A garden of inspiration

The trouble I find with spending a number of days visiting gardens is the sensory overload.  So many gardens, plants, owners, ideas and experiences and when you then start to try and think about how to distil your experience into a blog post; well sometimes it seems to be a challenge too far.

I have a habit of writing blog posts almost immediately I return from a garden visit but work demands have got in the way and I find myself a week after my return skimming through my photos, only a 1000 in my case, trying to decide what to blog about. What strikes me is the direct correlation between the gardens I enjoyed and the number of photos of them.  In each case these gardens are very much those of enthusiastic plants people.  They are full of texture and form often more from plants than structure and they offer me inspiration on so many levels.

I think Jenny and David Stocker’s garden was the real winner for me.  We visiting on a very wet day, although by the time of our visit the rain was light but poor Jenny had experienced a trying time during the gullywasher earlier in the day.  However, despite the overcast skies the garden sang to me.

Initially, it was the extremely skilled placement of pots and small vignettes that intrigued me.  I can learn so much from these.  My pots end up scattered around the garden, randomly placed, but as you can see from the above a small collection with a mix of leaf shapes, size of pots and a couple of small accessories takes on a whole identity of its own; a small work of art.

The cacti remind us that we are indeed in Texas, and I have included it to humour those of my friends who are convinced I spent the week looking at cacti and tumble weed.  However, as you can see from these photos the garden is far from a barren landscape.  David and Jenny built their home on the side of a hill and enclosed the garden with a wall creating a sense of enclosure and presumably creating a microclimate.  I think I am right in saying that the various spaces between the house and perimeter wall create six different garden spaces each with its own theme. 

I think this is what Jenny calls the English Garden. I loved the exuberance of the flowers in this space.  There is no formal rigid border, instead the plants spill out over the paving creating a very naturalistic space and a space I would love to waste a few hours in, listening to the bird and insects and watching the lizards run along the wall (which we were lucky to do a couple of evenings later).

The first and third photos are of the front planting area which as you can see is full of large succulents.  I am not informed enough to attempt to name any of them but I loved the juxtaposition of the spiky succulents with the surrounding trees which I think are oaks.  I developed a  love of the trees in Austin which seem to have quite broad and open canopies giving much needed shade but also with their small leaves bringing a lovely diffused light to the space beneath. I have been trying to think of a tree I could use to create a similar effect in England.

I think one of the reasons I love this garden is because of the polished combination of very English plants such as the Aquilegias, Geraniums and Poppies with succulents and cacti; I think this one is a Prickly Pear. So often you see plants corralled into a restricted planting scheme – succulents, hardy exotics, herbaceous border – and never the twain shall meet.  Jenny has shown that you can ignore these preconceptions and building on the plant’s cultivation needs and looking carefully at colour, form and texture you an create exciting and intriguing planting.

Although Jenny has been blogging for as long as me, if not longer, I hadn’t come across her blog until this trip but I am now following her assiduously and I feel that I have found a kindred spirit albeit on the other side of the pond.






Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

14 thoughts on “A garden of inspiration”

  1. I can hardly believe you’d never encountered Jenny’s wonderful blog, so now I’m doubly glad you came and that Jenny shared her garden with us on the tour. It’s a delightful garden in every way!

  2. It’s a lovely inspirational garden. I’ve been planting stuff all over my garden and mixing different types of plants together. I thought recently I should group things as to their type, colour etc. Perhaps I’ll now leave it all alone to do its thing as I set out to do. It certainly works in Jenny’s garden.

  3. A very spot-on description of Jennys garden which had so much going on and so many varied spaces with the lovely corridors going from one to the other. It was one of the gardens I was most looking forward to, and it did not disappoint.

  4. I agree completely, Jenny’s garden resonated with me as well. She has mastered what I like to call fusion gardening, creating a unique Texas/England style. The fact that she’s the nicest person you’ll ever meet is the cherry on the cake.

  5. It makes me so happy to read that you loved Jenny’s garden and are now reading her fabulous blog. She’s a good one, her garden was one I couldn’t wait to see on this trip.

  6. I do sympathise. All that inspiration can end up being a little chaotic, and while it’s wonderful in that state, you need a little time to distill it into something that will help you move forward. I think you’ve got that, though, since you have been able to analyse what you loved in this garden, and have even begun to think about how to develop the ideas in your own garden.

  7. What a beautiful garden in Texas – so unexpected. Loved the little potted vignettes! I love potted plants so much I jsut have them all over my garden without any design sense, I love these succulent potted plants so artistically displayed in Jenny’s garden.

  8. I should have scrolled further down past the adds, for me to renew my KLRU membership, to find the comments! How on earth were they inserted. Anyway I want to thank you for this absolutely wonderful post. Apparently I have a hard time seeing gardens through the eyes of others. Or I am just not used to seeing my garden on such a wet day. And sometimes my style of gardening really annoys me and I wish I could be tidier. Who was it who said, show me a man’s garden and I’ll tell you about the man. No words could be truer spoken about me. Reading your piece just made my day. Thank you.

    1. Hi Jenny. The ads are inserted by WordPress as I am too mean to self host! I’m super critical of my garden too so I know exactly what you mean

  9. Wonderful photos, and so interesting to get your impressions. Jenny attempts so much in very challenging growing conditions. I think it’s safe to say she brought the English love of gardens to Texas and bent Texas to her will! She has incredible “garden IQ.”

  10. ‘English Garden’? Why compare it to anything else? While in Oklahoma, as well as going through Arizona and New Mexico, I really liked the distinct regional styles of the landscapes, even if those who composed the landscapes did not recognize such distinction. In fact, some would try to impress me by telling me how similar the landscapes were to California landscapes. I happen to like California landscapes, but have seen plenty of them. I found the styles in Oklahoma to be more interesting.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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