Spring peepers aren’t just the musical little frogs that appear this time of year. We have opportunities to do a little spring peeping of our own as local homes and gardens open their doors and gates to the public.
Take a look at what’s on display around town and mark your calendars for a day or a weekend of rambling. Maybe you’ll even experience a chorus from those melodic amphibians.
Colleyville Garden Club Promenade
Want to host a wedding in your garden and need a few ideas? Has Grandma Pearl given you a few cuttings and you don’t know what to do with them? Do you admire the English for their lush cottage gardens and wish you lived in the Lake District? Attend the 21st annual Promenade featuring five Colleyville and Grapevine gardens Sunday, and you’ll find inspiration aplenty.
One homeowner hosted a garden wedding for 90 guests last fall, and for the tour, she has devised a wedding-themed garden with reception area, chapel and honeymoon getaway. Ideas abound, says event chairwoman Jean Neisius, with champagne glasses hanging from vines and a “wedding cake” made from natural materials.
Several gardens feature beds thriving with cuttings from family and friends. One homeowner’s garden began with a cutting of purple Wandering Jew from her future husband’s grandmother. Another features irises and day lilies from her mother. A third gardener combines vintage plantings and wildflowers. Heirloom roses, her grandmother’s honeysuckle and bluebonnets roam near her five horses and several donkeys.
Along the way, you’ll discover clever adaptations, like an unused fire pit reimagined as a flower and vegetable bed.
The English garden belongs to a Texas A&M-trained horticulturalist who bought the lot “for the dirt,” says Neisius.
“He plants what he likes, pays close attention to color and believes the best plants come from local gardens,” Neisius says of this perennial garden with vintage structures.
Fairmount Tour of Homes
Named by Southern Living as one of “the South’s best comeback neighborhoods,” Fairmount’s annual tour of homes never disappoints. For its 32nd tour, this spirited Fort Worth neighborhood presents seven homes in perhaps its most iconic style — the bungalow.
Five homes are carefully restored; two are new builds.
“This year we wanted to emphasize preservation and show a collection of homes where the majority have retained many of their original features,” says Stacy Luecker, tour committee member. “We see ourselves as the caretakers of these houses, and it is our job to pass them on when we are done.”
The bungalow design, original to 1890-1930, is a foursquare design, meaning four rooms on each floor and the roof topped with a central dormer, explains Fairmount historian Michael McDermott. Interiors feature beamed ceilings, pocket doors, built-ins, colonnades and other hardwood details. A few of the houses on the tour also display Queen Anne characteristics, such as diamond-paned windows and sleeping porches.
Several of the homes have interiors decorated in the period style, using antiques and collectibles. Others showcase a mix of vintage and contemporary.
One of the bungalows, circa 1908, was actually moved into Fairmount, onto a vacant lot, in 2004. “During the early renaissance of the historic district, many homes were saved from eminent destruction on locations closer to downtown and moved into Fairmount,” McDermott says.
The hundred-year-old De Zavala Elementary will also be open to ticket holders.
Hidden Gardens of Fort Worth
Just the name of this tour suggests we’re seeing something special and exclusive, and Fort Worth’s southwest neighborhoods star this year. Six private gardens on a 6 1/2-mile route through Colonial Hills, Overton Woods, Overton Park and Wedgwood welcome visitors.
Marvel at a courtyard retreat that includes a double-sided waterfall despite its size limitation. Study a colorful and varied terrain that doesn’t depend on flowers. Gather ideas for blending garden and pool, or for incorporating outdoor “rooms” into the landscape.
“The tagline for the Hidden Gardens of Fort Worth is ‘Landscape, Architecture, Neighborhood.’ We are interested in showcasing all three of these elements,” says Gail Landreth, a member of the Historic Fort Worth Inc. board of directors. “The 1920s architecture of two of the homes and the contemporary design of one built in 1985 stand out as excellent examples of the symbiotic relationship between home and garden design.”
For example, the 1929 property built by contractor James N. Patterson features stone and pea gravel paths that meander through flower beds, complete with a wishing well. Another home boasts a lovingly tended 30-year-old garden with English characteristics, like a knot garden, a parterre and a Grecian garden. The 1985 home by architect Emery Young takes advantage of a multilevel lot, with treetop views from its windows.
North Texas Water Garden Society Tour of Ponds
For water garden lovers, 32 ponds to visit sounds like paradise. In fact, NTWGS’s website posts this caveat: “Attending this tour has inspired many to build a pond in their own backyard.”
It’s a self-guided tour, and one $20 booklet gets in a whole carload of people.
These aren’t just ponds built in an old whiskey barrel. One location has five ponds. Another boasts a 40,000-gallon pond originally built as a duck pond but today used for swimming and koi. An adjacent 23-foot windmill helps keep it aerated. Other ponds feature islands, wetlands, entertainment areas, streams and walkways, and even 1,000 feet of G-scale train track. Most of the ponds are ornamental, and there are plenty of “back yard” ponds, too.
Water gardens host goldfish, koi, frogs, dragonflies and birds. “Some have champion koi which [pond owners] take to competitions,” adds David Gould, tour director. And “water plants offer a wide range of colors and textures that you can’t find outside of a water garden, like water lilies, lotus, pickerel rush, iris and thalia.”
The event has an educational component as well. All ponds have some form of filtration for water health, with some even using natural bogs to do the job. Pond designers/owners will be on hand to answer questions. Plus, each booklet contains articles such as “How to Build a Pond,” “Keeping Koi,” “Pond Plants,” “Pond Wildlife Besides Fish” and “How to Maintain Water for a Healthy Pond.”
Featured ponds are located across North Texas, but some close by are in Trophy Club, Bedford, Southlake, Grand Prairie and Arlington.