The 7.75 acres property was part of 100 acres the W.T. Carter family purchased as a weekend retreat from the city of Houston in 1929. Later subdivided into smaller parcels, the current owners have bought neighboring properties as they came on the market in order to triple the size of their property and recreate a native habitat along Buffalo Bayou. Invasive plants and vines have been removed from otherwise undisturbed areas above the bayou, including non-native ornamental escapees from previous gardens. The hydrology of the property was another concern: the formal landscaped areas had to be able to withstand occasional flooding and the high bank above the bayou that was going native needed to be stabilized. Native trees including burr oak, Live oak, and Mexican plum were planted to stabilize the soil for butterfly and wildflower gardens and were augmented with walking trails. A wooden retaining wall was installed. Native wood fern, Turk's cap, American beauty berry, lantana and butterfly bush were planted in the organized beds on the adjacent properties. Gravel that allows run-off has replaced hardscape in the formal courtyards and gravel swales for run-off throughout the property double as walking paths when dry.
The circa 2005 house replacing the original house on the lot is approached over a small bridge spanning a ravine then entered through formal contemporary courtyards with high walls draped with ivy and bougainvillea and bordered by hedges of jasmine and camellias. Behind the house there is a reflecting pool plaza with massive container plantings of geraniums, variegated ivy and foxtail ferns. The lawn in back is bordered by colorful azaleas planted in the 1990's bordered by a low stone wall and featuring a small stone Hindu temple. A swimming pool with a contemporary sculptural fountain was added when the house on one adjacent property was demolished.
Local conservationist Terry Hershey is a neighbor and was instrumental in preserving Buffalo Bayou in the 1960's. She encouraged all the neighbors to leave the land adjacent to the bayou in a natural state that would support wildlife, and organized the Bayou Preservation Association. The formal plaza and landscaped azalea garden of this property transition to native plantings for the benefit of local wildlife, including armadillos, raccoons, barn owls and other birds, butterflies, and possibly coyotes.
Persons associated with the garden include W. T. Carter, Jr., W.T. Carter, III & Victor N. Carter (former owners, 1929-1956); Sanford McCormick (former owner, 1980-1993); Nelson Steenland (former owner, 1956-1986); Jan & David Samuels (former owners, 1986-2006); David T. Searls (former owner, 1957-1972); Catherine Searls Abercrombie (former owner, 1972-1998); McDugald Steele (Landscape Architect, 2010- ); Terry Hershey (conservationist, 1993- ); Eric Ruckstuhl (horticulturist and hydrologist, 2005- ).
The folder includes worksheets.
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