Windmill Garden set to make comeback


Brandon Donner

A sign just outside the Windmill Garden shows visitors how they can identify the surrounding pollinators.

Rosa Poetschke, Editor-in-Chief

The native plants of the Brookhaven Windmill Garden are fighting their way back to the spotlight with the help of the North Texas Master Naturalist organization.

When Dallas College campuses shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers were unable to tend to the garden. Weeds, encroaching grasses and aggressive plants took over during the shutdown. When Brookhaven Campus reopened, volunteers from the NTMN group rushed in to bring the garden back to its former glory.


Connie Koval, project lead for the Brookhaven Windmill Garden and master naturalist, is leading the charge to restore the garden. Koval said while some of the college contacts have changed, the biggest impact to the garden was due to the pandemic shutting down access to the garden.

“We could not get on to the campus in order to do all the maintenance that a garden requires,” Koval said. “Bermuda grass and Johnson grass just invaded the beds and completely took over the pathways that are all around the garden.”

Despite the invasion of weeds and grasses, Koval has not been deterred in her restoration goals. She, along with other master naturalists and volunteers, works in the garden on a weekly basis. Volunteers work from 9-11 a.m. in winter, and 7-11 a.m. during the summer. Koval said she would like to add weekend hours for volunteers because many of the volunteers work during the week.


Gerald Bartz, senior geographic information systems lab coordinator at Brookhaven Campus, said he first noticed the garden while photographing on campus and decided to get involved. In 2014, he met with Carrie Schweitzer, then the Brookhaven sustainability director, and Amy Monroy, adjunct English instructor and North Texas Master Naturalist, to discuss making changes to the garden area.

In an email to the college in 2016, Bartz said: “I walk by this area almost daily. It would complement the beautiful stands of elms, bois d’arcs, hackberry and oaks which border this area. It would serve as another place to encourage the congregation of our dominant butterfly, the hackberry emperor, and encourage an increased population of other butterflies such as the monarch and giant swallowtails.”

Although changes were approved by the college, Bartz said they needed outside funding to bring in soil, install irrigation and purchase plants.


Around the same time the garden was growing and evolving, Koval said their master naturalist classes had outgrown their space in a nearby building on Marsh Lane. NTMN sought out a new lecture space on Brookhaven Campus and in doing so created a new partnership. Koval said, “[NTMN] did an in kind work with the college for us to have classes and get a break on the fees by doing volunteer work in the garden.”

Scott Hudson, NTMN chapter president, said he is always looking for ways to continue to grow the relationship with Dallas College. “As a project, [the Windmill Garden] has benefited immensely from the support that we get from Dallas College,” Hudson said.

Koval, Bartz and Hudson all said the facilities personnel on the Brookhaven Campus have been a great asset in providing mulch, removing piles of debris and hauling away waste.

In addition to continuing the restoration process, a goal for the Brookhaven Windmill Garden is to acquire signage to bring greater awareness to the garden. Hudson said, “We are hopeful that the funding identified for signage will come together this year.”

The garden has been used in a variety of ways since it began. Educators and sustainability groups have attended educational events at the garden. Master naturalists use the garden as a training site. Brookhaven Campus art classes have also partnered with the garden to create and incorporate art into the area.

In addition to the many uses, Bartz said, the garden is a great way to experience peace. “Whether it be the songful voices of birds or the flight of feeding butterflies or the beauty of the blooms, gardens can bring a peaceful feeling,” he said.

The Brookhaven Windmill Garden is located on Windmill Circle (West) Brookhaven College Campus entrance at 3939 Valley View Lane.

For additional information on how to volunteer at the Brookhaven Windmill Garden, Facebook page or visit the NTMN website,

Photo of worker putting debris in wheelbarrow
Mark Jones, a North Texas master naturalist, shovels mulch into a wheelbarrow to be used to fix the walkways of the Windmill Garden so new visitors have a clean walkway when visiting the Windmill Garden. (Brandon Donner)