FOUNDATION OF OUR WORK
Collin County Master Gardeners follow the Earth-Kind® Environmental Landscape Management System. This easy-care low maintenance system was developed by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to help people protect the environment and conserve natural resources as they create and care for their landscapes and gardens.
HISTORY OF MYERS PARK AND EVENT CENTER
In 1969, John and Winnie Myers donated the land that Collin County later developed into the Myers Park and Event Center. The 158-acre park features The Landing and Pole Barn event venues, a show barn, stall barn, gazebo, pond, the Collin County Farm Museum, an amphitheater, and our Earth-Kind Research and Demonstration Gardens.
HISTORY OF THE GARDENS
In 2008, the Collin County Commissioner’s Court approved a request by the Collin County AgriLife Extension Service, the Collin County Master Gardeners Association, along with Myers Park and Event Center to create the first-ever Earth-Kind perennial plant research center.
MYERS PARK TODAY
Our internationally recognized Earth-Kind Research and Demonstration Gardens serve as outdoor learning laboratories where Master Gardeners share research-based information about Earth-Kind principles and demonstrate effective Earth-Kind landscaping methods.
DISCOVER REAL-WORLD EARTH-KIND SCIENCE
Our research gardens operate according to a research protocol which excludes the use of synthetic, natural, organic fertilizers and pesticides, and limits the use of supplemental irrigation. Research-based information is important because the results from experiments give us great confidence that the results are true and repeatable. Since our Master Gardeners make recommendations based on science, the public can have confidence that they will see the same results when they follow our Earth-Kind principles and practices.
DISCOVER BEAUTIFUL GARDENS
Our demonstration areas showcase plants that will do well in your Collin County garden. Plants in our demonstration gardens do get a bit more attention than plants receive in our research beds. Master Gardeners give these display gardens the same routine care that an average homeowner would give them, such as irrigation when needed and light pruning. But, because successful Earth-Kind practices do not require the use of fertilizers and pesticides, these pleasure gardens can be beautiful and also environmentally friendly.
Perennial Selection and Evaluation
Dr. Greg Church Perennial Research Garden
This internationally recognized garden is located in the northeast corner of the park near the park office. Collin County Master Gardeners named the garden in honor of Dr. Greg Church, who was the Collin County AgriLife Extension Service horticulture agent and the driving force behind the establishment of the Earth-Kind Gardens at Myers Park and Event Center.
Our Top Performing Plants for Collin County
Through research and observation over time, Collin County Master Gardeners have developed a list of plants we recommend for our area. We hope that these lists will help you create beautiful and productive Earth-Kind gardens of your own.
Seasonal Plant Selection and Evaluation
Annual Research Garden
You will find this vibrant garden next to the perennials. Established in 2014, the garden has four 600 square foot planting beds where our Master Gardeners research 36 annual varieties each year. Planting is in April and spent plants are removed in October. Each year a few previously successful plants are repeated, but Master Gardeners always seek new plants to trial. We collect data on each plant for disease, nutrient deficiency, pest problems, water issues, and ornamental value. Faded blooms are not removed and plants are left untrimmed to see how well they can perform with low maintenance.
A Study of Sustainable Food Production
Vegetable Research Garden
This productive garden, built during 2013 in the northwest section of the park, includes six beds that are each three feet by 48 feet. Vegetable varieties are planted within four research sections. Our Master Gardeners have amended the soil with four to six inches of aged plant-derived compost and they maintain a three-inch layer of native hardwood mulch. No fertilizer or pesticides are used except for organic fire ant bait in the pathways. We monitor soil moisture and water as needed. Data is collected and produce is counted and weighed. The garden is productive nearly the entire year and uses a six-year crop rotation plan. Local food banks receive much of the harvest.
A Study of Useful Plants
Herb Research Garden
The Herb Research Garden was installed in 2016 and you will find it just a few steps west of the large perennial garden.
Four planting beds fill 2,400 square feet of research space for annual and perennial herbs. The garden also features a demonstration area and a comfortable bench where you can enjoy the view. Our Master Gardeners amended the native soil with three inches of aged plant-derived compost and maintain a three-inch layer of native hardwood mulch. Plants are watered as needed, with the annuals being watered more frequently than perennials. Minimal pruning is practiced, but light harvesting is done. We care for approximately 30 to 40 different herb varieties each summer and many are excellent landscape plants.
Grape Research Garden
Just steps away from the Herb Research Garden, you will find a fruitful vineyard, which began in 2015 as part of a statewide effort to identify low-maintenance grape cultivars that are both ornamental and able to produce high-quality fruit for table use, making jellies or wine. The vineyard consists of four long beds that cover 7,700 square feet. The soil is amended with three inches of fully finished vegetative compost to a depth of up to 8 inches. We prune grapevines as needed, maintain a three-inch mulch layer and use drip irrigation. We do not spray for disease, fertilize or use pesticides. At harvest, grape clusters are counted, weighed, and tested for sugar content.
Plant Performance Trials
Crape Myrtle Research Garden
In summer, you should have no trouble finding blooming Crape Myrtles between the gazebo and the red-roofed pavilion. In 2011, Our Master Gardeners planted 25 Crape Myrtle varieties into the native black clay. Each variety is replicated four times. We maintain a layer of native hardwood mulch and do not fertilize. We use no pesticides other than fire ant bait. Annual tree pruning removes suckers and also damaged or crossing branches. Trees are only watered if showing signs of stress. Our Master Gardeners study trees for bloom production, water issues, as well as disease, nutrient, and insect problems.
Plant Performance Trials
Shrub and Ornamental Grass Research Garden
Walk up the hill above the gazebo to see shrubs and grasses. In 2016, the garden replaced a rose garden stricken by Rose Rosette Virus. Four 2,200 square foot beds hold 20 shrubs, 12 grasses and perennials for added color. Master Gardeners do not fertilize or use pesticides except fire ant bait and they water plants infrequently. In late winter, grasses and perennials are cut back heavily and shrubs are pruned lightly. Master Gardeners collect data to evaluate plants for disease, nutrient deficiency, insect damage, water stress and overall appearance.
Seasonal Annual Displays
Annual Demonstration Garden
Our bright and colorful Annual Demonstration Garden is next to the Annual Research Garden and it was prepared in a similar manner. The garden holds many of the same seasonal plants as those you will encounter in the research beds, but this garden also incorporates a selection of perennials and bulbs to show you how different plants can be used together. Plants in this area may be pruned and watered as needed. The beautiful blooms and foliage you see in the Annual Demonstration Garden have the potential to make a delightful display in your Collin County garden.
Learning and Growing Together
Children's Learning and Demonstration Garden
Park your car by the Farm Museum and take the kids up the great stone steps that lead toward a garden made for them. Whole Foods funded this exciting outdoor classroom in 2017 with proceeds from their 5% Giving Day. The garden features a seating area and several activity zones. Kids will explore garden rooms filled with various fruits, vegetables, herbs, shrubs, perennials, annuals and also ornamental grasses. The variety of these displays allows children to see in a short time, what they might see if they traveled to each of the other gardens across the park.
Productive and Beautiful
You can find this delightful garden just south of the Vegetable Research Garden. This garden is arranged in the traditional ornamental style. It includes 10 planting beds for herbs and edible flowers and six beds for vegetables, as well as areas for blackberries, grapes, pomegranates and figs. The garden also includes two tall raised beds. The only pesticide used is organic fire ant bait within the walkways. The native soil was amended with four to six inches of fully finished vegetative compost and the beds are topped with mulch. A wide variety of beautiful herbs and vegetables grow here.
A Restful Space Beneath the Trees
Any Texas day is a good day for a shade garden! In 2017, Myers Park and Event Center asked Master Gardeners to help build a shade garden to enhance the wooded area south of the Farm Museum. The park provided funding and additional logistical support. Great care went into bed preparation, garden design and plant selection. The young garden already provides a beautiful setting for weddings and a calm cooling space for visitors. The gently sloping garden is an elegant stage for Japanese Maples, shrubs, perennials and annuals.
Welcoming People and Pollinators
Myers Park Office Demonstration Gardens
A series of gardens will greet you on your journey to the Myers Park Office, as you come through the North Gate off of County Road 166. The North Gate is planted with colorful trees, vines, perennials and grasses. As you travel up the hill toward a Victorian farmhouse, you will discover a beautiful circle garden planted with colorful annuals. The farmhouse that now serves as the park office was moved from a nearby farm and donated by the Haggard family as a reminder of our agricultural heritage. Master Gardeners selected much of the plant material to reflect the time period of the house.
Plan to come for a tour of the Earth-Kind Gardens at Myers Park and Event Center. There's a lot you can learn!
Visitors are welcome to walk through the gardens and use the park facilities Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Master Gardeners usually work Wednesday mornings and will be glad to talk to you about the gardens. We also offer group tours of the gardens. Master Gardeners will walk through the gardens with you and talk with you about Earth-Kind landscaping, the development of the gardens and the plants.
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