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Education Program - Docents

When you see and hear children's voices in the garden you know spring is right around the corner. Our wonderful, enthusiastic docents are leading school children on tours of the garden. There is so much in the garden to share with the students that the 1 1/2 hour tour goes by quickly. Come and be a docent with us and share this wonderful garden. For more information please contact Marion Alsup 480-0311





Docents of Zilker Botanical Garden
by Nelda Moore

Docents of Zilker Botanical Garden continue to search for knowledge through educational opportunities that will enable them to keep the school children and adults on tours interested, educated and observant.

Marion Alsup, President of the Docents, has invited the public to most of the lectures as she did on August 20 when Jeff Pavlat, a garden designer who serves as president of the Austin Cacti and Succulent Society, presented a power point program to over 30 attendees. Gardeners have had a challenging year experiencing not only the bitter cold of last winter but also the brutal record-breaking temperatures of this long hot summer.

Jeff Pavlat enthusiastically introduced plants of the future—cacti, aloes, and succulents—that are drought tolerant, require low maintenance, and are deer resistant. Most often these can be planted in a group, using odd numbers in soil low in organic content that has been placed on top of the ground. Then a top dressing of gravel or wood mulch can be added around the plants. Some cactus can grow in shade. The blue cactus can tolerate full sun while others need some protection from sun scald during summers such as this one. During the winter these plants need to be shielded from the cold with boxes, blankets and cloth. Some of them can be placed in a heated greenhouse and if an electric heater provides most of the heat, but it is a good idea to have a propane heater as well depending on the persistence of extreme temperatures and the wind. If these etiolate plants are watered during the cold, they can expand and suffer winter kill; therefore, it is best to water only enough to keep the plants from shriveling. Then in the spring when flower buds form slowly increase watering.

Some cold hardy cacti include living rock, monk's hood, tree cholla, claret cup and lace cactus while hardy succulents are shin dagger, agave "sharkskin", blue stool, red yucca, ocotillo, bear grass, and several aloes that can survive around 20 degrees F for short times.

For more information about cacti, aloes and succulents go to www.austincss.com



Touring Zilker Botanical Garden…it’s a Good Thing!
Anita Mapes – VP of Education
Marion Alsup – President, Docents of Zilker Botanical Garden

As summer fades into fall in Central Texas two things come to mind—back to school time and fall gardening time. This is a wonderful time to visit Zilker Botanical Garden. The cooler weather and much-needed rain have made Zilker “bloom”. The organic gardens (near Pioneer Village and the Rose Garden) are still producing corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and more. In the spring, 160 lbs. of produce was donated to the Austin Food Bank from these gardens with the help of Nature’s Way Preschool. Soon the garden will be planted with broccoli, kale, lettuce and other fall vegetables. Children who tour these newly-planted gardens not only can observe the growth and beauty of these plants but also have the opportunity to view insects and animals that frequent these gardens.  Zilker is a fabulous outdoor classroom and the Zilker docents enjoy sharing their love of the gardens with school children and adults.

Docent docent
©2002-09 Zilker Botanical Garden,
Austin Area Garden Council