Blowsy autumn beauty at Rollingwood Waterwise Garden

Last Saturday, a drizzly, cool day, I returned to the West Austin neighborhood of Rollingwood to see how the waterwise garden at city hall had fared over the summer. Designed by Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden, the garden was installed two years ago. Following an initial harsh winter and now an unusually wet year, it’s really filling in. Ornamental grasses like Muhlenbergia ‘Pink Flamingos’ and Gulf muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) are showy in the rain garden, a shallow basin designed to hold runoff and give it time to soak into the soil.

For a fun comparison, here’s the same view in April of this year. Before the grasses grew tall, you can see the contours of the rain garden.

‘Pink Flamingos’ muhly on the left, and Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘White Cloud’ on the right

Planted high on gravelly berms, golden barrel cactus and other dry-loving plants look happy. ‘Strawberry Fields’ gomphrena adds dots of fiery color.

In the hell strip (a term coined by the designer, Lauren Springer Ogden), flame acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) wends around a spineless prickly pear and a pretty yucca with white-edged leaves. I didn’t see a plant tag nearby; anyone know the ID?

Whale’s Tongue agave, low grasses, and a cheery groundcover of four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa)

A gravelly berm near the city hall entrance is smothered in more four-nerve daisies.

Aloes cluster, starfish-like, around a boulder.

I really love this spiraling council ring of limestone blocks, with stacked limestone pieces to fill in the gaps. ‘Green Gem’ boxwood topiaries enhance the circular theme and add evergreen color.

Located under the shade of live oaks, this part of the garden is, I believe, known as Council Oaks.

A wider view

Looking in the other direction across the garden

‘Green Goblet’ agave (I think), one of my favorites

That dusty, blue-green coloring at its base is lovely.

A rugged limestone stair leads up a slope at one end of the garden. A unique mix of agaves, columbines, ferns, tradescantia, sedum, salvia, grasses, lantana, and yucca grow here. Pacific chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum pacificum) flowers at the base of the slope.

Looking across the rain garden, in all its feathery fall glory

White-blooming autumn sage (Salvia greggii) brightens the hell strip. Pink autumn sage and bamboo muhly are visible in the background.

This is eye-catching: ‘San Carlos’ firecracker fern (Russelia coccinea ‘San Carlos’). Shazam!

Rollingwood’s residents were far-sighted in bringing this sustainable garden to fruition, and (even smarter) budgeting for its continuing care by a design team that fearlessly experiments with tough yet beautiful native and adapted plants. It’ll be fun to watch this garden continue to evolve. I imagine it will inspire many other lawn-gone gardens around the neighborhood.

I do wish, however, that the garden had its own website, or at least a dedicated webpage on the City of Rollingwood’s site. I can find very little information about the garden online, except from outside sources like the Statesman, Central Texas Gardener, neighborhood resident Deb at Austin Agrodolce, and my own post about the garden last spring. I’d love to be able to read about the garden’s origin (how the idea arose, and how funds were raised, which will be useful for other groups looking to do something similar); how the design was developed (from the designers’ perspective, including special challenges that were overcome); a detailed and updated plant list organized by section of the garden, or by sun/shade conditions; and a monthly update on maintenance (to provide real-life info about what a garden like this requires and what to do at certain times of the year). Such information would extend the reach of this garden, which is hidden deep within the winding roads of Rollingwood, and turn it into a teaching garden for the whole city, region, and even the world.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Foliage Follow-Up in Zilker’s Japanese Garden

It’s a little early for fall color, such as we get here in Austin. But this Japanese maple at Zilker Botanical Garden is getting a jump on the season.

Red leaves mingle with green

Shades of green still predominate in the Taniguchi Japanese Garden.

I’ve always liked this octopus-limbed pittosporum that clings to a cliff’s edge. It must be really old.

This tiny fern growing out of a hole in a rock has a tenacious power of its own, doesn’t it?

This is my November post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on in your garden, or one you’ve visited, this month? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I really appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Fall flowery goodness at Zilker Botanical Garden

For your Bloom Day viewing pleasure, how about a return visit to Zilker Botanical Garden? Colorful subtropical perennials surround the parking lot, giving visitors a nice blast of color as they walk in. Here’s ever-popular yellow bells (Tecoma stans), with the purple blooms of fall aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) below, a beautiful fall combo for full sun.

A closer look, with what appears to be copper canyon daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) cosmos next to the fall aster.

Masses of red firecracker fern (Russelia rotundifolia) caught my eye, especially as framed by dramatic, tropical-looking leaves. Lush, water-loving plants are not my area of expertise, but maybe someone reading will know what those leaves are? Update: It’s Alocasia macrorhiza. (Thanks, Peter!)

I bet the local hummingbirds love the firecracker fern.

A small lily pond at the edge of the parking lot contains this Japanese lantern, which looks especially pretty with the yellow bells glowing behind it and pond-loving dwarf papyrus (Cyperus haspens) in front.

In the butterfly garden, toothleaf goldeneye (Viguiera dentata) mingles with a pale-flowered aster.

I grew skeleton-leaf goldeneye (Viguiera stenoloba) in my former garden but have never tried the toothleaf (V. dentata), sometimes called sunflower goldeneye. I suspect it may do OK in part shade, since I’ve seen it thriving in Tait Moring’s woodland garden. I should give it a try. Anyone know where I can find it for sale?

Pollinators like it too!

I’m joining Garden Bloggers Bloom Day with this post. For more Bloom Day posts from gardens around the world, visit May Dreams Gardens and check out the links in the comments.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.