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Austin Pt 3 – The Magical Mystery Garden

by germinatrix | July 22nd, 2010

I looked deep into the gazing balls and saw the future ...


I was going to be visiting the EAST SIDE PATCH – the real life home of one of the funniest, most enchanting garden blogs- I was breathless with anticipation!

Pam from Digging had set up a lovely afternoon of garden visits – and this was our last stop – drinks in The Patch to cap off a glorious afternoon! …but little did I know WHAT was in store for me as I disembarked from the car at the beautiful bungalow in the east side of Austin:

forgive the blurriness - I was so giddy with BAGPIPE FRENZY that my hands were shaking

Who could have expected a BAGPIPE serenade at the beginning of a garden visit? Well – when you go to The Patch, ANYTHING can happen! I was floored – ESP is a man will LOTS of tricks up his sleeves! The incredible sound of the bagpipes – which makes the music of an entire marching band (and a few geese) echoed up and down the street when we arrived, letting us (and the neighborhood!) know that we should expect the unexpected.

I adore this garden- nasella lining curved planted borders! swoon!

This is an active garden – ESP has planted sweeps of nasella, a grass that is lithe and lyrical, that sways in every breeze – as an edging along his curving borders. There is so much movement! Texture is everywhere – it is exciting to see the soft rubbing up against the succulent, large leaves playing with small, prickly consorting with feathery. Add to that lovely little children activating the space with their spirited antics and you have a garden of very earthly delights.

this little hobbit created a wonderful interactive water feature, right on the spot! tip over a bucket full of water and start splashing!

Anyone who reads ESP’s blog East Side Patch knows about the characters that populate this garden. There are witches who weigh in on matters large and small, a tiny tribe indigenous to the Patch (the Naboo – small and potentially lethal! That wasn’t a mosquito bite – it was an infinitesimal poisoned dart!), a stony faced lisping lady who sometimes wears a wig of groundcover plants, and many many more. Walking into this wonderland and seeing some of these characters for myself was so exciting – I admit to being pretty starstruck.

why so stony faced? too much botox, of course! and she seems to have lost her wig

what could be hiding between the amaranth and the echinacea? A Naboo warrior?

This is an enchanting and enchanted garden. In the above picture, you can see the way ESP plays with color, texture, and form. The tall cannas dominate the scene, creating a statuesque grounding point for other plants to weave in and out. The foliage of the Salvia leucantha tickles the large leaved tropical, and a is in turned tickled by an echinacea – whose pinky/purple flower color pops next to the gray green foliage of the salvia. In the foreground, amaranth is stretching out, preparing for the glory of its impending bloom, but for the moment it is happy to let its wine stained leaves talk to the brooding purple foliage of the canna, completing a sophisticated circuit of contrast in this planting. (and I’m not even talking about the blue cedar in the background! Egads, man! The beauty!) It all works, and will continue to work as the various plants come into their own later in the season. Like I said – I LOVE this garden!

is that a hobbit-girl I see before me, wand behind her back? I believe a complicated spell is being cast...

I made an extra special friend that afternoon, in addition to meeting those whose blogs and tweets I’d been enjoying for so long … this small female hobbit, who has charmed me in photos with her sartorial splendor. Well not only did she not disappoint, she rose marvelously to the occasion by donning a pink princess dress! Rosy and frilly, she flitted to and fro, at home in this wonderland – obviously in conversation with the characters that populate the garden where she plays.

the hobbit girl intercedes on my behalf, negotiating the conditions for my afternoon in the Patch with the garden witches. she is a powerful arbitrator

While in the garden, I could see why the blog is so alive – so is the garden! Not only with mythical creatures, but with creepy crawly, flitting, feathered, scaly – anything that can live in a garden lives in this one – and it is all captured by ESP’s swift and sure camera work. I was lucky enough to get a snap of something green and lovely – and it wasn’t a plant:

I'm ready for my close-up, Ms. Soler

Being a gothic plant fiend, I was shocked to find this broodingly beautiful wisteria that I had never heard about – but I should have known ESP would have found a plant like this! While he no longer  wears all black, his gothic heart appreciates gloomy beauty.

a wisteria for both those who loathe and love the Daystar- dusky purple loveliness

The afternoon wore on- we laughed and asked countless questions – I squealed and smiled and ESP and his fabulous wife Leah kept the libations flowing and the chile con queso creamy and ready for frequent dipping.It was HOT – very hot- but I can’t remember being happier in the middle of a group of people I’d just offically met. We come together with so much history behind us already, how could we NOT be instant friends?

ESP and Pam are horrified and astonished, maybe somewhat intrigued by the succulent in question

the look on beautiful Jenny's face sums it up - it was a perfect end to a perfect day

How do you thank people who created unforgettable day? It is impossible – but again -I’ll try. The BIGGEST thank you’s to Pam and Jenny, and enormous amazing out of bounds thank yous to ESP and Leah. The hospitality you guys showed was heartwarming and truly made me a little misty. It isn’t every day this Germinatrix gets a bagpipe serenade, a visit to a garden vibrating with magic, queso on jalapeno cheese bread (cheese on cheese bread – I died from sheer YUM!), and wonderful laughs with super cool plant lovers. I had the BEST. TIME. EVER.

the setting sun highlights the nasella as we say goodbye - goodbye little hobbit! I want your outfit!

Until we meet again,

XOXOXO Your Germinatrix!

8 Responses to “Austin Pt 3 – The Magical Mystery Garden”

  1. You are welcome! It was such a treat to have you visit, Germi. You captured the magic of the Patch beautifully. The first time I saw the Patch I recognized how special it was, and your description of your first visit brings it all back.

  2. Pam – there is something in the air, and the soil, and probably the water, too, over there in Austin! It is ALL so enchanting, the garden energy, the enthusiasm, the eclectic group of personalities. I love your city! I am PROUD to be an adopted member of the Austin Gardeners/Bloggers!

  3. It seems like a really magical place. I like that it’s such a even combination of elements with nothing moving towards too much.

  4. Hi G.

    So glad you had a nice time in the ESPatch…we all did. First of all I have to say how astonished I am that you actually captured a member of the Naboo tribe in one of your pictures. “What could be hiding between the amaranth and the echinacea? Well I believe this to be the first ever tribal member ever to be captured on a digital camera…but there he is, toward the bottom of frame, just left of center! Amazing capture of this shy warrior and…and…are those sunglasses he is wearing?!!!

    We all had fun here in the Patch, reading your first-hand account of your visit, and your pictures really captured the day beautifully.

    I think Pam and I must have just got hit by the same mosquito judging from that image!

    Addie keeps her jewel in her secret “special place.”

    Thanks for visiting!

  5. ESP is one of my favourite blogs-I love his witty and entertaining writing. So wonderful that you had a chance to visit.

  6. Ivette
    I am headed to San Francisco and wondered if you still had any of those agave bulbils-you can mail to my friend in SF and I’ll be able to take back with me to the Caribbean.

  7. Aerelon – The Patch is sheer magic – and it is the people that make it that way! ESP and Leah (and their wonderful kids) create a space for play and enchantment, and that is what I think gardens are all about! Which is why I love it there so much…

    ESP! Yes, the Naboo emissaries have been staking out my garden, making sure that my intentions were innocent. I never thought to “out” them with the photo, but these matters can be misinterpreted. They are protective of their culture, after all! I think the Naboo warrior in the picture was angling for the camera. I heard that he is trying to make a go of the talk show circuit… did that bit of news reach you? The emissaries are a gossipy bunch.

    Nicole – to read ESP is to enter into another world! I am SO lucky to have experienced it firsthand! And yes, I still have some baby A. wilmorinianas – but they have gotten pretty big … how could we do this?

    Oh Laura … it was a day of fun and frolicking among the coolest plants and people! If only I could have one of those days a WEEK!

  8. Gasp!! I’d just gone on vacay when this post came out, so I’m seeing it for the first time now! It WAS a fairly perfect day, wasn’t it? So much fun to hobnob around with garden peeps in gorgeous places. Rain be damned! Didn’t slow us down a bit.

    Here’s to looking forward to the next time! <3

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