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

Have a bright and merry Christmas!


Several neighbors on a nearby street go all out with Christmas lights and inflatables every year, and we enjoy crawling past with our headlights dimmed to take it all in. This is my favorite display on the block.


It’s a fantasia of colored lights that run vertically up a large tree and turn to dripping icicles at the tips of the branches.


A rainbow of miniature Christmas trees adorns the lawn, and colorful rivulets spill off the eaves of the house onto bushes below, splashing them with bright color.


The tree even wears a skirt of banded light.


I love the creativity of the display and look forward to seeing it each year. And I look forward to seeing you next year, dear reader. Happy holiday wishes to you and your loved ones, and I’ll see you in 2015!

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

posted in Holidays, Lighting, Trees

Wildflower Center aglow with the spirit of the season


Luminarias glowed and tree lights twinkled throughout the native-plant gardens at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center during last weekend’s annual Luminations event. I’ve been several times over the years, but this time the lights extended all the way to the new Family Garden.


We got there at opening and enjoyed the lights as evening fell.


My young nephew was with us, so we headed straight for the Family Garden, passing this golden bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum) along the way. That’s a russet bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) at the turn in the path.


In the fading light I was wowed by a mass planting of Lindheimer muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri), whose bleached inflorescences stood tall enough to partially hide a bench. I wish the border of Lindheimer muhly in my own garden looked this fabulous, but it doesn’t get full sun and the grasses remain much smaller and floppier.


Wrapped in lights, a row of Arizona cypresses (Cuppressus arizonica) in the Family Garden made living Christmas trees.


Musical performances were scheduled throughout the garden’s pavilions, including this one, adding a holiday soundtrack to the festivities.


Luminarias lit the way back to the main gardens.


It struck me as kind of strange to be walking through dark gardens by candlelight, where all you could see was glowing paper bags. But it was nice too.


Back in the main courtyard, it was a party, with a steel band playing, people smiling and talking, and hot chocolate being handed out.


We popped into the gift shop. Of course.


I found a glass armadillo ornament, which I immediately realized we needed for our tree. I also perused the shop’s extensive garden-book selection.


Oh, looky here — autographed copies of Lawn Gone! are on display right up front!


At last it was time to go, and at the exit we stopped to ooh and ahh over this enormous live oak, seemingly lit with fairy lights all the way up into the evergreen branches. I was even more impressed to realize that the lights were not physical lights but projected images from four upward-pointing projectors at ground level. How clever, and no ladders required!

Merry Christmas, y’all!

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