The West Lane Garden, one of six private gardens on tour during the Garden Conservancy-sponsored Houston Open Days on March 29, is a showcase of contemporary design, which nicely complements the low-slung, renovated, mid-century modern house it frames.
Organized around straight-line axes, with garden views that carry through the house, the grounds open with a crepe myrtle bosque, a formally spaced arrangement of trees, often floored in gravel, that hearkens back to French Renaissance gardens. Restrained, formal gardens can leave me cold, but one thing I’ve learned from the Houston Open Days tours over the years is that I love a bosque. (I went gaga over this bosque in 2012.) I’m always reminded of a Parisian park, where chicly attired people-watchers lounge in slatted cafe chairs, a dogeared book in one hand, a cigarette in the other.
And I don’t even like cigarettes.
Clearly a bosque triggers a romantic travel association for me. Anchoring the center of this one is a cylindrical fountain, water bubbling up from the center. Behind lies a loose hedge of snowy, white-flowering azaleas.
A low, curving wall along the right side of the lawn…
…leads the eye to a straight path hedged on either side by azaleas, pink and fucshia on one side, white on the other, all of which were in full bloom that last weekend in March.
Along the azalea path, a view of a sculptural sphere set on the lawn echoes the white of the azaleas.
As the path runs alongside the house, the narrow space, overlooked by interior windows, is given a focal point with another large sculpture. A cattle-panel trellis framed in steel is planted with star jasmine for screening the house next door and providing an evergreen backdrop.
At the back of the house, the path leads to a small covered patio adjoining a bedroom. From the patio, a path of rectangular concrete pavers leads directly to a swimming pool. The eye continues to travel across the pool to a granite, crescent-shaped sculpture backed by a hedge. A double-line of bamboo muhly grasses to the right of the pool softens the space…
…and creates an eye-catching, chartreuse backdrop for the pool as viewed from this angle.
Stepping back and looking to the right, a clean-lined gravel courtyard appears, tucked into a U-shaped area at the rear of the house. A single tree, off-center, spreads its canopy over the courtyard.
Along the other side of the house, a brick wall hiding a utility area (I assume) sports a pretty, diamond-shaped trellis pattern of star jasmine.
A narrow side strip is transformed into a dining patio with the help of a slatted arbor. Wonderful shadow play!
In a shady bed near the street, a simple planting of white azaleas and blue delphiniums adds spring color.
A last look at the bosque, with its own appealing shadow play from the trees.
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