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Contemporary Cottage Style Design: Lori & Jack Shreves |Central Texas Gardener

September 11, 2019

– On a busy street in Georgetown, Lori and
Jack Shreves welcome wildlife traffic in their modern cottage style design. Stock tanks keep the kitchen full in a garden,
where purpose and art join hands. – [Narrator] Do-it-yourselfers Lori and Jack
Shreves put contemporary into cottage-style design in historic Georgetown. Along a busy street, they’ve created a wildlife
sanctuary that attracts pollinators to their stock tank vegetables. And in every nook and cranny, they wield their
artistic handicraft. On Blackland Prairie Heavy Soil, they found
the trick for bountiful blooms. – I’ve added a lot of compost and mulch over
the years. Some areas I just even put gravel in because
I kept having certain things that needed better drainage die, so I just put in gravel. I just started going all the way to the street,
mainly because I have so many perennials, I had to keep dividing. I just started to take over the easement area
by the road, and as long as I keep them pretty short, it’s okay, When you have a flat lot,
it’s not completely flat, there’s a tiny, tiny slope towards the street, but I think
it’s really interesting, when you have layers, when it’s just completely flat, it seems like
you see everything all at once. – [Narrator] To create depth, they wove decomposed
granite trails against layers of ground-covers, mid-sized flowering perennials, and taller
grass companions like Lindheimer’s Muhly. Many are natives or hybrids, while others
are simply adapted to heat, and rainfall swings from drought to drenches. – [Jack] We get a little bit more privacy
from the neighbors, they can’t look in at us, we can’t see what they’re doing, it helps
keep noise down by having the taller plants, it helps to block some of the street noises. So, it gives us an illusion of privacy even
though we’re pretty much downtown. – [Narrator] Along one side, Lori and Jack
designed a miniature park enveloped by small trees and evergreen shrubs. A bit of lawn makes comfy footing to stroll
borders layered with complementary perennials, including bee and butterfly-loving salvias
tall and small. On the other side, they structured with yucca
and bearded iris, offset by soft-leaved perennials that can take part shade. Progressive flowering across the calendar
keeps wildlife in residence. – I decided, oh, it does look park-like, and
it creates the illusion of a little bit more to it by adding a trail that winds around,
and you come around a corner, and see something different. – But more than plant beauty meets the eye
in their National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. There’s always a traffic jam from insect pollinators,
and hummingbirds, along with seed and berry-eating birds, like on a Mahonia. – [Jack] Just to put the sign in the front,
and kind of promote, hopefully get other people to think, hey, even though we have a small
yard, we can still do things to help out wildlife, and to get more nature into urban areas. We have one dove in the Pittosporum right
now that has a nest. There’s a dove behind us in the Lady Banks
rose that has a nest, and then in the Possumhaw there’s an Inca dove that built a nest, so
they’ll be anywhere from five to ten feet off the ground. Each bird likes a different height, they want
to be up a little bit, but some of them don’t want to be too high up, oh, except for the
robin, one year she built a nest in a mountain laurel three feet off the ground. – The Mountain Laurel that was hanging over
the road in the front, and I didn’t see it, the mountain laurel was so thick, but it was
right next to the road, people walking by or driving by could’ve, I don’t think they
could’ve bump her or anything, she was enough off the road, but I finally saw her in there,
and she raised three babies. – [Narrator] To attract non-stinging mason
bees, Jack studied up to build housing for them. – We read about the pollinators declining,
and we decided, we needed to get the native bees a little more room, and give them little
areas to thrive. So, I started building bee houses, building
little insect hotels to give them habitat and places to raise their young, and just
increase the wildlife, the insects in the area to help us pollinate our yard. If we have the bees hanging out in the yard,
and living here, they’ll pollinate the vegetable garden. They’ll pollinate the different flowers, and
we kinda have our own little ecosystem in our yard here. – [Narrator] Wildlife claims the backyard,
too. Although they entice many species of birds,
they wanted to protect butterfly caterpillars in Jack’s tower of safety. – I read that 96% of all terrestrial birds
feed their young caterpillars and grubs, so we wanted to save some of the caterpillars
for releasing as butterflies, so we made a little butterfly garden for them, but to supplement
their diet, and help them raise their young, we buy some meal worms, we buy some wax worms,
and leave those out for them to feed their young. – [Narrator] Life of another kind, adopted
dog Wylie, dictated a new design scheme. They built trails and a round of grass near
the patio hangout. To grow food for themselves, safe from doggie
frolics, they went with stock tanks. – In the different locations, some going north
south, some going east west, and then the round ones, to maximize light, to also give
us more room to work around them. We would originally do just three or four
of the long rectangular tanks. We realized we could fit five in there, and
still have room to get around, so we squeeze an extra one in just to have a little more
vegetable production. I just went to Tractor Supply, and picked
them up with my truck, brought them back, drilled half inch holes in the bottom of them,
put about two inches of three quarter inch crushed gravel in the bottom for drainage,
and then just set them up where we wanted them, ran the water lines under the ground
to give each one an individual shut off, so if one tank is already wet, and one tank is
dry, we can close the one tank, let the other ones water. – [Narrator] For their fruit trees, Jack cut
out the tank bottoms to allow deeper roots into the soil. – We had put the tanks in, and then we wanted
to make some dividers, and other structure in the tanks, so I wanted to get cheap materials
that were easy to work with, so I went to the store and I got some thin-wall PVC pipe,
which is easy to cut, easy to maneuver, so I got that and some hog panel. I painted the PVC pipe, but then we also wanted
to put some extra structure in, so I wanted to find something that was really easy to
work with. So, the blue pex pipe is a real soft pipe. It’s used for plumbing. It’s a real easy material to work with. So, we decided to make the uprights on the
tanks to allow for climbing plants in the winter. If it gets cold, we can put the plankets over
the top of it. – [Narrator] Wylie inspired Jack’s fence and
gate design, too. – We wanted to have something different for
a gate. So, we found an old door that had like one
of the priest windows in it. So, I made a piece of stained glass, and put
that in, so you could open it up, and look out through the little portcullis. We wanted to make something for the dog because
he liked to go up there, and put his head over the fence, and look around and guard
his yard, so I made a little window with a little piece of iron art that can slide back
and forth, so if we need to close it we can close it. We can also partially open it, so he can still
stick his head through, and look around. – He likes to keep an eye out on me, if I’m
in the front yard, he can’t see the whole front yard, but he can at least look out further,
and see where I’m at. – [Narrator] Since the garage is a dominant
feature, they made it a striking destination. – I just decided I didn’t like the beige right
there on the garage, and I wanted it to be almost like a little tropical patio, little
bit of flare there. The little alley in back of the garage is
our compost bins. – [Jack] And, rainwater collection. – [Lori] And, rainwater collection. – [Narrator] Lori and Jack are hobbyist artists,
who tuck flair and color into every corner. Tiny art populates the garden, where gnomes
and fairies keep an eye on things. – I found these funny little gnomes at a store
years ago, small little gnomes with stakes, I guess you’re supposed to put them in pots,
and I put them out in the garden, and they faded very, very badly. I painted little motorcycle jackets on them. – [Jack] So, they’re little biker gnomes. – [Lori] So, they’re little biker gnomes now. – [Jack] And then, we have a zombie gnome
under the tree over there with a little science theme. – Yeah, that’s from Halloween, a zombie gnome,
out in the corner. – We put a little sign there, beware of gnomes,
and we’ll point towards him, and he’s under the tree over there waiting for visitors. Yeah, she said she wanted to make her own
little fairy castle. So, I made her a little fairy castle. – [Lori] We found a burned out piece of cedar. – [Jack] Just to add a little whimsical touch
to the garden. Things you wouldn’t expect. We also have, as you’ve seen, dinosaurs out
in the yard, metal dinosaurs. There’s a little dinosaur diorama of a little
blue glass river running through it. – [Narrator] Their hard works led to an enchantment
of significance. – People constantly stop and comment, how
it makes their day better, you know, they drive by, they go out of their way to drive
by, and stop, and say hi, and even if they can’t do all of it at their house, we notice
more and more gardens popping up everywhere.

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