Life is a Fiesta with Lucinda Hutson in Austin, Texas

  • Post published:07/06/2018
  • Post comments:9 Comments
Lucinda Hutson's door
Lucinda Hutson’s front door

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, 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 this house, only the stone Salad Bar filled with – 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.

Lucinda Hutson's Mermaid garden
Lucinda Hutson’s Mermaid garden

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 painted on a large plaque at the edge of a fountain and pond where another mermaid can splash with the (toy) fish. Mermaid images are everywhere. It can become a game to discover them all. Terra cotta fish also swim along at the edges of this enclosed space.

Lucinda Hutson's Mermaid grotto
Lucinda Hutson’s mermaid grotto

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 big 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 are there are plenty of small brightly painted chairs to accommodate them.

Lucinda Hutson's patio
Lucinda Hutson’s patio

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 kind of means charming, welcome, glad to meet you here. I should tell you that Lucinda 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 has 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.

Lucinda Hutson
Tequila Bottle Trees in Lucinda’s shady garden

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 there is a small outdoor shower if cooling down is needed. 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 reenter 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 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.

B. Jane's nook
B. Jane’s bamboo conversation 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, as well as soothing the brain and spirit after a day out in the world.

B. Jane’s poolside lounging area

What is the mood of your garden?

Between the Rows  June 30, 2018

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Pam/Digging

    I enjoyed your juxtaposition of these two gardens, so very different in mood and character, yet both uniquely personal spaces for the owners.

  2. Pat

    Pam – Garden tours always point out the many many different ways a garden can provide delight. I am off today for a special local tour.

  3. B. Jane

    Hi Pat – Thanks for the write-up! I love Lucinda’s garden – and yes, we do have different styles. Also, while Lucinda’s garden is mature, ours is only 6 years old. The Oaks on the property were planted as soon as we purchased the property and are just now providing a good amount of shade at their locations (at 20′ tall or so). 6 years ago there were only weeds, Bermuda grass, Ligustrum, and a short chain link fence – yuck. As our garden matures, the continued growth of the 3 Live Oaks and 3 Monterrey Oaks will require switching out some of our sun-loving plantings for more shade tolerant options. I enjoy the metamorphosis of landscapes in this sense. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the tour. Pam Penick is an amazing organizer!
    – B. Jane
    B. Jane Gardens

  4. Those gardens were wonderful, weren’t they? Thanks for sharing the memories. I had such a wonderful time at the Austin Fling. 🙂

  5. Pat

    B.Jane – Pam is an amazing organizer – and a wonderful gardener. I’m glad she made it possible for us to see such a variety of gardens. It is the individuality of every garden that I love! Your front garden was also beautiful in a slightly different mood – and the plantings on the meridian in front of the house were an extra treat. Thank you for opening your garden to us.

  6. Pat

    Beth – I’m glad we were both there together again. It was really a thrilling weekend.

  7. Helen Opie

    Loved this vicarious tour! Loved the contrast, the different wonderfulness of each. And am thinking how much I would love to live in a climate where I could have a kumquat tree – except I love and need the drawing-inward time of winter. Thanks so much both to the gardeners for sharing, and to you for showing us that they showed you.

  8. Pat

    Helen – I wish I was getting a tour of your garden that I could share.

  9. Helen Opie

    Would you like a photo tour? A lot is still very bare due to many things; my health, too wet even in raised beds, frost, cold spell, too hot…the usual. However, I am very happy with how it is shaping up, and seeing imperfection is more comforting.

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