The garden, though smaller, is as extraordinary as the world’s most famous gardens in Versailles, France, or Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny, France, or even closer to home, Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin.
Chuck and Nancy Henderson, who own the gardens, said the entire garden oddly began with steel trailer tongues.
Chuck said three trailers were used to haul in their modular home set along the shore of Copano Bay in 2009. The hauler was going to take the tongues, but Chuck said he wanted them for some kind of use later.
So there they sat for some time, said Nancy complaining but smiling.
Then the idea came to use the tongues to create a herb garden in May 2011, but Chuck said he needed one more tongue to create a four-pointed star that would be set like a compass, showing north, south, east and west.
A subcontractor in Castroville found the fourth tongue. The tongue was brought to the Hendersons, and the garden was born.
The Henderson’s hired Chris Naylor, a Bayside landscaper and nursery owner, to help design the raised compass garden and more.
The garden didn’t stop with the compass star.
“We just kept going: The star compass was first, then a rising sun raised section was done followed by a crescent moon.
The configuration then was the sun rising in the east, the compass star in the middle and the crescent moon in the west.
“The beds are all raised, and the borders are all capped so you can sit anywhere you want. And you don’t have to bend over to pick weeds,” Chuck said.
Thousands of feet straight up in the air, Google Earth’s satellite sees the garden’s designs just as the geoglyphs at Nazca, Peru, can be seen from high up.
Chuck said a special mixture of dirt was used for the garden’s flowers and vegetables.
A super dirt sans heavy metals but mixed with sewage sludge was made in Bay City. The top soil was sand and mulch with mushroom compost from a farm in Gonzales.
“It’s interesting to see it being mixed with a Bobcat and little guy,” Chuck said.
“For the vegetables, we want it to be as close to organic as possible.,” Chuck said.
They also use plant food.
Stiff winds often blow off Copano Bay, reaching up to 30 or 40 knots at times. So the Hendersons decided to make a wind break to protect the plants.
The garden slopes down from the eastern edge closest to the bay and prevailing southeasterly wind. So the wind break was planted at the high point facing the bay.
Mexican Bird of Paradise, Pride of Barbados and hardy Caesalpinia were used for the break. The plants slow the impact of the wind down to a mild breeze.
All the sections of the nearly 3,000 square-foot garden are raised, terraced, and noninvasive bamboo protects it from the north wind.
“All of it is on an automated water system, drip system and spitters,” Chuck said.
The Hendersons use well water and supplement it with rain water from their 3,000 gallon rain collector.
“We also use air conditioning condensate,” Nancy said.
“We plan on adding another 3,000 gallon tank,” she said.
They found their rain collectors at farm supply places in Taft and Odom.
Quite a few varieties of herbs and flowering plants are in the garden, and as spring advances, so do the blossoms and blooming, so the best is yet to come, Nancy said.
In the herb garden,
Basils, Rosemary, Mexican oregano, thyme, mint, cilantro, flat leaf parsley thrive among others.
Nancy said in addition to a variety of wildflowers, exotic hibiscus (standards), Mexican honeysuckle and Cape honeysuckle are in the garden.
Also she said native olives, bougainvillea (including white, pink, rusty red, double purple and flame), bottle brush tree, Mexican oleander (for shade), Jatropha, orange peel Cestrum, Mexican bush sage, native butterfly weed hybrid, red passion vine, lantanas, firecracker plant, petunias, Ixora, Duranta, orange and yellow esperanza, blue sage (mystic spiers, pentas, black foot daisy, maypop and Mexican petunias and Ruellia are in the garden, among others.
Chuck said the garden’s expansion is slowing now. and that means soon just maintaining what was created will be all that remains.
Chuck and Nancy say they had several reasons to create the garden.
“Chuck and I have shared for 50 years a great love of nature in all its facets – we love wildlife and our animals, we love plants and flowers, both wild and cultivated, and we take special pleasure in creating beauty in any form,” Nancy said.
“Chuck has loved pottery and I drawing and sculpture, so given the space and the means, this was a custom made opportunity to indulge our favorite pastimes,” she said.
Nancy added: “Being in the garden is a time of joy and serenity for me, a completely different place from the hustle and bustle of the outside world of politics and strife.”