Garden Enthusiasts Hosted by Woodland Heights Naturalist / by Michael Graves

Members of the Heights Garden Club were guests on July 8 for a garden tour at the home of Carolyn and Richard Hall on Bayland. Richard is a known in Houston and along the Gulf Coast as an artist, author, naturalist and conservationist. He and Carolyn are enthusiastic “urban farmers.”

During their visit, guests were able to experience the “farm” while gaining hands-on learning.

Following are some of the practical lessons and demonstrations Richard shared.

  1. For optimum result, plant those species known thrive in the Gulf Coast climate. For example, the Halls have a Mexican sabal palm in their yard. “This tree is native to the Rio Grande Valley, so it thrives in Houston,” Richard said.
  2. To build soil for your garden, practice the art of composting. Richard uses everything except animal material for composting. “Animal material is a no-no for composting,” he said.  But grass clippings are excellent. Richard picks up bags of freshly mowed grass left by landscapers at large buildings after a mowing session. The grass is bagged and waiting for pickup, he explained, adding  “Sometimes the landscapers help me load it.” To prevent the grass clippings from souring, you should first spread the material out and let it dry. Regularly turn the organic material in your compost pile as you add material. Finally, you sift the composted material.  What comes out of the bottom of the sifter is excellent soil. During this point in the tour, Richard demonstrated how he sifts. The visiting gardeners were invited to put their hands into the newly sifted soil.
  3. To get fresh eggs, use poultry science. Each hen in the Halls’ coop has her own personality. Richard and Carolyn know each hen by name.
  4. Conserve water by collecting condensate to water plants. A typical central a/c system pulls about a barrel of water an hour out of the air. Instead of that resource being wasted, the Halls use the water from their a/c to water their gardens. One of their barrels, which has a capacity of 25 gallons, fills up twice a day.

- Rosie Walker, Woodland Heights resident since 1975.

About the Heights Garden Club

According to its website, “The purpose of the Heights Garden Club is to nurture an active gardening community in the greater Heights area of Houston, to share the love and knowledge of gardening in the peculiarities of our Gulf Coast climate, and to restore, improve, and protect our neighborhood’s environment through educational programs, demonstration gardens, and by promoting the incorporation of organic practices, native plants and edibles into the urban landscape. And have fun doing it.” For more information, visit http://www.heightsgardenclub.com.

About Richard Hall

Richard Hall is a resident artist at The Silos at Sawyer Yards, across I-10 from Woodland Heights. To learn more about his work and background, visit http://www.thesilosonsawyer.com. Then scroll down to #134 (the location of his studio).