Article for October 7, 2006
“Crown Jewel” of the Bexar County Master Gardeners
The Schultze House is located in HemisFair Park between the Tower of Americas and the Federal Courthouse. Constructed in 1893, the German built home was part of HemisFair in 1968 and belongs to the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of San Antonio.
Bexar County Master Gardeners, in an agreement with the City and Parks Department, took a lease on the property in 1992 and continue with that arrangement. In January of 1993, with the research and planning of Edna Ward Toland and Extension Horticulturist, Calvin Finch, and with the approval of the Historic Design Review Commission, changes began. In July volunteers cleared grass and existing shrubs. They drew the beds, tilled the soil and added washed sand, pine bark mulch and compost. With donations from the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, the city nursery, local retail and wholesale nurseries, and pass-along plants from volunteer gardens, the front yard was the first to be developed.
A lovely flagstone walkway carries you to the back patio and the tropical gardens were developed by Master Gardener Charles Bartlett in May 1994. One of the largest Hong Kong orchid trees you will ever see is in that area as well as a beautiful Jacaranda that is at least 25 feet tall. Assorted ginger, banana, cast iron, Lily of the Nile, Mexican olive and other interesting varieties complete the area. An herb garden makes the transition from the tropical area to the Mediterranean garden.
A xeriscape demonstration area named the Mediterranean Garden was added in June of 1995. This is composed of crushed granite, but road base and gravel were also used to improve the soil and drainage. Dessert Willow, Duranta, Texas Ebony, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Coral Bean and assorted cactus fill this garden area.
Master Gardener Mary Beth Roecker was instrumental in designing and installing a native garden. This area showcases native grasses and trees with specimens of Texas Persimmon, Mexican Buckeye, and anaqua (also known as sandpaper tree.)
Change is constant, and the gardens are always a source of pleasure. Benches on the front porch and in the rear of the house provide a place to sit and enjoy the lovely plants, birds and sounds of the garden.
Many Master Gardeners have spent years helping in the gardens. Mary Beth Roecker, Louise Suhey, Edwina Heffernan, Judy Daughtry and Vicki Dietrich were members of the early classes and toiled for five years or more. Sir Oliver Smith has been working in the gardens for over ten years and planning the Brown Bag Seminars on the 2nd Thursday of each month. Mary Francis Uptain took that job over and continues with planning programs and speakers. Jim Feighny worked in the gardens, built compost bins, hauled compost and gave direction to classes for the past five years.
Pat Harris came as a volunteer and became a Master Gardener later. She has brought life back to the fountain and has kept it running and has provided plants. Margaret Thompson started at the House as volunteer coordinator for the gift shop and later moved to the garden and has been helping both areas for over six years. Many other Master Gardeners have given many volunteer hours to make the Schultze House gardens a beautiful showcase.
The Schultze House Gift Shop was started in 1993 and most of its items for sale were on consignment. In 1996 Kathy Littlefield became the volunteer Manager and transformed it into a lovely gift shop. The curtains for the windows were made by Shirley Johnson, Bexar County Extension Director, when she retired. Master Gardener volunteers work on days of their choice Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm. A variety of gift items are available; books, garden tools, bird feeders, cards, stepping stones, wind socks, door chimes plus many other interesting gardening and gift items. Barbara Lozier assumed the volunteer management of the Schultze House in 2002 and continues in that job.
The Schultze House is host to garden clubs for tours of the gardens on request and offers “Brown-Bag” lunch seminars the second Thursday of each month. Speakers are members of the horticulture community, Master Gardeners, and those with expertise on specific gardening topics. These seminars are open to the public and very popular in the community.
The Schultze House is truly “a diamond in the heart of the city.” If you haven’t shared its charm, please take a friend or family member and check it out. We are all so thankful to Edna Ward Toland and those that continue to volunteer for the beautiful, educational oasis they have created.
The Schultze House is one of the few remaining German Homes of the “Folk Victorian Front Gable & Wing” style in downtown San Antonio. Built in 1893, it is now a part of Parks & Recreation in HemisFair Park.