Congratulations to Michael and Mandy Henry of 9508 Tea Rose!! They have more than September Yard of the Month to celebrate. The Henry’s welcomed twins Simon and Zoe to the family on July 19th. Although the happy new parents enjoy working in the yard, Mandy admits that Longhorn Lawns has helped out this summer. After searching for the right company to replace the lawn (lost during last year’s drought) and maintain the sprinkler system, they remembered that Longhorn has been performing maintenance at the neighborhood’s entrance. Replacing the failing grass with Celebration Bermuda Grass has provided a soft, lush look to the yard. Celebration Bermuda Grass is a new variety that is wear-resistant, drought-tolerant, and is the most shade-tolerant of all Bermuda Grasses. These features make it a good choice for this yard which is graced by large oak, cedar, and magnolia trees.
However, the first thing I noticed was the inviting patio and fire pit near the house. This seems to be a new trend, in the neighborhood and beyond. The front patio provides a great place to enjoy the shade and interact with the neighbors. Good neighbors, lots of young children, park amenities and activities, as well as a quiet, nice place to walk Ripley (the family’s out-going corgi) is what will keep them here.
Although the Garden Gals are done for the season, we look forward to the great holiday displays and will be watching for you and your green thumbs next year!
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Mike and Barbara Tankey (along with Paddy their playful 2 year old golden retriever) recently converted their ailing front yard into a beautiful and refreshing shade garden. Like many of us in the neighborhood, last year’s drought took its toll on their lawn. Another factor that was working against them was the increasing shade provided by the Bradford pear tree that they planted approximately 14 years ago after buying their new home. Every spring they put sod down in the increasingly large bare patches in an attempt to keep their lawn lush, but it soon became a losing battle. This Spring they tried a different tactic. They portioned-off the densely shaded section of their front yard and rotatilled the remaining grass into the soil. After stripping out the grass roots and leveling the soil, they mulched the entire area, then added splashes of color by planting clusters of shade-loving plants and flowers. Several pieces of yard art and pottery further enhance the setting.
The front yard transformation actually started a couple of years ago with Mexican feather grass and rosemary along the driveway. The recent additions include coleus, hostus, fern, Hawaiian ti, caladiums, vincas, and mondo grass. One plant that really loves the shade garden is the Japense aralia planted in the tall pots. Like finding Waldo, take a moment to search out the little surprises tucked throughout – look for the toads, fish, cats, and fossils among many others.
Beside its beauty, another benefit of the shade garden is that it requires much less water than the St. Augustine grass it replaced. Although the plants and flowers they selected are generally not native to Texas, they are well-adapted to our hot, dry environment. Being perennials they are cost-effective because they will come back year after year. Now the front yard matches the beauty and serenity of the backyard(where they previously concentrated their efforts). So thank you Tankeys for the inspiration and the lovely new addition to the neighborhood.
Our May 2012 Yard-of-the-Month winners are Mary and Mike Seberger of 9606 Kangaroo Lane. Sitting on their front porch is like stepping back in time. Their yard abuts undeveloped land south of the neighborhood and provides a touch of frontier living. A resident turkey is a frequent and bold visitor. Road runners, hawks, and cardinals are accompanied by larger mammals such as rabbits, raccoons, opossums, and fox. One of the more unexpected sights off their front porch was a couple of horses being chased down by a couple of errant cowboys. The horses still visit across the fence, but haven’t been seen in the yard since the last round up.
Mary used to have a vegetable garden along the fence, but the various critters pushed them out. That garden is now a flower plot replete with colorful poppies, blue bonnets, cosmos, irises, and lantana. The vegetables have now moved to the flower garden in the front of the house. Mingled in the colorful blooms you will find “hidden” pockets of acorn squash and tomatoes. What drew us to the yard initially was the early Spring blooms of bountiful blue bonnets accompanied by bold irises and amaryllis. A second look indicated that the color was going to go on all season long. Clusters of bold black-foot daisy, orange and gold cosmos, blue plumbago, red Mexican poinsettias, and native lantana will continue the riot of color all summer long.
Although mature trees shade the back yard there were no trees in the front yard, so about six years ago they adopted a 2-foot tall bur oak sapling donated by the City of Austin and it is now a beautiful, full 15-foot tall tree. While interviewing Mary and Mike, I enjoyed one of their favorite aspects of their yard…a peaceful sunset with abundant wildlife flitting about.
Mike and Mary purchased their home in 2001 and have put a lot of time and love into their gardens. This is their second YOM honor, though the first time they were October YOM due to the bountiful fall colors and late season blooms. Thanks to all the happy gardeners who bring color and wildlife to our suburban landscape.
If Edward Scissorhands had a penchant for gumdrops, his yard might very well look like that of Jody and Jack Jennings of 9401 Tea Rose Trail, winners of September’s Yard of the Month!
We should all be grateful of the effort Jody and Jack put into their yard, because it is the first yard prominently on display to all who enter the neighborhood. In fact, their home was the builder’s model home for precisely that reason. Their yard positively influences people who are looking to buy a new home in our neighborhood; therefore it helps to increase our property values.
Since purchasing the home 17 years ago, Jody and Jack have maintained the bushes and trees they inherited from the original landscaping, and have also included some additions such as colorful crape myrtles. It is clear from talking to the Jennings that they gave much thought to each new item placed in the yard, paying particular attention to ease of maintenance, water needs, and suitability to this area. But don’t think that ease of maintenance is really on top of their list because they shape each and every bush almost monthly using electric trimmers, which takes a lot of time. We tried to convince them to try some fun animal topiary shapes since they already have the precise sculpting skills of Edward Scissorhands—maybe we will see a bear or rabbit-shaped hedge in the future?
The Jennings diligently maintain their yard and have used Dillo Dirt, an environmentally friendly compost made by the City of Austin to fertilize their landscape. Even though it is not as prominently on display, the Jennings work just as hard on their beautiful back yard bordered by crape myrtles with white, light pink and fuchsia blossoms.
Besides bragging rights, Jody and Jack are also recipients of a new perk (or maybe we should call it a “perc”) to winning the YOM award, a $20.00 gift card, generously donated by Steve Baer of the Texenza Coffee shop nearby. A special thanks goes to Texenza, a locally owned cafe near the Randalls that is only a 6 minute walk on the trail at the end of Tea Rose Trail– check it out!