April 26, 2006

Welcome to Texas Gardener's Seeds, the weekly newsletter for Texas gardeners. 'Please do not reply to this e-mail as the sending address is not monitored. See the bottom of this newsletter for information on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editors.


  Welcome to your first packet of
Texas Gardener's Seeds

Thank you for subscribing to Texas Gardener's Seeds, which you did through a link on the Texas Gardener Web site. We now welcome you to the premiere issue, and we look forward to providing you with gardening news you can use.

We welcome your suggestions and feedback, so please contact us through the links provided at the bottom of this newsletter.


  Drought affects backyard wildlife

Dry gardens. Wildfires. Low reservoirs. These are all examples of how the drought is affecting Texas this year.

State wildlife biologists say there is something gardeners can do to offset the drought's impact. "Water is a vital resource for all life, including our backyard visitors," said Matt Wagner, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department director of wildlife diversity. "If the drought continues, it will be important for homeowners across the state to maintain water features that wildlife are using in our backyards."

Not only will water be needed for ponds and birdbaths, but the plants animals use in gardens will be struggling as the drought continues. Wildscapes, or landscapes that are designed with wildlife in mind, and supplemental feeders will become increasingly important, since food for birds, butterflies and other animals depend on may be scarce from other natural sources.

"Nectar, seed and fruit production all require water," said Mark Klym, coordinator of TPWD's Texas Wildscapes program. "Leaves are composed heavily of water and stems serve to transport water through the plants. The Texas Department of Transportation recently stated that they do not expect a great wildflower display this year. This is typical of what will be happening with plants in the wild during droughts. The plants we use in our wildscapes are native, generally consuming less water than cultivated ornamentals, but they still require some water. These plants will also be important food and shelter sources this year."


Sulphur butterfly enjoys the nectar from duranta flowers. The plant's fruit, in the background, is also enjoyed by wildlife. (Texas Cooperative Extension photo by Jerry Parsons)

  Two new Superstars named

Duranta and a variety of salvia named Henry Duelberg have been awarded Texas Superstar designations by Texas Cooperative Extension.

Duranta is a plant with a long history and many names but one consistent quality: it meets all six of the characteristics required to receive Texas Superstar designation.

Researchers Dr. Cynthia McKenney and Dr. Wayne Mackay, both horticulturists with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in Dallas, said those characteristics include being attractive and useful to a broad spectrum of gardeners.

Duranta attracts birds, butterflies and hummingbirds," said McKenney. "One of the nicest parts about Duranta is that it can take sun or shade and does very well in our heavy clay soils."

Up to 30 species of tropical trees and shrubs make up the genus Duranta L. The duranta designated as a Texas Superstar is scientifically known as Duranta erecta, but is more commonly called Lilac-Flowered Golden Dewdrop, Brazilian Sky Flower, Pigeon Berry or simply Duranta. This year's other new Texas Superstar is the Henry Duelberg salvia. It was named from the grave marker in a rural Central Texas cemetery where it was found growing.

"Henry Duelberg salvia is more vigorous than other salvias and it performs best when sheared occasionally to renew the flowers and keep the plant tidy," said Mackay.

  Upcoming Garden Events

Enjoy a weekend of garden visiting at seven private gardens in El Paso May 6 and 7, through Americaís only national garden-visiting program. Begin the self-guided tour at the garden of Darren & Maria Woody, 817 Forest Willow Circle, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to each garden is $5, no reservations required, rain or shine. For more information, visit www.gardenconservancy.org/opendays.html.

Stephen F. Austin Pineywoods Native Plant Center will host the third Lone Star Regional Native Plant Conference, May 24 through 28, Nacogdoches. Enjoy lectures from the stateís finest native plant experts, tour amazing East Texas sites, and participate in one of SFAís wonderful plant sales featuring Texas natives, heat tolerant color and Texas Gardener columnist Greg Grantís newest introductions including Pamís Pink Turkís cap. For more information, call Elyce Rodewald at (936) 468-1832.

The Hunt County Master Gardeners will host a Garden Tour from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, June 3, in Greenville. The tour will feature unique and outstanding local area landscapes. Admission is $5 per person. For more information, call (903) 455-9885.

The San Antonio Daylily Society will hold a plant sale and show from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., June 3, at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels.


  "Weed Wars" featured in May/June Texas Gardener

Contributing Editor Skip Richter battles Bermudagrass and Nutsedge and helps readers win the war against these invasive garden pests.

Also in this issue: Tips on landscaping with water conservation in mind, growing vegetables that withstand summer's heat, cultivating exotic vines, basil basics, and planning for pumpkins.

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Texas Gardener's Seeds
is published weekly. © Suntex Communications, Inc. 2006. All rights reserved. You may forward this publication to your friends and colleagues if it is sent in its entirety. No individual part of this newsletter may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher.

Publisher: Chris S. Corby Editor: Michael Bracken

Texas Gardener's Seeds, P.O. Box 9005, Waco, Texas 76714 ● www.TexasGardener.com