The Wildscape Garden is a part of the Mineola Nature Preserve.
Here are some developments for the current year followed by our history and progression.
2013 – Science Day at the Mineola Nature Preserve
2013 – New information Kiosk adjacent to the Rainwater Harvesting
New Developments for 2011!
One of the 2011 projects was the construction of a water harvesting system. The purpose built catchment drains water first into the flush out pipe and then into the 300 gallon tank. It’s elevated to improve water pressure. It takes 3-1/2 inches of rain to fill the tanks and that is used to help maintain nearby garden areas.
The addition of stone pathways throughout the garden has proven to be a very successful change. It encourages folks to get off of the walks and into the garden, experiencing the plants more closely.
New Developments for 2010!
The Wildscape Garden is a continued work in progress. In 2010 two new beds have been added: an Earthkind Xeriscape garden with drought tolerant plants among large rocks and small trees, and a bed has been constructed for an edible plant garden which will be planted in the fall for spring growth. Compost bins were also constructed to utilize clippings from the gardens.
Another exciting achievement has been becoming certified by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a Texas Wildscapes Backyard Wildlife Habitat! This signifies that all elements to provide for wildlife in these gardens have been met, which include food, water, and shelter from predators and to raise their young. The majority of the plants must be native and organic methods of gardening must be used.
And in the Beginning…
Soon after the opening of the Mineola Nature Preserve, Wood County Master Gardeners were approached by The Friends of the Preserve with a request to develop a wildscape garden using all native plants. A team of Master Gardeners accepted the challenge and began researching appropriate plants native to this area and formulating a design complementing the nature preserve. The goal of the team was to demonstrate not only the hardiness but also the beauty and versatility of native wildflowers, trees and shrubs in a prairie setting as well as in home landscapes.
After careful planning and research, approximately 3/4 acre was selected and the area was divided into four basic sections. The plans were formulated for a native grass area, an area to showcase a few native trees and shrubs, a wildflower area, and a butterfly area.The first was an area to demonstrate native grasses which were planted along the walkway adjacent to the parking area. These grasses adapt well in home landscape designs. Some of the grasses planted were Gulf Muhley, Mexican Feather Grass, Little Blue Stem, and Texas Sedge.
Mexican Feather Grass and Pink Gulf Muhley
This was followed by a smaller triangle area which was planted with native trees and shrubs and anchored in the center by a beautiful rock. Cherry Laurel, Ash Juniper, Dwarf Wax Myrtle, Possumhaw Holly and Yaupon Holly are thriving in this area.
Triangle with Sentinel Stone
A wildflower meadow was then prepared by solarization. Solarization is a means to eradicate grass, weeds and seeds in preparation for planting. It is done by mowing the area closely and then covering the soil with plastic. After allowing the heat of the sun through the plastic to kill off the unwanted plants the area was sown with wildflower seeds, supplemented with seedlings of bluebonnets. These grow among wild prairie grasses and offer many surprises of color and beauty. Natural mulch has been used throughout the Wildscape to preserve water and as weed control as no chemicals or pesticides are used in the area.
Before planting the butterfly area paths were laid among the different areas in the gardens so that visitors can observe the plants up close in their natural settings. Sitting areas were created along the paths and benches have been donated, creating wonderful areas to rest and enjoy nature.
Most recently a garden to attract birds and butterflies has been designed and developed. This has been accomplished by creating a series of beds of sheet mulching. Sheet mulching is layers of manure, cardboard, and compost topped with mulched leaves. After decomposing for several months the sheet mulched beds were planted with specific native plants that attract birds and butterflies.
A new addition to the gardens is a “Memorial Garden” area located in the native grasses mound. It is an area where bricks engraved “in memory of” a loved one can be purchased and placed in an area surrounded by flagstones. This has become a special area that can be easily accessed from the path through the garden. It continues to grow and can be added to as the need arises. For information on placing a brick in the Memorial Garden, contact the Master Gardeners through our e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wildscape continues to be a work in progress that provides a learning center for Master Gardeners as well as visitors to the Mineola Nature Preserve. Each season brings a new look to the gardens with native plants and wildflowers springing up and new areas being developed.
Come visit us and take a stroll through the gardens, take time to sit on the benches, observe and enjoy Mother Nature at her finest!
The Wildscape Garden is located on the west side of the Mineola Nature Preserve by the parking area. This is located 1.8 miles south of Mineola on Hwy. 69, where you turn left on Loop 564, and then immediately right following signs to the preserve.