Snapshots from Olbrich Botanical Gardens’ meadow, event, and herb gardens


August 12, 2022

Coneflowers at the entrance to Olbrich

While in Madison for the Fling back in June, I had time for a pre-Fling visit to Olbrich Botanical Gardens, and then of course the garden was on the official tour schedule as well. Double Olbrich! I first visited this fine botanical garden 12 years ago, in the fall when big grasses were in bloom. It was fun to see it in early summer this go-around.

Event Garden pergola

My pre-Fling visit occurred on a blazingly sunny and rather hot Thursday. During our official Fling visit on Saturday, drizzle and cloudy skies dimmed the scene. Two different moods. You’ll see pics from both days in this and my upcoming posts about Olbrich.

Olbrich always has interesting displays of tropical plants in containers — and on wire trellises. Check out the tillandsias and bromeliads displayed vertically on the wire mesh behind this bold collection of nearly black and green tropicals.

What a goth garden with those moody hues. And that tillandsia screen — what a clever way to display them. Loree of Danger Garden recently ran with this idea in her own garden.

The Event Garden has a tropical vibe with palms and bananas adding height among flowering perennials and annuals.

Nearly black millet continues the moody color scheme.

Orange makes a strong contrast.

A graceful old tree

And the lovely flowers of Carolina allspice

Weeping mulberry, I think. I love these droopy trees that offer a hideaway under their leafy skirts.

A boulder pyramid stands out in a meadowy bed. What a clever use of rocks dug up when making a garden.

In the Herb Garden, birch branches bound with sticks or bamboo make tall tuteurs in a pair of pots.

Golden goodness with tiger eyes sumac and other yellows

A closer look

The Birch Walk is lined with 100 native paper birches. White-flowering oakleaf hydrangea echoes their ghostly hue.

A beautiful arbor offers shady bench seating.

This is interesting: an old cauldron filled with water and made into a reflective mirror, with broken chunks of a carved stone baluster piled around it. Edged with white stone blocks that look like teeth! And with a crazy pattern of brick paving around the whole thing. Someone is having creative fun!

Megan of Far Out Flora taking a picture of Natasha of We Sow We Grow, both first-time Flingers

I also ran into Anneliese of CobraHead and Teri of Cottage in the Court. Teri will be coming to Austin in October to speak at Garden Spark!

More birches and a fern stumpery

A cool stone sculpture

An English-style meadow garden with spring-flowering trees, low-maintenance fescue grass left shaggy and long, and bulbs that pop up through the grass to bloom in spring.

“The grasses don’t require supplemental watering or fertilizer and are mowed just twice a year — once in late spring and again in late fall,” according to the garden’s website.

Clematis was king here too, as in the other gardens we visited during the Fling. This dark pink one is a beauty.

Pendant purple is lovely too.

Up next: The Rose Garden, observation tower, and fountain plaza displaying mangaves, plus another tillandsia screen. For a look back at the glowing, rainy-day garden of Cindy Fillingame, click here.

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Digging Deeper

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. You can find this year’s speaker lineup here.

All material © 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.



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