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Pecan Valley woman turns stark patch into bountiful oasis

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

Hope Hamilton plucks off a few dead blooms on her knock-out rose bush outside her Marble Falls home in the Pecan Valley community. When she and her husband, Tony, purchased the house in 2004, it featured a predominately bare front yard. With a little help from a landscaper, Hope created an oasis with roses, wildflowers, fruit trees and native plants. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Hope Hamilton plucks off a few dead blooms on her knock-out rose bush outside her Marble Falls home in the Pecan Valley community. When she and her husband, Tony, purchased the house in 2004, it featured a predominately bare front yard. With a little help from a landscaper, Hope created an oasis with roses, wildflowers, fruit trees and native plants. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

MARBLE FALLS — As she surveyed her peach tree outside her front door, Hope Hamilton was surprised at what she found. Last year, the fruit tree barely managed a peach, and Hamilton believed it wouldn’t be much different this year.

“I don’t know what was different,” she said. “But this year, I was afraid the weight of the peaches was going to break the limbs.”

Hamilton went as far as propping the lower limbs up with two-by-fours and other things to take the stress off the tree. Then, she started picking.

“I took out one of those cloth grocery bags and filled it,” she said. Hamilton scooted the bag across the ground and into her home, where she weighed it — 30 pounds. Three bags — of the same weight — later, she knew she had enough for her own use and began telling others to “come and pick some peaches.”

All this from a small patch of land in the Pecan Valley area of Marble Falls at a home that looked like “a saltine cracker” when she first saw it — all stark and bare.

Hamilton has created a small oasis within the city with a few peach trees, several other trees, a couple hedge rows of rose bushes and a smattering of wildflowers and native plants. All at a house her husband, Tony, balked at purchasing about 10 years ago.

One might say the Hamiltons are summer camp transplants. The couple’s four children — three boys and a daughter — attended Camp Peniel each summer when they were growing up. So the Hamiltons would make their way through Marble Falls, checking out the area. Even back then, something about the place on which the house now sits captivated her.

At the time, a silo sat in about the same site her home is. Across the road was the farmhouse for the property.

After Tony retired and the kids got on with their own lives, the couple found a spot outside of Durango, Colo., to relax. Tony would hike the trails around the home for hours at a time, sometimes heading out on 20-mile jaunts.

But Hope thought of Marble Falls and Texas because that’s where many of their grandchildren lived. One day, while in Marble Falls, she spotted a house on Pecan Valley just past Johnson Park. It was a stark home with only a few small bushes out front. Still, it spoke to her in some way.

“Tony was reluctant,” she said. “He loved Colorado. Eventually, though, he said, ‘If you want it, get it.'”

Tony came around though and fell in love with the area. He began hiking the area trails and spending mornings kayaking Lake Marble Falls with their dog Juapo. They kept their Colorado home so they could escape to cool weather.

With a little help from a landscaper, who laid out a front porch area and planted a few trees, Hope cast her own spell on the property with her plants.

“Once, I just came out with a 10-pound bag of wildflower seeds and threw them around,” she said. The results thrive in the heat while adding a nice dash of color around the property. Sunflowers stand tall out front.

A row of knock-out roses greet people who walk up her drive, but along the way, they’ll get a look at a fig tree, two pine trees she put in so her grandchildren would have Christmas trees, a bevy of other plants and a hibiscus. A small statue guards the front of the house. She jokes the statue is her as a young girl in boots and overalls when she lived in a much more rural Fort Worth.

She recalled the peach orchard outside her childhood home and her father’s advice.

“He said, ‘If you’re going to plant peaches, plant Elberta peaches. You can’t go wrong with those,'” Hope said. So she did, and her dad was right. She now gives the same advice.

The peaches are now all gone from the tree, but Hope has plenty stored away, frozen, canned and pickled. As for the rest of the summer, she plans on enjoying the little oasis she created from the “saltine cracker” of a house.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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