Call Gerry and Carol Darver’s modern home on Woodfin Drive a glamourous POND-erosa. The backyard water features and greenhouse are Gerry’s passion, and it shows.
“The flowing water sound relaxes us year-round as we sit on the patio and enjoy the seclusion of the backyard,” Gerry says. “We feel as though we are in a vacation resort.”
After building five homes in the Preston Hollow area for others, the couple designed one for themselves. A glass bridge connects the main house to the east wing, which features a bedroom and exercise wing. The plan was to ensure that all critical rooms were on a single level so the couple could age in place.
Giant windows maximize the beauty of the backyard, which includes four ponds and a greenhouse, where Gerry nurtures his orchids. The Darvers also wanted to maximize the 6-foot height variance of the lot and preserve the trees. The home was featured on the AIA Dallas Tour of Homes.
A simulated dry streambed runs from front, under the glass bridge, to back, meeting up with cascading ponds surrounding a giant red oak. There are two waterfalls, and the pools host varieties of goldfish and koi. Water lilies, irises, altheas and hydrangeas thrive, and a wooden bridge traverses it all. When the family is not protecting the fish from greedy herons and egrets
House architect: Mark Gray
Designers: Maggie Darver and Carol Darver
Pond and landscaping design: Robert Bellamy Design, Inc.
the Darvers’ seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild enjoy feeding the bright-colored swimmers.
Gerry says maintaining the pools is relatively easy since there are timed biofilters. They clear the leaves and acorns. Once a year, the couple hires a pump service to drain the ponds, put the fish in a holding tank, place the plants in water and power wash the gray, natural rocks and stones.
Gerry has raised orchids since he was a teenager, so designing the greenhouse was a priority. The front of the greenhouse matches the house and includes a slanted roof. The front of the building is for displaying the flowers, and the back is a work area with tables covered with orchids – Cattleyas, Phalaenopsis, Dendrobiums – in all stages. All cooling, heating and watering in the greenhouse is automatically controlled.
“We feel as though we are in a vacation resort.”
Gerry’s favorite species is Cattleya in red. He buys them from Fred Clarke at Sunset Valley Orchids, a special breeder in California.
“Clarke’s goal is to breed Cattleya that would sit on the coffee table and last as long as Phalaenopsis, which are the moth orchid you buy in the grocery store,” he says.
Gerry’s dream is to buy seedlings from Clarke and raise them into “something spectacular” that would win an American Orchid Society award. He’s also babying herbs and vegetable plants.
The outdoor space is a central part of the couple’s lifestyle.
“Every evening when the weather’s cool enough, we sit on two lounge chairs on our back porch that overlooks all of this backyard,” he says. “Big trees dominate the alley behind us. We’ve got the greenhouse, this beautiful landscape and an outside patio down by the greenhouse that has a fireplace, dining table, couches and chairs. It’s just like living in the country.”
Resources and inspiration:
North Texas Water Garden Society,
Greater North Texas Orchid Society, ngtos.org
Sunset Valley Orchids, sunsetvalleyorchids.com
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