Some of us dream of visiting gardens in faraway places, like Butchart Gardens in Canada, Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, even Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, much closer to us.
But Central Texas has some beautiful garden spots, too. Some of them are open year-round, and some of them are available only during garden tours.
An added advantage to visiting local gardens is seeing what will survive, even thrive, in our growing conditions. The fall Bell County Master Gardener tour will offer garden advice from members at several of the stops.
This year, six locations will be featured during the garden tour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 20. Tickets are $5 and will be available at each of the gardens.
AgriLife Extension office
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office, 1605 N. Main St. in Belton, showcases landscape beds incorporating earthkind gardening principles. Designed by Ursula Nanna and a committee of Master Gardeners, the beds feature earthkind plants, watered by drip irrigation. A desert garden has been added, using cactus and succulents suitable for this climate. Demonstration gardens, raised beds and a special needs garden area have been added behind the AgriLife office. Master Gardeners will be available to offer plant information and gardening tips. The entire area is maintained by Master Gardeners, who are planning to add an educational facility, greenhouse and rainwater system.
Killeen Municipal Garden
Master Gardeners also have helped to build and maintain the Killeen Municipal Garden, started in 2008 to offer positive community service and educational opportunities for young people. The produce from the garden benefits the Killeen Food Care Center and additional food centers in the area. The garden includes the farm area, where the vegetables are grown and harvested. Several raised beds on the west side of the farm area are planted in spreading vegetable crops, such as pumpkins, cantaloupes, watermelon and squash. Other raised beds are planted with herbs and a variety of blooming plants. The large succulent bed contains cactus and grasses that require very little maintenance and very little water. Trees and earthkind roses enhance the garden, and the garden’s storage building features a rainwater collection system. This garden is behind the Killeen Civic and Conference Center and will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 20. Master Gardener Bob Gordon will be there to offer garden tips.
Rainwater collection is a feature of Nanna’s garden at 802 E. Woodlawn Drive in Harker Heights. There are five rainwater tanks and many smaller collection barrels. She will be available to offer information and advice about rainwater systems. This garden is homegrown — everything from the compost to the plants. Large native plant areas and xeriscape beds are designed to attract wildlife.
Native plants, beekeeping
The large garden of Sue Morgan at 9902 Arroyo Drive features an assortment of native plants. Beautiful grasses, annuals and perennials enhance the natural beauty and panoramic view of Central Texas hills. Planters overflow with tropical and succulent plants. The garden attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds. Information about beekeeping and gardening items will be available.
The garden area at 4909 S. Pea Ridge Road in Temple is an open area that was reclaimed from a large coastal field and surrounds a longstanding vegetable garden. This garden also includes many perennials, roses, fruit trees and other mature trees. Here there will be a demonstration of keyhole gardening.
The remaining site on the garden tour is the home of Raye Virginia Allen, the Allen-McCreary family’s historic “Green Acres” hillside, dating from 1834. At the beginning of each hour, she will describe the Friar’s Creek Trail Preserve, a wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary, described as an “island of natural and cultural treasures.” Photographs are permissible, but copy prints are requested for the archives of “Green Oaks.”