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November 10 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Join the Heights Garden Club for the November Garden Tour: The Thorne and O’Brien’s Garden at 1229 Herkimer
This mid-century modern home on an oversized lot has been a “hidden showpiece” in the Heights for decades. Huge bamboo and tall wood fences kept out sightseers, and the pair of tall palm trees visible from the street have always invited wonder and mystery from passersby. Multiple additions to both the home and grounds, added each decade since its construction in 1955, had ultimately started decaying.
Needless to say, when Catherine and Mark bought this property in 2016, they knew they had their hands full. They planned an updated restoration of the interior and wanted to create an outdoor environment through landscaping and the creation of key special places to enjoy the koi pond and pool. Then they met Kabloom’s Jeff River Law. After a series of meetings, the three agreed on a design that would pull the outside into the home plan and vice versa.
The landscaping was challenging in that structural aspects to the home had to be addressed before the main covered seating area could be completed. The seating area includes 100 year-old reclaimed cypress planks.
Around the pond garden, they added milkweed, purple salvia, silver saw palmetto, canna lilies, elephant ears and a Retama tree. Nearer to the pool, lovingly called “Stella’s Garden”, they added crape myrtle, more salvia, zebra grass, sweet almond verbena and Ligustrum. Many pots scattered around the property, left on the site from previous owners, are still used to plant succulents, shrimp plants, aloe vera, potato plants, ferns, citrus trees and coleus.
Along the original driveway, behind the pond, you’ll find Rangoon creepers, potato plants, cestrums, lesbidesia and more canna. The property backs up to Love Park and that fence line contains numerous easy-maintenance plants like dwarf bottle brush, yucca, thornless cactus, fire spike, lady slipper wacky cactus, Belinda’s dream rose, mule palm, sago palm and a little miss figgy fig in the corner by the garage.
But first, drainage. Before, everything drained counterintuitively and the old drainage system was not to be trusted, so above ground drains were planned where needed. Jeff River Law’s Kabloom team was on site long enough to follow the rains, and Hurricane Harvey proved that what they did worked. Some of the old flora was already stunning, so they left it, worked around it or moved it in order to enhance the new spaces.
The funky and functional yard is now a lush tropical oasis with much infill of blooming perennial xeriscape; tough but gorgeous flowers and bushes. All new fencing around 2 1/2 sides of this extra large property was created using mostly the old fencing. The team repurposed and painted or stained materials left on the site from previous projects and added all new 4 x 4’s in treated posts. Much of the front gating was replaced and large black container handles were created by artist Herman Casey where they placed bundles of cut bamboo. Catherine calls these her bamboo “hugs.”
The drive is new, with poured concrete slab sections to allow drainage and they work as pontoons when the gumbo shrinks and expands, so no cracking.
Since the inside of their home was being recreated simultaneously, the windows were kept in mind when creating visuals that could be seen from inside the living room. A myriad of butterflies, moths, bees and hummingbirds can be spotted daily from the inside looking onto the pond waterfall.
Still hidden behind bamboo and tall walls, the home now boasts an improved entrance of Japanese fringe tree, hansu roses, drift roses and Texas lilac. Once inside the property, one might think they were in Bali or Cozumel, right in the middle of Houston.
You simply must see it for yourself this month!