Monday, October 18, 2010

Garden Conservancy Open Days Tour 2010

My plan on Saturday for the Garden Conservancy Open Days tour was to get started early and tour as many gardens as quickly and efficiently as possible before the baby needed me the Longhorns played Nebraska. My plan was slightly foiled as baby slept until 9:15 (!), but I really wasn't complaining as that meant I slept until 9:15.And my delay fortuitously meant that I ran into Pam of Digging at the first garden, Utility Research Garden.(Here's Pam's post.) I loved this space as I do any that shows such creativity, in particular the use of the ordinary in unusual ways, such as these cast-iron plants:Or these agaves planted in a gentle curve:Or found objects reused in unusual ways: The center is an eclectic mix of art, plants, music, and even a small farm. Some of its fruits and vegetables were for sale, like these gourds:and these radishes:Next stop on the tour was the infamous East Side Patch, where I took no pictures because 1) I couldn't take any better ones than Philip already has and 2) I was too in awe. As wonderful as Philip's photos are, his garden is even more magical in person. One day, my backyard will look 1/100th as wonderful as his.

Moving on I headed to Pemberton Heights where I was transfixed by the neighbor's Halloween decorations before I even reached the garden on tour.This garden has an amazing view of downtown Austin and a delightful and gracious owner who shared with me the history of the house (her mother had it built in 1951; she moved in and remodeled after her mother's death) and the street (she pointed out the other original houses as well the ones that had undergone complete transformations) and offered ice-cold bottled water to all the tour guests.These windows in the rear of the house capture the view of the Capitol and a teensy bit of hte UT tower. The garden is primarily in shade so uses shades of green and different textures for variety.

The next house and garden had even more amazing views of all of downtown Austin from the front yard,
as well as from the side yard with the pool and hot tub: The side yards also had views of Lake AustinIn comparison to the front yard, the back yard up a hillside was relatively small but still contained a swing set, a playhouse, a putting green, two or three seating areas, and a pet cemetery: and a fountain: a basketball court and a driveway. Okay, so maybe it wasn't so small after all but relative to the front and side yards it was still bigger than my entire house and lot minuscule.

These four gardens were the only ones I planned to visit as I had already spent more time away from my son than I had since he was born almost seven months ago. I had seen the other two gardens on a previous tour. But DH assured me that he and the boy were fine so I continued on to James David and Gary Peese's garden.

Along the way I stumbled upon this flock of flamingos and wished I could have taken a few home with me:
Having been to this garden twice previously, I focused on the areas that were new to me, particularly the garden areas around the studio:
In a garden this huge, I'm sometimes overwhelmed and find myself focusing on smaller details like this orchid in the greenhouse:or this penta(?) bloomor these crispy okra:At Deborah Hornickel's much more manageably sized garden, I still found myself drawn to the details, probably because of sensory overload at this point in the day. And because the details are so pretty, like these shells: and this post decoration:
Probably my favorite garden novelty of the day was this bronze fennel trimmed to match the other shrub balls in the front yard: But the best way to end the day was with a sighting of Wally, looking slightly worse for wear, in Deborah's Russian sage.(Please resist any urge to disabuse me of any notion that this swallowtail wasn't in fact Wally. Or you will force me to stick fingers in my ears and sing, "La, la, la," until you stop.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sweet Berry-licious

I seem to be finding less time to garden and having less success at it than usual so instead of abandoning this blog altogether, I'll share some shots from our trip Sunday to Sweet Berry Farm, near Marble Falls.A few pumpkins were still in the fields. Elsewhere on the grounds, the farm showed what it's really all about: the berries. Here are some strawberries waiting to be planted: Here's an already planted strawberry field, which shows once again why I am not a farmer. I'm not even bothering with strawberries this year after last year's poor output and the now garden-bed-ful of weeds after using hay as mulch.

I think most of the pumpkins there weren't grown on the farm but brought in for the six-week event. The boy was too little for most of the activities (hay rides, mazes, horseback riding, etc.) but we enjoyed plopping him on top of, behind, and beside all color, size, and shape of pumpkin.

Here are some of my favorites: aptly named peanut pumpkin.I'm pretty sure this one isn't named Warty, but it didn't seem to mind when I called it that.Blue Moon pumpkin (okay, that wasn't its real name but doesn't it look bluish?): Painted pumpkin (almost entirely certain that one wasn't grown on the farm):Basically, it was all fun and games until somebody said to my sensitive mama ears, "Your baby looks just like a pumpkin."

Okay, so maybe he is a little plump around the middle.