BEFORE SHE BEGAN putting together finely detailed service pieces for magazines like this one, Suzy Banks was occupied with another kind of construction. “I graduated from college in 1981 with a useless degree in film, but I didn’t want to leave Texas,” says the 39-year-old, who lives in Dripping Springs, “so I remodeled houses.” In the early nineties she began writing about her work experiences for the Austin Chronicle, an alternative weekly, and in December 1996 she did her first article for Texas Monthly, on the ins and outs of border shopping (“Border Bargains”). Since then she has written about wildflowers and auctions, but this month she tackles her thorniest topic to date: growing roses (see “Ramblin’ Roses,”), a subject related to her previous line of work, beautification. Just as rebuilding a house makes it more attractive, the planting of rosebushes can serve to further embellish the stately or—in Banks’s case—make the ugly more tolerable. “My husband collects and makes yard art,” she explains, “so I’m always trying to grow something to cover up what he’s put out there.”