The Coryell Museum Courtyard and Butterfly Garden is located just outside the School Room Exhibit and what a delight it is! This is Hal Davidson’s gardening project and it is beautiful. If you haven’t been to the museum recently come and take a walk thru our delightful garden.
When Hal came onto the board at the museum his main interest was to make the courtyard a beautiful place. As a boy he had noticed the weedy neglected courtyard area when his mother worked on that block. Many years later plans were drawn by others to renovate it, but they were never accomplished.
Hal’s first phase was to evacuate the top layer of dirt and grass and then have the crushed granite delivered. It took one dump truck load of crushed granite for the walkways. Cory Smalley and Josh Godfrey helped with this phase. Hal then began developing the beds by bringing in limestone rock for the edging. He believes the key to the plants doing so well is because of the excellent soil he put in the beds. Hal has also developed gardens for friends in the Austin area.
Blooming now and during the spring season are roses, poppies, bluebonnets, dianthus, ox-eye daisy, salvia, yarrow and iris. This is one of the loveliest gardens I have seen. The dozens of red poppies are especially eye catching, tall and beautifully bright. Green thread flower has a bright yellow daisy with dime sized blooms on 8 inch tall nodding stems. Other spring bloomers are snapdragons and larkspur. The 36 inch spires of the larkspurs bring back memories for me of the big patch that grew near my uncle’s barn in pink, white, and blue.
The Miss Jesse Fauntleroy Rose near the metal staircase was grown from a cutting of the pink roses growing at the Christian Church that burned a few years ago. Nell Ziegler grew this cutting and gave it to Hal to plant.
The Blackfoot daisy is a white native wildflower about 6 inches tall. You can see this little white flower in the Courtyard Garden as well as all along dry rocky roadsides near Gatesville.
Wood sorrel is a 6 inch mounding plant with pink, white or yellow flowers and is blooming now. The leaves are lime green shamrocks and the plant sprouts in early spring from small tubers growing a few inches in the ground. According to Wikipedia wood sorrel is an edible wild plant that has been consumed by humans around the world for thousands of years. The small pink tubers are much like a tiny potato with a slightly lemon taste. Dr. James Duke’s research notes that the Kiowa Indian tribe chewed wood sorrel to lessen their thirst on long trips. The Algonquin Indians considered it an aphrodisiac! In large amounts it can be considered slightly toxic.
Also blooming later in the summer or fall will be day lilies, rosemary, and coral vine. The rosemary is a culinary herb and has hundreds of tiny blue blooms. Tall, striking dark blue Indigo Spires Sage will bloom all summer, as well as several other sages including the popular salvia greggi.
Also growing in the courtyard is the purple coneflower or Echinacea purpurea. It is a beautiful purple daisy with a prominent center cone. The genus name is from the Greek echino, meaning hedgehog, a reference to the spiny, brownish central disk surrounded by the purple petals.
Echinacea also has medicinal qualities and was used widely by Indians as a medication against colds, flu, and other infections, according to the internet. The flowers of the Echinacea species are used to make an herbal tea that is supposed to help strengthen the immune system. It was thought to be a “cure all” medication and able to heal any disease. Europeans and Germans carried on many experiments to disclose the secret of Echinacea’s curing power. Since the discovery of antibiotics the popularity of Echinacea has diminished.
In addition to the flowers in the courtyard you will see the Farmhouse Porch. Hal, Ryder Lemon, and Charles C. Bruton worked together to build it using historic materials. Hal’s grandfather was J. T. Davidson, and his old red barn provided some of the wood and tin for the roof. The front posts came from the Aimes Schoolhouse. The joists came from McKamie Stadium and the doorknob and windows came from the old city gym.
Also inside the museum we have our newest exhibit. The huge mural of the Courthouse Square, formerly at Andy’s Restaurant, is permanently displayed. It is located in the lower level, just outside the Soda Shop and is about 40 feet long. Jon Brown painted this wonderful mural and will be doing the touch ups necessary. Don’t miss the humorous writing on the windows of the businesses in the mural.
By Jann Dworsky and Property of The Gatesville Messenger 2014