B. Jane Garden: small but sophisticated backyard resort (#gbfling2018)

More from the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, which took place in Austin, Texas from May 4-6, 2018. 

Garden bloggers from North America and Europe are gathering in Denver, CO right now for the 2019 Garden Bloggers Fling. Because of my daughter's high school graduation, I'm not able to join them, but I'm there in spirit. To celebrate the 2019 Fling, I'm making a concerted effort to write about the gardens we saw last year in Austin. There are still some incredible places to come!

Today: B. Jane Garden, located in the Brentwood neighborhood in Central Austin. This area was a cotton farm until the 1940s when it was annexed by the City of Austin. This area is dominated by two- and three-bedroom bungalows, many of which were originally bought by GIs starting families after WWII.


What do they say about mullets? Business in the front, party in the back? That comparison popped into my head as I was going through my photos of this garden. You'll see why in a moment.

B. Jane is an Austin landscape designer whose company, B. Jane Gardens, offers full-service design and build services. The garden we visited is B. Jane's own Brentwood oasis.

The house looks like it started out as one of those modest 1950s bungalows I mentioned earlier. I have no doubt that originally there was a front lawn as well as unassuming foundation shrubs in front of the house. The lawn is long gone, replaced by a climate-appropriate planting scheme that's as attractive as it's water-wise and low-maintenance (“I love plants but I’m not a constant gardener,” B. Jane admits).

Muhly grass and opuntias in front of B. Jane's home

Agave ovatifolia in a sea of silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea)

A low concrete wall visually separates the public portion of the front yard from the private space near the house

A simple yet elegant fountain adds interest and serves as a water source for birds and insects

Agave ovatifolia, Dichondra argentea, and Asparagus aethiopicus 'Sprengeri'

Clean and perfect in its simplicity: concrete stepping stone path bordered by Sprenger's asparagus

Muhlenbergia capillaris and Opuntia 'Old Mexico' behind the low wall

Lush, yet low water

Front of the house, dominated by a large 'Natchez' crepe myrtle

The front of house, as you saw, was low-key, yet beautiful. As you walk by it, you may not immediately think, wow, that's a stunner, but I bet you'll remember it nonetheless as an elegant take on low-water landscaping. You may even say, that's exactly what I want for my own front yard. In that sense, it's a great living business card for B. Jane Gardens.

Things change quickly as you walk into the backyard. The first “room” I entered was this deck off the master bedroom:

An outdoor shower surrounded by exotic plants...

...and a spa screened from the neighboring property by meticulously maintained bamboo (maybe Bambusa multiplex):

Blue chairs and a red side table—all part of the limited color scheme

And NOW the party is really starting—or your lounge-around-all-day-in-your-own-resort staycation. Whatever you prefer.

In my book, this is the very definition of sophistication:

I couldn't get enough of this pool deck with its tall concrete wall backed by more bamboo:

Seriously, this is a glossy design magazine come to life!

I'm sure landscape professionals often neglect their own property because they're so busy elsewhere. I'm glad for myself and rest of the Garden Flingers that B. Jane didn't. Not only did she build the perfect backyard oasis for herself, she also created a ready-to-show reference project for potential clients—and a truly memorable space for us to explore and photograph.

Fire pit in the corner looking towards the pool deck and the spa "room" beyond

The backyard isn't particularly large, as you can see below. B. Jane's design proves that even in a tight space you can have a pool without giving up all the lawn (or whatever low- or no-water substitute you choose).

The addition on the right (cut off, unfortunately), is B. Jane's design studio and office

Party central!

Outdoor fireplace/cooktop

More succulents

This tray is the perfect distillation of the design colors used in the back garden

This may well be the best resort-at-home design I've ever seen for small backyards. It's refined without being over the top, and it doesn't clutter the space with stuff that doesn't have a purpose. Loree “danger garden” Bohl sums it up perfectly: “The back garden is small, but it seems to live quite large.”


Index: 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, Austin, TX

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  1. The first bamboo might be a form of Bambusa textilis...

  2. This is the garden I would have if I knew how to exercise restraint when it comes to selecting plants. I'd forgotten how much I liked that fern and bromeliad covered shower screen.

  3. Yes, that was a great garden--the front looked very Austin but the back was more SoCal.

    Remembering how much fun the Austin Fling was and how much fun the Denver fling must be. Stars did not align for me to attend this year. Congrats to daughter on her graduation!

  4. Amazing what can be done with a small space when you engage your imagination. Can imagine spending a hot day by the pool with a cold one. Too bad you will miss Denver but your daughter only graduates from HS once. Where did she decide to go to university?

  5. I have been thinking about this garden since you posted it, and I like it, but I would never own it. It is so specifically one thing that you couldn't say 'maybe an arbor would be nice' or 'I'm gonna buy this lemon tree and find a place to put it!' It feels fixed and static--it's not a flexible garden that you can decide year-to-year and season-to-season how you want it to be. If it were mine, it would surely be cluttered with pots as I tried to find ways to bring change into it. That said, it *is* beautiful, and you couldn't add or remove one single thing without harming it.

  6. I figured it out! It is the garden equivalent of a really pretty hotel room, as opposed to a home. Whew. There. That's the analogy I needed.

  7. Great description and photos. I enjoyed touring B. Jane's garden with you! Digging: penick.net


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