Earth-Kind® Research and Demonstration Gardens Sprouting Up in Prosper
by Dawn Oldfield, CCMGA Public Relations Chairperson
CCMGA is proud to have partnered with the Town of Prosper, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Rucker Elementary School to introduce new research and demonstration gardens. According to Patty Felan, Collin County Master Gardener and Prosper resident, “I realized Prosper, with its explosive growth, would be the perfect place to showcase Earth-Kind® landscape principles to show better gardening practices for the public. Earth-Kind research excludes the use of fertilizer, pesticides and excessive irrigation. As our community grows, it will continue to put strain on our water supply. Even making small changes can make a monumental difference in the long run.”
Water Tower Research Garden
Prosper hosts the nation’s first Earth-Kind dwarf shrub research garden featuring 15 varieties of dwarf shrubs, and six varieties of ornamental grasses, with four replications of each shrub variety and three replications of each grass variety. We selected dwarf shrubs because they don’t require the same level of pruning or water consumption as larger ones. The varieties selected are expected to thrive under Prosper's weather conditions. Collin County Master Gardeners will visit the site monthly to collect data needed to conduct the research.
Water Tower Demonstration Garden
Additionally, there is an Earth-Kind demonstration garden located by the water tower at 1st Street and Craig Road. It is very helpful for homeowners to see first-hand what Earth-Kind planting is all about. They can see what the plants look like, and then implement their new knowledge in their own gardens.
THE Jana Thomson Garden (formerly the Environmental Learning Center)
Kids love to play in the dirt! Rucker Elementary is surpassing the standard school curriculum by teaching environmental awareness and encouraging students to explore the workings of nature in the Environmental Learning Center, located on the Rucker campus across the street from the water tower.
Felan shares, “Research and demonstration gardens are full of educational opportunities. The results of the research will allow residential and commercial landscapes to achieve a high level of water conservation, beauty and environmental stewardship. Come learn about recommended varieties and see design combinations to bring your own garden to life.”
Demonstration, Restored Gardens Win State Recognition
A Town of Prosper project, assisted by Collin County Master Gardeners, has been awarded the Texas Municipal League’s Award of Excellence in the Public Works category for cities under 25,000 in population. The award was presented at the TML conference in Austin in early October. Specifically, the statewide group cited the two gardens, one demonstration and one research, conceived and maintained by a consortium of interested parties, and the restoration of a decaying school garden.
The consortium included the Town of Prosper, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Collin County Master Gardeners Association.
One of the two gardens sits in the shadows of the water tower at Craig Street and First Street, and is designed to test the suitability of various types of dwarf shrubs for the local area. It is the first of its type in the country, conducting long-term research of these plants under conditions that can be found in the local area. The other garden is also on the grounds of the water tower and is designed to hold other types and species of plants. It is also designed to provide information on the plants’ livability and viability for use in the area.The group also restored a neglected garden at nearby Rucker Elementary School, taking a large patch of the school’s property from a weedy, untended garden that had fallen into serious decline and bringing it back to its original state.
All three gardens fully utilize the Earth-Kind® Landscape Management System which is focused on preserving and protecting the environment. “These gardens are subject to the same sunlight, wind, temperature and rain conditions as every residence in Prosper,” said Project Manager Tristan Cisco. “The difference will be in the use of the Earth-Kind system. The project will be monitored by the AgriLife and the Master Gardeners. Their findings will be extremely helpful in water conservation and pesticide elimination. The Award of Excellence is the second for the Town of Prosper, having won a similar award for its communication program in 2011.