Awesome in Austin

Buffalo-style gardens are everywhere...

La Casita Moradita (The Little Purple House)

Lucinda Hutson (author of ¡Viva Tequila! Cocktails, Cooking, and other Agave Adventures and the Herb Garden Cookbook) has quite the celebrated garden in Austin, Texas. Her garden was just one of many on the Garden Bloggers Fling 10th anniversary tour this past May.

If the crux of a Buffalo-style garden is to ditch garden design conventions to create something more personal, and distinct from any other garden you’ve ever entered, then Lucinda’s is one of the most Buffalo-ish I’ve ever been in. When we were there, someone walked by me (forgive me because I forgot who!) and said it looked like this garden could be in Buffalo.

It’s the kind of garden that looks like it’s ready for a party at any given time—just waiting for guests. Lush in plants and creativity, I could live here. Lucinda herself has been there for more than 40 years.

The sun-flower-painted wall has a collection of little Mexican chairs for the neighborhood kids that show up to her “botanical park.”

She’s taken this little 1940s house in a nice, but sedate neighborhood, and made it an Austin garden destination.

She’s broken up the narrow yard into many garden rooms wrapping around the house. Two sheds, an outdoor office, and a greenhouse help define the rooms as well as make the whole place feel like a compound—or a personality-packed playground.

There were collections—plates, chairs, mermaids, metal agaves, tequila bottles, horseshoes, terracotta artifacts, religious statues and icons—really too many to keep track of. A common thing among everything that was part of a collection? Color! She is not afraid of color—she’ll readily admit she’s inspired by the colors and joy of Mexican design.

The garden gate is painted with the garden name.

One of my favorite things about her garden was all the rooms – they all have names!

The house is named La Casita Moradita (the little purple house).

The grassless front yard is referred to as The Cottage Garden. Actually, there may have been some grass, but I assure you it was the least interesting part of the garden.

Then there’s the Mermaid’s Lounge, and the Kitchen Garden. El Jardin Encantador is the deck with the dining table (and dance floor). The cathedral-like office/writing lounge with desk is the Cottage Fair. The furthest back garden is La Lucinda Cantina—complete with tequila bottle tree, metal agave and an outdoor shower.

Out of all the gardens we visited in Austin, this is the one I felt most “at home.”

¡Viva los jardines de teqila!

Jim Charlier is an advertising designer/photographer/crafter with a serious gardening problem. He's co-written a garden design book featuring the funky, quirky and fun gardens by the gardeners of Buffalo titled "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" (; he writes a long-standing garden blog (; led the largest garden tour in America, Garden Walk Buffalo; has written for, or provided photography for dozens of magazines and books; has made presentations and participated in panel discussions on garden design and garden tourism nationally and internationally.

1 comment on “Awesome in Austin

  1. Lucinda’s garden does have elements of Buffalo gardens, not least cramming a whole lot of fabulousness into a shoebox-sized space. I enjoyed your photos, Jim!


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