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.

Soaring over Houston: Jorge Marin’s Wings of the City exhibit


Archivaldo

One reason I was eager to visit Houston last weekend was to see Mexican sculptor Jorge Marín‘s “Wings of the City” exhibit, which after months on display downtown at Discovery Green Park was ending on March 3rd. Nine of Marín’s bronzes — mainly life-sized male figures, many of them winged, atop rectangular pedestals or orbs — were placed prominently throughout the park, making for a pleasant, artful stroll despite the chilly, gray day.


Equilibrista 90 Monumental

The figures are wonderfully detailed and realistic but also mysterious: bird-like masks obscure some of their faces.


Detail of the man’s hair and the mask’s string on Equilibrista 90 Monumental.


Abrazo Monumental

When faces are revealed, they are filled with emotion, as with these embracing figures.


Abrazo Monumental contained the only female figure in the exhibit.


Angel Perselidas Monumental

This angel figure, masked like a bird, crouches in a relaxed but watchful pose atop an orb, looking down at you as you pass. His right forefinger, rubbed by passersby, gleams gold.


The ruined figure of El Tiempo, or Time, was elevated above the park on a central knoll.


With his head cracked open to the sky, his eyes come alive with a blank gaze — the sky as seen through his mask of a face.


Split Monumental is one of three gymnast figures, as opposed to the winged angels that made up the rest of the exhibit.


Hombre Universal Monumental

The third gymnast is a masked nude in a sphere of moving rings, reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Ironically, I’d heard about the exhibit due to a controversy about this piece reported by a Houston news station, in which a few locals complained about the artistic nudity in a park frequented by children. I can’t really imagine there was much controversy about this — I mean, have people not ever seen images of Michelangelo’s David? — especially in a city as large and multicultural as Houston, but you never know.


Bernardo Oriental Monumental

At any rate, we thought the exhibit was marvelous and were glad to have caught it.


The only non-figure piece in the exhibit was Alas de Mexico: simply a pair of framed wings atop a stair-stepped pedestal, clearly inviting you to become part of the exhibit yourself. The interaction between this piece and the public was delightful to observe, and of course we took turns posing too. My daughter makes a lovely angel or superhero or whatever one wishes to imagine of these symbols of power and grace.

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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.