Gardeners' Dirt: Beyond more gates on Victoria Garden Tour

By Debbie Krueger - Victoria County Master GardenerEdited by Charla Borchers Leon
April 24, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 23, 2014 at 11:24 p.m.

Brightly colored garden  art frequents beds in the backyard landscape of Mike Best.  Located under a group of palm trees, they are conversation pieces that neighbor a large cooking and entertainment area  next to the  pool in this tropical garden.

Brightly colored garden art frequents beds in the backyard landscape of Mike Best. Located under a group of palm trees, they are conversation pieces that neighbor a large cooking and entertainment area next to the pool in this tropical garden.

Welcome back to learn more about the upcoming spring Victoria Garden Tour. Last week's article provided pertinent information for this weekend's event and introduced you to three of the seven gardens on the tour. Read about and enter the gates of the remaining four gardens that you surely don't want to miss.

Beyond more gates

Garden of Mike Best

Best has lived in this home for five years. The tropical setting will put you in a state of paradise as you enter the garden gate. Best has worked with John Ramos Landscaping and aimed to use numerous plants that grow well in the Victoria area in his eco-friendly yard.

A new bed of xeriscape plants have been planted along a walkway to help conserve water during the long, hot summer days ahead. The sides of his gardens are bordered with tall, tree-like bottlebrush, lady finger palms and Rhapis palms, which provide privacy and beauty while attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.

There is also a collection of colorful yard features from art shows that are both interesting and conversation pieces. Best enjoys his view of Spring Creek while he is entertaining and relaxing in his garden, which is truly a landscape for the tropics.

The other three gardens are located in the Victoria Country Club area.

Garden of Mrs. Frank S. Buhler Jr.

As you drive on busy Country Club Drive, you would never know the Buhler residence has its very own "Secret Garden" beyond its gates. Buhler has lived at this residence for about 35 years, and she treasures her privacy in the midst of town.

Mark Garretson of Earthworks Nursery has installed raised beds for growing vegetables that she enjoys each season. Planted for her spring garden are a variety of cutting celery, lettuces, tomatoes, strawberries, stevia, rosemary, fennel and red-veined sorrel.

There is also a variety of citrus trees such as the Meyer lemon, Satsuma orange and grapefruit. There are two honeysuckle vines blooming orange-red and golden yellow trumpet-shaped flowers in late spring and summer. Beds are lined with an assortment of sedums and lavender. There is also an array of Gerbera daisies in the front beds to add a pop of color.

Garden of Bobby and Jan Jacob

Bobby and Jan Jacob have been at this residence for 30 years. They will tell you their garden is a sanctuary for birds, bees and barbecues. When the yard was originally landscaped, it was in full sun, but as the trees grew, there had to be a change to shade-loving plants such as ferns and azaleas. They experiment with certain plants to find a location where they do well.

Seven years ago, Jack Gilbert Construction designed and built an outdoor kitchen, creating an excellent entertaining area surrounded by potted tropical plants. African sun daisies fill containers for a burst of color.

A large number of birds and other flittering friends are attracted to feeders, water fixtures and flowering bushes. There is a lemon tree off to one side with a red Mandevilla on a trellis, and tropical plants such as Hawaiian tea, trumpet plants and night blooming cereus are in pots and baskets. There is also loropetalum (Chinese fringe) uniquely pruned as a hedge.

The beds in this garden are designed in such a way that even in the middle of winter, when many plants are frozen or dormant, there is still verdant green evident throughout. This garden is an excellent source for creative ideas for your own garden year-round.

Garden of George and Blanche Charkalis

George and Blanche Charkalis have lived at their home for seven years and do all their own landscaping and design. They have created various pathways throughout the backyard and are reviving the original flower bed design in the front of the garden. Along the neighboring fence are tall Savannah hollies, crepe myrtles and palms shaped into trees.

Pathways and walkways designed at various angles in the landscape give privacy and seclusion in their backyard off a very busy neighborhood corner. Walking around each pathway, you will find a unique little surprise with various statues poolside for their enjoyment.

A fragrant Confederate star jasmine that attracts butterflies is in full bloom hanging on a fence near a grill and chopping block table. Along their garage are roses and colorful annuals, which are striking to everyone passing by.

With a flair for outdoor enjoyment, cooking and hospitality, George and Blanche are often outside grilling and digging in the gardens. So do not be shy and wave as you pass by.

Explore labors of love and attention

Each of these gardens requires patient labor and continued attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended efforts on them.

So come out this weekend and explore these labors of love that have had considerable attention. Gather some creative styles and techniques for your own.

Hope to see you this weekend on the Victoria Garden Tour.

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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