England meets Texas: Jenny Stocker's walled garden (#gbfling2018)

Many of you know Jenny Stocker through her blog Rock Rose and are familiar with her garden in suburban Austin. But seeing photos of a garden is one thing, even if it's hundreds, if not thousands, of photos over a number of years. Visiting it in person is something else entirely. It's a somewhat surreal experience—like a lucid dream where you find yourself in a place that's both new and familiar at the same time. When I finally had the opportunity to tour Jenny's garden during the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, I took hundreds of photos myself. I hope that I managed to capture a few angles you haven't seen before.

If you're not familiar with the Stockers, here's a brief intro. Jenny and her husband David are transplants from England who came to the US in 1967. After gardening elsewhere in Austin, they built their dream home in 2000 and started their current garden right after the house was finished. In this post you'll see their house and garden from air as well as some photos of the early days.

Jenny describes her garden like this:
Our idea was to have space in which I could garden deer-free. So the house was built with surrounding walls. We also like to eat outdoors and have our morning coffee or afternoon tea outside, so creating areas for that became our next priority. In winter we needed a sheltered, sunny spot, and in summer a shaded spot. So we have 6 areas we use depending on the time of the year and time of day. 
You'll see all of that in the course of this post. But let's start at the street where the bus dropped us off. The first thing you notice are trees. Lots of them. It's a miniature forest!

Others commented on the reclining chair under the trees and what a wonderful spot to sit it was, but my eyes immediately went to the steely-blue agaves beyond—all Agave weberi, as it turned out. You'll see a lot more of them later.

The next photo is of the walkway to the front entrance. The house really is that well hidden!

Getting closer...

...and closer...

...almost there now:

Peek inside the door:

This is the front courtyard garden:

A good example of the rock work you see everywhere:

If you think the garden looks a bit wild, you would be right. "I rely heavily on self-seeding plants," Jenny says, "and am more than willing to let them grow where they plant themselves."

As the saying goes, "There's always an agave somewhere:" 

In fact, there are many agaves in the front courtyard garden. This is a particularly photogenic specimen of Agave parryi:

You know what else there was in abundance? Garden bloggers wearing colorful rain ponchos!

A look back at the main entrance:

We exit the way we entered, stopping to admire the pair of Agave desmettiana 'Variegata':

And the wall sconces:

I don't know where Jenny and David got them but I'd love to have some myself

We're once again outside the garden walls, looking first towards the driveway...

...and then in the other direction:

Texas mountain laurel (Dermatophyllum secundiflorum, formerly known as Sophora secundiflora)

Another stately Agave weberi

Within 30 seconds, we're back inside the wall, in the English Garden now. I'm a sucker for ceramic faces:

A hypertufa container made by Jenny:

More meticulously laid stones:

Even an opuntia "tree:"

And an exuberance of plants:

The somewhat alien-looking inflorescence of Manfreda maculata

I admire subtle ornaments like these

Mexican needle grass (Nasella tenuissima) has a reputation for being invasive in certain climates, but there's nothing else quite like it. It moves in the gentlest breeze and is breathtaking en masse.

Now we're in the inner sanctum, the pool garden:

I'm not a fan of massive pools that take over the entire backyard. None of that here. I love that the Stocker's pool has hard angles instead of the usual curves and that it's seamlessly integrated into the garden instead of sticking out like a sore thumb. It really is just about the perfect pool in my book.

The pool is surrounded by a meadow of flowering plants that are left to do their thing:

Window in the wall peeking into the English Garden we walked through just a minute ago. The man holding the umbrella is Jenny's husband, David:

I felt right at home on the patio outside the living room:

The covered patio is on the right, the pool on the left (the urn pours into the pool):

Let's not forget to admire the Yucca rostrata!

Opuntia ellisiana with new ground

There were so many small vignettes in Jenny's garden that made me stop dead in my tracks:

Flowering Confederate Rose agave in a pedestal planter:

Everywhere you look there are plants growing in cracks between the pavers:

Jenny's vegetable garden has to be the most attractive vegetable garden I've ever seen:

Because plants are allowed to grow wherever they come up, there's an element of randomness and unpredictability that I really responded to.

Yes, there are vegetables growing in the vegetable garden:

The "poncho people," as Loree "Danger Garden" Bohl called them in her post, were everywhere; I looked no different. Fortunately, the rain had stopped, otherwise very few bloggers would have been out in the open.

Burst of color everywhere:

The pool garden is on the other side of a low wall:

Looking over the wall of the vegetable garden into the "wilderness:"

And now we're outside the wall. (Why does that sound so much like Game of Thrones?)

More Opuntia ellisiana

And more Mexican needlegrass. The structure is Jenny's greenhouse.

I didn't have time to explore the "wild" area outside the wall, but according to this 2014 post on Jenny's blog, there are "2 acres of juniper, oaks, persimmons, retama, agarita, growing on dry, dusty thin limestone soils."

The opening in the wall that you see in the next photo...

...leads to smaller courtyard garden, which in turns leads to the front courtyard garden you saw towards the top of this post.

This area felt very intimate—the kind of place you want to sneak way to during a busy garden party in order to have a quiet conversation.

Perfectly maintained potted succulents:

Aloe marlothii and Agave colorata

Back outside the wall, with the garage on the left:

And finally the agave garden beyond the garage. The trees at the top right are the same trees you saw in the photos at the beginning of this post:

A dry creek bed, lots of rocks, and plenty of agaves growing out of the gravel: That's all you need for a naturalistic agave garden. 

Agave weberi produces a lot of offsets, making it easy to create a mass planting over time.

I know I should stop with the photos, but I just can't tear myself away.

Just one more:

We saw many special gardens during the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, each with their own unique personality. It's impossible to pick just one favorite, but I've been thinking of Jenny's garden often since my visit in early May. It's because of the way the garden is designed—the different rooms inside the wall—, the rock work, the expansive setting, all of that. But above all it's because Jenny lets the plants take center stage. I know she keeps a vigilant eye on everything and nips and tucks where needed, but the plants have room to breathe, to live, to flourish.


Index: 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, Austin, TX

© Gerhard Bock, 2018. No part of the materials available through www.succulentsandmore.com 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 www.succulentsandmore.com, please be advised that that site is using my content without my permission. Any unauthorized use will be reported.


  1. Lovely. It was truly special, and a privilege to see. (And thanks for the i.d. of Agave weberi....)

  2. I'm glad to enjoy Jenny's garden again through your eyes. It was among my favorites too. As usual, you framed your photos beautifully.

  3. Jenny's garden is one of the very best in Austin. I'm so glad she shared it with the Flingers, and you captured it well.

  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed my garden Gerhard. It has given me as much pleasure to read what you had to say as actually being out there working. The rainy day didn't seem to dampen your visit one bit.

  5. Best thing about having other bloggers visit a garden that you've "seen" for years (through posts): you get to see angles that you wouldn't otherwise. For instance, Jenny never (rarely?) posts photos from the back wall looking back to the house -- that image helped put the layout into perspective for me like nothing else has! Also, I have never seen the area by the driveway/garage. Great photos as always!

  6. Well done post. It is a spectacular garden.

  7. Just curious -- how tall do the walls need to be to keep the deer out? Beautiful photos and great information. Thanks!

  8. Wonderful photos Gerhard, I love that a few of the same things caught our eye (Agaves!). Did you just happen to enter the garden through the formal entrance? I really enjoyed that perspective.

  9. Beautiful photos as always! Love the clean, modernist hard landscaping and repetitive planting of agave.


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