October 12, 2012

Inside Austin Gardens Tour: Get Your Inspiration!

It's often said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and I promise you, if you venture out to the Inside Austin Gardens Tour you'll find tons of inspiration and ideas galore worth imitation.

The 2012 Inside Austin Gardens Tour, hosted by the Travis County Master Gardeners takes place on Saturday, October 20th, from 9am-4pm.  In addition to seven beautiful gardens to explore, there will be educational presentations and plant and book sales.

These gardens have so much to offer.  If you live close enough to visit Austin next weekend, I really encourage you to take the tour.  Each garden has its own unique story and personality.  I walked away from the experience with zillions, seriously, zillions of new ideas for my own garden. {Sorry, DJ ♥}  Some are easy to implement, others will have to be on the five year plan!

The "white" garden in Renee Studebaker's charming cottage garden. 

Looking for path ideas?  There are numerous designs and materials to contemplate.  A couple that I really liked:

Concrete slabs artfully arranged in the Donnis Doyle garden.

 A nice mix of materials is used for unique pavers in the Ann and Robin Matthews' garden.

The theme of this year's tour is Edibles in the Garden.  This is an idea that is attractive and practical.

A fairly easy way to add decorative, raised vegetable beds to the garden.  Soil filled stock tanks allow 
for easy gathering of vegetables in David and Jennifer Phillips' garden.

Several plants caught my attention and have been added to my "gotta have" list:

 Malabar spinach growing in the Phillips' garden.  It. Is. Gorgeous.

Salvia mexicana in Carolyn and Michael Williams' garden.  Anyone familiar with this cultivar?
The pale, lavender flowers are so unique and unexpected compared to the
commonly grown bright purple of 'Limelight'.

 The sunshine yellow flowers of butterfly vine spill over a weathered gate in the Phillips' garden.

Close up of butterfly vine going to seed.  These are as enchanting as the floral display.

Many of us desire to have beautiful rock work in our gardens.  This recirculating stream in the Hill Country garden of the Phillips got me thinking about how I could implement something similar in my backyard where we have water rushing through after heavy rains.  

I love how the plants play along the edge of the stone work giving a very natural appearance.

A simple display of rock using a variety of materials to enhance a few xeric plants in the Phillips' garden.

And every garden needs whimsy and these gardens are abundantly whimsical!
A sweet tribute of love to his wife... Ask Carolyn Williams about the story behind
 this tender demonstration of affection.

The Donnis Doyle garden is one of the most whimsical I've ever toured...colorful furnishings, handmade stars and hearts adorn the eaves and walls, unique bottle trees and screening ideas...the whimsy goes on and on.  Really.  Go visit!

I adore everything about this little vignette in Renee Studebaker's garden.  The stacked stones
rest close by three dainty, weathered chairs entwined with vines and foliage at the edge
 of her white garden pictured at the top of the post.  Simple and beautiful.

This rustic arrangement of dried artichokes and juniper in the Phillips' garden is captivating. The juniper is simply adorned with the artichokes and malabar spinach grows at it's base.

I said at the top of the post that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.  Well, let me just say that Renee Studebaker can make some mean ratatouille from garden fresh ingredients and I could hardly wait to get home and make it myself! 

I made this yesterday and between myself, my girlfriend and my husband, we ate the ENTIRE pan.  It's that good.  She will be giving a presentation on appetizers prepared from garden fare during the tour.  Go.

There is so much more I could tell you.  I haven't even touched on the wealth of information about rainwater harvesting to be discovered.  Really.  You should just go ☺


  1. I'm so glad to see that you wrote a tour post. It's wonderful and makes me wish that I could go. I do want to focus on garden paths in the spring and summer and also, I really wanted to visit Renee's garden. I hope she will participate next year. The dish that you made looks good, it made my mouth water!

    1. Renee is so gracious, I have a feeling she would welcome you anytime for a tour. She is giving out the recipe for the ratatouille next week!

  2. I really should take advantage of garden tours next year -- hope the local ones have as much to offer as Austin's seems to.

    I've been talking up Malabar spinach for two years now. Maybe it's more of a "have to see it in person before you love it" thing. :-)

  3. Garden tours are so much fun! This one sounds like a good one. Wish I lived closer!

  4. Thanks for the virtual tour. My difficulties are not so much for lack of inspirations or ideas but rather with space/time/cash flow limitations. At times it really is best to step back and simply admire what others have done knowing that some day.......if everything goes as planned......

  5. You are right - so much inspiration! I am always looking for path ideas - love the concrete slabs. And the butterfly vine over the rustic gate is beautiful. I actually have that lavender salvia. I'm hoping it will survive the winters. And I love the vegetables in the stock tank. I've put some asparagus in one - hoping that they will get more of a winter chill that way. But I love the grouping of several tanks in a row like that. Looks very artistic. I'll have to check into that malabar spinach. It really does look pretty. And that ratatouille looks delicious!

  6. I really need to try and get some Malabar spinach - the plants are really beautiful! A wonderful tour Cat, your photos are beautiful.

  7. Cat what a great little tour...my goodness so much to see and you captured some of the best and unusual views....love it.

  8. wonderful gardens cat - I also got some great ideas, like the simple but effective arrangement of stones, of dried artichokes. That salvia cultivar is so much more desirable to my taste than the garish Limelight. Everything you picked out and framed with your camera is gorgeous. Just read the A.A, Milne quote below, makes me smile and also feel tearful.

  9. Gosh, I wish I could go! That Malabar Spinach is beautiful as an ornamental--I'm especially fond of edibles that are pretty, too. The paths are neat, too. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Hi Cat! Thanks for the pictures and your commentary. There are so many great ideas here! Love how the stone and rocks are used in this garden!


Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

Thanks for taking the time to visit!