More than 800 slated to attend beginner’s gardening course in North Texas

Writer: Gabe Saldana, 956-408-5040,
Contacts: Daniel Cunningham, 972-952-9223,
Martha Cavazos Fipps, 972-547-7335,

DALLAS — A regional gardening course for beginners, to be held Jan. 12, has already garnered more than 800 registrants from around the world, organizers said.

The Newcomer’s Guide to Gardening takes place at the Collin College Conference Center, 2400 Community Ave., McKinney. The free learning event, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., will cover the fundamentals of successful, sustainable gardening, organizers said.

Presentations by Texas A&M AgriLife experts and others include an overview of North Texas soils, vegetable gardening, butterfly gardening, watering wisely, the Earth-Kind gardening method and a lecture on the “Top 100”plants for the region, said Martha Cavazos Fipps, an organizer of the event and environmental education coordinator with the City of McKinney.

The Newcomer’s Guide to Gardening is hosted by the City of McKinney with 15 public and private partners including Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.  

“We have really assembled the most relevant topics, the best speakers, expanded marketing and a great venue for this class over the last three years,” Fipps said about the annual event.

She said registrant numbers have jumped from about 130 to more than 800 since 2016. Attendees originate from 40 states and 24 countries, including Argentina, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, India, Kenya, Philippines, Nigeria, Spain and Japan among others. 

AgriLife speakers from Dallas and Collin County will provide instruction alongside public and private sector experts of horticulture and water resources at the event.

“It’s one of the most comprehensive beginner gardening courses out there,” said Daniel Cunningham, horticulturist with AgriLife’s Water University public outreach program in Dallas. 

“You will get knowledge you can put into practice at home right away no matter where you come from in the world.”

Go to for a list of all speakers and topics and to register for the free morning course.

Expert: ‘Find’ more water through landscaping techniques

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608,
Contact: Daniel Cunningham, 972-952-9223,

AMARILLO – Drought is a given, and water from traditional sources will be limited in the future, but homeowners and businesses can “find” more water through conservation, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research environmental horticulturist.

The 90.3 square miles within the city limits of Amarillo annually gets an average of twice as much water in rainfall as is demanded by residents for both indoor and outdoor use, said Daniel Cunningham, with Texas A&M AgriLife’s urban water program, Water University, in Dallas.

“Can we capture all that water? Certainly not,” he said. “But it’s something to think about. If we are getting twice as much as we need, it does make you wonder how much more you can capture on your property to use as an alternative water source.”


North Texas gardening courses offer comprehensive ‘newcomer’ instruction

Writer: Gabe Saldana, 956-408-5040,
Contact: Daniel Cunningham, 972-952-9223,
Patrick Dickinson, 972-952-9673,

DALLAS — Two free public courses aim to equip new gardeners with the tools to establish lush lawns, vibrant landscapes and bountiful vegetable gardens in the unique and unforgiving growing conditions of North Texas, organizers said.

The first session of Newcomers Guide to Gardening in North Texas is Feb. 10, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, 3601 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Dallas.

The second installment is March 3, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Collin College Conference Center, 2400 Community Avenue, McKinney.

The courses are conducted by Texas A&M AgriLife Research’s Dallas-based Water University program along with local cities and water providers. Daniel Cunningham and Patrick Dickinson, Texas A&M AgriLife Research horticulturists in Dallas, will lead attendees through comprehensive instruction on gardening basics including soil preparation, effective fertilization, fruits, vegetables, regionally adapted turfgrasses and proper selection of plants.


Texas A&M AgriLife experts on tax-free holiday: Choose wisely

Writer: Gabe Saldana, 956-408-5040,

Contact: Daniel Cunningham, 972-952-9223,

DALLAS – A state tax-free holiday on “water-efficient products” from May 27-29 includes all plants, trees and grasses for non-commercial shoppers, according to the Texas Comptroller’s Office. Texas A&M AgriLife Research horticulturists urge residents to be vigilant in selecting plant life that conserves water resources.

“We know a good number of plant species out there require lots of water and other resources, like pesticides and fertilizers to grow well in certain regions,” said AgriLife Research horticulturist Daniel Cunningham. “We want to avoid those as much as possible.”

Cunningham is project manager for Texas A&M AgriLife’s Dallas-based public outreach water conservation program known as Water University. The program is a partner of the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense initiative to evaluate and label water efficient consumer products. All WaterSense labeled products are tax exempt for businesses and individual buyers during the tax-free holiday, according to the Comptroller’s Office.

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