Yard-of-the-Month: 3540 Pineridge by Michael Graves

Our September Yard of the Month has seen many changes over the 38 years its owners Tim Calk and Leigh Owen have lived there. When purchased in 1981, it had one front flower bed of cannas and two hackberry trees in back surrounded by weeds three feet tall. Since those days the owners have seen trees come and go. They discovered after a few years the silver maple and weeping willow they planted didn't prosper, but a 35-year-old magnolia and three-story red oak anchor the front yard.

The current plantings reflect their love of green foliage and colorful flowers, but are showing the effects of summer and will be transitioned to fall when cooler temperatures arrive. Today's plantings in the front and back yards and along the drive include:

  • loropetalum

  • sago palms

  • boxwood

  • crossandra orange marmalade (a favorite!)

  • variegated hostas (another favorite)

  • sedum

  • golden creeping jenny

  • verbena

  • lantana

  • firebush (hummingbird bush, Hamelia patens)

  • vitex

  • sweet olive

  • banana trees

  • elephant ear

  • ficus pumila

  • magnolia

  • red oak

And while these plantings are all fine and lovely, it's really about the tomato.
This special tribute to Leigh's hometown occupies the curb at the driveway. Surrounded by a low ground cover of golden creeping jenny, their tomato weighs in at an impressive 660-lbs of solid concrete! A surprise gift from Leigh's sister and brother-in-law, it has more than 300 "twins" occupying sidewalks and lawns in Jacksonville, Texas, the one-time "Tomato Capital of the World."

"We love the Heights and how near we were to the Gulf Publishing Company building on Allen Parkway where we both worked together for more than 25 years," said Tim Calk.
And there are more stories! The tomato may have been what made me stop at first, but if you pause there for a picture and find Tim or Leigh on their porch, ask about the decoration on their door!

Thank you, Leigh and Tim, for sharing the tomato story and your yard.
- Stephanie Riceman, WHCA Director of Beautification

Watching Out For Street Trees by Michael Graves

A live oak lost in the 500 block of Bayland Avenue.

You may have noticed that one of the much-loved Live Oaks on Bayland Avenue was recently taken down. Several neighbors noted this as it was about to occur. While we're saddened by the loss of the majestic oak, we are happy to report that, according to the COH Forester, the tree in question was properly permitted for removal due to structural problems.

If you witness the removal of trees from street easements, please call 832-395-7100 immediately so the Houston Parks Dept can check for permits and avoid unnecessary street tree loss. This phone line is answered 24 hours a day.

For all other non-emergency street tree service requests please call 3-1-1 (713-837-0311).

Yard of The Month: 728 Usener by Michael Graves

Our August Yard of the Month is 728 Usener, home to Daniel Rueda for more than twenty years. It is thoughtfully tended with help from David Bartula (Luxury Lawns), sourcing locally, mostly from Buchanan's and statues from Joshua's. Plantings are chosen to be low maintenance, capable of withstanding our melting climate, and high impact, with florals taking turns to pop seasonally.

Through his yard you will find:

  • Yaupon Holly for a little shade

  • Asparagus Fern

  • Purple Potato Vine provides the tiered entry along a rare Houston hill

  • Agapanthus

  • Periwinkle

  • Canna Lily in a lovely salmon hue

Rudbeckia, showing off now in deep summer, is a yellow flower similar to Black Eyed Susan. Daniel's took off from a single planting and fills in so nicely.

Along the east side of his yard, springing from the hardy jasmine ground cover, are beautifully twined purple-bloom Wisteria.

On the west side, in a tricky spot with heat and shade, is a sweet-scented Mountain Laurel.

Years ago a neighbor had suggested having a theme of Red Bud trees lining their block, so in the spring they are on display.

In winter, pansies continue to make his yard vibrant and bright, sometimes complemented by purple kale.

Thank you for sharing your yard with us this month!

- Stephanie Riceman, WHCA Director of Beautification

Yard-of-the-Month sign has gone missing again! by Michael Graves


It seems that the WHCA Yard-of-the-Month sign has gone missing again! It's last known perch was on the 900 block of Merrill. We need it back! If someone grabbed it, perhaps to prank a neighbor, we'd be happy just to see it returned to where they found it. No questions asked.

If you see it, please let us know where so we can collect it. You can email or send us a message via the WHCA Facebook page.

- Michael Graves

Yard-of-the-Month: 118 Alma by Michael Graves

I love wandering the neighborhood and admiring our fine old homes and the gardens that surround them.  One of my favorite walks is Germantown, an area just east of Houston Avenue and bordering I-45 settled by German immigrants in the late 1800’s.

A few years ago, I discovered a wonderful Queen Anne cottage (c1915) and garden at 118 Alma. I knew immediately that the resident was an artist. The evidence is everywhere. The large picture of a beloved pet mounted on the wall of the front of the house protected by the porch, the planters made out of tires, the mosaics on the fence, the jars filled with various colored water that adorn the flower beds, and the amazing topiary that spells out the artist’s last name,  H-A-Y-S-L-I-P.

Mary’s great-grandparents moved into the house on Alma in 1920.  Mary has lived in the home since 1974. Take a walk and come to see Mary Hayslip’s garden and art. There are memories here among the flowers and trees in our Yard-of-the-Month.

Yard-of-the-Month: The Garden At Travis Elementary School by Michael Graves

While there are many lovely flower-filled front beds to choose from in our neighborhood this month, I am overwhelmed with the variety and range on offer in our own elementary school garden! Many of us shuttle along the garden path five mornings a week to see our kids to school, but it's worth taking a few extra moments to absorb the nature there.

The Travis Garden has been under the guidance of neighbor, teacher, grandmother, and Army veteran Christina West for nearly two years, with the help of volunteers, teachers, and students. When I asked her if we could choose the Travis Garden for May Yard of the Month, she was delighted!

Ms. West says every morning she loves riding her bike to Travis Elementary School along the leafy streets past her neighbors' flowering gardens.  The Travis gardens are at the east end of Redan and have a fence covered with muscadine grapes and bordered by fig trees.  Inside, there are 30 beds, one for each class at the school and five others that are filled with wildflowers and small trees.

In the fall, as soon as it is cool enough, students plant vegetables and herbs, and continue planting throughout the winter months.  They plant broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, chard, beets, lettuce, arugula, bok choi, cilantro, onions, potatoes, chives, dill, and carrots.  Many are planted from seed and students watch them grow week by week until they can harvest and eat them. Their favorite eating experiences are: kale smoothies, broccoli pasta, blanched broccoli, salads of cabbage, carrot and lettuce, herb butter with chives/rosemary/oregano, mashed potatoes, chard roll-ups with apples and sun butter, and, of course, raw carrots. In spring, each class garden plants a tomato and some peppers, cucumbers, and beans.

Ms. West tells us "Perhaps the students' favorite part of the garden is the pond, that has a small cascade of water and a marshy area with purple lotus flowers and a slightly deeper pool visited by toads each spring that leave hundreds and hundreds of eggs in long strands.  Turtles also visit our pond, as well as many migrating birds, such as American goldfinch, Cedar waxwings, and American robins.

"Around the edges of the Travis garden are "pollinator gardens", sometimes called "insectiaries".  Many of our vegetables depend on pollination, so it is important to invite bees, wasps, and butterflies into our garden.  Students enjoy watching these insects that are so helpful to our community.  Gardens also need compost piles which can manage the waste from gardens and then provide rich soil.  Students love running over to the compost bins and tearing up the spent leaves of our broccoli, kale, and chard.  (Just a reminder: tomato and potato leaves should never go into compost piles)." - Christina West

"A garden is a grand teacher," naturalist Gertrude Jekyll wrote. We are so fortunate to have this rich resource here in our neighborhood, for our kids, birds, beetles, butterflies and more.

Stay tuned for an opportunity to tour the garden with Ms. West and learn more. The Travis Elementary Garden is supported by the school's PTA, grants, donations, and volunteers. If you are interested in helping in some way, please contact and we will put you in touch.

And an honorable mention goes to 923 Teetshorn, nominated by a neighbor for their nice flower beds. Well done!

YARD-OF-THE-MONTH: 919 Ridge by Michael Graves

You can’t miss the burst of bluebonnets at 919 Ridge, home to Amy, Chris and Nathan Boyers. Bluebonnets here have been an annual occurrence for many years. Every year, bluebonnets drop seeds to produce plants for the following spring.

In 1938, Lorene and Herbert Smith purchased the new home and raised their two children there. Mrs. Smith always loved gardening and sowed bluebonnet seeds near the crepe myrtles by the street. After Mrs. Smith passed away in 2004, Mrs. Smith's granddaughter, Amy, and Chris bought the house from Amy's father. The Boyers have looked forward to the annual bluebonnets every year since. In 2013, Chris and Amy’s son was born in the midst of a bumper crop year of bluebonnets. Four generations of one family have lived in this house, so it has so many special memories. One memory is being entertained by the families that plop their kids among the flowers for bluebonnet pictures. The Boyers enjoy sharing the happiness from the bluebonnets with neighbors.

The rest of the landscaping, installed and maintained by the family, is a mix of natives and low-water plants. They are also experimenting with citrus trees, which have replaced the crepe myrtles planted years ago. Amy held on to several of Mrs. Smith’s roses, day lilies and Easter lilies, which begin blooming once the wildflowers begin to fade.

While their poppies didn't bloom this year, their seeds have blown across the street, sharing, as neighbors do, and are on full display. And bluebonnet volunteers can be found in other nearby yards.

It's a beautiful legacy that the Smith and Boyers families carry through generations, and our neighborhood is made lovelier for it.

Yard-of-the-Month: 411 Bayland by Michael Graves

It's azalea season, and Mary and Brad Robbins' yard at 411 Bayland is blooming! Some of their bushes were thriving before they moved in nearly 30 years ago - wow! The massive, classic oaks nearly dwarf the Wilson four-square, and host resurrection ferns on their sprawling limbs. The effect is quieting.

The shade across the front meant their landscaping had to transform over the years with their family, and was rebuilt in 1997 with design and construction help from Bill Salario, incorporating a brick kitchen garden, a 'Secret Garden' with fountain, and river rock. But the front porch has always been lined by the azaleas that don't seem to mind the shade.

Raising a family of four boys meant creating spaces for them to play, including a long zip line, now replaced with a swing set for the grandkids and raised garden beds to take advantage of the sunshine away from the arching oaks. Around the pathways and stonework can be found gardenias, camellias, agapanthus, aspidistra, hidden ginger, ligularia, brunfelsia, maidenhair fern, and spider lily. A stone path with dwarf mondo grass leads away where Brad's plumeria collection enjoys the sun.

Thanks to a tip from my friend and neighborhood volunteer, Pat Schaper, who noticed this yard and suggested I have a closer look. So glad I did! If you have a yard you would like to nominate for Yard of the Month, send an email to

Yard-of-the-Month: 1126 Highland by Michael Graves

Brian Walker and Lorenzo Rodriguez have been lovingly tending their garden at 1126 Highland for over twenty years.

With midwinter taking a toll on many yards, theirs stands out as it continues to bloom, now with deep roots and a history surrounding their home. It’s a treat for neighborhood wildlife and insects, with diverse plantings including azaleas, bottlebrush, irises, lilies, lantana, succulents, and hibiscus, as well as the more common crepe myrtles, muhly grass, boxwood, and sago palm. They even incorporated a small yard art hydrant to welcome dogs!

The bricks imprinted with Mexia that make up part of their walkway were salvaged from their home’s original oven. When I asked about a pretty tri-leaf filling around their lilies and azaleas, Lorenzo said “That may be a weed. But it’s nice and grows well, so I left it.” I love that approach, and it’s so pretty. 

Stephanie Riceman
WHCA, VP Beautification

WHCA Yard-of-the-Month Sign Missing! by Michael Graves

It seems that the WHCA Yard-of-the-Month signs has gone missing. It's last known perch was 528 Bayland. We need it back! If someone grabbed it, perhaps to prank a neighbor, we'd be happy just to see it returned to where they found it. No questions asked. Michael Graves VP Communications, WHCA

Have you seen this sign? We need it returned.

Have you seen this sign? We need it returned.

Yard-Of-The-Month: 528 Bayland by Michael Graves

My friend and I have loved this sweet, expansive yard for a while! Watching it transform through seasons only seems to bring out the beauty in its evolution. 

Looking over the fence you see nicely manicured space, but what is really cool is all along the sidewalk: an antique water fountain with a little bowl for neighborhood critters to have a drink on hot days, benches for big and little kids to have a rest and meet neighbors, and a thoughtfully designed sidewalk that lofts over giant oak root mounds and also easy for those of us on wheels. It's a lovely merger of urban and wild - how fitting for our Woodland Heights, so close to downtown.

- Stephanie Riceman, VP-Beautification

Yard-of-the-Month: 3002 Norhill by Michael Graves

Shawn & Dominique Rodgers, at 3002 Norhill, love supporting local businesses and love planting their own plants each season. Everything in their yard was sourced this past Spring from Buchanan’s Native Plants on 11th Street. Dominique spent several days researching to pick out just the right plants. They wanted hardy perennials that were heat and cold tolerant, drought resistant, good with full and partial sun areas of the yard, and ones that would mix well together for visual and textural appeal.

So far they have done the job, including:

  • Fox Tail Ferns

  • Monkey Grass

  • Regular Mondo Grass

  • Bronze Ajuga - ground cover, perennials (along the flower bed borders) - these are some of their favorites.

  • Queen Anne Lily of the Nile - perennial - around the base of the trees. These grew beautifully in their back yard, so transplanted to the front yard.

  • All Summer Gardenias - perennial (in the large pots.)

  • Baby Gem Boxwoods - perennials (in the medium sized pots) and regular boxwood in all the flower beds.

  • Black & Blue Salvia - perennial - around the street post and in the main flower beds. The bees & butterflies love these.

  • Salvia Amistad- perennial - in the main flower bed.

  • Angelonia - in the main flower beds

  • Cora cascade polka dot Trailing vinca - in the bed to the left of the house.

  • Graffiti White Pentas - perennial - all over the yard.

  • Zebra Hydrangea - on the porch in pots.

Living on the Norhill Esplanade means they have front row seats to the festivities every December, and are looking forward to celebrating with their neighborhood again this year!

- Stephanie Riceman, VP-Beautification

Yard-of-the-Month: 934 Euclid by Michael Graves

This month's Yard of the Month fittingly celebrates the harvest! It may not be the most beautiful (because that might be the yard three doors to the west, at 946 Euclid), but it is the most BOUNTIFUL.


According to the current resident, Jeff Shell lovingly cultivated the yard in the early 2000s, so now the massive persimmon tree dominates and fruits generously, along with pomelo and pomegranate. These juicy trees provide a buffer to the equally abundant butterfly gardens closer to the house. It's all looking a little wild and fun, yet somewhat low maintenance, and absolutely delicious.


Yard Of The Month: 134 E 7th Street by Michael Graves

This Yard of the Month is special because, by the time you read this, the very thing that makes this yard so extraordinary may be gone. It's also special because to really appreciate this yard you will look up, and take your time in the shade to appreciate the century oak's quiet life, and now its death. The limbs reach far toward its nearly-as-old home, which it has guarded until now, and to me they look like wind, if you could see wind. To Telia Weisman, the tree wraps itself in a hug. Across the street, the mighty oaks reach out everywhere, locking arms in solidarity with their neighbors.

Telia and her husband, Mark Guzman, have tended to the tree for three years, but now after consultation with arborists, it's determined that the tree is dying inside, causing a danger to those around them as it drops its limbs. The City has marked it for removal as they search for some way to save it. Arborists have now warned that neighbors should take caution around it, and yellow tape moves admirers away.

As sad as this is for Telia and Mark, I think many in our community will miss its awesomeness, even if we did occasionally bump into its great limb that swoops over the sidewalk. Maybe as we dodged that limb we looked up and took it all in. It was there when soldiers returned from wars abroad, when all kids walked or rode their bikes to school, before freeways buzzed, and when everything was quieter and cooler. Time stands still on this corner. I hope others will have time to walk around Norhill and E 7th and enjoy the peace of the oaks all around here, find some acorns, and plant a tree. They can't be taken for granted in the Woodland Heights.

- Stephanie Riceman, VP-Beautification

Care and therapy for stressed trees by Michael Graves

Trees have been having it tough in recent months, arborist Matthew Petty told a Houston Chronicle writer. “We’ve had odd weather patterns, with Harvey, hard freezes last winter and long, hot dry spells this summer.”

In a story appearing Sept. 6, 2018, Molly Glentzer, staff writer, said some arborists have coined a term for trees that appear to be alive but, in fact, are standing on dead roots. The term is “zombie trees.” Trees, you see, can take years to die.

On the positive side, care and intervention can sustain or occasionally revive trees that have endured stressful conditions.

Here are tips for prolonging tree life:

  • Periodic pruning

  • Regular fertilizing

  • Show, deep watering during dry spells

  • Checkup by a certified arborist

The drought of 2011 killed almost half the trees in Memorial Park. Yet, hope remains for some of the survivors of the drought, specifically post oaks. The Memorial Park Conservancy is hoping to revive some of the post oaks in the park through a regimen of aerating their root systems and injecting them with biological material made from the compost of fallen trees.

- Rosie Walker, Writer and long-time WH Resident

YOTM: 418 Byrne by Michael Graves

418 Byrne is the vibrant, yet subtle and pretty yard of Megan Mastal, who has nurtured her greens and flowers here since 2001, and in the neighborhood for 25 years. The white, lime, and yellow hues come through in potato vines and fig ivy, hugging the brick, tracing up little statuettes, and bringing the century home to life.

While I think her delicate yard shows the cool and calm charm we love in our historic neighborhood, Megan says she and her neighbors have big decorating plans for Lights in the Heights! I’m so happy to have Byrne on the LITH route this year!
- Stephanie Riceman, VP-Beautification

YOTM: 125 Payne by Michael Graves

Maximizing curb appeal in a cozy garden. 

125 Payne is July's Yard of the Month. Lovingly maintained by owners Rachel Eddins and Mathew Zamzow, this compelling garden is nestled in the heart of historic Germantown, which features many beautifully maintained yards. What makes 125 Payne stand out from the rest is not just the way the front walk and historic porch are framed by the greenery from the featured crete myrtle, but rather, when viewing this home in the early evening, when the perfectly manicured beds are illuminated, giving a sense of warmth and welcome. 


The Friends of Woodland Park are proud to announce that Dylan Conner’s remarkable sculpture, Firefly Field, has been fully installed in Woodland Park.

Friday, July 27th was a banner day for FWP and the park as everything came together when Dylan’s colleagues and a crew of experienced metal sculptors worked all day to install his inspirational sculpture.  Lighting was completed as well so by evening the park was transformed into a native spectacle.

Since Friday, FWP has been approached by a significant number of neighbors plus park and art lovers wishing to donate to the project and to have their families’ contribution forever memorialized on the donor plaque to be installed soon.  We have therefore decided to re-open the fund raising to allow those who would still like to contribute to this park improvement to do so.  Details will be posted on our website,  This opportunity will likely only be available for the next 30 days or so, so please be sure to act soon if you are interested.

Our next phase of this project will be the initial creation of the landscape garden which has been designed by our friends and neighbors at SWA.  The bed with flagstone edging, a premium garden soil mix, and mulch will be built in the next few weeks, and then in early fall when the weather is cooler we will plant various native grass species.

For those who would like to be a part of this addition to the park and contribute their time, perhaps in addition to their financial donation, we certainly need volunteers to help with the installation of the landscape.  Please check our website for future details or look for updates posted on NextDoor.

Our tremendous artist, Dylan Conner, is a third generation Woodland Heights resident, a graduate of HSPVA, and a scholarship winning graduate student currently enrolled in U of H.  He has contributed public art in the Houston Heights Boulevard Art exhibit and been involved in the installation of huge and noteworthy sculptures in the area.  He is a truly remarkable talent and an extremely loyal Woodland Heights resident.  We thank all of you who have supported our local artist.

We hope to see you at the park.

YARD-OF-THE-MONTH: 1102 Euclid by Michael Graves

There is a lot to love about the yards horseshoeing our Norhill Esplanade: a jasmine arch, rose garden, two plank swings, flower-lined walkways, a Little Free Library, and little pops of color in yard chairs, yard art, and embedded in paths. 

But the anchor to all that you find here is at 1102 Euclid. Artist Elena Cusi-Wortham moved here in 1992, building her unique home that is also her workshop and an expressive space for her craft, social passions, and gathering place. Her banca jardin is a lively community bench that draws children in to discover a handmade mosaic of nature's influences, which plays out all around the tile pieces.

Throughout her L-shaped yard you will find plantings that are both practical and simply pretty: persimmon, fig, tangerine, and a bay leaf bush are useful. For shade and flowers: magnolia and ash trees, orchid tree, African daisies, Mexican olive, palo verde, and bottlebrush. A raised bed forms an inversion of the arc in the bench, and has been a vegetable patch in the past, now home to milkweed, lantana, chives and more.

Elena's yard is a place of rich discovery for our neighborhood, but she has also shared her talents all over Houston, including four elementary school Spark Park and a Cotswold Project on Prairie St. downtown. She is currently working with the Community House on Avenue F and 72nd where she helps neighborhood children create their own tile mosaics, and discover art in nature.