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Birds, Wildlife and Gardening

Cowboy pool, colorful outdoor living: Lorie and Michael Kinler’s Fort Worth Garden

March 05, 2021

Last fall, during a weekend trip to Dallas, I was invited to visit the Fort Worth garden of Lorie and Michael Kinler. The Kinlers are the design duo behind Redenta’s Landscape Design, a landscape architecture studio affiliated with Redenta’s Garden nursery in Dallas.

A midcentury-style breeze-block wall gives privacy to a front courtyard at the Kinler home.

On this early October afternoon, Lorie and Michael led me first through their studio garden (click for my tour), a contemporary showcase for tough native and adapted plants, conveniently located next door to their home garden.

Frostweed (Verbesina virginica), a nectar plant for butterflies

Despite the gustiness that afternoon, monarch butterflies were swooping in to feed on native frostweed, fueling up for their long flight to Mexico for the winter.

The Kinlers’ front garden is private, hidden behind a breeze-block wall, and we entered the back garden first. A magical junglescape greets you, with skyscraping stands of upright bamboo screening the perimeter and lush foliage squeezing in on all sides. A red horizontal line — a painted, seat-height, concrete-block wall running the length of the yard — attracts your eye and pulls you in. Standing in the pea-gravel path, a concrete and steel sundial original to the house — and solidly anchored in concrete — was allowed to remain when Lorie and Michael started making their garden.

When the Kinlers moved in, the yard was just thirsty turf grass. They set about creating garden rooms, visually dividing their small backyard to make it feel bigger. Three low painted walls (red, yellow, and blue) lead the eye and define distinct spaces, as do towering, lush, evergreen plants like bamboo and Texas palmetto (left). A dark-painted shed at the far side of the garden also defines boundaries without drawing attention.

The bamboo is a runner — “the bad stuff!”, Lorie emphasized — that they’ve contained in shiny galvanized culvert pipes sunk deep in the ground. The yellow-green canes filter sunlight as the leaves rustle overhead. (If you want a non-running bamboo with similar coloring, try ‘Alphonse Karr’.)

The red wall defines one edge of a long, narrow faux lawn, laid out like a green carpet in the shade of towering trees. Steel edging sets off the other edge, butting up against another low wall, this one painted egg-yolk yellow and running perpendicular toward the house.

A hanging chair picks up the red and yellow wall colors, plus the blue of another painted wall (not visible) on the far side of the garden.

At the sunny end, a cowboy pool — aka a stock-tank swimming pool — beckons as a perfect circle of shimmering blue. A yellow pool noodle slipped over one edge makes it easier to get in and out (and rest one’s head while soaking), as does a large slab of limestone that provides access.

A jointed pipe trickles recirculating water into the pool, adding the musical sound of water to the human-friendly water feature.

A collection of dark-gray pots shows off cacti and other succulents.

Lorie and Michael have two garden companions, a white pup named Davos (after the Onion Knight on Game of Thrones) and a brindle called Harvey, who was rescued during Hurricane Harvey from a dog crate abandoned on a front porch, with water up to his neck. It could have been tragic, but happily this cutie now has a loving home with the Kinlers.

Harvey gamely posed for me in the swing chair.

He is pretty photogenic and a good sport.

Here’s the third low wall that defines garden rooms and adds fun color to the garden. The blue wall stretches between the cowboy pool and the house.

At the rear of the house, a long covered patio provides shade and weather-protected dining and lounging space. I believe Lorie and Michael said the concrete patio was already there, and they used a concrete saw to cut it into large, square “pavers.”

Contemporary Fermob seating in dark gray matches the shed.

At the other end, a kelly-green Fermob dining set provides a zing of color.

A tabletop planter mulched with gray pebbles and turquoise glass holds a baby sago or dioon leaf.

This is the Jack Planter by Steel Life, a garden pot company I loved but I think is no longer in business. Redenta’s used to sell their products.

I fell absolutely in love with Michael and Lorie’s airy, detached steel patio roof, as well as another version in Ruth’s garden later that day — so much so that I embarked on a quest to have something similar installed over one of our patios when I got home. Shade is life in Texas!

Butter-yellow flowers still blooming on a Japanese rose (Kerria japonica)

An anole with blue eyeliner, checking me out

After touring the back garden, I saw the Kinlers’ front garden, enclosed on two sides by a marvelous, midcentury-style breeze-block wall that admits light and air while giving privacy to the zen-like space. Their living room looks out on this garden, which is centered around a raised circular pond made from a concrete cattle trough they found on a West Texas ranch.

A simple galvanized pipe spills water into the pond, on which float round waterlily leaves. Strappy-leaved crinum and potted citrus line the perimeter, and grassy garlic chives, post-bloom, are massed along one side.

Succulents in gray pots add focal points here and there.

What a peaceful place.

I loved seeing the beautiful and unique spaces Lorie and Michael have created for their family. My thanks to them for sharing their delightful garden with me!

For a tour of the garden of Michael’s mother, Ruth Kinler, owner of Redenta’s Garden, click here. And see Lorie and Michael’s office garden for Redenta’s Landscape Design here.

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All material © 2021 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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