Saturday I went with my daughter Leslie to a unique garden oasis, Clark Gardens Botanical Park, located between Weatherford and Mineral Wells, Texas on US Hwy 180. I met one of the of the garden’s creators who reminds me of Major Close. As you can imagine, I spoke with Mr. Max Clark for some time while he was working pulling Bermuda grass in a second Earth Kind Rose Trial Garden. A retired contractor, he still works in the gardens almost every day.
According to Max the inspiration for the gardens started with their daughter’s desire for a “garden wedding.” As they say, the rest is history! There is even a White Garden inspired by the Sissinghurst Castle Garden. His wife Billie was a avid tennis fan and they went to the matches in England where they saw the Sissinghurst Garden. Of course Billie was the other half of the garden’s creative team designing and helping construct many of the gardens features.
Started in 1972, their method of garden construction is much like Close Memorial Park with collection and themed gardens covering part of the 143 acres with more under construction. Mr Clark even looks a lot like Major when he is down on the ground working in the gardens… same style hat, etc. Before Billie became ill she had a bronze sculpture made of him sitting in the garden with his faithful dog Chocolate. (When Leslie and I first arrived at the park’s entrance Chocolate was enjoying the shade of a large tree laying in the road. I am sure at 13 a little rest has been well earned.)
Since his wife’s illness Max said his daughter Carol has taken over assisting with the daily management and marketing of these fabulous gardens. This garden is truly a family “love affair”, which reminds me again of Close Memorial Park and all that it has become in just over a decade.
Clark Gardens’ website is very informative http://www.clarkgardens.org/ and includes a nice video. They also have an active facebook page http://www.facebook.com/friendsofthegarden#!/clarkgardens.
Visiting the gardens was an experience that I would like to repeat. I plan to share some the photos if I ever get them out of the camera! George Deatz