Country Retreat

Tumble Moon (Update 9)

This fifth site plan, with the exception of some adjustments, is what we have finally decided on.

The fifth and final site plan concept. The wood steps down from the porch have to end in a wood landing because the landing will be about 2′ above the slope below. This is too much grade change for the lower steps. From that landing down to the parking area are formed concrete steps with stone veneer applied to the top surface. There are two identical runs of steps (4 risers and 3 treads) and one 4′ x 4′ landing. We may not need the retaining wall you see near the bottom of the slope, because the lower steps are now going to be formed concrete.

Michael Parkey, the landscape architect, is currently tweaking this concept, and the final site plan should be ready for me to show you in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

Country Retreat

Tumble Moon (Update 8)

Because the sunlight was so harsh, the garage was the best structure to showcase our chosen paint colors in a photograph.

Here’s the progress as of Thursday, June 29. All the cabinetry had been installed, and the carpenter was informed on how to proceed with the trim work. The painter applied floor stain samples and interior paint colors for our approval. Unfortunately the floor stain was not at all what it was suppose to be, but the selected interior wall, ceiling, and window/door trim colors were perfect. The design and materials for the front steps and the descent down to the driveway were finalized, and one final site survey was done. I know I’m forgetting several somethings, but the following photographs should illustrate how far things have progressed.

Country Retreat

Tumble Moon (Update 7)

Since this is my favorite one, of course it would be the most expensive. Only one car will be parked in front, so it would be in position 2. I don’t want a car blocking the steps. And if there is a second car, it can park in front of or in the garage.

My landscape architect’s accompanying letter:
Attached are three sketches for the driveway, parking, and porch steps.
 
There are two major problems that we are trying to solve. The first is the elevation change from the finish floor height (FF) of the house (assumed to be 100.0′) and the garage and parking area. The difference is about 10 feet. The second is the tight maneuvering space for cars between the garage and the house.

Country Retreat

Tumble Moon (Update 6)

If you’re wondering how to climb up to the front porch, stay tuned for my next post, Tumble Moon (Update 7).

Last week we all met at Tumble Moon to go over wood floor options, exterior colors, and interior paint, tile, and countertop colors. And most importantly to work out the site’s grading and how to develop the approach to the front of the house, which I will cover in a future post.

Landscape & Gardening

What’s Blooming Now

Taken just before today’s nor’easter blew in.

My Giant Leopard Plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Giganteum’) is in full bloom and would have continued this wonderful show for another two weeks if a nor’easter hadn’t blown in. When I snapped the photo this afternoon around two o’clock, it was 71 degrees outside, then two hours later it was 55 degrees, and now six hours later, it’s 27 degrees. Their beauty will not survive. Our Texas weather extremes can be devastating to us gardeners.

Landscape & Gardening

What’s Blooming Now

After a week of rain and clouds, it was a cheerful surprise to see these blooms.
After a week of rain and clouds, it was a cheerful surprise to see these blooms.

Giant Leopard Plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Giganteum’) started sending up its bloom stalks in November, but the flowers didn’t start to unfurl until the very end of November. These Giant Leopard clumps have doubled in size since they were planted in the spring of 2014, so I’m kind of worried at just how big of a mass they will be next year. The University Park code enforcement lady loves to torment those who dare to plant something other than grass.

Country Retreat

Tumble Moon (Update 1)

No paint colors have been picked for the house, but I felt these drawings could use some pizzazz. I do know what color it won’t be, white. The color pallet will come from the natural elements on the property, twigs, bark, leaves, and stone.
No paint colors have been picked for the house, but I felt these drawings could use some pizzazz. I do know what color it won’t be, white. The color pallet will come from the natural elements on the property, twigs, bark, leaves, and stone.

I finally decided on a name for my new piece of heaven, Tumble Moon. It’s the name of a Texas Dude ranch in an old campy film called Lightning Strikes Twice (1951). It seems that all the other name combinations that might describe my property’s uniqueness were already spoken for by multiple apartment complexes.

Landscape & Gardening

Prolific Spring Bloomers

Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue'. The popular common name for this plant is the Pincushion flower. Even though all my scabiosas are blooming profusely now, I was amazed that they even had some blooms this past winter. In fact, they never did stop blooming.
Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’. The popular common name for this plant is the Pincushion flower. Even though all my scabiosas are blooming profusely now, I was amazed that they even had some blooms this past winter. In fact, they never did stop blooming.

Shot over a two week period, these images are being posted just in time for Earth Day. It’s taken three years of hard work, patience, trial and error, and I have often wondered if it was in the stars for my gardens to become fully realized. Finally, there are results. This spring has rewarded me with loads of foliage and blooms. There are still areas (I call them “death gaps”) where additional and/or new replacements are required, but on the whole it’s reassuring that I haven’t wasted so much time, effort and money. In late June, I’ll photograph the gardens in their entirety, but in the meantime while the plants are filling in, here are photos of individual bloomers.

Landscape & Gardening

More Garden Moments

This photo was taken from the alley.
This photo was taken from the alley.

Should you meander down my alley, this is what you would see. With just a fancy lace chain link fence dividing my back garden from the alley, there’s nothing to obstruct this view. The following photographs were taken at the beginning of July when all plants were looking their best and blooming with one exception, my Texas Lilac Vitex. It had the unfortunate luck of blooming profusely four weeks prior when we had weeks of clouds and rain. Click on the link below for more views of my back garden.

Landscape Architect: Michael Parkey

Landscape & Gardening

What Greets Me Every Morning

This was shot from my bathroom window while leaning way out and freaking my dogs out.
This was shot from my bathroom window while leaning way out and freaking my dogs out.

It’s a view that never fails to start my day with a smile. I’ve recently photographed my backyard gardens and will be posting those photos soon. There’s been numerous setbacks over the last few years. The summers of 2011 and 2012 were brutal to this newly planted paradise, and then there was the drip irrigation system that took a couple of years to adjust and learn what each plant required. Then there was this last winter’s extended freezes that killed my Blue mist flowers, Pink Skullcaps, and most of the Zexmenia. My entire backyard is planted with Texas hardy perennials, but not many of them can survive multiple long periods of time where the temperature never gets close to or above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. And then with an extensive cooler-than-usual spring, plants were late in growing and becoming available to buy at local nurseries. It took forever to acquire the replacements I needed.

Hopefully this view will be given a chance to survive for a few more years, because the constant heartbreak with our Texas weather extremes and the constant labor of rebuilding has worn me out. On a positive note: I have planted Texas tough plants and have installed drip irrigation, so the current water restrictions will not be a problem.

Landscape Architect: Michael Parkey