Gardeners' Dirt: Take a stroll through Victoria Educational Gardens
By Marcia Kauffman - Victoria County Master Gardener InternEdited by Charla Borchers Leon
Aug. 16, 2012 at 3:16 a.m.
"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if only we will tune in"
- George Washington Carver
For many years, I had to dash out to the Victoria Regional Airport to pick up my husband at the end of one of his many trips. Little did I know about the phenomenal jewel created at the former Foster Field Air Force Base - that broadcasts its natural beauty to us daily - and hourly.
Nowadays, we refer to this creation as Victoria Educational Gardens, commonly called VEG. I continue going to the airport area with an entirely different agenda now. I am a Master Gardener intern and delight in the many opportunities I have had at the gardens.
One of these is to give tours around the incredible gardens surrounding the recently renovated Officer's Club. What a treasure available to the public through the various tours guided by Master Gardeners.
School tours of the gardens can be arranged either by grade levels or interest groups. The children will be in small groups of about 8-10, and will experience different activities conducted by Master Gardeners and chaperoned by their teachers. The activities could include planting seeds, learning about recycling or waiting patiently while a butterfly emerges from a cocoon.
They can parade through the various gardens with a Master Gardener guide who will explain things, such as the butterflies' habitat, the sensory garden and the Texas native garden. They will discover a bit of history about Foster Field as they try to find soldiers they may know whose names are on the pavers honoring our troops.
Some of the favorite activities are feeding the fish in the koi pond or smelling the various herbs growing in the vegetable garden. The tours are tailored to the size and age of the group.
As garden clubs wander from one area to another, they can appreciate the arrangement of our flag's colors in the blue plumbago, red nodding clerodendrum and the white shooting star lily in the patriotic garden. Their gaze may fall upon the Confederate rose in the heirloom garden, the dyckia from Brazil or the nierembergia from Argentina in the international garden. There is no time constraint as your group meanders around.
Entertaining a visiting friend or relative? You might take the time to meander through the gardens by simply wandering around and reading the assorted plant labels. If you are lucky enough, there may be a person working on his/her class' area of the garden who will be able to offer further information.
It is difficult to mention all of the things these inspiring gardens have to offer. I haven't even touched on the water lilies sprouting up through the water in the Koi pond, or the serene Zen garden with pagodas or the bulb garden with Grecian wildflowers and early snowdrops.
And it goes on .
If you are thinking of a change at your own house, stroll over to the groundcover area to observe the manicured groundcover and turfgrass areas. Perhaps you would like to see how the prolific blooming Bush morning glory or Chenille plant grow in our hot Victoria weather - and how they add color near the patriotic garden?
If you have an interest in composting, you might observe our composting bin in action while our Master Gardeners prepare compost for the next usage.
Whoever walks through the gate that welcomes all that enter will be awed and amazed each time a corner is turned in your stroll through Victoria Educational Gardens. Whatever your reason to take a tour, I just hope you will take the opportunity to visit our Victoria treasure. It is well worth the short drive to its location. And did I mention this little treasure is free?
If you are interested in setting up a tour, contact Edna Lafour at 361-782-7389.
And, who knows, our paths may just cross on one of the guided tours I help give through the garden paths of VEG.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.