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Welcome to Gardens San Michele

Virginia's Passion for Plants

The Gardens at Le San Michele have been my labor of love for two decades. I live here, I work here, I love here.... and I regularly help others to celebrate love here, as well.  I’ve hosted over 800 events: weddings and receptions, baby showers, anniversary celebrations, birthday parties, and quinceañeras.

My love of gardens comes naturally, as I am from a long line of exceptional gardeners. My Grandmother, Lovey, had a beautiful garden right on Enfield Road in Austin. Passers-by would stop and ring the bell to ask if they could take photos in her garden.

She had enormous azaleas, fragrant wisteria and camellias, and a remarkably majestic magnolia tree. We often dined alfresco on her limestone terrace celebrating family occasions, gathering with friends for spectacular meals, and observing holidays, with Easter being especially memorable. Her spring garden was filled with bulbs: snowdrops, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths, all
peeking through radiant pansies. It was shady around the pool, and there she grew the most astounding caladiums, with their heart-shaped leaves and gorgeously colored veining.

My mother, Pat, grew up surrounded by this love of beautiful plants and steeped in the knowledge of how to grow and nurture them. She and her best friend, Anne, started their own landscaping business in the early 70's.  Both were extremely knowledgeable and passionate gardeners, and even as a youngster, they took me along to nursery after nursery in search of just the right plants for the designs they worked on. It was among those greenhouses and growers that my love affair with so many different species of plants began. 

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I also had a very special relationship with my grandmother’s sister, whom I called Aunt Sis and her husband, my Uncle Bill. Both were extraordinary gardeners, although their gardens were more focused upon a homestead garden that produced tasty vegetables and stunning cottage-style flowers. In their elderly years, I lived with them and was able to share my interest and excitement surrounding the movement in the landscaping community toward utilizing native and well-adapted plants. Ultimately, they gave me 12 beautiful acres on their ranch in Buda, TX that has become Le San Michele.

I visited Wildseed Farms when it first began and knew from that moment forward that native Texas wildflowers—grown from seed—would always be an
integral part of any garden I grew. When I discovered the Antique Rose Emporium, I became completely enamored of old roses. These fragrant and romantic bushes are amazingly easy and delightful to grow, and there are
many, many varieties of old garden roses to be found in the Gardens at Le San Michele. My interest in agaves and spineless cacti resulted in a marvelous excursion into the deserts of southwest Texas—meeting cowboys and
criminals, rescuing specimens, and stomping on snakes.  The agave gardens at San Michele commemorate that wild time!

My education as a gardener would not be complete without mention of my travels in Europe. There, I found the geometrically laid-out gardens to be exceedingly inspirational, with their orderliness directing the eye and their abundance directing the heart. I learned so much about color choices, about textures, and about the importance of garden structures as I toured garden after garden.

Over the years, the Gardens at Le San Michele have been developed with my own particular passions — for underlying order, for diversity, for the love of my particular spot on this amazing planet—all right here in the very heart of Texas.

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