Spanish/Mexican Melting Pot Gardens and Food

How did Spanish and Mexican designs influence our garden melting pot?

rill in San Antonio courtyard Central Texas Gardener

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage month on PBS, we look at a few contributions, like plazas, courtyards and our own patios to extend living space.

Lucinda Hutson's outdoor dining room Central Texas Gardener

First, let’s answer Daphne’s viewer question from Amy Winn, since I know it’s got lots of people worried. Why do live oak trees drop their leaves in summer instead of in spring?

why oak leaves drop in summer Central Texas Gardener

Drought.  Many trees respond this way to conserve resources for their roots. They unload their baggage, which is also why fruit trees abort their fruit. Find out more.

Now, have you ever grown garlic? Introduced to Mexico by the Spanish, it’s certainly a staple in our recipes now.  To grow more flavorful garlic than you’ll ever find in grocery stores, Trisha Shirey hosts special guest Ivy Lara from Dripping Springs Garlic Queens to show you how. Ivy demonstrates the proper spacing for cloves like Lorz (Artichoke), Shilla & Red Janice (Turban) in mid-October.

grow garlic Trisha Shirey & Ivy Lara Dripping Springs Garlic Queens

Great tip: soak overnight in liquid seaweed and then rinse with rubbing alcohol the next morning. Give them sun and slow drip water once a week if rains miss us.

Here’s our group shot with Garlic Queen founder Jana Kaura who started her venture in Dripping Springs!

Dripping Springs Garlic Queens Central Texas Gardener

Get all their tips for planting and drying next May/June.

how to dry garlic Dripping Springs Garlic Queens

October means cilantro time, too, so let’s get the beds ready now. It’s very easy from seed or transplants. Perfect for containers.  All you need is sun and daily watering to germinate seeds. After that, just snip off what you need and it keeps on going.

how to grow cilantro central texas gardener

Daphne dishes out the info on Plant of the Week. For sure, do successive plantings to have plenty to snip all winter. When it bolts in late spring, keep the flowers for beneficial insects and seeds.

bolting cilantro flowers central texas gardeners

When the green seeds turn completely brown, harvest for kitchen coriander or save for next fall.

unripe cilantro seeds central texas gardener

On a short tour of Spanish and Mexican contributions, Tom meets with our beloved mentor and friend, Dr. William C. Welch, professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist.

Tom Spencer and William C. Welch Central Texas Gardener

I do hope you have his book, co-authored with Greg Grant, to see where our gardens really came from, including those plants you easily find now in local nurseries, like citrus.

heirloom gardening for the south by William C. Welch

Cooling water and brilliant color is certainly a combo we love in our hot climate!

pride of barbados over aqueduct central texas gardener

Of course, succulents are part of the heritage, here in Jenny and David Stocker’s garden.

succulents and bench walled garden Jenny Stocker Central Texas Gardener

In Lucinda Hutson’s garden, she expounds the Mexican tradition of roof gardens and lots of color below.

agaves on roof lucinda hutson garden central texas gardener

Mosaic and tiles are an enduring classic for today’s gardeners who love personalized intricate craftsmanship. Again, from Lucinda’s garden.

mosaic nicho bathtub lucinda hutson central texas gardener brugmansia and door tiles lucinda hutson garden central texas gardener

Event break! Before we go on to our garden tour that illustrates Dr. Welch’s concepts, I must mention the incredible Monarch Appreciation Day on Saturday, September 13th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at  Zilker Botanical Garden.

Monarch butterfly on coneflower central texas gardener

This free event supports Monarch butterflies who pass through our gardens back to Mexico on their fall migration. Along with a super plant sale and talks, including bee hive instructions, there’s tons of fun activities for the kiddos: build a bee house, make wildflower seed balls, face painting and much more!

SO, now for our tour! We head to San Antonio where owner Claire Golden and architect Don B. McDonald renovated the historic house and its mission-styled walled back garden.

San Antonio mission-style courtyard garden design central texas gardener

Inspired by trips to Mexico with her husband J.Y. during his lifetime, Claire envisioned beloved homes they’d visited, instead of the sloping grass and weeds that once defined the courtyard.

san antonio courtyard central texas gardener

Water, even small amounts, is part of our Spanish heritage. I could sit with Claire by this recirculating bubbling fountain and chat for hours, even in the heat!

inset patio fountain san antonio central texas gardener

The main attraction is the central Spanish-heritage aqueduct or rill.

aqueduct mission style courtyard san antonio central texas gardener

As Claire says, “Water and plants are the perfect soothing combination, inspiring, really. Even if it’s hot, water gives you a sense of traveling to different parts of the world, does it not?”

aqueduct mission style courtyard san antonio central texas gardener

Even though Don B. McDonald broke up the open expanse to invite wandering to secret destinations, the rill is ever present. This view shows Claire’s famous Margarita Room (behind the door), filled with her Mexican collections of “margarita adornments.”

courtyard garden san antonio central texas gardener

View back to the new loggia.

Claire Golden courtyard garden san antonio central texas gardener

This intimate spot against the rill is for truly hands-on conversation.

hands chairs courtyard garden san antonio central texas gardener

As Dr. Welch tells us, arbors and pergolas are essential Spanish/Mexican designs to live outside without burning to a crisp.

shade pergola san antonio mission style courtyard central texas gardener outdoor fireplace room central texas gardener

Claire completely enraptures and inspires me.  Isn’t it lovely to know someone who embraces you with wisdom and sincere encouragement?  Although she’s passionate about art, she believes that “less is more” to truly make a statement.

garden patio niche design central texas gardener dragon sconce central texas gardener

I love her foyer to the mission-styled doors, the driveway entrance to the courtyard.

mission style gates garden courtyard claire golden central texas gardener

Let’s head to the front, where she turned an ugly drainage ditch from the sloping street into a wildlife-loving recirculating stream.

recirculating stream from drainage ditch claire golden central texas gardener

Her first call was to faux bois artisan, Carlos Cortes, to install his hand-crafted bridge.

Carlos Cortes faux bois bridge Central Texas Gardener

On the shady wide plaza in front, she entertains many guests, including our CTG assistants, Robert and Trey on the Cortes faux bois furniture, during a much-needed ice cream break that steamy hot day.

Carlos Cortes faux bois furniture Claire Golden patio

Director Ed Fuentes ate his treat while composing yet another fabulous shot.

Carlos Cortes faux bois furniture Claire Golden patio

Like his video version of the faux bois furniture. Here’s just my shot.

Carlos Cortes faux bois chairs claire golden central texas gardener

Let’s not wait any longer! Meet dear Claire and her garden for yourself!

Finally, thanks to Mary Alice Appleman for her Viewer Picture of the Week! We’re all so envious that she lucked into this license plate.

CTG license plate central texas gardener

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda