Gruene Days

This past weekend I tagged along with my son Chris and my son in law Cameron when they went to meet an old high school buddy at Gruene Hall.  It had been about 30 years since I last walked through the doors of the oldest continuously operating dancehall in Texas and I wanted to see how much things had changed. 

blog-grueneThirty years ago, Gruene Hall was the main reason that folks came to the town of Gruene.  Gruene Hall has been hosting the stars and future stars of country music since 1877.  When my wife was a student at the university formerly known as Southwest Texas State (now Texas State—Go Bobcats!!!), she and her friends would drive over from San Marcos to dance and listen to a tall, skinny kid named George Strait.   King George is not the only country star to get his start there.  Gruene Hall has been providing the best in country music to two-stepping cowboys and cowgirls for the past 135 years. 

No plant says Texas better than cactus and no building says dancehall better than Gruene Hall

No plant says Texas better than cactus and no building says dancehall better than Gruene Hall

Dancing is no longer the main reason to come to Gruene.  The town is now a bustling spot for tourists, shoppers, foodies and wine aficionados (with a great dancehall).  Someone has done an excellent job of preserving the charm of the old parts of the town and then enhancing them with very attractive landscapes and plantings.  All of the common areas are dotted with trimmed native trees and lined with neat decomposed granite or brick pathways.  The unpainted board and batten shops are the perfect backdrop for a host of Texas tough plants like purple sage and southern wax myrtles.  There are also tons of beautiful borders scattered around as well.

If you want to make a plant "pop" plant it in front of a gray background

If you want to make a plant “pop” plant it in front of a gray background

The thing that got me the most fired up were the impressive container plantings that are scattered around the town.  The massed whiskey barrels that combined lush flowers, cacti and succulents were beautiful.  By using containers of different heights and plants of different textures, the designer created lush gardens that seemed to “tumble” down a hill and spill onto the sidewalk.

The container gardens in front of Gruene Hall are stunning

The container gardens in front of Gruene Hall are stunning

I love container gardens.  I wish I were better at creating them.  The rule for creating beautiful container arrangements is the “Thriller, Filler, Spiller” method.  The container arrangements at Gruene take that concept a step further.  Instead of having a thriller, filler and spiller in each pot, they take a large, tall pot and put a single large scale plant (see the thornless prickly pear) in it to create the thriller part of the arrangement.  Then they arrange pots of different heights that contain plants of different textures to create the fillers and spillers.  The effect was very attractive and as you can tell, I was pretty impressed with it.

This thornless prickly pear makes a great "thriller in the container arrangement

This thornless prickly pear makes a great “thriller in the container arrangement

My wife and I love to dance and there is still no place in all of Texas that is better to do a little belly rubbin’ than Gruene Hall.  However, as I discovered this weekend, dancing is no longer the only reason to go there.  While you can still hear some great music you can also shop, eat at some very nice restaurants and enjoy some really great people watching while sipping a glass of artisanal Texas wine. The Gruene Music and Wine Festival runs from October 10 through the 13th.   If you have never been to Gruene this is a great time to go. Fall in Gruene is a great time to appreciate all of the charm of days gone by while enjoying the best that modern Texas has to offer.

Whisky barrels make great containers

Whisky barrels make great containers

8 thoughts on “Gruene Days

  1. Jay,

    How refreshing! I haven’t been to Gruene in about 20 years and now I am considering going with my husband and our kids who are in their 20’s and up. Absolutely stunning array of plant life. Thanks for a great post! P.S. I work PT with an event corp and I was at last Saturday’s TSU game in the VIP suites. They won big! I will continue to work the TSU games. Go Bobcats!!!!

  2. Jay,
    Sounds like Gruene Hall holds some precious memories to you. Seeing George Strait when he was just starting out – Very Cool! I love looking at the beautiful containers filled with gorgeous blooms when I visit Gruene. Somebody has a green thumb!

    I need some tree advice from the Gardening Guru. I planted a Texas Redbud two years ago in the back corner of my backyard. It looked so cute as a small, little tree, however now it is overwhelming the space. I’m thinking of moving it to a different location of the yard so it will have space to branch out. I’ll probably dig it up and move it this Fall. Any advice?

  3. Jay,
    Sorry to leave so many comments, but I read my previous comment and realized that my question wasn’t very specific. When I move the Redbud tree, I know I will have to add some new soil + compost in the new spot. I will probably apply a growth hormone application. Do you have any suggestions? I’m wondering how the tree would fair IF we have a harsh winter. That is a big IF:)

    • Feel free to leave as many comments as you want. here is a link to an article I did on moving plants http://masterofhort.com/2010/10/fall-transplanting/. If I were you I would wait until October to do e move. Since I dig a hole that is the same size as the root ball I don’t mix compost with the soil. However, you can do a heavymmulchmwith compost after you move it nd that should work fine. When I move a tree I always stake it for at least a year. Also make sure and water it deeply once a week until it starts getting cold. Once it warms up some in the spring start up thr deep watering routine again

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