A garden deep in the city

It is an urban backyard garden in the very heart of downtown Houston, but it is also a quiet and private retreat for outdoor living and entertaining. Frank L. Berry, a Houston interior designer, planned and designed this 25 -foot wide by 60-foot long garden behind his inner-city red brick house.

He had three pluses to plan around - a tall flowering loquat tree, a gently spreading 60-year-old China tallow tree, and, flanking one side, his own garage, which he would cover with shingles for more rustic effect.

He first had a redwood deck built behind the house, with entry from the dining room; then a high natural-wood fence was constructed to join house and garage. He paved the garden with antique bricks salvaged from a demolished building in downtown Houston, leaving border flower beds outlined with upended bricks.

On the side opposite his garage he planted a wax-leaf evergreen hedge, which is now about 12 feet tall and acts as a privacy partition between his own and a side neighbor's yard. He placed about 15 old tall cedar shutters across the back of his lot and he likes the texture that they add. His next project, however, may be to replace them with a lattice trellis and a two-story-high frame on which he can train vines and wisteria and that will completely conceal the too-close garage apartment over the back fence.

This summer he will also install a fountain in the garden, not only to give the illusion of refreshing coolness but to partially block out any neighborhood noises.

Many other pots placed around the trees and in various clusters hold white azaleas and holly fern, white and green caladiums, red geraniums and other seasonal flowers, and many evergreens that provide a foliage look the year round.

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