October 26, 2022
Teri Speight doing a Central Texas Gardener studio taping

Last week, when author Teri Speight was in Austin to give a Garden Spark talk, I accompanied her to a taping at the new Central Texas Gardener studio at Austin PBS. Producer Linda Lehmusvirta had announced CTG’s move to the new Austin Community College (ACC) Highland campus back in December 2020. Then COVID happened. And Snowpocalypse, which caused the brand-new studio’s pipes to freeze, then flood. After all those delays, Austin PBS was finally able to reopen in late August, to great fanfare. I was eager to see the new digs.

From mall to marvelous!

After Teri’s taping, I explored the native-plant landscaping around Austin PBS and the ACC campus. They’re built on what used to be a massively paved area — the 1970s-era Highland Mall. When the mall closed in 2015, ACC began turning it into a college campus. Today the college is surrounded by a walkable planned community with shops, restaurants, office space, residential units, and parks filled with native plants. Let’s take a look.

In a hot climate, shade is essential. Along the PBS building, a sidewalk-shading arcade with perforated roof and enormous outdoor ceiling fans promises summertime relief to passersby.

Around back, a new park — still fenced off to visitors — is looking pretty in pink thanks to Gulf muhly grasses. Purple fall aster, white autumn sage, and orange Pride of Barbados add extra color.

The park was swarming with butterflies that day, and I really wanted to walk around. I’ll have to come back and explore once it officially opens.

Now let’s investigate the west entrance of ACC, where a feathery ‘Desert Museum’ palo verde was flowering amid ground-covering muhly grasses.

Austin Community College – Highland

At the school’s entry plaza, a soaring shade structure makes a gesture of welcome. A bosque of young trees promises living shade in a few more years.

ACC’s shaded entrance

Tables on concrete terracing follow the main stairs up to the second level, offering shady and fan-cooled outdoor seating for students.

Directly across the street is Fontaine Plaza, a pretty park bordered by expanses of native and adapted plants. Plants pictured here include whale’s tongue agave, silver ponyfoot, and Mexican feathergrass.

A narrow lawn makes a green stripe down the length of the park — a space for events, play, lounging, etc. Gravel patios with comfortable metal chairs are spaced along the lawn. I love moveable park chairs — so French and more flexible than benches. I drove by the park again later that evening and saw that a movie was showing — The Nightmare Before Christmas — on an outdoor screen, with people watching from the chairs and the lawn. It looked like fun!

Austin firm dwg. designed Fontaine Plaza, transforming the former mall’s western entrance into a green gateway into the new development — one oriented around foot traffic rather than car traffic. The all?e of live oaks — the old mall’s entrance road ran between them — was preserved, and I’m sure their roots are breathing a big sigh of relief to have all that water-blocking and heat-reflecting concrete removed. Today they spread their canopies over mass plantings of dwarf Texas palmetto and inland sea oats. Check out this article for pics of the mall’s old entrance and the trees back then.

Live oaks and plants that thrive in their shade, Sabal minor and Chasmanthium latifolium

More seating

Old steel beams from the mall have been repurposed into benches.

Picnic tables at the western end of the park offer dining or studying space.

Thicket art installation

Here you also see dozens of purple posts of different heights, spread out along the entrance to the park.

They make up a light-art installation called Thicket, which represents a swarm of bats taking flight. An article in WLA explains:

“The seventy-three purple poles, varying in height, is an abstraction of bats taking flight and pays homage to the ACC mascot. During the day the poles are uniformly colored then dusk reveals an internal glow at the top segment of each pole. Every twenty minutes a subtle light show takes place and is choreographed using state-of-the-art programming to whimsically drift across the seventy-three poles.”

That evening I was out to dinner in nearby Mueller neighborhood. Afterward I swung by ACC Highland Campus to check out the “bats.” They were “flying” and glowing!

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

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 (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

The post Native plant landscaping at ACC Highland Campus, the new home of Central Texas Gardener appeared first on Digging.

Exploring Fontaine Plaza and other native-plant landscaping at ACC Highland Campus, which is also the new home of Central Texas Gardener’s TV studio…. Read More
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October 26, 2022

Teri Speight doing a Central Texas Gardener studio taping

Last week, when author Teri Speight was in Austin to give a Garden Spark talk, I accompanied her to a taping at the new Central Texas Gardener studio at Austin PBS. Producer Linda Lehmusvirta had announced CTG’s move to the new Austin Community College (ACC) Highland campus back in December 2020. Then COVID happened. And Snowpocalypse, which caused the brand-new studio’s pipes to freeze, then flood. After all those delays, Austin PBS was finally able to reopen in late August, to great fanfare. I was eager to see the new digs.

From mall to marvelous!

After Teri’s taping, I explored the native-plant landscaping around Austin PBS and the ACC campus. They’re built on what used to be a massively paved area — the 1970s-era Highland Mall. When the mall closed in 2015, ACC began turning it into a college campus. Today the college is surrounded by a walkable planned community with shops, restaurants, office space, residential units, and parks filled with native plants. Let’s take a look.

In a hot climate, shade is essential. Along the PBS building, a sidewalk-shading arcade with perforated roof and enormous outdoor ceiling fans promises summertime relief to passersby.

Around back, a new park — still fenced off to visitors — is looking pretty in pink thanks to Gulf muhly grasses. Purple fall aster, white autumn sage, and orange Pride of Barbados add extra color.

The park was swarming with butterflies that day, and I really wanted to walk around. I’ll have to come back and explore once it officially opens.

Now let’s investigate the west entrance of ACC, where a feathery ‘Desert Museum’ palo verde was flowering amid ground-covering muhly grasses.

Austin Community College – Highland

At the school’s entry plaza, a soaring shade structure makes a gesture of welcome. A bosque of young trees promises living shade in a few more years.

ACC’s shaded entrance

Tables on concrete terracing follow the main stairs up to the second level, offering shady and fan-cooled outdoor seating for students.

Directly across the street is Fontaine Plaza, a pretty park bordered by expanses of native and adapted plants. Plants pictured here include whale’s tongue agave, silver ponyfoot, and Mexican feathergrass.

A narrow lawn makes a green stripe down the length of the park — a space for events, play, lounging, etc. Gravel patios with comfortable metal chairs are spaced along the lawn. I love moveable park chairs — so French and more flexible than benches. I drove by the park again later that evening and saw that a movie was showing — The Nightmare Before Christmas — on an outdoor screen, with people watching from the chairs and the lawn. It looked like fun!

Austin firm dwg. designed Fontaine Plaza, transforming the former mall’s western entrance into a green gateway into the new development — one oriented around foot traffic rather than car traffic. The all?e of live oaks — the old mall’s entrance road ran between them — was preserved, and I’m sure their roots are breathing a big sigh of relief to have all that water-blocking and heat-reflecting concrete removed. Today they spread their canopies over mass plantings of dwarf Texas palmetto and inland sea oats. Check out this article for pics of the mall’s old entrance and the trees back then.

Live oaks and plants that thrive in their shade, Sabal minor and Chasmanthium latifolium

More seating

Old steel beams from the mall have been repurposed into benches.

Picnic tables at the western end of the park offer dining or studying space.

Thicket art installation

Here you also see dozens of purple posts of different heights, spread out along the entrance to the park.

They make up a light-art installation called Thicket, which represents a swarm of bats taking flight. An article in WLA explains:

“The seventy-three purple poles, varying in height, is an abstraction of bats taking flight and pays homage to the ACC mascot. During the day the poles are uniformly colored then dusk reveals an internal glow at the top segment of each pole. Every twenty minutes a subtle light show takes place and is choreographed using state-of-the-art programming to whimsically drift across the seventy-three poles.”

That evening I was out to dinner in nearby Mueller neighborhood. Afterward I swung by ACC Highland Campus to check out the “bats.” They were “flying” and glowing!

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

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 (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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