Monday, December 6, 2021

My Texas adventure started at Linda's...

As you may remember, at the end of October I flew down to Austin, Texas, to give a talk as part of Pam Penick's Garden Spark! series. While that talk was the reason for the trip, it wasn't the only thing I did while there, not by a long shot! Pam made sure my four days were filled with great gardens, gardeners and food. The day I arrived she picked me up at the airport and we were off to visit Linda Peterson's San Antonio garden...

We will start this tour on Linda's roof—how many gardens have you visited where you're invited to climb a circular staircase and view the land from above? I'm guessing not many. However it's the perfect way to give you an idea of the size of the garden and allow you to place it in a neighborhood.

I had a little trouble with that last point, in my mind (based on it's size, and as seen in posts Pam had done in the past) this garden was out in a sort of rural area...but it's not. There are neighbors on all sides!

The private walled inner garden is a world unto itself though, which is the point right?

So here we are, on the ground and out at the far corner of the garden—the "armpit" of the street T in the third photo from the top. Can you see now why I thought rural? Or at least far out on the suburbs, but Linda is just 10 miles from downtown San Antonio.

The timing of my visit fell as Portland had lost it's hold on anything resembling summer. That alone had me feeling as though I'd landed in paradise, a warm place with a sunny sky! But the magic extended beyond that. The garden was familiar, comfortable, and Linda was like a long-time friend I just hadn't seen for a couple of years, even though I had just met her. She was so welcoming to Pam and I. Plus, there were agaves...

Not as many agaves as if I'd visited last year at this time. After all Texas experienced a freak cold event last February and many of Linda's agaves, opuntia, and other plants had been wiped out. She and Pam commiserated about what had been, and was gone... 

All I saw though was amazing beauty—a garden in harmony with the site, those oaks!

More agaves would have been a good thing, of course, but there were still many happy plants, like this dasylirion—D. wheeleri I think?

How much do you love the porthole in the wall that allows the oak to continue out into the front garden?!

The tall bump-out in the wall (photo below) houses the fireplace you saw in the fourth photo above (and will see again shortly), but even on the backside it adds to the design.

This is one of the few places I could see evidence of a plant that was lost to the cold temperatures. 

Where there was once a massive opuntia, there was now only a small spine along the ground. The plant will—with time—grow back, a process it's already began. In the meantime Linda cleverly made up for the missing height in this space with the addition of copper tube and free-form flowers and other organic shapes all crafted by her capable hands. 

Stepping back and looking at the same area from a bit of distance...

Something I love seeing in Austin is the pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris, hardy to Zone 6, but not seen in Portland I wonder why?) ... to my unknowledgeable eyes this looks like a white version.

Such a tall Agave parryi there at the bottom of the photo. I wonder if it grew like that before the freeze, or is it a post-cold development?

This is a garden that begs for both the big panoramic shots, as well as smaller detail images. So much so that I had to save a few vignette photos out—lest this post become ridiculously long—and will share them tomorrow.

What's real and what's not? The pair of agaves on the right will never succumb to a deep-freeze. They're metal and bolted to a cement base too, so they won't be whisked away in the night by people who covet other people's agaves.

All thru my Texas travels Agave ovatifolia was a star, for surviving Mother Nature's February nightmare. However there were a few others that managed to stand tall and spiky...

Agave americana? I should have asked. I know Linda had many Agave weberi in her front garden pre-freeze.

There is a little of that dreamy pink muhly grass, on the right.

And palms! Survivors. I should have tracked down the name of these too, I want to call them Butia capitata—but that's just a guess.

Looking up the front walkway towards the inner courtyard—which we'll visit in just a bit.

Looking back to where we've been...

Agave montana, I believe?

To the right of the courtyard entrance. Linda generously shares her garden and gardening talent with the neighbors.

As we entered the courtyard I took this shot back towards the street in front of the garden.

Inside the wall this is one of those areas that looked great to me, but is not as fabulous as it used to be according to Linda.

I love the bands of color.

There are many animals sharing the garden with Linda and her husband Carl, these rhinos for example. Quite well behaved.

Doesn't the hammock look like a great spot for a nap? (ya, I caught a 7:30 am flight, I was a little tired).

Spoiler alert, we plopped down there later for a snack.

To the left of the fireplace area...soft and spiky, the Texas version. Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) I believe, with a variegated Agave americana.

This container grouping was to the right of the fireplace, against the house. This is also where we should pause and notice just how meticulously this garden is cared for. Not a stray leaf in sight!

I saw another couple of that floppy-leaved kalanchoe (in front) on my trip, I can't remember the name however.

Now we're at the back of the house, staring at a picturesque container grouping between the garage doors and the back patio steps.

A friendly horned lizard...

And lots of fabulous plants.

Looking beyond the steps.

As if I didn't already know Linda and I were kindred spirits, her hanging plant collection would have sealed the deal.

Plus... plants growing up the screening material!

There were many more plants hanging from the trees. Kind of hard to see in this photo but trust me—they were there.

Speaking of neighbors (I was at the beginning of the post), there's one! Note the perfectly placed umbrella. We can't see you!

I really should have tried out that hanging chair swing. What was I thinking?!?

I am tremendously jealous of anyone who can grow Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' in the ground like this. I might be able to baby a plant thru the winter, but never an entire field of them! 

I'm leaving out a few photos from this area that I already shared in my earlier "ferns in Texas" post, click on over there if you're curious. Meanwhile, front of wall..

And back of wall—and if I am remembering correctly the wall was made by Linda and Carl. Privacy, but with a little light and air movement.

This is also where we climbed up to the roof... so, the end of this post. Come back tomorrow for a few close-up photos from Linda's delightful garden...

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. I fall in love with this garden anew every time I see it. The "porthole" in the wall identifies it for me. I don't recall seeing overhead views in Pam's posts on the garden and I appreciate your addition of those. Everything is beautiful and, as you noted, meticulously maintained, but I admit to shuddering at the mention of Asparagus ferns as I regard those I inherited with my garden a plague I'll never defeat. The foxtail variety is only nominally more manageable than the bushy version in my experience.

    1. I hope I identified those correctly? I thought foxtail and Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' is what Monrovia shares as the one. Anyway... I understand your shudder... but I long to grow them.

  2. Scott's cramscaped garden followed by Linda's elegantly restrained one. So different and yet I love both. Two things really make this garden so special in my mind: the pale pistachio (?) color of the house and wall combined with the astonishingly beautiful, meandering dark oak trunks (growing through a porthole!).Everything else was the cherry on the proverbial cake. Fantastic pot groupings; are those metal pots in photo 26?

    1. Great comment! My last two posts are definitely very different gardens.

      Yes, they are pieces of metal culvert.

  3. A beautiful garden. Those oak trees definitely add character to the garden. I particularly loved all the metal sculptures especially the giraffe in the sea of asparagus fern. Very whimsical but not kitschy.

    1. Exactly! Linda's design skills take everything to a refined level. No kitsch!

  4. That is one beautiful garden. And the oak tree coming through the fence is brilliant.

    1. Can you imagine how someone else might have treated that tree? Yikes!

  5. This garden is like the garden of my dreams. Everything about is right--the size, the layout, the plants. In fact, it reminds in more than one way of Jenny 'Rock Rose' Stocker's former garden in Austin.

  6. Wonderful property, the oaks and walls are a fabulous architecture beautifully accented with smaller plants. So well done.

    1. I should have mentioned the whole thing—house, wall, garden—was designed by Linda and her husband.

  7. I'm happy for you that you got the chance to visit this garden-I always enjoyed Pams posts.

    1. I was over the moon when Pam mentioned it! Definitely a long time favorite.

  8. Thanks for sharing such a well-laid out garden, plus that architecture! Her newer plantings plus old live oaks and quite the courtyard space really complete it. On Muhlenbergia capillaris - I'm told it needs consistently long, hot summers - but wouldn't that week when Portland became Redding CA up to 116 would do the trick?

    1. We're definitely trending towards the long hot summer end of the spectrum. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  9. I've been waiting for your post about Linda's garden. Wonderful as expected! Thanks for sharing it through your lens.

    1. Thank you for hauling me all the way to San Antonio!

  10. Super nice garden... well laid out and spacious, it flows beautifully. The privacy wall is perfect!

    1. I should have mentioned it keeps the deer out too!

    2. Geez, I need one of those!

  11. Reading late, but such exciting posts on your texas trip. First time I have ever wanted to go there. (Have been, twice, but missed the gardens).

  12. Like Gerhard this is the garden of my dreams! I just adore it and, oh, those oak trees!


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