In 2013, gardening guru Neil Sperry gave a talk on behalf of the Grapevine Garden Club as a fundraiser to build a greenhouse at the Grapevine Botanical Gardens at Heritage Park.
Sperry, a familiar voice in Texas horticulture, spoke at a fundraiser titled “A Morning with Neil Sperry: Texas Home Landscaping — Planning and Plants.”
For $15, garden aficionados were treated to advice from Sperry as well as photos of his own garden along with other notable gardens he has visited. They raised $3,840.
Sperry made the appearance free due to a business relationship of more than 30 years with Grapevine Garden Club member James Smith. Smith reached out to Sperry “as a sweet gesture to me,” said his wife, Debbie, also a club member.
“He did this sweet thing because he knows of my enthusiasm for the club,” Debbie Smith said. “They are a wonderful organization.”
The club’s longtime dream of a greenhouse became a reality on Jan. 27 when a grand opening was held to debut their accomplishment at the Botanical Gardens, which features trails, streams, ponds, sitting areas and several hundred plant varieties.
The Grapevine Garden Club and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department worked together to obtain funds.
Partial funding came the club treasury. Fundraising projects included plant sales, working festivals including the annual Butterfly Flutterby, and sources such as companies, service clubs and other garden clubs.
“We spent approximately $300,000 on the greenhouse and about $50,000 on the sidewalks,” Grapevine Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Mitchell said after the grand opening.
The city built the required infrastructure and access road during construction of the greenhouse. The annual expenses will be budgeted for and managed by the city.
Lisa Adams Grove, city horticulturist, said the greenhouse will provide opportunities to expand the gardens’ educational classes by creating an “all season” growing environment and provide a laboratory for hands-on lessons in plant propagation, floriculture, transplanting and soil preparation.
The contractor, Greg Woolsey of Fort Worth-based L.J. Design & Construction, said the 52 X 72-foot aluminum frame greenhouse includes a 22 X 24-foot head house for potting and tool storage. It has a strong polycarbonate adjustable roof and side windows.
Temperature and ventilation will be automatically regulated with energy efficient environmental controls and shade system. It has multiple irrigation zones including mist, drip, and overhead watering. The facility is landscaped to blend into the natural setting of the garden and is ADA accessible.
“We even included a bathroom and and office for Lisa,” Garden Club President Sharon Swagerty said
The greenhouse will support conservation and environmental classes that teach native plant and water-wise sustainable gardening practices, composting, how to create a wildlife habitat and how to grow vegetables and still have a beautiful garden to enjoy.
Classes will be taught by educators and horticultural professionals and offered to residents in Grapevine and surrounding communities, including seniors, adults, schools and youth groups. The Botanical Gardens’ docent program will be offered to challenged individuals and other volunteers who want to “get their hands dirty” working in the greenhouse facility.
The Grapevine Garden Club and Botanical Gardens horticulturist will use the greenhouse to propagate and grow plants for the garden club’s Community Plant Sale. Proceeds from the sale provide funds for scholarships and civic projects. The garden club provides monies for civic projects and scholarships for students studying horticulture, forestry and floral culture.
At the celebration and ribbon cutting Jan. 27, special recognition was made to several people and groups, including garden club members and greenhouse project co-chairs Linda Krimm Sarah Erickson.
In making her presentation, Swagerty said, “The greenhouse project was the largest fundraiser the Grapevine Garden Club has taken on to date since our founding in 1932.”
“Grapevine Garden Club has donated close to $100,000 — eighty percent of these monies came directly from our membership,” the club president said.
She addressed their various fundraisers, including the Neil Sperry talk, plant sales and members volunteer hours at Main Street Fest and GrapeFest.
“We have given both our time and our personal and club financial support,” Swagerty said.
Every year, tens of thousands of people came to the Botanical Gardens from across the world, according to parks officials.
The Botanical Gardens at Heritage Park is recognized and for innovative design in park development and historical significance. In 2012, Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS) designated Heritage Park as a Lone Star Legacy Park. This designation is only given to parks that have “endured the test of time” and “become iconic to those who have visited, played and rested on their grounds.”
The Grapevine Garden Club promotes participation in horticulture, environmental awareness, protection and conservation of our natural resources, plus landscape and floral design, all through educational programs, volunteering, and civic enrichment projects.
The Grapevine Garden Club was established in 1932 and has more than 200 members who live in Grapevine, Colleyville, Keller, Roanoke, Southlake and Trophy Club and other surrounding communities.
Swagerty of Southlake said it is exciting to see the realization of their dream of a greenhouse.
She channeled the words of former garden club member and Mayor Pro Tem C. Shane Wilbanks, who died in 2015, saying, “The greenhouse will serve many purposes in the Grapevine Botanical Gardens — first as a laboratory for growing plants and second as a horticulture learning center for our docents and volunteers, who in turn will educate and enlighten groups touring the gardens.”