Savannah. Charleston. New Orleans. San Antonio. These colonial-era cities inspire the courtyard garden ideal: green and lush, with beautiful plants, pools and fountains, paved with stone, tiles or bricks, & protected by sheltering walls with gates that reveal a table and chairs for cocktails or an al fresco meal...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Unexpected Beauty in Port Aransas

All Texans love Port Aransas. It's the beach of our childhoods. We know it ain't Destin. There's no "sugar sand."    Don't look for a Southern Living or an HGTV dream home. It's just "the Beach." We grew up with it and it is as comfortable to us as our favorite jeans...or flip-flops.

There is expected beauty at "Port A," like the sand dunes or this brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis.) But there are scenes of unexpected beauty, as well. We found a beach cottage inside "Old Port A" that has been certified as a "Best of Texas Wildlife Habitat."

A birdbath is outside the gardener's silver gray picket fence.

Pink flamingos and an unidentified specimen play among the DYC's underneath a Washingtonia robusta. (DYC = *darn* yellow composite, i.e. yellow daisy-like flowers that appear everywhere. When you don't know exactly what they are, they are DYC's)

A fuchsia Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) and a Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) cross stems in the front garden.

A Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana) glows underneath. It appears more blue to the naked eye than to the camera. I'm sure there is a complicated digital photography-ophthalmologic reason for that, but I don't know what it would be.

The bougainvillea matches the native Mustang Island flamingos (Phoenicopterus flamingo-plasticus.)

Bougainvillea spectabilis

You knew I had to work in a courtyard somehow. This is really the outdoor portion of a great interior design showroom, the Susan Castor Collection on East Roberts.

This is a cement "Farley Boat." They are all over Port A, and are filled with flowers and decorated in honor of the wooden flotsam Farley Boat which was designed in Port A to be used in the choppy gulf waters. The concrete jetsam variety is sold by the Port Aransas Garden Club to fill and decorate as your individual creativity dictates. The backdrop is a clump of three Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterohylla) tropical pines from the southern hemisphere usually used north of zone 10 as house plants.

This is the center common courtyard of a new townhouse development. I like that it is a shady retreat from the strong gulf sun, and is full of tropical greenery.

These neon-orange ixora (Ixora x hybrid) was found within the courtyard in a sunny spot.

The leaves of the white bird-of-paradise 'palms' (Strelitzia nicolai) were slighty browned by our colder-than-average winter, but what impressed me was that the watering was all planned using drip-irrigation, which conserves the expensive island fresh water and keeps maintenance requirements low. I will remember this when my retirement plan (The Texas Lottery) kicks in and I can afford a place on the coast!

I had never seen this fresh water canal north of Alister Street. It has so much potential as a linear park, but I'm from San Antonio and we love creating river walks.

I'll close this post with another shady courtyard of a house that is for sale. A tropical gardener obviously lived here, as there were more than four species of palms and several varieties of different cycads. I can dream can't I?

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