Clark’s Gardens

My last post featured Max and Billie Clark who founded the Clark’s Gardens near Mineral Wells in a most unexpected spot.  They turned a mesquite filled pasture into a lush and inviting garden.

csawThis is a Tesmec 1000 rock saw.  It does exactly what it’s name indicates.  It cuts into mammoth rocks underground.  These were first used to lay copper cable and now for fiber optic cable.  A similar type was used to cut the rock on our land to bury telephone lines.

Mr. Clark did not invent the rock saw, but he improved it.  So the company he and his wife founded became successful.  They poured much of that money into these gardens, which are 80 percent endowed by the Clarks’ personal investments.  The rest is supported by gate income.

cstatue2The walking paths lead through shady areas, like this one.  Full sun gardens for roses and irises are beyond the wooded area.

cpetuniasOn this particular day, only a few type of flowers were blooming.  These are petunias.

cnandinaA Nandina with berries.  In Texas, this has become one of the maligned shrubs recently.  I’m not sure why.  I had a couple in the DFW metroplex and they grew and were healthy.  Our yard here has too much sun for that type of shrub.

chydrangaOak Leaved Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) were growing with a little dappled sun.  They are more prominent in the southeastern part of the country.  Wish I had shade for these beauties.

cfountainMany events keep this place busy on most days, especially week-ends.  Besides weddings, festivals and celebrations for holidays or bloom seasons occur periodically throughout the year.  Check out their website

The energy level for the special days is high with huge crowds.  Those are fun.  But for this visit, we purposefully chose a quiet day so we could meander alone and enjoy each scene without crowds.

cflowersThis might be Lyre-leaf Sage. I don’t really know.

Many native plants and other plants that have adapted to dry conditions prosper.  The gardens have also been used for different plant studies including one for Earthkind roses with Texas A & M and one for unnamed hybrid roses with the American Rose Society.

ctrain4Miniature train tracks circle and intertwine around an octagonal building.  Through openings, some of the tracks enter the building.  On this day, about ten trains were zipping along.

ctrainSome tracks are elevated about 2 – 3 feet above eye level.


ctrain3Other tracks are low on the ground and viewed from walkways and small walking bridges.

ctrain6Inside the train building a replica of the town of Mineral Wells depicts actual buildings.  The court house is shown here.  Train tracks run in front of this set-up.

ctrain5The most famous building in Mineral Wells was and is a large posh hotel.   In the far left of the picture, you can see part of the Baker Hotel or “Crazy” Hotel.  The hotel opened in 1925 with 400 rooms and 11 stories, plus another section on the roof with 50 apartments.  The third well in town was drilled at the hotel site.

BakerhotelWhy such a huge, lavish hotel in a small town out in the middle of nowhere?

It’s partially explained by the nickname of the hotel.  The name “Crazy Hotel” comes from a story about a woman with mental problems, called the crazy lady by the town kids.  She drank the water at the hotel and was cured.  So the word spread about the healing waters.

The citizens of Mineral Wells had been anxious to cash in on their natural resource of mineral waters.  This rumor helped fulfill their dreams.

Many people traveled there for the baths.  It was a happening place and brought prosperity during the 30’s.  But the real boom came after Ft. Wolters was built just outside of town.  So the early 40’s were the heydays.

At the end of the war when Ft. Wolters closed, so did the hotel.  Then Ft. Wolters reopened as a helicopter base.  For a brief time the Baker Hotel reopened and hosted the Texas Republican conventions in 1952 and 1955.

It’s been on the market for decades now.  Some stores operate on the ground floor and some retirement apartments for assisted living are available.

A grand old, aging lady is just a part of history now.  More than you wanted to know about that?

ccouplestatueBack outside at Clark’s Gardens, another statue of a romantic young couple.

cbaldcypressA tall Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) grows beside one lake area.   Watchful attention is needed not to trip on the Cypress knees growing around the tree.

ccampfireSome statues present every day vignettes.

cswan2Aahh, the quiet peaceful scene of a swan  What is it about them that is so enchanting?

cswanFarewell to Clark’s Gardens.  It is so much more than these pictures show.  A great half day or full day of enjoying nature.

“An addiction to gardening is not bad when you consider all the other choices in life.”  Unknown

1 thought on “Clark’s Gardens

  1. made me homesick….
    Clark Gardens is an incredible place to visit…
    I enjoyed wandering through Mineral Wells this morning…
    Thank you
    Take care….

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