Garden Blogger's Fling, Austin: A British Transplant in Texas

Continuing on with my posts about the Garden Blogger's Fling in Austin, Texas last month, we visit an amazing garden that is part Texas and part English garden. Jenny Stoker and her Facilities Manager husband David came to the U.S. in 1967, eventually landing in Austin in 1994. Their current home was built in 2000, giving them a blank slate to build their dream garden with surrounding walls to keep deer out. To document her garden adventures, Jenny blogs about their garden regularly at Rock Rose. Despite the rain this first day of the Fling, this end-of-the-day visit was very uplifting.

When you read that an English gardener has an amazing garden in Texas, it piques interest. I had no idea what to expect, but to my delight, the "U.K. meets the American Southwest" aesthetic works quite well. Here we see the outer garden, complete with deer-proof wall. The English part of this garden reveals itself on the other side of these walls, so hang in there with me.

The side of the home and garage with a dry creek bed (although wet this day), rocks and agaves. I should mention that Jenny loves to work with rocks whom David locates and helps to place. They have done most of the design and building of this garden themselves, save for a landscaped area ravaged by construction debris. Over the years they have constantly added or improved features as gardeners do. And adding rocks. Lots of rocks. Some came from the site of their home during construction for the dry stone walls, others David found rock hunting.

A school of terra cotta fish swimming in the grasses. This fun and unexpected moment adds a personal touch.

Moving around the side of the home on the outside of the wall, approaching the entrance to the inner gardens.

Opuntia that looks like rusted garden art.

Entering into the English garden on the other side of the wall. Jenny and David have created many distinct garden rooms to live in (six rooms to be exact), depending on the time of year and time of day. There are sunny rooms for the middle of winter and cozy shady ones for tea time in summer and everything in between. This is a rather open area backed by trees to one side with an area for outdoor dining close to the house. 

Many windows throughout the house bring the outdoors inside for the Stokers. Here on the dining patio, Euphorbia rigida mingles with wildflowers and potted plants. Jenny's style is definitely English in that she relies on self-sown plants, often letting them seed where they will. She professes to not be a plant collector, but to rather enjoy the garden as it pleases her eye.

Larkspur or Consolida ajacis.

Seed heads of certainly self-sown Nigella sativa.

The courtyard with a birdbath center, surrounded by native and climate adapted plants for this part of the world.

A wider shot showing off walls within the interior garden. The steps on the right lead down to a swimming pool and a veggie garden.

At the center of the English garden.

 Walking through the sun and moon archway, you enter yet another English-style garden. The charming wall plaques of suns and faces caught my eye.

More self-sown pants among rocks and a birdbath.

Even with the birdbath, rocks and opuntia, it has a wildflower meadow feel. There are no trees on the inside of this garden, which also adds to the sensation.

More well-placed rocks among nigella, Euphorbia rigida, salvias and many others.

A very inviting swimming pool whereby the water splashes out of an urn into a cool, refreshing pool. 

And it's surrounded by plants. How lovely to swim among them.

Is that Agave 'Joe Hoak'? I'm in love.

This Confederate rose agave is the centerpiece for another little nook:

  Complete with flagstones and plants growing in between flagstones. The slightly wild look this creates feels loose and informal. Perfect for wildflowers and plants adapted to this very harsh climate with very thin soil. I believe Jenny cites this as her herb garden, adjacent to the vegetable garden.
Around another corner is Jenny's veggie garden, filled with veggies, of course, but also more flowers, presumably self-sown volunteers.

In the midst of it all, a cooling water feature, a stock tank with aquatic plants. I hope they have some amphibious visitors!

Verbena bonariensis, a lemon tree in a container and other goodies.

Poppy seed heads of Papaver somniferum.

Opuntia ellisiana or spineless prickly pear cactus was a repeated plant seen in most Austin gardens.

Now back around the house to a tiny little nook, complete with a small stock tank pond and agaves. The window treatment is incredible, just slide to close.

Liz stopped by to say hello. No wait, she lives here. Lucky woman.

Through the door into another garden room.

With the trees beyond, this feels like a secret garden in which to become lost. 

Another seating area, complete with umbrella and another dry stream bed, or wet weather creek depending on what the skies are doing.

Agave weberi on the other side of the wall.

Heading outside the walled gardens to the path leading up to the door.  

In front of the garage, agaves and yuccas lead you through more garden areas to explore.

There are so many nooks and crannies in this open, free, and (despite the rain) sunny feeling garden. I could have spent hours lingering, dreaming of a sunnier day, looking at bees and butterflies and counting agaves in pots. I suppose cheerful is a word I would use, but sophisticated, natural cheerful. The plants chosen are perfectly adapted to their climate with its hot summers and torrential rains in bursts, along with thin, rocky limestone soil. They have used all of these elements to their advantage, collecting rocks on the property (and beyond) to work into their landscapes and chosen architecture that reflects the climate and the surrounding landscape. Even though Jenny claims not to be a plant collector, the plants she has chosen are outstanding and worthy of much envy on my part.

I sense that the Stokers live in this garden year-round, and really, who wouldn't? It's a very livable gem that has given me many ideas of my own to translate and incorporate into our garden perhaps someday. They have created something unique and also reflective of the place they live. What a treat to see. Thank you to both of you for opening your garden to us all.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you. Happy gardening and happy summer, everyone!


  1. Jenny's garden is a very special place to me. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. Thanks for letting us see it through your words and lens, Tamara!

    1. It is wonderful. I totally enjoyed my visit, although I didn't get a chance to talk with her - she was so busy speaking with so many of us! Loved it...every bit.

  2. I never tire of seeing Jenny's garden. Everyone sees something different and reports on it. It has something for everyone to admire. I am envious of her rock collection. Well done David.

    1. Her garden is special. Her David is a gem, I agree :)

  3. Anonymous12:00 PM PDT

    The walls of the house provide the perfect, quiet sophistication for these gardens. Wonderful tour...thanks!

    1. You are welcome, Rickii! Such a special place indeed.

  4. I've enjoyed each and every post on Jenny's garden from Fling participants. You got some great wide shots. Most of mine were filled with a rainbow of poncho covered Flingers.

    1. They are all wonderful posts, I agree. People really enjoyed her garden, it was so open and free. Rainbow covered Flingers...hahah..we all must have a bazillion photos of that. Maybe someone should do a post of just the ponchos.

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed the visit to our garden even under those wet conditions. I am loving hearing what other gardeners have to say about our gardens and your long, thoughtful posting was enjoyable to read.Thank you.

    1. I am so thrilled to have seen your garden, thank you so much for opening it up to us all. I would love to have stayed for hours, getting every last bit photographed so I can savor it forever. At least we have your fabulous blog to refer to. Thank you again, and cheers!

  6. Great Post Roomie! I loved Jenny's garden and just wanted to sit down and soak it up. So many sweet rooms and nooks to hang out in.

    1. Heya Roomie! Yes, it was such a treasure box of a garden. What a great memory!

  7. This is the most inspiring garden I have ever seen! I live in north Dallas and will use some of these wonderful ideas to create my own vision!! Thank you!!!

    1. It was pretty spectacular!! They have since moved but wow...what a place. I'm sure their new garden will be equally as gorgeous. A bunch of us garden bloggers visited that year (2018 I believe) - and many of us wrote blog posts. Check out Pam Penick's blog as well as Danger Garden for a start to see even more. Cheers!


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