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2259 Alston Ave. – Yard of the Month (June 2016)

Brooke and Tom Blankenship’s Craftsman Bungalow, 2259 Alston Ave has been selected for Fairmount’s Yard of the Month for June 2016. Brooke and a previous partner bought the 1926 “airplane bungalow” in 2007 from Chris and Rodney McCabe, “two gentlemen with very good taste” who had purchased the house in 2003.

2259 Alston Ave.

2259 Alston Ave.

This style of house, popular in the 1920’s, gets its name from a partial second story, perched like the cockpit above the fuselage of an airplane, which is frequently lined with windows to allow for cooling breezes. The Blankenships recently renovated the “cockpit” to make a master suite and nursery for a baby due in September. While newly married to Brooke, Tom Blankenship has also been a Fairmount resident for some time (he owns another home on 6th Ave). Tom is an avid gardener, often mowing the lawn “two to three times a week.” He recently resodded a courtyard garden behind the home. For new plants, the Blankenships favor Mike’s Nursery near I-20.

The home is a few steps away from a middle school, and children often stop to play hopscotch on the garden stones Brooke painted for them. The front paths are lined with boxwoods, delineated by recycled antique bricks (once the home’s siding, before a 2001 flip replaced them with wood). On the graceful and expansive front porch are two distinct areas: to the right, a play space for their four-year-old daughter, and to the left, a grown-up’s outdoor living room. Both are decorated with flea market scores and found curb treasures. Like our past winners Ted and Shirley Rincon-Gober, Brooke reports that bulky trash pickup day is key decorating source for a discerning eye. The home is painted light gray, with white trim, providing a muted backdrop to the effusive palette of pinks, fuschias and purples in the flowering plants. One strong motif repeated across the yard: trios of crepe myrtles (lagerstroemia), a heat and drought-tolerant friend to Texas gardeners. On the Jessamine street side are three white crepe myrtles; on Alston, there are three soft pink in the parkway, and three younger fuschia in the middle yard.

Some of the landscaping came from prior owners, including some from Jack Yates, who owned the home through most of the 20th century. The Blankenships have added companion plants to complement what was there. For example, they inherited some antique climbing roses in soft pinks, and new knockout roses in fuschia planted by the McCabes. To these, Tom and Brooke added irises, hot pink oleander (a poisonous member of the dogbane family), azalea and hibiscus. Among the perennials are the variegated leaf vinca vine, red and yellow lantana, and purple heart (tradescantia pallida): these three are the kind of plant you only have to purchase once, to enjoy throughout your yard and to gift to friends for decades.

Our thanks, and a gift certificate to C. C.’s Touch of Nature, go to the Blankenships.


Fairmount’s Yard of the Month Committee: Bonnie Blackwell and Susan Harper