Kirk Walden's garden: It's all about the view (#gbfling2018)

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

Kirk Walden's garden in Austin, Texas is all about the view.

The end.

Just kidding. 

A little at least. Because even if that was the entirety of this post, it would do a pretty decent job of capturing the essence of this garden. The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words definitely applies here.

View of Lake Austin from Kirk Walden's garden

The view does take center stage, as it should in a setting like this. But there's more to Kirk Walden's garden. There's limestone, a building material as local as it gets in the Texas Hill Country. 

Limestone is big in Austin. Many of the gardens we visited incorporate limestone, often to stunning effect. Since it's so abundant, it must be considerably more affordable than it would be in California.

I'm always on the lookout for agaves, and lo and behold, there was an Agave americana right along the outside perimeter of the property. While it's not my favorite species, it's still better than a mass planting of pansies and petunias.

The architecture of the home embraces limestone and lets it shine.

This is the kind of house you're likely to see in ads for things like garage doors. 

The house also happens to have my new favorite outdoor light fixture:

It's a good thing I don't know who manufacturer of the fixture is or how much it costs!

The plantings around the house are low-growing (very few plants taller than two feet) and drawn from a restrained palette of greens and silvers. The emphasis is on foliage plants, with the occasional pop of color from flowering perennials (like the skullcaps in the photo below). In this garden, plants play a supporting role, allowing the architecture of the house and the hardscaping to bask in the spotlight.

Agave 'Blue Glow' and Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima)

Naturalistic planting in the front yard

Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima) and Mexican grass tree (Dasylirion longissimum)

Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis)

Oak-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) softening the edges of the flagstone steps on the side of the house

Covered porch on the side of the house. The glossy leaves in the planter belong to Farfugium japonicum 'Giganteum'. We saw so many of these farfugiums that you'd think they're native to Texas (as the species name suggests, they're from Japan).

Dry stream bed in side yard

Now we're in the front garden. As you can see below, a generous front porch allows even a large group of people to admire the view from a shaded spot:

The house is large but it sits comfortably in its environment

The plants in the area leading up to the pool are well chosen: they create a lush ambience without screaming “look at me! look at me!”

Low water, low maintenance, high style

Brilliant use of native limestone and sun-loving perennials creates a naturalistic garden

The 4-ft soaking pool looks like a spring-fed swimming hole. The idea came from the pond in the main courtyard of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. (Kris of Late to the Garden Party captured of a great photo of it.)

The soaking pool is connected to the lower pool by a series of small cascades (dry when we visited)

The lower pool is larger and deeper

Can you imagine relaxing here and taking in the view of Lake Austin?

What makes this setting even more special is that you look out over what appears to be a large expanse of untouched nature. Only a few other houses are visible. This is the kind of spot that superlatives were invented for.

In her post, Austin blogger Pam Penick quotes homeowner Kirk Walden as saying that they wanted a garden that “is all about nature, if nature were a little more organized.” Designer Annie Gillespie of Botanical Concerns (now retired) took Kirk's vision and ran with it, creating a beautifully restrained space that maximizes all the assets nature has so generously provided.


Index: 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, Austin, TX

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  1. It was a glamorous property with a fascinating view of boating activity on the lake. The sense of space was grand. Gorgeous stone. Plantings all very appropriate and beautifully groomed. Something felt missing for me somehow. A shaded sitting area on the far side of the pool, below it--something. A sheltered spot. Too open in some fashion, though the residents probably do their viewing from the balconies.

  2. It is am amazing view and to have so few buildings must be hard to come by now. Great garden.

  3. Such a stunning garden, love all the stone work!

  4. Lovely garden. I liked how they maintained the 'natural' look. Definitely a high budget garden with all the stonework but it fits nicely into it's surroundings. Great pictures as always.


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