Sixth phase of VEG celebrated with
Workers, public celebrate with open house ceremony

From THE VICTORIA ADVOCATE, May 23, 2011 ~

Jennifer Preyss
It's been more than a decade, and Master Gardener Association Member Pat Plowman still remembers the empty, unlandscaped fields surrounding the Foster Field Officers' Club near the Victoria Airport. She remembers working on a landscaping project one afternoon near those fields and wondering how the community might benefit from a community garden and onsite pavilion near the club.

Fourteen years later, Plowman's vision, which has come to be known as the Victoria Educational Garden on Bachelor Drive, was officially completed.

The sixth and final phase of the VEG, a 6,000 square-feet pavilion built adjacent to the Officers' Club and the garden itself, was celebrated Sunday with an open house ceremony.

"It's great that all the work we've done with the garden is finally finished," Plowman said about the pavilion and acre-and-a-half garden.

About 200 horticulture enthusiasts and county officials gathered at the open house ceremony to praise the efforts of more than 300 volunteers who completed the Master Gardener training program since 1997 and contributed thousands of volunteer hours to the VEG project.

"This shows you that no job is too big or little to get it finished," former Precinct 4 Victoria County Commissioner Wayne Dierlam said.

Echoing Dierlam's sentiments, sitting Precinct 4 Victoria County Commissioner Clint Ives said, "I can't compliment you enough on the work you did ... I'd like to offer my support and assistance for anything we can do."

The other five stages of VEG included building an acre-and-a-half of 20 small gardens, including the Military Honor Garden, Water Garden, Children's Garden and the Vegetable Garden, which was completed by 323 Master Gardeners in recent years.

One open house attendee, Shirley Buergner, of Victoria, who previously volunteered with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin for about five years, said the VEG was comparable to her former gardening location.

While perusing the rear garden flowers, Buergner said, "I'm definitely impressed. They show so much variety in the designs."

The gardens are open throughout the day free of charge to the community. And with the completion of the pavilion, the community is able to use the event space and gardens for private events and ceremonies for a fee, Plowman said.

"We just now want people to know about this place and come visit," Plowman said.
LEFT:  Zella Cook and her husband, Charles, of Cuero, walk through the arbor during the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion Open House.

RIGHT:  Linda Hartman stands by the Texas Superstars, plants native to Texas, in the Victoria Educational Gardens on Sunday, May 22.  Hartman was the gardener who worked on the superstar area and was there answering questions about the plants during the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion Open House.  In front are purple fan flowers called 'New Wonder' and behind them are tall purple Salvia flowers.  "They are known for heat tolerance and growing well in this area," Hartman said.
Emilie Saenz, 13, and her sister, Olivia, 10, sit by the water lily pond watching the fish during the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion Open House.
LEFT:  A water lily grows in one of the ponds that are part of the Victoria Educational Gardens.  Visitors toured the garden during the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion Open House on Sunday.

RIGHT:  Debbie Colley plays the flute and Miranda Partida plays the oboe as part of hte Four + One, a woodwind quintet, during the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion Open House.
Former County Commissioner Wayne Dierlam speaks during the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion Open House.
Bird habitats sit in the Victoria Educational Gardens on Sunday, May 23.  Visitors attended the open house to view the completed pavilion and the gardens themselves.