June 15, 2018

On June 15, Texas A&M University celebrated the grand opening of the Leach Teaching Gardens, a seven-acre green space situated at the corner of Horticulture and Discovery drives. The opening represents the conclusion of Phase I of The Gardens project, an ambitious plan that began five years ago to transform a vacant, undeveloped 40-acre plot of land on West Campus into a blooming community garden to serve as an outdoor classroom and tranquil sanctuary. 

The project's first phase is named after lead donors Amy ’84 and Tim Leach ’82. Once totally complete, The Gardens will include a wide-ranging collection of gardens spanning not only an impressive expanse of acreage, but also an impressive array of horticultural disciplines. When students and visitors come to The Gardens, they’ll see everything from delicate flowers and hearty crops to buzzing fauna and serene flora. This medley of spaces will be Aggies’ home for learning, entertaining, relaxing, studying and much more.

The Leach Gardens encompasses 30 different gardens, trails, overlooks and rest areas. Visitors can observe its beauty, connect with nature, learn about gardening, or sit and relax in a private nook.

Upon entering this sanctuary, individuals are greeted first by the colorful Edna Fuchs Memorial Rose Bed and the Leach Vineyard. To the left lies the Mexican Heritage Garden given by the Meta Alice Keith Bratten Foundation; to the right, German and Czech heritage gardens are dedicated to preserving cultures that have influenced Texas and our agricultural and horticultural traditions.

Walking through the vineyard, visitors shouldn't miss the lively Butterfly and Bee Garden, given by Elizabeth A. ’79 and Gary B. Young ’77, on the left and right. Straight ahead lies an octagon-shaped pavilion with a design inspired by historic German dance halls and garden gazebos. This iconic structure will host banquets, educational seminars and demonstrations, and other events. Standing in this shady getaway, visitors can see fresh herbs, colorful flora and fauna, an Aggie-centric maroon and white garden, and the Century Oak II, which was planted to continue the legacy of the original Century Tree on main campus.

As more than a campus beautification effort, The Gardens are also a teacher’s paradise. Various groves and gardens are dedicated to educating students and the local community about ecosystems, rain collection methods, drought preparation and conservation. At any given time, classes might be observing wildlife, growing food and plants, or testing various landscape design techniques.

Thanks to the vision of Dr. Mark Hussey ’79, former vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences, countless Texas A&M staff and administrators, and the endless support of private donors to this project, The Gardens have bloomed. 

Although Phase I construction of The Gardens is complete, additional funding is still needed to support student internships, gardens programs, maintenance, watering and planting. Funds are also needed for future phases of The Gardens, which will include various educational gardens and outdoor learning laboratories, a children’s garden, a feed-the-world themed plaza, and a re-creation of The Grove amphitheater to host performing arts productions, films, celebrations and social events. Endowed opportunities begin at $25,000. To sow your legacy at The Gardens, call Kelsey Christian, director of development, at (979) 458-1207 or email kchristian@txamfoundation.com.

We’d like to thank the following donors for their endowed-level gifts to The Leach Teaching Gardens:

  • Ball Horticultural Company
  • Deborah F. '76 and John E. Bethancourt '74
  • Jackson, Kate, Liv, Nora, Cassie and Matt Bobbitt ’99
  • Sharon and Kelly Burt
  • Daniel D. Clinton Jr. ’52 and Kenneth B. Clinton ’53
  • Barbie ’99 and Ben Collinsworth ’99
  • The Ellison Family – Given by Jim & Ellen Ellison, Charles A. “Chuck” Ellison ’76, Margaret E. “Margie” (Ellison) Warren ’77, and Pamela E. “P.J.” Ellison ’79
  • Harriet and Joe B. Foster ’56
  • G. Rollie White Trust
  • Mary and Charles H. Gregory ’64
  • Susan and Dan T. Haile ’96
  • Susan L. Humble ’85
  • Melissa G. ’81 and Mark A. Hussey ’79 in honor of Agnes M. and George D. Hussey
  • Monroe H. Fuchs ’56 Family
  • Barry ’87, Joy ’20 and Jesse Johnson
  • Lisa Surman Kelleher ’83 and J. Michael Kelleher ’81
  • LMC Landscape and Tree Care – Bill Cox ’70
  • The Ludden Family
  • Christie and Stephen T. Norman ’82
  • Jim Prewitt and Kevin Norris
  • Amy ’84 and Tim Leach ’82
  • Anna ’86 and Mike Martin ’87
  • Mark R. and Sarah Hlavinka McConnell ’86
  • McCord Engineering, Inc. and Jimmy D. McCord ’69
  • Meta Alice Keith Bratten Foundation
  • Ornamental Horticulture Research and Education Fund
  • Cindy and Bruce A. Smith ’67
  • Tim M. ’84, Holly C. ’84, Kindall A. ’14 and Taylor S. Stephens ’17
  • Shirley and Joe Swinbank ’74
  • Wendy ’91 and Steve Taber ’89
  • Texas Master Gardener Association, Inc.
  • Texas Nursery & Landscape Association
  • Elizabeth A. ’79 and Gary B. Young ’77
  • Amy and Tim Leach

    “Our involvement in The Gardens comes down to leaving a place better than we found it. Plus, we both have a passion for green spaces. We dated as students at Texas A&M, and we enjoyed going for walks and runs on campus. We love the natural beauty of Texas, from gardening to wildflowers, and we’re excited to see Texas flair reflected in the Gardens.”
    Amy ’84 and Tim Leach ’82
    Lead donors for The Gardens
    Donors of the Leach Vineyard

  • Adelaide Leavens

    "My support is driven by a desire to reinforce land cultivation and conservation for future generations. The accessibility of these green spaces will enrich the lives of a vast number of people. The Gardens are a space of laughter and life. I sincerely hope that there will be many first dates, quiet epiphanies and joyful reunions here.”
    Adelaide Leavens ’82
    President, Meta Alice Keith Bratten Foundation
    Donor of the Mexican Heritage Garden

  • Sarah Hlavinka McConnell

    “My family is rooted in agriculture. I was inspired by the unique nature of The Gardens and knew that a gift in my parents’ names would be a perfect way to honor them. This is also a tremendous opportunity for students to experience what they learn. An outdoor laboratory such as this is something we desperately need in a world that is so connected to technology.”
    Sarah Hlavinka McConnell ’86
    Executive Vice President, Xerox
    Donor of the Patty and Joe Hlavinka, Jr. ’56 Farm Road