History of the Garden
Three things have given me unalloyed pleasure: books, cats and plants.
I remember three things I learned in kindergarten: one about Santa Claus, one about red and yellow tulips and one about sweet peas. I remember the Kindergarten teacher taking the class on a walk to see hundreds of dandelions growing in unkempt grass and I remember the first peony I ever saw. It was growing in my May Basket. I remember the spring beauties and violets in the grass at O'Fallon Park and the red clover in vacant lots and the marvelous odor which greeted you when you opened a greenhouse door at the Missouri Botanical Garden--particularly for a chrysanthemum show.
Some of the plants I have in the garden are nostalgic--the daylilies, the sunflowers, the black locust,the rose acacia, the tansy, the tiger lilies and the rose mallow. The tiger lilies' original bulb was given to me when I was 15 years old--so those same tiger lilies that come up in this garden have been with me for 63 years.
When I was 50 years old, I got this land and the money to develop it. Before that, I had only a fair-sized lot for a garden and always a job to interfere. But at 5o I arrived.
I started planting. I had the help of one gardener one day a week and we started where the land had been injured as a result of the construction of the house. We kept on going and soon I needed the gardener two days a week--and so it continues.I called in help for riprap and carpenter work and some path digging. We put up the fenses ourselves, using bamboo because I could carry it and we put in the solid steps. The sugar gum eucalyptus trees in the front of the house were here, the native growth was thin and of not much account. Among the wild bushes and over much of the disturbed land was a wilderness of foxtail grass the I spent month after month, year after year pulling.So we kept ongoing, putting in paths and water as we went. Only the coral tree was a big specimen--all the others were from gallon cans or five gallons for trees and camellias. Many people gave me plants and I raised some from seed that I couldn't get otherwise.
There are now in excess of 800 species of palnts and 150 natives. The natives occupy far more space than the exotics.
The hills used to be blue with quail when several covies came in. They are gone now. But there are still other animals--foxes, raccoons, skunks and opossums--and they add to the charm of the garden. And there are many birds.
Hortense at O'Fallon Park