Beautification

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 beautification@woodland-heights.org 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 beautification@woodland-heights.org

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.

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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.

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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. 

FIREFLY FIELD HAS ARRIVED! by Michael Graves

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, www.friendsofwoodlandpark.org.  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.

New Free Library Near The Norhill Esplanade by Michael Graves

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Our neighborhood woodworker is at it again! Paul Carr designed, built, and donated this Little Free Library for our community to enjoy, and Norhill Esplanade-adjacent resident Norma Martinez welcomed it to her yard. While this is Paul's first library, his handiwork can also be found at the Woodland Park trolley, Field Elementary truck, Donovan Park train, and more. 

These boxes have been popping up around our community and serve as hubs for us to give and take books. More information can be found at Little Free Library. 

Many thanks to Paul for his talents and generosity and Norma for welcoming our new library. Share away!

Yard-of-the-Month: 2604 Morrison by Michael Graves

The first thing you'll notice is the lovingly restored Craftsman home of Karen Merriam and Thomas Bevilacqua, who has lived here for about 30 years. But take a closer look at the thoughtful landscaping and you'll see what makes it extra special. The yard has weathered flooding from storms so they've taken a survivalist approach, now thriving with variety: flowering with gardenias, drift roses, loropetalum, dianthus, vincas, day lilies, and liriope; oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, and satsuma tree for flavor; crepe myrtles for shade; and Asian jasmine for ground cover. This tidy no-grass and low-fuss yard was arranged by local design architect Pam August, and installed a few years ago by Bella Terra's Humberto Bolanos. 

Honorable mentions received from neighbors this month go to 601 Woodland and 528 Bayland. Thanks for sending nominations! If you see a lovely yard you would like to nominate, please email the address to beautification@woodland-heights.org. Thank you!

Yard-of-The-Month: 802 Woodland Street by Michael Graves

802 Woodland Street, home of Janet and Harry Tallichet, is absolutely popping in our spring sunshine and showers! Janet is a "semi-retired" landscaper. Harry is a home builder and did the add-on to the original home in 2009. Moving from Memorial, Janet welcomed the chance to just play with a smaller garden in a neighborhood that didn't dictate plant material and minimum sod areas or maximum cutting heights. Her garden is for the birds and the bees and one dog, one cat. Always with natural habitat in mind, the garden has evolved through the years and Janet enjoys (in a mad scientist sort of way) experiments with wild flowers from Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, TX. She hopes to encourage the love of nature and beauty to all residents. 

Also...

Nods to two also very lovely and playful yards nominated by neighbors: 711 Euclid and 506 Euclid. If you see a yard that you would like to nominate, please email me at beautification@woodland-heights.org. Hope to meet more neighbors out for walks enjoying our community - there is so much to enjoy here, especially this time of year.

- Stephanie Riceman, Beautification

 

Yard-of-the-Month: 2624 Reagan by Michael Graves

Yard of the month goes to Pat and James at 2624 Reagan. I have never seem a more beautiful garden than the one they have created on their triple corner lot over the last 30 years. It is truly magnificent! Pleasure your eyes and walk on by for some inspiration on how to create an oasis of green in the inner city.

Carla Reed
VP Beautification

Yard-Of-The-Month: 1026 Omar St by Michael Graves

Yard of the Month goes to 1026 Omar St.  This is a new house, with new neighbors, and a new kind of lawn that is gaining popularity in the Woodland Heights, artificial grass.  The Woodland Heights has always been a diverse neighborhood where we celebrate and embrace different ideas.  On my street alone, Omar, there are now 3 houses with front lawns made up of artificial turf.  While most yards are looking pretty sad in our neighborhood after 2 hard freezes this month, 1026 Omar looks vibrant.  

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Artificial grass has been growing in popularity because it doesn’t have to be mowed, and has the eco-friendly quality of not needing fertilizer or water.  Lawns use 1/3 of all residential water consumption.  Some of the new artificial grasses are even partially manufactured out of recycled materials.

 

Woodland Park “Firefly Field” Sculpture Update by Michael Graves

The weather has played havoc with the completion of the Firefly Field installation. Our artist, Dylan Conner, has had the sculpture completed since late summer but delays due to the aftermath of our recent storms (Harvey, ice storms, etc.) have created distractions and other necessary priorities for our contractors and public support organizations. But final terms for the construction and adoption agreements are being circulated, and construction permit presentations are being prepared. Funds from the city and our council district that were committed for the project have been transferred to the Houston Parks Board, which oversees all such construction projects. And the remaining funds due from FWP are available for transfer as soon as we receive the instructions to do so.

As of this writing we expect to have the sculpture installed by early spring.

P.S. Please consider renewing your FWP membership.