Elements of the original Country Place Era garden designed by Ralph Ellis Gunn have been preserved on the three- quarter acre property with a Georgian Style house designed in 1934 by architect Birdsall Briscoe. These features include a lead wall fountain in the east garden room, live oak trees that have matured, the fountain that was the focal point of the axis of the rear garden, and a serpentine brick wall covered in fig ivy that enclosed the south and west perimeters of the back garden. In 2000 landscape architect Johnny Steele designed a parterre garden to replace the struggling St. Augustine lawn in back that was overly shaded by mature trees. The parterres are bordered by low boxwood hedges and filled with ornamental seasonal plantings. Four jasmine columns trained on metal frames anchor the corners and an armillary sphere sits on a pedestal in the center. An understory of trees including Japanese maple and flowering cherry and shade-loving lower story plants, including ferns, strawberry begonia and cast iron plants, were added to the existing banks of azaleas and camellias. The basin of the lead wall fountain was raised slightly onto a layer of brick and trimmed on top with another row of bricks.
The front garden was redesigned after the demise of a large water oak. Two broad brick bordered steps were installed and planted with zoysia grass, with seasonal plantings in the beds flanking the sides of the steps beneath banks of G.G. Gerbing white azaleas. These formal additions were designed as evolutions of the original character of the house, garden and neighborhood.
The Simmons Garden has been included on the annual Azalea Trail event in Houston.
Persons associated with the garden include Mr. and Mrs. Milton R. Underwood (former owners, 1934-1965); Mr. and Mrs. Claude K. Williams (former owners, 1965-1985); Birdsall Parmenas Briscoe (1876-1971) (architect, 1934); Ralph Ellis Gunn (1908-1976) (landscape architect, 1934-1936); Johnny Steele (landscape architect, 1985--).
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles and a brochure.
This property is featured in "Azalea Trail is a Rite of Spring in Houston" by Kathy Huber, Houston Chronicle, February 27, 2015; "Hearths & Flowers" by Deborah Mann Lake, The Houston Post, March 6, 1993