With her work cut out for her, a Friendswood gardener transforms a backyard
Stacey Phillips has had an interest in gardening since she was 3 years old.
“My grandmother took me to the nursery with her and I’d point to things and ask, ‘What’s that?’ and ‘What’s that?’ over and over with everything I saw,” she said.
That interest never waned.
Today, Phillips, who recently earned her Master Gardener certification, finds gratification in designing and landscaping a bare canvas, such as the Friendswood yard she has spent five years cultivating.
“When we bought the house, I knew I had my work cut out for me,” she said. “There were only two live oak trees in the front yard, a few shrubs in the beds and the backyard was just grass.”
Phillips and husband, Paul Drott, knew they wanted a pool, as did Phillips’ young son, Jamie.
Phillips picked out all the finishes — glass mosaic wall surrounded by travertine with a spa — and decided on a 7-and-a-half-foot deep end for diving.
But what’s a pool without a fireplace?
So, she had a 12-foot-tall travertine fireplace built for chilly winter nights.
Although the pool and fireplace are backyard focal points, they’re surrounded by distinctive areas full of tropicals, native plants, plumeria nestled between Xanadu philodendrons, pink and white pentas, and two exotic yellow plumes — Justicia umbrosa — that are native to Brazil. Also of note are bird’s nest ferns and showy nun’s orchids — hooded blossoms that are creamy white outside and amber brown inside with a purple lip.
Three tall bottle brush trees hug a backyard fence providing privacy.
Colors of cobalt blue, teal and orange pop out of Talavera pottery, ceramic pots and glazed garden globes, while soothing sounds of wind chimes and wind spinners add a peaceful ambience.
A cocoon patio swing chair under the covered patio provides respite for Phillips when she takes a break from gardening.
“I’ve actually fallen asleep in that chair on many occasions,” she said.
Phillips also made sure her yard would be a haven for pollinators, she said.
“I call our yard Perennial Paradise,” she said. “The majority of what I’ve grown here is perennial. The hummingbirds actually came early this year due to the rain, but we were ready for them because of the bottle brush being in full bloom.”
The front yard, which Phillips calls the cottage garden, is abloom with black-eyed Susans, Louisiana irises, blue salvia, verbena homestead, purple agapanthus, day lilies and so much more.
“We have well over 50 varieties of plants, in both front and backyards, and well over 50 species in pots,” she said.
A separate and enclosed gated area to the right of the house is a thriving vegetable garden, where Phillips has outdone herself this year by getting seven to eight gallons of tomatoes off just six plants.
Other edibles include peppers, basil, rosemary, kale, potatoes, onions, chard and carrots.
Perhaps they’ve all done so well because of the scenic mural Phillips painted on the interior of the back fence — a tree covered in trailing vines against a vivid blue background.
“I call it ‘Jack and the Beanstalk,’ said Phillips, who owns Sunshine Designs, a one-woman landscaping and design service. “I do everything from bringing in the dirt, to placement of plants to offering growing advice.”
It is clear that Phillips is in her element and completely absorbed in her newfound passion, which is something she always dreamed of after many years of a career working in the corporate energy sector.
“It’s a peaceful place we’ve created here,” said Phillips, who credits her husband for lending a helping hand. “Since we did all this ourselves, it’s a satisfying feeling.”