Texas A&M opens new teaching gardensBy Alexandra Hoskins
The grand opening for the Leach Teaching Gardens at Texas A&M University in College Station occurred on June 15 with warm temperatures and sunny skies.
The teaching gardens are part of phase I of a 27-acre, multi-million dollar master plan for The Gardens on the Texas A&M west campus. Additional areas, including a Children’s Garden, Feed the World Plaza and Grove Amphitheater, are scheduled for later phases.
“The purpose of The Gardens is to bring together agriculture, nature and people,” said Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor and dean for agriculture and life sciences, during the opening ceremony.
Phase I encompasses various themes and provides diverse opportunities for teaching, research and enjoyment. The teaching gardens includes sections ranging from vegetable patches and fruit orchards to German, Czech and Mexican heritage gardens.
In preparation for the opening ceremony, around 5,500 plants and trees were planted. The Gardens is also home to 150 bird species, many of which reside in the White Creek riparian zone, the area along the creek that runs through The Gardens.
The riparian area near White Creek was restored as part of phase I. This area was designated as a greenway in 1998 by the Texas A&M Board of Regents and will continue to be protected.
Construction, stormwater and increased pedestrian traffic had led to degradation of the creek. Restoration work began in 2015. The creek was stabilized using rock work and dirt, additional vegetation was added to prevent further erosion, and a pedestrian bridge was constructed.
Members of the Texas Water Resources Institute water team monitored the impacts of the restoration by testing water quality and vegetation recovery before the project started. They also took photos of the area before and during construction. This monitoring has shown that the creek is recovering.
As part of the restoration of White Creek, an outdoor teaching laboratory was created, which focuses on riparian areas and creek restoration.
The Gardens are open from dawn to dusk for all students, residents and visitors to the Bryan-College Station area.
Walking tours take place Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 a.m., except on holidays. No reservations are required for the tour. You can find more information about tours here.