October 19, 2006
By Master Gardeners Mary Janak and Kathy Allen

Fantastic fall activities are planned for next week by Victoria County Master Gardeners. While nearly 100 of us are frantically doing our various tasks in preparation for these big events, we will not become frenzied or frazzled in bringing these plans to fruition! This coming week should prove to be a highlight for any gardener ‘want-to-be’ or even for those more ‘seasoned’.

Activities get into full swing next Wednesday and Thursday as Master Gardeners participate in the 22nd South Texas Farm and Ranch Show sponsored by the volunteer show planning committee and Texas Cooperative Extension – Victoria County. Registrants attending the 6:30 a.m.breakfast kicking off the event at Victoria Community Center will be the first to encounter the event tables designed and decorated by Master Gardeners in an autumn gardening theme. Participants will be able to see and enjoy this creativity at various events throughout the Farm and Ranch Show.

Master Gardeners will be sharing gardening information, garnered over the past year by those of us who have considerable knowledge on various topics, in a variety of ways including presentations appealing to homeowners in the South Texas region. Topics include “Raised Bed Gardening”, “Turfgrass Varieties and Management”, “Composting 101”, “The Best Crape Myrtle Varieties for the Coastal Bend”, "Vegetable Gardening" and “Xeriscape and EarthKind Gardening”, as well as a program informing the public about Master Gardeners and how they can become one of us and enjoy the benefits of this vast resource for gardening.

The public is also invited to stop by the Master Gardener booth in the mini-dome. Representatives of the local Master Gardener Association will be on hand to provide information and literature on topics of interest to area gardeners, on the Master Gardener program and on the Victoria Educational Gardens (VEG) located near Victoria Regional Airport. You will be able to see pictures of the existing garden as well as a proposed plan of the garden expansion currently underway which will more than double its current size. While visiting the booth you can pick up a free packet of seeds, purchase tickets to the October 28-29 Annual Garden Tour and even register to win free tickets to the upcoming event. Funds from the Annual Garden Tour and other fund raising activities will go toward making the expansion at VEG a reality.

Presented by the Victoria Advocate and co-sponsored by and benefiting Trinity Episcopal School and the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, the 2006 Annual Garden Tour will be held in the fall this year for the first time since autumn is the recommended season for planting most trees, shrubs, and many flowers. Docents from the two not-for-profit sponsoring organizations will guide visitors through five gardens in Old Victoria both Saturday and Sunday, October 28 and 29.

The tour will showcase five fabulous gardens – gardens that you’d never get to see otherwise. Helping make this year’s tour possible are garden sponsors The O’Connor & Hewitt Foundation; Toro/Crossroads Sprinklers; Creative Edging; Raines Brick, Tile and Flooring; and Blue Moon Antiques, each of which will have literature or merchandise at their respective garden illustrating support or telling about services they provide. Farm Industrial is the billboard sponsor in 5 area counties, and Greg Spears Realty is a sponsor for a private appreciation event honoring all AGT sponsors. See the sidebox for a list of garden sites.

Tickets to the event are $15 for all five gardens, and they can be purchased in advance at Earthworks Nursery, Four Seasons Garden Center, Renken's Nursery, Inc., Trinity Episcopal School as well as the County Extension office. Prices go up to $18 after this weekend, so clip and present the accompanying coupon for a $3 savings on each booklet of 5 tickets.

Two workshops will again be sponsored by our Master Gardeners in conjunction with the Annual Garden Tour. This year's offerings will include a culinary workshop presented by Ric Tinney/ Panache of Goliad beginning at 3:00 p.m. and followed at 4:00 p.m. by a seasonal floral arrangement workshop given by Stanley
Schweke of The Foliage Shoppe of Victoria. Both workshops will be held next Saturday, October 28th at Trinity Episcopal School – Parish Hall, 1501 N. Glass. Each workshop will require a separate $10 per person ticket available at the AGT ticket outlets, at the Master Gardener booth at the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show, and at each home on the Garden Tour. Workshops are sponsored by Gaye Gilster Lee. Attendance at the garden tour is not required to attend the workshops.

The popular Master Gardener Fall Plant Sale will also be held that same Saturday, October 28th at the Victoria County 4-H Activity Center across from the old control tower at the Victoria Regional Airport beginning at 8 a.m. Plants propogated and grown by Master Garedeners will be available for sale and will include instructions for their care.

This regular plant sale will be joined that same Saturday by a separate Highlighted Plant Sale which will offer some of the plants that are featured in each of the five tour gardens. The Highlighted Plant Sale will be held on the corner of the 100 block of N. William Street, directly behind 210 E. Constitution and the Dunnam-Steen gardens at 104 North Liberty, beginning at 9 a.m. A brochure showing full color pictures of each plant plus information on the plant and its care will be provided to each garden tour patron and will also be available at the Highlighted Plant Sale.

Yes, the last week of October promises to be a busy one for gardeners and those who love to dig in the dirt, but we are sure you will find it a productive one. Victoria County Master Gardeners invite everyone interested in all kinds of gardening topics, landscape plants and home vegetable gardening to join us this coming week in these multiple exciting opportunities to share knowledge and gain inspiration for gardening projects.