Friday, October 19, 2012

Inside Austin Gardens- Demonstration Garden

Remember how I told you about the upcoming garden tour?  Well, it happens this Saturday.  I wanted to give you a peek of a garden on the tour that I get to see each time I go to work.  It's the demonstration garden at 1600-B Smith Road Austin, TX. 

This garden is planned and created by our Master Gardener volunteers and they have been working really hard to get it ready for the tour.  I think their hard work has paid off because it looks fantastic!  Not only is it wonderful to wander through to look at the plants, but you also get the wonderful smells from blooming roses and, when I'm lucky, someone brings in some goodies for me to take home.  They are growing a bunch of produce out there as well.  I've been eyeballing the cantaloupes for awhile since I can never seem to get them to grow.  I found out recently that they were volunteers!  Wish my garden would magically grow cantaloupes.

They have a really cool wicking bed that they installed a little over a month ago.  It was really neat to see how they set it up.  If you don't know what a wicking bed is, stop by and you can learn all about how to create your own.  I also really like how many of the food-producing plants are intermixed within the landscape.  It's almost like you can forage as you stroll leisurely through the area.

The other feature I love about the demo garden is the insects that can be found.  It is a certified Wildlife Habitat, so it allows me to wander through with my camera to get shots of various insects- beneficials and pests.  They have milkweed and passion vine, so I can find monarchs, queens and gulf fritillaries each year.  I usually can track down swallowtails, skippers, blues and sulphurs at certain times as well. 

Please consider adding the demo garden to your schedule.  Daphne Richards, horticulturalist extraordinaire, will be here all day to answer any questions on plants.  This location will also be KID-FRIENDLY with activities for kids with our Junior Master Gardener group.  Patty Leander will be presenting on Vegetable Gardens and Roz Garrett will be doing two presentations on Eating Like a Rainbow.

Saturday, October 20, 2012
9AM- 4PM
Tickets are $15 in advance (purchased at the website above); $20 the day of the tour or $5 per individual garden (purchase at the individual gardens)

Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 Inside Austin Gardens Tour 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012
9AM- 4PM
Tickets are $15 in advance (purchased at the website above); $20 the day of the tour or $5 per individual garden (purchase at the individual gardens)

I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at a few of the gardens on the tour.  I am even more fortunate to have one of them located right outside my office each day.  Each garden incorporates not only native and adapted plants that you see here in Central Texas, but also edible items- fruits, veggies and herbs.

Since I'm not the average garden blogger, I think I was drawn to things "not the norm", but I also used the opportunity to steal ideas to incorporate at home.  And this is where I need to apologize.  Yes, I had my camera with me and yes, I took photos.  Here comes the but- BUT the laptop where I moved the pictures died this morning and I can't get to the photos. ARGH!  There is consolation, though.  You can either go to the above website to get some sneak peeks or you can go to some of the other bloggers write ups about the gardens to see their photos.  Best of all, you can attend the tour and see the gardens IN PERSON!

The first garden- Carolyn & Michael Williams- had an idea for keyhole gardening that I am stealing for myself and the boy.  She had taken a wheelbarrow, drilled holes in the bottom and filled it with soil to plant veggies in.  The center had a wire ring for a mini-compost pile.  She waters from the compost area & it send out compost tea into the barrow.  The best of all, it can be moved anywhere in the garden!  I also fell in love with the super-friendly cat I found while looking for insects in the shrubbery....if you see Callie, give her a hug for me.

The next garden- David & Jennifer Phillips- had another idea that I'm stealing.  Since moving last year, I've been missing my veggie garden from the old house, but I couldn't figure out how I want to grow veggies in the new place.  I now have my solution after viewing this garden- galvanized stock tanks.  Jennifer said they cut out the majority of the bottom of the tank,  filled with soil, rigged up drip irrigation and got to planting.  The thing that blew me away at this garden was the rainwater collection system.  They casually said, "the rainwater collection is around the back."  I went back to check it out and it was MASSIVE.  It was not what I was expecting at all.

The Doyle/ Matthews gardens were so bright and colorful.  I fell in love with the washer pit at the Matthews house and am adding another item to my "honey do" list (I'm sure hubby will be thrilled).  The other thing that fascinated me at these homes was the Rover ants tending aphids on some of the plants.  I know...weird; it's the bug nerd in me.

Renee Studebaker's garden was mind boggling to me.  She has one of those "found item" type gardens set up into various "rooms" that all seems to work together somehow.  I cannot fathom how people pull that type of thing together and I'm always in awe of them.  It's like those girls in high school who always looked so great when I was lucky to get on a pair of clean jeans and a t-shirt because fashion was SO not my thing (it still isn't if you haven't noticed...).  Anyway, I digress.  This garden had a grape vine growing on this kind-of giant umbrella stand thing that was so cool.  I, of course, found some more bugs here to ogle.  This time it was a hover fly at some flowers.

Here is where I bow to the masters- other blogger's takes on the gardens can be found here:

Garden Ally
Rock Rose
Digging: Donnis & Doyle Garden
Digging: Matthews Garden
Kiss of Sun

Each garden will have not only garden viewing and plants for sale, but also presentations on a variety of topics.  There will be different topics presented at each garden, so check for each schedule (click on each individual garden to see the presentations at that particular location).  Topics include things such as:

  • Firewise
  • planning an edible landscape
  • spice up your food with herbs
  • grow your own garden party appetizers
  • American Indian medicine wheel herbs
  • the vegetable garden: what to grow & why
  • unconventional landscape snacks: collecting and cooking insects
Soooo...guess who is giving that last talk?  That's right!  Yours truly.  I hope that it will be a hit; people are disgusted but fascinated at the same time about eating insects.  I will talk about how to collect insects, rear insects and prepare insects.  We'll also cover the all important question of WHY (because Wizzie is crazy? people should include insects in their diet.  I have some recipes and OF COURSE some goodies to sample!  Join me....chocolate covered crickets- bet you can't eat just one!