Fall Festival 2013 at Antique Rose Emporium: Country Girl mums, grasses, and chapel garden


What happens when you get a gorgeous fall day in Texas, with sunny, blue skies, a cool breeze, and every perennial in the garden flowering its head off? If the 25th Annual Fall Festival of Roses is going on, you set your own garden aside for the day and head to the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas (two hours east of Austin), for a day of garden talks, leisurely strolls through the bucolic display gardens, and, of course, plant shopping.

The twist for me this year is that I was one of the festival’s speakers. What an amazing experience! Thanks to ARE’s location, centered amid several major Texas cities, I met gardeners from Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin as well as from nearby College Station and numerous smaller towns.


More on the talk in a minute. First I must regale you with the sweetness of ‘Country Girl’ mums, which were sprawling onto pathways and leaning against their companions in their eagerness to show their blushing, pink faces.


I was captivated, and so were the bees.


Of course roses aplenty were blooming too, like these bodacious crimson ones. (Don’t ask me for any rose IDs; I didn’t write down a single one.) In ARE’s display gardens, roses grow in mixed borders like this, rubbing elbows with native Lindheimer muhly and flowering perennials. You won’t find boring rows of thorny sticks with unreal looking, chemically sprayed blossoms. These are tough, old cemetery roses, shrub roses, and antique roses that can survive with little attention in the garden, if given plenty of sunshine and reasonably friable soil. If you don’t like traditional rose gardens, come see how they’re meant to be grown. And if you think you don’t like roses, ARE’s gardens will convince you otherwise.


Cuphea micropetala mingling with Lindheimer muhly, a pretty combo for autumn


And a wider shot, with the red roses adding more warmth


On the outside of this border, native white mistflower, also known as shrubby white boneset (Ageratina havanensis), was a froth of spicy-scented, ivory flowers.


Clouds of skippers and other butterflies and bees flitted around the blossoms like the paparazzi around Kim Kardashian.


These guys are fast, but I finally sneaked in close enough for a photo of a skittish skipper.


I wish my blog had smell-o-vision. White mistflower in bloom smells like autumn to me.


ARE is located in the scenic, gently rolling countryside of east-central Texas, and the grounds cover several acres. Part of the display gardens’ charm comes from several rescued old buildings that have been converted into gift shops and galleries (more pictures of these in upcoming posts). This old red chapel is where garden talks are held.


Inside there was a full house to hear my Lawn Gone! talk. They were such good sports about being blogged about, and even said Cheese! when I pulled out my camera. After my talk I signed books and chatted with folks about their own lawn-removal adventures. Fun!


I wasn’t the only speaker on Saturday afternoon. Gardening humorist Felder Rushing was on hand to sign his books and give the final talk of the day.


And Chris Wiesinger, “The Bulb Hunter” of Southern Bulb Co., was there to speak about his adventures in collecting bulbs from old homesteads and sign copies of his new book. It was so nice to meet both Chris and his wife, Rebecca, who was rocking a fabulous pair of cowboy boots (wish I’d gotten a picture!).


Huge thanks to owner Mike Shoup for inviting me to speak at the Antique Rose Emporium, and to everyone who came out for my talk and/or bought a copy of Lawn Gone! Hearing from some of you about your own lawn-gone efforts is inspirational to me, and good luck to those of you who are just starting a new garden in place of lawn. The gardens at ARE provide plenty of inspiration in that regard. I’ll have more pictures from my visit in the next couple of posts, with lots of gorgeous fall blooms. Stay tuned!’

Update: Click here for my post about ARE’s Beatrix Potter garden, bottle trees & cottage charm.

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

8 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    It looks as though it was a perfect day for your visit judging by the blue skies. How nice that you had such a big crowd and what a perfect room for your talk. Your weekends must be full. It has been a long time since we went to the garden but I have Michael Shoup’s book, Empress of the Garden in front of me right now. I feel like with the wonderful blooming of Felicia this year I am ready for more.

    The weather could not have been more perfect, Jenny, and in the afternoon light the plants just glowed. I wish I could grow roses, as I did in my former garden, but my current one is just too shady and deer-infested. —Pam

  2. TufaGirl says:

    It was a wonderful day. It was great to see you again, hopefully we will cross paths again soon. BTW, really enjoying my copy of Lawn Gone! (I believe those red roses by the chapel are Old Gay Hill Red.)

    Yes, TufaGirl, it was a treat to see you too! Thanks for your kind words about my book — and for the rose ID. —Pam

  3. Marti says:

    I’ve heard so much about the ARE, and after seeing your photos, I really want to go someday. Everything looks so pretty, well-kept and yet natural.

    Yes, the gardens are always a treat, even when the roses are not in full bloom, and they never have that stiff, artificial look that traditional rose gardens have. I hope you’re able to visit one day. —Pam

  4. Thanks for the wonderful virtual tour. I love this place. I saw this and would have like to have attended but the kayak festival in Corpus Christi pulled me harder.

    Well, that sounds like fun too, Marilyn! —Pam

  5. Scott Weber says:

    As always, love the Lindheimer muhly..LOVE! I never think I like Roses…but, in truth, there are a few I really love…mostly the old-fashioned singles…and they better have scent! Also, Rosa glauca has the distinction of being as beautiful out of flower as it is in full bloom.

    Scott, I love the way these gardens mingle grasses and roses. Maybe you’d like roses that way in your garden too. —Pam

  6. Diane Brown says:

    Enjoyed your talk on Saturday! It has given me some inspiration and direction for my yard. ARE gardens were just beautiful. Love them in the fall.

    Thanks so much for coming to my talk, Diane! Have fun tearing up your lawn this fall. ;-) —Pam

  7. Carolyn Stracik says:

    Hello Pam! I’m Carolyn with the Texas Rose Rustlers and editor of the Old Texas Rose. I would like to use one or two of the ARE photos in our Fall newsletter. We had a lot of “rustlers” attend, but seems they were too busy visiting and buying to take me any pictures. I’ll give you credit and your site a link. Please let me know if this is okay with you. Thank you for your consideration.

    Carolyn Stracik
    Texas Rose Rustlers

    A Rose Rustler! Carolyn, I’ll send you an email. —Pam

  8. […] I met Chris Wiesinger at the Antique Rose Emporium last month, where we both were giving talks. Texas A&M University Press sent me a copy of The […]

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