Back in November, when the weather was a bit warmer, I had the pleasure of photographing the garden of a good friend of mine, Valerie Tschaar. She lives in West Houston in a lovely, spacious home with her husband and two sons. Valerie is a naturalist at heart and enjoys creating a habitat for wildlife. She loves the Farmer’s Market, buying local, and being outdoors. She’s a Gardener On Purpose, meaning she has a reason to garden, she enjoys cooking and eating fresh produce. That is why when she and her husband built this home a few years ago, she incorporated a real Kitchen Garden.
Not many would have the courage to plant a vegetable garden that can be seen from the curb in her upscale neighborhood, but Valerie did. She wanted them part of the landscape and I must say she did it with style.
At the end of the beautiful driveway is her Kitchen Garden, which is visible from the street. To the left of the driveway is her lovely kitchen entrance, which has the old-world charm of a villa in Tuscany.
To the right is a formal kitchen garden filled with herbs, vegetables, and boxwoods. This photo was taken from the second-story window.
At the heart of the garden is this geometric circular design. Formal gardens date back to the enlightened society of Renaissance Italy. This garden captures both the formality of a European garden while preserving some informality with adjacent beds of tomato plants, eggplant, and fruit trees. Anchoring the space are the boxwoods, which are easy to shape to maintain a sense of order, geometry, and symmetry.
The addition of stones, edging, and gravel outline the space and divide the garden into sections. This adds texture and visual interest to the garden.
At the center of the design is this gorgeous pot overflowing with Rosemary. This anchors the entire space and creates a focal point to draw the eye to the center.
A honey bee stops by.
In each of the sections are mixed plantings of vegetables and herbs. Many she planted from seed, including carrots, garlic chives, spinach, beets, sorrel, arugula, collards, and mesclun mix. Others were planted from seedlings purchased at the nursery.
Delicious cilantro loves the cool winter weather in Houston.
Garlic chives are flavorful and easy to grow.
Red-tip lettuce adds color and visual interest.
The beds are slightly raised providing good drainage.
Pretty bright green carrot tops.
The variety of textures and shapes are at the heart of the garden.
Cabbage loves the cool weather too.
Assorted leafy greens.
Adjacent to the formal circular garden is a rectangular-shaped bed filled with mounding tomato plants, sweet peas, eggplant, and citrus trees, including a variegated lemon, lime, and avocado. The tomatoes include varieties of yellow pear, grape, cherry and roma.
Sweet peas and sugar snap peas were also found nearby.
Eggplant which have such pretty lavender and yellow flowers add interest.
Here is a beautiful avocado tree that is very happy where it is. With its shiny dark leaves and vertical form it adds a lovely anchor to the end of space.
The front vegetable bed is shaped into a semi-circle and is dappled with plantings of lettuce, edamame, okra, swiss chard, and parsley. I noticed quite a few of the lettuce plantings appeared half eaten. When I asked Valerie if she had any critters munching on her veggies, she said yes. There is a little bunny that visits her garden on a regular basis. I love her attitude about it. She said she just plants extra for the bunny and hopes there will be some left for her family too.
Adjacent to the bed is a grapefruit tree.
Valerie planted Edamame from seed in the front bed. You can see it growing on the metal trellis. While the actual seeds are delicious, the pods are quite hairy looking.
This bed has a nice assortment of colors and textures. The red lettuce tips can be seen from the curb.
View of the garden from her kitchen window.
Janet Roberts Ireland of Home & Habitat designed the formal herb garden, and put in the paths, a pot of rosemary and boxwoods. Valerie highly recommends the company and their work. She truly has a space that is livable and can adapt to her needs. Originally it was planted with more herbs, many of which are not there anymore as Valerie needed more space for her veggies. That is the beauty of this design. You can change plantings within sections while preserving the formal structure of the garden.
I want to thank Valerie for sharing her garden with us. She has truly created a space that is functional and beautiful. I left feeling inspired to plant some veggies in my front garden beds.
Update: I wrote a follow-up post about How to Can Tomatoes from the Garden.