August 2, 2006

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Found rose "Peggy Martin" at the country home of Bill & Diane Welch.

  The "Peggy Martin" rose survives and inspires

By Dr. William C. Welch,
Professor & Landscape Horticulturist, Texas A&M University

Peggy Martin has been a mainstay in the New Orleans Old Garden Rose Society for many years. She and her husband, MJ, lived in Plaquemines Parish a few miles across the Mississippi River from the city of New Orleans. My wife, Diane, and I were her guests several years ago when I accepted a speaking engagement for the NOOGRS.

Peggy graciously cared for us during our visit and entertained us in her home with a memorable Louisiana style seafood boil that had been harvested by her husband just hours before. Peggy’s garden included a wonderful collection of old roses assembled with love and care over the years. There were many wonderful specimens that appealed to me, but one rambler in particular caught my eye. I am always interested in thornless roses, and Peggy was particularly enthusiastic about a large, healthy specimen she had collected in 1989 in New Orleans.

According to Peggy, "I was given cuttings of the thornless climber in 1989 by Ellen Dupriest who had gotten her rose cuttings from her mother-in-law, Faye Dupriest. Faye had gotten her cuttings from a relative’s garden in New Orleans. When I first saw this rose it was in full bloom and smothered the wooden fence in Ellen’s back yard. It took my breath away! I had never seen a rose so lushly beautiful with thornless bright green foliage that was disease free. All along the canes there were clusters of roses that resembled perfect nosegays of blooms."

I departed from New Orleans in the late summer of 2003 with several cuttings of Peggy's thornless climber. I was pleased that the cuttings rooted quickly and immediately set one on the fence that encloses the A/C equipment at Fragilee, our weekend home in Washington County. I was a little dubious of the site I had selected because the soil was less than ideal. My concern soon disappeared as I saw the cutting quickly mature into a vigorous specimen that spans most of the 12 to 15 linear feet of 4-foot tall picket fencing.

I didn’t allow myself to get overly excited about the plant because I assumed that it would be a "once bloomer" with a fairly short flowering season in the spring. On a subsequent visit with Peggy she indicated that my plant would rebloom in the fall after it had been established for a couple of years. I must admit that I had some doubt about the rebloom in our hot and sometimes very dry Texas climate. Last year Peggy’s rose rewarded us with a nice bloom from September through November. Even with being covered by ice for two days during mid-December 2005 we have had some scattered bloom all winter.

9f03d3.jpgKatrina takes its toll

We fretted about many of our New Orleans friends during Hurricane Katrina. Getting information was not easy with so much of the communications system inoperative. We were uneasy about traveling to Birmingham for an annual meeting with the gardens staff for Southern Living. We spent the night of September 7, at our home in Mangham, La. Mangham is in the northeastern part of the state and Katrina had only brushed by as it veered to the east through Mississippi. We were relieved that our cotton and soybean crops received only minor damage and the old pecan trees in our yard suffered little more than loss of most of this year's crop.

Upon arrival in Birmingham we checked into the Marriott Courtyard located near the Southern Living headquarters. Early the next morning we went to breakfast and were seated adjacent to two couples who sounded like they had New Orleans accents. After introducing ourselves, we learned that they were from Plaquemines Parish and had lost their homes. Birmingham was the first place they were able to find shelter. I asked them if they knew Peggy Martin and her family and they said they knew them well and were we familiar with the tragedy of their losses? It seems that Peggy lost both her elderly parents in the flood that inundated nearly all of Plaquemines Parish. We were, of course, deeply saddened that Peggy had lost her parents, her home, and commercial fishing boat that her husband used to supplement their income.

An inspirational survivor

It took a couple of months for me to reestablish communication with Peggy. She and her family have moved to Gonzales, La., which is close to Baton Rouge on Interstate 10. I asked Peggy about her roses and home and she indicated the house and garden were under about 20 feet of salt water for two weeks following the hurricane. When she was finally able to return to visit their property she was heartened to see the lush growth of her thornless climber, a testament to its toughness and status as a true survivor. This rose and one crinum were all that remained of the once beautiful garden.

I had already been convinced that this rose deserved to be widely available and enjoyed by gardeners in other locations. Its disease resistance, thornless stems and colorful displays of bright pink flowers along with a graceful vining form make it a logical choice for creating beautiful garden pictures. My specimen is literally covered with clusters of dark pink flowers each spring from mid-March through May. It starts blooming again in late summer and repeats until a hard frost slows it down for the winter.

A way to help

In mid-January I was pleased to receive a notification that my friend Nancy Godshall, a member of the Garden Club of Houston and currently Zone IX Director for the Garden Club of America, had given a donation in my name to a recently established Zone IX Horticulture Restoration Fund. The fund was established for the purpose of restoring parks, gardens and green space in New Orleans, La., Laurel, Miss., and Beaumont, Texas, following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I was pleased to learn that Nancy Thomas, also from Houston and a former GCA President, was closely involved in selecting projects for the restoration fund.

An idea came to me several weeks ago "in the middle of the night" about growing the "Peggy Martin" rose as a fund raiser for Zone IX Horticulture Restoration Fund. First, I checked with Peggy to see if she would be in agreement then I went to Mike Shoup, owner of the Antique Rose Emporium. Mike is enthusiastic and has already stuck the first small crop of cuttings we provided a couple of weeks ago. He is certain that he can produce a good crop by fall 2006 and has pledged a dollar per plant will go to the Fund.

Jason and Shelley Powell, owners of Petals from the Past Nursery in Jemison, Ala., were impressed with the rose while visiting here in late October 2005 and took quite a few cuttings at that time. Jason reports that they already have 60 or 70 rooted cuttings. Jason received his Master’s Degree from Texas A&M and was an early recipient of my scholarship sponsored by Texas Garden Clubs, Inc.

Mark Chamblee, owner of Chamblee Rose Nursery in Tyler, Texas, has received a small stock plant and is enthusiastic about marketing the rose as is Aubrey King, owner of King’s Nursery in Tenaha, Texas. Addresses and phone numbers for these sources are included below. A first crop from these growers should be available as early as the fall of 2006 with larger numbers in 2007. Each of these growers has pledged a $1.00 per plant donation to the Garden Restoration Fund. Reduced or wholesale prices may be available for Garden Club Plant Sales and Master Gardener Events. This would allow more opportunity for contributions.

This is going to be fun! A great rose and a great cause. This is a hard combination to beat! I am fully convinced that the resilience and fortitude of our friends and neighbors in New Orleans, Beaumont and Mississippi is matched by the beauty and toughness of the "Peggy Martin" rose. The "Peggy Martin" rose is a beautiful symbol of survival on the Gulf Coast. Please join us in this celebration.

Current List of Cooperating Growers for the "Peggy Martin" Rose:

Antique Rose Emporium, 9300 Lueckmeyer Road, Brenham, TX 77833, (800) 441-0002,

Chamblee’s Rose Nursery, 10926 US Hwy 69 North, Tyler, TX 75706, (800) 256-ROSE,

Petals from the Past Nursery, 16034 County Rd. 29, Jemison, AL 35085, (205) 646-0069,

King’s Nursery Hwy 84 East, Tenaha, TX 75974, (409) 248-3811.

  Cover up with hairy vetch

Imagine a cover crop that will protect your garden soil from erosion, put nitrogen in the soil, provide organic matter and is winter hardy all the way to Amarillo.

Well, winter or hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) will do all this plus attract bees and other beneficial insects come springtime.

Actually most of the vetches (there are 150 in the genus) will grow in Texas. Hairy vetch is the most winter hardy. It is also the most forgiving of different soil types.

To get the full benefit from this cover crop, plant it September through October in most of Texas. You can broadcast it with a fertilizer spreader or by hand. There is no need to fertilize vetch since it is a legume and actually produces its own nitrogen. Most of its other nutrient needs can be met from the remnants of your spring fertilizer program.

As you get ready to plant your vegetables in the spring just mow strips where you plan to put your new rows, till the vetch into the soil along with other amendments. Be sure to leave several strips or perhaps a border through spring. You will be amazed at the bees, ladybugs and other beneficial insects that are attracted to this plant.

Some gardeners even plant their tomato plants directly in growing vetch and use it as a living mulch and windbreak. The vetch will really protect young tomato plants. Once dead it will help conserve moisture to say nothing of the "free" nitrogen it puts in the soil.

Hairy vetch has a lot to offer. Using it as a cover crop is one of those organic techniques that really works.

  The lighter side of gardening:
Fashionable gardeners say pink is the new green

By Michael Bracken

I wish I could say that I have brown thumbs. But what I have is worse than that: I have no thumbs at all.

My wife once left me in charge of the houseplants while she traveled with her mother. I spent the week watering a plant I later learned was plastic.

I also discovered that the dried flower arrangement on the dining room table was already "dead" before my wife left, and that all of my efforts to resurrect it resulted only in the destruction of a perfectly good Styrofoam base and a few deep water stains on a once majestic mahogany table.

I'm probably worse outside, especially since the yard is considered man's turf. My neighbors spend hours discussing the relative advantage of native plants and organic fertilizer, and I'm just happy when I look at my yard and am not blinded by a sea of yellow. My wife never believes me when I tell her my yard crop is the key ingredient in Dandelion Wine, which I'll learn how to make before the next blue moon.

My wife allows me to mow the lawn, but only under her close supervision. The last time I went at it alone, I set the lawn mower's blade height incorrectly and the entire place looked like the Dust Bowl had just swept through. By the end of the week, the local fire department had been called out twice for what looked like "puffs" of smoke, but were actually dust devils.

Then I trimmed the hedges in the shape of the only thriving plant life I ever touched - the Chia Pet my mother grew for me as part of my eighth grade science project. My topiary skills were not appreciated, and when I approached our crapemyrtle with the pruning shears, my wife charged out of the house, screaming so loud that migrating birds altered their course for miles around us.

As penitence for the Chia Hedge, my wife insisted that I accompany her to her favorite garden supply store. Unfortunately, they have a "you kill it, you buy it" policy, and we returned home that afternoon with $387.23 worth of sticks and twigs and a large bag of grass seed.

Despite a scowl on her face that could stunt the growth of the hardiest mesquite, I diligently followed my wife's instructions for spreading the new seed.

Once the lawn returned, I found myself unable to maintain it in the grand manor of my neighbors. Despite constant watering, the application of expensive fertilizers, and prayers to every known deity, nothing would turn my brown grass green.

Until I discovered Grecian Formula for grass.

Every night, after I assured myself that all the neighbors were asleep, I crept out into the yard and carefully painted my lawn. I started slowly, painting a little at a time until my entire lawn appeared to be a lush sea of green.

I became the envy of the neighborhood, with my once-disdainful neighbors now seeking my advice about yard maintenance. I spoke eloquently about NPK and corn gluten meal. My neighbors religiously followed my advice, yet somehow their lawns never looked quite as good as mine.

Sadly, my brief moment as a nature-loving neighborhood hero came to a grinding halt one heavily overcast night when I accidentally grabbed the wrong can of spray paint and woke the next morning to find that half of my lawn had turned pink.

Bubblegum pink.

My neighbors haven't talked to me since.

And my wife handles the lawn care.

After all, how much can you expect from a man with no thumbs?

Reprinted from Texas Gardener, March/April 2005.


  Readers' Gardening Tips

Was last week's tip a washout? John Herbert responds: "I've never tried the Joy Dishwashing Soap on mosquitoes, but I have heard of it several times. According the urban legends website, the method is not effective and this myth has been circulating the internet for several years. See: Perhaps other readers have first hand knowledge of whether it works or not."

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...

Most modern medicines are based on plants. The birth control pill is derived from wild yam, and codeine and morphine come from the opium poppy. Willow bark was used to develop aspirin and some antibiotics originally were made from molds.

  Upcoming Garden Events

Dr. William Welch will speak about "Landscape Horticulture" from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m., Wednesday, August 2, at the Carleen Bright Arboretum, 9001 Bosque Blvd., Woodway. This event is sponsored by the McLennan County Master Gardeners. Admission is $5. For more information, call (254) 754-6954 or e-mail

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 Or you can call the Guadalupe County Extension Office at (830) 379-1972.

Dr. Larry Stein, Associate Professor and TAMU Extension Horticulturist, will give a talk on Home Fruit and Nut Production on August 9, from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Carleen Bright Arboretum, 9001 Bosque Boulevard, Woodway. This event is sponsored by the McLennan County Master Gardeners. Admission is $5, and the public is invited. For more information, call (254) 754-6954 or e-mail

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 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

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 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

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 Austin Herb Society celebrates Herb Awareness Month in October with HerbFest, Saturday, October 21, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market, located in the Burger Center, 3200 Jones Rd., off I-290 between Brodie Lane and Westgate Blvd. No entrance fee for shoppers, free parking. For additional information, call (512) 468-9126.

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

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

The 2006 Annual Garden Tour in Victoria County will take place on Saturday and Sunday, October 28-29, showcasing five gardens at historic homes in Old Victoria. Imagination will be fulfilled beyond garden gates with the theme “Nature’s Beauty Beyond the Gate” in fall and pre-Halloween garden settings. Highlighted garden plants will be catalogued in educational materials and for plant sale identification on the weekend of the tour. Guided tours at $18 per person are scheduled from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Sunday. Individual garden tours are $5 per garden. Workshops will be conducted on culinary cooking and holiday decorating from the garden for additional fees. For further information, contact Victoria County Extension Office at (361) 575-4581.

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

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

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

  Getting hammered by bad plant selections?  

Looking for four seasons of bright, colorful flowers that are tough enough to survive Texas conditions? Tough-as-Nails: Flowers for the South author Norman Winter names the ideal annuals, perennials, bulbs, grasses and vines for any southern location.

 $29.89 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 August 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
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