Austin Fling 2018: Inspirations, Ideas and Hippo Eyes

During the Fling, I was in awe a lot of the time

 Many garden ideas, inspirations--or lessons, if you will--from the many beautiful Austin Fling gardens.   Here are some I spotted, in no particular order.

1. Don't leave odd bits sitting in a drawer.  Add them to a garden gate, door, or fence.  

Vegan taxidermy? 
2. A, flattish, low area of a garden, wanderable, the savanna of our distant ancestors--fulfills something like the same function of a lawn--openness, spaciousness--without the mowing, blowing, fertilizing, and heavy watering. 

 Here's a lone "tree" in a "lawn" of flowers, but more alive, more supportive of birds, butterflies, (and vases).
 3. Plant something for the butterflies, please!
 If you plant it, they will come. 

4.  That collection of something you love that can be displayed outdoors?  Empty those drawers and closets.  This gardener placed his childhood rock, fossil, and mineral collection into a stone wall where he can enjoy it every day. 
 A shell collection and a glass top transformed a planter into a unique side table.  Her Majesty seems pleased. 
 Arrange things on a wall.
 Or in a path.
 5.  Add details for the sharp-eyed.  Easter eggs of the garden.

I didn't spot this the first three times I walked past it. 
 These ceramic Quail were nearly hidden in foliage, just as real Quail hide.

 6. Let your garden figurines have conversations, instead of sitting in a row.  Such a small subtle thing, but it invites the imagination of the visitor.  I'm not a big fan of "stuff" in the garden.  Plants, stone, and maybe an urn are enough for me, but artfully and tastefully placed, a figurine or two can evoke a place or mood, or focus the eye.
What are they croaking about? 
The original twitters

 A school of fish "swimming" through waves of grass.  Most effective!
 Tweet?  Ribbit!
 7.  Hang a thing or two.  In a pergola...
 On hooks...and note how these things match the bench color in the distance, instantly creating a "white" garden...
...or in trees.  Austin has so many grand, stately trees.  An ornament can draw the eyes upward and remind a visitor to enjoy what is above.
Shade protects a potted plant from fierce summer sun
Reflect on an oak.
Or give an old Christmas ornament a few more weeks of use.
 8.  How to make the veggie garden beautiful?  Most elegant (and sturdy) tomato cages ever?!
 Add wildflowers and annuals. 

There are also the ideas that spring from the gardener when touring gardens, pondering garden problems that seem unsolvable or comparing one garden to another.  Ideas like volunteer seedlings that appear as if from nowhere.  (Or probably more truthfully from bird droppings.) 

In admiring this Austin front yard of Dichondra argenta, Agave ovatifolia,  bunch grass,  Asparagus, and Opuntia...
 ...I wondered: what if the grass clumps, Asparagus, and Opuntia in the photo above and below were blue or silver, rather than green?  How would that look?  

I've often thought redoing the front slope of my own garden entirely in blue and silver plants would be dazzling.

Hmmm...but that chartrese green enlivens the blue and silver:
 The idea of blues and silvers...brought to mind a Portland Fling garden.  I went searching through old photos for that garden.
 Strangely, while it had many blue and silver plants, it wasn't as blue and silver as I remembered it.  Did I imagine it? 
Hey, there's green in this.   
 Whatever.   I still dream of an all blue-and-silver slope, and now thanks to the Austin Fling, a blue-and-silver slope sharpened by splashes of fresh, chartresey green.

Another idea that sprouted like a weed while touring was combining the stylish outdoor shower at the B. Jane garden...
...with one of the Hippos from the Hutto farmhouse garden...
 ...using the hidden-in-the-grass styling of the ceramic quail at the wonderful Rock Rose garden... that you had to take your outdoor shower while watched by Hippo eyes.
(Pardon the crude photoshopping.) 
Well, it would save water.  Showers would be brief when met with a stare like that.  And now that this post has gone off into the weeds...ideas are like volunteer seedlings.  Some are keepers, some are weeds, some entirely mysterious. 


  1. Hip hip hippo-ay for fun garden meanderings like yours, Hoov. I'm laughing out loud over your hippo in the greenery image and enjoying the themes you discovered among Austin gardens.

    1. Thanks Pam! The Fling gardens were well chosen and very inspiring.

  2. Great eye for detail! I remember something about it being too hot for tomatoes, that they get blossom drop or something -- hope those come to fruition!

    1. Probably they get spring and autumn tomatoes.

      "Tomato plants drop their flowers under extreme temperature regimes, such as high daytime temperatures (above 85°F), high nighttime temperatures (above 70°F), or low nighttime temperatures (below 55°F)"

  3. Inspiration posts like this are so much fun! Getting ideas to incorporate into our own gardens are one of the best things about going to the Fling.

    1. Well, there are a lot of "best things" about Flings. :)

  4. A good review of some eye catching vignettes. Speaking of eyes...those hippo eyes staring are hilarious.

    1. It is a very intense stare! Had a dog that did that...for 13 of his 14 years with us, until he got very very old and very sleepy. Used to have to lock him out at shower time.

  5. Literally crying with laughter at your water-saving hippo gaze; never going to see another outdoor shower without LOLs...

    Also seriously looking forward to a silver-blue sweep somewhere in your garden. Your own mini-Lotusland!

    1. That Hippo has a memorable stare, no?

      Right, maybe that is where the idea came from: the Blue garden with the Chilean Wine Palms at Lotusland...why not copy the best?

  6. You're as good at catching butterflies with your camera as you are butterflies! And you captured that hippo at just the right angle. Now I'm thinking it might be a good idea to position a hippo in the bathtub to stare at my husband in the shower. Oh, but as he's practically blind without his glasses, maybe it wouldn't serve the purpose...I entirely missed the quail in Jenny's garden.

    1. There was so much to look at in Jenny's garden! I'm sure I missed a lot of the wonderful details. There were a lot of butterflies around. I took about 50 misses in order to get one in focus.

      Dear husband takes long showers? I was the bad one on showers, but since we got the 1 gpm showerhead, that fixed that...the hotel shower in Austin was more like 10 gpm, wasn't used to it, but sure enjoyed it.

  7. A blue and grey garden with some quirky animal art sounds good to me.


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