July 12, 2006

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"It's better to give a lawn a good soaking a little less often," according to Skip Richter, Extension horticulturist for Travis County. (Photo by Chris S. Corby)

  Summertime can mean blues for lawns and gardens

By Paul Schattenberg
Texas Agricultural Extension

The old song goes "It's summertime and the livin' is easy," but that usually isn't the case for those tending lawns and gardens, said Texas Cooperative Extension experts in Travis County.

Summertime is normally a challenging time for taking care of turfgrass and plants, Skip Richter, Extension horticulturist for Travis County and contributing editor to Texas Gardener.

"The three main issues people have to deal with are water, insects and disease," he said. "And the situation is worse than normal this year due to drought."

The most common summertime problem with turfgrass and plants is watering, he said.

"People tend to water too little and too often," Richter said. "Applying water in small amounts at more frequent intervals results in a greater loss to evaporation because so much of the water stays at the surface. And frequent watering can also promote turfgrass and plant diseases. That's why it's better to give a lawn a good soaking a little less often."

The average lawn should get one-half inch to 1 inch of water every one to two weeks, depending on temperature, type of soil and amount of sun, he said, with shady areas requiring less frequent watering.

Another common challenge for summertime lawn warriors is take-all root rot, he added. This fungal disease, mainly affecting St. Augustine grass, but also an enemy of zoysia, bermuda and other turfgrasses, is pervasive and can kill the entire plant.

"Take-all frequently leaves lawns with large, blighted, discolored dead areas," Richter said. "It's very common on lawns throughout the state and is a problem that's repeated every summer."

There are two generally effective methods to control take-all, he said.

"One way is to make the soil surface inhospitable to the fungus by applying a top dressing of peat moss or other acidifying product," he said. "Another way to control it is to treat it with a fungicide."

In addition to water and disease, certain insects can be a major challenge during the summer, especially chinch bugs, said Wizzie Brown, Extension entomologist

"We've seen a much larger number of chinch bugs than is normal this early in the season," Brown said. "Drought-stressed lawns are more susceptible to damage from chinch bugs, and we've got a lot of those in Travis County and throughout the state."

Chinch bugs are small black and white insects with a triangular black mark on each wing, Brown said. They typically feed on St. Augustine grass, but can also feed on bermuda, zoysia, bahia and centipede grasses. Damage from chinch bugs is often confused with "brown patch" and other lawn problems.

"To see if you have chinch bugs, part the grass at the edge of the damaged area and visually inspect for them," she said. "That's the best way to determine if it's a genuine chinch bug problem."

There are various means of managing chinch bugs, Brown said. Here are some of her tips:

  • Aerate the lawn and apply a top dressing of soil or peat to reduce the layer of thatch (dead organic plant material on the surface of the soil).

  • Do not over-apply fertilizer.

  • Do not over-water or under-water the lawn.

  • Only use pesticide when necessary to help preserve the beneficial insects.

If pesticides are needed, Brown recommends using spot treatment if chinch bugs are in limited areas of the lawn. Sweep up any granular product that may land on sidewalks or driveways, and make sure to carefully follow all instructions on the product label.

"Carefree Beauty," also known as "Katy Road Pink," has been named "EarthKind Rose of the Year for 2006" by Texas Cooperative Extension. The rose, developed by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University, was introduced in 1977. (Photo courtesy Mike Shoup/Antique Rose Emporium)

  Two new EarthKind Roses named along with 2006 EarthKind Rose of the Year

By Janet Gregg
Texas Agricultural Extension

Two well-known rose cultivars have earned the EarthKind Rose designation and a third has been named "EarthKind Rose of the Year for 2006." Horticulturists describe all three as easy to grow, great for creating focal points in the landscape and excellent choices for new rose gardeners. They also bloom throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Texas Cooperative Extension has chosen "Carefree Beauty," also known as "Katy Road Pink," as this year's "EarthKind Rose of the Year."

"This is an honor created by horticulturists with Texas Cooperative Extension to highlight the 'best of the best' of landscape roses tested by the EarthKind team at Texas A&M University," said Dr. Steve George, a horticulturist at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Dallas.

"Roses with an EarthKind designation have been proven to have tremendous heat and drought tolerance, even in temperatures of 105 degrees Farenheit," George said. "They also do well in almost any soil type, from well-drained acid sands to poorly aerated, highly alkaline clays. In most loam or clay soils, these roses do not need commercial synthetic or organic fertilizers as long as one follows our EarthKind compost and mulch only approach to soil management."

George said EarthKind roses are not immune to pest problems, but if they are planted properly, their tolerance to pests is so great that pesticides will rarely be needed.

This year's top rose has successive flushes of large, fragrant, semi-double blossoms of a deep rich pink color, George said. "Carefree Beauty" produces large, orange hips. The rose, developed by Dr. Griffith Buck at Iowa State University, was introduced in 1977.

Preliminary field trial data from Odessa and San Angelo indicate the cultivar will likely tolerate highly salty water if administered with drip or soaker hose irrigation, George said. At maturity the bush will reach a size of 5 feet high by 5 feet wide.

Recommended spacing for the rose bushes is 7 feet apart. "Carefree Beauty" is approved for U.S. Department of Agriculture cold hardiness zones 4-9, which means it is winter hardy throughout Texas.

"EarthKind is one of the most prestigious horticultural plant designations bestowed by Texas Cooperative Extension, an agency of the Texas A&M University System," George said. "It is based on years of extensive field research and statewide trials conducted by A&M horticultural experts. Only a few, very special varieties possess the extremely high level of landscape performance coupled with the outstanding disease and insect tolerance and resistance that are required in order to receive this designation. Simply stated, EarthKind roses are the finest, most thoroughly tested and most environmentally responsible landscape roses for use in Texas landscapes."

"Duchesse de Brabant," one of two roses to receive the EarthKind designation this year, was introduced in 1857.

"It is a tea rose with large, double, rose-pink blossoms which are cupped and rounded like an elegant wine goblet," George said. "The blossoms are very fragrant and look like the centerpiece in an oil painting by an Old Master."

The foliage is apple-green with slightly wavy leaf blades, George said. Mature size is 6 feet high and 4 feet wide. Recommended spacing is 6 feet apart.

"This was President Teddy Roosevelt's favorite rose," George said. "He often wore it as a boutonniere."

"Spice," a China-type rose, has also just been designated as EarthKind. It is one of the Bermuda Mystery roses because it was found growing on the island of Bermuda, but how it came to be there is unknown.

"This rose produces wave after wave of blush pink, double blossoms that have a peppery fragrance, which probably gave rise to its name," George said. "The flowers are good for cutting and to use in vases and arrangements."

The mature size for "Spice" is 5 feet high by 4 feet wide. Recommended spacing is 6 feet apart.

Neither "Duchesse de Brabant" nor "Spice" are winter-hardy for the northern half of the Texas Panhandle, and neither is recommended for areas with highly salty irrigation water, George said.

"For stronger, longer-lived plants, be sure to select EarthKind roses that are on their own roots rather than those which have been grafted onto a rootstock," George said. "All EarthKind roses need eight hours or more of full, direct sun each day and good air movement over their foliage.

"Now is a great time to add these outstanding EarthKind roses to your landscape. In our opinion, these plants provide the most enjoyment with the least care of any landscape shrub in Texas."



  Outstanding community garden in Texas one of 25 Mantis Award recipients

Keeble EC/PK Center in Houston was one of twenty-five community gardens from across the United States ranging from a prison and probation gardening program in Gettysburg, Pa., to the ambitious citywide Community Garden Initiative in Atlanta selected to receive the 2006 Mantis Award for Community Gardens. Each winning community garden received a lightweight Mantis Tiller/Cultivator or a Mantis ComposT-Twin composter for use in its gardening program.

The winning community garden in Texas was the Keeble EC/PK Center, 203 West Gulf Bank Rd., Houston, Texas 77037. Part of the Aldine Independent School District, Keeble EC/PK Center educates approximately 700 economically disadvantaged children each year.

"We received the Mantis tiller in May and are very excited to begin developing the new garden site," said Jennifer W. Velando, Skills Specialist at the Keeble EC/PK Center. "We have already mastered using the tiller and will begin the first tilling of the new garden site in late July. Because we want the students involved in the garden from start to finish, we will begin the actual creation of the garden in late August!"

According to Steve LePera, Media Manager for Mantis, the criteria for selection included evaluating the gardening program's vision, organization and service to the community. The Mantis Award for Community Gardens is an annual award that began in 1995.

Each year Mantis recognizes wonderful community gardening programs for their dedication to gardening education and their success in bringing positive gardening experiences to people in their local communities, said LePera. This year's crop of community gardens is living proof that gardening makes the world a better place, one garden at a time.

For more information about the Mantis Award, contact the National Gardening Association at 1-800-538-7476 or visit www.kidsgardening.com.


  Readers' Gardening Tips

From Bobbie: "My hanging baskets dry out fast and I can not water all the time. So what I do is fill some containers with water that the baskets will fit down in and let them soak. Two or three containers sitting around are enough to grab up a wilted basket and soak for a while. Drop a little fertilizer in the water and a double job is done."

Have a favorite gardening tip you'd like to share? Texas Gardener's Seeds is seeking brief gardening tips from Texas gardeners to use in future issues. If we publish your tip in Seeds, we will seed you a free Texas Gardener cap. Here's a chance to get published and keep your head in the shade! Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.

  Did you know...

Early colonists brought the common earthworm to the United States. One worm can shift 30 tons of soil a year. Worms not only aerate the soil, they break down decaying plant material, help soil fertility and improve soil tilth.

  Upcoming Garden Events

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin, will host Nature Nights each Thursday in July, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Nature Nights are fun, interactive explorations of animals, plants and ecology in Central Texas, present in cooperation with Texas Parks & Wildlife. July 13: "The Fascinating World of Texas Bats." July 20: "Slither and Slide: Get to Know the Snakes of Texas." July 27: "Creepy Crawlies: Insects Working the Night Shift." Admission is $1; free to members. For more information, visit http://www.wildflower.org/?nd=nature.

The San Antonio Botanical Garden will host the Junior Naturalist for those aged 7 through 11 July 10 through 14. Activities will include hands-on gardening, arts and crafts, nature studies, and other outdoor activities. Registration in $150, with discounts available for San Antonio Botanical Society members. For more information or to make reservations, call (201) 207-3270.

Learn lawn care and maintenance with Lawns 101-Turf Grass Management July 18 at 6:30 p.m. Held in the Texas Cooperative Extension office, Suite 200 in the Courthouse Building on 6th and Scott in Wichita Falls, this seminar will include all the information attendees need to have the best lawn on their streets. Cost is $5. For more information, call (940) 716-8610.

The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners will hold their 2006 Master Gardener Class from August 2 through November 15, at Niemietz Park in Cibolo. Classes will be every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will include at least one Saturday field trip. Registration fee is $170, with $50 refunded after completion of 50 volunteer hours. For more information please contact Ross Risz, Class Coordinator, at rossrisz@aol.com. Or you can call the Guadalupe County Extension Office at (830) 379-1972.

The Texas Bamboo Society will host the 14th Annual Texas Bamboo Festival at Zilker Botanical Garden, Austin, on Saturday and Sunday, August 26 through 27, from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. Darrel DeBoer, will present a program entitled "Bamboo Architecture Around the World." The festival will also feature bamboo plants, crafts, musical instruments, poles, presentations, demonstrations and educational information about bamboo. Admission is free and parking is $3. For more information, visit www.bamboocentral.net or call (512) 929-9565.

The Herb Association of Texas and the Antique Rose Emporium will host A Celebration of the Herbal Harvest: A Focus on Culinary Herbs, September 22 through 23, San Antonio. The event will include a road trip, cooking classes, herbal refreshments, lectures and a vendor fair featuring locally grown herbs and related products. To register or for more information, contact Beth Patterson at (830) 257-6732 or e-mail info@texasherbs.org.

The Garden Conservancy will host a tour of five private gardens in Dallas, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., September 23. The tour is self-guided. The conservancy will also sponsor similar tours in Galveston, October 14 and Austin, October 21. Admission to each garden is $5, no reservations required, rain or shine. For more information, visit www.gardenconservancy.org/opendays.html or call toll-free (888) 842-2442.

ArtScape, September 23 and 24, 9 a.m. to 5. p.m., is the Dallas Arboretum's first ever fine art show and sale. The two-day art fair is a family-oriented event that will kick off the Dallas Blooms Autumn festival. ArtScape will feature artists from around the country, the Tour de Fleurs race, the Ultimate Tree Houses exhibit, entertainment and many exciting classes. ArtScape will complement Ultimate Tree Houses, a juried exhibit of 12 tree houses that will be on display throughout the garden. In addition, this year's event will kick off with Tour de Fleurs a 10k, 5k and 1 mile fun run. What a great way to start the weekend! For additional information, please email jijams@dallasarboretum.org.

The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners will sponsor the annual Hidden Garden Tour September 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Rockport. Enjoy touring Rockport and the surrounding area and tour some of the area's private gardens plus Green Acres Demonstration gardens. Bus tours will be available for $15 and tickets must be purchased ahead. Self-guided tours are $10. A plant sale will occur at Green Acres on the day of the tour. Green Acres Demonstration gardens, located at the Aransas County Extension Office (611 E. Mimosa behind Monroe's Furniture on Hwy 35) is the start of the tour on September 30. Maps and additional tour information for the Hidden Garden Tour can be obtained by contacting the Aransas County Extension Office at (361) 790-0103.

The Johnson County Herb Society will hold its Herbal Thymes Show and Symposium, October 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Cleburne Senior Center, Cleburne. The event will feature speakers, demonstrations herb plants and related products. For more information, contact Esther Chambliss at (817) 263-9322 or visit www.cleburnearea.info/herbies/.

The San Antonio chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will host the groups' annual symposium Convergence and Diversity: Native Plants of South Central Texas, October 19 through 22, San Antonio. The symposium will feature guided tours to natural areas, seminars on native plants and a special program on cooking with native plants. For more information, contact (210) 733-0034, (830) 997-9272 or visit www.npsot.org.

The Texas Gourd Society will hold its 11th annual "Show and Tell" at the Waco Convention Center, Waco, November 11 and 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The two-day show will include gourd artists, seminars, demonstrations and much more. Admission is $5 for adults; children under 12 free. For more information, visit www.texasgourdsociety.org.

The Garland Organic Club meets the first Sunday of each month in the little red school house at 1651 Wall St., Garland. All interested gardeners are invited to attend. For more information, call (972) 864-1934 or (800) 864-4445.

Austin Organic Gardeners meet at 7:00 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. For more information, visit www.main.org/aog.

The Dallas Organic Garden Club meets at 6:45 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Fretz Park Recreation Center, located at the corner of Hillcrest and Beltline Road in Dallas. For more information, call (214) 676-4326 or visit www.dogc.org.

  Go wild over Wildflowers of Texas  

Written by Geyata Ajilvsgi, this classic by one of the pioneers in the discovery of native Texas plants has been completely revised and expanded to feature 482 species of native Texas wildflowers. It includes full-color photographs, botanical descriptions and special notes for each plant listed.

 $21.30 plus shipping*

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020 or order on-line.

 *Mention Texas Gardener's Seeds when ordering by phone during the month of July and we'll waive shipping charges. (Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)

  Two hats are better than one!

Let your friends and neighbors know that you are proud to be a Texas Gardener with this top-quality cap. Heavy construction, six-panel, pro-style brushed cotton twill, low-profile khaki with dark green bill and logo. Buy one cap and received a second at no additional charge.

 $17.07 (includes shipping!)

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020. Not available through on-line bookstore.

(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)


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.

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Publisher: Chris S. Corby Editor: Michael Bracken

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