Since 2004, Killeen area gardeners searching for native landscaping plants and related organic products have returned to a nursery on the southwest side of town.

Oma’s Garten Pflanzen takes a somewhat different approach to horticulture in the Lone Star State.

“We work with, instead of against the Central Texas environment,” said Irmy Mace, who’s worked at the garden center since 2006. “These plants are grown locally and are well adapted to our area. They are not quick fixes but over time will require less water and prove (to be) low maintenance.”

Owned by Walter and Randa Daude, the sprawling grounds contain an inventory of trees, shrubs, vines, cacti, succulents, perennials, annuals and other nursery staples. As a business that exhorts its customers to “buy green, sell green, be green,” Oma’s uses no chemical insecticides. One happy result is a delightful, fluttering flock of butterflies filling the air with color on this hot summer afternoon. In newspaper columns, on radio shows and in books, two Texas A&M-degreed horticulturists promoted fundamentally different views on home gardening. Neil Sperry continues to endorse and recommend long-held mainstream beliefs about chemical fertilizers, weed control and insect extermination. Howard Garrett’s mantra continues along the “natural” organic route, and includes the liberal use of compost and organic “tea,” while rejecting the chemical path. Following Garrett’s lead, Oma’s offers compost-based fertilizer and Oma’s Juice, an aerobic compost tea, as viable alternatives to concentrated chemical products. And for the do-it-yourselfer, a 12-cubic-foot recycled black plastic Compost Wizard is for sale.

Said to be “easy to turn,” it’s one of those items, like Oma’s rainwater harvesting barrels in four different colors, that might be hard to find at a more conventional nursery.

According to the nursery’s website, longtime organic gardener, host of “The New Garden” on PBS and book author Judy Barrett is the speaker on Saturdays at 10 a.m. at Oma’s free Garden Talks.

“We try to educate our customers about the benefits of Texas natives versus exotics,” Mace said.

Integrity is important, according to Nick Samuels, a four-year employee at Oma’s. With no complaints processed by the Better Business Bureau in the last 36 months, as well as an A+ rating, the staff freely refers customers to other suppliers. Surprisingly, one source for large quantities of good bio-loam that Oma’s recommends is the city of Killeen.

“The Killeen Recycle Center has superior screened compost,” Mace said. “We advise a half-inch over your entire lawn turf; water needs are greatly reduced.”

Customers at the nursery back up her claim. And maybe that’s the secret to Oma’s success. In Mace’s words: “Things from here just work.”

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