College Hill, Methodist chapel, Green Bridge gardens on view
by Margaret B. Williamson
As we come to the end of summer, let’s think forward to October and touring Salado’s outstanding public and private gardens.
Keep Salado Beautiful, sponsor of this year’s tour, will feature six public gardens including the Salado Public Library Garden, St. Joseph’s Episcopal Chapel and Garden, Green Bridge Garden, College Hill Park, Salado United Methodist Church Historic Chapel and Garden and of course, the Sculpture Garden.
These public gardens are the result of numerous volunteers working to make our village more beautiful where we can savor the natural world and enjoy and delight over the ever changing colors and views.
Three of the public spaces: College Hill, Salado United Methodist Church Historic Chapel Garden and the Green Bridge Garden all contain historic markers as well as distinctive gardens.
As you approach the iron gates at College Hill Park, embrace the scent of rosemary planted on the side of the walkway. Other plants along the walkway are Blackfoot Daisies, Jerusalem Sage, and Englemann Daisy. Upon reaching the top of the hill, you will find the life-size bronze of Col. E. S. C. Robertson as he stands watch over the Village of Salado.
Along a path around the Salado College Ruins (listed in the National Register of Historic Places), there are informational plaques that tell the history of the college. This site changes with the seasons; it is seeded with wildflowers that bloom in the spring and in the cool fall the native Red Oaks and Flameleaf Sumac put on their splendor of colorful leaves.
Several pocket gardens bordered with limestone have a variety of native plantings including Lantana, Sages, Gregg’s Mistflower, Turk’s Cap, Skullcap, Iris and small native trees such as Mexican Redbud, Mountain Laurel and Possumhaw Holly. The Mexican Redbud and Mountain Laurel put on their show in the spring and in the winter the Possumhaw Holly is beaded with brilliant red berries that brighten up the landscape.
Not far from College Hill, traveling east on Royal Street is the Historic Chapel of the Salado United Methodist Church and the beautifully tended gardens adjoining the building that is a recorded Texas Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The garden beds surrounding the historic building are traditionally designed and have been lovingly planted and tended by the ladies of the Methodist Garden Guild. In front of the beautiful stained windows, is a trellis of Carolina Jasmine, Boxwoods, Australian Rosemary (a member of the mint family) and annuals.
Beyond the garden gate is a space of spiritual renewal with a mixture of stone paths and beds filled with native perennials, clumps of Purple Coneflowers, Belinda’s Dream Rose and ‘Ducher’ – a white China Rose, Plumbago, Esperanza and various shrubs. Coral Vine or Queen’s Wreath grows beautifully on the black iron fence. Coral Vine is a sun loving, drought tolerant vine attracting bees, butterflies and birds that has striking pink flowers and heart shaped leaves making it an ideal item to add to a cut arrangement or weave into crowns. Other beds contain Buford Holly, Abelia and hard working Lantana.
The public garden at the Green Bridge was designed by volunteers Richard Teeler and Les McCollum on the edge of the historical lenticular iron truss bridge that spans Campbell Branch. The garden has matured into a bountiful display of native Texas plants that produce an ever changing show for everyone to enjoy throughout the year. It is filled with several rose bushes including Old Blush, Mutabillis and Katy Road Pink and the Texas Super Star Rose, Knockout; perennials, such as Salvia Gregii, Zexmenia, Lantana, Indigo Spires And Rock Rose; herbs included are Rosemary, Turk’s Cap, Artemisia and Catmint; there are structural Yuccas, Cactus and Agaves; shrubs such as Pomegranate, Bush Germander and along the way are the native trees – Mexican Buckeye, Rough-Leaf Dogwood, Mountain Laurel, Cedar Elm, Chinquapin Oak and Redbud.
The Green Bridge Garden is also a home for art: the art of the constantly changing plantings, the art of the beautiful old bridge and the sculpture art of Salado’s Troy Kelly. Wander down the path and encounter the Troll and Billy Goat Gruff and look up in the Cedar Elm to catch a mischievous goblin. If time, take a moment to sit at one of the benches and embrace the activity transpiring in the garden.
Tickets for the Oct. 8 tour are $15 and can be purchased online at 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, visit keepsaladobeautiful.com and follow Keep Salado Beautiful on Facebook.