2003 Oktober Gartenfest - October 24-25, 2003

Tour of Local Gardens

(Driving directions to the featured gardens will be available at sign-in upon registration for the Symposium)

Peaceable Kingdom Farm, Washington

(as narrated by Elizabeth Winston Mize)

Rustic gazebo at the pond
Rustic gazebo at the pond

The gardens of Elizabeth Winston Mize and Jerald Mize are part of 152 acres of rolling, partially wooded land near Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas - the grounds of a former organic gardening school. The main garden comprises a mix of perennials, annuals, roses, herbs and, especially in spring, bulbs. Nearby is the greenhouse berm, with dryland plants and native species. Water gardens surround a large, relatively new pond with lotus and waterlilies. Watch for heirloom crinums, chocolate daisies and devil's claw, a favorite of Jerald's. A well grown Firmiana simplex may be seen by the gazebo. Here a rustic gazebo has been created from locally harvested cedar limbs.

Across from the orchard of persimmons, jujubes, peaches, pomegranates and figs is a kitchen garden (featured in Southern Living magazine in 2002). The ornamental cedar fences and trellises here have also been the subject of a Southern Living article.

Around the main house is a cottage garden. There are also woodland nature trails and a growing native plant herbarium with more than 500 pressed species.

Garden of Tony and Kay Scanapico, Round Top

(as narrated by Tony Scanapico)

Swamp Rose
Swamp Rose

The Scanapico garden is situated close to the town of Round Top and was designed in the style of a Texas cottage garden, on a property which has been certified by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife as a 'Texas Wildscape.' Plantings surround their 1890's-era dog trot style home which, as Tony delights in telling, was built before the turn of the century (actually, in 1997).

The focal point of the garden is a natural-looking 225 foot long recirculating stream in front of the house. Water is pumped underground from their nearby pond, to the opposite side of the home and then flows downhill back to the pond. Planted alongside the unlined native soilbase streambed are Louisiana irises, rosemary shrublets, River Birch trees, butterfly bushes (Buddleia) and several beautiful examples of the Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris scandens). The lawn areas immediately around the house are covered with buffalo grass, as are the spaces between the stepping stone walkways. The flower beds are filled with a large assortment of roses, herbs including salvias and many basils, verbenas, lantanas, day lilies and 'Country Girl' mums.

The remaining former pasture acreage is being converted back to prairie lands with the spreading of Little Bluestem, Silver Bluestem, Switch grass and other native grasses. Vigorous efforts are made to eradicate annual rye, Bermudagrass and Bahia grasses.

A loblolly pine "forest" was planted six years ago. It began with l,000 Texas Forest Service 9-inch seedlings. Most of the approximately 700 survivors are 8 or so feet high now and still actively growing. While visiting the garden, take time to walk the pathways through the gardens, fields and woods to see what can be done to make a formerly almost tree-barren pasture into a garden delight.

Gardens at Festival Hill, Round Top

(as narrated by Madalene Hill)

Stacked stonework
Stacked stonework

The Magical Gardens of Festival Hill - The campus of The International-Festival Institute comprises more than 200 acres. It's a Living Botanical Museum of rare and unusual plants best enjoyed in a leisurely walk.

The McAshan Herb Gardens are a series of spaces planted with a collection of plants from around the world. Some areas are planted to test summer or winter hardiness. Other areas are planted to provide culinary herbs and flowers for the Menke House Food Service kitchen. All areas are planted with rare and unusual plants not often seen in this country.

Enjoy the Terrace Gardens planted with both annual and perennial herbs, roses and small trees. Touch the rosemary, each bush is a different variety. Note each has a different growing habit, leaf texture and fragrance. See the famous "Tree of Love" (Campotheca accuminata) originally from China. an effective cancer drug is manufactured from the bark and leaves. In the Shady-Sunny Garden find the rare Java Plum (Myrobalan sp.), black pepper (Piper nigrum 'Malabar'), and Carnation of India (Tabernaemontana divaricata) and depending on the season, other rare container specimens. The Fruit Tree Garden and Beethoven's Woods contain unusual and rare fruits such as Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica), Pomegranate (Punica granatum), Jujube (Ziziphus vulgaris) and medlars. Medicinal herbs needing a shady home such as ginseng (Panax ginseng) and cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) are happy under the pines.

The Step Gardens are home to herbs and antique roses.

The Pharmacy Garden contains medicinal plants classified by their origin. It is said that more than 75% of the world's population obtain their medicines from plants. Admire the rare Melaleuca from Australia, Z'atar from the Mediterranean and the unusual Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) in the China collection. Other rare plants from Africa, India, Mexico, South America, Asia, Europe and North American plants used by the Indians are growing here. The Lakeside beds contain slippery elm, varieties of lemon grass, Lamb's ear and rosemaries.

The Cloister Garden with its four-square garden and an olive tree that bears olives, adjoins the Mediterranean Garden containing many varieties of lavenders (Lavandula sp.) and oreganos (Oregano sp).

The Wall Gardens holds several varieties of bays (Laurus nobilis) rare Salvias, rosemaries (Rosemary officinalis) and oreganos (Origanum sp.)

Colorful gardens around the exquisite Edythe Bates Old Chapel, Herzstein Plaza and the fountain gardens behind the concert hall are lovely. Admire the magnificent large and very old live oaks and black walnut trees. The famous Lynn Lowery Collection of rare and unusual shrubs and trees planted more than 30 years ago is in this area.

The gardens are open to the public without charge the year around. There is a modest charge for guided tours.

McGowan Garden

(as narrated by Agelia McGowan)

The McGowans acquired the land for Rancho Las Dos Hermanas thirteen years ago. On a site overlooking one of the two five acre ponds they built a Mexican styled ranch house, complete with reclaimed tile roof.

Landscaping has been a work in progress, beginning with efforts to encourage the reforestation of ten acres along the drive to the house, providing added privacy to the property. Plantings there include live oak, shumard oak, nuttall oak, vitex, chinkapin oak, canbyi oak, polymorphous oak, etc. The house was built in a mature grove of post oaks. Additional trees have been planted inside "the yard," including live oak, willow oak, nuttall oak, canbyi oak, arizona cypress 'Blue pyramid', lacey oak, and vitex. As of this writing, planted shrubs and vines include a variety of climbing roses, star jasmine, pink jasmine, sweet autumn clematis, pineapple guava, stephens jasmine, sweet olive, bay laurel, harlequin glorybower, almond verbena, evergreen wisteria, common myrtle, 'Dynamite' crepe myrtle, and winter honeysuckle.

More recent efforts have been focused on the addition of a patio, arbor, and a traditional carved cantera stone fountain.

With planning assistance from grandmother Pérez a Mexican kitchen garden has been added, making it easier to bring the fresh flavors of her traditional Hispanic dishes to the Pérez-McGowan table. By late October, additional landscaping will be completed with the assistance of Scott Ogden of Austin (landscape design) and Mary Elizabeth Reeder of Houston (bed preparation and planting).

Note: The 10th Annual Oktober Gartenfest is hosted by The University of Texas Center for American History and its Winedale Division near Round Top, Texas in cooperation with the Texas Cooperative Extension, The Texas A&M University System, The Herb Society of America, Pioneer Unit and the International Festival-Institute at Round Top.

For further information you may call the office of either Dr. William C. Welch (979)845-8564 - e-mail wc-welch@tamu.edu, or Cynthia W. Mueller (979)845-7344 - c-mueller@tamu.edu.