January 24, 2022

My friend Lori Daul‘s garden in South Austin has evolved, over the many years I’ve visited, from a sunny, romantic space filled with roses to a shadier yet still lush paradise where bold blue agaves and black elephant ears get equal billing, where dry gardens meet water gardens. It’s a magical combo. I counted 8 water fountains, ponds, vessels, and birdbaths during an early November visit last fall. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn I missed a few among all the beautiful vignettes she’s created.

Lori always has a project going on. Currently she’s building a custom fence for her backyard. She’s the most can-do, hardest working gardener I know, and that’s saying a lot. She also has an excellent eye for creative displays, like the arching row of blue bottles on a wavy limb, framed by another arching limb, on a mesquite tree in her backyard.

The mesquite is, sadly, dying. As Lori has told me, it doesn’t appreciate having a lush garden at its feet. Though she mourns its loss, I’m sure she’ll come up with something wonderful here to provide light shade and vertical interest. Or something altogether different!

One of her unusual planters — she loves face pots — holds a squid agave and trio of furry cacti.

A big stock-tank pond draws the eye from the back patio.

The goldfish came a-swimming when they saw her with the fish food jar.

Raccoons hold all-night raves in her garden on a regular basis, and she’s learned tricks to thwart their pond-wrecking shenanigans, like stringing rows of wire around it.

Queen’s wreath vine (Antigonon leptopus), rambling in the mesquite, was in frilly pink bloom.

A lime-green chair by the pond contrasts with her blue-stained fence. Pink Turk’s cap, orange shrimp plant, purple oxalis, purple heart, and other shade lovers fill a deep bed that curves along the back fence.

As she carved out ever-deeper planting beds, the remaining lawn became a de facto path.

I love how she’s embedded her stock-tank pond into the garden bed.

‘Bright Edge’ yucca spikes up one side of the pond, with a pink-flowering oxalis sneaking its way among the leaves.

On the back patio, a smaller stock-tank pond displays more of her beloved colocasias.

A lush combo of shade lovers includes tradescantia, manfreda, sedge, black-and-blue salvia, and a silvery palmetto.

A wider view that shows off that purple-speckled Manfreda maculosa, a Texas native. Doesn’t it look great with the purple oxalis and tradescantia? I don’t know that variety of tradescantia (purple heart). Maybe Lori will tell us in the comments.

A big tree limb adds nurse-log interest in the shade garden.

On the sunnier side, stock-tank planters elevate agaves and other spiky plants, including an enormous whale’s tongue agave.

It suffered some damage in the freezepocalypse last February, but like most whale’s tongues it pulled through. A champ for cold weather!

A half-face planter holds ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave and ghost plant.

And here’s another face planter with baby ‘Quadricolor’ agaves, foxtail fern, and jewels of Opar. I love this combo, especially with the round mirror surrounded by a climbing rose on the blue fence.

Yet another stock-tank planter (foreground) holds what looks like a young Yucca rostrata, backed by purple-flowering ‘Amistad’ salvia and black colocasia in a bog planter.

A narrow side yard isn’t overlooked as a planting opportunity. A brugmansia dangles its fragrant blossoms by the gate. And opposite a bank of windows, a long stock-tank pond with a trickling fountain makes a beautiful focal point from inside the house, especially when windows are open to hear it.

Crinum and colocasia bookend the fountain, with water lily pads and silver balls floating on the surface.

Light-catching leaves

At the gate, a conical planter of cactus and red dyckia (or hechtia?) hangs on the fence — a passalong gift from Rock Rose’s Jenny Stocker before she moved away.

Out front, a sunny garden offers up its delights for neighbors and passersby, including ‘Amistad’ salvia…

…and crazy big annuals like castor bean.

A curved copper pipe trickles water into a fern-nestled water bowl.

‘Fireworks’ gomphrena, another prolific annual

Lori’s sense of humor is always evident in her gardens, never more so than her South Austin-proud embrace of a flock of plastic pink flamingos. A rose the same shade of pink grows alongside powder-blue whale’s tongue agave and purple ‘Vertigo’ or ‘Princess Caroline’ pennisetum.

Another look at that gorgeous whale’s tongue agave, practically exploding out of a stock-tank planter

At its feet sits a pretty dish planter of prickly pear — and a grinning skull warning people away from touching it? The glochids!

Front garden vignette: palmetto, shrimp plant, purple heart, maybe ‘Arizona Star’ agave?

Yellow bells blossoms were attracting bees.

And of course there was another stock-tank pond out front, because more is more!

Thanks for sharing your garden with me again, Lori! Readers, if you’d like to see more, check out a springtime post about her garden from 2019.

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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Need design help with your yard? Hire me as your personal garden coach! Maybe you need replacement plant ideas after the big freeze. Or maybe your landscaping has grown tired, and you want fresh curb appeal. Or perhaps you’re ready to get rid of some lawn and create a pollinator garden, bird habitat, or hangout space for you and your friends. I’m here to help! Contact me to let me know what’s going on, and let’s figure it out together. My range is Austin and suburbs within a 25-min. drive of NW Austin, but I’m flexible and can travel farther with a surcharge, so let me know where you are. Weekday morning appts. only.

Attend the John Fairey Garden’s annual Budding Out Plant Sale & Festival on Saturday, March 19 in Hempstead. Rare and distinctive plants from the garden’s nursery and other vendors will be available, plus art, ceramics, jewelry, food, music, and entertainment for the whole family. Open 10 am to 4 pm. Members get first dibs at plant sale with early entry at 9 am (memberships available at the gate). Visit the festival webpage for a continually updated listed of vendors.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark! Hungry to learn about garden design from the experts? I’m hosting a series of talks by inspiring garden designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. Check out the 2021-22 schedule. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

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