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Photo by Rudy Zuñiga

Photo by Rudy Zuñiga

Photo by Mike Hall

he importance of green spaces in enhancing a community’s quality of life has not been lost on the landscape designers of Texas A&M International University. T

The 300-acre campus is among the city’s largest green spaces and includes both developed and undeveloped landscapes. Special thought has been dedicated to using native plants and to conservational plantings.Undeveloped campus portions continue to be home to area wildlife and birds. Deer are a familiar sight on campus. Joggers and walkers often dot the campus at different times during the day.

In addition to tree-lined walkways and an acequia- styled water feature, the campus is also home to an 8-acre garden, the Lamar Bruni Vergara Memorial Garden, which fronts the University’s Student Center.

Dedicated in April of 2003, the space has become a popular location for class and study sessions, weddings, outdoor photography and the occasional picnic.

The Garden, developed through a significant gift from the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust, features a series of garden “rooms” that are defined by aeleagnus hedges and live oak tree parades. It is anchored by an impressive stone gazebo and framed by a decomposed granite footpath. Benches are strategically placed to allow visitors to pause and take in the Garden’s vistas. The Garden merges with the University’s existing landscaping and links through a series of walkways to the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, the Student Center and the Kinesiology- Convocation Building. Rows of dramatic live oaks are found throughout the garden and include special plaques honoring individuals through the generosity of University donors and partners. Richard Gentry, TAMIU physical plant director, said the Garden follows a xeriscaping approach for water conservation and prominently features plantings native to South Texas. “We made a concerted effort to select plantings that would be both hardy for our climate and miserly with water needs. The resulting beds and grounds include lantana, buddleia, coreopsis, salvia, perrineal hibiscus, esperanza, firebush, rosemary, and verbena.”

That said, Gentry said that one distinguishing feature of the garden is that all of the plants are considered “deer proof”.

“As you might imagine,some plants are quite attractive to our deer population, so we’ve had to rely on the use of plants that deer to not eat.” The native drought tolerant landscape and its “deer proof” plant selections make this a one of a kind garden. Landscape architects for the Garden were Rialto Studio of San Antonio. Project architects were Kell Muñoz, also of San Antonio. Engineering for the Garden was provided by Shah Smith and Associates, Inc., of Houston and construction was by Don Kruger Construction

Company of Victoria. For additional information on the TAMIU Lamar Bruni Vergara Memorial Garden, contact Richard Gentry, at (956) 326.2325. University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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