Sunday, August 5, 2018

What I Learned: Garden Art Done Austin-Style

It continues to be hot (shocker!) so instead of doing lots of work in the garden, i went back and looked at Austin pictures for inspiration. There are a few exciting projects happening in the garden, however - now if i could just remember to take pictures!

One thing i don't have a lot of is garden art. No particular reason, although the fact that I buy too many plants is probably one. I'm also not sure what i like, or what looks good, or what will hold up in our sun/heat/cold/wind. I also tend towards minimalist tendencies (well, except for plants), so "extra stuff" was never high on my list.

However, just like with plants, and everything else, the gardens we saw during the Austin Fling had all kinds of inspiration for garden art. Here are some of the ones that caught my eye, from the small:
this cute metal lizard (?) in Diana's garden
To the large:
the labyrinth at The Natural Gardener
And the cute - in this case bushes with some decorations to make them look like caterpillars!
Also at The Natural Gardener!
At Mirador, the garden art was more sculptural and very much blended with the rest of the design.
although it was blocking the gate - on purpose?
Austin had lots of metal lizards - this one in Pam's garden:
I like how it blends into the rock
Pam's garden had lots of cute garden art that really fit in with everything else in her gorgeous garden
a carnivorous plant i might be able to keep alive!

Ditto on the fish!
Some of the art looked like it was part of the plants, like these metal stalks on an agave:
not the world's best picture of Pam's garden...
In Hutto, there were more small sculptures:
and a bottle edging - there were a lot of bottles (trees, bushes, edges) in the Fling
The back gate at Zilker had metal cacti!
The whole gate was gorgeous! 
While at Lucinda Hutson's garden, there were all kinds of metal agave, in different colors:
these were great - they really fit in her garden, but i can see them work in lots of places
A lot of Austin gardens had beautiful rock work. At Kirk Walden's garden, there was also a sculpture near the top pool/spa:
it looked like a dinosaur to me? Fitting with all that rock!
We saw a lot of bottle trees in different gardens - this one from Donna Fowler's garden was among the most colorful:
especially with that blue sky and lime-green trees behind it!
I will admit that while i admire explosions of color like that, I think i can see more subdued art fitting better in my own garden, like this crocodile out of Tait Moring's garden:
hiding in the gravel - i could do this with DG?
Or this combination of spheres and stepping stones in Jenny Stocker's garden. She recently did a post showing how to make these spheres:
i like how they are nestled into the plants
She also had this cute frog statue hanging off the edge of a rock wall:
cute, and looking great on that awesome Texas/Austin rock!
She also had this little "theater", which made the plants themselves look like art:
so neat! And a great focal point on the wall...

Thoughts on how to apply this lesson to my garden:
  • While i admire some of the very colorful art, i'm not sure that's my style. Over and over again in Austin, my eye was caught by art that blended into the gardens. 
  • All the metal (rusted metal, in particular) sculpture was really nice. And maybe the rusted color would keep it from getting too hot in the desert sun? I know i would really like glass, but i don't like setting the garden on fire, so that's probably out...
  • I liked all the spheres - maybe i could get some more for the garden, including glazed ones that match the mostly-blue pots I've been using? I have some small ones scattered around the garden already, but i think the hillside would be a great place to add some bigger ones. 
  • I should look into more "vertical" garden art - like bloom stalks, or other things to add some height, especially when the yuccas/hesperaloes aren't blooming.  
  • I'm very tempted to find a place on a wall to hang a cacti theater like Jenny's - maybe that can be the thing to fill up the wall by the AC and make that part of the garden nicer?
  • Speaking of that part of the garden (that would be the south side) - I wonder if i could add cacti to the fence like at Zilker... it would be fitting! I probably can't get an exact color match though, so I'll have to see if it still works against the blue gate. 


  1. Lots of great garden art ideas! Thanks for the link to Jenny Stocker's hypertufa sphere instructions!

    1. I really want to try those one of these days! She makes it look so easy...

  2. I love the rusted metal lizards and Jenny's theater. I'm hesitant about garden art too but I've managed to collect a bit of it, primarily because 2/3rds or more of it arrived as gifts. Gift art is difficult because you feel obligated to hang on to it, at least for a time. I got a sculpture featuring 3 ants on a swing from a friend for my last b-day, which is definitely not my style. And years ago my husband gave me a cement pig (a BIG pig) wearing overalls, which I tried to leave behind when we moved 7 years ago but he discovered my "oversight"...

    1. I'm smiling about you trying to "forget" a large pig... I tried to convince everyone years ago to just give me plants for my garden!

  3. I like your approach to the posts about Fling Renee. It's nice to think about all of these topics. Garden art has always seemed a bit controversial-it's so subjective and income related-i.e. if you have The $$ you can get the good stuff. I'm with you on blend-ability.

    1. I hadn't thought about that, but that's very true... Most of the stuff I really like would probably be expensive. Another good reason to just go with plants!

  4. Agree with ks, you have a good approach to thinking about and learning from the Fling gardens.

    I have not a clue as to how to get garden art to look right beyond spending a whole lot of $$$, so I'm sticking to plants only.

    1. I agree! And I'm glad people like this format - it really helps me figure out how to apply things to my own garden (esp since I can't BE in my own garden much right now... Stupid heat!)

  5. Good reminders of all the garden art we saw, and another fine analysis.

    I struggle with metal cacti, roadrunners (!), and agaves in the ground since my area has many choices of the real things. But used as part of a gate or in hardscape is different...I had a mountain and Opuntia engelmannii with metal cutouts on my old gate. I might do something on those lines again...

    1. I'm still spending a lot of time thinking about that gate too, but I can't find what I really want, and diy seems like work... I can't wait to see what you come up with! Or maybe you can build a screen as separation for your patio?

  6. Hello Renee, I found a link to you on Late to the Garden Party. I’m very interested to read about where you garden, so would like to follow you as well. It’s harsh where I am, but not as much as you, I think. Jane, Australia.

    1. Hello Jane, welcome! I promise I'll be talking about my garden again soon, when I can actually get work done and take better pictures!

  7. I really like the way you are organizing your observations about the Austin gardens. And I encourage you to add some art you love to your garden. From my perspective, well chosen and personal art adds so much to the experience of a garden. Check out Etsy for handmade pieces that are better than all the usual stuff often sold in garden shops. I have bought pieces from redgrassdesigns:

    1. Oh, thanks for the link, those are great... I'm still on the fence about more art for my garden, although I can see your point about it adding to the experience when I look at these pictures!


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