Ruthie Burrus garden: Texas Hill Country hideaway with spectacular views (#gbfling2018)

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

Last week I wrote about the garden of Austin, Texas designer B. Jane. It combines a low-water and low-maintenance front yard with a contemporary resort-style backyard in a compact package. To quote Loree “danger garden” Bohl, it's small but lives large.

Ruthie Burrus's garden is in some ways the opposite. As you'll see, it lives large because it is large: The hilltop property is two acres and overlooks downtown Austin. As you can imagine—and will see in a bit—the views are insane.

The residence is at the top of the hill, connected to the street by a long and steep driveway. A golf cart comes in handy in a place like this!

The hillside takes up a big chunk of the property. It's essentially a wildflower meadow that changes with the seasons as native plants bloom and fade. Ruthie Burrus is not only avid gardener but also a conservationist who takes care to provide food for pollinators year round. The Burrus garden is both a Certified Wildlife Habitat and a Monarch Way Station.

I was pleased to see that some succulents managed to sneak their way into the wildflower meadow: cane cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricata) above, whale's tongue agave (Agave ovatifolia) below, and prickly pear (Opuntia sp.) below that:

Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera)

Texas red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora). Another native succulent, but neither a yucca nor an aloe.

Based on the conversations I overheard during our visit, one of the most coveted features on the Burrus property was this 10,000-gallon galvanized tank. It stores rainwater harvested from the roofs and gutters. 

This is the view you see when you stand to the right of the water tank: 

This is Lake Austin, a reservoir created in 1939 by damming the Lower Colorado River

Another Agave ovatifolia near the top of the driveway (right). The house is on the left at the 10 o'clock position.

Now we're back to where the golf cart photo was taken. The main house is straight ahead, the garage with an apartment above is on the left:

Texas Hill Country limestone is featured prominently, both in the architecture of the house and as paving and stepping stone material in the landscaping:

Another Agave ovatifolia

And another, with Farfugium japonicum behind it

Agave nickelsiae

Entrance to the main house

'Little Ollie' dwarf olive in an olive jar. This was my favorite vignette on the entire property. The olive jar and the limestone wall complement each other perfectly, both in color and texture.

Covered porch

Fuzzy opuntia against limestone wall

As I mentioned earlier, the view of downtown Austin is spectacular. This is from the covered porch:

And poolside:

View of the house from the other side of the pool:

Small sitting area off to the side—perfect for a quiet conversation over a cup of coffee or an adult beverage:

Even a wood-fired pizza oven!

And another Agave ovatifolia, beautifully framed by Jerusalem sage (Phlomis sp.):

The fairy-tale structure in the next set of photos is what Ruthie Burrus calls her “garden haus.” It's the heart of her small Provence garden, a gravel-topped area lush with sage, lavender, santolina, bee balm, roses and citrus. The small house (I can't bring myself to calling it a “shed”) was built entirely with salvaged materials; the rocks were collected on site.

The wooden doors came from a local store specializing in French antiques:

Behind the stone house is a smaller rainwater tank as well as room for yard waste and compostables:

I've never seen bagged soil stored in a more beautiful spot:

Ruthie's husband, Gene, took us up into the “tower” you see in the two photos below:

The view from the top was, well, over the top. For some reason (probably because I was too busy conversating), I only took a few photos:

You can just make out Lake Austin in the upper left. Downtown Austin would be over on the right.

This photo (and the next) gives you a good idea of how green the Burrus property is

View of pool from above

Two final photos of the house as we trek back down the long driveway to the bus:

After a few more steps, the house was all but hidden by the trees:

Pam Penick, one of the organizers of the Austin Garden Blogger's Fling whose garden I featured in this post, first visited the Burrus garden in October 2014. Her post helped me get some of the details right.


Index: 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, Austin, TX

© Gerhard Bock, 2019. All rights reserved. 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. A beautiful garden. Always pictured Texas gardens as more desert-like and dry but the Burrus garden is very much the opposite. What a treat to sit pool-side and enjoy the view. Do you know if they get a large migration of Monarch's through the garden? Great tour and photos.

  2. Really enjoying revisiting the Austin gardens!

  3. I can enjoy most garden pictures without pangs of envy, but I can't see shots of this one without wanting to move in. What a paradise. And what an eye for design. It combines simplicity and very high quality, and has a very, very restful atmosphere. Although obviously beautifully maintained, it has the feel of a relatively low-maintenance garden. (Though I know plenty of work has gone into establishing that hillside "meadow".)

  4. That was one of my favorite gardens on the 2018 tour. I still remember gasping at that view of downtown Austin.

  5. I had to go back and review my photos from this garden after reading your post--it was a fun journey back !


Post a Comment