Their Kemah home came with a beautiful, ready-made yard
A few months ago, Patty and Chip Claiborne moved from a smaller house in their Kemah neighborhood to a much larger one.
“We both wanted a bigger house for different reasons,” Patty Claiborne said. “I wanted another bedroom and my husband, Chip, wanted more outdoor space. We did extensive remodeling to the interior of the home, but didn’t have to do anything to the yard because it was already beautifully landscaped by previous owners.”
The Claibornes, who concede they’re not very savvy about plants, were thrilled to have a ready-made yard, they said.
“We really lucked out moving into a place where the landscape was totally complete,” Patty said. “I do want to get involved with gardening now that we have this nice yard, so I’m curious to learn all the names of the plants, shrubs and trees growing here.”
They were fortunate to have acquired an inherited garden — the best kind to have, they said.
“My mother loved flowers, particularly azaleas,” Patty said. “She also grew roses and cut them fresh to put in our house, so I enjoyed watching her, but I didn’t pick up her love of gardening.”
Chip, on the other hand, had a father who grew vegetables, and he wants to carry on that legacy, he said.
“There is a grassy area near the front yard that’ll make a great vegetable garden, so I’m going to make that happen,” he said.
Both front and back yards have a tropical theme with hibiscus, palms, plumerias and oleanders among the dominate plants.
The front yard is beautifully manicured, lush with tall palm trees, bougainvillea, ti and ginger plants, pentas, plumbago and loquat trees. Shrubs and vines grow along the brick wall that offers privacy from the house next door. But that wasn’t always the case.
“Our neighbors asked us if we’d seen the hidden passageway, which we hadn’t, so they told us that a wooden gate, now overgrown with vines, had been installed by the original owners who were very good friends,” Patty said. “If you look hard enough about midway between the front and back yards, you can see it.”
The backyard, with its impressive view and hillside terraced terrain, had a lot to do with the decision to move, the couple said.
“One of the best advantages of having a terraced landscape is that it allows for an array of mini-gardens,” Patty said. “We have so many things growing in every direction, at varying levels.”
Tiled steps are an invitation to stroll and admire the variety of vincas, hibiscus, bird of paradise, pink knock-out roses and plumerias with their white blooms. Date palms, bright orange ixora, lantana with lavender blooms, ground cover of moss rose and colorful potted plants add to the tranquil setting.
A patio with comfy outdoor furniture, pool with spa, those sloping gardens and a picturesque view of the marina is the perfect spot to watch sailboats and yachts cruise by, they said.
“My view is spectacular here and has twice the water frontage as our former yard,” Chip said. “We see the parade of boats, plus we are right across from the Sundance Grill. They have a band on Sunday nights, and we can enjoy a private concert. We can listen from our backyard or just get in our boat and motor over there.”
Another advantage of having a bigger backyard is more room for family.
“We have seven grandchildren who love to visit and swim in the pool,” Patty said. “Plus, my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, so there is no pressure. You have a big meal, then come outside and play.”
Patty, a retired teacher, and Chip, retired from Chevron Corp., met during college at Louisiana State University. Watching football games and enjoying cookouts will be part of their outdoor leisure activities now.
In the meantime, Chip is learning more about gardening by watching “Dandy Don’s LSU Sporting News,” which not only gives Tiger fans sporting updates, but also offers gardening tips.
“He shows pictures of his garden and that inspires me,” Chip said. “I worked so much in the past, we never had enough time, but now that we’re retired, we plan to really get into this. It will be a whole new experience.”
Patty also wants to learn more about gardening, she said.
“The landscaping here is so lush and non-stop and I wish I could say that I created it all, but former owners did all this and now I am the caretaker, so I am learning,” she said.