Gardens, gumbo, gators, food and fun

Members Mary Nell Jackson, Beth DiGiola and Mary Doebbeling
Members John and Gloria Hunter with HSA President Rae McKimm (center)

The Southeast Texas Unit of the Herb Society of America recently hosted members from the South Central District for a weekend of garden tours, education and comradery. Tours included Beaumont Botanical Gardens, Cattail Marsh, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Outpost Tour and visits to local gardens. Lectures from noted experts Henry Flowers from Festival Hill in Roundtop and local master gardener Micah Leigh highlighted the conference, as well. The South Central District includes members from Arkansas, North Texas, Roundtop, Brenham, Houston, Huntsville, Conroe and surrounding areas, as well as many “members at large.” The South Central District was honored to have HSA National President Rae McKimm in attendance.

HSA members arrived on a Friday and were treated to a “meet and greet” at Tyrrell Park, where they toured the Beaumont Botanical Gardens. In addition, members enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and refreshments in the Warren Loose Conservatory. Rebecca Woodland from the Beaumont CVB welcomed members, and Elizabeth Eddins discussed “The Mystery of Cattail Marsh.” Many of the members ventured out to this new destination. This natural existing wetland occupies approximately 900 acres, and of the 649 bird species identified in Texas accounts indicate that 251, or 38 percent, have been spotted in the marsh.

Saturday found members starting early with presentations from HSA National President Rae McKimm, Southeast Texas Unit Chair Melody Weaver, Membership Delegate for South Central District Mary Doebbeling, National Membership Chairman Gloria Hunter, Henry Flowers on IHA Herb of the Year “The Chili Pepper,” and Micah Leigh on the mystery surrounding a “Witches Garden.” Around noon, members carpooled to Shangri La Gardens & Nature Center in Orange, Texas where box lunches were provided. Members then toured the Gardens, Scarecrow Exihibit, and ventured on the pontoon boats for an Outpost Tour. The evening culminated with an “Authentic Cajun Dinner,” raffle and silent auction.

Members, many who have been affiliated for over 20 years, are always excited to visit areas all over the United States for educational conferences and district gatherings. Recently, conferences have been held in St. Louis, Missouri; Concord, Calif.; Williamsburg, Virginia; and this year in Asheville, N.C. Plans are being finalized for 2017 in Little Rock, Arkansas, where they will have dinner at the Governor’s mansion, day trip with lunch at P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm, two day Educational Conference in Little Rock and day trip to Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas. For more information on the organization, how to join and learn about herbs, visit The Herb Society of America, Southeast Texas Unit can be reached at (713) 834-2183 or by email at ddup1103 [at] gmail [dot] com

– Dianne Duperier, guest columnist