Cat Wiskers in the Krueger Gardens.
Master Gardener Suzann Herrick enjoys filling open spaces with plants that attract butterflies and birds.  It is a colorful masterpiece designed and maintained by her, with structures built by her husband.
View a myriad of tropicals, roses and plants with animal names
May 14, 2009

by Sara Meyer, Victoria County Master Gardener

edited by Charla Borchers Leon
While on your 'Yardcation 2009!' touring the six gardens throughout Victoria this weekend, delight at the wonderful tropical plants, colorific plantings including roses, the sturdy palms, along with various plants of 'animal' name and description. Several other plants featured on this year's tour take you to other countries of origin with beauty and interesting nomenclature.

Tropical Plants

Tropical plants can be defined as any plant that "looks tropical," says Dr. Doug Welsh, Extension Horticulturist, in his newly published gardening book, "Texas Garden Almanac." Tropical plants feature flowers of warm, vivid colors, such as red, orange or yellow and/or bold foliage, making the garden quite colorful. From palms to vines to shrubs with bold and unique foliage, several gardens on this tour say 'paradise' like no other.
Chinese Fringe Bush in Patillo Gardens.
Once beyond the gate at the Bowen home, the garden features two varieties of bird of paradise - the white and the orange bloom snuggled in between the tall queen palms, the Pygmy date palms and the rojo bananas.

Once beyond the garden gate at the DeBolt's home, 10 different varieties of palms - triangle palm, ponytail palm, windmill palm, clustering fishtail palm, the majesty palm and more - thrive because of the care of their owners.

In addition, 16 varieties of roses call this garden home. The rosarian and the novice will enjoy the Souvenir de La Malmaison, a bourbon rose, in the front garden; then in the back garden Archduke Charles, sunflare, China doll, and new dawn. The Archduke Charles rose will be one of the more than 50 highlighted plants on this tour available for purchase on Saturday.

Colorific Plants

Colorific plants and relaxation go hand-in-hand when one enters the Herricks garden in Springwood, where Master Gardener Suzann Herricks enjoys filling the spaces with plants that could be included in a xeriscape garden, such as the Henry Duelberg salvia, Mexican bush sage, and Cuphea llavea (flamenco starfire) to attract butterflies and birds.

One of the more unique plants here is the artichoke, with its beautiful leaf structure and unusual bloom of purple "hair."

At the other Springwood garden tour site, butterflies and birds feel welcome at the Krueger garden, as the owners have planted special plants to attract both. Entering the garden through a towering arbor, one will notice the colorful butterfly bush or black knight adjacent to the fragile-looking cat whisker's in white bloom.

In Master Gardener Debbie Krueger's garden beside the swimming pool, visitors will find the newest accredited Texas Superstar - Grandma's yellow rose, a very hardy, disease-resistant rose. Several of the gardens have the double knockout rose, designated a Texas Superstar and an EarthKind Rose, with the Herricks garden having the most prolific blooming bush.

Palms and Citrus Gardens

Beyond the garden gate of the Patillo's garden, one moves from attractive plantings complementing the Victorian home, to a garden where relaxation and entertaining are the norm.

Just inside the garden's gate, the sweet whiff of the cardamon ginger greets you as you meander past the large cycad, the cardboard palm and the small citrus garden complete with a Meyer Lemon tree, a Mexican Lime tree and a Satsuma tree.

The pinkie climbing rose, one of the three highlighted roses this year, graces a trellis near the home. It blooms continuously through the spring and summer.

Notice at this garden the interesting screen of Japanese blueberry trees, saucer magnolia tree and Barbados cherry along the street side of the garden.

'Animal' Plants Abound

The tropical paradise found in the Smith garden features bear's breeches (Acanthus mollis), the batface flaming cuphea and elephant ears (portadora), along with various other tropical plantings in vast size and with brilliant foliage and blooms.

The animal kingdom naming continues with the cat whiskers at the Krueger garden, the kangaroo paws near the Bowen's herb garden, the snail vine in the DeBolt informal garden and the white and orange birds of paradise at both the Bowen and Patillo gardens. (continued below)
New Zealand Flax Lily in the Herricks Gardens.
The Kangaroo Paw in the Bowen Gardens.
Double Knock Out Rose in the Herrricks Gardens.
A 'take me away' plant is the New Zealand flax.
'Travelogue' Of Plants Takes One Around the World

The 'Yardcation 2009' tour allows visitors to travel around the world, so to speak, to enjoy the many colorful gardens.

The Israeli pepper, Barbados cherry tree, Brazilian red cloak, Monterey bay tree, and the Japanese Blueberry tree name a few.

Another 'take me away' plant is the interesting New Zealand flax. A wonderful green and white variegated shrub, which grows low and blooms a petite star-shaped flower on a tall stem, is found in several gardens, but notice its interesting use in the Krueger garden.

The Chinese fringe flower bush is a wonderful understory specimen used in the Patillo garden in front of a brick wall that screens the garden from the street.

While in the Smith garden, 'travel' to Hawaii as you notice the Hawaiian snowbush planted in the back bed, adjacent to the patio.

Highlighted Plant Sale

Remember some of the highlighted plants briefly discussed above? More than 50 highlighted plants on this year's tour will be available for purchase at the Krueger garden in Springwood, but only on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The highlighted plants include palms, tropicals, roses and many other perennials with proceeds benefiting the construction of the Master Gardeners' educational pavilion, to be located between the Victoria Educational Gardens and the 4-H Activity Center at the airport.

A Significant Educational Experience

Besides just strolling through and gleaning the information from the tour of the six gardens, VCMGA Master Gardener volunteers will be at each garden to help answer any questions about the highlighted plants in that garden that may be unanswered in the educational booklet.

In addition, each visitor will receive a brochure with the six garden descriptions and lists of plants of interest in each.

Be sure to register at each garden for one of the pot plants to be given away at the end of Sunday's tour as a door prize.

Tickets for the tour are only $15 for all six gardens or $5 per individual garden. For more information, visit or call Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County at 361-575-4581.

For your convenience, a map of the six garden tour sites only open to the public through this event this weekend will be featured in tomorrow's Victoria Advocate.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas cooperating.

Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid, service or accommodations in order to participate in this meeting are encouraged to contact the County Extension Office at 361-575-4581 to determine how reasonable accommodations can be made.

The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service is implied.
The snail vine is shown as it begins to bud in the DeBolt garden in Castle Hills.  These, along with several others, place the animal kingdom by name with their foliage and blooms in the gardens.
Travel to Hawaii in the Smith gardens with the Hawaiian snow bush, planted in the back bed adjacent to the patio.

Devereux Gardens, 1313 N. Navarro St.

Earthworks Nursery, 102 E. Airline Drive

Four Seasons Garden Center,
1209 E. Salem Road

Texas AgriLife Extension Office,
442 Foster Field Drive


Batface Cuphea - Smith Gardens

Bird of Paradise - Patillo Gardens

Cat Whiskers - Krueger Gardens

Kangaroo Paw - Bowen Gardens

Snail Vine - DeBolt Gardens
Grandma's Yellow Rose, the newest addition to the renowned Texas Superstar plant list, can be found in bloom in the Krueger gardens, among others.  It has been determined to be heat tolerant and disease resistant after years of testing by Extension horticulturists in numerous areas of Texas.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or, or comment on this column at