Dave Creech directs the SFA Gardens at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas, USA. He was born in 1948, the son of Elbert and Laverne, brother of Susan, and he lived much of his early life in India, East Pakistan, and Burma where his father worked in Agriculture Development during the glory days of the green revolution. He returned to the USA to finish high school at A & M Consolidated High School, College Station, Texas before enrolling at Texas A & M University (TAMU). He received the BSc in Horticulture in 1970, the MSc in 1972 in Horticulture from Colorado State University, and the PhD in 1978 in Horticulture back at Texas A and M University. After a brief 9 month stint at TAMU, Overton, Texas as an Extension Specialist he joined the faculty of Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas where he still works, gardens and lectures for a living and a lifestyle. He was into bow ties before it was cool and his mantra is let’s keep planting.
Nacogdoches is in Zone 8B of the Pineywoods region in East Texas with an average annual rainfall of 48 in (122 cm). June through August is characteristically hot and dry. 1 Sept 2000 was the record high, 112 F (44.4 C), and 23 Dec 1989 was the record low 0 F (-17.8 C). In 2010 and 2011, Nacogdoches experienced all-time record drought and heat. Total precipitation in 2010 was 22.3 in (56.6 cm) and 2011 produced 35.4 in (89.9 cm), with one third of that that coming late in the fall. Fortunately, 2012 and 2013 saw a return to normal summer temperatures and rainfall at 59.6 in (151 cm) and 43.4 in (110.2 cm), respectively.
SFA Gardens comprises 52 ha (128 acres) of on-campus property at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA), Nacogdoches, Texas and includes four main gardens: Representing the oldest plantings, the 17 ha (10 acre) SFA Mast Arboretum was initiated in 1985 and includes the horticulture facility of the Agriculture Department. Second, the Ruby M. Mize Azalea garden is a 3.2 ha (8 acre) garden of primarily azaleas, camellias and Japanese maples and was dedicated in April, 2000. Third, the 17 ha (42 acre) Pineywoods Native Plant Center (PNPC) was dedicated by Lady Bird Johnson in April 2000. Finally, the SFA’s Recreational Trail and Gardens was dedicated in March 2010 and comprises 27.5 ha (68 acres) of mostly undisturbed forest. As the result of a donor with a vision, SFA Gardens is responsible for the development of a 3.2 ha (8 acre) garden in the SW portion of this property, directly across from the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden. SFA Gardens enjoys four full time employees and two half-time employees, all funded by a combination of state and external grant funding. SFA Gardens is a collector’s garden, one that adds hundreds of new plants each year to the plantings. Those that survive, perform well, and impress visitors make their way into propagation, two annual plant sales and distribution to interested nurserymen. This program has introduced and promoted numerous plants through a wide range of print and electronic media.