I very nearly titled this post “Holy Shit, Pinterest Just Exploded In Spicewood And It’s Amazing.” That was actually my second attempt at a title, after I typed and then deleted, “Yes, I’m Alive.” So yes, I am alive and am reviving this blog solely to let y’all know that A) the Inside Austin Gardens Tour is on Saturday– yes, this Saturday, May 6– and B), I know that Spicewood seems like a long way to drive from Austin to go see gardens, but there are two awesome gardens within minutes of each other, and this particular garden is BATSHIT INSANE in the BEST WAY– yes, even if you would never ever do that in your own yard– and you should put that pedal to the metal and make the drive.
(Heck, if you need more enticement, you can go eat amazing burgers at Angel’s Icehouse on the way. Or go cool down with cocktails at a waterfront patio restaurant without having to deal with the long wait you’d suffer through at a similar spot in Austin. There’s even a fun cactus nursery five minutes away. Or you could just look at this small selection of pictures from the million different things to see, and decide that bribery would be overkill.)
Let’s just start with one of the big guns:
Nay, your eyes do not deceive you– that’s a motherfucking grand piano just sitting right there on the damn hillside. And it’s full of succulents. Yeah, just try that in your front yard and make sure to take hard cash bets on who in the HOA has palpitations first.
When I bought my house, I used to joke that I made sure to buy in a neighborhood with no HOA so I could line up a row of old toilets in the front yard like Easter Island moais and fill them with cactus without anyone being able to stop me, but I’ve gotta say that I like this better:
Then there’s the 1950’s Willis Jeep that’s been turned into a fountain, complete with fairies who clearly watched a lot of Labyrinth in their formative years. They creep me out a little and I love it. (If they came alive at night and partied with the gnomes and trash-talked and/or rode around on the neighborhood raccoons, it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s that kind of garden.)
And those headlights? They turn on at night. I am betting the brightness also goes up to eleven.
One thing I really love about this garden is that it’s designed to be used 24/7. Check out the party lights above the piano. You don’t notice it much during the day, but there are funky lights everywhere (no big box store landscape lighting for this garden!), and when dusk hits, the garden still welcomes.
Behind that turquoise dining table, there’s a diorama beneath a hollow log with a sign that says “Better Gnomes And Gardens.” Here’s a detail shot:
There are gnomes and fairies tucked away everywhere. Also statuary:
And here in the butterfly garden, the classic Virgin Mary grotto concept meets a vintage telephone booth concept, they high five, and it’s glorious:
Oh, and check out the gate to the butterfly garden. It’s a vintage gate that Shari found. I love it and want one of my own. If anyone knows where I can find one and still afford to eat, please let me know!
I ran into Shari at Barton Springs Nursery when she was buying supplies for this vintage dress form succulent project, and was dying to to see how it turned out. I have to say that when I visualized, I wasn’t expecting the jewelry…it looks like Shari somehow summoned my mom’s old jewelry stash that I played with as a kid. Except the nipple rings. I don’t remember those.
Moving on, a chandelier made of old silver and a (literal) framed view.
Across the driveway from the Jeep fountain, more vintage cars in a hollow log planter. It’s kinda cool how it looks like nature is taking over in both vignettes. Driftwood cedar hollowed out and used as planters is an ongoing theme in the garden, and I have got to somehow get my hands on a few logs of my own.
Anyway, if I showed you all of the cool planters, repurposed things, vignettes, scenes, the kickass view over the Pedernales River off the back deck…we would be here all night. And also possibly part of the morning. And it’s past my bedtime.
So wrapping this up, I have some thoughts about gardens and gardeners. There are lots of kinds of gardens and lots of kinds of gardeners. There are some broad and overlapping categories, like the plant people/hoarders, the gardeners who specialize in one kind of thing– edibles/succulents/cactus/things that don’t want to grow here and divide their gardens into areas showing those things off neatly, there are the designers where everything needs to be aesthetically balanced and spaces need to be functional and plant geekery is secondary, and then there are the gardens that are about creating or chasing a sense of place or a feeling more than anything, and plants and hardscape are just the tools to get there. And then there are the gardens that are about personal expression and experimentation, and they don’t really fit into a neat little box, and Shari’s garden is one of those. It’s just funny to me that I love it so much, because it’s not at all the kind of garden I would create. Maybe it’s just because it’s such a reflection of the garden owners and super-personal and you can tell it was created without giving a damn what other people would think, and the garden owners are pretty damn cool. (I remember having that same reaction to the Hutto Hippo garden.)
And since it’s past my bedtime, I will leave you with the soothing sounds of the Jeep waterfall. I’ll be working in Shari’s garden on Saturday afternoon, so come and say hi! And check out the rest of the awesome gardens on InsideAustinGardens.org!