Tag Archives: hades garden

Finally Fall

Do i say this every year… the weather finally broke- it’s totally gorgeous here and we’ve been just working until we drop. Chucho dropped- has Chucho ever been sick since he started with the company at 15 years old? Yipes. But we are pecking away at it. We are in a funny spot- we have great great projects that we are working on- but we are getting backed up. Some clients are ok with waiting, but we are beginning to lose projects because we are booked out a bit. Which of course is a luxury but now a double edged sword. I get nervous about hiring another crew- everyone is clicking here together we are running 2 crews and i’d hate not to have top quality work. ack. So, of course I put my head in the sand a bit and think about E.A.S.T (east austin studio tour).   We are working a post apocalyptic angle featuring our new planter series we are doing with Massif Concrete. look cute solo or en masse non?

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But- also we are contemplating if gardeners will be the most powerful in the post apocalyptic world since we will be the ones who know how to grow food and utilize phytoremediation. Which as we all know, is using plants to pull toxins from the soil. And let me just say that HEMP is one of the most effective plants at removing radiation from the soil. So let’s all keep a good supply of seeds. I won’t be growing it in our exhibition el camino garden however. Gotta love a crew to whom I can say- Can WE just get a shelled out El Camino please? HOW HARD can it be? and 24 hours later- this shows up at the lot. jaunty right?


Justin and I are going to have to try and plant it up this week to look like a fully grown vegetable garden. i know all this apocalyptic talk makes you want to ask about the Hades Garden. I did have to kill some things that just weren’t cutting it- the wing thorn rose- cool but not for this location. The Millet never turned black- you must die. And of course i’m still picking out the amaranth. The green rose is a blooming fool. And the black pomegranate really makes black pomegranates- and grew from the 4″ stick to a 12′ bush.


and get a load of the stepelia- all those flies. SO nasty right? yay. the whole street smelled like old trash cans. It’s all floating around in my brain because this fence we just finished (see below) seems to be in the hades apocalyptic vein right? although really, i was thinking of the artist Louise Nevelson.


Burning it was just the best way to get it black and finished in one fell swoop. Hans with a blowtorch on a client’s property- the torture to our insurance company is really non stop. But really it was JT who suffered. Every single board was placed at random. with me figuring out the random. Poor patient JT- higher, lower, left, right, left. no, that one isn’t really right. we are all still talking so no permanent scarring physical or physic seems to have occurred.


more soon- Julie

Hath no fury

S- whoa. We’ve been a wee bit in the weeds. Quick ATX update.


The Hades garden had a major set back when sophisticated east side plant thieves stole several of the more choice selections that i had so carefully mail ordered and then nursed to happiness. quite dispiriting i confess. In spite, i let the garden wallow with the gaping holes in the ground until in a hormonal frenzy i got back out there and replanted it- albeit with some cruel choices. Fish hook cactus Mr. Rustler?

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Here’s what Dr Robin pulled out my toe 2 weeks later after I tripped over my own trap moments before an appointment. (but it’s nothing in comparison to the sun spots on my hands- look at that?!)


But now all is growing in well enough for a first year garden. The mullien is blooming- will it really turn black?


A “red” pumpkin that we are trying to hide from the rustlers.


In other news, I just got back from a quick trip from LA and Palm Springs. I do love that the dishabille of the Chateau Marmont extends to it’s garden areas.


I feel like everything here has to be so neat and tidy. The confidence that you are cool enough to have something be real is true sprezzatura. But it’s all in the details non?


We also popped out to the Parker meridian in Palm Springs to see the Elysian designed landscape. Which is cute- but tidier in spite of an attempt at overgrown insouciance. Admittedly, overgrown is harder to achieve in the desert. But as charming as the Parker is- the Marmont feels actually authentic- but i think even this “fakeness” is on purpose at the Parker, which is in itself quite genius. landscapes talk. more soon. xojb


Black Thumb vs Boring

S – quick update from the Hades planting. The garden is beginning to hang together, and I’m much perkier- probably because my roses came in the mail.

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The wingthorns are just a stick- I always really adore a plant that can travel like that- look at those thorns! But the green and dame de coeur roses are already setting bud and roses make everything better.


I put those voodoo lilies in the ground and they are kind of rotting out and falling over real drama like 1 by 1 which is rather sad of them. I left their bulbs in the ground- there’s a chance that the nursery forced them or whatever? I’ve never grown them. They will be quite a surprise if they come back next year. They are also called Viagra Lily so… I guess I ordered some more plants because when I came in to the office this am there were several angel trumpets (antique lace variety), black euphorbias, a voodoo flowering maple (see her above?) and a dutchman’s pipe. So ah, i kind of scrambled around and found spots for them. It’s becoming “that” kind of a garden-you know when you go on site to a client’s and you’re all like- wow- one of everything. eek. Revisionist history: now a collector’s garden. Not super smart to grow a bunch of experimental things as your exhibition garden- if things crap out, clients are going to think we have a black thumb. Everyone knows gardeners kill way more than we grow. right space right plant right client. Justin started an “anime” garden in the front- everything’s super sized. We’ll see how that progresses- his plants look like something that people are going to steal and there is an office pool to see how long they last out there. xoxojb



January Inspiration


S- now this is what winter is all about right? In spite of not having time to go over plant catalogues with Mr. Gosling this January- which is a complete rip off- I was able to put a bit of thinking towards our side garden. The castor beans were pretty nuts last year- but as they are annuals, we’ve got a clean slate again. Yay!


Thursday, Jenn unpacked our first flush of plants for the….. Hades Garden. Oui, I decided upon a theme of plants that kill. or maim. or smell like rotting flesh. or have the word voodoo, or blood in their names. I think this came about from trying to think about black and red plants. Or rather, I hope. Look at these pathetic little things that came in the mail this week.

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Those tall things on the left- are voodoo lilies. Who could resist this explanation- and these photos? This unusual tuberous plant has one giant divided leaf on top of a 5-6′ tall, green and purple mottled, fleshy stalk (petiole). When old enough, the tuber produces a fascinating 6′ flower (early May, before the leaf emerges), resembling a giant vase made from the purple vinyl used for cheap ’70s car seats. The vase (spathe) is home to a 3′ purple spadix that sits atop a 2′ speckled petiole…gather your neighbors for the flowering ritual. After flowering, the plant may rest for a couple of months before the leaf emergesin late June. The mother tuber will form offsets, eventually making a giant clump…STRANGE!


“when it’s old enough”. I guess I’m set to wait- because that stick to their right is the largest black pomegranate I could find.

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Better if Eve is eating a black pomegranate. hmm- maybe this is how we got to a Hades Garden. anyhoo- Also ordered a Mangave “bloodspot”. An accidental cross between an agave and a manfreda that may bloom without dying like an agave, which doesn’t strictly fit the theme (not dying), but we’ll give her a spot because of her good thorns and good name.


And this neat “Kniphofia toffee nosed” – I still haven’t gotten a poker to be happy for me here through the summer but that’s really no reason not to try again. right?


This wonderful 1980s introduction was selected by John Metcalf of Four Seasons Nursery in the UK. Compared to the larger pokers, the narrow green leaves on this winner of the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Award of Garden Merit make a smallish, 2′ wide clump. Starting in June (NC), the 3′ tall, narrow flower stalks end in ivory flowers with an orange top…a very unusual color combination in pokers…elegantly stunning and a hummingbird magnet. Be sure to stick one of these pokers up your…I mean, IN your garden! The nursery that we ordered these plants from kind of cracks me up. When Jenn read the literature that came with the plants it said ” please do not ingest, snort or smoke” these plants. We’ve also got carrion plants coming.

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Blooms smell like rotting meat to attract flies. ooh and a wing thorn rose. Look at those ornamental thorns! We had a booger of a time finding it. Had to order from canada. Which doesn’t bode well- but whatever.

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And what else? some black coleus for filler, oxblood lilies and Australian black cannas. And from seed a “rouge” pumpkin for some fall pizzaz, “black currant swirl” datura for a dark trip. Oh and some elephant head amaranth.

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I mean I know I shouldn’t plant amaranth- it’s a self seeding fool but i have to. it looks like a big ole …well… that or someone shooting the finger. tee hee- i’ll be spreading big purple cocks all over lower Cesar Chavez. la-ti-da. Holding over from last season, we’ve got a black smoke tree rescued half dead from a client’s garden last year. Thanks Gardens. and those black ornamental peppers that are still completely leafed out in February. Thanks Home Depot. But now mama’s got to weave all this shit together. In ballet we call that “enchainment”- the linking steps that knit dance together. Enchainment is the difference between dance and Cirque De Soleil. Cirque is just trick trick trick. No one wants their garden to be wow wow wow. The eye and soul needs some quiet places to rest before the next surprise. But ahem, my work is cut out for me. These colors all look like ca-ca together and my eyes may be bigger than my border. We’ll see what transgresses. I remember reading about James David’s beautiful garden in a picture book and he’s all- oh heavens, i’d never plant all this difficult pouty stuff in a client’s garden. That’s what I’m saying! more soon- xoxojb