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Changing landscape maintains appeal

The Denton County Courthouse on the Square is probably right at or near the top of every Denton visitor’s list of must-see sites, and the landmark’s setting should now be more colorful than ever thanks to a new landscape design at the entrances.

The new look, designed by Denton County Master Gardeners, will also offer a history lesson of sorts and could eventually help put more North Texas-friendly plants in area gardens.

We hope so because the Denton County Master Gardeners convinced us long ago that choosing plants that can survive and thrive in the extreme Texas weather conditions is the right route to take. They’ve shown us again and again that choosing plants carefully will save money, help conserve water and reduce maintenance.

Those who didn’t know that plants can be historical should enjoy visiting the 1896-vintage courthouse to check out the heirloom favorites selected for the new design.

“We realize this is the premier historic landmark in the county and it is not only a government office but also a landmark for the county and the city,” County Commissioner Andy Eads told us. “Anyone who spends any time at all at the courthouse realizes it is the backdrop to many personal photographs as well and we wanted to update and refresh the landscape there but do it with plants that were in keeping with the period the courthouse was constructed.”

Thus, the new plan incorporates heirloom favorites such as Old Blush rose, iris and spider lilies, along with many plants that are acknowledged as butterfly favorites. Some of the same varieties probably brightened early Denton County homesteads, and descendants of some of those early plants may still be blooming today in various corners of the county.

“The type of plants we will be installing will be here for generations,” Eads said.

The courthouse landscape plan comes after a year of approvals not only by the Denton County Commissioners Court but by the Texas Historical Commission through its Texas Courthouse restoration program, officials said. Eads said the plans have been in the works for years and that the Master Gardeners drew up initial sketches for officials to review before submitting them to the Texas Historical Commission.

The county purchased the materials, but the design and installation was done with the Master Gardeners and inmate trusties, as necessary, officials said.

“They took this project on and kept in mind plants that are Texas friendly, that do really well in our Texas soil ... looking at ways we can beautify each entrance,” said Peggy Riddle, Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum executive director. “[For] all those interested in preserving our courthouse, this is one of our last steps.”

Saturday could be an ideal time to plan a trip to the courthouse to see the new look because the 2013 Denton County Fruit, Vegetable, Herb and Flower Show is planned at Denton County Fire Fighters Memorial Park, located at the corner of Carroll Boulevard and Mulberry Street just up the street from the downtown Square.

Sponsored by the Denton County Master Gardeners Association, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the city of Denton, the annual educational event is open to any Denton County resident who grows fruits, vegetables, herbs or flowers, and there is no entry fee. Entries will be accepted from 9 to 10 a.m. in two divisions — 18 and younger and adults over 18 — and more information is available at

If you drop by the show, be sure to thank the Master Gardeners for their efforts to develop the new landscape design at the Courthouse on the Square.

As Commissioner Eads said, their work should benefit Denton County for many years to come.