Gardeners' Dirt
Aug 17, 2012

by Marcia Kauffman, Victoria County Master Gardener Intern

Edited by
Charla Borchers Leon, Victoria County Master Gardener
Visitors of Victoria Educational Gardens are greeted with the welcome gate at 333 Bachelor Drive across from the control tower at Victoria Regional Airport. The gardens are open daily dawn to dusk. Guided tours can be scheduled by previous arrangement.
This covered arbor connects the Children's Garden on the west side of the Officer's Club with various other mini gardens on the larger east side. It is covered in climbing roses that have created a shaded area over benches attached to the structure.
One of the more popular sites at VEG is the Water Garden on the east side of the Officer's Club.  It has an abundance of water lilies, koi fish, and other various tropical plants that can be viewed around the perimeter or from the bridge that crosses it.
LEFT:The Bush Morning Glory is a drought-tolerant and sun-loving plant that has light pink and white blooms all summer long. This 6-ft. tall plant can be found near the covered arbor and Patriotic Garden at VEG.

RIGHT:  Known for its repeating bright red blooms, the chenille plant (or red hot cattail) prefers light shade and can be found up against the back wall of the Officer's Club near the covered arbor at VEG.
"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if only we will tune in." George Washington Carver

For many years, I had to dash out to the Victoria Regional Airport to pick up my husband at the end of one of his many trips. Little did I know about the phenomenal jewel created at the former Foster Field Air Force Base - that broadcasts its natural beauty to us daily - and hourly.

Nowadays, we refer to this creation as Victoria Educational Gardens, commonly called VEG. I continue going to the airport area with an entirely different agenda now. I am a Master Gardener intern and delight in the many opportunities I have had at the gardens.

One of these is to give tours around the incredible gardens surrounding the recently renovated Officer's Club. What a treasure available to the public through the various tours guided by Master Gardeners.

School tours

School tours of the gardens can be arranged either by grade levels or interest groups. The children will be in small groups of about 8-10, and will experience different activities conducted by Master Gardeners and chaperoned by their teachers. The activities could include planting seeds, learning about recycling or waiting patiently while a butterfly emerges from a cocoon.

They can parade through the various gardens with a Master Gardener guide who will explain things, such as the butterflies' habitat, the sensory garden and the Texas native garden. They will discover a bit of history about Foster Field as they try to find soldiers they may know whose names are on the pavers honoring our troops.

Some of the favorite activities are feeding the fish in the koi pond or smelling the various herbs growing in the vegetable garden. The tours are tailored to the size and age of the group.

Garden clubs

As garden clubs wander from one area to another, they can appreciate the arrangement of our flag's colors in the blue plumbago, red nodding clerodendrum and the white shooting star lily in the patriotic garden. Their gaze may fall upon the Confederate rose in the heirloom garden, the dyckia from Brazil or the nierembergia from Argentina in the international garden. There is no time constraint as your group meanders around.

Individual tours

Entertaining a visiting friend or relative? You might take the time to meander through the gardens by simply wandering around and reading the assorted plant labels. If you are lucky enough, there may be a person working on his/her class' area of the garden who will be able to offer further information.

It is difficult to mention all of the things these inspiring gardens have to offer. I haven't even touched on the water lilies sprouting up through the water in the Koi pond, or the serene Zen garden with pagodas or the bulb garden with Grecian wildflowers and early snowdrops.

And it goes on .

If you are thinking of a change at your own house, stroll over to the groundcover area to observe the manicured groundcover and turfgrass areas. Perhaps you would like to see how the prolific blooming Bush morning glory or Chenille plant grow in our hot Victoria weather - and how they add color near the patriotic garden?

If you have an interest in composting, you might observe our composting bin in action while our Master Gardeners prepare compost for the next usage.

Whoever walks through the gate that welcomes all that enter will be awed and amazed each time a corner is turned in your stroll through Victoria Educational Gardens. Whatever your reason to take a tour, I just hope you will take the opportunity to visit our Victoria treasure. It is well worth the short drive to its location. And did I mention this little treasure is free?

If you are interested in setting up a tour, contact Edna Lafour at 361-782-7389.

And, who knows, our paths may just cross on one of the guided tours I help give through the garden paths of VEG.
Brief History of Foster Field
Named for Lt. Arthur L. Foster Former training airfield Air Force base for WWII and the Cold War Used during 1941-45 and 1952-59 Closed in 1959 due to budgetary constraints


Directions to Victoria Educational Gardens (VEG)
333 Bachelor Drive, Victoria

VEG is across from the Aviation Control Tower at Victoria Regional Airport. Drive out U.S. Highway 59 N. from Victoria, turn left on Foster Field Drive. Turn left at circle onto Aviation Drive, turn right at Piper Street. Turn left on Hangar Drive, follow around to Bachelor Drive.

VEG, the Officer's Club and the VEG Pavilion are on the left.
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 vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.