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After the allergies, a visit to Bayou Bend


By Raquel


For the last three weeks I was in miserable shape; I had the flu and them my allergies kicked up to such an extreme that I went to get acupuncture twice to help control them. I was also taking Claritin and Allerfree and praying my voice would not give out in the middle of class. So I mostly stayed indoors though the weather was beautiful, warm and sunny and windy. Then last weekend I finally felt well enough to be outside, and decied to go to Bayou Bend to celebrate.

Bayou Bend was a surprise to me when I first moved to Houston. I had no idea it was at the end of Westcott Street, which is the street I live on. I had no idea the neighborhoods around Memorial Park were considered pricey. That never entered my mind. I just wanted to be near flowers and trees because I thought if I got homesick the trees would help…and it would give me a place nearby to go walking in, which is part of how I keep my blood sugar in check. The apartments were affordable and Washington Avenue was not all that nice; I had landed in a transitional neighborhood that in 2002 still felt a little raw and a little scary once you crossed the street from Logan Park to Rice Military. I should mention Houston has no zoning.

But I heard of Bayou Bend and even walked down the street until I got to the gates, but it was closed that first time. I wondered at the greenery and pressed my face against the gate, and managed to see a bunny! and decided right then and there I would come back – and I did for the Azalea Trail. So this year I decided to go to the Azalea Trail again, to see how the gardens were after Ike…

This is the bridge that you walk over (the bayou is underneath) to get to the gardens. You walk in and end up right next to the Clio Garden:

Though I enjoy the formal gradens, I have to admit I love the nooks and cranies of the garden far more…

however, I remember the first time I saw the Diana Garden I was absolutely floored – incredible, I thought, to have the money to have such a huge fountain on your property…all to yourself…it must have wowed the wealthy people who came to the dinner parties when the house functioned as a house…and yet how lonely, to be so wealthy that most of the time you were alone with something so beautiful (the owner, Miss Hogg, never married and had no children). Here is the Diana Garden:

It must have been quite a view from the house:

One of my favorite gardens is the Butterfly Garden:

There were just too many people on my visit…I vowed to come back on a day that isn’t as popular as the Azalea Trail…

I love the azaleas but in this visit I began to notice other plants – these dark pink hydrangeas:

and the camellias – so beautiful – that I had never quite noticed before:

and these unusual star-shaped geraniums which left me wanting one for my balcony:

Bayou Bend also has tulips and pansies, but as I walked home I felt something was missing – and then I realized I had not seen hibiscus or bougainvillea and I wondered why…surely these are southern plants…did Miss Hogg or her gardener consider them too showy? too common? why not include them? did they just not fit into the scheme of the gardens? Well, I guess I will never know the answer to that question…I loved all the flowers, but of course, the azaleas rule -

The brown and the pink in this picture symbolize “spring” to me – can’t you just feel the coolness and peacefulness of the spot? It made me want to just sit under the tree and be still…my biggest thrill that my allergies were controlled enough that I could actually smell the scent of the flowers!! Bayou Bend is not a flat garden, and the day was warm, so by the time I got through walking up and down the paths, I was suitably tired, hot and thirsty…but happy. =)

More blog posts by Raquel

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Great blog, a wonderful tour of one of (in my opinion) the best open gardens in the south. You did it justice!
Houston's zoning or should I say no zoning problems has always been a bone of contention in local politics and I can't believe it would have changed.
Don't know if you know it, it isn't all that close to your home, but I was a member of the first graduating class of Stratford HS on Dairy Ashford. A long time ago...

14 Mar, 2009


A fab blog Raquel, the photos are amazing. You are lucky to have such a beautiful garden to visit that is so close to you too.
I agree with you and I think the woodland area with the steps looks like somewhere you could get lost in, just gorgeous!
I'm sorry, could you explain what zoning is?

14 Mar, 2009


Enjoyed the walk with you, Raquel. What beautiful magnolias! As you say, would be lovely to see with less people but marvellous to know so many people appreciate what you have there. I hope they all enjoyed it as much as you did!

14 Mar, 2009


Beautiful gardens and lovely photos. Thanks Raquel :0)

14 Mar, 2009


How lovely! Thanks for sharing these gardens with us. I enjoyed the tour. :-)

14 Mar, 2009


Great blog Raquel. What a lovely trip through the gardens. Too bad about all the people. That does spoil things a bit. But, as you can always go again when its not so busy.

14 Mar, 2009


Thank you Wagger, Sueb, Spritz, Gilli and Reebeesfleurs for your kind comments...I've enjoyed the tours of British and Canadian gardens that you all do, so thought I'd share one from Houston... =)

Thanks Wohlibuli, your comments mean a lot because I know you've been to Bayou Bend and also love it....I've heard the name Dairy Ashford but no, I've never been there...without a car, I stick pretty close to home and to the bus/train if they could just revive the train to Galveston I would be happy! =)

Reebeesfleurs, in most American cities and suburbs areas are "zoned" as residential or commercial (I don't know if there are other designations) so if you are in a residential zone you will not have a used car lot selling cars next to your home, or a restaurant right in front of it...Since Houston has no zoning, these things happen...My dentist is across the street from my apartment complex, as well as a doughnut shop and a convenience store...walk down a little ways and you will find two restaurants...Candelari's and Benjy's....and a wine bar, a CVS, and a dry the garden can be nice, to have things close to home, but it depends on what you have near..I would hate to have a used car lot or a pawn shop right next also means that there are a mix of residences...from ugly (in my opinion) McMansions near the park, to small cottages (most being razed to make way for townhouses) to the new townhouses in a mix of styles, some completely out of place...the area where I live is gentrifying, which means it is nicer but also becoming more expensive...sigh. Coming from Virginia, where zoning is not questioned and where even new construction has to look like the old colonial townhouses in Alexandria, Houston was a shock...! =)

14 Mar, 2009


Sorry you have been so unwell Raquel..hope you much better now ! The tour was the camellias and azaleas..thanks for sharing.........

14 Mar, 2009


Thanks for sharing your garden photos, hope you feeling well soon.

14 Mar, 2009


Thank you BB and Clarice - glad you enjoyed it - yes I'm feeling better, but still with the Claritin and Allerfree...=)

15 Mar, 2009


Thank you for showing us this wonderful place Raquel. It must have made you feel much better after being there.

15 Mar, 2009


It did Hywel, the flowers cheered me up...and it was warm that weekend!

15 Mar, 2009


Thanks Raquel, that explains it really well. I suppose that's like us have planning permission over in the UK so that a new property is in keeping with the local area (although that also can produce some shocking results!).
Thanks again for some lovely pictures and a great blog. I hope you are feeling much better.

16 Mar, 2009


You're welcome, Reebeesfluers...I am feeling better, thank you! I hate allergies! =)

17 Mar, 2009

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