Landscapes of the Month: Maintaining a Private Botanical Garden - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Maintaining a Private Botanical Garden

Located in Houston, Texas, this client desired a lush, tropical botanical garden that features a large and diverse variety of plant material. They wanted to bring together some traditional aspects of a southern garden, such as formal hedges and colorful flowers with a varied plant palette. In the back, the edge of the property backs up to a nature preserve, with a design goal to create a seamless visual transition into the natural landscape.

The client hired Grow and Company, based in Houston, Texas, to complete and maintain this project. Due to the project’s success, Grow and Company received a Gold Award in the 2022 Awards of Excellence.

Photo: Grow and Company

“Being recognized by our peers within the industry is always such a special feeling,” says Kyle Cahill, president of Grow and Company. “This project was truly a team effort, and involved every department within the company to achieve success. For this project in particular, it encourages us to continue designing and implementing residential gardens that focus on plant diversity and horticultural excellence.”

In total, the project took six months from the initial site meeting to plan development to the completion of the punch list.

The client was not an existing one. However, Grow and Company had previously been working with the son and daughter of the client.

“The client’s son and daughter were building new homes adjacent to each other, and we had been working with them on their landscape designs and subsequent installations,” says Cahill. “Once we completed their work, we moved right on to their parents’ home; it was a real family affair!”

Despite the project’s successful outcome, it did not come without its own set of challenges.

Since the major part of the project is focused on plant diversity, managing a cumulative plant health plan for all of the different plant materials is a huge undertaking. Certain plants were revealed to be incredibly susceptible to pests and disease, and the camellias suffered from a scale infestation that has been an ongoing battle. To compensate for the camellias, the garden manager consistently evaluates them for early signs of scale and treats them systematically before the pests infest the entire plant.

Photo: Grow and Company

The grass checkerboard in the backyard had difficulty filling in after installation due to a large oak tree in the back that shaded the area. In order to reduce the amount of trimming and stress, the zoysia lawn is kept at two to three inches and is protected from compaction by being trimmed with a string trimmer instead of a mower.

On top of plant issues, the weather has also been a concern.

“Since the project design and install, our local weather patterns have been so extreme, ranging from record-breaking freezes to sustained droughts,” says Cahill. “Every day brings a challenge that must be met with a strong proactive and horticulturally sound approach and execution. We are constantly learning to adapt to achieve such high results from this garden.”

The design and installation grouped together plants with similar water requirements; however, over the years, because of certain weather events, some plants in a zone required more water than others. To compensate for this issue, the garden manager hand waters and remotely adjusts the irrigation from the smart controller to manage plant health.

Photo: Grow and Company

“The plant palette was curated and selected by our lead landscape designer and dear friend, Danny McNair,” says Cahill. “Danny was known for his unique and plant driven designs that provided for a diversity in species and textures that were unmatched. He worked closely with local growers to help dial in the perfect plant palette for this particular site.”

To maintain the project, Grow and Company’s garden management crew is on-site weekly to provide a high level of service to the garden. They have a mixture of winter, spring, summer and fall blooming trees and shrubs, as well as native perennials that need constant attention. The garden manager is full time, and monitors the garden weekly to inspect for any potential irrigation, pest, and disease issues.

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your projects when entries open in February 2023.