La Marque gardener mixes artificial and live flowers with colorful results
Exploring the grounds of Edith Roberts’ quarter acre in La Marque is an exceptional adventure.
Roberts combines horticulture, yard art, signage and vibrant hand-painted silk flowers in a harmonious, playful way that makes the landscape her own signature creation.
Roberts has lived on the property for 28 years, and renovated the circa 1958 house and grounds in 2015.
“There was not one blade of grass and mud was everywhere,” Roberts said.
She revamped the flower beds and poured the concrete forms for the backyard patio herself. She even took on the task of cutting up limbs from several big ash trees in the front yard that had succumbed to borer worms. Only four of the original 10 trees remain.
Today, Roberts has carefully nurtured those remaining trees — surrounded by aspidistra, bromeliads and Boston fern — as well as the large oak tree in the backyard, planted when the house was built.
Born in Galveston, Roberts was raised along with her seven siblings in south Louisiana. She returned to the island to attend Galveston College for a while and worked in banking, retail and the oil industry. But it was when she went to work for a plant service company that she fell in love with tropicals and everything that bloomed.
“Every time we changed out the plants, I got to take the older ones home,” she said.
An inviting front porch with blue Adirondack chairs, a Happy New Year sign on the door and flowery welcome mat, along with potted plants and signage, greet friends and family.
The front yard flower beds are thriving with Mexican fantails, birds of paradise, hibiscus and two artsy great egrets that Roberts painted herself. There also are pink flamingos; a metal bird with plumage designed by artist Henry Vasquez; a family of ceramic raccoons; and a variety of critters, most noticeably the many frogs that Roberts has painted in various shades of green.
“I decorate everything,” she said. “I keep things freshened up with a new coat of paint whenever possible.”
A white fence looms large, serving as a tribute to Roberts’ daughter, Crystal Salinas, who is a gunnery sergeant in the U.S. Marines Corps. Red, white and blue artifacts, flags, crosses, inspirational quotes and a gnome birdbath all are part of the collection.
The backyard patio is home to several seating areas, potted plants mixed with colorful artificial flowers, beds of tropicals and an enormous array of outdoor décor.
A white cast-iron table holds a flower arrangement of live bromeliads and silk flowers that pop with vivid shades of orange, pink and red. A brown wicker settee and two matching chairs with blue cushions are dwarfed by a giant oak tree, English ivy climbing its trunk.
A cast-iron bar painted white and three matching bar stools occupy a place at the back of the fence with Tiki Bar signage.
Roberts has converted a garage into two garden rooms.
The bird room — appropriately named because Roberts once raised birds in it — with white wicker furniture and blue cushions, is accented with nautical art, butterflies and a collection of knickknacks, as well as a retro record player and stack of albums.
The second room features a seating arrangement with lime green cushions, cedar entertainment cabinet, a mix of tiny ceramic animals, candles and an assortment of flowers and art objects hanging from the ceiling. More record albums — more than 200 — and one of her four turntables occupy this space.
A dry pond contains bunches of amaryllis and painted yellow flowers.
“I like to see the look of something always blooming,” said Roberts, who paints the artificial flowers often to keep them looking fresh.
A large elephant ear plant is a cutting Roberts brought back from Okinawa while visiting her daughter. Three small statues, St. Francis, St. Anthony and St. Jude, protect the area, Roberts said.
A shiny blue metal lounge chair with matching table, recently painted by Roberts, sits in front of a section of the fence full of colorful butterflies and grillwork.
Tucked away in a far corner is a white oval cast-iron table with eight matching chairs protected by a pergola. Yucca, ferns, bougainvillea, sago palms, pots of ferns and beds of bromeliads, including a happy Buddha, are prominent.
As a new member of the La Marque Garden Club, Roberts is looking forward to sharing gardening tips with fellow gardeners. She prefers drought-tolerant plants, mainly because they do so well when she’s not around to care for them.
Roberts stays busy painting her flowers and touching up all the garden art.
“I’ve been mixing living plants with artificial flowers and greenery for years,” she said. “Who knows what I’ll come up with next?”