Articles, Blog

Daylilies, Courtyard, Outdoor Oasis |Jeff & Skottie |Central Texas Gardener

December 15, 2019

– [Narrator] Tanglewild Garden’s a state of
mind as much as a design, botanical, and daylily hybridizing adventure for Jeff Breitenstein
and Skottie O’Mahony. – [Jeff] The saying on the garage is Latin
for life is beautiful. – [Narrator] Life’s been a lot of hard but
satisfying work too, renovating a 1970s house and bland setting since 2013, two years after
they traded Seattle for Austin. – First thing we did is we fell in love with
a Moroccan arch at a store and it was actually part of the structure of the store. I kept going back and then I took a photo
of it and put it into the drawings when I was designing the house and showed him it
and he’s like, “Okay you sold me, I’ll sell you the Moroccan arches.” So that’s what started the whole sort of theme. – [Jeff] The walls were next. We wanted to have an enclosed courtyard, the
pool was already here, so two walls on either side of the pool to make that kind of enclosed
courtyard. On the side that isn’t walled, there’s a large,
live oak tree so it kinda creates a natural wall and it gave us that nice little enclosed
feeling. – [Narrator] Moroccan tile inspired the intricate
windows set into stucco walls. – [Jeff] Basically, I created the pattern
in a vector drawing program and then we had the screens cut with the water jet. – [Skottie] And they’re steel and they’re
powder coated. – [Narrator] They lucked in to the perfect
gazebo to frame and shade one conversational cove. – So a Joglo is typically in the central part
of many homes in Southeast Asia. It’s Javanese in origin and then that’s sort
of the central part of the house and then they have rooms that sort of flank it. Initially, we were considering building a
Joglo home but when we found this property, there was already a house on it so we decided
to just sort of transform the existing house. It was a brick house and we got rid of the
brick and put stucco on and sort of decided to go Moroccan instead but we still love the
Joglo so when it became available, we couldn’t pass it up. I did a hanging gardens of Babylon thing in
fourth grade, sort of like a project. And so it just got me really interested in
the Middle Eastern gardens and Turkish gardens. And so in studying ’em, I found that a lot
of traditional Persian gardens are actually designed for the evening because it’s so hot
during the day. – [Narrator] They pocketed gathering spots
to cool off even in Austin’s heat waves. A spacious covered patio and dining area along
the back of the house sports a ceiling made from the property’s old fence. They chose powerful plants to stand out against
the white walls, including tropical leafy texture and bold colors. – And we hoped that with the walls, it would
be protected, so over the winter they wouldn’t die back as far and most of the time it works
pretty well. – [Narrator] Another courtyard dubbed the
Moon and Paradise Garden soothes with white or cream-colored flowers that catch the moonlight. In this intimate retreat, they stained wooden
walls black to disappear against artwork and blossoms. On the former driveway, they framed a pathway
to the back with wooden raised beds of hybridized daylily seedlings and a limestone planter
clustered with figs and flowers. – [Jeff] When we lived in Seattle, the University
of Washington has a lot of architectural detail at the top of their buildings and they actually
have a gargoyle tour. So we kind of fell in love with gargoyles
from that and just started collecting them over time and we’ve tucked them into parts
of the garden. – [Narrator] Around the corner, they promoted
another ambience in dappled shade above the creek that trails along the back of the property. They turned the former carport into lounging
and dining. – [Jeff] It makes a nice place for people
to gather and be able to look out over the creek and see the back part of the property. There’s a lot of mature trees back there and
it’s really a whole different feel from around the pool, it’s more woods, park-like. – [Narrator] A path back to the courtyard
attracts pollinators and hummingbirds in their certified backyard habitat. They enriched their caliche substrate with
good soil and compost. – We designed the garden so that you could
walk in a full circle around it. That particular area, we figured would be
a great place for just walking through and seeing the daylilies flanked on both sides. It gets good sunlight, but it doesn’t get
the scorching heat all day, it has some shade. – [Narrator] Daylilies are their passion. Now growing over 1,000 cultivars, how did
they get into these historic and diverse plants? – My grandpa would basically go through the
garden and with a salt shaker in his back pocket and pick a tomato and salt it and eat
it. So I was a vegetable gardener. And then when we were in Seattle, vegetables
didn’t do so great, the season wasn’t long enough. So I kinda got bitten by the daylily bug and
started growing flowers instead. – But I’ve been growing daylilies since I
was a kid. – [Narrator] While in Seattle, Skottie got
in touch with the Austin Daylily Society. – I sent the president as the time a note
saying, “Can you grow daylilies down there?” I got more information from him than anyone
else I’d ever written to about daylilies. They just welcomed us like as if we’ve been
part of the family since we first got there. – [Narrator] Now active with the Austin Daylily
Society where Jeff’s served as president, they were recognized in 2017 by the American
Daylily Society as an official display garden. Although May is peak daylily season in Central
Texas, they grow cultivars that bloom from March to June, including repeat bloomers and
seasonal surprises. – There’s actually daylilies in our garden
here that are from my grandmother’s mother when they were living in Poland. And it’s been bred into most of our seedlings
because bringing in something that’s older helps to strengthen the hybrid because as
you hybridize and hybridize, it’s similar to dogs. You weaken the genetic structure of it, so
by adding something that’s closer to the species, it strengthens the future seedlings. The semi evergreen or evergreen ones definitely
have a better tolerance for the heat in Texas. They do best in morning sun but we do have
ones that have been successful in a more direct sun. It’s nice to have a little bit of dappled
light. We have definitely had a lot of daylilies
just completely fry in full sun. As far as dividing them, you don’t really
have to divide them. They don’t divide them in nature. So it’s not an absolute must but to make them
flower better, it’s definitely good to divide them maybe every three years if they’re clumping. – [Narrator] They test hybridized seedlings
in raised beds. – There’s tetraploid daylilies and diploids
and you can only cross a tetraploid with a tetraploid. So by setting up the beds, we have one type
in one bed so it’s easier to cross them. They’re also raised beds so it’s at least
easier on our back. – We’re hybridizing for daylilies that are
more tolerant of this weather. So all our seedlings are in full out sun. So if it doesn’t survive, it’s not something
that we wanna move forward with. I was fascinated by the fact that you could
combine two things and get something completely different. Being a designer to begin with, it’s almost
like designing with Mother Nature but the fun part of it is that Mother Nature always
does some sort of a twist. So you never know exactly what to expect out
of it. – [Narrator] One reason behind the daylily’s
everlasting fascination is its heirloom durability and countless forms, colors, and sizes. – There’s some that are six inches that only
have one-inch flowers. – And some that are five feet tall. – [Skottie] It’s also great to just share
it. – [Narrator] Successful cross pollination
to style your own daylily results in seed pods. Jeff and Skottie start dried seeds in their
Gothic-style kit greenhouse. – Seedlings that I’ve grown that I’ve bred
are growing in four continents from friends that I have passed them on to. I don’t have kids but it’s kind of like my
offspring as they can go on out there in a different way. People are growing them in Turkey and in England
and in Australia, so it’s kinda cool. We can actually use the flowers to eat. In most countries, they’re actually a food
crop. So when I was in Singapore, they had daylily
ice cream. And you can actually go to an Asian market
and get a bag of dried buds and then just use those in your stir fry. – [Narrator] Deeply inspired by plants and
global experiences with Jeff, Skottie’s taken his imaginative digital art online as custom-designed
SkotoArt. – The main thing with our jobs is that we
spend all day basically on a keyboard, so it’s nice to come back to the garden and be
able to get in the dirt and do something physical. You put in a new garden bed or you clean up
a garden bed. At the end of the day, you have a lot of satisfaction
and you look back at it and say, ah, I did that.


  • Reply Ash May 8, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Breitenstein's and O'Mahony's daylily and architectural aspirations was amazing to watch!

  • Reply Don Lively May 8, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Thank you for the inspiration. What a beautiful garden. We are about to buy a house in Bryan and we are planning on making daylillies our central theme. Yours are amazing. Best wishes.

  • Reply Lisa Walters May 8, 2019 at 4:47 pm


  • Reply Rudolpho Kring May 8, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    Beautiful garden and architecture! Very inspirational guys!

  • Reply Frank Rizo May 9, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Beautiful. Love it.

  • Reply Sharyn Braud May 10, 2019 at 1:45 am

    Simply stunning!

  • Reply John ODonnell May 10, 2019 at 2:36 am

    Fascinating. They seem very creative, knowledgeable and down to earth. Kathleen

  • Reply Marge Siedlecki May 12, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    I like the old fence being used for the outdoor ceiling.

  • Reply Captain Hook May 19, 2019 at 9:28 am

    That arch doesn’t seem moroccan, its an indian one, a variation of marathi, rajputi and mughalai arches

  • Reply sugarbomb26 October 16, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    excellent series!

  • Leave a Reply