Garden Blogger's Fling, Austin: Donna Fowler

It's time for me to return to blogging. It's good to focus on things I love such as gardening and the gardening community. With that, I give you another Austin, Texas, garden from this year's Garden Blogger's Fling. Donna Fowler and her husband Mike reside in Hutto, Texas, home of the Hutto Hippos. Really. More on those in a moment.

Donna and Mike reside in Mike's family home, built in 1886. When they originally moved to Hutto in 1978, there were only 500 residents, and I'm happy to report it still feels like a small, charming town with a population of roughly 25,000. 

They have since restored the home and added on to it and created welcoming, fun garden rooms to entertain and enjoy year-round. 

On to the hippos! As it turns out, Mike was once the mayor of little Hutto. He embraced its hippo-ness and proudly displays many throughout their garden.

There are other hippos around town, this is just their collection.

Mike is also responsible for the many glass sculptures in the garden. This one, titled Medicare Man of War was a favorite. 

Donna credits her husband with adding all the bling in the garden. He is also the designer of the hardscape and the major hole digger. Sounds like a superb Facilities Manager to me.

The green-on-green coloring is subtle and one of my favorites.

We encountered many blue bottle trees in Texas.

The garden is full of art and sculptures, to be sure. It's a place to entertain and to enjoy, relax and appreciate nature.

Although difficult to make out, this stream bed is actually made up of glass. I believe this is actually the French drain Donna described for us.

OK, now that the bling has been covered, let's move on to the rest of the garden. Here, another fabulous water cistern just looks great in this setting. Nearly every garden we saw had one, water is a precious commodity, especially in Texas.

Donna, the gardener, cites that she started really gardening here in 2005. Her mother-in-law was a master gardener and taught her much. She has filled her garden with many edible or useful/medicinal plants as well as native and adapted plants. 

Some of that great Texas limestone and some sun-loving perennials.

The Medicare Man of War in the distance. Raised beds on the right.

The crowds were thirsty this day.

Fun touches such as this were truly everywhere if you looked. 

This fabulous tipi is for people, not for beans as ours are. 

From the inside looking up. This seems to be tied together with canvas or some sort of durable fabric. I love this idea and would like to build one in our garden someday.

Inside the tipi, in the center, some incense burned. Nice.

So Southwest. A little creepy for me, but to each her own.

Salvia, likely S. greggi

In a shadier spot, Ajuga and some Tradescantia.

The Hesperaloe parviflora was everywhere in Austin and so enviable. I have tried a few times, unsuccessfully, to grow this statuesque hummingbird favorite with rotten results. I shall try one more time after seeing how they should look. 

Perhaps a native larkspur.

Phlomis russeliana flower. This was in early May, blooming well before our June blossoms in Oregon.

When in Texas, one must barbecue, am I right?

I love the stars on everything.

This shady nook of the side of the house would be well-used if it were in my garden. It felt so cozy, cool and inviting. 

A rather lovely Saint Francis sculpture.

Bloggers chatting in the shade.

Wrapping up with a photo that I think captures the spirit of the garden. It was open, sunny (mostly), flat, easy to navigate and very welcoming. We enjoyed lunch here on this lovely stop and were able to really soak in the ambiance at a slower pace. It was the perfect place to pause and refresh.

Thank you to Donna and Mike for opening your lovely, historic home and garden to a bunch of hungry hungry hippos garden-bloggers. You made our day!

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you all. You reached out in such touching ways to us during these last few weeks during our sad time of grieving the loss of our kitty, Lucy. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You will never know how much the love helped us. We felt it from around the world, knowing so many of you have gone through this yourselves. It was an inevitable side of parenting our furry children, and as I said in my last post, as painful as it was, I would do it all again. I know many of us do. By the way, we planted that Lucy tree. It's a Franklinia alatamaha, a rare one, just like our Lucy.

Happy Gardening


  1. Donna and Mike have made a light-hearted, artistic, and wonderfully Texas-style garden, and it's wonderful to see your experience of it, Tamara. Thanks for sharing your photo tour with us!

    1. They have made a wonderfully Texas-style garden, it was so fun to see. Thank you both (Donna and Mike) for welcoming us all, it was such a treat!

  2. How did I miss the teepee?! You did your usual excellent job with this post, Tamara. I started one but abandoned it because I felt my photos focused too much on hippos and too little on plants. Which is not to say I didn't love those hippos...

    1. How did you miss the teepee? I don't know! You must have been entranced with all the other delightful elements (hippos!).

  3. I enjoyed your tour of this garden. Hippos...what will they think of next. Not just these gardeners, people in general.

    1. Hippos! I know...the town is known for them, a very sweet element to Hutto.

  4. This is the garden where I got my first fire ant bite. That will be my lasting memory...

    1. Oh noooo! I remember that - wasn't it one of those fire ants...something we know nothing about in Oregon?

  5. Thank you - I enjoyed this tour of a very whimsical looking garden. The blue bottle sculpture emerging from the plants was my favorite - it just seemed to complement the surrounding garden.

    1. You are welcome, Hans - thank you for reading and commenting! The blue...yes, it was so lovely. It seemed to go well with so many Austin area gardens. Love it.

  6. You did such a nice job documenting this garden Tamara..I really struggled with the bright afternoon sun . Really enjoyed this and that Man O War was my fave too.


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