Monday, June 29, 2015

Artful garden blends blooms and mixed media...

In addition to the beautiful blooms and creative designs we enjoyed at the Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling earlier this month, we were also treated to some amazing mixed media art entwined into this landscape on the hilly shore of High Park’s Grenadier Pond. 

Filled with the work of sculptor Wojtek Biczysko, the garden reflected upon itself through various metal sculptures that brought light and movement into the landscape.

This piece evokes the image of a hammock in the trees (to me) -- a place I would love to spend time with a good book and the sounds of nature.

Bordered by a vining metal railing, the  upper balcony appears to be weaving in and out of the treetops overlooking the pond.
Metallic strips dangle loosely from a line strung between two trees, mimicking the movement of limbs and branches blowing in the breeze.
Hidden behind oversized hosta leaves, this Buddha statue seems to give a Zen nod to the peaceful nature of the garden.
More art dangling in the trees -- these metal orbs suggest the opening of seed pods, spilling their precious cargo into the garden below.
Were this my garden, I believe you would find some Christmas ornaments on these perfect little evergreens come December!
I did a little dance with this red-winged blackbird down on the shore of the pond. His flashing, brilliant red wings commanded my attention. In spite of my best efforts, this was as close as he let me get as he flitted around the branches.
Behind this colorful pot, the metal railing looks like vines growing right out of the planter.
I was taken by the rock work in this garden -- the steep slope required a carefully crafted hardscape - intricate yet sturdy.
Gail, of Clay and Limestone, admires the garden from below.

I'm particularly fond of the use of hidden mortar and cement to stabilize retaining walls, leaving the rocks to look like a dry stack, which would never work in this space.
This simple stone fire pit at the base of the garden was the final punctuation point at the end of the rocky stairs.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Heavenly hillside gardens on Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto

Last week marked my participation in the 8th Garden Bloggers Fling.  Held this year in the lovely city of Toronto, I flew to Canada with Fling travel mate, Pam Penick, of Digging.

The weather, at least 10 degrees or more cooler than back home in Austin, welcomed us as we prepared for 3 days of jam-packed garden tours.  On the bus at 8:30 a.m. each day, our itinerary was filled with eye-opening private gardens, public gardens and other interesting Toronto highlights.

On our first day, we toured a series of hillside gardens located around High Park's Grenadier Pond.
Nothing says "welcome to my garden" like an open gate -- inviting almost 80 garden bloggers to meander about, enjoying the cool morning and oohing and ahhing over luscious plants, vivid vignettes and beautiful views.

This cozy little corner window was framed by a lush green vine, delightful square flower pots and some a variety of pretty plants.
There were many amazing plant specimens to take in on our garden tours -- some of which I recognized, but many of which we cannot grow in my Zone 8b garden in Central Texas.  So I thought of the landscape beds as beautiful arrangements filled with eye candy.
While many of the plants shown here -- like these wide-leafed hostas -- won't be part of my plant palette at home, there is a place for good garden design in every landscape.
I particularly like seeing interesting garden decor adding a focal point to an otherwise ordinary space in the garden.

I feel like I didn't do this garden justice with my photography.   I was on the phone for 15-20 minutes, working with the AT&T rep, trying to authorize my husband to buy me a new phone.  I left mine somewhere in the Chicago O'Hare airport.  Thus ,my photography was limited to half-hearted, one-handed snaps.  But I managed without a phone.  In fact, it may have helped me focus more on being in the moment - once I quit trying to get one via Fed Ex!
As we walked down the street, even small spaces in the limited front yards were filled with pretty plants, all tucked into the rocks.
One of the things I observed was the frequent use of burgundy and lime-colored foliage in the landscape.  With the sunny days, they often made for beautiful design contrasts, but tricky photo-taking.
I loved happening upon these darling metal flowers towering over the real ones.

Large, lush plants dotted the hillside down to the pond - which you can see here off in the distance.  I guess that's what happens in gardens with good soil and abundant rainfall.
Little bits of rock retaining walls partnered with sweet little plants to adorn the way down, or the way up, depending on how you look at it!
Almost to the bottom, here's a shot of the broad expanse of the pond, a lovely reward for making the trek down the hill.
Gardeners are all about the details.  Framed by a gnarly piece of wood, this pod viewing spot is a something to see all on its own.

I took a total of 1,415 photos on this trip, so it may take me a while to post about the entire excursion.  There were so many wonderful sights to see, and our Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling hosts, Helen Battersby, Toronto Gardens, Lorraine Flanigan, CityGardening Online, Veronica Sliva, A Gardener's World, and Sarah Battersby,  Toronto Gardens and Fiesta Gardens, did an amazing job of delighting us each and every day.

Next up -- an artist's garden, full of inspirational creations designed to wow as much as the landscaping itself.  Check back for some design insight and beautiful art in my next post.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Delightful garden tour on a challenging slope ...

It's a treat to get together once a month with other Austin garden bloggers to share stories, enjoy each others' gardens, eat, drink and pass along plants at our plant swap.

On Saturday, we were treated to double the fun.  In addition to our monthly gathering at the stunning garden of David and Jenny of Rock Rose, we also ventured nearby to their neighbors and were given a guided tour of another beautiful garden.

Located on approximately one and one third acre, this garden's hills and vales are interwoven with ribbons of rock and drainage solutions that blend into the landscape. 
As we walked into the back yard, I was immediately drawn to this line of dramatic whale's tongue agaves.  They sit perched atop a river rock berm, surrounded by softer foliage that draws the eye far out into the garden.
Here's a longer shot of how they are incorporated into this first layer of the overall landscape.
A closer look at the other plants reveals a cottage-like aesthetic, complete with a bird bath, gazing ball and obelisk to serve as focal points throughout the space.
The blend of sun-loving plants crosses traditional garden style boundaries in some areas, making the garden more intriguing.
Then the path evolved into a more desert-like garden, filled with sculptural cacti and agaves and garden art.
As dry as the garden appeared, it was hard to imagine the torrential rains that must have swept through these beds only days before.

As you keep meandering through the back of the garden, you wind your way through a shadier, wooded pathway.
Just as the garden becomes sunnier again, so does the garden decor.  Brilliant pops of orange and cobalt blue are sprinkled throughout this section of the landscape.
Hot garden plants fill the brightly colored planters.

A single orange slice of wall acts as a backdrop for this dramatic planter, home to either a sago palm or a dioon edule.

More beautiful tropicals.
This is a view from the garden back to the house and a covered patio area. 

Another painted wall houses this creative trellis displaying an array of cacti in terra cotta pots.
Just past the driveway, this colorful rooster seems to be peering through the salvia to spy on our group of gardeners.
This chocolate mimosa makes a striking statement against this dark wooden gate the the bright limestone.
This Asian-style bench welcomes visitors as they near the front door -- and just beyond -- this imposing soldier seems to be guarding the entry area as well.

The garden was spectacular -- I loved not only the collection of plants, but also the fascinating garden sculpting to address drainage issues.

Special thanks to the homeowners for inviting us to share in their beautiful space.

Monday, May 25, 2015

El Nino is quenching the garden's thirst...

Our devastating drought has altered the state of our gardens here in Central Texas and it's changed our mindset, too.

We're not used to rain.  Not a little rain, not a lot of rain. We've had so much rain here this month that we don't know what to do with it. 

There's so much green in my garden that I have to wear shades to walk through it.  My plants would now like a little sun to shine as well, but they've never been quite so lush.
 A ribbon of catmint, Mexican feather grass and lamb's ears lines the front of this Southwest cottage-style bed.
 The lamb's ears make a dramatic statement when they are all standing at attention in full bloom.
 The black and blue salvia and lingering bluebonnets echo the blue in the large ceramic pot in the front bed.
Soft and spiky plants share this bed, providing sculptural interest and contrasting textures.  Soon the color of Mexican limelight salvia and orange tecoma stans will add to this palette.
Beautiful blooms are vying for my attention in the cutting garden - ready to come join me in the house!
Ditch lilies, Klondike cosmos, larkspur, shasta daisies, purple coneflowers and clematis are all showing off in the cutting bed.

This morning, I picked this bouquet for my mom and dad, who are celebrating their wedding anniversary today.  But tornado warnings and unrelenting thunderstorms kept me home this afternoon and they had to enjoy them via a photo.  So, now we can all enjoy them.
New spring plantings are growing and the caladiums are shooting up out of the ground as fast as I can count them.
I'm smitten with the Mexican bird of paradise, Caesalpinia Mexicana, and its exotic and wispy blooms.
The brilliant purple flags of these Amistad salvia provide a backdrop for senorita Rosalita cleome, dianthus and yarrow.

It's delightful to walk through the garden with the grass squishing under your clogs, appreciating the much-needed rain.