Better Gardening through Science

Country Gardeners Group Tours Garden Learning Center

Master Gardener and Rainwater Harvesting Specialist Brad Ackerman (far right) leads a group from the County Gardeners garden club through the Garden Learning Center. Members pictured (from left): Camille Venable, Debbie McMullen and Kay Edwards. Photo: KCMGA.

On May 19, 2012, members of the Crandall-area garden club, Country Gardeners, went on a tour of the Kaufman County Master Gardner Association’s Garden Learning Center. The Center, located at 3003 S. Washington near the intersection of St. Hwy 34 and FM 1388, consists of a rain water harvesting demonstration, nine demonstration gardens and a greenhouse.

Master Gardener and Rainwater Harvesting Specialist Brad Ackerman explained that the Center began as a result of a grant from Texas AgriLife Extension, Texas A & M System to create a large-scale storm-water management and rain-water harvesting demonstration project as part of a public workshop. A rain garden with a berm and a bog garden were constructed in conjunction to help mange overflow from the tanks and additional runoff. Rain water is captured from the roof of the metal building housing Kaufman County government offices and stored in two 3,000-gallon tanks and several 55-gallon barrels. These containers are the only source of water for the gardens. Although the tanks were emptied by mid-summer last year, the plants in the gardens fared well. More than 80 percent survived the harsh summer heat and drought to flourish this spring.

Later, the Master Gardeners installed additional gardens to demonstrate best practices for plant selection, cultural practices like mulching, irrigation and integrated pest management. The additional gardens include: bulbs, cactus and succulents, herbs, shrubs, ornamental grasses, butterfly-attracting plants, Texas native and adapted plants and a selection of easy-to-grow plants. Master Gardeners have recently added explanatory signs for each garden and are in the process of adding informational signs for individual plants. The aim is to make the Garden Learning Center available for self-guided tours.


The gardens are open to the public, and guided tours can be arranged by contacting the Kaufman County Master Gardeners through the Texas AgriLife Extension Office (972-932-9069 or or on the Association’s website ( The website also has information on upcoming events, as well as many references on gardening, water literacy and other garden- and landscape-related topics.


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