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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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