Victoria master gardeners have 16 new interns


December 06, 2007

Editor’s Note: Garden Rules and Tools for December, which would normally publish on the first Thursday of the month, will appear in next week’s Gardeners’ Dirt column.

New master gardeners
Congratulations to the class of 2007 for successfully completing the Master Gardening Training program on Nov. 29. Master gardener interns are:
Debra Bartel
Ellen Buchanan
Marta Chapiewski
Jo Lynn Coleman
Bernice Davis
Lydia Dunbar
Beth Ellis
Kim Green
Vivian Mozisek
Kathleen Parks Musselman
Alyse Quintanilla
Karon Reeb
Michael “Bones” Tordt
Ruby Trevino
Janie Von Dohlen
Michael Wright
Master gardener trainees visited the Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens on their field trip this fall. They will be certified as interns at a ceremony on Dec. 11. They must put in 50 hours of volunteer service to the Victoria County Extension Office in 2008.
Each intern completed 50 hours of classroom training and is required to volunteer 50 hours of service to the Extension service in 2008 in order to become a certified Texas Master Gardener. These Interns join 123 certified master gardeners in Victoria County in educating the public on good gardening practices.
Superb! Interesting! Fabulous! Awesome! Excellent! These are some of the adjectives trainees wrote on their evaluations of the 2007 Master Gardener Class.

Various teaching methods such as PowerPoint presentations, demonstrations, hands-on activities, field trips, handbook references, handouts, study questions and some lectures were used during the four-hour class that met for 16 weeks this fall.

What did they learn?


Dr. Wayne McAlister, one of our class presenters and retired Victoria College professor, involved the trainees by using an identification key to identify live specimens of trees growing in the Victoria area.

During this process, trainees learned many plant botanical terms that will be helpful to ID plants and give guidance to others.


Through reading assignments and hands-on activity, trainees learned plant propagation techniques from Tom LeRoy, Montgomery County extension agent and Lupe Cook, our own Victoria County master gardener. Afterwards, trainees commented that the reading assignments and presentations made the course more understandable.


Trainees learned how to take a soil sample and interpret results to amend their soils.

A demonstration by Joe Janak, Victoria County extension agent, explained the water holding properties of soil, how these properties enhanced plant growth and how nutrients made plants flourish and lack of them caused stress and problems.


In one training guided by Dr. Roy Parker, extension entomologist, the class toured Victoria Educational Gardens, identified many of the good insects and learned to identify and how to manage the bad insects.

They also learned that only 3 percent of the world’s insects are undesirable. So don’t squash every bug you see. In evaluations before this class, 89 percent of the trainees stated they knew nothing at all or very little about identifying insects.

After the class, 90 percent of the trainees’ gained knowledge was rated “fairly well” to “quite well.”


The 2007 Master Gardener trainees who just completed their training were a diverse group of individuals. Their occupations are retired teachers, nurses, groundskeeper, park ranger, secretaries, housewives, florist, office manager, and Realtor – very typical to the past 10 years of trainees.

Besides training them to train others in the coming years, the master gardener program is helping them at home. However, the Extension Office policy is that one cannot use the master gardener label for one’s own gain of revenue.


They heard thought-provoking questions from Dr. Don Renchie, extension pesticide specialist, who spoke on pesticide safety and application techniques. Trainees and Renchie read a pesticide label together as he explained and asked questions throughout the process. They will never forget his presentation nor that one needs to read the label and follow the directions.


Dr. Carol Brouwer, Harris County extension horticulturist, instructed the trainees about the steps from a site map to a finished landscape design.

“She was easy to understand, and I am ready to run out and implement what I learned,” one trainee said of Brouwer’s lesson.


Typical of the program, one of the class days was devoted to an all day field trip. The class this year went to the Corpus Christi Botanical Garden, which features a plumeria (Frangipani rubra) garden with a raised walking ramp so that blossoms can be viewed on the tall plants. Also included on the guided tour was the EarthKind Demonstration Garden that features hardy roses and perennials being tested for resilience to the harsh South Texas environment –grown with minimal care and without the addition of fertilizers or pesticides.

The orchid house and lecture by the curator was a sensation for those interested in orchids. The xeriscape design garden at Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History was the last tour stop and the trainees observed the seven principles of xeriscape designing. Michael Tordt, one of the class trainees, made a slideshow of photos taken on the Field Trip and these can be viewed at


In one of our 16 weekly trainings, Laurie Garretson, owner of Earthworks Nursery in Victoria, spoke on growing and using herbs. The majority of the class (73 percent) before the training rated their knowledge as “nothing at all or very little.” After the class, 84 percent rated their knowledge as “fairly well” or “quite well.”

Now they’ll have time to put that knowledge to good use.

The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas Cooperative Extension-Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, Texas 77901; or, or comment on this column at