Houston tour reveals hidden ‘secret garden’ treasures…around every corner

Overflowing with gorgeous azalea blooms in full splendor, this garden was a stand out on the Garden Conservancy’s Houston Open Days tour last weekend.

The entrance to this estate was very subdued and formal.  My expectations were set as we walked across the boxwood-lined circular entrance.

I was amused to see another tour visitor peering into the windows of the house.  It’s something we’ve all thought about doing at one point or another, but I’ve never actually seen anyone pressed up against the door, fogging up the glass!

 Across the gravel, an iron gate beckons with a hint of the blooms to come.

 Wow.  What a sight.

And then the safari begins.  As we wandered through the paths lining the garden, we happened upon the owners’ collection of wild animal statuary. 

This sweet little elephant perched atop the pond is adorable. 

 This little horse is grazing along the stone pathway.

 Hungry, hungry hippo – trying to eat the plants!

 My traveling buddy, Pam, of Digging, trying to get a closer shot of the garden bear.

These little chimps love romping around in the monkey grass.

 And this ape is tucked under the fort, hiding from visitors.  I think he’s shy.

He’s just around the corner from Pam, poor, unsuspecting thing.

 And then there’s this guy…

Beyond the safari garden and up the hill, these lovely chairs and gazebo look out over the expanse of lawn, the house and the amazing pool.

This enormous fountain takes you aback when you first see it in the garden.  But after touring through the animal garden, he seems like an old friend as you emerge from the secret garden path.

I can almost hear the sounds of gleeful children swimming under the fountain stream, imagining themselves on safari near a lake with elephants.
On the other side of the pool, this open space provides an area for the kids to play basketball and drive around.

This lovely little side garden even reveals another surprise.

 Another baby elephant.

 Dueling cameras.

And then back to the everall aesthetic of the estate – formal and regal – with unusual surprises designed throughout the back.  As I was walking through the paths with animal statues, I also noticed the path and up lighting and imagined how fun it must be there for kids at night, running through the garden jungle with their animal kingdom friends.

This was truly a treat to see.

A garden path less traveled…

On Sunday we finally got to join our host, Christopher, of Outside Clyde, at his mountain top garden, Ku’ulei’Aina, (which means My Beloved Land) and his mother’s neighboring garden, Bonnie Brae (as the steep mountain path winds). It was a beautiful, warm day, filled with sunshine and the sweet smell of green on the mountain top. We started with a delicious fresh lunch outside and then scattered about like little beetles, seeking a path less traveled to explore between the two quaint cottages.

 This cairn at the entrance to the property gives guests a rustic welcome.

Christopher built the house, which is literally perched on the mountainside. 

We all listen to the history of the two houses and gardens and get our guidance for winding through the mountain paths.

I didn’t get the history of this old fireplace, but I’m sure it has stories to tell of days gone by.

I couldn’t stop looking at the azaleas.  The early spring meant there weren’t very many still in bloom.  We did see quite a few of the tangerine-colored ones — I assume they bloom a little bit later.

Nestled in the very green of the woods were clusters of every kind of flower imaginable.  Some of them just popping up on the mountain, countless numbers of others, carefully yet randomly planted to contribute to the natural look and feel of the winding paths.

This is Christopher’s mother’s deck.  The view was incredible – I’m sure every post has the next picture in it.  Carol, of May Dreams Gardens is sure to have one in her post!  Though I didn’t photograph it, I did enjoy sitting on another small circular deck, a few steps down from this one and under the canopy of some beautiful trees.

On our way back over to Christopher’s we were all impressed with this huge boulder with the stream running out from under it. 

His stone labyrinth was inviting and I’m sure all 93 of us took a turn wandering through it.

I caught this little guy trying to crash our party.  We were all having such a wonderful time, I don’t think anyone else noticed!

THANK YOU, Christopher, and your whole team, for a wonderful Fling and for sharing your own garden with us all.  It was amazing and I’m so glad to have been able to see it firsthand.