On Saturday morning, I woke up at an ungodly early hour to go to the Wildflower Center-sponsored Gardens on Tour
. Our touring group consisted of Diana from Sharing Nature’s Garden
(who should be sainted for offering to drive), Pam from Digging
, and me and my friend Nancy, who’s in town from even dryer Arizona for the week.
Our first stop was in a neighborhood within walking distance of one of my favorite restaurants in Austin, Home Slice. A few times a year, I’ll drag a friend to Home Slice for an impromptu hipsterfication tour, which consists of first eating a pizza and then attempting to walk it off by exploring the neighborhoods on the east side of South Congress, which are a nice mix of old cozy bungalows, many of which are being fixed up, added on to, and landscaped with funky xeric plants as the property values skyrocket and ownership changes hands. There are also quite a few teardowns that are being replaced with more modern-looking houses that actually blend pretty well with the fixed-up bungalows. This property on Academy Drive was a particularly nice example of fixing up an old property and putting a modern spin on it.
Here’s the requisite shot of the area next to the road with the giant agave. The wall behind it has a sliding panel on tracks that can be used to close the driveway and add privacy, which I thought was a cool concept, and the plantings in front keep the facade inviting.
Here’s the view from just inside the wall on the driveway. The parking area is off to the left, unpictured, with a shade sail suspended over it, so well-integrated into the landscape that I didn’t even notice it at first. I also liked how the flowers draping over the retaining wall at the left center of the picture match the color of the decorative window screens. I have no idea where to find screens like this, but I am tempted. They add a lot of personality to the place and I think there’d be more incentive to play with color when you have something you can swap out at whim.
To the left of the last photo, the materials of the retaining wall change. I like how organic the rocks and rusted metal are, within the framework of a sharp, minimalist design.
The property was landscaped to be lush but low-maintenance, and the gravel mulch around the house and flowerbeds was broken up with a series of vignettes. Here we have a succulent combination with some fun details on the deck extension at the front of the house.
A stone stack under some bushes. I love the shades of blue in the smaller stones:
A really lovely focal point. I like how that light panel doubles as a fun nightlight.
Close-up of the various plants. I’ve got to say that foxtail fern is really growing on me after seeing it used so effectively in this garden. I’d previously thought of it only as a container plant, which is how I always saw it in Wisconsin.
A hedge of inland sea oats runs along the fence beside the sidewalk from front to back. It’s going to look amazing in the fall when the arching seedheads mature, but right now it’s still lovely, lush, and green.
How could I post about this place without showing a close-up of the fountain? It’s up in the raised “V” area near the front porch. Here it is:
Since I spent the entire evening sweating my butt off doing yard work (and I’ve gotta admit that I spent quite a bit of that time pondering Lee’s thoughts on the subject
), I wonder just how much of a pain this fountain is to mow around. Don’t get me wrong, I love the natural vs. minimalist style and how it’s so well-integrated with the lawn, but I wonder if they need to use a hand skimmer to get grass clippings out of the water before they clog the fountain pump or wield pruners to keep a straight edge along the rectangular sections. I know that if this were my property, it would be one of those nit-picky things that would keep me from sitting still on the front porch for longer than a minute at a time.
In retrospect, the strongest impression I have of this garden if of quietness and privacy. The South Congress area is a lively part of town, but walking into this garden, you completely forget about the cafes and shopping and people-watching scene just a few blocks away. And thanks to both the walls around the garden and the plantings and the layout of the house and office in the back, you don’t even notice the neighbors. It’s very cozy and calming, two things that can be in short supply living so close together in the city.
FYI, Pam’s got a post on this garden with even more pictures and plant IDs here.