Tanglewild Gardens merges passion for daylilies with tropical wow factor Leave a comment

May 23, 2024

Every time I visit Tanglewild Gardens, an Asian-influenced, daylily-hybridizing, future-wedding-venue garden in North Austin, I’m impressed by the energy and ambition of its owners. Skottie O’Mahony and Jeff Breitenstein, 13 years into the making of Tanglewild, continue to expand on its garden rooms and are in the process of remodeling a detached garage into an ADU with a tiki bar. Skottie calls the 1.7-acre property in the Wells Branch neighborhood a “private (for now) north Austin botanical garden & National Daylily Display Garden.” It’s a botanical fantasia unlike any other garden I’ve seen in Central Texas, with tropicalesque palms, bananas, and cannas galore. Oh, and lots and lots of daylilies.

I was there a week and a half ago, when the daylilies were popping with the arrival of May’s heat. But let’s start our tour in the moon garden, a black-fenced courtyard filled with white- or pale-flowering plants for evening enjoyment. Thai rice goddess figures and a carved wooden doorway in a stucco wall give you the sense of entering another country.

A tiered fountain on a gravel patio adds the music of trickling water.

Variegated bamboo stands out against the dark-stained fence.

Framed view into the moon garden

Skottie and Jeff were hybridizing daylilies in Seattle before they relocated to Austin, and they brought a bunch with them. They soon learned that many of the best performers in Seattle’s mild climate couldn’t make it here. But others grow well in our hotter climate. The couple built multiple raised beds to display their collection, with each plant carefully labeled.

I didn’t write down any cultivar names, but here’s a pretty sampling.

Fellow visitor Lori Daul checking them out

A few crinums and cannas share space with the daylilies.

Griffin guardian of the daylilies

The property slopes steeply down to Tar Branch Creek. Skottie and Jeff took advantage of the grade change by running a long stair down the slope and up the other side, creating a strong axis. A large patio with a stone fire pit is the focal point of the sunken garden.

Skottie and Jeff have arranged branches in the fire pit, giving an effect of crackling flames even in the off-season.

Let’s head down.

Pairs of Adirondacks flanked by silver-stump drink tables offer room for a crowd. You can see the ADU under construction in the background.

A sword in a tree — existing when Skottie and Jeff bought the property — has been dubbed Texcalibur by the couple. There’s a whole legend about that sword, which you can read about in my original blog post about Tanglewild.

Tar Branch Creek winds lazily through the garden. It’s home to a big snapping turtle, which I’ve not yet been fortunate enough to see.

Jeff and Skottie love big, bold foliage and have the water to support it, thanks to the creek and a well.

Check out the vivid red foliage on this Japanese maple, and it’s not even autumn.

Dwarf orange cannas march up the steps on the other side of the creek.

Looking back at the creek-crossing bridge and fire-pit patio

Smoldering cannas

An arbor with formal busts marks the entrance to the future wedding-venue garden.

A large, circular lawn makes a lovely space to exchange vows.

White prickly poppy


Arbor view

Bull thistle

A windmill adds a little Texas flair to the garden.

Mexican hats

This elephant sculpture (unless they’ve acquired a second one) used to live in the moon garden, but now he’s frolicking in a bed of Mexican hats and cannas.

He looks happy here!

More daylilies

Beyond the wedding lawn, a patio backs up to a dramatic bamboo forest.

Now let’s go back to the fire-pit patio and take a side path to the rest of the garden. I especially enjoy this view of the lushly planted creekside garden.

Looking back toward the fire-pit patio…

…and the creek as it widens around a bend.

An Asian sculpture greets you along the way.

Heading back up toward the house, where a vitex shows off its pretty purple spires

Skottie and Jeff invited us to see the work-in-progress inside the ADU and pointed out this view from one of the windows. That’s the back of their main house and pool courtyard, with the moon garden behind the white wall on the right.

And here’s the reverse view from their back porch looking across the pool toward the ADU.

Courtyard wall with laser-cut Moroccan-style screens. What a retreat this place is!

Thank you, Jeff and Skottie, for sharing your beautiful garden with me again!

My previous posts about Tanglewild Gardens:

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June 1-2: Take a self-guided, 2-day tour of ponds and gardens in and around Austin on the annual Austin Pond and Garden Tour, held 6/1 and 6/2, 9 am to 5 pm. Tickets are $20 to $25.

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