April’s Yard of the Month winner is Steve Cocanower of 1450 W. Allen Ave. Steve’s gardens make the most of an unusual yard footprint: his residence, a former storefront dating from 1912, has been converted to a uniquely stylish home and law office, and retains the vintage grocery sign advertising “Boswell’s Milk.” While the transformed commercial structure lacks a residential squared front lawn, it does have two long rectangular parkways, one on Allen and one on Fairmount, which provide ample square footage for an inventive gardener.
Steve has planted the two parkways with a cheerful and exuberant riot of color and form, which bloom in a well-planned succession throughout spring, summer and into fall. On the Allen Ave. side, shrubbery offer seclusion at one of Fairmount’s busiest intersections to the recessed, barred front entrance: notably, the vigorous, nearly thornless yellow Lady Banks rose and silvery Texas sage with lilac-colored blossoms form part of this privacy screen. The Fairmount Ave. side has more than twenty feet of fencing, espaliered with 1921 Albertine and 1869 Reve d’Or climbing roses from the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas.
In the heat of summer, the fences have supported the heat-loving hyacinth bean vine (lablab purpurea), one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite plants, a climber with lilac blossoms and ruby-amethyst legume pods. The parkway beds are interspersed with clumps of bearded German iris, which bloom every spring in a dazzling succession of colors, including purple, yellow, and a rare carroty hue. Coming up in April are several banks of delicate ferny larkspur, amidst liriope (lilyturf) and variegated ground cover.
Throughout the garden, plantings have been selected to tolerate heat and drought while providing structure and beauty. Among the water-wise plantings are prostate rosemary, cactus, agave, yucca, yarrow, Mexican Feather grass (Nassella tenuissima) and Copper Canyon daisy (tagetes lemmonii) which grows wild in the Sonora desert. The Southwest natives are anchored midway by a thriving tuft of the Asian imports, lemongrass (cymbopogon citratus) and the deep ruby Chinese fringe shrub (Loropetalum). Also on the Fairmount Ave. side, an iron gate gives pedestrians a glimpse into charming private shade garden. The interior retreat features a raised deck, as well as staged seating areas with more layered plantings in soothing patterns of shade-loving green foliage, while a chiminea and iron patio chairs provide warmth and napping space for Fairmount’s luckiest cats.
Our thanks, and a $35 gift certificate to C. C.’s Touch of Nature, go to Steve Cocanower.
Yard of the Month Committee: Bonnie Blackwell and Susan Harper