Look what I found in the Youtube archives! This is a 2007 video from The Central Texas Gardener about the wonderful adopted gardens down on Ladybird Lake, which are created through a partnership between the community and The Trail Foundation. I make my CTG debut beginning at 4:07 (how is it that a person can look so different in just three short years?).
The Adopt-A-Garden program is an incredible addition to our quality of life here in Austin–companies, nurseries, civic groups and individuals “adopt” a space along the hike-and-bike trails, reclaiming otherwise unused areas and beautifying them for passersby. The landscaping’s gotta be tough, though–some of the plots do have irrigation, but many don’t. And it’s got to withstand foot traffic, lots of heat, sometimes unrelenting sun or dark shade and minimal care. I was a part of the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA) at the time and we adopted the long, narrow plot you see below. I designed the garden using a variety of xeric materials:
I subdivided the narrow strip by creating an undulating dry creek bed. Since we couldn’t load up rock from the rock yard and drive the truck down there (simply no access), we had to go to Home Depot and buy bags of rock that we carted down by wheelbarrow! The back of the border features the gorgeous Yucca rostrata, one of my favorite xeric plants, plus Mexican feather grass (Nasella tenuissima) and yellow bulbine (Bulbine frutescens), all lightly mulched with our Texas native hardwood mulch. The area in front of the dry creek bed featured small succulents and cacti, purple verbena (Verbena canadensis) and more yellow bulbine with a layer of decomposed granite.
In the weeks following our installation, we’d go back to maintain it and found that passersby had added a few succulents to the front border! We never knew who did it, but we were delighted that the public felt a sense of kinship with this garden: It’s “ours,” not Jenny Peterson’s, not DANA’s, but “ours.” It’s what a public, adopted garden should be. As a designer, you have to release some of that ego that tells you someone’s messing with your design–and you know what? It was easy. Because I’m a gardener first and a designer second, and there is great joy to be taken in seeing the world around you connect with nature. Tell me about the public gardens in your area–and have you been a part of creating or maintaining them?