Firewitch dianthus is blooming and scenting the garden

Imagine a strong, clove-like fragrance.

That’s what I’m enjoying every time I step onto the deck thanks to my magenta ‘Firewitch’ dianthus. I’ve paired it with spineless prickly pear and a squid agave pup for fun color and form. Excuse me while I go take another sniff.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Drive-By Gardens: No-lawn flower garden at Houston Heights bungalow

We’d cruised down Peddie Street in the Houston Heights neighborhood to find the riotously colorful house and garden that locals had urged us to see. But Peddie offers a two-for-one special, and when we spotted this pretty garden across the street from the first one, we got twice as much eye candy.

The khaki-colored bungalow is more restrained than the red cottage across the street, and its garden is more disciplined. And yet it’s still wildly colorful, with hotter hues by the street and cooler colors near the house. Since hot colors attract the eye and cool colors recede into the distance, the effect is to make the front walk look longer than it really is.

A little internet sleuthing reveals that the owner is a garden designer, David Morello of David Morello Garden Enterprises. I like the structure he’s created with low boxwood hedges at the front porch…

…and on each side of the front walk near the street — evergreen “bones” that support the garden through less-flowery seasons.

The public sidewalk setback is vast on this street, basically dividing the front yards in half. Between the street and the sidewalk, the owner widened his flagstone walk with a circle about 8 feet in diameter, creating a welcoming landing that attracts the eye and helps avoid a bowling-alley effect.

On Google Earth, the picture of this house shows a very different yard: no garden, just overgrown trees and lawn between the street and sidewalk, and a tall hedge along the public walk hiding the house and immediate front yard from view. Clearly this is a relatively new garden. The owner opened up the yard by taking out the streetside trees and the hedge and gave it a friendly welcome with the new stone walk. He planted low hedges for structure and plenty of flowers for traffic-stopping color…

…and he laid a small, rectangular patio under a magnolia, providing a place to sit and enjoy the garden. Texas Black gravel paves the arrow-straight pathways through the garden. Strong lines give order to the profusion of flowering plants.

I love that the owner planted Texas wildflowers like these bluebonnets amid his cottage favorites.

Springtime in Texas

I also admired the way the gravel path flows right into the gravel driveway, for a cohesive look. Stone edging helps keep gravel out of the beds.

The cocoa-colored garage blends into the background, allowing the evergreen plants along the driveway to be the stars. Enormous sago palms and variegated pittosporum are low maintenance and green up the space.

I really enjoyed this garden and also the dynamic between the two Peddie Street gardens — both exuberantly flowery, but executed in very different styles. What nice views they’ve created for each other!

For a look back at the colorful cottage garden at 605 Peddie, just across the street from this one, click here.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Drive-By Gardens: Cottage garden color explosion in Houston Heights

Go see the flower garden on Peddie Street, my sister urged when I told her I’d be in Houston for a garden tour. It was the same advice I’d recently gotten from a Digging reader, who told me the garden on Peddie was not to be missed, should I return to Houston this spring.

And how could one miss it? Arriving in the Bayou City last Friday afternoon, my friend Diana and I cruised down Peddie in the historic Houston Heights neighborhood, looking for a colorful garden, assured that we’d know it when we saw it. When a blazing red cottage with moss-green and sky-blue trim appeared, surrounded by a kaleidoscopically colorful garden, we knew we’d found it.

Flowers spill into the street, with edibles like lettuces, chard, and herbs mixed in among flowering annuals. This is a garden that refuses to be contained or constrained.

Luminous, red-veined chard consorts with red-hot dianthus along the curb, electrifying the street-side view.

The tiny garden at 605 Peddie Street is completely “flowered up,” with no concession to negative space that a small lawn or front patio might provide. It reminded me of the colorful cottage gardens I saw on the Buffalo Fling in 2010 and also Lucinda Hutson’s garden in Austin.

The city sidewalk is set well back from the street and runs right through the middle of the garden, so Diana and I felt comfortable exploring and photographing from the public walk. As we were snapping away, the owner, wearing skinny pants as red as his house, strode out the open front door to move a hose. He was unfazed by the sight of us and our cameras, clearly inured to spontaneous garden visits from strangers.

As we exclaimed over his delphiniums (they liked the cold winter this year, he said), he kindly stopped to chat with us a few minutes and introduced himself as horticulturist and landscape consultant Terry Gordon Smith.

According to his website, he bought the 1912 cottage in 2004 and began ripping out the traditional lawn in order to “plant as many flowering plants as possible from my long list, without any regard for a structured garden design.”

It was, he says, a “singularly selfish” activity for his own pleasure, but it soon captured the attention of passersby, who began leaving him notes, visiting the garden on their lunch breaks, and bringing their friends and family to see it.

The power of flowers!

These bees are made happy by them too.

Dill in flower

Ornamental cabbage, oxalis, and dianthus

What a happy, charming garden and a delight to visit, especially since we were able to meet the gardener who created it. Our Houston garden-touring weekend was off to a fun start.

Coming soon: With a neighborly nod to flower power, the garden right across the street from this one was also awash in color, with native wildflowers thrown into the mix and clipped boxwoods added for year-round structure. Click for my Drive-By post about the second Peddie Street garden!

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.