History of Fulton Mansion Garden

During the Fultons’ Period

Before the Fultons even moved into their home in 1877, they began planning their landscaping and ordering plants and equipment.

An invoice from Jan of 1876 from Fair Ground Nursery in New Orleans included:

composted ground (potting soil), 208 assorted flower pots, an assortment of vegetable seeds, pansy plants, multiflora jasmine, Dracaenas (6 varieties), trumpet vine plant, assorted geraniums, caladium bulbs, assorted rose bushes and hibiscus, wild peach, sour orange trees and crepe myrtles, watering pots, trimming sheers, pruning shears and knife, budding knife, and a garden saw.

All of this they purchased for $106.70 and received 2 dozen gladiolus bulbs as a bonus.

August, 1876 (along with the slate mantles for their fireplaces) they ordered 2 Venetian iron vases and 2 smaller vases.

In September 1877, after moving in, they ordered 4 lawn sprinklers; and in November the same year they ordered 200 feet of 3-ply black hose and 2 large hose reels.

Harriet Fulton’s letters indicate she had access to the current literature on horticulture and that she took pleasure in exchanging seeds and cuttings among friends and family.

In a letter to Harriet from her daughter, Nannie, in March 1881, Nannie described how the roses were full of bloom.  She talked about their gardener, Ferdinand, setting out onions, lettuce, and beets.  She explained how Ferdinand had to water the beds for the week before the letter because there had been no rain.  From the gardens, they were harvesting turnip greens and asparagus.

Ferdinand Mallo was one of 2 gardeners.  One gardener tended the flowers and the other took care of the vegetables.  We know Harriet also had oleanders which served to provide refuge for her baby chicks from red hawks.  The gardeners would cut the branches a lay them on the ground for refuge for the chicks.

As a State Historic Site

In 2000, a group of volunteers and staff created a landscaping plan for the Fulton Mansion.  Their main goal was to bring back Harriet’s Garden as an interpretive garden for visitors to enjoy.  Up until the creation of Harriet’s Garden, the back yard consisted of live oak trees and grass.

Clues as to the appearance of Harriet’s garden were limited.  In 1978 while archeologists were conducting tests as part of the mansion’s restoration, they unearthed several original shellcrete curb blocks which served as the pattern for the curbing you see today. Historic photographs show rose trellises like the ones used today.  The decorative border tiles are based on Victorian era patterns.

The Rockport Home and Garden Club gave the initial donations to make this garden a reality. Sue Morton created the star parterre and herb garden design, and Beth Wilson researched, designed and implemented the plan.  Regular maintenance is performed by the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners. Funding is provided by the Friends of Fulton Mansion.

While today’s garden is not a restoration of Harriet’s garden, the intent is to use plants we know she ordered, plants of the time period that she could have ordered, and plants that she obtained locally from friends and neighbors. Plants native to this area are also used abundantly. The goal is to achieve a low maintenance, attractive environment while at the same time reflect a garden Harriet could have created when she lived here.


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