Robie Ritchie, M.Ag 

432-247-5442   robie@sibleynaturecenter.org

Robie Ritchie has a master’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture & Food Environment and is the full-time horticulturist for Sibley.   Robie has had the privilege of working in the service of others for many years. Dr. David Viscott said “The purpose of life is to discover your gift; the work of life is to develop it; and the meaning of life is to give your gift away”. Plant life is a great teacher of community.  Plants support each other but they also compete with each other for space, water and nutrients.  Plants, like people, are resilient and have the ability to adapt. 

“The vision of the Sibley Youth & Family Garden is to engage youth and adults in the natural habitats of our region through horticultural education and interaction with nature.”  

Our Committee Members 

  • Alison Peeler, Chair & Board Member
  • Jim Alsup, Board Member
  • Mary Jane Brown, President Master Naturalist
  • Linda Groves, Master Naturalist
  • Shaun McCoshum, MS Botany, PhD Zoology
  • Irene Perry, MS Plant Physiology
  • Susie Yarbrough, Vice President Master Gardener


In February 2020 Michael Nickell, Staff Scientist, teamed with Robie Ritchie to submit a grant application to Monarch Watch for native milkweed sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council Green Gifts Program.  The application was approved and we received 50 Zizote milkweed in April.  We have some beautiful plants that have gained the interest of the Monarchs who laid their eggs.  Now we have some fabulous caterpillars!



2020 Family Garden Classes

Companion planting helps balance your garden’s ecosystem, allowing nature to do its job. Simply if one variety should be spaced 12 in. apart and the other calls for 6 in., space them 9 in. apart. Plants that are not compatible should be placed in different gardens.  There is an art to the science! 

A garden is a community of plants.  Plants have relationships with each other and this is the basis for companion planting.  An endless competition for space, sun, nutrients and water.  Some plants help each other by putting nutrients back into the soil or bringing in pollinators.  Some plants give off toxins that are poisonous to other plants.  This is a favorite topic for garden classes!

Take for instance a simple carrot:

Companion Bean, lettuce, onion, pea, pepper, radish, tomato. Ally Chives improve growth and flavor. Rosemary and sage deter carrot fly. Enemy Dill slows growth. 

This year's class narrowed the scope to "Companion Planting with Herbs"



Red-eared Slider

On June 20th the newest member of our garden family, Esther, laid her eggs.  For many of us the 55 day wait was long but finally on the morning of August 15th they broke out of their shells.  All twelve tiny turtles arrived eager to go!  We had 5 very happy volunteers working that morning to share in the WOW...

I have had numerous questions about these little guys/gals.  First we cannot determine the gender until they are older.  The males can be smaller than the females.  Did you know they eat their food under water?  

Texas Parks & Wildlife has some interesting information about these critters.


Want to volunteer?

604 Volunteer Hours for Garden Programs in 2019

The garden is an alluring place to learn and grow an eco-friendly environment to share with our native friends. Our focus is horticulture education but we enjoy birds, butterflies, turtles and fish. Time in the garden is an opportunity to free your mind, gain perspective or just spend time with others laughing out loud.  You are welcome to join us by contacting Robie Ritchie.

Garden Tip 

Mexican mint marigold is a beautiful compact perennial a little over a foot tall and wide.  The plant tolerates the heat and drought blooming in the fall.  This marigold can be substituted for tarragon and harvested spring until frost.  It is an excellent companion plant attracting beneficial pollinators and deterring harmful insects.  Make it a staple in raised beds along with sweet potato vine.  The vine can be used in addition to mulch to cool the ground and maintain moisture.  The lime color is eye catching!

Common Sunflower

Did you know sunflowers were named because of the flower that resembles the sun? The common sunflower seed was planted last year in the wildflower meadow of our garden.  A little soil, water and sun and this native is easy to grow to heights of up to 10 feet. It attracts wildlife and pollinators so it is a good choice whatever your passion in the garden.  In agriculture the crop is used for oil and the edible seeds.  This little gem can be used for baking, peanut butter and in some cases the extracts have been used to clean water after major disasters.  Historically the seeds have been use for medicine and skin treatments.  The fabulous flower has been used in famous paintings and religious ceremonies.  Plants have a story to tell just like people!


We are a Monarch Waystation!   

"Native Milkweed Species for South Central Region - antelope horn milkweed, green antelope horn milkweed, zizotes milkweed...Each fall, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies migrate from the United States and Canada to mountains in central Mexico where they wait out the winter until conditions favor a return flight in the spring. The monarch migration is truly one of the world's greatest natural wonders yet it is threatened by habitat loss at overwintering grounds in Mexico and throughout breeding areas in the United States and Canada."

Want to learn more go to https://monarchwatch.org/waystations/

Art to the Science 

Families in the Garden

  • Flame Acanthaceae - Flame Acanthus, Ruiellia
  • Aizoaceae – Hardy Ice Plant
  • Amaryllidaceae – Daffodil, Red Lion Amaryllis
  • Apiaceae - Parsley, Dill, Fennel, Celery
  • Apocynaceae - (Milkweed) Zizotes, Antelope horns, Ice Ballet, Talayote
  • Asparagaceae - Hyacinthus, Nolina, Breaklight, Hesperaloe
  • Asteraceae - Aster, Common Sunflower, Maximillian Sunflower, Gregg’s Mistflower, Coreopsis, Chocolate Daisies, Golden Yarrow, Huisache Daisy, Broomweed, Thistle, Damianita, Horseweed, Purple Coneflower, Mexican Hat, Indian Blanketflower, Dandelion, Marsh Fleabane, Camphor Daisy, Paperflower, Black-eyed Susan, Four-nerve Daisy, Cowpen Daisy, Wedelia Trilobata, Zinnia Grandiflora, Mexican Mint Marigold, Shasta Daisy, Brazilian Zinnia, Lettuce, 
  • Begoniaceae – Esperanza, Crossvine Tangerine Beauty, Gold Cape Honeysuckle, Bubba Desert Willow
  • Brassicaceae - Tansymustard, Peppergrass, Bladder-pod, Cabbage, Collard Greens, Broccoli
  • Caprifoliaceae- Coralberry
  • Cactaceae - Claret Cup Cactus , Eagle Claw Cactus  
  • Crassulaceae - Mustead Red Stonecrop
  • Cucurbitaceae - Pumpkin, Cucumber 
  • Cupressaceae – Mint Julep Juniper
  • Ebenaceae – Texas Persimmon 
  • Eriaceae - Pink Jewel Azalea, Red Tiara Azalea
  • Euphorbiaceae – Gopher Plant
  • Fabaceae – Beans, Mesquite, Texas Redbud, Texas Mountain Laurel, Texas Kidneywood, Red & Yellow Pride of Barbados, Yellow Senna, Goldenball Lead Tree, Retama, 
  • Iridaceae – African Iris
  • Lamiaceae - Mexican Purple Sage, Vitex Trees, Tropical Red Scarlet Salvia, Rosemary, Basil, Texas Betony, Lavender, Blackberry, Russian Sage, Peppermint, Chocolate Mint, Sage
  • Liliaceae – Onion, Tulip
  • Lythraceae – Crepe Myrtle
  • Malvaceae - Okra, Texas Rockrose, Texas Star Hybiscus, Turks Cap, Rose of Sharon
  • Moraceae – Brown Turkey Fig
  • Myopoaceae – Texas Heavenly Cloud Sage
  • Myrtaceae – Woodlanders Hardy Bottlebrush
  • Nyctaginacea- Devil’s Bouquet
  • Oleaceae - Arbequina Olive, Lilac Bush
  • Onagraceae - Pink Guara
  • Passifloriaceae - Purple Passionflower
  • Poaceae - Pine Muhly, Big Muhly, Hairy Grama, Blonde Ambition, Buffalo, Broomsedge Bluestem, Feather, Giant Cane, Windmill, Witch Grass, Indian, Eastern Gamagrass, Love Sandgrass,
  • Ranunculaceae - Sweet Autumn Clematis
  • Rosaceae – Mexican Plum
  • Rubiaceae – Button Bush
  • Rutaceae - Mexican Lime Bush
  • Solanaceae - Silver Leaf Nightshade, Cayennne Pepper, Potato, Tomato
  • Sapinadaceae - Western Soapberry
  • Tropaeolaceae - Nasturtium
  • Ulmaceae - Lace Bark Elm, Hackberry
  • Verbenaceae - Golden and Texas Lantanas, Texas Frog-fruit, Beauty-berry, Bee Brush, White Trailing Lantana

Search for Native Plants

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Explore Plants database 


Texas Native Shrubs Database 


Plants Database