Gabe’s Garden at Windsor Park Elementary School

Jesse JenkinsBirds, Butterflies, and Bees, Color for the Season, Garden Design, Life in The Garden7 Comments

Back in late December, Gill’s had the pleasure of donating the planting of a new pollinator garden at Windsor Park Elementary School for kids, parents, and teachers to enjoy this Spring and for years to come. James Gill designed the garden in an empty parking median using mostly Texas native plants like Kidneywood, Texas Lantana, Frogfruit, Skeleton-leaf Goldeneye, and more to attract different birds and butterflies. This is a very special project for us, and we chose to dedicate it to Gabe Velasquez, long time Gill landscaper and friend who passed away.

A few words about Gabe from James Gill:

“Very early in the growth and evolution of Gill’s, we were so fortunate to connect with a wonderful young man, Gabe Velasquez. He quickly learned the basics of landscape installation and became quite a craftsman, with high personal standards of quality work and materials. His good nature and work ethic made him a favorite of our Gill team and our customers. 

We lost contact with him for several years, but managed to lure him back, and he not only retained his high personal standards, but was so willing to mentor younger crew members. 

Tragically, we lost Gabe during the Covid pandemic, and the folks at Gill’s have been looking for some kind of worthy tribute. We think Gabe’s Garden at Windsor Park Elementary School, which will bring butterflies, humming birds, and thousands of smiles to children and their parents, would suit him just fine.”

The volunteer team for Gabe’s Garden included current Gill landscape crew leaders Arnold Charles and Jimmy Chavira, who both worked with Gabe for many years, Aracely Negrete (Master Naturalist from Kingsville), Sara Jose (Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve Manager), Jesse Jenkins (Gill’s new owner), and the whole Gill family; James and Sally, son Stuart, wife Anne, and granddaughter Bea, + son Trevor and girlfriend Catherine in town for the holidays!

Gill’s has had a connection to Windsor Park Elementary for many years. Stuart and Trevor Gill both attended! Here they are helping plant Gabe’s Garden all these years later!

Windsor Park Owls, Trevor and Stuart Gill
and helper, Bea!

7 Comments on “Gabe’s Garden at Windsor Park Elementary School”

  1. HI. I have a very large bi-color iris. I cut it back after the big freeze 2 years ago and it’s really big again. Doesn’t seem harmed by this past freeze. Can I cut it back again or should I just keep it as is?

    Also, I planted some Esperanza Sparklette last year. Looks brown and crunchy now, even though I covered it. Is it a goner? I read that they are not very freeze tolerant.

    1. You can cut back the iris if you like, but at some point some years in the future, the center will lose vigor and all new growth will be on the edges. At that time, dig it up and replant one of the most vigorous sections.
      The esperanza will likely sprout somewhere along the trunk and regrow.

  2. Thank you! Windsor Park Elementary School and Gills have a longstanding relationship. Trevor and Stuart, so glad to see this beautification pollinator project. Once an Owl always an Owl!

    1. Yes, James and I are very thankful to the teachers and staff who made learning fun for their students. Thanks so much Mrs. Sheehan. Yes, once an Owl always an Owl! Can’t wait to see the garden blooming this spring! Sally Gill

  3. Dear Sally, James, Stuart and Trevor,

    I have very fond memories of the wild flower garden you all planted for Windsor Park so many years ago. Thank you so much for the beauty you provided for our school.

    James, I remember that I would call you each time the district was scheduled to come to “trim” the garden. You would stop by and mark the weeds with orange spray paint to indicate that they were not wildflowers and should be pulled.

    Thanks for posting the pics of all of you.

    AND thanks for the memories,
    Ginger

    1. Hi Ginger!

      I’m so happy our Gill family was able to plant another pollinator garden at Windsor Park Elementary. It’s much smaller but very visible and should bring a smile to the student’s faces as they come to school. Thank you again Ginger for building a team of teachers who made learning exciting and fun all those years ago! James and I are very grateful. Sally

  4. Gabe’s Garden is wonderful! How beautiful dear friends. What a gift! Ya’ll have adopted Windsor Park as a project for many years. Always planning and working and keeping things looking good is an inspiration and example to the students and parents and teachers and staff! If only we could do so well at our homes! James and Sally, y’all have always been there to help. You built a great business for all South Texas. What a special mark you guys have made! Thank you so much!

    Sally, remember that time when the CCISD work crew came to clean up things? You asked them to trim the crepe myrtles at the front of the school by two feet? She meant from the top of the trees—but instead, they were cut down to two feet up from the ground!! Needless to say, there was miscommunication and understanding and the boss lady was not happy! Those chain saws must have been busy all day while Sally was at the nursery working. Fun memories Sally and James watching all kinds of growth at Windsor Park! BTW, the crepe myrtles grew back and ended up looking pretty good! :}

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