By Jessica Crabtree
A simple idea and love for gardening literally grew before the eyes of Max Clark and his late wife Billie. When the two settled on the property between Weatherford and Mineral Wells, the land was neglected and overrun with mesquite trees. Moving to the location in 1972, the couple initially began creating a garden for their daughter’s upcoming wedding the following year. In a previous comment, Max Clark admitted, “…it was never meant for the public; it was meant for us. We never put anything on paper; we just built it a little at a time.” Clark Gardens Botanical Park made a gradual transformation over the next few decades.
Years of developing their garden grew into something much larger than a simple “back yard garden.” Loved ones will vouch that the years of time and labor invested are a display of Max’s unwavering love for his wife, Billie, who passed in 2012. Before her passing, the couple donated 143 acres of land to the Max and Billie Clark Foundation in 1999, and in 2000 Clark Gardens opened its doors to the public including an event center, plant nursery and staggering garden filled with native Texas and adaptable plants, flowers and trees for every season.
Each season offers visitors a variety of beauty in the overall masterpiece that is Clark Gardens. Spring sets the tone for color that we are starved from all winter. A sea of pink emerges in spring from the double ruffled poppies. Adding to the splendor are more than 3,000 different varieties of irises. Additional flowers are azaleas, roses, daylilies, bluebonnets, cannas and daffodils as well as fruit trees. Summer includes hues of reds, yellows and oranges as all are in full bloom. Fall presents visitors with views of bald cypress and maple, pumpkins, chrysanthemums and large crape myrtles. In the cold of winter, beauty can still be found at Clark Gardens. Garden owners see winter as a time for reflection with the subtle views of holly berries, evergreens and the dusting of snow.
No matter the season, Clark Gardens will not disappoint. The well maintained walk ways are covered two-thirds of the way with a canopy of trees shading the pathways for comfort no matter the temperature. While the flower blooms are stunning, as equally alluring are the trees at Clark Gardens. Historic Tree Trail is made up of more than 80 historic trees for onlookers to see. Each represents its own lineage, American or Texas History and the Civil War.
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