Linsey Gilbert, School Nurse and Founder of the Parkcrest Elementary School Garden shows one of at least 100 gourds growing in their garden.  To the right is one of many cantaloupes. August 15, 2019

Last spring I was among several adults from the community who supported Linsey and the students at Parkcrest Elementary here in Garland, Texas in putting in their school garden.  Nancy Tunell from our Neighborhood Vitality group; Reba Collins from Keep Garland Beautiful; David Parrish from the Garland Park Board; and Matt Clennan were among the others. 


Althaea officinalis, or marsh-mallow thriving in the Parkcrest Elementary Garden.=August 15, 2019


Lindsey called yesterday and asked if I would come over and identify a plant so I dropped by this morning.  As it turned out the plant was a marshmallow plant. I was surprised to see it as it had been started from seed.  I remember joking with the students in the spring when we planted them that they could pick marshmallows from it in the fall.

The plants were quite healthy and thriving.  Althaea officinalis, or marsh-mallow, is a perennial species indigenous to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, which is used in herbalism and as an ornamental plant. A confection made from the root since ancient Egyptian times evolved into today's marshmallow treat.  However today’s marshmallows are not made from the plant.  The leaves and flowers are edible and may be put in salads.  As an herbal remedy, the leaves, roots and stem are sometimes boiled and used as a gargle to treat mouth ulcers.

Okra, lush and healthy was not a surprise—both red and green varieties.  Okra grows well everywhere—even west Texas.


Rudbeckia hirta, commonly called black-eyed Susan, is a North American flowering plant in the sunflower family.  Reba Collins and her team of students planted some of these lovely plants in the pollinator garden at Parkcrest and look at them today!  August 15, 2019.

Gourds, gourds and more gourds! 

Linsey mentioned they would be making a lot of birdhouses at Parkcrest this fall.

I was particularly amazed at the huge number of plants from the Cucurbitaceous family (gourds, cantaloupes, watermelons were abundant) in the garden.  I told Linsey that the North Texas squash bugs must not have their address yet since it is a new garden.  She smiled shyly and then spoke of her de-evolution as a human being.  First she said she had a battery-operated vacuum and she would vacuum them up and then release them in the woods.  Then as they increased in number she started squishing them between her fingers. As a last and Linsey-recommended resort, she got a sharp pair of scissors and just snipped them in half.

Linsey is an inspiration and a lesson in rewards of persistence in the garden. I don’t think I’ve ever grown a squash to maturity since I moved here. Tell your friends you can defeat the squash bugs—better called curcubit bugs because they don’t limit their destruction to squash—if you are diligent and persistent and a tad mean, although I never would have thought that of Linsey as she is extremely nice.  Linsey gave me a cantaloupe and a tomato from the garden.

Lesson from the Garden: Like people never judge a food by its exterior appearance because you never know until you look at what lies within.  The melon was great and I saved the seeds.


  • Linsey is looking into starting an after school club based on Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots.  More about this program at

    221 South 9th Street Garland 75040

    We will be building Garden Boxes for PAC on the 18th this month (Sunday) from around 10:30am to 12:30pm. The garden is off to the side of the parking lot, which is at the corner of Avenue A and S Tenth St. in Downtown Garland.
    Drills and 3-inch deck screws would come in handy just in case we don't have enough there. Feel free to bring other garden goodies, soil etc. as there is already produce growing that could use it.  We are also slowly building a media folder to document all our Garden/Nature projects around town which you can find here -
  • Garden Day at Lister Elementary School – September Friday 13.  This would be a back to school all day event similar to the one held at Parkcrest Elementary this spring.  They are looking for volunteers for the following stations at this event:
    =Insect or Butterfly Station
    -soil types and composting information
    =vegetable garden
    -nutrition testing
    -wildlife habitat/native prairie
    CONTACT:  THELMA MOORE 2nd Grade – Lister Elementary, Garland Texas.
    Thelma Moore

    NOTE: Just arrived on my email:   Reba Collins, Master Naturalist volunteered to head up the butterfly station and Holly Frias from our Garland ISD Student Nutrition Services is sending two interns to assist with the nutrition testing.


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