The Natural Gardener

The Natural Gardener

The Natural Gardener (Photo credit: Today’s Garden Center)

Just up the road from where I live, on the other side of Highway 71, there is located The Natural Gardener and as the name implies, it specializes in a more natural way of gardening. Not to say that they don’t also follow the standard methods of yard maintenance as they do. So I visited the place back in July of 2012 this time taking my camera with me.

This has to be one of the larger Garden Centers in Austin covering 8 acres in all as not only do they have a large shop that sells all different kinds of gardening items from tools to seeds to knick knacks but they also have a large soils yard that deals in either bulk or bucketful depending on the customer. Surrounding the shop are different areas with both native and exotic plants and flowers, a large rose area, a different area for shrubs and bushes, a very large Cacti area and on and on.

They do not restrict themselves to plants as they also carry garden ornaments and have a large supply of urns and pottery. They have an especially large number of the colored metal statues. The place is laid out so that the public can see much of the growth in the ground as they have several different areas such as the Butterfly Garden, Herb Garden, and the Experimental Plant Area.

Not content with displaying all of their plants and such, they also have three separate water features, one of which is very dramatic as the water flows swiftly down the hill and disappears into the ground. The other two are of the rock variety with waterfalls both very pleasing to the eye.

Tucked up in the back is an area that contains two donkeys, Chico and Kiko, goats and chickens and is a big attraction to the younger folks who visit the Center. The Natural Gardener holds teaching seminars on most Saturday mornings which are free to the public and people can learn about planting and growing roses, caring for grapes, Organic Gardening and a multitude of other garden related subjects.

The owner is a gentleman by the name of John Dromgoole who is also well-known for his Saturday morning organic gardening radio show on KLBJ-AM at 590. He also appears on TV and I had the pleasure of him filming my ponds and interviewing me a couple of years ago.

This is such a wonderful place to shop if you are anything of a gardener at all and even if you end up not buying anything which is doubtful, it is so much fun to walk the grounds or just sit and observe. I cannot do justice to this beautiful place so I encourage you to go on-line for more information and then pay them a visit.

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Zilker Gardens, Austin Texas

English: Koi Pond in Isamu Taniguchi Japanese ...

I had some time to kill before the Austin Pond Society meeting and decided that as the meeting was going to be held in the Zilker Gardens Meeting Room, I would walk the grounds and take as many pictures as I could find of interesting subjects.

It is a beautiful place to walk around and if there are any complaints at all, it is that everything seemed to be uphill or at least the majority of the walking was. Of course there was an equal amount of downhill but that was the easy part and you don’t notice that.  At the very start of the walk, the first thing I encountered was a grass snake about three feet long. It startled me but I watched it slide easily away into the undergrowth. Such is the peaceful nature of the gardens.

There is a clever system of ponds and streams starting from the very top of the hill all the way to the bottom. The ponds have many water lilies and large Koi and one could spend a lot of time just admiring them. The gardens have many interesting plants and cultivated growth and everything is so well cared for. Near the bottom, there is an Cretaceous area dedicated to time long past when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. There is a sculpture of an Ornithomimus, one of the whose footprints were found on the grounds. In the same area are fossilized wood and other things from time of long ago on show with a very tall and very impressive waterfall.

The Beautiful Falls in Zilker Gardens

The Beautiful Falls in Zilker Gardens


It seemed that every turn in the path led me to something new and wonderful. The Gardens are divided into areas although one area runs so smoothly into the next. Many of the areas are named for the people who donated for the construction and upkeep. For example, the Hamilton Parr Memorial Azalea Garden, the Isamu Taniguchi Oriental Garden, the Mabel Davis Rose Garden, the Hartman Prehistoric Garden and the Douglas Blachly Butterfly and Trail Garden to name a few.

The range of plant selection is quite extraordinary and must take a lot of upkeep. Continue walking and you will come across an old log cabin that is a one-roomed school-house built around 1866 and another building next to it is another old log cabin which was actually a one-roomed home-built 1840. Both are originals. Not too far from them is a rebuilt Blacksmith shop surrounded by old machinery of days gone by. For sale in the Gardens shop are metal articles that were made in this blacksmith shop.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in the garden taking these pictures and was a little sad that it was meeting time, my original reason for being there. I plan on going back and spending more time in these beautiful gardens as I didn’t cover it all. I got to most of the major areas. The cost is very cheap at $2 per Adult and a $1 per child. People over 65 get in for $1 and it is a very cheap way to spend a couple of hours and very educational.

For a link to their website for more information, go to  or for a map of the gardens, go to

I tried to capture as many pictures as I could and have them for you below.

Below is a map of Zilker Gardens. This one is hard to read but it does give you an idea of the size of the gardens. A full size one can be obtained from the Gardens or from the web site at

Zilker Gardens Map

Zilker Gardens Map


Busy, Busy – Another new project

English: Watering the Garden

English: Watering the Garden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s amazing how busy a person can be working on something of interest to them
Gardening has that effect on me and even though nothing major was planned
I can find a myriad of “stuff” to do some of which by themselves are chores
but coupled with all of the interesting things, the tasks are really no longer a bore.

There are always things that need to be done and cleaning filters is just one
of the many things that it takes, to keep the ponds healthy for the fish
keeping water clear so they can survive for it’s my job to keep them alive.

Another thing that I need to do is water the plants or they will die
especially as summer does progress as this is Texas and we all know
that it is only a matter of time before the temperature reaches one hundred and five

Earlier this week, a project I planned to install soaker hoses in the areas with plants.
To my favorite store, a trip I did make to purchase the pieces I thought I would need.
Lengths of hoses and timers and other odd things, the project to build just like in my dreams
for the planning of this was done at night, just before I turned out the light
and in my mind, I had it worked out.  In the morning after I woke
I scribbled it down so as not to lose track of all of the ideas that I had planned
to make the garden easier to maintain so instead of waiting for it to rain, the timers
come on every two days and carefully water with much less waste than I would take
if in my haste, I did not enough attention pay and some of the water ran away.

I found the work a lot of fun but that is because I really enjoy
piecing together the different parts and if for some reason things don’t fit
the brain kicks in and does its bit by working out a different way
to assemble the pieces like the original plan and maybe not  exactly the same
but the end result is what matters the most, getting water to plants to keep them alive
as soon it might be a hundred and five as our Texas summer begins to bear down
and day after day one thing we know most, that Texas is hot and it won’t be long
that even people like me who like it hot, will inside be writing in this blog.

The project is finished and now all that it takes is to keep an eye on the plants
for goodness sake, as they will show if enough water is reaching their roots
and if they can produce young green shoots that will tell me that success is ours.
Instead,  if things shrivel, turn brown and start to look bad, this time I will not be sad as
adjustments are needed to our design so as to keep everything in line
and to follow our original plan, getting water to ALL of the plants in time.

I gotta get me one of those watering cans…

Change Your Clocks and Welcome Spring

English: A dandelion clock ("wishie"...

Dandelion Clock

Do not forget tonight to set
your clocks and watches one hour ahead
or tomorrow you will find that you are one hour behind.

March twenty is a Tuesday, I hear
springtime will start for another year
That is ten more days from now I fear
but in my yard I can see its fate
that Spring is not waiting for its date
and has already arrived here, not to be late

I love this time of the year
when new things grow and old things clear
away to make room for the new growth
that is already starting to appear
and Nature does her wondrous thing
and spreads her arms in a glorious swing
and what she touches and where she points
new things grow to give much delight
to those of us who join the fight
to keep things beautiful with all of our might.