Treasure hunting at Adkins Architectural in Houston


Since last summer’s visit to once-upon-a-dream-like Bella Madrona in Portland — a garden in which junk and architectural relics are transformed into mysterious, magical art — I’ve been on the hunt. For what? For ways to add a spark of discovery to my garden, and in particular for cast-iron earthquake stars. I already had a few and decided to collect a dozen more to set in the gravel path of my front garden — an homage to Bella Madrona, which had a star-studded path that I adored.


Earthquake stars are star-shaped bolts traditionally used on tie rods that run through buildings to hold them together. They’re commonly seen on Civil War-era buildings in South Carolina, where I grew up. Today you can find old stars and, more often, reproductions in antique and junk shops and farm-supply stores — or at least you can in the Lone Star State, where stars are beloved as a decorating motif. Callahan’s General Store in Austin carries them, but I found them priced lower at Adkins Architectural Antiques & Treasures in Houston. I was there last weekend, and so we stopped at Adkins to check it out.


What a treasure-hunter’s lair the place turned out to be, with so much more than just earthquake stars. Architectural remnants and reproductions were stacked head-high in the patios around the shop, which is located in a rambling, old house sheltered by a massive live oak.


We poked around in the yard, finding everything from Victorian-style furnishings, containers, and fencing pieces…


…to whimsically goofy statuary. What is this guy — a fur trader wearing a rabbit-eared hat?


And doesn’t everyone need a griffin to grace their garden? No, me neither, but it was fun to imagine.


Inside we discovered a warren of rooms packed with a hoarder’s assortment of architectural doodads, perfect for giving your home a bit of vintage charm or for repurposing into something totally new. Everything was neatly organized, and the salespeople were friendly and helpful.


I found bins of earthquake stars, including some 6- to 7-inch stars marked down to $3 each.


These aren’t antiques, but they will do the job.


“The streets of town were paved with stars,” sang Frank Sinatra, and now so is my garden path. It’ll remind me of Bella Madrona every time I walk it.

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All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Early spring at Thompson+Hanson nursery in Houston


Last weekend in Houston we popped into Thompson+Hanson, an elegant boutique nursery with a mouthful of a name, located on W. Alabama Street. It was late afternoon on a chilly, damp day, and the place was quiet, but we enjoyed browsing among their lovely potted displays, like this fiesta of succulent color.


And this charmingly potted arum lily.


Dogwood branches, even faux like these, evoke early spring.


Twig spheres, massed along a wall draped with still-dormant vines, echo the shape of clipped boxwood shrubs and create a classically beautiful vignette.


My friend Diana/Sharing Nature’s Garden and I visited the nursery last spring (click the link for my post), on a warmer, sunnier day, and had lunch at its cafe, Tiny Boxwoods. On this chilly afternoon, the cafe’s patio was closed down.


But the lawn was green, and Bradford pears were starting to flower along the fence. Spring is just a moment or two away in Houston.

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I’d love to have your vote in the Better Homes and Gardens 2015 Blogger Awards. Skip through to the Gardening category, select Digging, and then skip to the last page for your vote to be counted. You can vote as much as you like. Thanks for your support!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Keeping Houston weird at Joshua’s Native Plants


Shoehorned into a corner lot in the historic Heights neighborhood of Houston, Joshua’s Native Plants and Garden Antiques is a treasure trove of interesting plants and unusual garden art that you won’t find at every other nursery you visit. Despite a downpour that had me huddled under an umbrella last Saturday, I lingered over the eclectic inventory, pawing through bins of funky garden decor and admiring the variety of plants.


I loved the place. I have to point out, however, that the nursery’s name is a bit misleading. For one thing, I didn’t see a specialization in locally native plants. Instead the tables were packed with a world-ranging assortment: perennials from Australia, agaves from Mexico and the desert Southwest, succulents from Africa, tropicals from South America, Southern-adopted Asian natives, and grasses and trees from Central and West Texas, as well as traditional annuals.


If there was a table of plants native to southeast Texas, I didn’t see it.


Also, “Garden Antiques” might lead you to expect classical statuary, and there is some. But there’s also a crazy-wonderful collection of contemporary sculpture, funky yard art, Asian statuary, and, inside a cavernous warehouse, a mish-mash of architectural remnants, recycle-worthy junk, and old signage that Joshua, the owner, has found on buying trips around the world.


The owner’s eclectic tastes have made Joshua’s a funky Heights favorite and a place where you can find the perfect plant or ornament you never knew you needed.


One Southern native that caught my eye was a collection of baby longleaf pines. At this size they resemble a Dasylirion or Xanthorrhoea, don’t you think?


Here’s a bigger one. I love that foliage!


There were nicely potted agaves for those who don’t want to pot their own.


And cubbies of colorful pots and other small garden decor…


…like these fun monkey hooks…


…and carved Buddha heads, each one slightly different.


Amid the plant tables, Asian statuary…


…classical statuary…


…and modern sculpture — garden art for every taste and style.


I asked Joshua about these colorful, ribbon-like pieces, and he told me they are made by a sculptor from Galveston who got “Iked” out by Hurricane Ike and now lives in Houston.


‘Sticks on Fire’ euphorbia in a Southwest-style glazed pot


Inside the warehouse stuffed with all manner of garden decor, let the hunt begin.


Architectural remnants from Indonesia


London Underground signs keep company with a metal steer head.


These lighted circus signs might be fun in a cabana or on a covered porch.


Or how about these oversized panels, from India perhaps?


This would add an element of bohemian fantasy to the garden, wouldn’t it?


And here’s the man who treasure-hunts for Houston and has the stories to prove it, the nursery’s namesake owner, Joshua. What a fun place to poke around. I’ll definitely be back the next time I’m in Houston.

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I’d love to have your vote in the Better Homes and Gardens 2015 Blogger Awards. Skip through to the Gardening category, select Digging, and then skip to the last page for your vote to be counted. You can vote as much as you like. Thanks for your support!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.