COLLEGE STATION Years ago, the missions established by Spanish priests were restored around San Antonio and other places in South Texas. But avid heirloom gardeners said much restoration is left to do. Fully restored, the missions might have rows of corn, wheat, cotton, figs, grapes, beans and various fruit, all carefully irrigated by water-filled ditches, according to Dr. Bill Welch, Texas Agricultural Extension Service horticulturist and co-author of “The Southern Heirloom Garden.”
The missions and later settlement of Hispanics in Texas saw colorful flower gardens with roses, hedges, herbs and various other colorful flowers. While many of these plants still are grown in gardens across the state, the Hispanic culture also contributed a certain flair to gardening.
Here are some non-common features you may have seen or used in your own garden setting:
* Open plazas often found in our cities and towns.
* Land planning, such as land grants, presidios, missions, villas or pueblos.
* Four-part garden plans that focused on a central water feature.
* Structures built for shade.
* Symmetrical plans (formal) often contrasted with asymmetrical (informal) plantings.
* Intensely developed and utilized small garden spaces.
* Boldly contrasting colors for garden materials with earth-tone backgrounds.
* Use of many fragrant and colorful plants
* Use of water as a garden feature, for both ornamental and functional purposes.
* Use of walls to enclose garden spaces.
* Ornamental tiles used for wall and pool adornment.
COLLEGE STATION Written history about African-American gardening in the South is virtually non-existent, but no doubt black Americans can trace their gardening skills to their ancestors who learned by taking care of plants on Southern plantations.
Still, today’s African-American gardening influence combines the practicality of vegetable gardens and the beauty of welcoming flowers with a unique flair for yard decorations, said Dr. Bill Welch, Texas Agricultural Extension Service horticulturist and co-author of “The Southern Heirloom Garden.”
To emulate the African-American style of gardening, consider the following contributions from that culture:
* The role of the garden for survival following slavery was crucial. The symbols of self-sufficiency and self-reliance (garden and livestock pens, for example) are today a source of aesthetic satisfaction.
* Utilitarian yards were decorated with objects and plants – gestures of graciousness in spite of a hard life.
* Yard spaces were kept swept with a broom.
* Today the flower yard is a gesture of welcome, always in front of the house.
* The flower yard is highly decorated with plants and ornamental objects.
* Brightly colored flowers are chosen for impact. The choice for plants is limited by availability and often collected from the wild.
* Changes are common: displays are arranged and rearranged frequently.
* Yards show strong individuality of expression and creative improvisation.
COLLEGE STATION To replicate the German influence in Texas gardens, one might want to have a vast vegetable garden with beautiful blooming flowers near the home.
Early German residents of Texas often had to plant vegetable gardens for survival, but they enjoyed using ornamental plants around their homes as well, according to Dr. Bill Welch, Texas Agricultural Extension Service horticulturist and co-author of “The Southern Heirloom Garden.”
Adapting the German influence may mean serious work and a studious interest, but the impact will be something of which to be proud. Here are the contributions handed to us by German settlers in Texas. * Neat, clean, orderly, industrious.
* Good gardeners and keen horticulturists.
* Scientific interest in plants, production, botany and new plant material.
* Heavy emphasis on fruit and vegetable culture, many early market farmers.
* Love of flowers; houses frequently adorned with ornamentals.
* Placed high value on trees for shade, ornament, and lining streets.
* Frequently used summerhouses in their gardens.
* Yards and cemeteries often were swept.
* High degree of craftsmanship in stone, wood and iron.
COLLEGE STATION Chances are the type of gardening most Americans are familiar with stems from the English culture.
English gardening style has been widely used in every type of setting from homes to parks to cemeteries, according to Dr. Bill Welch, Texas Agricultural Extension Service horticulturist and co-author of “The Southern Heirloom Garden.”
Typically, the English home sites would include a front yard, a back yard that was more private and in the far back a produce garden.
From the English, we gain the following contributions to gardening:
* Grid-plan gardens with a central walk and secondary side walks and garden plots and intervening spaces.
* The natural-style gardens became typical in the last 18th century. Straight lines were banished and the design of the gardens followed the contours of the land.
* The natural style affected the layout of residential grounds in this country.
* Starting in the 1830s, the English influenced rural cemetery design in America. The natural landscape style also influenced American parks. -30-
COLLEGE STATION Though much of the French influence in gardening across the southern United States has been lost, the rear gardens common in New Orleans provide a look at how that culture used plantings around homes.
People with small spaces might consider designing a French Quarter-style courtyard with raised beds and containers full of brilliant blooms, suggests Dr. Bill Welch, Texas Agricultural Extension Service horticulturist and co-author of “The Southern Heirloom Garden.”
The French gardening style still may be enjoyed across the South and may be marked by some of the following characteristics:
* Formality of plan.
* Parterres: flower gardens having beds and paths arranged in patterns.
* Allees: avenues or rows of trees.
* Unity of dwelling house with gardens.
* Division between pleasure and utilitarian areas.
* Aromatic, colorful plants and containers in the ornamental areas.