The Botanical Gardens and Native American Interpretive Center in Goldthwaite, Texas, is not the type of garden most people conjure up when they think of a botanical garden. It is a representation of the nature prairie that existed in the area at the time of the early native Comanches.
The gardens were the brain child of a non-Texan who moved to the area. It was years in the planning and fund raising stages.
Last fall was their grand opening with Laura Bush as their main speaker. The Center has affiliations with both the Smithsonian Museum and a group of Comanches in Oklahoma. Some of them attended the grand opening and performed dances.
This Visitor Center for the area was constructed by the Texas Highway Department. Additional funds were raised by a couple of other groups. The Highway Department architect worked with the Garden committee to design the building.
One big feature is the v shaped roof. Rainwater collects in the center and drains down the chain into an underground concrete cistern. Any watering of the gardens is from that cistern.
The gardens are entered through the building. The most impressive part of the garden to me was the advance planning. It was definitely done right.
Designed to look like an ancient cooking berm, these rocks represent the rocks that wood fires were built on. When the rocks cracked from the heat, additional rocks were placed on top creating a raised area. Lots of shells are just below the ground in Mills County. The natives used those as tools while cooking.
The architect and person who orchestrated the gardens was our guide. But I don’t remember the name he gave for this plant. Maybe Wooly Paperflower?
Water from the cistern flows into a small stream that wanders through the gardens. The site is actually small – a little larger than one fourth of a block. The excellent designed meandering trails circle through the gardens, making it feel larger.
The yellow flowers look like some kind of poppy or primrose.
Future plans include a three story museum building. Already enough artifacts have been donated to just about fill it up. Funds are being raised and grants sought. All this has been accomplished by a small town with less than 2,000 citizens and a county of just about 5,000 people. It truly is a grass roots project.
I guess the message is to dream big.
“Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.”
Shannon L. Alder