Heights Garden Club: Hosting a Successful Tour During a Pandemic Pt 1

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Hello Dear Reader,

This has been a very difficult year for us all! I am on the steering committee of the Heights Garden Club. We put all our activities on hold when Houston was asked to shelter in place. This June we had the opportunity to do a garden tour in a large residential garden.

After much discussion we decided how to proceed. We took several precautions, starting with using SignUpGenius to take reservations in half hour increments. We extended tour hours from one to two. We required everyone check in, wear a mask, and use social distancing while in the garden. Shawn and I were there to help and I am happy to say it went very well.

This is the home of Brenda and Ed. They have lived in their Garden Oaks home since 2004. When they bought it the property was a forest of trees and according to Brenda, “the only cultivated plants were an old Formosa azalea, a large Philodendron selloum, a Brunfelsia (Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow), and a small bed of maidenhair fern.” They have spent the last 16 years gardening and landscaping the property. Brenda is a Master Gardener and she was joined by several of her MG friends to answer questions.

The pictures below are the view from the house out to the street. It is like living in a beautiful park.

There is a wide bed between their home and the neighbors. In late 2004 planting beds were created in the front yard and the east side of the back yard and planted with under-story trees, shrubs, and hardy perennials. Here is a map and plant list, provided by the homeowner.

Map of beds, top is south

This is a view from the driveway to the new-build next door. We met the neighbor and the builder who came over to check out the activities.

We were fortunate to have great weather with a light breeze. Everyone was happy, enjoying being out and having such a lovely change of scenery.

They used the narrow Right of Way to create a pollinator garden in 2017. It is enjoyed by walkers and folks driving by. The entire property is irrigated. Even with all our rain in Houston we still have dry periods and hot summers. What do plant prefer? Constancy! And so we give our gardens supplemental water. The new build next door has a retention pond in the front yard and many of the streets have drainage ditches making this neighborhood a great place for birds.

I think they were pretending to eat while checking us out! We will continue the tour in our next post. The back gardens is a treasure for wildlife and humans. This garden has been featured on the annual Houston Pond Tour, the Garden Conservancy Tour, and the Garden Oaks Home and Garden Tour.

Happy Gardening!

Laurin and Shawn