Austin, TX gardens from A to L

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent five days in Austin, Texas recently to join 90+ kindred spirits for the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling. We toured a dozen private gardens and several public gardens and visited a couple of nurseries. And on the day after the Fling, I had the opportunity to see even more gardens.

Instead of a traditional chronological overview of what we say, I'm giving you a potpourri of Austin vignettes from A to Z. This installment covers A to L, this one M to Z.


Austin and agaves go together like hands and gloves. With maybe one exception, we saw agaves in all the gardens we visited. The whale's tongue agave, Agave ovatifolia, seems to be particularly popular—no surprise there.

Agave ovatifolia at Mirador Garden

Agave ovatifolia at the Burrus garden

Who says an agave has to be alive? Seen at Lucinda Hutson's garden.

Bottle trees

Bottle trees seem to be a Texas thing. Or maybe they're popular all over the Southwest and South. There were bottle trees in at least half of the gardens on our tour. One garden had five or six of them!


Cactus were plentiful, both in private and public landscaping. To my astonishment, Opuntia gomei 'Old Mexico', which is rare in California, was everywhere.

Opuntia gomei 'Old Mexico' at designer B. Jane's garden

Opuntia gomei 'Old Mexico' at Tait Moring's garden

And let's throw in an Opuntia gomei flower for good measure!

Potted cereus at B. Jane's garden


Most of the time we don't even notice doors—that is, unless they're particularly ugly or particularly beautiful. These definitely fall in the latter category.

Thailand-influenced garden at Tanglewild


Entrance to Jenny Stocker's front garden


"Exotic" means evoking a distant land. There were elements of the exotic in many gardens, transporting us to Mexico, Thailand, Morocco and even Africa.

Lucinda Hutson's Mexican cantina

Statues from Thailand at Tanglewild

A buddha from India at The Natural Gardener nursery

Moroccan elements at Tanglewild

Giraffe (and fellow bloggers Victoria Summerley, Helen Johnstone and Loree Bohl) at East Austin Succulents


According to Merriam-Webster, filigree is an "ornamental openwork of delicate or intricate design." We saw both finely wrought ironwork and airy patterns in plantings.

Desert spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri)

Horsetail rush (Equisetum hyemale)



Proving that everything in Texas tends to be just a little bit bigger, the rainstorm we experienced at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was unlike anything I've ever seen in California. On very rare occasions does the Sacramento area get more than an inch of rain over the course of a day. That Friday morning, Austin received almost four inches in four hours!

All of us were very thankful for the rain ponchos the Garden Bloggers Fling organizers had thoughtfully included in our swag bags. And the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center gift shop did brisk business because there was nothing else to do while the clouds were wide open.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Diana Kirby's garden


The hippo is the mascot of the town of Hutto northeast of Austin. Donna and Mike Fowler's spacious garden in Hutto had a dozen hippos. Now THAT is civic pride!


According to Google, "the complete flower head of a plant including stems, stalks, bracts, and flower." Inflorescences were everywhere.

Pink- and yellow-flowering Hesperaloe parviflora at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Silhouetted flower stalks of the Texas tuberose (Manfreda maculosa)

Agave flower stalk

Japanese garden

When you think of Austin, you may not immediately think of Japanese gardens. I didn't. But Zilker Botanical Gardens (see entry under Z) does have a small but nice Japanese garden. For me it was a unexpected but welcome surprise.

Keep Austin Weird

"Keep Austin Weird" is the (un)official slogan of the Texas capital. It was adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance in the early 2000s to get residents to buy from small local businesses instead of big corporations. In a broader sense, it embraces the indie spirit that is so pervasive in Austin. Weird means being yourself—whoever you are, whatever you area.

Coming from a liberal and independent-minded town myself, I didn't think Austin was weird at all. In fact, it felt like a much larger version of Davis, and I was immediately comfortable. What I did find odd, though, is that many (many) houses we saw displayed flags, signs or other tokens stating that we were in Texas generally, and Austin specifically. People sure love their state and town! Or else they have a bad memory and need frequent reminders where they are.


To me, "lush" means abundant greenery and plenty of water. But it also means luxurious surroundings that make you feel pampered. We saw plenty of both in Austin.

Agaves and horsetail rush in the same spot? No problem in Austin. See at The Natural Gardener, an all-organic nursery.

Lush plantings and exquisite stonework at the Burrus garden.

Hidden spa corner in the B. Jane Garden. A luxury resort in their own backyard!

Pond at The Natural Gardener

Click here for Austin L to Z.


Index: 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, Austin, TX

© Gerhard Bock, 2018. No part of the materials available through may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent of Gerhard Bock. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Gerhard Bock is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by  United States and international copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Gerhard Bock. If you are reading this post on a website other than, please be advised that that site is using my content without my permission. Any unauthorized use will be reported.


  1. You worked very hard on this and its shows. Delightful photos, and the commentary as well.

  2. What a fun way to organize your pictures and your thoughts about Austin. I enjoyed seeing the commonalities you spotted among our gardens here.

  3. Really enjoyed reading your post, so novel and fun to feature the fling this way!

  4. What a great way to showcase all the amazing things we saw in Austin. I loon forward to the next installment!

  5. love this format Gerhard-it can be hard to find a unique way to post Fling reports and you have succeeded.

  6. Wonderful post! Whenever I visit a town I always check if there are botanical gardens to enjoy. If you're ever in Barcelona there are amazing ones there!

  7. Most excellent! I think the Manfreda maculosa photo is the one that stole my heart.

  8. Gorgeous photos, you really captured the memories of this year's garden bloggers' fling...can't wait to see the next installment.

  9. Inspiring - makes me want to explore Austin. Love the filigree iron work.

  10. I enjoyed your approach here! Your photos, as I've come to expect, are excellent. You also caught things I missed.

  11. I agree with everybody else -- clever and digestible way to share the Austin gardens with us, and give us a sneak peek of more to come at the same time!

  12. I love this post! What a creative way to capture the Fling experience!

  13. Thanks for the well-played narrative via garden symbols and stunning photos. You had me at all the displays of flags and so on in Austin as pride or needing reminders!!

  14. Oh, this is absolutely fabulous! I love how you captured all the design elements so beautifully and layed them out so well!


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