Mistletoe Heights Yard of the Month

June 2018: 2112 and 2116 Harrison Ave.

Hi, neighbors,


Well, I had started this letter with a brief shriek about the heat, but then yesterday came, rainy and glorious—however short-lived it may be!


But, no, the heat hadn’t gotten to my brain and that’s not a typo in the subject line. David and I decided to do something a little different this month and make a two-fer YardS of the Month award to neighboring homes at 2112 and 2116 Harrison. These are newer homes, built by the same builder in the similar-but-not-identical Arts and Crafts style so characteristic of Mistletoe Heights, and the yards are likewise delightfully complementary.


Since I tend to read gardens like I read a book, from left to right, and these homes are on the north side of the street, I’m going to start with 2116, where Andrea and Cole Frederick, both TCU grads, have lived for the past 3 years with their boxer, Bruce. Cole is a landman in oil and gas, and Andrea is in lab sales. Their first child is due in the next couple weeks, so I’ve assured them they’ll be forgiven a stray weed! Andrea grew up with a gardener dad, and her experience with garden design clearly shows in the pleasing layers of color and texture in her front beds. I think I remarked a couple months ago on the lovely openness of the Hecht’s plantings in the March YoM, but Andrea shows that the opposite—dense, close layers of varied textures and heights—can also work well.

In the small patch of garden just west of the drive stands a conical dwarf magnolia, with its large, glossy, dark green leaves, underlain with bright pink, violet, and white annual vincas, which will be a treasure through the summer heat. Moving across the drive to the front of the house, the simplest part the design occurs, appropriately, just on either side of the front walk, between the two porch pillars. Here we find a row of bright green miniature boxwoods fronted by a continuation of the brightly colored vincas. To the right of the porch, the more complex layering begins. Two large purple-leafed fringeflowers (loropetalum) stand closest to the house, leading to a second dwarf magnolia anchoring the design at the house corner. Between and slightly in front of the fringeflowers are two smaller, neatly rounded Indian hawthorns, with a third closer to the magnolia. In the very front of the bed, tracing its curve, are three abelias (the yellow-green Kaleidoscope variety) interspersed with large patches of the low-growing succulent, angelina, in a neon-lime color. More vincas are planted at the far right corner, in front of the magnolia, as well as more angelina and another abelia to its right, completing the bed. A young, but well-established Chinese pistache tree grows in the grass on this right side of the yard. These trees grow large and relatively fast, so it will provide a welcome shade cover in the not-too-distant years to come.

Next door lives Aggie Czapla, a pathologist with Texas Health, who just moved into 2112 in February. She and her father, who visits regularly from Florida, are both natives of Poland (another set of father-daughter gardeners!). Together, they have created a garden with more minimalist sensibilities than that of their neighbors, yet joined by its bright palette and some of the plant choices. As at the Frederick’s, a row of miniature boxwoods lines the front of the porch and, here again, are violet and white vincas, but this time planted in front of small orange-yellow zinnias for a splash of alternative color that ties the flowerbed in with the brightly cushioned chairs on the porch. There’s another surprise here as well, a row of spiky leafed red calla lilies between the shrubs and the other flowers—what a nice variation! On the other side of the front walk, eight irregularly spaced Indian hawthorns flow from the walk to the corner of the house, where a tall holly bush marks the end of the bed. Two purple fountain grass plants rise behind the hawthorns, against the house, with two red-leafed gauras near the holly. Several low, lime green mossy plants provide contrast near the middle of bed, and the vincas and zinnias return to make a sharp border edge around the whole thing. Once again a getting-ever-larger tree stands in the middle of the grassy lawn on this side of the house, this time an oak.

One of the fun things about these two yards, and part of the reason we couldn’t pick just one, is the cultivated strip that runs between them, along the west side of Aggie’s driveway. The strip is partly on one property and partly the other, but it’s planted to join rather than separate them. Six low, well-trimmed mounds of dwarf yaupon divide the Frederick’s grass from Angie’s drive. These run from the sidewalk to the front of Aggie’s house, where they meet up with two rows of monkey grass, which continue back along the house (these lines will fill in, of course, to create a solid groundcover). The lines of monkey grass on Aggie’s side of the bed are partnered along the side of the Frederick’s house by a row of grey-green elaeagnus, whose color complements both the dark green monkey grass and the yellow-green abelia and the purple fringeflower at that end of their own bed. Both the monkey grass and the elaeagnus finally meet up with some taller nandinas, whose finer, more yellow-green leaves provide another complement of color and texture at the back end of the bed. 

We’re so glad to have these new-to-newish neighbors in Mistletoe Heights. We had delightful conversations with Aggie, Andrea, and Cole as we enjoyed their gardens up close, and hope you’ll have a chance to meet them soon, if you haven’t already. Meanwhile, enjoy the point and counterpoint of their mutual gardening efforts!

- Claudia and David