Xeric and stylish gardening in San Antonio, Texas

Ragna’s back garden – A.K.A. The stress-free zone…

Stress-Free ZoneThis is the scene Ragna framed looking off her back patio – there she goes framing things beautifully again.  I like the sign they hung from their covered patio – and it is true!  In this bed, at least right now, the tall bright pink phlox (Phlox paniculata) is stealing the show.   Lets scan 360 degrees moving clock-wise from the left side of the back of the house before we move in for close-ups.  I am attempting to get you to feel what I felt scanning the yard at first glance off the back patio.  My jaw must have been on the floor.  Then I went in like a kid in a candy store to explore.  Take a look one last time to get your bearings – the blue framed structure at the back is 12 o’clock.  Okay lets go….back of house left sideThis is the the left-side of the back of the house – note: Like in her front garden, Ragna uses another yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) to frame a pretty little scene.hesperaloe towerRagna said she changed this bed out from roses to more xeric plants to simplify her maintenance.  Inside the climbing structure is a red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) – her vision is for crazy blooms to be popping out all over the place – I think it is going to look out of this world!  This woman has vision!mimosa laneHOT color everywhere…beautiful texture and movement…interesting hardscape….this garden has it all.  Notice her cobalt blue accents throughout as well – nice continuity.The cactus deckRagna has a lovely cactus collection on this inviting porch.looking back off the cactus deckLooking back at where we have just been from on the cactus porch – yes – really!  Isn’t it amazing how much there is to see and how many surprises there are at every angle?  purple umbrella plant  (Trachelium caeruleum)Here we are at 12 O’clock – I love this purple umbrella plant (Trachelium caeruleum)bed – it looks like a picture with a blue frame to me.2013-06-04_09-51-00More “phlox in pots” in this whimsical garden bed.gate from the secret garden

Hey, where did the gate come from and what is behind it!? … well you can’t see that from the porch at all so we will explore that very special secluded garden later.island bedMoving around back towards the house, there are even more relaxing spaces to enjoy.
swinging hide-awayTake a seat in the shade and enjoy the garden from another angle.more Ragna-style pavingThe paving throughout the garden is just incredible….Ragna and her loving (CANADIAN) husband, Bob, paid attention to every detail!  Mosaic pieces of art!
back of house right-sideOn the other side of the back of the house we have another yaupon holly framed scene…and look at the size of that sago palm (Cycas revoluta)!

Back at the patioAnd here we are back at the porch.  Lets go see that secret garden now!secret garden entranceYou enter just off the cactus porch.fairy birdcageto your left, a fairy birdhouse…I did not see her though…fan-tailed pigeon house…and to your right…so that is what that is!  Ragna and her husband used to raise fan-tailed pigeons.  What a gorgeous coop!  I wonder if she has considered chickens?peek aroundPeek around the corner…2013-06-04_09-27-00To find a completely hidden work area – oh yes all the magic happens here, and they have it all….2013-06-04_11-34-40_1Compost heap easily accessible…AND…wait for it….2013-06-04_11-35-48…a green house too!!!!!!!!!!  This garden has it all.  The layout is genius!  not done yet!  We are not done in the secret garden yet folks – there is still so many more surprises.  Now…what are those ginormous colanders?2013-06-04_09-28-18Old washing machine tubs that Ragna called appliance shops for setting her price of $5 each!  So clever!  This one is adorable with swiss chard.2013-06-04_09-30-50    And this one is equally charming with succulents.2013-06-04_09-28-52There is even another shaded seating area back here.  This area seems like it would be a great place to pray or meditate.2013-06-04_09-31-00Giraffe looks very spiritual here.2013-06-04_09-31-16Inland sea oats adds another whimsical element – it sounds lovely in the wind.2013-06-04_09-34-48More beautiful displays…2013-06-04_09-35-28and the gate that takes us out into the main garden.

Ragna’s garden has it all.  I went over and over in my head how to organize the pictures, and show everything.  The answer I came up with…I cannot possibly show you everything and I don’t think I am meant to.  Ragna’s garden is so special and there is so much that you can’t begin to make sense of it all and that is why it is so special.  Ragna’s garden takes you out of your head…it takes you out of this world to another place…I think she calls it, “The Stress-Free zone.”

I hope you enjoyed this gardens layout and got some ideas on how to layout the garden of your dreams with everything you need….and so much more.

The main things I took away from Ragna’s back garden:

1- TREES are so important for enclosure…creating such a special and secluded space.

2- I do not want to see my whole garden from any given spot.  I think every garden should have surprises!

3- I need to have a private work space where I can do my garden chores….store my tools and wheel barrel…pot up plants, etc.

4- Get out of my head and have fun! …add more whimsical places…and if possible, a private meditative space.

5 – Last and most important – meeting other gardeners is fun, and very very special.2013-06-04_11-05-48Ragna and my son. :)mister BobHere is a photo of Ragna’s partner in crime, and loving husband, mister Bob,  in a shell mirror made with Ragna’s own two hands.  He looks like a super star framed in shells – and he is!  He plays gospel trumpet…and the shofar!  Very sweet Canadian man. :)


  1. Of course you can’t show it all on one visit but you did get the idea and that works best. Like me, you try to give a sense of what it’s like to actually be in Ragna’s garden and then decide it’s like magic. It’s a wonderful place to visit.

    • You got that right, Shirley! You know exactly what I mean. :) I think it is because I took so many pictures of so many amazing things, that I wish I could have shown all of them. Thanks again for introducing me to Ragna – so much to learn from both of y’all! -xericstyle

  2. So many great ideas, I really enjoyed this magical space. My garden needs a few more surprise spaces, I’m going to work on it. You have a very good looking son! Why am I not surprised. Christina

    • So glad you enjoyed way over there :) – your garden looks to have many surprise spaces to me. And yes, he is pretty adorable…I love my monkeys so much! -xericstyle

  3. It’s really neat seeing my ‘yard’ (as we say in Texas) through someone else’s eyes or rather, camera lens; especially when they get those wide angles so nicely. Also I love how you summarize your ideas at the end of your blogs.

    And hey, for a girl from Canada it didn’t take long for you to talk like a Texan; y’alls and all.

    Thank you once again for making my yard look so good.

    • You did all the work Ragna! :) – your garden is so lovely…beyond lovely!!!! as far as the y’all…well, I think I am now half Texan – it gets in your blood! -xericstyle

  4. Ahhh…. It really looks like a “stress free zone”. It reminds me of the secret garden. I’m loving the birdcage with the passionflower vine on it. So magical! Those hot pink phlox are stunning! Thank you for the garden tour. I think you captured the little details quite well:)

    • It was, it soooo was Steph. Glad you enjoyed and thanks for the ID on the birdcage vine – I forgot what Ragna said it was…I don’t have one myself …I did not recognize it with no flowers. Flowers or no flowers it looks so perfect on that cage, eh?! As far as the details…believe me, I did not capture the details. Everywhere I looked there was something…usually eyes from an art piece looking up at me. I wanted to focus on the beautiful layout – and the compost/greenhouse/workspace – the fact she has it all AND a magical, enchanting garden to boot! I feel sad I did not show all the details I wanted to; I guess I am not much of a garden tour guide, I get so overwhelmed and want to show it all!!!!! -xericstyle

  5. It was an amazing space full of wonderful inspirations. I love color, texture, and sense of whimsy so I really enjoyed the garden, I was inspired, but what I saw. I really appreciated the way you took us through the garden; the photos were really well done. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Ragna’s garden certainly has all of the things you love Charlie – I was blown away it had all of that, and it was so functional having necessary work areas as well. AMAZING! -xericstyle

  6. Wow! What a fabulous post, and fabulous couple. What inspiration they scatter about – to you and us!

    • We are so lucky indeed that they shared that inspiration….it truly was transforming for. Thanks for stopping by! :) -xericstyle

  7. I love her yard and all the little treasures. You photographed it really well. I never noticed before that she used the trees to frame the items behind them. Maybe it’s your photography, but the pinks in her mimosa and greens in the sago palms seem to much richer than others I’ve seen.

    • Thank you Marti! I am so glad you enjoyed the tour and took something away you never noticed before. I appreciate you stopping by :) -xericstyle

  8. I’ve loved seeing this garden several times on Shirley’s blog and never tire of seeing new surprises with each visit. Thank you for showing us more of this marvelous place which is one of my favorite Texas gardens! How kind of Ragna and Bob to share it with us all!

    • They are the sweetest couple! And sooooooooooooo talented! -xericstyle

  9. Lovely gardening. I especially like that stunning mimosa.

    • Ragna’s garden is AMAZING, isn’t it?!! -xericstyle

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