Gardeners' Dirt: Children's activities outlined for upcoming festival
By Suzanne LaBrecque - Victoria County Master GardenerEdited by Charla Borchers Leon
Sept. 5, 2013 at 4:05 a.m.
Come to Victoria Educational Gardens from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 14 to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
The Festival in the Gardens is for you and your children to explore the gardens and have fun participating in a wide variety of activities.
Festival activities will be throughout the 2-acre VEG located on Bachelor Drive next to the old control tower at Victoria Regional Airport. Be sure to bring your cameras.
It all begins in the Children's Garden, where you can see the butterfly and alphabet gardens and use the photo booth. Inside the pavilion, children can make butterfly masks and learn about the butterfly's life cycle and demonstrate this process through age-appropriate art activities.
In the patio area, young children will enjoy a game of pin the bee on the flower while older children will be planting seeds in clay pots. All will be able to observe earthworms at work and compare different plants' root systems.
Face painting will be in the birdhouse area, and the plant walk will be in the Veggie Gazebo. The tent area will have all kinds of naturalist art projects from flower and bark rubbings to origami. Between 10 a.m. and noon, Dorothy H. O'Connor Pet Adoption Center staff will bring dogs for all to enjoy.
For those who prefer to observe, come relax in the shade or meditative gardens and enjoy the beauty of the plants and watching children have fun. All will find a peaceful interlude watching the colorful Koi fish in the ponds and listening to the waterfalls.
The highlight of the Festival in the Gardens will be a hay ride that people of all ages will love. And an added benefit consistent with the Master Gardener commitment of providing educational activities is that this event is free.
Please write this special event on your calendar for Sept. 14 and plan to come between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to have family fun and get to know more about the magic of the gardens and gardening.
Story of VEG
More than one dozen years ago, a small group of Master Gardeners had the dream for an intricate collection of mini gardens that would educate Victoria County citizens of all ages.
Goal: The gardens would demonstrate earth-kind gardening techniques, water conservation, composting processes and a variety of flowers, vegetables, shrubs and turf. The environment would be handicap accessible, child friendly and open dawn to dusk at no charge. The goal would be to provide horticultural and environmental education in a beautiful, calming environment. It was an ambitious, comprehensive project and dependent on the generosity of many volunteers and donors.
Six phases: On the grounds of the Victoria Regional Airport, Victoria Educational Gardens, referred to as "VEG," was completed in phases. With months of planning before and in between, the gardens were completed in more than six years.
Phase I: Included the Children's Garden with its "alphabet-labeled flowers," rainbow circle of flowers and shrubs, butterfly, birding, sensory and Texas native plants areas. Also included the vegetable garden, the greenhouse for propagating plants, the composting area and the storage facility were part of the first phase. This section of VEG opened to the public in 2003.
Phase II: Included the patio container garden, the tropical garden, the Daylily garden and the labyrinth and turfgrass areas.
Phase III: Included the heirloom garden, the patriotic garden and the rose and shade gardens.
Phase IV: Included the water garden with its bog filtration system designed and developed.
Phase V: Included the xeriscape area, the international garden, the wildscape area plus additional compost and weed control demonstration areas.
Phase VI: Included the completion of the 6,000-square-foot, multipurpose pavilion located adjacent to Phase I of VEG that can be rented for special events. The pavilion's roof is a second rainwater harvesting collection area for the gardens.
Since the 2007 grand opening, several thousand children have toured the gardens with their teachers and parents.
Again, we Victoria County Master Gardeners hope it will work for you and your children to join us for the Festival in the Gardens. We know you'll be glad you came.
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.