May 12th, 2011 by Marc Opperman
This week I got the chance to attend a private tour of the properties that comprise the 2011 Travis County Master Gardener’s Association Inside Austin Gardens tour. Given that I’m unemployed, the weekday-date of this preview tour wasn’t as daunting to me. All in the name of professional development, networking and inspiration, right?
Jenna and I went on this tour in 2009, and I still borrow ideas from the gardens from that year (Cheryl Goveia’s garden of art and whimsy being the stand-out property for me). So, I wasn’t going to attend this year’s tour on the actual date (Saturday, May 14), but the private tour afforded me a chance to experience the tour without toting the tot (who, recently, has made this type of hopscotch travel difficult.)
The theme of the tour is water-wise gardening: increasing rainwater infiltration, rainwater catchment, xeric plantings, etc. I can say some wonderful things about all of the properties with relation to that and other aspects of gardening. Each had significant strengths, and a wealth of stealable-ideas. I loved Rebecca’s tenacity at transforming her yard one small bed at a time to the point she no longer has grass. I appreciated the sheer lushness of Sue’s garden, and the tip about “cemetery rock”. And Sheryl’s garden was an oasis of low-water ideas, even with its lush vegetable production areas. Oh, and did I mention her enviable water collection systems? Yeah.
But I definitely wanted to focus this entry on Link Davidson‘s creations. (Oh, and if you missed this energetic self-described ox of a designer, catch him on CTG from this past week. (And if you watch his interview, stay a little longer in the program for a few photos of mine CTG used.)
Technically, the property on the tour is Wendy’s, and was created with her interests and aesthetics in mind. It sits next door to Link’s property, and he has fused the two landscapes into one by continuing certain elements between the two. A dry creek bed reminiscent of Wendy’s love of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, for example. This feature rolls gently downhill from Link’s property before heading south through Wendy’s. Naturally it ties the two together visually, but serves as a channel for run-off and rainwater infiltration for the surrounding plantings.
Another feature, a cut concrete path, conjures up Wendy’s desire that as much material be reclaimed and reused as possible. To that end, Link cut the formerly-straight sidewalk into rectangles and squares using a concrete saw, and then moved the pieces into a curvy stepping-stone arrangement with generous space between for granite gravel. Additional pieces he tipped on their sides and used for varying vertical interest.
Steel compressor tanks and rusted, bent metal edging have been used to add other sculptural elements to the space. Many of these things were scavenged on Austin’s bulky trash day, and turned into pure art. As Link said, if he can’t get it out of the trash, it had better be on clearance at Target or Home Depot.
And while it’s probably not kosher of me to say too much about HIS yard, which we also toured, I’ll post a few photos of his space on my Flickr account to give you an idea of the depth of this man’s creativity. Needless to say, I was blown away at the artistry and resourcefulness at creating highly-inspiring spaces on a budget. I’m sure in some weak-kneed moment I heard myself tell him we were kindred spirits.
The What, When and Where:
Inside Austin Gardens Tour
Saturday, May 14, 2011
9am – 4pm
$5 per garden, or $10 for all