Inside Austin Gardens 2011: A preview

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Water Wise 2011

The 2011 Inside Austin Gardens is this Saturday, May 14. Start making your plans to go!

This 6-destination tour features the theme of Water Wise Gardening, so appropriate for our needs right now as we enter (again) into the “exceptional”, or worst possible, level of drought that is predicted to last through the summer at the very least.

This year’s tour features gardens with rainwater collection systems (assuming it will ever rain again), xeric plantings, shade gardens and lots of creativity. If you’re a little slow on the uptake and haven’t already bought your ticket for this annual event, you can view the map and learn more info about purchasing tickets here.

To give you even more encouragement to get outside and tour some exciting gardens with innovative and affordable designs for every budget, here’s a little peek at 3 of them. And no, I’m not going to show you everything. You gotta get yourself there and see it all for yourself!

The Garden of Wendy Brennan

Wendy requested that Master Gardener Link Davidson, her neighbor, create for her a Zen-filled garden with minimal maintenance and minimalistic style. While the garden itself is small, creative uses of recycled materials make it worth the trip. Below, Link chopped up a “bowling alley” of a sidewalk and turned it into fabulous step stones that guide you quietly to her door.

To facilitate moving the hoped-for rainwater into places where it can be used rather than into the street, he created a dry creek bed and berm, with large rocks for seating nearby. A Texas tough Vitex adds some cool color to the scene, accompanied by blowing feathergrass.

The Garden of Rebecca Matthews

All of the gardens I’m featuring today have lots of shade. Since my garden is also shady, I’m planning to steal I gathered inspiration from each one.

As loud of a garden as the previous one is quiet, Rebecca has a great cottage style. Utilizing found objects and handmade crafts mixed throughout the drought tolerant shade plants, her garden will tell you a story of a Master Gardener with a great laugh and welcoming smile.

One of my favorite features, below, is her entrance path. I believe the best thing you can do for your front yard is create a footpath entrance other than the driveway. Rebecca used an arbor and decomposed granite amidst her plantings and small lawn (shared companionly with her neighbor) to beckon you to “come on in”.

I enjoyed her use of cottage kitsch throughout her yard, and Rebecca is fearless with what she places outside. Stained glass, pillows, crocheted tree warmers (?), a beaded chandelier, art and comfy chairs are scattered throughout.

This daybed resides in a spot newly cleared of dreaded Asian Jasmine. Rebecca used cardboard as a cover after she pulled out by the roots, then topped with decomposed granite and mulch.

While it would be too high-maintenance for a lazy gardener like me, her garden was filled to overflowing with gorgeous and creative containers.

You’ll enjoy Rebecca’s use of decomposed granite pathways to eliminate thirsty lawns and overgrown invasive plants.

The Gardens of Sue Nazar

When I stepped into Master Gardener Sue’s tropical resort-style garden, I wasn’t sure if I was in Austin or Seattle. Her garden looks like mine wants to be when it grows up.

I really didn’t know you could do this in Austin during water restriction years. Sue credits her 20 years of composting her beds to create great dirt and additional compost tea for her astonishing results. It’s like my shade garden on ‘roids. I suppose 20 years of loving attention can create this lushness, similar to what you might see in Zilker Gardens.

Can you say wow!? And this is only the beginning. I have many more photos, but you are going to have to go see this one for yourself. You probably won’t want to leave. I certainly didn’t.

One of my favorite combos of the day was in Sue’s garden; a shade grouping of foxtail fern, newly planted annual Persian Shield, and Variegated Flax Lily Dianella, shown below. I’m pretty sure I could attain this one with my skills (or lack of). It was nearing mid-day and this photo isn’t the best to show off the bright purples against the variegated lily and hot green of the ferns. It was an awesome combo.

There are 3 other destinations on the tour that I don’t list here, including a vegetable garden with rainwater harvesting, a succulent and cactus garden and LCRA Redbud Center demonstration gardens.

Go see it for yourself, then get back here and tell me which one was your favorite!  If you need more enticement, check out the links to the blogs in my Austin list of garden bloggers. There are several preview blogs from the bloggers who attended today.


7 thoughts on “Inside Austin Gardens 2011: A preview

  1. What a great quickie tour. Wish I could have been there, but you’ve given me a nice preview for this weekend’s tour.

  2. Sue’s combo was very nice indeed. If the dianella proves too cold tender, a similar effect could be achieved with shade-tolerant Aztec grass or Sparkler sedge. And if you didn’t want to replant annual Persian shield each year, you could get the purple with Katie ruellia or purple heart. There’s nothing to substitute (in my opinion) for slightly cold-tender foxtail fern, so I just keep replanting it whenever a cold snap gets it.

  3. Thank you for posting the pretty photos of my garden…I love that combo too…The Persian Shields actually did come back from last winter’s nip…(albeit very, very slowly) from last year…as did some of the Foxtail Ferns…I am amazed that they did…

    I’m looking forward to seeing the other gardens on the tour, and to having some down time to catch up on reading all these fun blogs!!

    I am also looking forward to having some time to finish my website and start up my blog…Everything seems to be about “before the tour” and then my life “after the tour”…Is there really a life “after the tour”???

    Oh, by the way, my last name is spelled with an N, Nazar…

    Enjoy the cool spell this weekend

    Sue Nazar

  4. Diana, you were certainly missed on the tour! Next time.

    Pam, you tease me suggesting Sparkler Sedge, right? You know I can’t grow that one!

    Patricia, the butterfly chairs were awesome. We saw lots of great garden art on this tour.

    Sue, so sorry about misspelling of your name. I’ve corrected it. I’m gaining inspiration from your garden every time I look at mine; you’ve got quite the touch. Thanks for dropping by and for opening up your home and garden to us.

    Caroline, she had the basket-thing going on, didn’t she? It was so fun to see, but I could never imagine taking care of all of them through the Deathstar season.

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