Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989 Page: 9
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article was her response to an inquiry from
Dr. Samuel E. Asbury, a chemistry professor
and something of an institution at
Texas A&M University.
In 1983, Dr. Charles Shultz, Director of
the Texas A&M University Archives, was
accessioning Dr. Asbury's papers and noticed
some interesting letters. He brought
them to my attention and that of "old rose"
expert and historian, Pamela Ashworth
Puryear of Navasota. The letters revealed
that Dr. Asbury had many interests outside
his field; besides music, he loved roses and
As part of his research in plant nutrients,
Dr. Asbury planted roses around his
small shotgun house, feeding them with
exotic trace elements. In a few years the
climbers reached the tops of telephone
poles of moderate height. To harvest their
blooms, he reportedly climbed high on a
weird network of thin scaffolding. His
house nearly vanished into the foliage of
his rose jungle.
As the Texas Centennial of 1936 approached,
Asbury, although a native of
North Carolina, was curious to know what
kinds of roses the first Texas settlers
brought with them. He sent a postcard
questionnaire to everyone he knew with an
interest in Texas history. One of the responses
came from Ima Hogg who told of
the roses her mother had grown. Another
response was the long history from Adina
de Zavala describing her grandmother
Adina was fortunate to have strong family
traditions in both history and gardening.
Although her grandmother had first
planted the garden in the summer of 1835,
family members recalled not only the roses'
names, but many of the other plants as well
and exactly where they grew in the yard.
Emily de Zavala, wife of Texian patriot
Lorenzo de Zavala and grandmother of
Adina de Zavala, admired the great gardens
of France while at the Court of St.
Cloud where her husband served as minister
to France when Texas was part of
Mexico. Several of the roses in the Harrisburg
garden were presented to de Zavala
when he left France to return to his Texas
home located on a bluff of the San Jacinto
River. The plantation, like other plantations
and towns, provided an oasis of civilization
and refinement amid the chaos of
the wilderness of early Texas-a land of
contrasts. The de Zavala garden included
many China, Tea and other roses known to
The verbal descriptions along with
photographs of the de Zavala home in
Adina de Zavala's article provided sufficient
information for the accompanying
watercolor plan and sketch drawn by Karen
Benson of College Station.
Photograph of Adina de Zavala, signed and
dated June 5, 1935. Several of the roses in the
Harrisburg garden were presented to de
Zavala when he left France to return to Texas.
Adina was the granddaughter of Emily and
Lorenzo de Zavala. Photo courtesy of the
Daughters of the Republic Library at the
HERITAGE * SPRING 1989 9
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989, periodical, Spring 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45432/m1/9/: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.