COTTAGE GARDEN CHANGED TO A TEXAS SUPERSTAR (SS) GARDEN
In 2020 the FBMG Board determined one of its strategic objectives was “to review the Demonstration Gardens in order to ensure we are maximizing their educational value to our local communities.”
Based on this strategic objective, the Garden Leadership Team (GLT), in conjunction with the Board, defined future plans for each garden using the following in developing their plans:
- Focus on areas of greatest value to our communities and promoted by AgriLife.
- Simplify the gardens to showcase those plants and designs that AgriLife wants to promote.
- Streamline the appearance of the gardens by reducing structures, plants, and hardscape.
- Reduce expenses for plants, compost, mulch, fertilizer, chemicals, structures, hardscape, etc.
A part of the overall plan to renew the gardens includes changing the Cottage Garden to become a Texas SuperStar Garden. Emma Dow and Patrick Lavelle, co-chairs of the old Cottage Garden, embraced the change and agreed to develop a proposed new layout, a listing of specific plants, and a budget for the changes that would need to be made. This was all prepared, submitted, and approved by the GLT in early 2021.
Homeowners who move to Texas from other regions of the US usually want to plant varieties they planted in the regions from which they moved and, as a result, may not experience the success they expect. The Cottage Garden included a few SS plants, but the vast majority of plants bloomed either in early spring or late autumn. Also, these plants were not suited to the harsh hot Texas weather in July and August and needed plenty of water to survive.
It was decided to make the change to a Texas SuperStar Garden to demonstrate to homeowners how Texas SuperStar plants show superior performance under the tough growing conditions in Texas, while receiving “minimal soil preparation, reasonable levels of water and no pesticides.”
Texas Superstar Plants
To be designated a Texas SuperStar, a plant must be beautiful and perform well for consumers and growers throughout the state. Superstars must be easy to propagate, which should ensure the plants are not only widely available throughout Texas but also reasonably priced.
Plants are chosen by a board made up of a variety of AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and Texas Tech University experts specializing in fields of horticulture, plant physiology and other disciplines.
Because of demanding plant trials, Texas Superstars are widely adapted across the state. They are rated by cold hardiness zone – the coldest places for which they are adapted. Some are labeled as being deer-resistant and many are also pollinator friendly. Superstar status has been given for annuals, perennials, woody shrubs including roses, trees, and some yummy edibles.
The Texas SuperStar program became a statewide program in 1989 with the name “Texas Superstar” coined in 1989. Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by AgriLife Research, a state agency that is part of the Texas A&M University System. A list of wholesalers and retailers who stock Texas Superstar plants and labels is also available online.
Note: The Texas Superstar 2020 Guide is available online and at local AgriLife Extension offices around the state. The brochure lists all Texas Superstar plants, USDA Hardiness Zones, an explanation of symbols that apply to water use/deer resistant plants/attractiveness to pollinators, and additional contact information.
For more information about Texas SuperStar plants, visit the Texas SuperStar page.