Gardening enthusi- asts have been coping with the vagaries of Texas weather and coax ing glory from Dallas’s loamy black soil since before John Neely Bryan. Decorating the outside spaces of our homes will always be chic, and there is much to be said for the psychological boost of a hardy dig in the dirt. But for both the weekend green thumb and the ardent horticulturist, finding all the right stuff can be a difficult row to hoe. Therefore, we offer a select list of people, places, and pots to know about in Dallas: a small sourcebook for the good garden.
‧ Regional gardening is the current rage, and Neiman’s En-vironments Nursery is a trade secret passionately guarded by those who prefer going native. Texas flora and region-friendly species of all kinds grow here: wildflower seeds, obscure hollies, soapberry trees, and more. A staff with abundant knowledge and a desire to share it adds to the verdant aura. At the junction of Highway 1171 and Highway 2499 (2701 Cross Timbers in Flower Mound), and worth the excursion.
For those starting at square one, finding out about the soil that will become the garden is the best game plan. For an inex pensive, accurate analysis, send a request along with two twenty-five-cent stamps to the Dallas County Extension Office, 601 Elm Street, 5th Floor, Dallas, Texas 75202-3305. By return mail, that office will mail a Soil Sample Test Kit containing an envelope for the sample and instructions on how to collect it. You’ll also get a question naire to be filled out about what has been grown in the area before, what fertilizers and insecticides were used, and what will be planted in the new garden. Mail the com pleted packet with $6 ($10 if iron. zinc, and magnesium analysis is to be included) to the Texas A&M address enclosed. and in about three weeks, a detailed analysis of the soil plus suggestions will be mailed to you.
Do you have questions about what to plant where, when, and how or what’s wrong with a leaf, bush, or tree? Stacy Reese, Dallas County Extension Agent-Horticulture, is the man to call. Reese is non-profit and unbiased, and he has access to the most up-to-date, accurate, proven information in the state on gardens, turf, trees. shrubs, insects, and the diseases that affect them all. He and a staff of master gardeners are available by telephoning 653-7393 in Dallas. Walk-ins with problems are encouraged: Dallas County Extension Office, 601 Elm.
If you’ve got a green thumb and hours to spare, promote yourself. Reese certifies about fifty master gardeners each year out of about a hundred ap plicants. To be certified, a candidate must have seventy-two hours of instruction with Reese, be screened by a committee of master gardeners, pass a written exam, then spend seventy-two hours volunteering. In addition to helping staff the question desk and telephone, master gardeners work in public plant clinics, assist handicapped and low- income gardeners, and have piloted programs in DISD ele mentary schools and in the East Dallas Community Garden.
When it comes to the ac- couterments, there are tools and then there are tools. For the modernist who insists that a trowel’s form should follow func tion, the store at the Dallas Ar boretum and Botanical Garden, 8617 Garland, is a one-stop shop. The romantic must see the lovingly selected group of antique garden tools and accessories at Lady Primrose at The Crescent, 2200 Cedar Springs, Suite 154. And for the pragmatist who calls a spade a spade, the staggering array of equipment and an incredibly willing staff make Elliott’s Hardware (4901 Maple) a slice of paradise.
Cultivating a color to grow on was ac complished long ago by the original Lambert, the man who put the L in much of this town’s landscaping. Joseph O. Lambert Jr., a landscape architect, mixed a moody gray/green/brown for his own home that gave structures to be gardened around a pleasing patina as backdrops, without steal ing the spotlight. And it was good. Lambert Green was born, and became quite the fashion: it’s the perfect foil for flowers, and the matte-finished surface provides at least a degree or two of cool illusion under the Texas sun. Jones-Blair Paint Company mixes Lambert Green, and it’s still good. Available at any store that carries Jones-Blair paint.
Need bulbs? Lambert’s at 7300 Valley View Lane reigns as the connoisseur’s preferred bulb browse in Dallas, with the Nicholson-Hardie location at 5725 W. Lovers Lane a strong contender. Both offer refrigerated storage space till it’s time to plant-but that’s on a space-available, shop-early basis.
Thankfully, perennials are pretty at a great number of Dallas nurseries, but Nicholson-Hardie (three locations) is the place to pick. Other greeneries have lower prices, but no one else has so breathtaking a selection or such steadfast quality.
Southland Farm Store, 5855 Maple, is an excellent source for fertilizer, peat moss, and general garden supplies if you know what you need, and they’ll deliver for a nominal fee.
To masterplan the planting, see Walter Dahlberg, landscape architect and director at Lambert’s, or Howard Garrett, landscape architect and principal at Howard Garrett & Associates. There are myriad other firms and people to talk to in town, but recommen dations on these two talented, experienced professionals are impressive. Buy an hour of consultation time and see if you agree.
Heading down the garden path? At Kings Creek Gardens in Cedar Hill, we found weathered stone steps cut from Kansas lime stone that will long outlast our local varie ty. They’re six inches thick, five feet long, and fourteen to sixteen inches wide, or cut to order. See also the made-to-order garden gates, rough-hewn of cedar. The resident expert is Rosa Finstey, an independent land scape architect for years who serves as plan ner, gardener, and earth mother to more than one celebrated area garden. One block south of State Highway 1382 at 813 Strauss Road.
If you’re semi-green and just need advice and a friendly shove in the right direction, Nicholson-Hardie will consult, or they’ll dig and plant for $30/hour-try to nab John Bracken or John Allen at the Lovers Lane store. Just want to gel smart? Read Howard Garrett’s Plants of the Metroplex III ($16.95 at most local bookstores). The language is simple and often amusing, and the answers to a gardener’s most often asked questions are accessible and accurate. And don’t forget another perennial source of wisdom on things in bloom: Neal Sperry’s The Complete Guide to Texas Gardening ($24.95).
Those hoping to grow the most fashion able garden should seek the chic counsel of Tommy Cook and David Brothers at David Thomas Design in the Quadrangle, 2800 Routh St., Suite 150. Their work is con sistently on the leading edge when it comes to intelligent choices of little-used green stuff and florals. They’re excellent at thought- provoking situations for both interior florals and exterior landscaping and garden design
When you’re in pursuit of the perfect pot: designers continue to laud the look of classic Italian terra cotta, expensive but wonderful, and the selection at Jackson’s Lemmon Avenue Pottery (6950 Lemmon Ave.) is unequivocally the best. For a magnificent mix of English, modern, and classic containers, cachepots, and vases for flowers and plants and for divine inspiration, see Cook and Brothers. If price point is a consideration, and probably even if it’s not, the Ideal Industries retail store is a great source of terra cotta, ceramic, and funk worth traveling to: five blocks East of Loop 12 at 5000 W. Davis, 331-2063.
‧ Both the novice herb gardener and the devotee adding a few new species this spring need Lane Furneaux, who lectures, writes, consults, masterplans, and designs symbolic herb gardens. Her accumulated knowledge about each herb is incredible, and her own herb garden has been written about both here and abroad. Seek her counsel (by appointment only) by writing Lane Furneaux. 6474 Norway, Dallas. Texas 75230.
Buy your own herbs at the Dallas Farmer’s Market (1010 S. Pearl) and look for Lillie Crowley or anyone from the 9-T Farms Nursery in Ennis. Texas; or try the Golden Meadow Herb Emporium at 431 South St. Augustine Road, Dallas.
Something wild can work wonders. For information on which wildflowers will fare best in Dallas gardens and a referral list for finding them, call the National Wildflower Research Center at (512) 929-3600.
To keep true romance abloom, try vin tage roses by mail from The Antique Rose Emporium, Route 5, Box 143G, Brenham, Texas 77833. For more information, call (409) 836-9051
Whimsical garden furniture with a past life provides the perfect spot for a gardener’s repose: sculpted wire, antique garden chairs at Victory Antiques. 2604 Fairmount. And be sure to investigate the tatty, patinaed, and painted wicker settees at David Thomas Design in the Quadrangle.
An antique iron garden gate becomes one-of-a-kind sculpture, a weathered back drop, and a finishing touch. The selection varies but is quite good at the Uncommon Market, 2701 Fairmount: shop for gates and eyecatching fragments thereof, plus pieces of aged cast iron that can be welded and add ed to. Donald Embree Antiques Inc.. 1115 Slocum, has an excellent (also changing) selection of old American and European gates, available through your architect or designe.