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Back to the Future Garden Design |Maverick Fisher| Central Texas Gardener

Back to the Future Garden Design |Maverick Fisher| Central Texas Gardener

Maverick Fisher’s garden has its roots
in San Antonio where he grew up around native plants beloved by his grandmother
Jane Maverick Macmillan and mother Merry Maverick Fisher.
In 2005, when he bought a 1940’s cottage on a sloping lot in East Travis Heights, he went intentionally informal with natives from Texas and northern Mexico It’s not a mansion and so I did not feel that a formal garden made much sense. I
started to go with informality and I guess the other else is me for going
with native plants and says you know “we’re.. this is Texas we’re a down to earth
place” So does it really makes sense to try and make Texas plants look like
Versailles? So I think it’s also South Austin would just be not in keeping with
the zeitgeist to go for something so formal. While devoting energy to
fixing up the house he dabbled in the garden. All along though never considered
his outdoor walls as important as those indoors. The turning point came when he
hooked up with plant driven designers Loren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden in
tandem with Patrick Kerwin — his goal: a wildlife habitat that was sustainable
now and in 30 years. The Ogdens went for layers of succulents grasses and
perennials favored by pollinators and hummingbirds. The Ogdens vanished front
curb crepe myrtles. Instead, they chose cenizo and generous pink flamingos
mewling grasses for privacy against her dramatically inclined bisecting street
that aligns with Mavericks front door. To prevent vehicles from careening
through his property, they installed hefty boulder stock gaps. To enclose the
garden on a sunny side, they chose cenizo, rusty black high viburnam and Fiddle wood.
On the other side, this one in shade they layer an airy swath of understory trees
and perennials. One thing that hasn’t changed, aside from selective pruning, is the treasured historic live oak hugging the
house. “And I think that was probably a volunteers. It’s in a weird spot, but I
of course, kept it.” To navigate from front to back, Maverick went artistically sustainable. “There was a stone patio that was failing,
according to an engineer, so when I ripped it up I just saved all the limestone flagstones and then created a sinuous
garden path there. There were chunks of sidewalk that had formed part of
the path, and it was just, you know, it looked like a sidewalk. Scott actually
had an ingenious idea, and he said, “oh all you gotta do is just flip it over and
then you get all this texture.” In back, Maverick’s few measures his philosophy
now that crowds have invasive plants and a Chinese pistache no longer claim the space. “I thought it was very important for the wildlife to get rid of the
invasives. That was my main goal there.” Even though it’s just blocks from hectic
Riverside Drive, his shielded patio seems miles away for shade and a break from
the back alley view the Ogdens selected a grove of silver toned Mexican sycamores. “I wanted privacy sooner rather than later, so I decided to go with trees that
would grow quickly. But, initially, I’d planned one and Scott and Lauren came
back that this was an opportunity to create what they called an informal
Grove. It does mean that I sacrifice privacy in the winter because of course
the the Sycamore drops his leaves and then I have my unattractive view of the
driveways and chain-link, but I am okay with that because I also want to honor
the fact that there had been an Arroyo by the house which has now been
paved over for an alley but when I arrived there were a number of riparian
trees. A bunch of cottonwoods. Old old beautiful trees, and, sadly, not one of
them is still standing. The last 3 or 4 died during the drought of 2011,
so these sycamores are an homage to the Arroyo behind my place.” His cabin panel and red cedar post fence is less obtrusive than solid wood and advised
lots of mining opportunities. “That is a vine that Scott and Lauren came up with
and it is a close relation of Virginia Creeper this one is called Hacienda
Creeper it is from the Hacienda Santa Engracia in Tamaulipas in Northeastern
Mexico where a bunch of the plants here are from that zone. It is more domesticated
in the sense that small or Virginia creeper can just kind of get out of
control like Amazonian almost and its growth and this is much smaller,
more delicate, not as aggressive. Well, you have the same issue with the deck, it
needs to be softened with something. Organics wasn’t just to manmade.
The way he dealt with that is putting pots in the driveway and then a chain
for the the creeper to go up. It’s not total privacy, but just really the
psychologically, I think you really only need a sense of a screen. It doesn’t have to
be a wall to make you feel a little more like you’re in an intimate space.” He did create a wall of Alphonse Carr bamboo
on on one side of the driveway. “We’re in a zone
called the sprinkle clay and it’s a nightmare in the sense you’re always
gonna have cracks and your plaster in your sheetrock and the fence on my
northern border is actually sliding off the hill, and I had spent so much money
on the fence for the bat garden space that I didn’t really want to get into
paying for red cedar and hog wire again. Of course, the key is not to get the
horrible spreading kind that I was here when I arrived the golden bamboo. This is
a very ancient Lee domesticated Taiwanese type of bamboo called Alphonse
Car, so I’m just leaving the collapsing chain-link fence in place and covering it
with bamboo.” On the other side the Ogdens selected a mature Maverick Mesquite for
instant privacy. A thornless cultivar of Honey Mesquite. it’s spring tone yellow
flowers attract bees once whispery leaves opted for contrast against the
Sycamores broad lobes “This is, you know, an area where I might grill or hang
around the fire pit.” Instead of a firm hedge along this border, evergreen and
deciduous textures companion through foliar and seasonally floral depth.
Strappy succulents promenade with fluffy flowers. In this certified backyard
habitat, Maverick provides options to increase his wildlife participation. It
didn’t take long for the word to get out about this little Haven of food and
water. “Hummingbirds tend to go for the red
flowers. The insects are going to be going for the ones more on the blue
end of things.” He offsets all the excitement with an easy care buffalo
grass break. It’s also a playground for Echo and King John.
Underneath earthworms and beneficial insects welcome it’s cool housing.
Maverick’s garden represents a journal of his never-ending exploration. For a time,
he even kept free-range chickens. Your insect monitors that scratched the dog’s
turf to dust. “I’ve come to learn that a garden is never completed there is never
an endpoint. It is an ongoing process it’s an evolution.
We’ll see what makes it, and if I find something is very happy, and it likes it
here then I’ll plant more of it and if other things don’t work, well, it
was a fun experiment. But, this is another thing two gardeners: take hope. If you
stay on top of weeding and you get rid of things before they go to seed you
will find that year after year you are dealing with fewer weeds and fewer
invasives. Planting has been a real experience of getting to know this space
where we are sitting is an ancient Terrace of the Colorado River. If you
start digging about a foot down you find tons of cobblestones deposited
by the river and so I’ve incorporated those also into you know various borders
to demarcate beds. I plan on never selling this house if I
can help it, and I believe that creates a sense of space that is lost in
an era when people think in terms of starter homes. You know we always want to
build up to that that big mansion down the road and that kind of denies the
opportunity I mean why would you plant a tree if you’re not gonna be around to
enjoy its shade unless you’re a true idealist like Martin Luther. I hope to be
here in twenty more years and see how I did with my plants if the things
that I planted did in fact survive a world of climate change.

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