Salado Garden Tour features stop at the home of Nancy and Owen Messenger
by Margaret B. Williamson
Coming to Salado about five years ago, Nancy and Owen Messenger, both with Texas roots, bought a beautiful home overlooking a private pond. Nancy, with her artist’s touch and with the help of Ariah Cole of Compass Landscaping, began transforming the gardens into a visual and sensual wonderland expressing a unique sense of place. The home is located on a hill surrounded by large native live oaks and cedar elms. A cedar post stockade was constructed to add to the privacy on one side of the property and vines, shrubs and trees were added to the east side. Foundation plantings near the front door consist of boxwood with Turk’s cap and coralberry providing a red burst of color with their flowers and berries. There is also a small red Japanese maple that brightens up the shady garden bed.
The front yard slopes away from the house and plantings are tightly massed in beds. The beginning of the slope has a curved stacked rock wall that entwines under the oak trees. This was done purposefully in preparing trees for bad weather. There are gravel paths that glide down the hill where there is a diverse abundance of native and adapted plants, perennials, ornamental grasses and herbs such as rosemary, salvias, lantana, bottlebrush, Gregg mistflower, thyrallis, Turk’s cap, sages, Artemisia, Mexican petunia, copper canyon daisy, cotoneaster, esperanza, bamboo muhly, yuccas and cacti. Within the garden beds are Crepe Myrtles, Texas red bud and a dwarf pomegranate producing stunning blooms in the spring. One needs a landscape guide to identify all of the plants in the lavish display.
On the eastern side of the home is a serene spot, again under the canopy of oaks and elms, with a wooden deck, seating and hot tub. The layout is a natural design with its use of stones, rocks and trees linked together. One thinks of purposeful privacy in this courtyard with artistic touches. A winding path travels to the back garden where the artist studio is located and you can find a “Peggy Martin” climbing rose bush. “The “Peggy Martin Rose” was one of only two plants surviving 20 feet of salt water over the garden of Mrs. Peggy Martin, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in late August, 2005. Since then, it was introduced into commerce and has become a symbol among gardeners and rose lovers of a tenacious plant associated with a spirit of renewal and re-growth.” Loquat trees line the back fence and a whimsical metal grouping of serenaders add color and fun. Look for the crow in the fig tree. There are lots of things to see and enjoy throughout this garden; take your time to experience this amazing yard.
Other private home gardens on the tour are the yards and gardens of Linda and Mickey Rawls, Shirley and Bill Pinkston, CR and Joyce Pennington and Alice and George Romfh. Also on the tour are six public gardens. Tickets for the tour are $15 and can be purchased online at www.keepsaladobeautiful.com or at the Chamber of Commerce located at 813 N. Main Street. Gardens will be self-guided with Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists as docents located at each location. Tours will be conducted rain or shine. Wheelchair accessibility is limited and strollers and pets are not permitted. All proceeds from the tour will go toward future improvement of the Salado Sculpture Garden. For more information, please visit the KSB website..