Tag Archives: Landscape


tom selleck hairy chest magnum pi 80s

Let’s talk about maintenance.




It’s up to us to make decisions about our own bits and pieces.  When I first started visiting potential gardens with BRS, I had many a client ask me for a zeroscape.  I always giggled knowingly at them, ha ha wink, we all know the word is really xeriscape – defined as a landscape that uses xeric plants.   But, um. No. It’s come to our attention that there are folks who believe a garden needs nada. never.  That we might guarantee their garden will never have weeds, nor frost damage, will laugh off drought, humidity, dog pee and drunken marauders.  Never would it need a clip, or a pinch, a nip or full bush whack.

We quickly began to associate people’s garden maintenance requests with their personal grooming styles and I’m here to tell you-  in our heads, we think we are spot on.  So yeah, we are thinking about your bush when you are talking about bushes.  Really.  I’m not saying we all fall into strict categories- there is winter and summer grooming for us and our gardens agreed?  But let’s name it to tame it- a little grooming all the time is just a good idea.

Speaking of-  last spring I decided to rip out the Hades Garden.  It was getting too expressive. Imagine that in a bikini? We were.


And truth be told, I’m feeling the need for some C O N T R O L. clipped tight clean control. Something that will do what I will it to do. And it’s a wee bit sad that I have a better chance of mother nature bending to my will than my two and a half-year-old.

Thus the new bliss garden.

at install last spring:


We used a few things we had hanging around the nursery and added pretty silver, blue, purple and yellow. And I’ve made it smell good- loads of lavender, so if I’m having a little melt down at work I just pop out into the new garden “to clip”.  It gets clipped several times a week and it’s responding with vigor. Nicole Vesian said you can show your plants you love them by giving them a good clipping.  This garden is an homage to her work with which I’m rather obsessed.


Voila.  She is already putting out this spring after a winter of pruning and light fertilizing. We experimented with fertilizing the lavender all winter as it’s its growing season. And it’s about to burst forth with controlled lavender love.

I’ll tell you though- when a client comes in and says I want that… and points to the new Bliss garden. We have to say, wellllllllll.  Will you love it and feed it and groom it weekly?

A bit more about the beauty of loving garden care.

Some of our most favorite-est projects are our gardens at Josephine house and Jeffrey’s. Larry McGuire loves JoHo to look like a rich woman’s yard and well… a-hem, we are here to make your techni- color dreams come true.

When we inherited the Josephine House property, it was feeling a little neglected.

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Bravely brushing aside jeers “hey hey tutti-frutti” from other landscapers driving by- (that’s you Jeff Neal) we quickly put aside our innate snobbery about annuals and dug deep for our inner California housewife- little did we know, she rested very very close to the surface.Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.23.52 PM Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.23.42 PM Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 3.50.50 PM
Now, we trip over one another to find the best color combos that can bedazzle and withstand the plethora of dog pee and Christian Louboutins popping about. And yeah, it needs bi-weekly love to look like this but so do you.

Slowly we’ve been asked to help other McGuire Moorman properties. Lambert’s is a particular love- minimal cowboy chic is our latest theme.Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.29.07 PM Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.29.00 PM

Yep even cactus need love and care to look their very best.  Last spring we were asked to take on the beast of Perla’s on south congress.  Dios mio- it’s hard out there being a plant- but we are getting her rhythm and we will thwart and stun the garden trespassers with our eye popping Long John’s Silver color theme.  We have also been fortunate to add Clark’s to our constellation: “preppy plants please”.   We do love how McGuire Moorman let’s each property find it’s own personality and we are honored to be working with them and  the gorgeous By Georges as well.


“Meadow Mania”

So clearly having 2 chitlins has slowed mon field notes. It’s nice to be able to look back and see that the babies have made a softer and fuzzier me. And it’s not just my new baby fat and hairy legs. Long before they were twinkles in a petri dish, I had dreams of chubby little legs running through the meadow by our house. The details of not having an actual meadow fluttered way above my head. “Don’t worry sweetheart of a new hubbie, I’m a gardener- we’ll just make a meadow.”


Step 1- wait for the long abandoned and mostly waterlogged house next door to come out of trust.




Step 2- Bless it’s 1980’s soul and then quickly take it out of it’s misery.


Step 3- call friends at Native American Seed


Step 4- dazzle your new neighbors with tractors


Step 5- Voila- your new meadow.


Step 6-



Any of my fellow gardeners feeling a little fib in my pictograph?  Think it went something a little more like this….


Step 1- agonize. fret. wring hands. argue about the property next door. Know that any new buyer will need 3 stories to get a city view- and an excellent view of our back garden and nekkid swimming.


Step 2-  Secure next door property- knock it down and unleash a plague of rats on the entire neighborhood. starting with your own house.


Step 3- wait until the soil is perfect temperature, finally spread the seed


Install temporary irrigation, watch the birds convene daily to eat the grass seeds and then suffer 2 monster turd floaters that wash the majority of all the seed down the softly sculpted hill.


Step 4- re-sod with heinous squares of buffalo turf that take eons to establish


Step 5- finally get some grass traction- contemplate reverting to your father’s way of killing fire ants via pouring gasoline down the mound and lighting on fire. take refuge in Aztec Pest Control’s kinder and gentler way.


Step 6- crouch low when the city code inspector drives by frequently- has someone called me in for not cutting my lawn? Is there a code against having long grass? shouldn’t I know this somehow?


Step 7- Finally, get some luck, pull up the temporary irrigation after 2 seasons and get la niña!



I mean, was it worth it? Yes yes yes. I’m quite obsessed with it- I love it in the winter when it’s all gold and blowing. In the spring when it’s 5 bluebonnets and thousands of primroses bloom (the majority of the primroses at the bottom of the hill- ahem).  Slowly, the other wildflowers are coming in- wine cups and other friends are self-sowing.


The second baby comes and what…is it hormonal….as we awaited Leon’s birth- in some weird nesting thing last fall I went out and dug in 100’s of flower seeds into the upper meadow. I’m telling you now that about 4 of them bloomed this spring.


So in a fit of maternal crafting this fall – Willie and I decided to make a butterfly garden in the upper meadow- with live plants. No more of this seed shit.   And it isn’t pretty when the hormones have access to a planting crew,  coincide with the native plant sale at the wildflower center  & a need for some “alone time” in the nurseries.


I purchased oh about 150 4” plants. Willie and I dotted them all over the upper meadow & called my long suffering irrigation guy.


They came through my beautiful meadow and trenched to run temporary drip to the butterfly plants.


Is it worth it?  Before we could even get the plants in the ground we had loads of butterflies. And watching the babies eyes light up is all that I had dreamed and more.  Trust me hubbie- we’ll just “make a meadow. It’s what we do.”


It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.

I know i know- for a couple of reasons it’s easy to forget that i’m related to Dolly Parton. I try to play up the Anne Boylen side of the family for the sympathy card. But, you know I really relate to cousin Dolly when i’m trying to talk to clients about the price of…. subtle. I mean it’s like the older you get– it takes an inordinate amount of maintenance to look like you haven’t put any effort into your maintenance. And hear me now, but believe me later it’s as complicated to achieve that in the garden as it is under your chin.

Let’s start with chez Spong. We found a photo at the History Center of the original front of the house and decided to dial it back to pre- war chill.


At the time of purchase:



Sometime this summer:



And I confess, it seems annoying, even to me who understands why it costs so much, to pay to just take stuff away. But you know, pull up all those boring yaupons, get rid of all the excess stones, bricks, tiles, hire a really great hombre to wield a tiny little jackhammer to take off the additions to the patio while leaving the original 95 year old tile work, move the electric, re route the gas, hand dig around the heritage oak , bulldoze the wall and OMG look at all that dirt i just took out of that little bit of space down there?


And i really added were some limestone caps on the steps that were kind of already there under all the 80’s ca-ca. easy. and i’m installing a circular low wall that let’s us hang under the oak canopy. some grass. and you know. done. but mon dieu. it’s a fortune. BRS is too busy- i’m using subcontractors- i feel our client’s pain. I’ve been doing it in little bite sizes to hide the price from myself.


We’ve a couple other favorite clients who have faith in subtle. For a favorite recent project we arrived on site to this:




The client wanted it really to look like “nothing happened to the site- perhaps a bit enhanced”. So we planted thousands of natives. grasses, yuccas, some bushes, seeds etc. We pick axed them into the rock just like nature would have done it. The patient patient client was out of town during our install. She was sent photos that showed “all we had done that day” in which was all but impossible for her to see what she was paying for.