Saturday, April 11, 2015

Visiting Festival Hill: Pharmacy Garden, Greenhouse and Lake

We recently toured the beautiful gardens at Festival Hill in Round Top, Texas.  The gardens have so many interesting features that I've divided the photos into several posts.  This post covers the Pharmacy Garden, Greenhouse, and Lake located just behind the Menke House featured in the last post.

The Pharmacy Garden is organized in raised beds of textured stucco or concrete.

From the description of the gardens:

The Pharmacy Garden contains medicinal plants arranged by their geographical origin. It is said that more than 75% of the world's population still obtains its medicines from plants. Admire the rare Melaleuca from Australia, Zatar (Thymbra spicata) from the Mediterranean and the unique Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) in the China collection. Other rare plants from Africa, India, Mexico, South America, Asia, and Europe are growing here, as well as North American species used by Native Americans.

Tiles set in cantera stone mark the entrance.

Madalene Hill was an herbalist who did groundbreaking work regarding growing herbs in hot, humid Texas.  I met her briefly during a chance encounter at the Houston Airport decades ago.  I smiled to see these signs and think that gardeners were my rock stars even in my early 20s.

We had the gardens to ourselves most of the time.

We found a helpful gardener who gave us a tour of the greenhouse.

She explained that plants from the greenhouse are due to be moved out into the gardens soon.

I'd love to come back and see the gardens in early fall with all the plants, such as this Silk Floss tree, in place.

Pesto is one of five resident cats.

The others are named for herbs but I'm not sure which is which.

The cacti collection is also medicinal

Madalene collected herbs from all over the world to grow in Texas.  Many herbs from Southeast Asia would be quite at home in the Texas climate.

A few pieces of garden art to round out the tour.

A large lake with stone bridge is near the Pharmacy Garden and greenhouse.

Pretty picnic area in the fruit tree garden by the lake.  The Pharmacy Garden is in the background.  

Happily we had our lunch along and enjoyed this classic view across the lake.

Beethoven's Woods along the path to the bridge.

The back of the tower in the Roman Ruins garden from my first post on Festival Hill.

Benches of all types are located throughout the property.  These near the lake match the style of the log cabin guest house.

With a look over our shoulders at the lake we continued along the road to the fanciful stonework of the chapel and seashell grotto which will feature in my next post.


  1. I'm surprised by how big the place is. The view looking out toward the lake is wonderful.

    1. There's a lot more left to show you!

  2. Cacti as medicinal plant, one learns something new everyday. And the place looks calming and serene too.

    1. Cacti are an important resource in their native range.

  3. The geometry of the raised beds acts as a fitting framework for billowing plants. The whole place is extremely inviting.

  4. Now that is on my "must see" list! I can see spending hours there--checking out all the plants, their medicinal uses, and their history. Love the cats--Pesto is cute!

  5. What a great place. We will have to plan a trip here. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I'll admit - I am nearly as charmed by the photos of the cats at their water bowl and the tiger swallowtail butterfly as I am your wonderful shots of the plants and grounds. Somehow seeing the wildlife along with the medicinal plants makes it all more alive for me. This tour has been a grand closer look at a place I've always intended to visit. I'm eager for more!

  7. I really appreciate the gardens built far to my east. When I hear herb, especially where I lived too long, it's code for "desert denial" and ugly / messy. In the Round Top garden, the stone and brick planters, gravel paths allowed to be a touch weedy, and focal points of potted agaves, really make it special - a touch of randomness within structure? Not to mention the pioneering work to grow herbs where not always so adapted. That's real inspiration!

  8. Don't know if my comment worked...

    I love this! Would be a great day trip for me coming from Houston. Looks like a cool place!

  9. I am always in two minds about getting a garden to myself. It's always a treat to be in a garden with few visitors, but gardens need visitors, so an almost empty garden is a bit of a guilty pleasure. I particularly liked the shot showing the pharmacy garden through the picnic area and I enjoyed seeing Nasturtium trailing its way through the plants. The benches were fun too. What a fascinating place - I look forward to your next post.

  10. I really enjoy your tours, I miss so much about Texas. I use medicinal herbs when I can, so great to see a garden featuring them. The stonework is awesome, I'm looking forward to your next tour.

  11. It's always amazing to read about how many ways we use plants in our daily lives. I really love the lake and all the stonework. :o)


Thank you for stopping by. To comment simply open the Name/URL option, put in your name or initials and skip the URL.