Couple transforms wooded acreage into tropical haven along Dickinson Bayou
When Lynn and Richard Weeks moved to their house on 6.5 acres on Dickinson Bayou in 1983, it was basically surrounded by a wooded forest.
Lynn Weeks, an ocean lover who is drawn to tropicals, knew that she had a lot of transforming to do. Yet, just one short week after moving in, Hurricane Alicia roared ashore near Galveston and took out 22 of those trees. Little by little she thinned out a few more and began adding palms and designing flower beds.
Today, the acreage is an oasis of manicured gardens containing thousands of plant species, a variety of fruit trees and hundreds of palm trees. Within the confines of this amazing paradise, you’ll find statuary, glass art, mermaids, patios, a solarium, hidden alcoves, arbors, a bamboo thicket, vines gone wild and so much more.
Determining where the front yard ends and the backyard begins is tricky because of the flow of foliage. If you didn’t know better, you might think you were touring a botanical garden in Florida or the Caribbean.
“The first thing we did was add a swimming pool,” Lynn Weeks said. A fish pond took the place of where a tree used to be, but not just any ordinary fish pond. A koi, more than 1 foot long, lives happily among several gold fish that share the pond with aquatic plants and a variety of colorful ceramics.
It’s a toss-up as to which way to journey next — toward the glass artifacts to the left or the decorated trellis to the right — but the sun’s reflection on the glass objects leads the way.
Colors of cobalt and sky blue, bright cranberry, fuchsia, orange and pink vary in shapes from squizzles to spheres to flower forms. They pop up here and there among plants and shrubs. “Many of the pieces remind me of Chihuly, the famous glass artist,” Weeks said. She and Richard are both artists, so many of their art items also are on display.
The path leading to the arched trellis beckons. There’s a hodgepodge of metal and tree limbs, dripping with seashells, wine corks, moss and an assortment of art du jour. Signage on the fence, an old fireplace, Chinese lanterns, ferns, a variety of elephant ear and a colorful array of birdhouses stand out.
Mexican fantail and queen palms stretch 30 to 40 feet in the air; succulents, ferns and a Pride of Barbados with showstopping colors of fire engine red and sunset gold are attention grabbers.
The tall brass cranes near the pool area are from Singapore.
“I have décor in my yard from all over the world,” Weeks said. “We have many things on display that have come from our travels, especially to Mexico and the Cayman Islands.”
Cast iron outdoor furniture painted lime green sits near the outdoor kitchen, where a settee with cobalt blue cushions, made by Richard Weeks, provides extra seating for guests. An antique gas stove, barbecue grill and Tandoor oven come in handy when entertaining.
“If we lose power, we can cook out here,” said Lynn Weeks, who likes to use the oven for making Indian food.
A nearby solarium is flooded with sunshine on warm days. Weeks calls the back wall her “Cayman under the Sea” wall. It’s adorned with sea horses, fish and all things one finds in the ocean. A replica of a wooden canoe, painted pale lavender and filled with colorful ornamental balls, sits above a glass dining table.
“When I have a party, I float this in the pool,” Weeks said.
An old metal boat in a side yard, named Bayou Babe, has a nice back story.
“The boat belonged to Dr. Robert Gilruth, the first director of the Manned Spacecraft Center and former owner of the property,” Weeks said. “During Hurricane Alicia, a tree fell on it, so I painted it, fixed it up and turned it into a flower bed.”
Other plants in the backyard include orchid bushes; esperanzas; allamandas ablaze with yellow, fuchsia, white and candy-striped blooms; goat’s foot vine; Dutchman’s pipe; Turk’s cap; a flaming scarlet coral tree; tropical oleanders; a morning glory tree with heart-shaped leaves and funnel-shaped pink flowers; Mexican purple petunias and an enormous bamboo garden. There’s also a curry tree with aromatic leaves Weeks picks when preparing Indian food.
Fruit from the citrus orchard across the road from the main property provides seasonal oranges, grapefruits, limes, lemons and tangerines.
The couple’s yacht is moored at a boat dock next to five moss-drenched Cypress trees. Two were grown from seeds Lynn Weeks picked up from the San Antonio Riverwalk years ago.
Remarkably, they’ve done all the landscaping design themselves; they don’t use a yard maintenance service.
“Richard mows and I take care of the gardens,” said Lynn Weeks, who prides herself on maintaining a chemical-free yard. “I don’t use fertilizer or pesticides; just natural mulch.”
As much as they once traveled, they have the perfect vacation spot in their backyard, she said.
“Our yard is peaceful, and I’m out here every day, along with Jack, our Border Collie,” she said.