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Gardeners' Dirt: Master Gardeners share freebies

By Barbara Haley - Victoria County Master GardenerEdited by Charla Borchers Leon
Jan. 2, 2014 at midnight
Updated Jan. 1, 2014 at 7:02 p.m.

The Victoria Educational Gardens are open to the public every day, all day, at no charge. Master Gardeners can often be found routinely working in the gardens, like when this family came upon Master Gardener Pat Plowman tending to the koi fish at the Water Garden this past summer.

There aren't many things free in life, but I'm about to share with everyone who lives in Victoria and surrounding counties some of these freebies. That is, if you are interested in gardening and plants.

As 2014 begins, the Master Gardeners are planning to expand on the freebies offered by our association as well as various other programs. Our group is composed of 150 members who are willing to share their expertise, experience and skills with anyone who asks.

The following is a description of free programs offered by Victoria County Master Gardener Association to the community that we hope to expand in 2014 in order to fulfill our purpose of educating the public.

Junior Master Gardener training

One such free program is that for Junior Master Gardeners. It is already active on one elementary school campus in Victoria. Plans are underway to expand that program to other schools that are interested.

The program follows the essential curricula required by schools. Students learn gardening from the ground up, and it is taught at the third-grade level. Master Gardeners teach the students as well as their teachers. Textbooks and supplies - as well as teachers - are furnished free.

Victoria Educational Gardens

Another activity offered free to the community is the Victoria Educational Gardens, located at Victoria Regional Airport across from the control tower at 333 Bachelor Drive. Just head for the tall tower at the back of the airport and the garden entrance is across the street. The gate is usually closed but opens easily when the latch is flipped open.

All day, every day, no charge

There are 19 mini-gardens for all ages just waiting for you to explore. Bring a cup of coffee or a snack to enjoy while you browse. Seats are all along the way for you to stop and rest upon while you observe and enjoy the gardens. Restrooms and a water fountain are also provided.

You may even see Master Gardeners at work. That's your chance to ask questions and learn. They don't mind being interrupted.

Milestone celebration

This past September, the association observed the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the gardens with more than 500 in attendance celebrating with us. Many free activities were provided for children. Everyone had a fun time, including the adults, who were able to attend activities designed just for them.

Club and group tours

Free again are conducted tours for your club, school class or group. About 1,200 students visited the gardens throughout 2013. Local area hotel and motel managers visited the gardens this past year to become acquainted with it for referral as a local attraction for their hotel guests.

Other free education

The association takes pride in offering sound, educational gardening information to the public.

Lunch and learn

Free too, is the Lunch and Learn with the Masters program that resumes Jan. 13 at the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center at 2805 N. Navarro St. in Victoria.

The free seminars are from noon to 1 p.m. on the second Monday of each month through August. Bring your lunch and enjoy a knowledgeable speaker on various gardening topics each month. Free handouts are also provided to attendees.

The Gardeners' Dirt

The Gardeners' Dirt is published once a week on Fridays in the Victoria Advocate. Many topics have been covered during the last 10 years in more than 550 original articles, providing lots of information. While the paper is not free, The Master Gardeners provide the column to the Advocate as a service to readers.

Association website (

The association's website is a good place to read up on these articles if you miss one or need to reread an article, all of which are archived on the site. also provides general information about the Master Gardener program, upcoming activities, the educational gardens, facility rentals and a whole lot more.


Need a speaker for your club or event? The association is capable of providing knowledgeable speakers on various topics. We have many experienced gardeners willing to share - again, free of charge.

New gardening year

The new year is almost here, and I am looking forward to planning new activities and enhancing the ones we now offer. We hope you will avail yourself of any of these activities that appeal to you. Here's to a happy new gardening year in 2014.

The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or, or comment on this column at



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