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Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
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Monday, June 21, 2010

Austin Pond Tour 2010, Part 1

The Austin Pond Society held its 2010 Austin Pond Tour on June 12th & 13th with 26 ponds scattered over the entire Austin metro area. Some were small city backyards, others were suburban yards of a quarter or half-acre, and a few were estates with huge water features that would make many a municipality envious.

This year we visited ponds both days, making it to 9 of the 12 South ponds that were open on Saturday. (Most of the photos should enlarge when clicked. Some enlarge more when clicked a second time).

How lovely it must be to have this tranquil view from the adjoining family room! Annieinaustin, pond 1, viewI liked the rain chain's solidity and the way it led to a sort of dry creek lined with stones. Kevin Wood, the landscape designer, told us the chain was there when the pond was made and it had to be worked into the design. Annieinaustin Pond 1 Rain chainHere's a lengthwise view along the back of the house. The space isn't large but the pond and walk fit into the terrain perfectly, transporting the owners into a private world.Annieinaustin, long view pond 1


The kinds of plants lining the walk uphill from the street was the first clue that this garden was made by someone who knew how to use plants that were beautiful but Austin-tough. Annieinaustin, pond 2, wise plantingThe pond itself was serene and lovely but the area is near to a busy street. The waterfall was designed to mask the street sounds with water sounds.

Annieinaustin, contemplative pond 2When we started talking to the pond design person she seemed very familiar - it was Sheryl McLaughlin! She's Kevin Wood's partner, and I knew her great Central Texas voice from her Sunday morning radio call-in show

Annieinaustin, pond 2, lilies & rocksWe enjoyed the colorful mix of native and adapted shrubs and perennials on the walk back to the car and headed Northeast.
Annieinaustin, walk from pond 2


This very cool pond deserves many photos, but they'd be filled with human legs, heads and back ends... this was one popular pond! Although the garden's size meant tight quarters for a tour, it was perfectly sized for the daily life of a friendly family who live in harmony with each other and with nature. We had fun watching assorted chickens & ducklings in one part of the garden, then went into a separate area where another small pond set a child's imagination free.
Annieinaustin child pond 3Take a closer look - all pieces of existing toys put together by a budding engineer.
Annieinaustin child pond 3 closeThe owner did the work himself- digging the ponds and building a floating deck in the back, using the available space in creative ways.


This garden had a great deck and the beautiful pond had a cool rock wall, but the many cameras were all pointed at an enormous pink waterlily...or maybe this is a Lotus? annieinaustin, pond 4 pink lotus 1

Not-quite-invisible netting was hung above and along the back fence - like many Austin pond owners, the people who lived here had to find a way to foil fish-loving herons from gliding in for lunch. The owner said he was pretty thrilled that the lotus opened on the right day. I waited my turn to get in closer, liking the shadows on the leavesannieinaustin, pond 4 pink lotus 2And even closer - the structure of these water lotus flowers is fascinating.

annieinaustin, pond 4 pink lotus 3
Then I took a "wait until next year" photo - we were told this space will be a new feature that will knock your socks off in another year or two!
Annieinaustin, pond 4, next project


A flurry of dragonflies swirled around the next pond. This rectangular back garden had a 'Little Gem' Magnolia, wisteria and many interesting containers. A red dragonfly sits on the tall cattail with a blue dragonfly on the shorter plant.

Annieinaustin, pond 5, blue red dragonfliesThe red dragonfly stayed still for another couple of seconds

Annieinaustin, pond 5, red dragonfly close
The waterfall had a good sound and the plants were both dramatic and fun
Annieinaustin, colorful pond 5

We walked across the lawn, passed through a vine covered arch and entered an enclosed world slightly below street level. A lot with a sharp drop and a retaining wall may have been a detriment to a less creative person, but to this couple it was obviously the right space for a waterfall pond. The resulting multi-level pond was fun and it felt right. Annieinaustin, pond 6 waterfall
This was a pleasant place to be,with the sound and sparkle of water falling from one part of the pond to another and the area around the pond filled with the collection of a plant loving owner.Annieinaustin, pond 6 closeup


We made a return visit to a cool garden and pond we'd enjoyed a few years ago. The art is still whimsical (feel free to insert jokes about the "State Bird" right here)

Annieinaustin, pond 7 mosquitoThe dragonflies and fish are still abundant
Annieinaustin, pond 7 fish & dragonfly
The connected ponds seemed more beautiful and the tropical plants more lushAnnieinaustin, pond 7 colocasia
But the annual plants were no longer the country-style mixed Zinnias of 2008
Annieinaustin, pond 7 zinnias of 2008
They were the dramatic 'Black Pearl' peppers and Blackfoot daisies we've fallen in love with in 2010. I'd seen them on Pam's Digging blog but this was my first in-person encounter. When DivaAnnie (from the Divas of the Dirt) and I were nursery hopping last Friday we found Black Pearls at Shoal Creek Nursery and I bought a few plants, too.
Annieinaustin, pond 7, black pearl peppers
The adjoining deer-fenced vegetable garden was full of beautiful tomato plants with orange fruit picked and sitting on benches to finish ripening. Even netted tomatoes can be chomped in our yard - I asked the owner why the squirrels didn't get them... his answer? Dachshunds don't like squirrels.

I must show you one more dragonfly!
Annieinaustin, pond 7, Dragonfly orange


The house was a mansion, with large statuary announcing its presence, fully equipped with all the trappings of Austin mansionhood: grand gates and approaches, luxurious patios and a zero-edge pool...but then something odd happened. We were directed down a steep set of steps at the back of the house where a path led to a very large pool surrounded by chunks of rocks. We'd left mansionhood for a water garden that was more natural and more pleasing and maybe more revealing that the rest of the place.

Annieinaustin, pond 8 lily pool
In this peaceful and beautiful pond the lotus flowers had gone wild
Annieinaustin, pond 8, lotus close


Walk through the back garden, under a vine-covered arch and turn left. Tucked back in the corner of this city lot is a waterfall pond with a soothing sound and a rock wall This is a wall with space for memories... not just stone bought from a building supply but rocks that were gathered for their shapes and stories and whimsical resemblance to other things
Annieinaustin, pond 9 waterfallOne of the owner's favorites looks like a smiling bear.... I hope she won't mind my getting a little whimsical and making him even more like a cartoon.

Annieinaustin, pond 9, bear rockNext up- a few North Ponds from the Sunday Pond Tour.


  1. I will bet that with this heat wave rolling along you wanted to soak in one of these beauties too. I love the bear faced rock. Those orange dragonflies are incredible too.

  2. Great tour. Thanks.

  3. Very cool ponds in Austin! I wish I could have gone along with you, but this post makes it like I did.

  4. I feel like I was with you on the tour, Annie, only without having to sweat. Thanks for a great virtual tour.

  5. What a great tour. I, like Pam, especially enjoyed being able to share it without actually having to go outside and sweat! Thanks Annie :-)

  6. What amazing ponds! You got some wonderful shots. Thanks so much for letting me tag along with you!

  7. I feel cooler already. Thanks for the fun tour! I think the first pond is my favorite, mostly because it can be seen from their family room. But that lotus is other-worldly. Off to check out part 2.

  8. Hi Annie, great water garden tour! I always think the lotus pod in the middle of the flower looks like a shower head! I've done a couple of garden tours this month but the big water garden tour happens here in August - I'm usually worn out before I can see them all! Loved looking at the photos of your tour.

  9. It seems to me ponds are a very popular garden feature in Austin :) There are certainly some lovely ones on the tour. What a great way to spend the weekend.
    Thanks for sharing your fun with us, Annie.
    I enjoyed listening to your pond song again :)

  10. That was great! I started out wanting to choose a favorite, but they're all terrific. The big lotuses are one thing I sure can't grow in my little water tub "water gardens" (or I just don't know how :) I can't get over the huge dragonflies, they look fake!

  11. We have plenty of lotus here at Draco if you want one Annie. They are a cool plant indeed. They close up every night and open the next day. They do that for five days and then the petals fall off---all at the same exact time. Weve only been lucky enough to catch it a few times but it is pretty neat to see.

  12. The personal touches made the Bear pond fun, Lisa at Greenbow - dragonflies always make me fumble for the on button!

    Thanks for stopping Mother Nature's Garden.

    Hi May Dreams Carol - will we be seeing a pond in Indiana soon?

    Thanks Pam/Digging - your stock tank pond is so cool - it surprises me that there aren't many more stock tanks on the pond tour.

    We've seen more of the open ponds in years when the weather is milder, Jayne, but the car is air-conditioned for the spaces so it's okay ;-]

    Thanks Caroline - even my point-and-shoot can catch a few good photos when the subjects are so pretty!

    MSS was also quite taken with that first garden, Iris - some are only for looking at, but that one was one we wanted to own!

    Great to see you around the Blog-world, LostRoses- overheard the showerhead & lotus comparison on the tour LOL.
    Most tours here are spring & fall to avoid full sun, but this one has to happen when the pond lilies are showing off ;-]

    Hello Kerri - my guess is that we have more because ponds are easier where there is less cold weather - ponds are 'alive' year round in Austin- no emptying of water or bringing fish & plants indoors.

    The owners said the lotus plants get enormous, Lisa at Millertime - and a stock tank like Pam/Digging has would probably split when it froze, right? Aren't the red dragonflies cool?

    Thank you so much for offering, Bob at Draco, but I don't even have a water tub garden, just the bird fountain... hope you get that lotus petal drop on film some day - would be a cool YouTube.

    Thanks for the comments,


  13. That was fun. After I went on this tour I went out to my pond and thought "Boy, you can hardly tell this is a pond!" It is so overgrown and private you have to work hard to get the water into a photo. But the birds and frogs and dragonflies just love it so I guess it really is a pond. Just not a very photogenic one.


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