Comal Master Gardener Association members volunteer throughout Comal County, maintaining nine gardens and offering a variety of educational opportunities. This non-profit organization is comprised of more than 200 members, including speakers who have completed specialist training.
Members have written and published two wonderful gardening books, “Comal County Gardening Guide” and “Vegetable and Herb Gardening,” targeted specifically for Comal County and the Central Texas area. Community programs include guest speakers, a spring seminar, insect expo, school gardens, library series, special interest groups, garden demonstrations, open house and Kids Day in the garden. Members host two annual fundraisers, a local radio program, the Ask-A-Master-Gardener plant hotline and an informative website.
Since 2011, the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office vegetable and rose gardens have been used as a teaching, demonstration and learning facility. Today the complex, located at 325 Resource Drive in Comal County, includes a vegetable garden, an Earth-Kind® rose garden, a propagation facility with greenhouse and amphitheater. Last year, the vegetable garden produced and donated more than 10,000 pounds of fresh produce to local food banks and pantries. The greenhouse propagation team provides thousands of seedling transplants for the vegetable garden, school gardens and other CMGA programs.
The AgriLife Extension Office Garden is a large demonstration garden featuring several specialty gardens, including antique roses, cactus, deep shade, filtered shade, herb, native grasses, oak motte, rain, salvia, Texas Superstar®, understory, butterfly, bird and wildscape.
Lindheimer Master Naturalists participate in planning and working this garden with CMGA members.
A New Braunfels landmark since 1897, the Comal County Fairgrounds contain two gardens maintained by CMGA members since 2001. These gardens are located at the Fair Ground entrance on Common Street and the Grant Street entrance. During the Comal County Fair in September, the gardens are on display to the public and volunteers provide plants and seeds, gardening activities, answer questions and share general gardening information.
Volunteers have maintained the Conservation Plaza Rose Garden since 1999. Nestled among a collection of restored New Braunfels historic buildings on Church Hill Drive, the rose garden contains some plants grown from cuttings of roses brought by early settlers from Germany.
The Gardens of Garden Ridge, located at 9400 Municipal Parkway in Garden Ridge, are designed as demonstration gardens to educate the public on the importance of pollinators. Designed to minimize the need for water and demonstrate the effectiveness of deer resistant and Texas Native Plants, beautifully conceived plantings are featured in each garden. Unlike other gardens, CMGA members are joined by Garden Ridge citizens for monthly workdays. Visitors experience the beautiful, rocky gardens set among the Texas-native trees.
In 2002, the CMGA agreed to provide a garden beside the Lindheimer House on Comal Avenue. The gardens beside the former home of the father of Texas botany, Ferdinand Lindheimer, feature many old plants and herbs and are designed as they might have appeared in the 1800s.
The Mammen Family Public Library Butterfly Garden in Bulverde was designed to be an outdoor haven where visitors can relax and enjoy the quiet beauty of the garden. Planted first in 2009, and replanted following the library expansion in 2019, this garden remains a joint effort supported by the Friends of the Library, Comal Master Gardeners and community volunteers.
CMGA members began the Butterfly Garden at the New Life Treatment Center in 2000. The center is a closed facility and visitors are not allowed at this garden.
The Tye Preston Memorial Library Butterfly Garden in Canyon Lake was created in 2012 by the Lindheimer Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists with the support of Comal Master Gardener volunteers and is open to the public. This demonstration garden is also a Certified Wildlife Habitat, Certified Butterfly Garden and Monarch Waystation.
In addition to the gardens, CMGA provides adult education opportunities for the community and members through a gardening speaker series at libraries throughout the county: Garden Ridge, Mammen Family, New Braunfels, Tye Preston Memorial and Westside Community Center in New Braunfels. Topics vary but include butterfly gardening, medicinal plants and herbs, propagation, wildlife gardening, and drip irrigation.
Volunteers share horticultural expertise while working in the gardens and provide training and support in the classroom through the Junior Master Gardener curriculum. Youth education programs include school gardens and the Insect EXPO, an activity-oriented learning experience for fourth graders that is fun and interactive while reinforcing students’ science skills.
Members are available to present gardening and landscaping information to garden clubs and community organizations. Topics include bonsai, butterflies, composting, edible landscaping, entomology, irrigation, Junior Master Gardening, keyhole gardening, oak wilt, propagation, rain gardening, rainwater harvesting and vegetable gardening. A spring gardening seminar is hosted annually for the public and Master Gardeners. The 2022 seminar will be the tenth year for CMGA to host the event.
CMGA holds annual plant sales and auction fundraisers. Volunteers are growing a variety of beautiful plants for the April 24 plant sale hosted at the AgriLife Extension Complex. The auction supports CMGA community education programs and will be hosted at The Grand Ballroom in New Braunfels on Oct. 14. For gardening tips, tune in to the radio program, “Common Sense Gardening” which airs every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. on KGNB, 1420 AM.
Master gardeners are available to assist with local horticultural questions. Ask-A-Master-Gardener is a proven source for gardening advice in Comal County. For additional information on programs or to become a Comal Master Gardener visit the website at https://comalmg.org.
Story submitted by Friends for the Preservation of Historic Landa Park. For more information please visit www.Friendsforlandapark.org and Facebook.