December 28, 2012

by Jolene Molder, Victoria County Master Gardener President

Edited by
Charla Borchers Leon, Victoria County Master Gardener
Gardeners' Dirt
The Kids' Art Wall was created with children making mosaic tiles while on an educational field trip to Victoria Educational Gardens (VEG). The wall is a focal point in the Native Garden at VEG.
VEG consists of nearly two acres of educational gardens with 19 mini garden areas maintained by groups of Master Gardeners. Shown here are Master Gardeners Fran Kanak, left, Laurel Lee, Sandy Knief and Kathy Chilek volunteer in the seasonal and tropical gardens at VEG.
With multiple blooms, this amaryllis plant has stems that are 20-22 inches tall. Blooms and stems that are spent should be removed to allow for new ones to emerge from the bulb during the blooming season.
Emersyn Holmlund, 3, inspects tomatoes growing in the vegetable garden at Victoria Educational Gardens. She is the granddaughter of Master Gardener Marcia Kauffman.
Everyone looks forward to a new year and its promise of new opportunities, but did you know the old year might also yield rewarding returns? The upcoming New Year brings 10 new Master Gardener interns to the Victoria County program. They have completed 50 hours of classroom study under the direction of Master Gardener Dr. Jim Grumman. As the incoming president of the local association, I have met them all - and I know they will add much to the organization.

Another new face

Another new face is Peter McGuill, our AgriLife Extension agent. He has many hats to wear, as his specialty is agriculture. He is also Master Gardener coordinator. He comes to us from Wharton County, and as all newcomers, I think he is a bit surprised by what all Master Gardeners do. He is certainly capable of handling it all, and we look forward to many years ahead. He already knows we love what we do - and show it daily.

Master Gardeners love what they do

Various projects and issues require responsible leadership of our members, and there are numerous examples of valuable volunteer time.

New venue - In 2012, the Victoria County Airport Commission offered Master Gardeners the management of the old Officer's Club to promote as a new venue. Charla Borchers Leon, Charlie Neumeyer and others worked for almost a year to bring about an agreement whereby the association has sole management for rental and maintenance of the beloved old structure. Ken and Sandy Knief volunteered to oversee rental of the Master Gardener Pavilion along with the Officer's Club. It has turned out to be a very large job, but Ken and Sandy have taken it in stride. You might wonder why so many people within our group spend so many hours as volunteers. I have come to the conclusion it is because they love what they do.

Tours - If you happen to wander out to the Master Gardener Victoria Educational Gardens and see grown women dressed up as butterflies with a horde of school children, you will figure out they are teaching small kids how butterflies start as a caterpillar and completely change into a butterfly. My granddaughter went out on a field trip with her school and viewed the magic of flowers, fish and butterflies. Master Gardener Edna LaFour coordinated tours that saw about 1,200 school children come through the gardens this year to be taught by Master Gardeners. These children will never forget what they learned there. Why do these educators do it? I think they love the look of awe on the faces of children.

Victoria Educational Gardens - Under the direction of Master Gardener Pat Plowman, our little patch of earth has grown into two acres. On every inch of it, you see beauty. Of course, it has taken tens of thousands of hours of hard work over the years from the members to develop. Plowman has finally decided to slow down some and has chosen Brynn Lee as her assistant. Lee is also an amateur photographer and snaps beautiful pictures for all of us to enjoy. Plowman has an innate understanding and feel of where things need to be built along with Ed Gregurek and others who can build almost anything. That committee spends much time and effort into researching plants, how they grow and in what kind of weather they do best. On Mondays and Thursdays, you will find Master Gardeners in the gardens weeding, watering, trimming, building and laughing. Why do they do it? My guess is they love it.

Educating the public

The Master Gardener mission statement is all about educating the public about gardening. There are a number of ways this is accomplished.

The Gardeners' Dirt column - "The Dirt" that is published every week is written by various members and edited by Charla Borchers Leon. Jean Wofford heads up the efforts to schedule the column and keeps us on track. "The Dirt" has won state awards every time it has been entered into statewide competition.

Lunch and Learn with the Masters - This community educational program is held at the Pattie Dodson Health Center the second Monday each month, starting in January and going into the summer and is free to the public. Knowledgeable members and staff teach about gardening. People drive in from other counties and return almost every month. Helen Boatman and I started this program which is going into its fifth year.

Junior Master Gardeners - Two retired teachers go to Torres Elementary to share gardening with kids. Most young children think all food comes from the grocery store. These members show them they can grow their own.

Gardening gives back to members

In 2012 our group has lost husbands, wives, parents and children to illness, but in just a few days those left behind are out in the gardens working. They tell me it is good for the heart and soul.
Members are required to perform 21 volunteer service hours in the community and at Victoria Educational Gardens and obtain six continuing education credits annually to remain certified Texas Master Gardeners.

Number of volunteers: 155 members

*Total volunteer hours in 2012: 16,462 hours

*Represents recorded hours; likely many more
2nd Monday of the month, January-August, 2013 (

  Pattie Dodson Health Center in Victoria

  Free admission

  Look for more information in next week's column.
Call Victoria County Extension Office at 361-575-4581
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