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:

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gardening, Loretta Fischer, Harrison Bates, shed, greenhouse

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