On Tuesday, I joined a dozen Austin garden bloggers for a preview of the Inside Austin Gardens tour which is happening this Saturday, October 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year's theme is "The Edible Garden." All the gardens feature water-wise gardening techniques and wildlife habitats, and demonstrations and educational sessions will be held at each garden. Here's just a tiny taste - get it? taste? edible? - of what's in store. You can see all seven gardens for $15 with advance purchase via PayPal ($20 after October 17) or see a single garden for $5.
Hill Country Heritage Garden: Carolyn and Michael Williams
10205 Aqua Verde Court, 78753
This garden is gorgeous, inviting and incredibly well-researched; nearly every plant has a connection to Texas history or to the Williams family heritage - or both! I love this circular herb garden with its antique rose arbor. Many of the native plants are "passalong" plants from relatives and friends.
This garden also features the most adorable German-style stone cottage. You simply must see what's inside - it's a Texas gardener's dream! Master Gardener Vicki Blachman will give a seminar on herbs and herb vinegars at 10 a.m., and Master Gardener Velia Sanchez will speak on Native American medicinal herbs at 1 p.m.
Hill Country Rural Home: David and Jennifer Phillips
6316 Thomas Springs Road, 78736
This garden greets you with a riot of native and adaptive plants near a stone-and-wrought-iron entrance gate, then guides you down a country road lined with prickly pear, broomweed and blackfoot daisies toward a striking and modern LEED-certified home.
Don't miss the dried juniper-and-artichoke accent in the stock-tank vegetable garden, the GINORMOUS rainwater collection tank, the metal dog and bird sculptures, or the lush vining plantings near the front porch. Among the educational sessions offered at this garden will be a 1:00 p.m. talk by Master Gardeners Ratna and Venkappa Gani on how to grow a fruit forest in your Central Texas garden.
Neighboring Gardens: Ann and Robin Matthews, and Donnis Doyle
6303/6305 Berkeley Cove, 78745
These neighboring gardens offer dozens of enchanting vignettes along inviting paths, accented with brightly colored garden art and seating areas nestled among native and adaptive perennials.
I love this circular herb garden in the Matthews' back yard with its cobalt blue arbor, the lighted bottle tree centerpiece, the hewn wood benches, and the garden shed adorned with a red rooster weather vane. Must-sees are the pictograph wall, the raised vegetable garden beds, and the multiple rainwater collection barrels throughout the garden.
Next door, Donnis Doyle's modern patio is both open and private, thanks to its corrugated steel privacy fence. (Check out the back of the fence when you tour- it's cool, too!)
Follow this Zen-like front path into the colorful front garden, then check out the stock-tank veggie garden in back and the giant aloe on the back stoop - even the carport is tons of fun!
A most unusual and entertaining demonstration is scheduled at this garden at 11:30 a.m.: Unconventional Landscape Snacks - Collecting and Cooking Insects with Texas Agrilife Extension entomologist Wizzie Brown. At 1:30 p.m., hear all about edible landscape planning from Master Gardener Sheryl Williams, who was on the tour last year.
Eat My Sidewalk: Renee Studebaker
912 E. 39th Street, 78751
I'll admit it. The garden of this former Austin American-Statesman staff writer was my favorite of the day. Don't you just adore her Victorian-style front porch? I love everything about it: the high beadboard ceiling, the green-and-cream-colored paint scheme, the copper-colored porch bench, the sun wall art above the front doors, the curlicues on the screen doors, the potted ficus and foxtail ferns, the natural wood floor - swoon.
Renee's garden is a veritable food forest, with apples and grapes and pears and figs and herbs and vegetables galore. Flowering plants and a garden pond attract birds, bees and butterflies. She's got an exceptional talent for giving new life to recycled materials and found items as garden borders, yard art and structural accents. Don't miss the recycled brick path, the steel rainwater cistern, the backyard performance stage, the white garden, the passionvine trellis, the stone firepit, and most importantly, the two sessions she's giving at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Growing Your Own Garden Party Appetizers - the woman makes a mean ratatouille, loaded with eggplant, tomatoes and herbs she grows herself.
The Inside Austin Gardens Tour is organized by the Travis County Master Gardeners Association in association with Texas Agrilife Extension Service, and is sponsored by many local businesses and nurseries you know and love. As many of you know, I'm finishing up my internship to become a certified Master Gardener, and toward that end, I'll be collecting tickets at Renee Studebaker's garden on Saturday afternoon between noon and 4 p.m., proudly sporting my "Intern" name badge for probably the last time - so come on out and say Howdy! You can find more tour information at the Inside Austin Gardens Tour website, including the two gardens not previewed here, a list of all the demonstrations and talks at each garden, and a map.
Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.