The Luce’s Streetside Garden

A favorite garden among locals, plus suggestions for your own yard.

Shared Beauty
Pam and Tom Luce’s streetside garden is a sight to behold for the entire neighborhood.

WHAT A SIGHT: The Luces side and front gardens include salvia, rudbeckia, and artemesias (in the foreground) and pond cypress, aralia, and little gem magnolia (in the background).

Joggers, walkers, and schoolchildren in the Turtle Creek area have one thing in common – they all pass, and enjoy, the same lovingly tended garden during their daily routines. Tom and Pam Luce weren’t thinking about popularity when they purchased this home site; they were just delighted that their house plans, commissioned several years before for another site, fit perfectly onto the irregularly shaped corner lot.

The beloved garden, designed by Lawrence Lothrop, surrounds the Luces new side-facing home, leaving a great deal of it open to the street. Although none of this was of key consideration during the planning, the inviting juxtaposition has become a major factor in their enjoyment of the property and its popularity. Large walled beds, filled with hundreds of plant varieties and thousands of blooms, all in a constant state of change, draw regular visits from neighbors and others who enjoy the diverse beauty of the garden. 

Pam loves the serendipitous encounters her garden provides. One morning when she came out, a gentleman was admiring her peonies, which were in full bloom. He told her they were a favorite of his from childhood, and to his shock and delight, Pam cut every peony and handed them to him. “We were leaving town in a few days, and I wanted him to enjoy them,” she said. “The pleasure that my neighbors get from my garden makes it all the more wonderful for Tom and me.”


Sunny Delight

The abundance of yellow daisy-like flowers provides a wonderful rhythm to the Luces garden. Tall, short, and everything in between, varying the size of flowers in the same color and form, gives continuity to the overall design. Here are some yellow daisy-form flowers known to thrive in our area. Plant them now so they will be established in time for next summer.

SHINE BRIGHT: Yellow rudbekia, otherwise known as black-eyed Susans, add a splash of sunshine to any garden.

Coreopsis: Several varieties including a double blossom. Early Sunrise 18 inches (double); Mouse Ear 6 inches; Zagreb 8 inches.

Dahlberg daisy: Diminutive plant with fine-cut leaves and very small 1/2- to 1-inch flowers with mounds 2 to 3 inches high.

Helianthus: Sunflowers are the largest of the yellow daisy forms. Common Sunflower 10 feet; First Light 4 feet; Soleil d’Or 6 feet; Triomphe de Gand 6 feet.

Heliopsis (false sunflower): Botanically different, and slightly smaller, but just as lovely as sunflowers. Summer Sun 2 feet.

Hymenoxys: Evergreen foliage bearing one daisy atop a bare 10-inch stalk.

Mexican marigold mint: Fragrant herb that often substitutes for tarragon in the south. Grown for foliage but has profuse golden blooms in fall. Great as a garnish.

Rudbeckia: Commonly known as black-eyed Susan. These have been called the best perennial for our area. They also make good cut flowers. Goldstrum 2 feet; Herbstsonne 5 feet; Indian Summer 2 feet; Prairie Sun 2 feet; Maxima 6 feet; Triloba 2 feet.

Zexmenia (hairy wedelia): Two-foot mounds of small, dependable, drought-tolerant daisy-like flowers.

Zinnia linearis: An annual that looks nothing like the zinnias we grew up with. Prolific bloomers with dozens of 1- to 1 1/2-inch flowers on 18- to 24-inch mounds. Also comes in orange and white.


SIMPLE: The briliant mauve of the rose’s new foliage provides an appealing contrast to the blossom.

Cover Up

Tired of the same old Asian jasmine and vinca ground covers? The Luces garden has many different ground covers, and the effect is charming. Try these options the next time you want a little more interest:

Used to be more commonly seen. Lovely deep green and bronze leaves with showy blue spiked flowers.

Golden moneywort:
Outrageously brilliant lime color with coin-shaped opposing leaves on long runners. A real eye-catcher in dark shaded areas.

Lamiastrum: Semi-evergreen with silver variegated foliage.

Moneywort: Emerald green, mat-forming with dime-sized opposing leaves.

Rubus calcynoides (trailing raspberry): Crinkly matting foliage that turns red in winter.

Ranunculus repens (creeping buttercup): Narrow leaves with open, glossy yellow flowers.

Saxifraga (strawberry geranium): Evergreen with small, fuzzy geranium-shaped leaves. Produces a mass of airy white flowers.

Sedum potosinum: Forms a mat of gray-green succulent leaves with white flowers.

Silver dragon liriope:
Different take on monkey grass, this one is mostly white with a little dab of green.


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