About Us

Gardening Volunteers of South Texas is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded in 2002. It is organized exclusively for charitable, civic, scientific and educational purposes.

  • We participate in research and development of horticulture and agriculture products.
  • We promote environmental awareness and water conservation.
  • We serve as an educational resource for the community.
  • We work with other private, public and educational organizations involved in these programs.


  • We work closely with San Antonio Water System (SAWS) to promote watersaver practices in outdoor gardening, landscaping and horticulture.
  • We are members of these organizations:
San Antonio Garden Center
San Antonio Herb Market Assocation
Texas Nursery & Landscape Assocation
Alamo Forest Partnership
Trinity Glen Rose Groundwater Conservation District



Community Outreach

We participate in major gardening events throughout the year and often sell the plants that we propagate and grow.


SAWS Spring Bloom (March 10, 2018)

Garden Center Plant Sale (March 16, 2018)

Festival of Flowers May 2018

Top Tomato Contest (June 2018)

Garden Conservancy Tour

Herb Market (3rd Saturday in October)

Mitchell Lake Hoot n Harvest Festival, 4th Saturday in October

Service projects involving our volunteers:

  • Gardens, Warrior and Family Support Center, Brooke Army Medical Center
  • Haven for Hope vegetable garden

Neighborhood Fairs

GVST will come to your neighborhood for a Saturday morning Neighborhood Landscape Fair, presented in partnership with San Antonio Water System.

We bring lots of information about watersaving landscaping and gardening, drought-tolerant plants and latest rebate and coupon programs offered by SAWS.  Other activities are often offered, such as “Ask the Expert”, tool sharpening and, based on availability, drought-tolerant plant sales.

Neighborhood Landscape Fairs are coordinated through Homeowner, Neighborhood and Property Owner Associations.

For others, check UPCOMING EVENTS

New Plant Research

The focus is on propagating and growing new and improved drought-tolerant plants, which are sold at many of the events where you can meet up with GVST, including some Neighborhood Landscape Fairs.

GVST has a team of volunteers who work on Plant Research and Development.
Volunteers work under the direction of Dr. Jerry Parsons and Dr. Larry Stein.

Volunteer assistance in the plant research and development program spans some 20 years. Many of the plants have been introduced to Texas gardeners as Texas Superstars™.

If you have purchased plants at GVST plant sales, we would like to know how they are doing for you. Please contact us here. 

Jerry is a retired professor and horticulture specialist for Texas A&M and Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the co-host of Milberger’s Gardening South Texas on KLUP 930 “The Answer”, and founder of the widely used website, www.PlantAnswers.com. Jerry is widely regarded as the father of CEMAP (the Coordinated Educational Marketing Assistance Program) at Texas A&M University.  The Texas Superstar™ plant program has its roots in CEMAP.

Larry is currently Professor and Extension Service horticulturist and Associate Department Head for Extension Horticulture.


Garden Happy Hours

  • We gather the last Thursday evening of the month from April to October in the yard of a gracious member. When we’re not nosing around the gardens, we drink our beverage of choice and enjoy a light potluck.

Field trips

  • Members occasionally take trips in and around San Antonio to see places of interest to gardeners. In October 2016 we traveled to Love Creek Orchard in Medina. The month before we took a barge along the San Antonio River’s Museum Outreach to learn about the native plants along its banks.


GVST has awarded $2,000 scholarships to students attending Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin.


  • Be a sophomore or higher and remain in good standing with the University.
  • Maintain a 2.6 or higher Grade Point Average (GPA).
  • Be a citizen of the United States, and a resident of one of the following counties: Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, Kendall, Medina or Wilson.
  • Must be a fulltime student majoring in horticulture, landscaping or related field, with a focus on water conservation, drought-tolerant plants, or watersaver landscaping.

The university should suggest the students who meet the criteria and GVST will participate in the final selection. If no students meet these criteria, we would consider other suitable agriculture students. The scholarship is awarded before the start of the school year.

If you know a student who might like to apply for a GVST scholarship, suggest that they contact the financial aid department of their school. For more information, contact GVST at info@gardeningvolunteers.org or (210) 251-8101.

If you’d like to donate to the GVST scholarship fund, click here.



GVST started as a group of gardeners that were part of the BCMG program.  These members wished to take a different path and with the encouragement of several prominent garden mentors, began the organization in 2002. Today, it is great to have members that are not only in the Master Gardener program but members of other organizations such as SA Botanical, Native Plant Society, Rose Society and other groups that have as their focus good gardening in the South Texas area.

GVST’s original “charter group” were all members of Texas A & M’s Dr. Jerry Parsons’ research and development team that propagated plants at the old Peterson’s greenhouse on Seale Road. Calvin Finch, who was then Conservation Director at SAWS, saw the potential in a new outreach group with a “Can do! When do we start?” attitude. With Calvin’s encouragement, we formed a non-profit 501c3 corporation.

Calvin suggested that “educator turned Hill County Gardener” Tom Harris, Diane Dondero and Anne Schiller get things organized. Tom and Anne remain active today. When Diane passed away a few years ago, GVST planted a tree in her memory at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center.

• Created a rose and herb garden at the Ronald McDonald House in the Medical Center
• Restored the historic Stillwell House landscape on Fort Sam Houson
• Helped install a xeriscape garden at the Nellie Reddix Center for special education students in the Northside School District
• Helped plant the Watersaver demonstration garden at the San Antonio Botanical Garden

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