Blooming Where You’re Planted, Part 1

Even the most seasoned meteorologists missed it. A dry winter was predicted at the end of 2011, which was the driest year on record in Texas. Instead, surprise winter rains have brought some long-absent green back to Brentwood and Crestview.

It’s still early, but spring’s on its way, and we’re turning more of our attention to our local greenscape. Community events by Friends of Brentwood Park, Sunshine Community Gardens, and Urban Patchwork Neighborhood Farms are coming up soon, too. All are worthwhile projects that need our support—even more so with the drought continuing and certain to have a long-term impact on Central Texas.

In the late 1940s, Austin was in the throes of another years-long drought. Gladstone Swenson purchased one of the extra-deep lots on the north side of Ruth Avenue in Brentwood and built one of the first houses in the area. Having grown up working on the family farm near Kimbro, Texas, he wanted plenty of room around his new home to do some planting.

Gladstone, his wife Erna, and their daughter Kay moved into the house in 1950. Over the years, he worked the rugged soil and grew a large vegetable garden; peach, pear, and plum trees; pecan trees; and flowers—dahlias, Easter lilies, gladiolas, and bluebonnets. (The photo of Kay and her mother, right, inspired one of the large mosaics on the Wall of Welcome.) Today, new owners of the Swenson home are growing their own gardens there.

In the video clip below, Kay talks about some of the vegetables her father grew and how the family worked together to preserve the harvest. We interviewed Kay on January 19, 2008.

Stay tuned! In our next blog post we’ll share more stories of neighbors “blooming where they’re planted.”

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