Sunday: Garden Bloggers Fling ’18

Rejoining my Garden Bloggers Fling tour group on Sunday, that last day seemed laid back. Our tour bus was in good amazing hands as we went up and over the hills to each stop.

The weather continued the run of amazing, balmy type of warmth with low humidity I’ve experienced many a spring visiting the greater Hill Country and especially on May visits…before or after at least as many days of near-jungle, humid warmth.


The McClurg Residence was a heavily-planted garden, using a mix of native and adaptive trees, with plenty of interest from sculptural plants mixed with so much flowering.


To me the highlight was this arbor made of bent rebar supporting common Pyrus calleryana. Here that pear is used exceptionally, as a shady canopy for sitting at the generous table.

One element to note is the native Diospyros texanum and it’s exfoliating trunks, not to mention the leafy understory.


These views are the other way, and again the skillful use of focal point plants, such as Nolina nelsonii. Looking closer, there’s even a sculpture of the ubiquitous Grackle bird!



The Lucinda Hutson Garden came next, with it’s use of colorful hardscape to match her personality! Her originally from El Paso, I recall a couple houses where I lived a few years in Sunset Heights that made festive use of tiles, paint accents, and all manners of handmade ornamentation.


Color, color, color!

As a designer far more into trees than fleeting flowers, seeing a Ginkgo biloba that was actually not a struggling curiosity, but rather a large and healthy tree with presence, was one of my favorite aspects of Lucinda’s home.


Back to colorful and handmade accents, this offset brick planter with the pottery shards reminds me of the fiesta version of what archaeological sites reveal in my part of the world.




Yep! I’ve known both…



Her office with the timber construction and leathers appeals to my desert need for something more mellow and dark, once I’ve had a year’s supply of vitamin D in 30 minutes of Las Cruces.

Even in Austin’s mellower sunlight, this is a nice contrast to all the color outside.


Balmy morning – meet the woman, the myth, the legend.



The Ruthie Burris Garden was after driving over more steep, rolling hills.

But then I stepped out of the bus and eyed a pair of limestone columns framing the driveway, reinforced with Cylindropuntia imbricata. Was I dreaming?


No. It was real.

To echo what a colleague says about predicting an unproductive client relationship when they want all their creosote bush removed in her former city of Phoenix, the same is true when folks immediately dismiss chollas, desert plants, and all native species that love it where I am.

“You called me, and why?”

While not quite native in Austin’s ecoregion, this south Texas subspecies of cholla is plenty happy here on their green, rolling, and rocky uplands.


Though the Zoysia lawn (?) and Yucca rostrata are not native (parts of South Korea for the lawn are actually closer in climate to Austin than is Terlingua for the yucca), the Salvia farinacea, limestone ledge rocks, and preserved Juniperus ashei in the background tell me where I am. They ground this garden.

The adapted plants simply add forms and textures that are not so easy to find in local flora.


The understated elegance of the design tells me of those living here. Having talked with Ruthie the designer and briefly with her husband, it made sense.

I told her as an LA myself, that she would never need someone like me except to hang out with, to bounce ideas off of. Or something like that. She’s quite capable of implementing her style!


Of course, I’m biased with the previous and final scenes…



I’ve wanted to visit Zilker Botanical Garden since my 2nd or 3rd trip to Austin ages ago. But other things barely fit into my time. This time, the bus took me there.


It’s what I expected, actually. I enjoyed the differences from other gardens I saw. This would have really appealed to my ideals of a garden as a teenager, when I was slowly gaining interest in horticulture, then later design.

It still appeals, just on a different level with more years behind me.

And this funky gate…to think people in the desert often don’t like the desert and especially that evil word spoken in fear, cactus.



Tait Moring’s Garden captured me too much at the top, that I missed more. But I was out of my zone much of my time in Austin…a valid excuse.


The crisp lines of his comfortable home, architecture to plant contrasts and restraint, grabbed me at once. But every new area was a different scene.


Just like the San Francisco Bloggers Fling I went to, more than a few women cooled off in the pool. From meeting some of them, I can imagine conversations ranged from writing to rocket science. Really.


But I had some kind of mission to accomplish. Like see some great vignettes, and just wander around. Except for my new home and the things I like to do in my medium-sized town, this was good getting away from everything else.

One last vignette at Tait’s home that anyone could do. Well, maybe not some!



Kirk Walden’s Garden spaces were our last stop, on that steep hill from you-know-where!

But I digress.

I spent time in front, while most seemed to stay out back with the view. But first things first. A cottage effect that reminds me of some montane areas during teenage escapes to the Rocky Mountains, then-30 minutes west of my then-home in the Denver metro area.


I forgot to take more photos of people taking photos, since it’s always entertaining.



Oh, it’s the view towards the Colorado River and the green Hill Country. Lime green, deciduous Quercus buckleyi accent the darker greens of evergreens Quercus fusiformis and Juniperus ashei, to name a few.


Did I say the weather was perfect?

The mix of mounded plants here works, most of these not xeric where I live, but they are with 4X my area’s annual rainfall, comparing extremes or means.

The small pops of spikiness with the palm and agaves add to the soft Gaura lindheimeri and a bullet-proof groundcover I and other aficionados of arid-region horticulture use to advantage – Teucrium chamaedrys ‘Prostratum’.

And this attractive understory plant I saw in many shady spots there in gardens.



I made the mistake early on to not stick with meteorology in college, and I only took 1 geology course. Yet, this rock layering with some moss and algae growth in cracks, then the Trachelospermum spp. on top, conspire to tell the story of ancient and contemporary Austin.



Unless there are some garden details I post on, this is my last for the ’18 Garden Bloggers Fling. Thanks and endless (but virtual) agaves, cor-ten, and margaritas to the sponsors, garden owners, designers / maintainers, and of course all who put this together.

And virtual queso from New Mexico. We have you on some things!


10 Replies to “Sunday: Garden Bloggers Fling ’18”

  1. Those Cylindropuntia imbricata in front of the pillars… fabulous! I love your garden photography btw!

    She “done good” on those pillars! Thanks so much, especially considering *your* excellent photography.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved the wrap up, and that you included the cactus gate from Zilker – that gate is great! Seeing which details everyone picked up on is also fun; so many different viewpoints.

    Well, thanks. I was so happy my gate photo came out – some of my pics just didn’t make the cut. Yes, many details and ways we all saw those gardens. If only there was more time at each and later to blog on each!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I completely missed that door to Opuntia in Tait Moring’s garden, thanks for capturing it!

    You bet, and I’m glad Tait invited me back to see *all* I missed there…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m fascinated by your SW take on these arid but lush gardens, David. So different from my Portland, OR perspective. Talking with you is always illuminating, too – glad you could attend the Fling this year!

    Thanks, and you may have noticed away from creek and low areas the trees were smaller and stunted. Me too – wish I could have stayed longer and talked with you more!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I always enjoy your impressions, whether in person or on the blog. And the tree IDs are most welcome! Loved that Texas persimmon (Diospyros texanum).

    Well, glad to share. Yes, me and my trees…but those Persimmon trunks… I should figure out a weekend to escape our month-early summer and visit some gardens and Big Red Sun along the coast!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great recap, that arch was perfect in its form and function!

    Thanks, and each time I looked up at his arched tree canopy, I kept forgetting there was an entire garden to see!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’d really love to view any garden with you and hear your comments; you always cut straight the the heart of what’s happening. I’ve enjoyed all your Fling reports, they’ve made me want to join one in the future, but I’m not sure that would be possible.

    Same here, too bad you weren’t at this Fling so we could have done that! Next year’s Fling is in Denver, with a major airport, but I’m not sure I’ll go even though I spent high school and some earlier years there. Glad I’m able to focus on parts of each design.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Enjoying my virtual queso, I just want to say how much I’ve enjoyed your wrap-up posts for each day. (Although you went awol on Saturday, you scamp!) Thanks for coming to Austin Fling and sharing your observations on our gardening scene. We need a SW Desert Fling one day, and there were so many of you desert bloggers at the Fling this year. Think about it! ;)

    Glad the green chile in it was A-OK. Thanks, I figured the easiest course was to do a quick, daily highlight, which became not so quick! Smile when you call me that!! Your garden scene alone almost got me to move there years ago. You may be right on a Desert Fling…I’ll try tickling the ears of a few people, starting with Noelle and Teresa…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes – I would enjoy a virtual journey round the desert gardens!

      We may have to do that, starting with my sketches (feeling that this weekend) and possibly some future desert southwest Fling.

      Liked by 1 person

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