“Way back” in October 2019, as clouds loomed in pre-pandemic times, we headed up a steep street to an even more dramatic slope of a garden. From the topmost tier, director Ed Fuentes and grip Steve Maedl documented outstanding views. In a gradual process across 20 years, Michael Harper and Jed Duhon turned harsh slopes into inviting living areas and landing spot outlooks for their children and two basenjis.
In front, alternating layers of steel, concrete, limestone and gravel bring cohesive visual energy to clean lines and evergreen textures.
They carved into the precarious slope to the street with a flat living room, replacing grass with Tejas Grey gravel. Eventually, they tamed the slope and reduced lawn while unifying both sides of the yard with architectural tiers of alternating steel, concrete, limestone and gravel.
Michael, a passionate patron of local nurseries, embellished each level with diverse evergreen plant textures and seasonal flowering beauties. The concrete wall’s vertical lines complement the horizontal planes of Leuders limestone slabs, heightened by contrasting Tejas Grey gravel.
Designed and built by Hill Country Water Gardens and Nursery, this tier levels out emotions with its gentle waterfall and Michael’s clusters of containers. The pavilion overlooks a limestone-edged bank where Michael pairs structural succulents, grasses, and native perennials for pollinators. On the shady side of the yard, Michael offset architecture with plant structure inspired by his love of Japanese gardens. Japanese maples in full fall glory gracefully overhang another of Michael’s favorite part shade loves: huge heart-shaped Ligularia.