With a hope to foster greater connections between The Gardens and Texas A&M University’s campus, Texas A&M AgriLife recently appointed Michael Arnold, Ph.D., professor of landscape horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, to be the director of The Gardens.
Positioned with world-leading expertise in gardens and strong business acumen, Arnold has the expertise needed to ensure the space continues to grow and serve the Texas A&M community.
Arnold’s passions are a unique intersection of teaching and researching horticulture. A popular professor of plant materials at Texas A&M, Arnold is a former president and chairman of the board for the American Society of Horticultural Sciences and former chair of the Texas Superstars committee.
His research has primarily focused on the landscape establishment of container-grown plants and transplant establishment factors as well as new plant development. Now, he is looking forward to extending his passion of teaching and horticulture into the community.
“I have unwavering confidence that Dr. Arnold’s passion for horticulture, business savvy and dedication to teaching will elevate The Gardens as a destination, ensuring the space continues to grow as a unique treasure to this community,” said Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
Arnold and Joseph Johnson, manager of The Gardens who oversees the day-to-day construction, maintenance and management of the space, are looking forward to seeing Phase II—the development of the 20 acres adjacent ot the Leach Teaching Gardens—come to fruition. In conjunction with the landscape architect, White Oak Studio, the team is close to completing the program of requirements and will soon start the feasibility studies.
Along with the continued planning for Phase II and a renewed focus on greater collaborations, Arnold and the rest of The Gardens team hope to encourage opportunities for classes and research groups across campus to utilize the space. He also hopes to extend the impact across the state and continue engaging with their many invaluable partnerships like the Junior Master Gardener and Master Gardener programs.
Although The Gardens is not currently hosting in-person events due to COVID-19-related restrictions, it is open and encouraging visitors.
“The Gardens is a great place to visit while conducting physically distancing,” Arnold said. “This semester, we are serving as an outdoor classroom space for courses from across campus and we are encouraging students to study while enjoying this beautiful green space. We have a great opportunity to be a safe haven for our students across campus who are looking for a bit of normalcy while coping with challenging times.
“For those who cannot physically join us, we are continuing to offer online media experiences. Like we are every semester and especially with the current climate, we hope to be a valuable safe resource for all. We look forward to the future when we can all join hands to continue building upon the wonderful efforts of all who have helped us achieve the dream of realizing The Gardens.”