Menu

Spirit Archives

Spirit is published three times per year by the Texas A&M Foundation, which manages major gifts and endowments for the benefit of academic programs, scholarships and student activities at Texas A&M University.

View the full magazine archive

Also In This Issue

One Voice

Time to Sprout

Time to Sprout

By Doug Welsh '79, Former Program Coordinator, The Gardens at Texas A&M University

Nearly four and a half years ago, I wrote an article for Spirit magazine expressing an ambitious desire to transform a vacant, undeveloped 40-acre plot of land on West Campus into a flourishing community garden to serve as an outdoor classroom and tranquil sanctuary.

Later this year, Texas A&M will celebrate the grand opening of the Leach Teaching Gardens, a vibrant green space situated at the corner of Horticulture and Discovery Drive. The next time you’re in Aggieland, I encourage you to visit this seven-acre oasis encompassing 30 different gardens, trails, overlooks and rest areas. Come to observe its beauty, connect with nature, learn about gardening, or sit and relax in your own private nook.

Named after lead donors Amy ’84 and Tim Leach ’82, the Leach Teaching Gardens represent Phase I of The Gardens project. When you enter this sanctuary, you’ll be greeted first by the colorful Edna Fuchs Memorial Rose Bed and the Leach Vineyard. To your left lies the Mexican Heritage Garden given by the Meta Alice Keith Bratten Foundation; to your right, German and Czech heritage gardens are dedicated to preserving cultures that have influenced Texas and our agricultural and horticultural traditions.

The Gardens master plan map

As you walk through the vineyard, don’t miss the lively Butterfly and Bee Garden, given by Elizabeth A. ’79 and Gary B. Young ’77, on your left and right. Continue straight until you reach an octagon-shaped pavilion with a design inspired by historic German dance halls and garden gazebos. This iconic structure will host banquets, educational seminars and demonstrations, and other events. Standing in this shady getaway, look around. You’ll see fresh herbs, colorful flora and fauna, an Aggie-centric maroon and white garden, and the Century Oak II, which was planted to continue the legacy of the original Century Tree on main campus.

As you meander along, be prepared to learn. This space is more than a campus beautification effort; it’s a teacher’s paradise. Various groves and gardens are dedicated to educating students and the local community about ecosystems, rain collection methods, drought preparation and conservation. At any given time, classes might be observing wildlife, growing food and plants, or testing various landscape design techniques.

The Gardens have sprouted into everything I dreamed and much more. Thanks to the vision of Dr. Mark Hussey ’79, former vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences, countless Texas A&M staff and administrators, and the endless support of our private donors, our seedling has bloomed. 

Although Phase I construction of The Gardens will soon be complete, additional funding is still needed to support student internships, gardens programs, maintenance, watering and planting. Funds are also needed for future phases of The Gardens, which will include various educational gardens and outdoor learning laboratories, a children’s garden, a feed-the-world themed plaza, and a re-creation of The Grove amphitheater to host performing arts productions, films, celebrations and social events. Endowed opportunities begin at $25,000. To sow your legacy at The Gardens, contact Kelsey Christian, director of development, at (979) 458-1207 or kchristian@txamfoundation.com.

We’d like to thank the following donors for their endowed-level gifts to The Leach Teaching Gardens:

  • Ball Horticultural Company
  • Deborah F. '76 and John E. Bethancourt '74
  • Jackson, Kate, Liv, Nora, Cassie and Matt Bobbitt ’99
  • Sharon and Kelly Burt
  • Daniel D. Clinton Jr. ’52 and Kenneth B. Clinton ’53
  • Barbie ’99 and Ben Collinsworth ’99
  • The Ellison Family – Given by Jim & Ellen Ellison, Charles A. “Chuck” Ellison ’76, Margaret E. “Margie” (Ellison) Warren ’77, and Pamela E. “P.J.” Ellison ’79
  • Harriet and Joe B. Foster ’56
  • G. Rollie White Trust
  • Mary and Charles H. Gregory ’64
  • Susan and Dan T. Haile ’96
  • Susan L. Humble ’85
  • Melissa G. ’81 and Mark A. Hussey ’79 in honor of Agnes M. and George D. Hussey
  • Monroe H. Fuchs ’56 Family
  • Barry ’87, Joy ’20 and Jesse Johnson
  • Lisa Surman Kelleher ’83 and J. Michael Kelleher ’81
  • LMC Landscape and Tree Care – Bill Cox ’70
  • The Ludden Family
  • Christie and Stephen T. Norman ’82
  • Jim Prewitt and Kevin Norris
  • Amy ’84 and Tim Leach ’82
  • Anna ’86 and Mike Martin ’87
  • Mark R. and Sarah Hlavinka McConnell ’86
  • McCord Engineering, Inc. and Jimmy D. McCord ’69
  • Meta Alice Keith Bratten Foundation
  • Ornamental Horticulture Research and Education Fund
  • Cindy and Bruce A. Smith ’67
  • Tim M. ’84, Holly C. ’84, Kindall A. ’14 and Taylor S. Stephens ’17
  • Shirley and Joe Swinbank ’74
  • Wendy ’91 and Steve Taber ’89
  • Texas Master Gardener Association, Inc.
  • Texas Nursery & Landscape Association
  • Elizabeth A. ’79 and Gary B. Young ’77
  • Amy and Tim Leach

    “Our involvement in The Gardens comes down to leaving a place better than we found it. Plus, we both have a passion for green spaces. We dated as students at Texas A&M, and we enjoyed going for walks and runs on campus. We love the natural beauty of Texas, from gardening to wildflowers, and we’re excited to see Texas flair reflected in the Gardens.”
    Amy ’84 and Tim Leach ’82
    Lead donors for The Gardens
    Donors of the Leach Vineyard
  • ADELAIDE LEAVENS

    “My support is driven by a desire to reinforce land cultivation and conservation for future generations. The accessibility of these green spaces will enrich the lives of a vast number of people. The Gardens are a space of laughter and life. I sincerely hope that there will be many first dates, quiet epiphanies and joyful reunions here.”
    Adelaide Leavens ’82
    President, Meta Alice Keith Bratten Foundation
    Donor of the Mexican Heritage Garden
  • SARAH HLAVINKA MCCONNELL

    “My family is rooted in agriculture. I was inspired by the unique nature of The Gardens and knew that a gift in my parents’ names would be a perfect way to honor them. This is also a tremendous opportunity for students to experience what they learn. An outdoor laboratory such as this is something we desperately need in a world that is so connected to technology.”
    Sarah Hlavinka McConnell ’86
    Executive Vice President, Xerox
    Donor of the Patty and Joe Hlavinka, Jr. ’56 Farm Road

The Gardens at Texas A&M Informational Video

Contact:

Kelsey Christian

Director of Development
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences