Romantic street side garden | Bob Atchison & Rob Moshein | Central Texas Gardener

Romantic street side garden | Bob Atchison & Rob Moshein | Central Texas Gardener


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When Rob Moshein and Bob Atchison headed to Texas from California in 1992, planting themselves
on foreign garden ground was a bit of a revelation. Their inherent creativity took root as they
figured out Texas tough. With a passion for Italian art and history,
they honored their new home after Gilbert and Lilie Langtry. r
Palazzo di cani di neri Which is Italian for the palace of the black
dogs. vo
Their home sickness faded when they found the house of their dreams. r
The house was built in 1927 and it’s in the Spanish Revival style that was very popular
in California at that time it was very rare in Austin there are only a few of them and
mostly in this neighborhood. The architect was Hugo Kuehne who was the first dean of
the architecture school at UT and that’s when he built the house for Ed Rather who was the
head of the Co-op, the first head of the University Co-op. vo
In the garden, they wrote a new chapter in its history. R2 edit
The front yard was nothing just grass with a magnolia tree that’s all and this palm tree
this palm tree that magnolia tree nothing else grass a broken-up concrete walkway. vo
Since they’re on a busy runway to the University of Texas at Austin, they wanted to gently
corral its wide open spaces. b
So we put the porticus in in the front this big arch and then the one on the side to make
it feel more like sort of an enclosed little paradise sort of like a Persian or Moorish
garden. But we didn’t want it totally screened off
from the neighborhood we still wanted the interaction of people walking by and people
being able to see and share the flowers and just all the plants as they walk by so we
very intentionally walked the line between privacy and sort of defining this as another
room of the house but not totally closing it off to the public and the passersby. vo
At the front door, they designed a courtyard for themselves and friends. Their water trough distracts from the hustle,
either from work or from the roadway. To spill its symphony, they had cast in bronze copies
of the 16th century Mermen at Rome’s Piazza Navona.
r People love it because you can see it from
the street you can hear it from the street and the really cool things is that we have
toads that live in both of our fountains Houston brown toads and listen to this our next door
neighbor would serenade our toads with a didgeridoo. And she came out one night and she and the
toad were having a duet with one another in the garden. It was the most Austin thing I’ve
ever seen in my life. It’s part of the reason why we keep he fountains
full. They live here too, the squirrels and the birds and the toads. I take 5 gallon buckets and fill it with the
shower water while I’m waiting for it to get hot and keep the fountains topped off because
I’m trying to be sensitive to drought restrictions but we have the toads so it’s kind of like
we need to keep it full for them too. vo
Raised beds at the curb define their space and change the gradient view. Mainly, they’re
to grow the hardy roses and companions that Bob loves. By raising them up with well-draining
gritty soil over compacted clay, they’re trouble free companions all year.
They pull attention inwards with their statue of goddess Diana. R
I’ve always been interested in Pompeii and Herculaneum it’s been one of my passions all
my life so I wanted to have a Pompeiian garden and so we wanted to have a large stature out
front but we weren’t sure what to get so we canvassed the neighborhood and showed them
our ideas. One of the things about Diana when we were
going to put her up is that she’s bare-breasted and so one of the things we asked our neighbors
would you be offended if we had a statue like this in our front yard and so we asked and
everyone said no no no this is the one we want one with the two dogs.
Our neighbors would always meet us or you’re the guys with the two black dogs. And so that
one having the two black dogs it just kind of made it the right choice. vo
They also attract attention with brilliant colors, including coleus and Magilla perilla. r
I used to have things like a white garden originally and it so boring and now we mix
wild colors together we try to make it as colorful as possible because again the neighbors
love it. vo
One good fortune of the house is the original iron work crafted by Fortunat Weigl. In back, they retreat to their secret garden.
Although the structure is original, Bob added the elements of an old Roman house. In one cove, Bob designed a new fountain rendered
by Jeep Kincannon of Kincannon Studios before he passed away. R
It finally became this paradise It was everything I always wanted and last year when it so hot
I used to hate the Austin heat coming out just makes me feel so wonderful so I’m out
here in the garden like hours every day when it’s 100 degrees and loving it.
I do the same thing every afternoon I come out about 5 o’clock with the dogs and a glass
of wine and we hang out for an hour and half or two. Until dinnertime just to be out here. Some people were walking by our house one
day and asked us they said you must know the people from Downton Abbey and so I was joking
around and said this is Bobton Abbey since my name is Bob. And I thought we tell these
stories to people who knows what stories people will be telling about our house a hundred
years from now. The funniest one was the fellow who came here
to deliver something and actually thought it was an Italian restaurant, asked for the
menu he asked what kind of food do you make can I see the menu? A couple of days ago a couple with their two
children were walking by and this little girl was going Daddy Daddy I want to see the statue
and she came dancing down the path to see Diana with the two dogs and she wanted to
touch her so daddy daddy they live in a castle I feel like a princess.

2 thoughts on “Romantic street side garden | Bob Atchison & Rob Moshein | Central Texas Gardener

  1. This may sound terrible but oh well . . . . leave it to two gay men to renovate a home into an outstanding example.

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