Devereux Gardens still in recovery
By Suzanne LaBrecque - Victoria County Master Gardener Edited by Charla Borchers Leon
Jan. 11, 2018 at 11 p.m.
Updated Jan. 12, 2018 at 6 a.m.
Photo contributed by Devereux Gardens Horticulture Vocational Program Staff for The Victoria Advocate
2017 was a hard year for gardeners in the Crossroads area. It was the year to redesign, redo and replant home and public gardens.
Area gardens 'weathered' by Mother Nature
First, the severe freeze almost exactly a year ago damaged many plants, shrubs and trees in the area. Victoria Educational Gardens (VEG), like other landscapes and public areas, was decimated by that cold spell. Master gardeners salvaged some plants and planted new ones. By the spring plant sale, VEG was again beautiful with healthy, blooming plants.
Then in August, Hurricane Harvey destroyed trees, shrubs and vegetable gardens all over Victoria. Once again, master gardeners worked together to replant and revitalize VEG.
But how did other garden centers spring back after these two storms? Specifically how did Devereux Gardens - Victoria recover from losing all the greenhouses, plants and gardening supplies?
Devereux Gardens had extensive damage
In December, I met with Tim Hoover, grower and manager of the Devereux Horticulture Vocational Program. Damage to the Devereux-Victoria campus was extensive. More than 100 trees were uprooted, greenhouses were completely destroyed and buildings had serious roof leaks.
• Horticulture clients work to recover
However, the week after Harvey, all the horticulture clients were back at work to clean and propagate new startup plants. Wait, clients? Tim explained that the Devereux horticulture program is a vocational program that provides meaningful training and work for special needs residents on campus.
Currently, 14 clients on their roster are guided and mentored daily by Kenny Marquez, the full-time staff member. These paid clients work from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. With this schedule, all plants can thrive and nursery areas can be well-maintained.
Clients grow almost all the plant inventory using seeds and propagation techniques. This planting process actively involves the clients and helps them understand the growing process. Clients are proud of what they plant - and many enjoy interacting with the public.
• Plants grown onsite have lower pricing
Because most of the plants are grown onsite, prices for plants can be lower at Devereux. The financial goal for the horticulture program is to be self-sustaining and to break even. However, the staff always appreciates donations that can help them improve their services for both clients and the public.
Best sellers at Devereux Gardens are special and sometimes atypical annuals, perennials, herbs and succulents. Their baskets and container medleys are colorful, healthy and affordable because the plants are grown on-site.
• Two new greenhouses are beginning to recovery
After Hurricane Harvey, community generosity resulted in designated gifts for the horticulture program. Two, new 20-by-80-foot greenhouses have been ordered and will be twice as large as those that were lost. Larger greenhouses mean the horticulture team can increase the inventory of plants. These greenhouses will be on-site and constructed this month.
• Need still great
This will be a great deal of help although there is still need for additional green houses and funding for recovery efforts.
Spring fling fundraising event
One significant Devereux fundraising event to help continue recovery is the Spring Fling on March 24.
• "Finished" plants will be available
For this event, a semitruck from Florida will deliver tropical or "finished" plants for shoppers to buy. Dramatic "finished" plants include varieties of hibiscus or palms that bring a wow factor to patios and yards. Also, select vendors/artists will have booths near the greenhouses and provide an opportunity to find many one-of-a-kind treasures.
• Bougainvillea to take center stage
At this year's Spring Fling, the bougainvillea will take center stage with many varieties, sizes and colors available to the public.
After Hurricane Harvey stripped Devereux's bougainvilleas of their leaves, they were put under cover and allowed to rest without water for a few weeks. This process mimicked the dry period that is helpful to healthy bougainvilleas. Finally, these bougainvilleas were watered and fertilized and are now in a second blooming period.
Invitation to visit Devereux Gardens
As manager of the Devereux Victoria horticulture vocational program, Tim Hoover and his colleague, Kenny Marquez invite the public to come visit now throughout the spring to appreciate all the activity and to see the clients and how hard they work. You can buy locally grown citrus trees as well as winter hearty annuals and succulents. Many bougainvillea are also available now for purchase.
On the Devereux website is this quote: "At Devereux, we are always en route, continually incorporating new innovation to advance our service, our industry and the lives of those we serve." I found this quote exemplified by Tim and Kenny in the horticulture area. I urge you to visit the gardens and experience this respect and love for all growing things.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or email@example.com.