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Casey Boyter innovative courtyard garden |Central Texas Gardener

September 6, 2019


Casey Boyter is an innovative designer who conserves resources through green roofs, low water landscapes, and creative
recycling. At home in East Austin’s Blue Valley neighborhood, her garden’s a personal test site and sweet retreat. I was drawn to this neighborhood and specifically
this lodge because of the insane beauty of the canopy of the trees, the deepness
of the soil. Historically this was farmland. It was settled by farmers and
continues to serve as that function because the soil is so deep and rich and
provides what we call it mantequilla the butter, the butter because we love planting in this stuff. Another attraction is the breathtaking diversity of trees. The
canopy is always evolving throughout a space we’ve lost a ton of trees. You know,
it’s very big trees and sad very sad to say, but you know the canopy is
perpetually evolving so wherever we can find holes were going to put trees and
think about that next generation. To enclose her gardens and design company’s prep area she went for long lasting construction.
My guys are custom welding a frame together. It’s a steal, steal frame so it’s going to last ten times longer than any wood post potentially will. We’ve broken it up into
one third and two-thirds. The bottom one-third is expanded metal. We’ve dug
into the ground a couple inches so that it’s impenetrable, but the air can
also follow through, and Daisy, my dog, really likes to watch traffic go by. It’s perfect for
her height. That expanded metal kind of provides a backdrop for me to blow the weeds and leaves. Instead of taking them off site, it’s more like my compost pile is is
butting up to that expanded metal. So when it’s decomposed to a certain
extent, I’ll put it in the vegetable beds. Top two thirds is eastern red cedar found locally. It’ll transition from kind of opaque to a solid to slightly see through to very see through where we’re going to put the Evergreen clematis. It’s an experimental garden. This is where we
come to try our skills and see you know what we’re able to put together. So the rubble walls are something we’ve been working on for a long time, and my guys are incredible
masons, and we do have a lot of recycled stone around. So we’ve been piling and
piling and you know oftentimes at the dump we’ll pick up a brick or two if we find them interesting enough, but to showcase that that story of where that might have been or had come from. When I got this property there was a lot of really cool
you know fired ceramic brick and just old interesting stuff that
really isn’t available in the market today. So it’s kind of interesting to
showcases those pieces and those rubble walls. Planting in little nooks and niches can be a lot of fun. It’s really about connecting the user to
an experience in the garden and that the story that it might tell. To travel
the experience, she employed recycles in her path. Casey altered its tempo with
remnants from a demolished sidewalk and leftover looters and sandstone. We try
not to throw anything away. We try to only go to the dump one or two times a
year with trash. In the circle patio we have a ring of brick that we pulled off
of a site and then inside that it’s a natural stone and then inside that it’s a ribbon of brick
again and then inside that it’s more of a slab limestone and then my hippie nerdiness adds you know little marbles to the joints. So it’s another experience or planting you know
succulents inside those joints. So there’s just different layers that you can get
into reference to bringing the user into the experience of the garden. Casey also cements visual diversity with
concrete. She choose concrete reinforced by rebar for her raised vegetable and
herb beds. They might change from vegetables to another planting scheme as the canopy grows in and the shade is increased. Opposite the fence, clumping bamboo completes the frame. It’s a multiplex so
it’s a hardier to 18 degrees or so, shorter hedge variety, green hedge, bamboo, and it responds really well to trimming back. It responds really well to machine
trimming or hedging, so you can kind of shape it to whatever size you really want. It was a
nice gesture that kind of leads you down that pathway from one end of that corridor to
the next. It just kind of helps you hopalong. Although some plants are transient by nature,
Casey regards each new garden’s long-term mission. And the rule that I hated to learn the most was, after watering of course, patience. You know, you need to understand that
it’s going to take a garden quite a long time to come to fruition. The best gardens are the old gardens
with the old plants that have, you know, had the time to come into their own. So I’ve planted, you know, some one gallon Arizona cypress. I know that those are going to take a long time but they’re going to take over that space eventually, but in the interim,
you know, I will be filling in those spaces with things maybe I’ll be
transplanting in the future just experimenting with. Instead of that being an empty space next to that Arizona Cypress, it will be, you know, other perennials that will, you know,
may or may not live there in 10 years. The evolution of garden throughout time is just an important part. Ultimately, personal expressions create an experience, momentum, and a place of your own. To get to our design office, designed by architect Neil Lawrence, Casey simply walks across the yard from her house. In the shower room, Zac Zamora of Variance Design built a living wall. He has a background in terrarium construction for museums and things like
that, so this is a perfect melding of his talents. He’s been doing these walls for
a while and been researching these walls for a while and just other green
infrastructure project. I’ve been learning about living walls for a while with
my green roof research, and I’ve never really done an interior wall before, and
you know, there are a lot of different elements that need to be balanced in
order for it to succeed. So absolutely I’m going to experiment with it. The pocketized
geotextile fabric is what holds the plants. Geotextile fabric with foam inside that
perfectly retains the water and spreads it out through the system so that we’re not left with dry patches and wet patches in undesired places. It was designed as
an element since the beginning, so we’re able to provid it the appropriate light.
Light is a huge element that is necessary for the success of this wall. They’ve been used as filters for return
air on HPAC systems. They can be integrated into the loop the water cycle of a site or a building as a
whole to allow for, you know, the water to be cleansed and reused on a given site, so this can be a tool in your tool belt in
reference to thinking about a site as a whole and its inputs and outputs in
reference to water and resources. For Casey, her mission includes a union of
people, plants, and planet. I am so very passionate about the construction side
and seeing how, you know, things function and actually work, and I think that’s a
big part of our Design Build company. But overall, I think it begins with that
design and that well thought-out design. The elements of adornment are not enough I don’t think. I think there needs to be a bigger picture, a bigger message, a
bigger way to link the user to their landscape through plants and gestures and the design phase. A way to connect our clients to their space and we so often times forget, you know, the
human species are our animals too, so we are an integral part of our spaces.

1 Comment

  • Reply Michael Karr May 27, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Far Out I dig it !

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