The Gone Native Drought Adaptive Garden
The 17-acre Gone Native Arboretum and Botanical Sanctuary is privately owned by Burr and Deborah Williams. It was begun in 1981 as one of the first nurseries in the southwest that specialized in native or adapted plants to the arid southwest. 2 acres have been intensively planted. 15 acres of mesquite and reclaimed prairie surround 2 acres of plantings. 700 species of plants (including 150 trees of thirty species), a half-mile of walking trails, two ponds, a bog garden, a scent garden, an herb garden, a dry stream bed, two flagstone patios and a flagstone walk, over 200 objects of ornamentation, and a dozen sitting places provide a visitor a visual feast. Originally the plantings were to attract birds and butterflies for the late pioneer west Texas ornithologist Frances Williams and to provide propagation stock for Burrs Gone Native Nursery which operated from 1982 until 1992. Formal design principles united a naturalistic landscape. Deborah joined Burr in 1998 and what was once not much more than a collection of plants became a magical garden, as Deborah added hardscaping, theme gardens, sitting areas, herbs(medicinal, culinary, and dye), and ornamentation.
Gone Native Arboretum is the creation of West Texas naturalist and educator Burr Williams. Heavily influenced by his parents use of native plants in the landscape of their 1940s-built home in Midland, Texas, Burr began, at age nine, to identify and catalog plants indigenous to Midland County a hobby that later led to a career in the nursery trade.
Gone Native Nursery was launched in 1981 with the establishment of cutting beds for the retail production of Salvia greggii at a time when the industry ignored the wealth of beautiful plants adapted to Southwestern climactic and soil conditions. To familiarize himself and any customers daring enough to break tradition with the environmental and aesthetic possibilities associated with using native plants in commercial and residential landscapes, the botanical collection now known as the Gone Native Arboretum grew year by year.
In 1992, Burr discontinued the nursery operation in order to devote his time to the development of educational programs at the Sibley Nature Center. As a result, with the exception of 2-3 waterings per year, the demonstration gardens and trial beds were left to survive on their own.
In 1996, Burr began to miss the healing rituals of propagation, pruning, and planting, and resumed his expansion of the assortment of plant specimens that make up the Arboretum the same year Deborah Hartley completed a 9-month apprenticeship with nationally renown medical herbalist, Shatoiya de la Tour.
Burr and Deborah combined efforts in the fall of 1997. Their first efforts was the field collection and planting Limoncillo (Pectis angustifolia) on what is known as the Gravel Hill, a planting area Burr created to replicate the rocky caliche so common in the open rangeland of Midland County.
During the spring growing season of 1998, Deborah introduced a number of traditional medicinal and culinary herbs and cottage garden plants to the Arboretum, creating the Circle Garden adjacent to the Lath House, the nurserys former retail area. In 1999, Burr and Deborah created the Scent Room (an intimate sitting area surrounded by a variety of aromatic plants) along with the Wildflower Seeding Bed. In 2000 the Half-moon Herb Garden, the Quarter-circle Perennial Bed with its Sacred Well, the Raised Beds of Medicinal and Dyers Plants, and the Hot and Windy Corner Bed were added by the first of June.
Burr and Deborahs loving collaboration and shared affection for their homeland, the Llano Estacado, has given springs rebirth year-round to the Gone Native Arboretum.
700 hundred+ species of planted plants are currently living at Gone Native. Click here to see the list of the species tested at the garden (PDF document). Another 600 species did not make it under rigorous xeriscape conditions once every three weeks watering. Another 225 species are native, and come and go with the presence of rainfall. We spend a lot of time trying to learn the Indian and Hispanic uses of our regions plants. (See Michael Moores books for our sort of plants.) Asclepias tuberose, echinaceae purpurea, vitex agnus-castus, scutelleria drummondii, datura wrightii, heimia salicifolia, Mahonia repens, verbena officinalis-halei are indicators of the wide-ranging list of our medicinal plants.
Even while utilized as a nursery, Gone Native functioned as an educational facility. Total visitation over the years is approximately 20,000. The local media has visited dozens of times. Authors of six different books about plants and nature have utilized us as resource people. The cultivated areas serve as demonstration gardens for both xeriscape principles and the cultivation of medicinal herbs, while the hiking trails provide an opportunity to view many native species in their natural habitat. Numerous individuals and groups have attended classes, tours or other events at Gone Native, including the following:
- Native Plant Society of Texas Llano Estacado Chapter
- Permian Basin Master Gardeners
- Howard County Master Gardeners
- Keep Midland Beautiful Trio of Gardens Tour
- Washington Elementary After-School Program
- Midland Naturalists
- Midland College Horticultural Certification Program
- Texas Forest Service professionals
- Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute professionals
- Earth-Kind Program of Texas Cooperative Extension
- Boy Scouts of America
- Girl Scouts of America
- Garden Clubs and school groups from 20+ surrounding towns as far away as 100 miles
At present our work schedules have prevented proper upkeep of the garden, and it is not available for touring.
What follows is a photo diary of 2006-2007.
- Early February, 2006 scenes
- Early March scenes
- Scenes from March 29-30 and April 2
- Scenes from April 7-8
- Scenes from April 15
- Scenes from April 19 and April 21
- Scenes from April 23
- Scenes from April 26
- Scenes from May 4
- Scenes from May 23
- Scenes from June 11
- Scenes from June 21
- Scenes from July
- Scenes from August
- Scenes from September
- Scenes from October
- Scenes from November
- Scenes from December
- January 2007 Icestorm
- Easter 2007 Snowstorm