Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Inside Austin Gardens Tour: Heaven on Ea-- er--The Stoker Garden

So, I'm thinking of subtitling my blog "Better Late Than Never." These are my pictures from the Inside Austin Gardens tour on April 19, specifically the garden of Jenny and David Stocker, where I blew through 2 USB cards and my fully-charged camera battery. (It was just that awesome.)

Uploading pictures to Blogger for this post has been an epic test of the strength of my character, and I concede that I am but scissors to Blogger's rock. So, disclaimer: I will be wandering through this garden willy-nilly, as I have given up posting the scenes in the order you would see them while walking through the garden.

In random order, then, here are two pictures of the lovely vegetable garden, for my food-growing friends:

A shady nook. Doesn't it look like it would be nice and cool here even when it's 100 degrees outside? I like how the fig ivy completely covers the wall and cuts any glare from the stone underneath, which cools everything down. It makes the walls seem to recede and the space seem larger.

The formal shape of the swimming pool gives you a place to rest your eyes. I love that agave, which practically functions as sculpture. Anyone know what kind it is?

Courtyard with square pavers. The friends I dragged along with me particularly liked this area.

Another shot of the pool in the middle of a field of wildflowers.

The circle garden with Knockout roses. I took many pictures of this area, but the sun burned everything out and this is the only picture with colors that didn't hurt my eyes.

Looking from the Knockout bed towards the house, the circle motif is continued by the round patio right off of the back door:

And round pavers in the path surrounding the Knockout bed:

Concrete pavers in the first courtyard. I like the scale here. The pavers are big enough that you don't have to worry about stepping on plants, and also big enough that you can see the shape even with plants blurring the square, formal edges. I also like how this photo shows the horizontal lines across the landscape, edges of pavers and then the edges of the steps. It's a nice contrast to the round shapes of the plants, and leads your eye and then your feet into the next room:

The wild-looking mediterranean entrance courtyard:

I like the rustic stairs as you enter the first of the courtyards from the driveway-- the rough stairs echo the exposed stone of the Balcones Escarpment and thus help the the house blend into its surroundings:

Dry creek in the entrance courtyard. I wonder how much of this is functional?

Another dry creek, this one seen from the driveway. I love how lush and cool and green it looks, and how it draws your eye into the woods:

Another view, another dry stream. All of these dry streams reminded me of MSS's post about the difficulties of keeping these areas looking appealing and free of leaves and weeds:

A pot of aloe, set on a rock wall. I wish I'd had a shot that included the natural woods in the background, because the dry, dead junipers contrasted quite well with the green fleshiness of the aloe.

I also liked how the sedum grew out the bottom of this window basket. I bet that no drop of water is wasted this way.

And in order to put this all in context, here's a shot of the natural woods around the property. As you can see, Jenny and David Stoker are gardening on the outskirts of Mordor. I'm especially impressed with what they've accomplished when I see it in this context.

Word on the street says that, other than the stucco, the Stokers did all of the hardscaping themselves. Holy crap. Having accomplished such a huge project so well, it wouldn't surprise me to hear that they're superheros. Can't you just see it? Jenny and David Stoker: they fight crime!


Gail said...

This garden is incredible, there isn't anything else to say! Except to agree that posting pictures is a big chore and I appreciate your doing it!


Lori said...

Gail - I know! I could have stayed there and wandered around all day! I only wish my camera battery had lasted longer! :D

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I'm glad you posted a photo tour of Jenny's garden. (It's never to late to post a good article.) You included a lovely shot of the pool. I preferred its simple lines to the rock waterfall at Mary's garden. (You wouldn't know it to look at my garden but I love a sharp clean edge.)

Jenny said the rain gardens were very functional. One of the problems with the courtyard is that it can fill up like a concrete basin unless there is good drainage. The dry streams feed into drains that go under the walls.

Lori said...

MSS - I'm in complete agreement with you about the pools, which were a hotly-debated topic among the four of us who toured together. Mary's pool was pretty awesome, but I feel that if you have bright turquoise water, why bother pretending that it's part of nature? I liked the rectangular pool because it pulled double duty-- pool, and formal element to balance the wildness of the plantings. I like the clean lines too. Now that I think about it more, the pool really worked the way those large square pavers worked in that one courtyard.

Thanks for clarifying the functionality thing. I didn't start wondering about it until I want through my pictures, and I couldn't remember whether all of those dry streams were connected. :)

vertie said...

Thanks for the pictures. I didn't take any of the pavers, even though I plan to make some as soon as Jenny gets her husband to post about how they made them.

Lori said...

Vertie - I really hope that Jenny posts a how-to. I'm tempted to try something similar myself in one of the side yards.

ml said...

I just saw my first knockout roses on a long weekend trip to North Carolina, near Raleigh. The knockouts weren't out yet there.
So it's great to come back and see them here. What an exquisite garden these Stokers have made!

Carol said...

It's nice to see your pictures of the Stoker garden... reminds me that I got to see it a month ago when I was in Austin. A lot of work went in to that garden... it's worth a post, for sure, even 'late'.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

karen said...

Jenny and Davids's is such a GLORIOUS garden. I love your photos of it. They capture design elements I haven't seen before.

Annie in Austin said...

My erratic camera kept me from taking photos when I was there, but my photographic attempts wouldn't have been as good as yours, Lori. I love your comments about the shapes and contrasts.

My previous Austin house had the same kind of terrain in the sloped back yard that is outside Jenny's walls - stressed junipers, struggling live oaks and everything else chomped by deer, so that there are few wildflowers and no saplings or young trees waiting to replace the aging ones. Jenny and I both used the term "degraded landscape" and it fits. The contrast of what exists inside the walls and outside the walls is startling.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Kathryn/ said...

I appreciate your documenting that garden. I find myself wondering, however, what all that concrete and brick does in the sun. I wonder if there's another way?

Lori said...

Annie - The contrast between the woods and the garden just floored me. They must have had to do a ton of prep work with the dirt as well as all that hardscaping.

Kathryn - I'm sure it gets hot. I went to Tom Spencer's garden last Saturday, and with all of the decomposed granite paths, it was scorching hot and everyone was taking refuge under the trees. I was seriously considering putting a stone or gravel path into one of my side yards so I wouldn't have to mow, but now I agree with you-- I want a cooler alternative.

Lancashire rose said...

I'm sure I'm way too late for anyone to see a comment from the gardener but first let me say I loved your post. On the day of the tour I took only a couple of photos. We were so busy. I have been planning to post a how to on the pavers. Look for it soon but let me tell you that I hardly had a hand in them. I did quite a bit of finishing in the first place but D seemed to get into the swing and continued by himself. He did a fantastic job-he is so good at staying on task.
All the dry creeks are functional and were our solution to a drainage problem. The circular pavers were made this year. Originally we had native stone but decided round ones would continue the theme in that garden. I suppose it is hotter out there than if we had grass-everything has its drawbacks I guess.
I loved the post and all the comments. Thank you for all.

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