Everything Is Illuminated

Loretta Fischer's Tarrytown shed is totally famous.

Loretta Fischer is totally famous. Her landscaping and her garden "shed" – really a fine mod bauble of a greenhouse/entertainment pagoda – have been featured on HGTV, Central Texas Gardener, in a certain Austin daily newspaper, and all over magazines and websites too numerous to mention (though who can resist mentioning the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times?).

But no amount of media exposure can blunt the feeling of walking into the oasis Fischer and her brother, Harrison Bates, have created around the (relatively) modest Tarrytown home Loretta shares with husband/real estate broker/comedian Terrill Fischer. (Click on the photo gallery (right) to see what I'm talking about.)

Another excuse to navigate the McMansion debris and bewildering streets of West Austin (the better to appreciate the Fischers' classic gem) came last weekend in the form of a book release party for Debra Prinzing's Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideways, an addictive tome that features William Wright's pretty much perfect photographs of fetching outbuildings, including Fischer's greenhouse and two other sheds from Central Texas (though hailing from Cali, the nutty Norwegian-wood pavilion with grass roof might be my second favorite).

But were are here today to speak of (and with) Fischer and Bates. She, formerly of Loretta's Fabulous Cheesecakes of Texas (revived for parties – resistance is futile), certified master gardener, proprietor of Hot Garden landscape-design company, and bon vivant, needed a greenhouse for her tropicals. He, technical writer, lifelong tinkerer, and renovator, designed and built the celebu-shed out of humble materials and his fertile imagination.

Then there's the pond, whose origins are shrouded in mystery because both siblings (and the occasional old friend) tend to want credit for the idea. They resolved not to rise to the bait when reality TV tried to play up the jokey "conflict," but when the stakes were lower, and the videographer (me) caught them off guard with her Columbo-like fumblings, the true story was revealed:

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More gardening
Get Some Weeds in Your Life Today
Get Some Weeds in Your Life Today
Weeds are finally popping up all over home decor, and in bookstores

Anne Harris, Aug. 2, 2011

Get Your Mulch On
Get Your Mulch On
City offering limited amount of free gardening supply

Richard Whittaker, Jan. 12, 2010

More by Cindy Widner
Protect and Preserve
Protect and Preserve
Now that we've freaked out about Austin's unrelenting boom, can we figure out how to keep what's best about the city alive?

July 24, 2015

The Cartography of Home: Austin's Atlas
The Cartography of Home: Austin's Atlas
The Chronicle talks to Ann Armstrong of map project Austin's Atlas about the local preservation tool

July 24, 2015

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

gardening, Loretta Fischer, Harrison Bates, shed, greenhouse

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle