The Arbor Gate, Tomball, Texas

I’ve met many horticulture people I love, admire or both, but few I admire more than Beverly Welch who, together with her husband, Max, owns The Arbor Gate. No matter how many times I visit, I’m always taken by her hospitality, kindness and composure even on one of the busiest days in her calendar.

My sweetheart lectures there, so I don’t claim to be impartial. I’m a fan. It’s my favourite plant centre outside the UK and I suspect there aren’t many better ones in the world. I love wandering around, admiring the plants and marvelling at the garden art while trying to avoid being taken off guard by the Texan sun.

He’s actually lecturing at The Arbor Gate as I write, while I’m back in England, feeling nostalgic and making up for not being there by sharing a much overdue gallery of pictures from my visits over the last few years.

Colourful bank of petunias and annuals

Petunias and other bedding plants help give visitors a cheery welcome

One the plant front, visitors can expect to find roses, perennials, annuals, succulents, trees, shrubs, vines and a big collection of herbs.

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Naturalistic Bottle Trees by Stephanie Dwyer

Tree-shaped wire frames covered in blue bottles

Bottle tree installation at the Shangri La Botanical Gardens in Orange, Texas

Many bottle trees you’ll see – assuming you see bottle trees at all – are stiff. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but Southern folklore metal artist, Stephanie Dwyer, sets hers apart by making them sinuous and twisty, like real trees.

Bottle tree with colourful bottles with shacks

Bottle tree at Shack Up Inn, bent over as if by the wind

Her iconic bottle tree, part of a series inspired by Hurricane Katrina, channels lone trees all over the world, carved into art forms by the wind on some exposed ridge. It seems to grow out of the turf at the Sack Up Inn, and to nod with respect and resilience to its shadow.   Continue reading

Back to Back Sculpture by Simon Jago

These two souls are my contribution to this week’s photo challenge. What could be more local than a relationship?

The artist, Simon Jago, is also a professional set designer with a mastery of the most essential tool in a sculptor’s toolbox – space. The sculpture seems to tell a slightly different story from every angle. It would have been interesting to walk all around it, but the setting didn’t invite that. Luckily the artist is showing the opposite view on his website.

The wall that divides these two figures is slender but sturdy – part physical, part metaphorical. He has placed a steadying foot on the blue floor/plinth that is structurally linked to hers. Their body language mirrors each other: the barrier of his left side reflects the barrier of her right; each downcast head obliquely angled in counterpoise to the other.

Back to back sculpture: both

It’s funny how tempting it is to judge, even faced with a sculpture. There’s a lesson in that. Who is to blame? What should they do? Is there even a problem? As the artist asks, why do they look so alone?  Continue reading