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Preview: Inside Austin Gardens Tour

hound dog silly yawn in garden with raised vegetable beds and a huge old windmill attached to the side of a building; a woman and camera operator looks on
Get set for a fun day of design inspiration, problem-solving intel, and clever ideas on the Inside Austin Gardens Tour on May 11, a tour for gardeners by gardeners. A project of the Travis County Master Gardeners, they’ll be on hand with the homeowners to answer your questions from plants to patio design and maintenance.
smiling man and woman on CTG set
This week, Master Gardener JoAnna Benko joins John Hart to talk details. This year, tour four gardens on May 11 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. No cash: online payment only. $20 by Sunday May 5; $25 day of. Get your tickets here.
gardens in raised brick beds next to house deck
Let’s start off with Daphne Richards’ own garden, “The Work-in-Progress.”
new planting bed around a shed and small raised patio deck. A colorful rug, a glider, and two chairs sit on the deck.
As our Travis County Extension Horticulturist, she’s on the go a LOT helping us all out, so here’s a chance to get her tips on starting from scratch.
Kay Angermann Julie Nelson Travis County Master Gardeners Central Texas Gardener
We visited Julie Nelson and Kay Angermann’s garden in 2019 for the 2020 Master Gardener tour. They brought creative collaboration, muscle-wielding grit, and problem solving to rocky, flooding ground to sentimentally-dubbed Katie Bird Farm, named for Kay’s grandmother.
silver germander blue plumbago garden art setting Julie Nelson Kay Angermann garden dog Howdy
The pandemic pushed that tour back four years, so I know that the dynamic duo at “The Suburban Farm” has more in store for you.
Chicken coop with attached dog run more room Julie Nelson garden
For sure, you’ll wander among clever repurposed finds, flood-control plant design on berms, and delightful conversation nooks to chat with the hens and gregarious donkeys!
raised limestone beds filled with evergreen and colorful shrubs and perennials
At “The Elevated Garden,” explore designs atop a stone quarry. Master Gardener Theresa Garcia and husband, Donnie can give you lots of rock-solid ideas in their Certified Wildlife Habitat!
small pond with colorful plants and figurines
They elevate everything on their one-acre property. Wander through raised vegetable beds and beehives. They keep chickens, too, who will be happy to answer your questions about their care!
house with upper room built into the trees like a tree house
In “The Woodland Escape,” meet habitat gardeners Sandy Stone and Joe Brown who built their home to embrace their bounty of trees and protect the wildlife that live there.
flagstone path bordered by plants and bench and chair with colorful cushions.
CTG met them in 2017, but I know they’ve made changes since then, too.
metal garden sculpture against frostweed seed head
Joe creates sculptures to accent native plants of all kinds.
croquet balls and mallets designed into garden gate door
And they bring clever whimsy and sentiment to every nook.
smiling woman on CTG set with colorful dried flowers and packets of seeds
Next, bring spring and summer’s garden beauty inside to enjoy all year! Laura Brennand, cut flower gardener at La Otra Flora, shows how to dry flowers for bouquets, arrangements, and wreaths.
dried celosia and amaranth flowers
Summertime’s vibrant celosias and amaranth Love-Lies-Bleeding take on new romance as their colors fade.
mother and young son on CTG set
Laura discovered her passion for growing flowers when her adorable son Shea was an infant (now 7!). We fell in love with him when we first met at Laura’s garden and later returned to learn how to plant flower seeds (including persnickety poppies) in fall.
dried purple and deep blue flowers with long stems secured with blue rubber bands
I bet Shea helps her secure the floral bundles with rubber bands to dry in a cool place inside, including Laura’s all-star: strawflower, gomphrena (globe amaranth), larkspur and statice.
orange black and white butterfly on deep magenta flowers
All her plants attract pollinators in spring. Gomphrena loves the heat and butterflies love it. Here’s a bordered patch butterfly dipping into nectar.
small orange and black caterpillars on leaf in woman's hand
But to get the butterflies, you’ve got to feed their young. Bordered patch butterflies feed on cowpen daisy, sunflowers, verbenas, and zexmenia.
smiling woman on CTG set; Wizzie Brown
So, Travis County Extension IPM Program Specialist Wizzie Brown reminds us that chewed leaves are part of a healthy balanced garden. With food crops, you may want to use controls like Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) if squishing doesn’t work for you. Just note that it will harm the caterpillars you want, too. Also, right now, I’ve got wrens nesting in a patio hanging basket, and the parents are hauling lots of wiggly food to the youngsters all day long!
black, white and yellow caterpillars on rue plant
And to that, viewer Patricia Anderson in Bastrop shared a picture of black swallowtail butterfly caterpillars that devoured her rue plant last fall. That was one reason she planted the rue—she wanted the butterflies. So, she covered the plant with shade cloth to save as many as possible, but most were gone the next morning. Most likely birds and lizards still snagged them (that’s happened to me in the same situation).
slender worm with long white hairs
From viewer Marjorie Mautz comes a fall webworm caterpillar. Wizzie notes, “They create unsightly webbing on the tips of tree branches, but rarely cause long term damage to the trees. If you feel the need to manage them, break open the webbing with a stick or jet of water to allow predators inside the webs to feast.”

Wizzie’s Backyard Bug webinars are a great way to learn more about the creatures in your yard! Email her at to sign up for notifications. And follow her on instagram for the latest bug adventures!

Watch now for so much more!

Thanks for stopping by! Linda