Every time I have gone down Memphis Avenue in Lubbock I pass a house with a yard I have always admired. So, the other day, I finally stopped and met Rhea Boepple and complimented her on her yard. I also told her I am planning a powerpoint presentation on xeriscape and asked if I could feature her yard in the program. She graciously agreed, and I took pictures, and we had a delightful visit!

I learned that Rhea and her husband Darrell have lived in this house since 1974. Back then Lubbock builders had something called the Cavalcade of Homes, and this block had the homes built for that first extravaganza. This home was one of them. Rhea said you bought a ticket to tour the homes, your name went into a hopper, tickets were drawn the next week, and the winner won a house that was on the tour! What a deal! The Cavalcade of Homes eventually went away,  but Darrell and Rhea did not. They bought this Cavalcade home and made it their own.

Rhea said the house had a picket fence, a typical grass lawn, and the architecture and paint was in southwest style, just then becoming popular.  I asked her if they had spent time in areas of the United States where southwest-type plants like yuccas and agaves were common and wanted to have them in their yard. She laughed and said no, that things just kind of came their way, and they planted them. She also said the rusty stuff and repurposed items in the landscape came from Darrell’s talent for looking at discarded objects and coming up with another way to use them.

So how did they wind up in Lubbock where yuccas and agaves and such work well? Darrell was born in Enid, Oklahoma, and after high school, joined the Navy. When he finished his tour, his parents had moved to Lubbock, so he joined them and eventually met Rhea. Rhea was born in Ohio and she and her family moved to Irving, Texas, when she was in the 5th grade, and later her dad’s job as a food broker brought them to Lubbock, where he distributed  foods like Sara Lee products to this area. Back in the 60s, Lubbock was a bit smaller and country-she said she used to ride horses from the Avalon Stables where the paved 50th Street ended at Quaker and became a dirt road.

Rhea and Darrell married in 1966. He first worked for Lone Star Beer, then sold real estate, and later worked for Mayflower Van Lines. During this time they bought a farm and had one of the first vineyards in Texas. Wine using their grapes even won first place gold  at the San Francisco Wine Classic in the 80s.This all came to a stop after Darrell was injured in a wreck, and Darrell built and ran Farmers Depot five miles north of the 289 Loop for thirty years with Rhea doing the bookkeeping for the store. She also was the credit manager for American Equipment & Trailer for forty-three years.  Also during that time he and partner Kyle Zahn started C&D Waste. Darrell was at C&D often going over details of projects when he would find discarded objects and would turn them into treasures for the yard.  And while all that was going on, they raised a son who now lives in Austin.

I made the comment that I had a couple of farmer friends who let me have some rusty things for my garden from their pile of odds and ends that I would have called a junk pile, but I was quickly corrected by my husband, who also has one of those piles, who said it wasn’t junk, it was inventory (See the above paragraph!).  At this she laughed and rolled her eyes and said, ” Oh, how many times have I heard that word!” Darrell passed on in 2020, but his ideas and creations from that inventory live on.

But I digress. The yard is decorated with a variety of appropriate metal items and drought-tolerant plants such as yuccas, agaves, sotols mixed in with pampas grass, red hot pokers, a few regular shrubs, a few other drought-tolerant plants, and a magnolia tree that was just starting to bloom. The backyard, which is more like a cozy deck/sitting area has many pieces that wound up at the recycling yard that he saw as interesting pieces to be used as foundation and decoration. Rhea also added the southwest tile roof.

Darrell even used his salvaged materials and his skills and made the gate from timbers and hardware for the back gate Rhea is standing by.

A big rock is under the tree at the corner of the house. It is sitting in grass, but certainly goes with the rest of the landscape design. It’s a big rock, and I like rocks, so naturally I had to ask about it. Rhea said Darrell brought it all the way back from Utah on a trailer pulled with his pick-up. He asked her where she wanted it, and this is where his experiences with Mayflower Moving Van Lines came in handy. She wanted it under the tree on the corner of the yard. He backed up to the tree, put a rope around the rock and the trunk of the tree, and then slowly pulled away as the rock slid off the trailer. Needless to say, Rhea took one look at it and said it really needed to be turned the other way…sounds just like me! So Darrell took the rope off the tree, tied it to the pick-up, and turned the rock to just the right position where it still sits today. You will also notice the area between the sidewalk and the street is paved with a gravel finish which continues around the corner and all the way down the side of the house on Memphis Avenue. That, too, goes with the drought-tolerant landscaping and makes one less big maintenance job to deal with.

So, if you are looking for new ideas for your yard, wander down Memphis Avenue and check out Rhea’s house at the corner of Memphis and 47th Street. It has a neat look all its own.

Thanks to Rhea Boepple for her willingness to let me spotlight the interesting landscape she and Darrell created.