So now you know that Garland Nursery is celebrating our 75th anniversary this year! We’re excited. In 1903, my great-great grandparents bought a farm. Or they bought a piece of property and started a farm. My great-grandparents, William and Corlie Schmidt bought the property from his parents not too long after that. They grew filberts and prunes. Apparently there is some connection to other farmers and a prune drying barn near the current HP campus. (I’m a little shaky on the details about that, however, I have seen the old drying trays. Some of those may still be upstairs in the barn unless my sister, who does not have the hoarding tendencies that I do, threw them out). That might be something to research in the future, but for now I’ll just write about the details with which I am more familiar. They had cows, for milk I believe, and grew hay to feed the cows. We still have some of the milk cans and the barn that houses the gift store now has remnants of that working past. They had horses as well, to haul in the hay. The hay loft is still evident in the barn.
In 1937, William and Corlie applied for a nursery license. William had the idea to import Turkish filbert rootstock to graft domesticated varieties onto. The Turkish filberts didn’t sucker, which was a plus. However, that idea didn’t pan out. William and Corlie must have enjoyed cultivated plants, however. They planted a great number of trees on the property that are still alive today. Also, they planted what we call the rock garden. It was referred to as Corlie’s garden and the sunken garden. It is still in existence. If you drive in our official driveway, the smaller of the two that goes in front of the large house near the highway that we grew up in, it is on your right. There are several lovely Japanese Maples and Magnolias, a pretty hardy fuchsia and a number of Rhododendrons and Camellias. I remember miniature roses growing there. And a Monkey Puzzle tree with its unusual prickly cones. It finally died quite a few years back. In late winter, the snow drops emerge from the ground with their pristine white nodding blooms. Around May Day, the English Bluebells (or Scilla) take over. There used to be “Naked Ladies” that bloomed without leaves in the early autumn. I haven’t seen their flowers for quite a few years, although it sure looked like their foliage was there just last week.
For so long the garden was tended first by my great-grandmother and then my grandmother, my dad’s uncle Claire and finally several loyal staff members, including Kennith Haight and Stuart Fraser. In the last 10 years, it was obvious that the garden had seen better days and was in serious need of renovation. The family was very busy and the rock garden wasn’t a top priority. We talked a lot about making it over but it never seemed to happen. About 3 years ago, we began a serious renovation. Over the years several weedy ornamentals had crept in. English ivy that once was revered for its hardiness, now showed its true colors as a plant thug, taking over many beds and climbing many trees. Also, we had a problem with Jack in the Pulpit (as we were taught to call it-although there is another plant by the same common name that is not so aggressive). Finally, there were a few blackberries. Surprisingly, the blackberries were far outnumbered by the first two weeds. The first two weeds are very difficult to eradicate. We spent the first 2 years, removing the weedy plants as well as the less attractive understory ornamentals and then treating any weeds that regrew with an herbicide. Finally, we deprived the weeds of water. If you’ve driven by this desert landscape, you may have wondered what was going on. It didn’t look like much. Oh, we added a hedge of boxwood along the drive and some annual color, but it really looked rather desolate.
Now 2012 has rolled around. We are 75 years old in April. Finishing this renovation in time for our anniversary celebration became the top priority for my sister and me. My sister, Erica, is great at making things happen. Me, I’m more of a girl of planning and thinking and not so much action. So I really appreciate her ability to drive things. That is until my husband and I are out there on our day off, pruning and laying edgers. Okay, I really enjoy pruning, so….We’ve had great help from Ham/Mock and Associates. Two of their crew came in and laid pavers, installed rock columns and made a fountain in “the sunken garden”. In a couple more weeks, the hardscape should be done and we’ll be ready to plant the understory plants.
Possibly, you thought this garden was private, a portion of my sister’s yard. We haven’t publicized it much later as it really had fallen into disrepair. But we’d like to invite you to check in on the progress, either here on our blog and website or in person. We are planning a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, April 21st at 11 am. We’ve even talked dad into guiding a tour of our heritage trees! So I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane. I will continue to write about our past in upcoming columns. Happy Gardening.