Between the Rows: Life is a fiesta at unique Texas garden

  • Lucinda Hutson’s mermaid pool is set against a stone privacy wall with an amazing array of plants. For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman

  • The backyard shelves and table illustrate the dazzling spectrum of color in Lucinda Hutson’s backyard. For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman

  • Lucinda Hutson named her home “La Casita Moradita,” or the little purple house. For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman

  • The bottles of various brands of tequila make up a unique bottle tree in Lucinda Hutson’s backyard. For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman

  • In Lucinda Hutson’s backyard, a contemporary lounging area overlooks the swimming pool and any children splashing about. For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman

  • Lucinda Huston’s mermaid pool is set against a stone privacy wall with an amazing array of plants. For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman

For the Recorder
Saturday, June 30, 2018

The garden bloggers’ Austin Garden Tour took us to a variety of gardens, but when you pull up to a purple and pink house, you know you have come to a remarkable and outrageous garden. Lucinda Hutson named her house “La Casita Moradita,” or the little purple house, and it is filled with many references to lands south of the border.

The Casita sits on a small urban lot that is probably a little smaller than my own lot in Greenfield. It is not only filled with herbs, roses, marigolds, ferns, passion vines, jasmine, a tiny greenhouse and more, but it is stuffed with mermaids, seashells, angels, images of the Madonna and other saints. Walls and furnishings are brilliant sunflower gold and vibrant blue.

There was no grass in front of this house, only the stone Salad Bar filled with, well, salad makings, and pots of brilliant yellow daisies, purple Amistad (friendship) salvia, and vivid coral geraniums as well as benches where guests can catch their breath and enjoy this front garden in the shade of a kumquat tree.

Like many houses on small lots, this one is set to the side so that a generous garden space is left on the other. The first garden here is sheltered by a stone privacy wall and the entry brings you to the Mermaid’s Lounge. Mermaids are everywhere. Mermaid figures sit beneath an airy pergola of seashells, and are painted on a large plaque at the edge of a fountain and pond. It can become a game to discover them all. Terra cotta fish also swim along at the edges of this enclosed space.

Further along the path of stone and ceramic tiles decorated with morning glories and other flowers is a bright and sunny area filled with pots of flowers like brilliant gold marigolds, and more edibles. This garden contains the entrance to the greenhouse while the protectoress of the garden, Our Lady of La Tina, sparkles in her bathtub shrine. Hutson is having a little fun here. “Tina” is the Spanish word for bathtub. Neighborhood children come and visit here, as there are plenty of small brightly painted chairs to accommodate them.

By now we were at the back of the house with a patio deck, more brilliant colors, and a table and chairs for visiting and eating. This is El Jardin Encantador which loosely means “charming,” “welcome,” “glad to meet you here.” I should tell you that Hutson is not only an amazing gardener, she is a public speaker and a cookbook author with a particular interest and knowledge of tequila. “¡Viva Tequila!: Cocktails, Cooking, and Other Agave Adventures” is the title of her latest book, but it includes food recipes as well. She also wrote “The Herb Garden Cookbook.” Either way, her motto is “Life is a Fiesta!” Her house and garden certainly are set up for fiesta living.

The final, very shady garden is La Lucinda Cantina, a social space that features bottle trees planted in a cork mulch. But these bottle trees are not created with familiar blue bottles. Hutson is a tequila expert. Here all the bottles are various tequila bottles complete with labels. Metal mariachi sculptures with their musical instruments provide a lively ambiance for those who want to sing and imbibe. In case the imbibing gets too wild and cooling down is needing, there is a small outdoor shower. Or, of course, if anyone prefers outdoor showers.

On your way out of the garden, you might notice that there is a tiny secret garden behind the greenhouse. Another mermaid lives there and you can leave your wishes with her before you leave this whimsy and re-enter a less colorful world. I wondered what my sister garden bloggers wished for as they left that secret garden. Did they wish for more visitors to their blogs, for summer nights that regularly deposited the perfect amount of rain, for a plague that eliminated all Japanese beetles, for an extra hour in the day to finish weeding? We gardeners have found joy in our gardens, but we still have so many wishes. What do you wish for your garden?

I think La Casita Moradata was the most extravagant and wild garden on our tour, but every garden has its own theme or style. Life can be a fiesta in many moods.

B. Jane is a garden designer and her urban garden is a welcoming but quiet oasis complete with a swimming pool. This is a serene garden. There are no trees to provide shade, but two dining areas are arranged with shade provided by an umbrella or a portico roof. A generous hospitality is signaled by the grill set in its own nook.

Though there are no trees, one long wall of this enclosed garden features a ribbon of tall bamboo that throws ample shade, and a cool area for conversation. Overlooking the swimming pool is a platform with three lounge chairs set against a cut stone backdrop.

The simplicity of this garden is its charm. It is a garden that welcomes friends, and play, and that soothes the brain and spirit after a day out in the world.

What is the mood of your garden?

Pat Leuchtman has been writing and gardening since 1980. Readers can leave comments at her website: www.commonweeder.com.