Salado Garden Tour features public, private gardens
by Margaret B. Williamson
Keep Salado Beautiful will sponsor tours of Salado’s gardens Oct. 8 with proceeds funding improvements in Salado Sculpture Garden.
Featured are six public gardens; 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 Salado Sculpture Garden.
The courtyard garden of St. Joseph’s Chapel has expanded in recent years and now includes two enclosed spaces. Entering from the parking lot, one enters through a wrought iron gate into the outer garden surrounded by a fence comprised of old stone.
The entrance to the inner courtyard garden is through a lichgate inspired by the belfry from the historical St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Belton. On top of the lichgate is a beautiful iron cross designed and created by Salado’s Tim Brown. A lichgate is an arched gateway, usually roofed, to a churchyard. Lichgate architecture can be found at historical church sites in England and at many Episcopal churches in the United States.
As one enters the churchyard there are several seating areas that can be used for enjoying the many facets of the garden. Many of the stones used in the garden area are antique building stones from former Bell County buildings; in fact, the stone benches are former window sills from the old buildings.
This lovely garden space has many religious sculptures and antique artifacts that one can enjoy along with the many colorful potted plants, the fragrant Jasmine that climbs on the back porch, the Mexican Plum tree and the Kumquat tree. There are many plants that are common in a Marian garden, herbs and flowers which have special significance for Mary, through legends or naming. Some of the plants in this garden pertaining to Mary are Rosemary, Jerusalem Cowslip, Oxalis, Ox-Eye Daisy, Clematis, and Iris (many of which came from old homes in Salado). These plants along with the beautiful artifacts will give a sensual and spiritual tour and inspire us to prayer and meditation.
The outer enclosed garden has a bell tower at the south entrance and a gravel path that leads to the Parish Hall. Gardens abound and are filled with Texas natives, herbs, structural cactus and a few annuals.
Another stop on the garden tour is the Salado Public Library garden. If you are looking for butterflies, bees and birds this is the spot. Designed by Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists and Keep Salado Beautiful members and tended by the Friends of the Library the landscape showcases the beauty of native Texas plants that thrive in the Texas sun. The library has also installed rain barrels to catch and provide water with many beneficial ingredients for the plants and to encourage water conservation through rain water harvesting. As with native landscapes, you need additional water for the birds and it is provided by a stone water fountain that has a bubbling and cascading stream of water that flows into a gravel conduit along the side of the walkway.
The design of the garden includes native wildflowers (Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, Verbena, Pink Evening Primrose, Blackfoot Daisy, Coreopsis and Lantana), perennials (Narcissus, Artemisia, Gaura, Purple Cone Flower, Red Yucca and Lamb’s Ear), trees (Oak, Redbud, Mountain Laurel, and Peach), grasses (Gulf Muhly and Deer Muhly) and shrubs (Rosemary and Agarita) that attract wildlife.
In the butterfly garden, Tropical Milkweed and Gregg’s Mist flower are prolific. Even though Tropical Milkweed is a non-native, it is easy to grow, a profuse bloomer, a good nectar source, easily re-seeds and is a favorite host plant for Monarchs.
The library’s porch provides a peaceful retreat to sit in one of the rocking chairs and read a good book or observe the activity in the garden.
Not to be overlooked in the garden are sculptures by Salado artists, Ronnie Wells and Troy Kelley. Well’s bronze sculpture of a mother reading to her child titled “Once Upon a Time” and placed in memory of Betty McConnell, a co-founder of the library. Kelley’s sculpture of a book composed of rusted sheet metal is the outdoor signage for the library.
A stone sculpture by Bob Reagan titled “Salado” is also featured in one of the garden spaces.
This year’s tour will benefit the Salado Sculpture Garden. The Sculpture Garden was the vision of the Public Arts League of Salado and Keep Salado Beautiful. It was designed with the help of Texas Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, and volunteer gardeners from Salado. It has been designated a Texas Wildscapes-Wildlife Demonstration Site. To have a Texas Wildscapes certification, the landscape has to provide food plants for wildlife, have water sources, shelter and have at least 50% native composition of plantings.
Mini or pocket gardens are incorporated amongst the trees and the wandering arroyo that flows through the meadow. The gardens provide seasonal color and a variety of native plants. The garden is situated in a lovely natural environment with quiet paths where one can enjoy the serenity of the landscape and wildlife while viewing noteworthy pieces of sculpture. The sculptures are ever changing and represent various materials, ideas and approaches to art.
View the other Public Gardens.
Visit the Rawls Garden.
Tickets for the tour are $15 and can be purchased online at Keep Salado Beautiful or at the Salado Visitors Center, 813 N. Main Street.
Tours are self-guided with Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists as docents 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 website at Keep Salado Beautiful and follow us on Facebook.