Saturday, June 29, 2013

NxNA Garden Tour - Rancho Chaotic

Leaving from Ivy Garden, I headed back south to Breuer Garden, also known as Rancho Chaotic.

Upon arriving at Rancho Chaotic, the house is tucked behind the front ornamental beds and the veggie beds. 

It appears that having veggie gardens in the front yard is all the rage right now (more accurately, having veggie gardens where ever there's enough sun for them is all the rage).
Taken between the veggie beds on the left and the ornamental beds on the right.

The beds hide the decent sized front yard.  Dead and dying St. Augustine grass was replaced with drought tolerant plants.

Front yard - veggie bed to the right.

This wasn't the first house that had blooming lamb's ear, but it did have the most accessible one (meaning that I didn't have to lay down on the ground to get a photo).
lamb's ear

This was the first house (though it wouldn't be the last) that had Bear's Breeches, sometimes called Oyster Plant (scientific name: Acanthus mollis)

Bear's Breeches
And a closeup

Bear's Breeches
Heading around to the back yard, I walked around a blind for the trash and recycling, and as I turned to look back, I noticed that there was a nice trellis with concrete bench.

Heading on through the gate, I first came upon the grilling round.  The homeowner had pictures on hand of when she first planted the boxwoods a few years ago.

Going down the stairs, I came to the back yard which is dominated by an oversized deck.  The back yard is mostly grass free with a strip between the deck and the chicken run, the round circle in the grilling circle and another circle on the other side of the yard.  The circles are mowed with a mower and the strip is just weed whacked when it gets over grown (so only about 3 times a year).
At the bottom of the deck looking toward the chicken run

A lamp on a table

Succulents in small pots on the table

The chicken coop

Heading back out to the front of the house, I noticed the planting bed on the left side of the drive which I had completely missed on the way in.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

NxNA Garden Tour - Ivy Garden

For my 5th garden, I headed north to a Fairy Garden.  The Ivy garden is a certified wildlife habitat and Monarch waystation.  It was easy to see why (the birds were constantly flying back and forth in the front yard.  The homeowner said that she smears suet on her tree trunk for the woodpeckers - which I may have to try since the suet feeder tends to be a busy location for the starlings, but having to hold on to something sideways may get them.

Fairy garden 1
The fairy gardens welcome a visitor at the front door.  Iffin you get down on your stomach, you'll be able to see the "Welcome to the fairy garden" welcome sign.

Fairy garden 2

The homeowner has created quite the little vignette with her welcome fairy gardens - she even has a little park bench set up around a Gopher Plant "tree"
Fairy Garden - wider angle
 When one is done looking at the fairy gardens, the front yard (the wildlife habitat) is front and center.  The tree cover creates a nice shady yard (which was well appreciated as it was getting a bit toasty outside).

Front yard certified wildlife habitat.
Looking back to the driveway, one can see that the yard is just jam-packed with flowering natives for the butterflies and birds.

Front yard - a different angle
Of course, getting right into the middle of it allows for some better photos - i.e. they're not all washed out because of sun/shade contrast.  There is a bird bath because one of the requirements to be a certified wildlife habitat is access to water.

Front yard under the trees - gazing ball included.

Heading around to the back yard, one will pass the vertical succulent planter that hides the trash and recycling bins.

A novel concept - and one that looks much nicer than just having the bins sitting out on the driveway.

Upon entering the backyard, I noticed this little terrarium and thought "HEY! That's just like mine!"  Only, of course, mine is used to start seeds instead of being a fairy pondering locale.

The little greenhouse is from Ikea, if you want to go get one for yourself.
 Just past the fairy terrarium, there's a gnome village - way better than your standard garden gnome kitsch, mind you.

The garden gnome village

The gnomes have a swanky little bachelor pad set up right on the local pond.

A close-up of the garden gnome village
 Next to the gnome-land, there was a raised herb garden.  More like an herb table, really.  It's a very intriguing idea and I may have to look into this since I really need to get my herbs out of my garden bed.

Herb "table"
The majority of the backyard is minimally landscaped, there's a dry river bed through the backyard to direct runoff around the house and away from it.  There is a little patch of grass, and, most awesomely, a hammock.  I don't think you realize how badly I want a hammock.  Unfortunately, the only places I have enough room to put a hammock are in full sun...not very ideal.

River bed, grass and hammock.
 Over in the corner, there's another fairy garden - using what appears to be a candle lantern

Ladybug crossing

The entire yard (both front and back) must be very waterwise considering the minimal amount of turf grass and the copious amount of native plants.

A more artsy photo of the dry river bed - vertical shot for things that are "long" - that's why most photos of single people are vertical, while groups of people are horizontal.
 Heading back out to the front of the house, I admired the completely covered in blooms shrimp plant - in full sun, no less.

Shrimp plant, with Turk's cap.
 I ended my visit by heading out to the street to take some shots of what the yard looks like when walking by.

I love the look of the garden gate being open - it looks like it's leading to a secret garden.
I did, however, notice these little nasties on the Spineless Prickly Pear as I was leaving.  Uh-oh.

Agave snout-nosed weevil

Thursday, June 20, 2013

NxNA Garden Tour - Nazor Garden

The fourth stop on the North Austin Garden tour was the Nazor Garden.  Mr. Nazor is a spikey plant aficionado and has roughly 40 different types of plants in his front yard.  It is a well laid out area that gets full sun and very little water - and yet he still is able to have lawn.  Crazy awesome.

Not Mr. Nazor's yard - I took this picture for my parents - I'm trying to show them that you don't have to go "desert" to make the spiky plants look good.

Also not Mr. Nazor's yard - though this is directly across the street from him.

Mr. Nazor's yard, as seen when walking up to it.  The large tree in front is sunk into the ground a bit (there's a small step down to get to the actual base of it).

How fortuitous to have a cactus bloom on the tour day.  I've very intrigued by the succulent to the left - it looks like a type of ghost plant, only with curvy leaves.

The water collection system.

Walking up to the front door

A very nice grouping of at least 7 different varieties of succulent/cacti.

A view of one of the front beds from the front door.

A closer view of the same bed.

And from the 'corner'.  Since there's so many different plants in the beds, there's different plants in every shot.

Right next to the front door.

A close-up of a variegated leaf.

A native penstemon

Agave (right), yucca (bottom), cyad (top) and pipe vine (center)

A slightly different angle which shows off the different textures and colors a little better.

Pipevine bloom.  This plant is a larval host plant for the pipevine swallowtail.

Agaves, cyads, and palms.

A view of the other bed - the agaves between the two beds are similar colors, but are different types (as can be seen from their growth habit).  In the hell strip, there's a Pride of Barbados plant which can handle our heat and will just keep on going.

Mr. Nazor's yard is such a wonderland, I could have spent the entire afternoon wandering around asking "What's this?" over and over.  But since I didn't have and endless amount of time, I headed over to my car and off to the next garden.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I just can't get over this flower.  This is also the first year that the passionvine has been blooming pretty non-stop.  I've found countless Gulf Fritillary caterpillars on this plant (it's a host plant), so that's also awesome.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

NxNA Garden Tour - Millington Garden

The third garden I visited was the Millington Garden. It was designed by Pam Penick and installed by the home owner. The garden is a low-grass semi-shady oasis.  Basically, it's what half of my backyard aspires to be.

The back porch

On the left side of the house looking toward the back seating and firepit area.

Limestone brick stairs made out of the same bricks that form the wall.

The firepit area.  The key to a bunch of Pam's designs is to have pathways leading one around the yard.

A lamp next to the firepit

Following the path around, this is the view toward the right side of the house.

And looking back at the corner - rock rose and a shrubby tree (Mexican buckeye maybe?)

Looking over toward the firepit.  The yard has a bunch of Pam's Pink Turk's Cap.  When I pointed this out to the home owner he admitted that Pam's design actually called for Big Mama Turk's Cap but they couldn't find it at the garden center.

A gorgeous disappearing fountain in the pond feature with reeds (likely horse tail) with sago palm behind and a yaupon holly (probably "Will Flemming") to the right.

The deck chairs with a copy of Pam's book Lawn Gone available for the tourers to thumb through.

Plumbago on the side of the porch.  The pond feature is right behind the plumbago.

Looking through the gate to the front yard

A picture from the front of the drive

The other side of the front yard - looking back to the gate I just walked through.

And then, because I wanted to talk to the owner about the Turk's cap, I walked back through the yard going the other way.  Going through something the opposite direction provides new sites - here's a mini-gate next to the garden shed.

A picture of the back corner (the one with the rock rose) including the artemisia and purple coneflower in the foreground.

And finally a picture of the very comfy looking bench swing.   The porch was very nice with the fan going.  A wonderful place to sit and enjoy a drink on a nice day.