Offers Texas natives, trees, tropicals
September 30, 2010

by Sara Meyer and Pat Plowman,
Victoria County Master Gardeners/Garden Tour Co-Chairs

edited by Charla Borchers Leon,
Victoria County Master Gardener
Gardeners' Dirt

The Texas olive tree (also known as Mexican or Spanish olive tree) thrives in full sun and in most any type of soil with regular watering. Located in the front yard of the Anderson garden, this tree can be seen in bloom with its white flowers in the spring through fall.
This butia yatay palm in partial shade in the Zeplin-Ramos garden boasts its longer fronds that remain attached at the base to its trunk. It can grow up to 40 feet tall in very well drained soil. Look for the related pindo palm at the highlighted plant sale.
Numerous varieties of alocasia (elephant ear plants) can be found in partial shade in both the landscaped beds and mixed containers in the Tucker garden. In solid green to variegated large heart-shaped or arrowhead-shaped leaves, they can grow 3 feet to 6 feet tall depending on the variety.
Victoria County Master Gardener Association, in cooperation with Texas AgriLife Extension Service-Victoria County, is proud to host its 2010 garden tour. Now known as the Victoria Garden Tour (formerly Annual Garden Tour) and held every 18 months, the tour is to be Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17.

Presented by KAVU Newscenter 25 and co-sponsored by the Victoria Advocate, the tour includes five unique gardens with speakers on gardening topics at each.

The five gardens feature Texas native plants, tropical plants and vines, trees and palms for the Gulf Coast region, in addition to interesting outdoor living areas.

There will be separate presentations at garden locations on color, trees and tropicals in the garden, as well as a session specifically on palm trees slotted for both Saturday morning and afternoon of the tour.

"Landscape Tricks" will be the featured topic on Sunday morning along with a pesticide safety presentation, which has hour of TDA pesticide credit, is available on Sunday afternoon of the tour. (Look for further details in an upcoming issue of this column.)

Back by popular demand is the highlighted plant sale, which allows garden tour participants the opportunity to take home various plants in the gardens.

An added event this year will be the Night Tour on Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Zeplin-Ramos garden, which requires a separate ticket for admittance.


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 have flowers of a warm-vivid color, such as red, orange or yellow or bold foliage, making the garden quite colorful. From palms to vines to shrubs with bold and unique foliage, gardens on this tour invite one to say "ahhh" and enjoy the beauty.

Once beyond the garden gate at the home of Ray and Lisa Bridges, the red color of the calliandra, cool white to warm red or maroon Rangoon creeper vine, and two different species of the Texas native firebush with red and orange blooms, takes one to the tropics in the blink of an eye.

Yellow thryallis, red jatropha and yellow and orange esperanza emphasize the red and yellow "tropical" color scheme of this garden. Nestled by the pool and outdoor living space, are several beautiful Bauhinia Mexicanas, or tulip trees, and pride of Barbados.


In Don Anderson's garden, Master Gardener Ruth Anderson enjoys the myriad of trees, which she "brought from the river bottom." The Texas olive tree (also known as Mexican or Spanish olive tree) in the front yard, welcomes visitors with its graceful, white blossoms.

The expansive backyard is shaded by 14 different species of trees, including oaks, pines and vitex, an excellent understory tree. More than 10 varieties of roses, some Earthkind, thrive in a sunny spot along with the vegetable garden. A resting place for the gardener or friends visiting is found in the back of the garden adjacent to the potting shed and water fountain. The tall yellow thryallis, a Texas Superstar, blooms from spring to fall along with the red firebush and golden rain tree.


Once beyond the garden gate at the home of David and Sherri Janssen, a terraced oasis is before you with specific plants in the perfect spot surrounding the relaxing pool.

The shaded area of the garden features English ivy, cuphea as a ground cover, dwarf mondo grass, ajuga, caladiums, fatsia and xanadu. Adjacent to the pool, the pruned wax leaf myrtle and pineapple guava provide interesting textures. Below the pool, the knock out roses and plumbago bloom profusely in the sun. Zebra grasses and sago palms extend the garden's textures along the terraces.


Upon entering the garden of Mike Zeplin - John Ramos, the combination of the Victorian home and plants found in Ramos' native Puerto Rico create a garden within a garden. Walking through the vintage iron gate, one enters the interior garden drawn by the large pots of agaves and tall palms in the back.

The fountain is surrounded by five different palms, one being the butia yatay, a highlighted plant on the tour. Look for the American beautyberry in the second interior garden, where visitors can relax among the different colors of green in the plantings.

This garden becomes a different garden altogether with its lights among the tall palms and trees and will be featured on the Saturday Night Tour.


Just driving up to the home of Larry and Karen Tucker, the gardener gets excited by the mass of unique plants found in the front yard. The love of the color red is seen in the different species of plants - the blood lily, red orchid tree, and firecracker plant. Karen Tucker's love of gardening is seen with the different colors and textures of plants found beyond the garden gate. Several plants suited for the Gulf Coast climate, such as the African hosta, ginger and alocasia, welcome visitors into this garden. Also featured are various citrus trees, different hibiscuses, as well as blueberries. The patio is overflowing with interesting succulents.


The Victoria Garden Tour will conduct its highlighted plant sale at the Anderson home with more than 30 different species of plants available for sale, which will be discussed in next week's Gardeners' Dirt. Make plans to say "ahhhh" while enjoying these magnificent fall gardens Oct. 16-17.

Victoria Garden Tour
Saturday, Oct. 16, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 17, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Night Tour at the Zeplin-Ramos Home
Saturday, Oct. 16, 7-9 p.m.
Tickets: $15/person for 5 gardens; Night Tour - $5/person for the garden

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW Devereux Gardens, 1313 N. Navarro St.
Earthworks, 102 E. Airline Road
Four Seasons Garden Center, 1209 E. Salem Road
Texas AgriLife Extension, 442 Foster Field Drive

MASTER GARDENER COOK BOOK Will be available in November for the holidays
Contains 'the best of the best'
Watch for more information
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