away. But certain areas were starting to look nice. —Pam

  20. Fantastic! I feel so lucky that I got to visit your old garden in person. It was truly special, but not as special as your new one will be once you’ve gotten it the way you want it.

    Aw, thanks, MMD. I will need to have another garden-blogger meet-up here, though, to give it that “christened” feeling the old one had thanks to the Spring Fling gathering. —Pam

  21. Barbara H. says:

    I stumbled across the article at my sister’s house – she heard me say “That’s Pam’s garden!” and of course she didn’t know what I was talking about. I started following your blog in late 2007 or early 2008 so it was like meeting up with an old friend! I get to visit my old house via my Realtor’s sold listings. It’s bittersweet but I’ve never regretted the move. Congratulations, Pam.

    Too funny! Thanks for saying hi, Barbara. Yes, it’s bittersweet to look back, but there’s much to look forward to with a new garden in the works. —Pam

  22. Great write up and pictures. It is so wonderful and strange to see what you nurture day and night on the pages of a magazine. It somehow just doesn’t feel as real as what you see every day. Usually it looks better than what you have in your minds eye.

    It sounds like you’ve shared this somewhat surreal experience, eh, CIMS? —Pam

  23. Randy says:

    Awww, it’s like visiting an old friend! Congrats, Pam!

    Thanks, Randy. :-) —Pam

  24. Carol says:

    Loved the pictures of your flowers and yard. They are beautiful.

    Thanks so much, Carol. —Pam

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