October 13, 2017

The White Creek restoration stabilized the creek and added two pedestrian bridges as well as a trail system that links the White Creek Apartments to the AgriLife Complex and the rest of campus.

At the corner of Horticulture and Discovery Drive on Texas A&M University’s West Campus, a 40-acre plot of land will one day flourish with tranquil and vibrant landscapes, homegrown vegetable and rose gardens, fruit orchards and community event spaces.

Envisioned by Dr. Mark Hussey ’79, vice chancellor and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The Gardens at Texas A&M University will be a public teaching garden and greenway focused on expanding the university’s research and outreach. This vibrant green space will connect people with the living world of horticulture and educate the community on ecosystems, growing food and plants, conserving water and much more.

Growing New Traditions

Construction on The Gardens began in January 2015 with the restoration of White Creek. The creek was stabilized and two pedestrian bridges were installed with a limited trail system that links the White Creek Apartments to the AgriLife Complex and the rest of campus. With that complete, construction is now underway on Phase 1: The Leach Teaching Gardens.

Named after lead donors Amy ’84 and Tim Leach ’82, this seven-acre expanse—set to open in April 2018—will include 30 different gardens, trails and resting sites, as well as an outdoor classroom, an event lawn, wine vineyard, grand arbor and pavilion.

“When we talk to our friends about The Gardens, we tell them it will be an iconic space,” said Tim. “If we do it right, The Gardens will exist 100 years from now and make an impact on generations of students who pass through Texas A&M. People will remember marriage proposals taking place or walking through this sanctuary on the way to class.”

Meandering through the construction site, it’s not difficult to imagine the many traditions that will emerge. The Gardens will abound with private nooks and sanctuaries where visitors can host both small- and large-scale gatherings and students can find a peaceful spot to study. And one can’t help but wonder what new tradition will be born at the Century Oak II, which will be planted to continue the legacy of the original Century Tree on main campus.

Connecting the Community

The first site to greet visitors at The Gardens will be the Edna Fuchs Memorial Rose Bed and the Leach Wine Grape Vineyard. Surrounding the vineyard on either side are the Mexican Heritage Garden and the German and Czech Heritage Garden, which are dedicated to preserving cultures that have influenced Texas agriculture.

“These gardens will mimic much of the horticulture, architecture and landscape of the cultures that Texas was founded upon,” said Joseph Johnson ’88, program manager of The Gardens. “These intimate spaces are also perfect for small weddings and receptions.”

Two main pathways lead further into the gardens, one of which will provide a direct path to the Pavilion and the Pavilion Terrace. A shady getaway for visitors, this versatile, octagon-shaped building will hold 150 people and can be used as an open-air venue or an indoor, climate-controlled space. It will be ideal for cooking demonstrations, banquets or even a university lecture and is surrounded by fresh herbs and an Aggie-centric maroon and white garden.

“This pavilion will be a memorable piece of architecture on Texas A&M’s campus,” Johnson said. “Just as Rudder Tower is recognized by the way it looks, one day students and visitors alike will be able to identify this pavilion.”

Learning Through Nature

While the Leach Teaching Gardens are an ideal setting for hosting events, they are also premier teaching and research gardens that will provide students a chance to learn more about the environment and use their newfound knowledge to give back to the community. Students can learn about rain collection methods, drought preparation and conservation efforts at the Mary Helyn’s Rain Garden, while the Earth-Kind Garden showcases water-wise irrigation designs and friendly fertilizers and pesticides.

A student landscape design and construction demonstration area will change periodically as new classes put their skills to the test, while an outdoor classroom will provide a serene space for studying or hosting classes. Additionally, a farmers market will feature fresh produce and provide a venue where students can put entrepreneurial theories into practice.

“All of my classes will use The Gardens,” said Whitney Griffin, a horticulture sciences professor. “My students will design landscapes for residential settings and perform hands-on classwork by building patios and wood decks.”

Students and locals can also learn about the abundance of flora and fauna they can find in their own backyard. The butterfly and bee garden, bird garden, overlook and nature trails will allow visitors to observe and learn about wildlife without disturbing the habitat. “This will be a true outdoor teaching laboratory,” said Johnson. “We have great indoor learning laboratories, but here we can tangibly connect with nature.”


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

  • The Ball Horticultural Company
  • 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
  • Jimmy D. McCord ’69
  • Meta Alice Keith Bratten Foundation
  • Susan and George Chmelar
  • 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
  • Ornamental Horticulture Research and Education Fund
  • Elizabeth A. ’79 and Gary B. Young ’77
  • Debbie '76 and John Bethancourt '74
  • Room to Grow

    The areas within The Gardens, such as the Pavilion and surrounding structures, will be perfect for both outdoor and indoor events, including banquets, cooking demonstrations and receptions.

  • Bobbitt Family Grand Arbor

    This vine-wrapped metal arc will look out onto the heart of the Gardens.

  • Creativity Blooming

    The Gardens will foster creativity among future Aggie generations with not only the world around them, but also with each other.

  • The Overlook

    Above the newly-restored White Creek, the Overlook serves as a perfect spot for student study sessions, brown bag lunches and small events with its shady overhead.

  • The Pavilion

    The octagon-shaped Pavilion will not only be an iconic silhouette for The Gardens at Texas A&M University, but also an illustrious symbol for the community, holding nearly 150 people for events.

Naming Opportunities

Funding for Phase I is nearly complete, but additional funding is needed to support maintenance, watering and planting. The Gardens need your help to grow, and there are ample naming opportunities available. Future phases 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.

The Gardens will eventually serve as a learning facility that connects the community and future Aggie generations with not only the world around them, but also with each other. As an example of the many ways agriculture touches our lives, The Gardens will be a place where Aggies grow together in knowledge and understanding, in community and caring, and in strength and inspiration.

Your investment in The Gardens will bloom in the hearts and minds of generations to come. To support The Gardens at Texas A&M University with an endowed gift, contact Kelsey Christian at kchristian@txamfoundation.com or (979) 458-1207.

Grow with the Gardens: An Update