Hideaway garden at Davern Oaks: Austin Open Day tour

November 16, 2019

An Old Austin-style garden awaited across the street from the Greenway Garden on The Garden Conservancy‘s Open Day tour two weeks ago. What does Old Austin style look like? To me it means a mature tree canopy and a lush understory of sturdy subtropical evergreens like boxwood, pittosporum, sago palm, and fig ivy. It feels green and restful.

The Davern Oaks Garden entices from the curb with twin pillars cloaked with fig ivy and capped with a ziggurat of colorful river stones. Echoing pillars of ‘Will Fleming’ yaupon stand behind them, adding their upright bulk to the garden gateway. At the path intersection, you can turn left to cross the front of the house (see photo at top of this post). Or go right…

…and find yourself drawn toward a small, circular patio bordered with round river stones and gated by multi-trunked trees, a low river-stone wall, and twin boxwoods. A small bench terminates the sight line. It’s a powerful focal point, and of course I had to step into this tiny garden space to explore.

Mounded beds look newly planted with ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave, ghost plant, silver saw palmetto, ‘Purple Pixie’ loropetalum, and tractor seat ligularia.

On the other side, feathery dioons, ‘Amistad’ salvia, and kalanchoe join the party. A pomegranate displays red-orange fruit in back.

I wonder if those kalanchoe can survive the winter? The rusty-purple foliage of the mangave and loropetalum, and the salvia’s indigo flowers, pick up the mauve of the river stones — a nice touch.

More ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave with white tradescantia and variegated ligularia, aka leopard plant.

It’s a pretty space, although I’d have to put two or four relaxed chairs in there for sitting with friends. Who could resist such a fairy circle of a patio?

The main path turns just before the circular patio and steps downhill into this sunken patio built around a majestic live oak.

Boxwood borders the patio, and a spiky forest of pruned-up softleaf yucca behind it is a fun surprise.

Sedge (and bulb foliage behind it?) softens the downhill slope.

A concrete table and curved benches provides a pleasant spot to sit with your laptop and pretend to work.

Heading around back you see a broad limestone stair leading down from the house, plus an old, decapitated live oak with new growth emerging from the stump. I wonder what the story is there? A beloved old tree that broke, and they couldn’t part with?

Gnarled and massive live oak trunks dominate the passage across a play lawn, where a simple square-paver path leads to…

…an arched, fig ivy-cloaked gateway to a swimming pool.

A Moroccan-style pool house anchors the view across the rectangular pool. A green ivy-covered wall provides privacy.

Nicely pruned ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo glows gold in one corner of the pool patio.

The pool house contains a bathroom on one side. I’m not sure what else is in there.

Looking back you have a lovely view of those arching live oaks, echoing the arch of the pool gate. This is a serene, green garden, designed by Rain Lily Design, and I enjoyed exploring it. (One thing though: I wish people with pools would remember to remove the Polaris vacuum before a tour. I had to work to get photos where the snaking white floats weren’t dominating the scene. Of course now that I’ve said that, no doubt I’ll forget and leave mine in if my garden is ever on tour again.)

Up next: A much more rustic garden, the Nuevo Santander Garden, focused on waterwise plantings. For a look back at the water-saving Greenway Street Garden, click here.

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