Tour of Gardens is a huge success

Published 11:59 am Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dawn Burleigh, Editor

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


On the tour, as a homeowner or one of the many volunteering Orange County Master Gardeners, 2019 Tour of Gardens was a success.

Those on tour were seeking inspiration for their own gardens and gladly listening to gardening tips when offered.

The gardens ranged in varies sizes, showing all one needed to do was envisioned it.

Smaller yards were transformed into wonderlands of beauty. Larger yards, one was three acres, proved the only limit was one’s imagination and, of course, what would actually grow in Southeast Texas.

One garden was more than pretty flowers and plants, it was a produce garden manned by volunteers.

Field of Plenty produced 2,400 pounds of produce last year. While it averages 2,000 pounds a year, its record bumper crop was just over 4,000 pounds for the year.

The Field of Plenty is a community garden project.  The purpose of the garden is to supply fresh fruit and vegetable to the Orange Christian Services (OCS) food pantry. OCS provides food for 600-800 households per month.  The Field of Plenty has been funded by the Orange community.

OCS received a donation of the 1.9-acre tract of land directly behind their building in 2015. The OCS Board approved the land to be used for a donation garden with the fresh produce going to OCS. The garden gave them the opportunity to give fresh vegetables and fruits to their clients, which in the past has been too costly.

Next to the Field of Plenty is a public garden where, when available, the volunteers will plant extra seeds. In the public garden, one is allowed to pick enough for ‘you and your family,’ according to Master gardener Claire Smith.

Pete and Janice Gresham along with Johnny and Jackie Dugas turned small yards into floral, shrubs, herbs, grasses, ferns, and mosses into a magnificently, visually pleasing sight. While the yards are across the street from one another, the appeal is not in competition with each other but compliment them.

Dugas said his favorite part of his garden was the fireplace.

His gardening tip was to select the pots with the plants you wish to save the most when winter starts nipping at your heels.

“I put all the pots together and put a heater on the ones I really want to save,” Dugas said. “I have 200 plants in pots.”

Ebb and Kim Moore have been working on their garden for approximately 14 years.

Their home, which was built in 1915, was restored and they since added a porch, a building, and a pool.

As one enters the backyard, they notice the fragrance of floral while observing the temperature change as the tall greenery helps drop a few degrees.

One observed they could almost forget they were in the city.

“That was the point,” Ebb said with a smile.

Around the corner, one side sported cilantro, tomatoes and several herbs while the other side had two varieties of Angel Trumpets swaying in the wind.

Powers Photo Park was three acres of beauty and is often used for photography backdrops.

“We started working on it three years ago,” Catherine Powers said. “The biggest project was clearing it.”

She added her grandchildren enjoyed the park the most.

“It is a work in progress,” Powers added.

She attended a meeting with another Master Gardner’s group with rosarian speaker.

“He said smell is a big part of the garden, not just the visual,” Powers said. “I try to follow that philosophy.”

With that, she added some knock out roses and is working on incorporating more flowers with fragrance.

Powers also added her two secrets to a good garden: popsicle sticks and knee pads.

“I use a popsicle stick to mark where my spring bulbs are after they have died away,” Powers said. “Then I plant my fall bulbs next to them.”

This tip allows for the bulbs to grow when ready and not waiting to be planted.

“And you have to have a good pair of knee pads,” Powers said. “I can be out here for hours working on the garden as long as I have my knee pads.”