The Ellis County Master Gardeners have partnered with the Waxahachie ISD to teach horticultural information to the student body in exchange for use of the High School greenhouse. This partnership has proven to be a win/win situation for both entities. The high school students are able to obtain hands-on horticulture experience with the guidance of tried-and-true Mast>er Gardeners, and the Master Gardeners utilize the greenhouse to grow plants for the annual Lawn & Garden Expo.
The Elementary School/Junior Master Gardener Project committee has been busy in two areas. We have implemented a Junior Master Gardener program at Pettigrew Academy (a small private school) at their invitation. One of our JMG Project members meets once a week at Pettigrew to give lessons and monitor student involvement using the Junior Master Gardener Handbook. Also, the members of the Elementary School Project have been busy finalizing preparation of a Speakers Bureau for schools. The bureau offerings will include three topics suitable for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, which are Plant Development; Insects and Diseases; and Ecology and Environment. We have sent out letters to the science teachers and principals at the four WISD elementary schools. We will test this approach to teaching in the classroom at the elementary level. With the growth of the project committee, we hope to offer the Speakers Bureau county wide. For more information see: Elementary School/Junior Master Gardener program.
The gardens at the Presbyterian Children’s Home were the first demonstration beds planted by the Ellis County Master Gardeners. They include a variety of plants that do well in our area including roses, salvia, cactus, bulbs, and perennials. Three areas of various turf grasses are also included. Master Gardeners prepared the design and also assumed many responsibilities for the general upkeep of the area. The Living Classroom is located on the campus of the Presbyterian Children’s Home located on the west side of Interstate 35E at exit 401A (Brookside Drive). The gardens are open to visitors at any time. Plan to see it in all seasons of the year.
A class project of the intern class of 2005 and the beginning of a larger project to encompass the area just north of the Getzendaner Park. Designed in the shape of a star by the class and planted with perennials, it is the center of things to come. Ongoing maintenance is the responsibility of the city under Master Gardener supervision.
The Veterans Appreciation Committee approached ECMGA to design a planting around the Veterans memorial at the Waxahachie Civic Center. Our vision was for low-growing plants that would enhance, rather than distract from, the overall message. At full bloom, 1000+ native and drought tolerant plants form waves of red, white and blue to welcome patrons to the Civic Center and serve as a beautiful tribute to our veterans.
The 2007 Master Gardener Intern Class installed three raised test beds in the park in cooperation with Texas A&M University, under the direction of Dr. Steve George. 21 rose cultivars were planted and will be observed over a three-year period as a test for their recommendation as EarthKind roses. Ellis County Master Gardeners are monitoring the viability and desirability of the roses and reporting results to TAMU.
Upon completion of the Midlothian Conference Center several years ago, Ellis County Master Gardeners were asked to design and implement the three beds around the fountain, which is the focal point when driving up to the building. A team was organized, and to that end, Knock Out roses, Indian Hawthorne and yellow Lantana were planted. Maintenance of the Knock Out roses continues. Drive by this great community facility, admire these roses and adjoining plants, and see what a little care can produce.
Global High School — Waxahachie, Texas, Spring 2008:
The 2008 Ellis County Master Gardener Interns collaborated with Global High School biology students to install a rainwater harvesting system with a 1,000 gallon metal storage tank. A flagstone courtyard was laid, and gardens of native plants were installed. These gardens are drip irrigated from the rainwater tank. This project provides an example of sustainable landscape techniques for all students of Global High.
The Ellis County Master Gardener intern class of 2009 worked with the Waxahachie Parks & Recreation office during the design and installation of a butterfly garden. The garden is located on the Waxahachie Hike and Bike Trail behind the rodeo. The main purpose of the garden is to provide an engaging and educational opportunity to watch and learn about the fascinating world of butterflies.
Plants in a butterfly garden must include nectar plants for feeding the butterflies as well as host plants for butterflies to lay their eggs. With the above criteria in mind, plant selection includes both native and adapted as well as annuals and perennials.
The class is currently working on plant signs and certification.
Ridgeview Park — Midlothian, Texas, Fall 2009:
In a joint effort with the City of Midlothian Parks and Recreation Department, Master Gardeners are revitalizing five garden beds in this 8.6 acre community park located on Walter Stephenson Road. Work began in the fall of 2009 and continues. Each bed will have a different theme and will contain native and adapted plants for the Ellis County area.
Being a Master Gardener can be hard work, which is why we also take time to enjoy one another and spend time out of the flower beds. Whether we are around the BBQ, on the parade route, or in someone’s backyard, Master Gardeners always find plenty to talk about and lots to do.