Tropicals, natives, citrus and more on menu for symposium

September 15, 2005
NANCY KRAMER
Victoria County
Master Gardeners

Have any plans for Sept. 24, the first Saturday of the 2005 fall season? No? Then why not plan to spend the day with us at the Victoria County Master Gardener Association (VCMGA) Fall Gardening Symposium, which will begin at 9 a.m. at the 4-H Activity Center, on Bachelor Drive, located at the Victoria Regional Airport?

VCMGA has been hosting this type of educational event since 1999. As in years past, the information offered will be timely and appropriate for our area, with presentations by people who are experts in their fields. The $30 registration fee covers admission for a menu of five presentations, a goody bag with various items including sample products, morning and afternoon refreshments, lunch, along with chances to win door prizes and place bids in the silent auction. Another perk this year will be early-bird entry for symposium attendees to shop the Master Gardener plant sale beginning at 8 a.m.

VCMGA members have been propagating tropicals, among other natives, herbs and popular plants that thrive in our area.

Early fall has proven to be an excellent time for planting in the Victoria area. Tropical plants will have enough time to get well established after transplanting and will have about 60 days of growth before colder temperatures occur - if planted before Oct. 15. The main emphasis of this symposium will be on tropical plants for our area. The program will offer five hours of continuing education units s for Master Gardeners and three hours of Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide CEUs with 1 in general and 2 in IPM.

First on the schedule, Dave Goris of Victoria will present "Plumerias for Victoria." Goris did a presentation at last year's Fall Symposium on caring for roses in our area. Also, if you had the opportunity to attend the 2004 Nature's Beauty Beyond the Gate garden tour, sponsored by VCMGA and Trinity Episcopal School, you may have seen first-hand that Goris knows a great deal about plumerias in Victoria as well as other excellent cultural habits for tropicals. It's wonderful having such a wealth of knowledge in one of our own local gardeners.

It may be difficult to understand how plumeria lovers can appreciate bare sticks in the ground in early spring or in their garages all winter, but when you see them in bloom, the beauty and the fragrance of the inflorescence explains why frangipani, or plumerias are one of the favorite tropicals for our area. Mr. Goris will show the different cultivars or varieties he grows and explain his methods for success.

The next presenter will be Tom LeRoy, who started the first Master Gardener program in the state of Texas in 1979 in Montgomery County and presents educational programs across the state. He has developed a pictorial PowerPoint presentation titled, "Hardy Tropicals for the Southern Garden."

LeRoy graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor's degree in horticulture and a master's degree in plant breeding. He co-authored "Growing Fruits and Nuts in the South" and "Common Sense Vegetable Gardening for the South."

Among the many tropicals he will discuss are fire spike, Persian shield, cat whiskers, several gingers, a few hibiscus varieties, bougainvillea, clerodendrum, jatropha, clumping bamboo, bananas, orchid trees, and a small tree called fireman's cap.

During the lunch break, Master Gardener Intern Barbara Wheelis will do a floral design demonstration using cut flowers from the garden. Barbara is one of those types of people who just jumps in and shares her ideas with others. She attended the Benz School of Floral Design at Texas A&M and will demonstrate how to make practical designs for home, hospital, church, and business. She took the master gardener training class last fall after moving here with her ranching family from West Texas. She is also involved with FFA activities with her family.

Ernie Edmundson is on the schedule following lunch. She is a master gardener and master naturalist residing in Rockport. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in education from North Texas State University and the University of Houston-Victoria.

As a transplanted gardener from the North Texas area, Edmundson began searching for plants that could survive in South Texas dry,scorching and humid summers, sparsely punctuated with downpouring rains.The search led to native plants and a love affair with the hardy flora that thrives in our harsh environment. "Landscaping with Sub-Tropical Natives" will highlight these incredible beauties and illustrate how to utilize them in landscapes that are not only attractive, but also provide habitat for birds and butterflies.

Herman Auer is a master gardener from Galveston County. He has been a member since 1983 and says he is in no other organization that may interfere with his interest in master gardeners. He knows what he's talking about, having 40 pecan trees, 15 citrus, pears, Loquat, Muscadine grapes, blackberries, 70 peach trees and 25 plum trees. Mr. Auer's program is titled, "Citrus and Other Fruits for the Home."

For those of you who have want to start some fruit trees, we are sure Auer will have some good information for selecting the right varieties and providing the best cultural practices for our area.

Each presentation will be about an hour long with breaks in between for participants to be able to bid on the various silent auction items acquired by Victoria County Master Gardeners. This auction has always been fun in the past and has provided resources for continuing master gardener programs and projects.

VCMGA's foremost project, Victoria Educational Gardens, is located adjacent to the Officer's Club at Victoria Regional Airport with a children's garden and vegetable garden completed along with a fully functioning greenhouse. Expansion of other phases of the garden is in progress.

The objective of VCMGA is to increase the knowledge of gardening to its members and the general public. Victoria County Master Gardeners continue to provide and share gardening knowledge through projects like symposiums and biannual plant sales, educational tours and expansion projects at the educational gardens, the Annual Garden Tour with highlighted plant guide materials, a water conservation project, and participation at community events like the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show, Herbfest at Earthworks Nursery and Coleto Creek 25th Anniversary Celebration.

VCMGA' s landscape projects are Victoria County Extension Office, the 4-H Activity Center, entrance to the airport, and the Victoria County Animal Shelter, the newest facility at the airport.

Call the Extension Office at 361-575-4581 to sign up for the symposium; send your $30 registration fee to VCMGA, P. O. Box 1723, Victoria, Texas 77902.