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Garden Bloggers Fling Day 1 and Stop 1

A rainy view of the entrance to Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center.”My special cause, the one that alerts my interest and quickens the pace of my life, is to preserve the wildflowers and native plants that define the regions of our land — to encourage and promote their use in appropriate areas, and thus help pass on to generations in waiting the quiet joys and satisfactions I have known since my childhood.”

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was our first stop on Friday. As we gathered for the group picture, they mentioned that rain was headed our way.  Being a native Texan, I should have heeded the warning when I heard “squall line”, but I was intent on seeing the treasures that awaited us.

Even in the rain, the cholla in the demonstration garden beckoned. It’s magenta blooms caught my eye through the stone window.

Cholla cactus blooms

  It began to sprinkle -colorful ponchos dotted the gardens and then it started to rain, then it began to go sideways, so we scurried to find shelter. It didn’t take long to realize that the elements were winning, but so was the garden – the much needed rain was a welcome sight, even though it came torrentially.

A caterpillar sighting lured some of us out of the stone alcove, but the elements were getting the upper hand –everything was soaked-our pictures were blurred , cameras were malfunctioning…

We retreated to the main entrance where we sought refuge under the eaves and ultimately in the gift shop. A beautiful bouquet of wildflowers brightened our dampened spirits (pun intended) in the restroom.

As we left, the sound of the stone cistern filling up was music to the ears. Even though it was a wash in some ways, it wasn’t all for naught.  It’s not often you get to see Lady Bird Wildflower Center through the rain.

Starla Willis

Lakewood Elementary School Returns!

Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives. – Thomas Berry

The Raincatcher’s Garden hosted 156 children and 10 teachers and aides from Lakewood Elementary School this week as they learned about vegetables you can grow in your own garden, vermicomposting and the life cycle of worms, pumpkin math, city chickens, compost and gardening to attract butterflies. 

lakewood-sheridanStudents were led to each garden station by happy Master Gardener volunteers like this one!


Exploring the garden with all senses is encouraged.


And just think if you can hold a red wriggler worm in your hand, the science of vermicomposting may become more interesting.lakewood-field-trip-mg

This is only a fraction of the army of Master Gardeners who helped with the field trip.  Great Job by our Master Gardener Education committee!

Pictures and observations by Starla



Tomorrow at Whole Foods Market, Preston-Forest

Wednesday, September 14,  9am to 9pm



Visit with Dallas County Master Gardeners at Whole Foods Market Preston-Forest on September 14 and fill your grocery cart. The store will give 5% of the day’s net sales to The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills, 11001 Midway. This helps us maintain our beautiful gardens and provide garden education for all ages.  This fall we have many school children visiting our garden for educational school field trips.  Hands-on-learning to expand math, science and social studies learning opportunities will be offered.

Above: Fall 2015 Field Trip, More to Come in 2016!

Above: Fall 2015 Field Trip, More to Come in 2016!


Learn the Square Foot Gardening Concept

Rain or Shine, Come to our Square Foot Gardening Class, Tuesday, February 23 at 11am

at The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills


Taught by Stephen Hudkins, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Dallas County Master Gardener Coordinator.

We will meet in the Vegetable Patch. If raining, go to Fellowship Hall.


Address: 11001 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas, 75229

Public Welcome, Master Gardeners can receive education credit.



“Dear Mrs. Jones, Thank you for the best field trip ever! It was awesome! Thank you for helping us make seed balls.  We had so much fun!!!!!”


First graders from Lakewood Elementary had a five exclamation point (!!!!!) assessment of their field trip to the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.

One hundred and fifty pairs of sneakers never stopped from the moment they hopped out of four school buses on November 3rd .  Every 15 minutes, timers took the students to another station: seed balls, real live clucking chickens, wiggly red wigglers, “name that vegetable,” herbs and compost. Elizabeth Wilkinson, Cynthia Jones, and Annette Beadles organized the field trip.

“Dear Raincatcher’s Friends, I love you! I love you! I love pumpkins!” 

Lakewood -pumpkin measuring

Annette compared the circumference of pumpkins—and first grade volunteers.  Cynthia showed students how to roll, mash, divot, and taco-fold clay, soil and wildflowers to make seed balls for their school.

Journal coverDear Garden Friends, Thank you for a great time! I love my journal!

Jan Larson assembled 150 journals and sharpened pencils, one for each child.  They carried their journals all day, making notes at each station.


The field trip was even the topic of discussion at a Lakewood hair salon.  Jan was telling her stylist about the field trip, and a young woman in the next seat joined the conversation.  “Are you talking about the field trip to the Raincatcher’s Garden?” At Jan’s nod, the mom said she was a chaperone on the field trip and remarked that it was “amazing.” 

With some tears, the Lakewood visitors returned to their classrooms, long-used “temporary” buildings outside an old East Dallas school in need of major repairs.  The forty master gardener volunteers, including DCMG board members, might have kept these thoughts from Rachel Carson in mind:

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”


Pictures by Starla, poster pic by Cynthia

Learn with Lakewood!

Sign up for a field trip!


Grace Academy’s Fall Field Trip to the Demonstration Garden

For five years we have enjoyed our relationship with Grace Academy kids.  We see them as first graders in May, they return as second graders in the fall with remarkable growth!

Grace Academy  Second Graders and Teachers, 2014

Grace Academy Second Graders and Teachers, 2014

As Dallas County Master Gardeners, we spend vast amounts of time preparing for these visits and a lot of heart goes into our preparation.   We introduced  them to photosynthesis, seed formation, and plant identification.  Their faces lit up with the wonder of it all.Grace Academy and Michele-plant ID

Cotton is a favorite topic: how to grow it, how it’s used, and how to spin it.  It’s an enthralling topic for all of us. Brush up on your knowledge of cotton here.

Grace Academy kids spinning cotton with Carolyn

The children made self watering containers using recycled water bottles. A Hyacinth Bean seed is planted in each container. It’s important to talk about seeds and the energy they have to create a new plant.

Grace Academy kids making self watering containers

After all, every beginning starts with a seed.



West Dallas Community School Third Graders In The Garden

The 28 third graders who came to our garden Tuesday did not need much coaching in appreciating nature.

WDCS Third Graders Harvest A Carrot The loved the carrots and took them back to school for afternoon snacks.. Rosemary was another hit. Last week one of the kids  said he would sleep with Rosemary under his pillow. Maybe  there  will be alot of Rosemary under pillows this week!

WDCS Children PIcking Rosemary

It was a day of garden based education:  learning  the science of compost, how to attract wildlife to the garden, growing vegetables like beans, carrots, lettuce, and swiss chard; and how flowers  regenerate by seed.  Third Graders At The Demonstration Garden From West Dallas Community School

Class dismissed!


Spring Field Trips, West Dallas Community School Returns To The Demonstration Garden

 At The Demonstration Garden we have enjoyed having West Dallas Community School 4th and 5th graders come to our garden.   The students at  have a nature studies class and come to our garden well prepared. 

They experience nature on a daily basis with their very own garden at school and by coming to our garden on field trips.  These students are tasting fava beans for the first time.  Notice the smiles on their faces and carrot and rosemary in the pocket.Fifth Graders From West Dallas Community School and Dallas County Master Gardener, Abbe in background

These boys are looking  carefully for ladybugs on the roses.

West Dallas Community School Boys Visiting The Demonstration Garden

We are happy to have children come to our garden and they are happy!

West Dallas Community School Spring 2013 At The Demonstration Garden



Pictures by Starla

“Without continuous hands-on experience, it is impossible for children to acquire a deep intuitive understanding of the natural world that is the foundation of sustainable development. ….

A critical aspect of the present-day crisis in education is that children are becoming separated from daily experience of the natural world, especially in larger cities.”

Natural Learning, Creating Environments for Rediscovering Nature’s Way of Teaching, Robin C. Moore and Herb H. Wong

Learning In The Garden

Tuesday, April 7, the Denton County Master Gardener School came to Dallas to learn from the Dallas County Master Gardeners at The Earth-Kind® WaterWise Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road.

Did you know blackberries have primocanes and  floricanes and perennial roots and biennial tops?

Tim Allsup and blackberry lessons

Have you ever grafted a Cherokee Purple Tomato onto a Celebrity Tomato?

Jim Teaching Tomato Grafting

Are you aware of the virtues of vermiculture?

Michele and Sue Teaching At The Dallas Demonstration Garden On Joe Field Road

We just can’t help it.  We love sharing  garden know- how with other gardeners.

Yearning to learn in the garden?  Future classes will be advertised on this blog.  Y’all come!


Pictures by Starla.

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