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.

Plant romance at Redenta’s Garden and other Dallas shops

I made a Dallas dash — a day trip from Austin to Dallas (3 hours each way) — last Saturday to visit my son at college. My mom and daughter joined me, and we hit a few unique Big D shops just before and after lunch, knowing that College Boy wouldn’t emerge from his man cave until later. I love road trips. Do you?

We started at Big Mango Trading Company, an Indonesian import shop specializing in garden sculpture and furniture. I’d heard about it from the owners of the fabulous Blue Lotus Garden (pictured here), and it was fun to explore and imagine creating a tropical paradise of our own. The helpful guy working there sent us around the corner to a couple of funky home/design shops afterward, including the weirdly fascinating Scout.

Next we hit Wisteria, a global home-decor store better known outside of Dallas for its catalog. I went verdigris crazy and bought two glazed vases and a bronze deer, all discounted, for my dining room console, under the agave prints by Carolyn Schmitz. The three green-glazed seedpods to the left of the deer…

…came from Redenta’s Garden, a favorite Dallas garden shop with a modern edge, native plants, and a good succulent and agave selection. The succulent heart pictured at top is from Redenta’s, as are these cool tillandsias and stem-like holders for displaying them.

Redenta’s has two locations: a more suburban nursery in Arlington and this urban boutique nursery in Dallas, whose rusty steel planters filled with agaves, yuccas, and native wildflowers along busy Skillman Street will have you fighting for a parking space. Pictured here, along with my shadow-puppet hands, are a big, beautiful ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia) and cheery four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa).

After all that nursery and home-decor goodness, we headed over to UT Dallas, where Mom got the campus tour and a peek into a suspiciously surprisingly neat dorm suite occupied by three young men. Dinner at Chuy’s (College Boy was homesick for his favorite Tex-Mex) and then a round of putt-putt golf, at a course adorned with a safari’s worth of African beasties, made for a perfect end to the day. Of course the return drive still awaited, but what a fun Dallas dash it was.

How about you? Have you made any fun day trips lately?

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

Pretty goods at Austin nurseries

By Monday morning, which was my deadline for turning in my new book manuscript, I hadn’t showered in three days, changed out of my sweats in two, or slept more than 4 hours a night for about a week, give or take a few coma-like naps. Yesterday, after two nights of good sleep, multiple showers, and a morning appointment at the hair salon, I felt as spiffy as a new-shined penny. With a few hours to kill before school pickup, I hit a couple nurseries I’d hadn’t visited in a while.

And I saw some pretty things. Like this vignette of potted succulents and flax lily at The Natural Gardener.

And this terracotta tower of blooming annuals.

And this fence detail. Love! It’s just a forked cedar branch tucked inside a cedar and corrugated metal frame, with three metal birds attached, but isn’t it sweet? I think the silhouetted birds are cedar waxwings.

I’m going to copy at least the branch and bird part. I went into the shop and bought three wrens to keep company with the Carolina wrens in my garden. A project for a rainy day.

While in the shop I had to check the bookshelf. Yep, there’s Lawn Gone! Thanks for keeping it in stock, Natural Gardener. By the way, if you’re a member of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (and you should be. Hello! Free reciprocal admission to botanical gardens around the country), all through February you can show your membership card at the Natural Gardener to get 20% off one native Texas tree. Nice! (The Wildflower Center’s offering many other discounts for members at retailers around town this month, so be sure to check the link.)

I also popped over to The Great Outdoors, where a pair of terracotta lamp jars caught my eye. Not cheap at $260-something apiece, but so pretty.

They remind me of these pierced terracotta lanterns I admired in the garden of Jennifer and Fred Myers.

The Great Outdoors has long had a green roof over their gift shop, but currently it’s planted with purple pansies — and one rather large softleaf yucca. Cheery!

And yes, they have quite a few copies too. Thanks, TGO!

So have you been trolling the nurseries yet, eager for spring? Or if you live where it’s snowy, are you perusing plant catalogs? I hope, at the least, that you’ve showered in the last couple days.

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