COTE DE TEXAS: Spring has Sprung

Spring has Sprung

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At my daughter's school, they raise money for their senior prom by selling spring flowers.  Even though she's only a sophomore, they've already begun the fund raising.  It must be one hell of a prom to need three years to raise money for, but whatever.   This year I was shamed into buying my spring flowers from her school.  When I picked them up a few weeks ago they were itty bitty things in itty bitty pots.  Today, I noticed that - boy! they have really gotten huge!  And so pretty!   Spring is definitely here in Houston.  Sunday it was 80 degrees outside and such a gorgeous day that I just had to show you pictures of my garden: 

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Pots of spring flowers courtesy of the prom fund raiser. 

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My back yard patio.  Our house is in a neighborhood in flux.  Half of the houses are newer and half were built for WWII veterans.  The lots are tiny -  50 x 100 is standard.  That doesn't leave much left out back for anything other than a courtyard.  Which is fine, I guess, as long as your neighbors are friendly and you don't like to sunbathe in the nude. (I don't, don't worry.)

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Pottery Barn pillows, Pier I chairs, Urban Outfitters rug, Wisteria blue and white garden seat (one of three that I own.)

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In case you are wondering what's with all the concrete bunnies and squirrels, etc.   -  I don't know either.  Ask my husband.   For a few years every Mother's Day he went to the Garden Gate and bought me some animal.  I would probably have hundreds by now if I hadn't of threatened to throw the next one he gave me through the window.       My sister (you remember her house, right?) gave me this garden bench and the pedestals and antique urns (hard to see the urns through the luscious plants)  when she moved to a high rise a few years ago.  Now that she's back on the ground, I've offered to return this vignette to her (half-heartedly really - I very lamely offered to give it back.)  So far, thankfully, she has refused my most generous offer. 

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Come to think of it, she gave me this too when she moved (God, I'm such a mooch! And Cathy - I am not giving this back!) - an antique wire plant stand.   Last year I decided to try all green plants on the stand, no more flowers.  Not a great look - I need to freshen these pots up.  Blue and white pot from Wisteria, not Cathy.

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Last year I planted caladiums (well the garden man planted them - I ordered them - he even got that wrong since I ordered  green and white caladiums and got pink and green instead.)   Surprisingly, the caladiums are back this spring!  So exciting to get something for nothing!   Do you see a theme here?    And, for added fun, you can play a  game:  "find the poop" - I just noticed that little Sammie Jo has left a package on the gravel.    First one to find the poop - wins it!!!!  Shipping included, free.


Oh Sammie Jo - you're such a bad girl! 

And psst. you need to go on a diet, too!   

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Looking towards the right of the courtyard.   

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Same angle, just a wider shot of the patio to the right.  You can see the columns on the right side - those used to have evergreen wisteria growing on them - which we trained patiently for 14 years.  This spring we removed all the vines after we noticed that the only thing nesting in them were rodents.  Yes.  Lovely,  I know.  But true.  And don't judge me until you've gone out in your back yard late at night.  Trust me, you have them too.

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And a view to the left.  Here you can see the beautiful antique urns next to the bench.

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This cute planter with the fleur de lis was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law, Michelle.  Not sure if I ever thanked you - but thanks, Michelle!  I love it,  as you can see.  Michelle has a new blog here.  Check it out - it's great! 

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My office!  And that Starbucks is NOT a styling prop!  Table and chairs from Wisteria.

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The hydrangeas in the front yard are starting to come to life.  You can just see the buds of the flowers in the center.    Can't wait for those.

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Just underneath our address plaque, you can make out the Star of Texas brass plate that my other sister-in-law Shannon (remember her house?) gave me for Christmas one year.   Ben and I like to pretend it's actually a State of Texas Historical Marker, such jokesters.

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My window box in the front yard.   This actually looks pretty good for once.  I've contemplated just putting fake ivy and flowers in here - it's so hard to keep this box looking pretty all year long.

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Our front yard tree.  It's just now getting it's leaves back after winter.  That's the top of my two story roof on the left.  The tree is an old water oak and it's the reason we bought this particular lot to begin with.   It's a huge responsibility to have a tree this old and large.    Each spring we have a tree professional come trim it and feed it.    We have another, smaller water oak on our lot that grew from an acorn dropped off  from the older tree.  And when we tore down the house on this lot to build our home, my mother-in-law salvaged a lot of the plants.  One thing she took was a tiny plant that grew from an acorn from this tree.  She planted it in her back yard and 17 years later, her water oak is quite tall.  The tree is called "Elisabeth's Tree" after my daughter who just turned 17 the other day.  Happy Birthday to Lizzy and her tree!


  1. Just spent the evening looking at garden books trying to figure out a way to get wisteria to grow on my porch. Yikes. Scratch that idea. Your garden/terrace is lovely. I wish my sister had such great castoffs.

  2. Joni, your yard is so beautiful!!! I'm going to have to study it and try to repeat it. I want a court yard like yours. Waa waa waa

  3. Guess it is time to take it outdoors, the love of design is overflowing, and your green thumb!
    What a gorgeous photo of that water oak!
    Thanks for sharing your fabulous spot!

  4. Such a lovely garden! I like your doggy too. I guess she wanted your attention :)

  5. First of all, happy 17th birthday to your daughter!

    Joni, this has been fun! I love your outdoor office!

    I too, have contemplated fake vines or something for our front porch. J said something about that the other day! I've tried everything and wish I could grow something on that west facing porch! But, I'll have to think of some other way to gussy it up for summer!

    Your "courtyard" is beautiful.

  6. Hi Joni,
    wow, what a nice garden! I first thought these are pictures from a magazine. I love your blue and white Chinese seat and vase. I am still looking for something like these (not easy here in China, seems the best gets shipped overseas).
    Congratulations again to your beautiful arrangement.
    Cannot believe that the flowers and ivy at the window are fake!
    Ciao, greetings from China

  7. Hi, Joni, you have a wonderful backyard! I love it all & I think it's great to just have a courtyard. I almost wish our backyard wasn't so big, it just means more upkeep and money to make it pretty. Smaller is cozier. I'm in the process of trying to beautify our backyard a bit, so I really appreciate how yours is so established. I'd love to get to that!


  8. my goodness you have been busy... maybe its all those starbucks... i need to try that.. bc I need to go to pottery barn, pier one, wisteria, and moree ! We had a spring flower fundraiser too... for Project Graduation... made a ton ! I was going to go take some pics of what we did in the yard this week end... but I dont know now.... thanks again joni !

  9. Joni, thanks for the peek inside your yard. It's as inviting as I knew it would be. I just love the personal touch of this blog. You keep it so real.
    I still have a drapery question. Could you email me? Please!


  10. Great yard! My "garden" is 12 x 12 and cee-ment. I have loads of pots, which i am seeding these days. Lots of cosmos, bachelors buttons, gypsium and other great flowers. The gardenia will be moved out there soon, too.

  11. Joni,

    Your garden looks beautiful this spring. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Joni--loved the garden! Your eye is as good outside as inside. Thanks for sharing.
    Angela P.

  13. I love you page, sooo nice garden and flowers..and pictures, gives me inspiration., I will come back..
    have a nice day..

  14. wow -you have a real green thumb! i'm jealous -it's beautiful! I really wish I had some outdoor space :-( Then again having my building's shared roofdeck is a lot less work!!
    Such a cute doggie!

  15. Very charming garden -- you really do have the best eye for space, color and texture -- inside and outside too! Tres charmant! My jasmine and roses are in bloom -- and smell heavenly -- just hope that the spring weather holds a bit longer here in Dallas so that they last awhile longer!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  16. Joni,

    You are great advertisement for Wisteria. I love it. Love brick, love courtyards. What a peaceful setting.

    Happy birthday Lizzy :)

  17. Karen at Junking in GeorgiaApril 28, 2008 at 5:00 PM

    thanks for the tour.. you have a beautiful place..I love garden seats.. have one on my front porch you can see from the street.. would like to get a few more.....

  18. Wow, gorgeous garden! I so miss springtime in SE's just not the same in Georgia.

    I especially love the zebra rug and the fleur de lis planter that looks like a big finial. I'm so loving fleur de lis right now!

  19. Joni - beautiful!!

    Melissa from the inspired room will love this - one day I'll post pics of our garden - now that we have one - a 3ftX1ft planter box!(the joys of HK!)

  20. Joni... you are feeding in Reader again! WOOO-HOOOO!!! I love your garden, gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous, dog poop & all!

  21. Okay now. I am seriously in envy of all this. Especially Sammy Jo! *smile* Kip sends his love to her and says that HIS Mama understands the poop issue well.
    Every detail of your garden is glorious. I have had one of those garden animal statues problems as well! I love them but very soon, as more came in as gifts, they attempted a garden coup. I had to step in and call a halt!

    I love that rug...I so want to add a rug to the deck this year.

    We have a very small garden. Our homes were designed after the row houses in Georgetown, Md. Narrow lots between with small yards behind. We have made most of the back into a small garden with a brick walkway. I am still working so have yet to add photos on blog.

    That tree is lovely and I know that Elizabeth is as well. Happy 17th to both of them.


  22. Love the courtyard backyard! Very unique. Thanks for introducing me to Michelle's blog. What a treat to see the fantastic African photograhy and a peek inside Mary Emmerling's Arizona home! Thanks, Joni!

  23. I just adore your patio. Makes me want to run out and work. Happy birthday to your dear daughter. And Sammie Jo is too cute!

  24. I love the flowers - they are beautiful...wish I could say that Spring was truly here (in the Midwest but the weather is back to the 30's and 40's now - sigh!). And you must be a wonderful person - you do drink Starbucks after all (lol!). Again your flowers are gorgeous!! Thank you for sharing!

  25. Look at all your hard work out there! It looks fantastic. And I also love the inside peek into your office!

  26. You have a gorgeous home and your garden is no exception! Everything is so lush and green and the flowers are beautiful..... abosolute perfection!

  27. Can you adopt me? I would love to live in that house... Fay

  28. Love those West U Patio gardens!

    You clearly have a talent for design inside and out...I have no interest in the outdoors design (although I appreciate your handiwork!). With the drought that has afflicted Georgia over the past few years, it has given me an excuse to forego the outside plantings. Fortunately for Georgia, the drought has eased, but this means that I have no more excuses!

  29. I so enjoyed your garden tour. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Your garden looks fabulous !
    Do I recognize a cup of Starbuck's coffee on the garden table near by your computer ?
    Here , in Provence it starts to be warm

  31. I forgot Joyeux Anniversaire to Lizzy and her tree ..she is taurus, doesn't she ?

  32. Sammie Jo in a summer cut!
    She looks like my Gabby...but Gabby never gets trimmed. Her dad is a cavalier purist. Great blog!

  33. Your yard is beautiful. Spring is just starting to arrive here but I don't think my yard will ever look that beautiful.

  34. Yes - Sammie Jo has a summer coat - we are having a terrible tick epidemic in Houston!!!! her groomer cuts her hair short to help her. awful. ticks and rats.

  35. Your garden is so lush and green !!!! I have serious garden envy - I live in the desert where we are now rationing water and everyone is pulling out their landscaping for "zero-scaping" ( ugly desert plants and gravel!) Your neighbors will turn you in here to the water gestapo if you over indulge your greenery. I would love to live somewhere green and fertile - but then again I hate humidity so I guess I'll stay in the barren - plant less - desert.

  36. Joni!
    What a beautiful and charming garden! I envy you being able to sit outside in such a pretty space to blog.:) I am going to get a laptop asap! Why have I waited so long?!

  37. Joni,

    Virginia, the stalker reporting in. Cote bloggers - confession. Joni is not alone in stalking. A friend and I stalked her! You wouldn't believe our nerve...I'll save it for her to reveal if she desires. Here's to our Joni - full of knowledge and gifts galore.

  38. Joni! You are the absolute BEST!!! What a treat to chat with you today. Thank you for being such a great sport.

  39. Your courtyard is beautiful. I love the brick pavers and of course all of the beautiful plants!

  40. Yes, I was stalked today by two crazy ladies. Good thing I wasn't murdered by them!!!! Gawd, it was scary = let me tell you - I had to call 911 on them. Be careful everyone of stalkers from the blog - you know those crazy interior design lovers who read blogs, very scary women - they may look cute and they may dress cute and even have cute jewelry, but let me tell you, they are dangerous stalkers! Beware!

  41. Joni,
    Your yard is gorgeous and so well maintained. Things are just starting to warm up here in Michigan so looking rather ratty after the snow has melted. Time to get out there and get it cleaned up.
    What is the deal with the blog stalkers?

  42. LOL!!! Joni, you're a riot!
    Hug galore~

    P.S. So, tell us....did we get an A+ in our stalking 101 class?????? :)

  43. Joni,
    What can I say? I am soooooo proud of my girls.LOL They're so accomplished in their field.
    Thanks for being a great sport!!!

  44. Joni, your garden is as lovely as your home is. What a nice place to sit and enjoy your fifth $tarbuck$ of the day and write your blog. It's a pity you won't be able to sit out there past next week, when it's 110 in the shade, humidity you can cut with a knife and mosquitos with numbers under their wings.....

    Seriously, that basketweave brick is so Houston and Southern. I love the tiny courtyards of Houston, Atlanta, New Orleans, Savannah and Charleston.

  45. I'm so happy to have discovered you! What beautiful pictures! I want to do my writing outside at that table. Would Sammie Jo sit at my feet? She looks better behaved than my Tanner.

  46. Hey, I think I might have to remove you from BFF status for not sharing this secret garden with me! Since I am doing the outdoor room series, HELLO?!!! I know I am behind on blog reading, but still, where have I been?

    Your yard is AMAZING. I love it. I love those small courtyards, those are my favorite yards of all time. Yours is amazing. I am so jealous of how long you have lived in your house, long enough to have every corner to perfection. I am always living in chaos and never have anything I would consider anywhere near finished.

    Happy birthday to your daughter!

  47. Joni - your backyard garden oasis is enviable! WOW! What a place to enjoy and spend time outdoors. Amazing. You have such a way with plants! I don't have a green thumb and always admired others who do have a way with plants. Thank you so much for sharing your piece of paradise with us.


  48. That's it. I'm heading out to plant....we don't quite have that much foliage yet...stunning, my dear

  49. OMG! HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELISABETH!! 17 -it was a great age and one that changed my life in a good way. Take advantage of it!
    Joni- I love your little garden shots -you have the perfect secret garden (and i want that starbucks!). Those flowers you bought from the school worked out really well -you should see the shabbos flowers they sell at my little man's school -they aren't quite that nice (but still for a good cause).

  50. by the way... that's the shitiest prize if ever I heard one (Sammie Jo - I'm looking at you ms. redecorator!)

  51. Joni,
    I am looking for inspirational brick patio's to blog about. Can I use yours?

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