Looking back to look forward

December 27, 2007

BY HELEN BOATMAN -
VICTORIA COUNTY
MASTER GARDENER

EDITED BY
CHARLA BORCHERS LEON
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY HENRY HARTMAN/CREATIVE IMAGES
Victoria County Master Gardeners dedicated the Military Honor Garden this year with an official flag raising outside the officer's club building at Victoria Regional Airport. More than 350 people attended the grand opening ceremonies of the Victoria Educational Gardens' expansion project. Family and friends have honored men and women who have served their country by placing more than 400 bricks in the garden.
Looking back over the past year, there have been many accomplishments in the Victoria County Master Gardener Association. Most of our projects are to educate the public about gardening, and when we do, we learn more about ourselves.
Educational accomplishments

The biggest, and perhaps main accomplishment this year has been the completion of the
Victoria Educational Gardens, or as we affectionately call it, VEG. Located at the Victoria Regional Airport, across from the control tower and adjacent to the officer’s club, it started as an idea discussed by a small group of people and has become a reality. The work has not been easy and has taken thousands of hours of work by master gardeners, and occasionally a family member lending a welcomed hand. Texas Gardener magazine agreed with our belief that we now have a showcase of gardening expertise by featuring VEG in its November/December 2007 edition.

The Military Honor Garden is part of VEG honoring men and women of the military and is also complete with more than 400 bricks in place. It is very heart- warming to see the many people honored by loved ones and friends.

Now we tend our garden so that it will continue to be an educational venue for the public. Interested individuals are always welcome to visit the garden. We have worked with several schools in Victoria as well as out of town, offering tours and activities. We look forward to working with the schools again, offering a more comprehensive curriculum for classes of children who come to VEG.

Our successful column in the
Victoria Advocate, The Gardeners’ Dirt, will continue to be a source of information for the public. The authors are all master gardeners, or master gardener interns. We are in the fifth year of publication, with a column never having been repeated. If you have a subject we haven’t yet addressed, and would like to see it in print, please let us hear from you. Our address is VCMGA, P.O. Box 1723, Victoria, Texas 77902 or on the Web at vcmga@vicad.com.

We’ve been very busy this past year. Overall, 57 educational programs held in 2007 by the Victoria County Master Gardeners, in cooperation with Texas Cooperative Extension in Victoria County, had 3,829 people in attendance. This includes the 17 structured weekly trainings specifically recruiting and training 16 new Master Gardener volunteers for 2008 and beyond.

Beauty at minimal expense


To maintain our educational garden, we must raise funds. Our plant sales, held in the spring and fall have been quite successful. The plants, for our sales, are grown by our members either at their homes or in the VEG greenhouse. Many of the plants are grown from seeds and/or cuttings taken from members’ heirloom plants or from plants that are hard to find commercially. Look for announcements outlining when these sales will be held in 2008.

Another fund raising event is our yearly symposium, featuring speakers who offer information on various gardening aspects. This year we had a successful summer symposium, and another will be offered later in 2008.  We encourage you to be on the lookout for the next date. We have also co-sponsored the Annual Garden Tour with gardens of Victoria homes on tour. Plans are being considered for another tour in the future. If you have ever attended any of our fund raising events, thank you, and we hope you will continue to lend your support.

New programs for you in 2008

For the first time, we will be offering a new educational program free to the public. “Lunch and Learn with the Masters” will begin on Monday, January 14.  Interested persons who attend are invited to bring their own lunch and drink, as these will not be provided. The sessions will be free at the Patti Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., at noon, for an hour of gardening information. The first session will be “Pruning the Landscape: Trees, Shrubs, and Fruits and Nuts.”

From us to you

The Victoria County Master Gardener Association currently has 142 members from all walks of life. Each one has special talents and attributes, with a common denominator, a love of gardening and nature. As the incoming president for 2008, I am humbled by the talent of this group, and will diligently work hard to be deserving of the trust they have given to me to lead the association. Other officers are President-Elect, Cliff Knezek; Vice-President, Barbara Henry; Secretary, Linda Valdez; Treasurer, Alton Meyer; and Treasurer-Elect, Carmen Price.

If you are interested in joining our association, the next Master Gardener training class will begin in August. You may contact the
Victoria County Extension Office, 575-4581, to have your name put on a mailing list for details. Information will be sent to you sometime next summer.

And in the meantime, stay tuned to this column every Thursday as we look forward to bringing you educational information on gardening and notifying you of more opportunities to share knowledge with you. Happy New Year from the Victoria County Master Gardeners.