Last weekend, I attended the Trowel and Error Gardening Symposium at Mayfield Park. (Trowel & Error -- don't you just love that name?) I went mostly because some of my favorite Austin gardeners were speaking and organizing the event. Renee Studebaker spoke on container gardening; Meredith O'Reilly spoke on gardening for wildlife, Cher Groody spoke on antique roses, and Linda Lehmusvirta worked behind the scenes. I learned something new from each speaker, AND, I won a huge American Beautyberry in the raffle!
I didn't know anything about Mayfield Park or the symposium before Saturday, so I have Renee, Meredith, Cher and Linda to thank for introducing me. Trowel & Error is put on by Friends of the Parks of Austin, a non-profit volunteer group, and is their one-and-only fundraising event for Mayfield Park each year. The symposium always includes speakers on gardening topics, a plant sale, a raffle, and yummy baked goodies. If you're cash-poor, you can attend for free, but a $5 donation is suggested. I wish I had taken more photos of the tables of plants and baked goods, the volunteers conducting the plant sale, and the girls, dressed in their Sunday finest, selling raffle tickets -- but as usual, I arrived late, after Renee's presentation had started. (I am so not a morning person.)
Between speakers, I wandered around the gardens. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Mayfield Park was donated to the city of Austin after the passing of its matriarch, Mary Mayfield Gutsch. The cottage is rather humble, but the gardens are magnificent.
In the few hours I was there, I only saw a fraction of the 2-acre estate. I never made it to the 23-acre nature preserve that surrounds it -- that's a field trip for another day, or three.
Mayfield Park is known for its extensive gardens,
its multiple ponds,
its stonework, its palm trees,
and its peacocks. Yes, peacocks!
These peacocks are descendants of those gifted to the Mayfield-Gutsches in the 1930s.
Of all the ponds, one of the most delightful was this small cast iron frog pond.
The edge of the pond was adorned with cast iron turtles and frogs, oh! Couldn't you just die from the cute?
Several of the ponds had water lilies in bloom, as did this one.
Volunteers tend each garden plot, as indicated by small signs. This plot is tended by the Violet Crown Garden Club, organized in 1924. The stones around each garden were collected on site.
The stonework, including the walls around the estate and the dovecote in this picture, are made of local limestone.
The Bell Trail Arch leads out to the nature preserve.
Learn more about Mayfield Park at its community park website. A one-page synopsis of the estate's history (with a link to the 500-page document it's based upon) can be found here.
Words and photos © 2009-2011 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.