August 16, 2006

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  Experts say gardening can fight childhood obesity and other health issues

Working under the notion that a garden in every school can combat some of the serious health problems facing children, the nation's most influential garden policy experts will descend on Des Moines, Iowa, in September for the first-ever summit to discuss the social, environmental and health benefits of gardening.

Chief on the experts' agenda is the establishment of a set of Principles for Garden Policy, which they hope will help people and public officials see gardening as a means to create a better lifestyle for themselves and their communities.

"Gardening is such a powerful tool, because it offers people so many benefits," says summit organizer Neil D. Hamilton, director of Drake University's Agricultural Law Center and a member of the board of the National Gardening Association. "Everyone is equal when gardening. It provides people with common way of communication and can be an entry point to many different civic discussions."

Other topics of interest during the Sept. 7-8 conference include a presentation from the Center for Disease Control on "Gardening's Contribution to America's Wellness," and discussions on "Gardens, Prisons and Healing People," "Urban Gardens: Beautifying Communities, Feeding People, and Educating the Public," and "The Future of Gardening in American Society. There will also be a session on "School Gardens and Educating Children."

"Increasing plant-based education in America's schools could have a profound effect on the health of the nation. By learning about plants and food production, students will achieve a greater understanding of the nutritional value of fresh produce. School gardens may also boost students' consumption of vegetables and promote healthier eating. By taking care of a garden, they will learn to enjoy eating the fruits of their labor," says Hamilton.

According to Hamilton, plant-based education offers students more than just a healthy lifestyle. Teachers can easily incorporate the gardens into math, science and social studies lessons. "Gardening offers active and engaging connections to academics. You can easily see a teacher planning a social studies lesson on the history of food and where it originally came from. Gardening also gives kids a sense of pride in their accomplishments and provides them with a way to improve and give back to the community," he says.

The 2006 National Summit on Garden Policy is sponsored by the Drake University Agricultural Law Center and State and Local Food Policy Project in cooperation with the National Gardening Association. Bruce Butterfield, director of research at the NGA, will be presenting results of a new attitudinal survey that looks at "What Gardeners Think." The Drake Agricultural Law Center will publish the conference proceedings as a special report in 2007.

Other key presenters include: Cathrine Sneed, founder of The Garden Project; Lynn Fredericks, founder of FamilyCook Productions and chair of Les Dames d'Escoffier International's Green Tables Initiative; and Will Rapp, founder and president of Gardner's Supply Co.

The schedule for the conference, titled "Gardens For All: People, Plants and Policy," is available at

The conference will take place in Des Moines, Iowa's capital city and a center of garden education and publishing. Those attending the conference will have the opportunity to tour a number of interesting garden facilities in the greater Des Moines area, including area community gardens; the Des Moines Botanical Center; Brenton Arboretum near Dallas Center; the Neal Smith Prairie Learning Center near Prairie City; Salisbury House and Gardens; Terrace Hill; the Homestead; Living History Farms; and Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden.

The conference is co-sponsored by Seed Savers Exchange, American Community Garden Association, American Public Garden Association, Les Dames d'Escoffier, International, the Center for Ecoliteracy Slow Food USA, the U.S. Botanic Garden, Project for Public Spaces, Des Moines Parks and Recreation, Des Moines Founders Garden Club, the Gardens Writers Association, the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, the Iowa Food Policy Council and the Iowa Network for Community Agriculture.

"Gardens For All: People, Plants and Policy" is made possible by financial support from the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, with additional support from Organic Valley Family of Farms, Gardener's Supply Inc. and Drake University.

The conference is a National Gardening Association Project Grow initiative, supported in part by Hilton Garden Inns, Subaru, Black and Decker, Ames True Value, Home Depot and the Scott's Company.

  Project EverGreen survey rates consumer attitudes on green space values

What's the value of green space in an urban area? Results of a new consumer survey show we value our trees, turf, shrubs and other landscaping in different ways and, according to Den Gardner, executive director of Project EverGreen, we don't always connect the dots between the economic, environmental and lifestyle benefits they provide.

For example, Gardner says, 90 percent of those surveyed agreed that landscaping is important in improving their home's value at sale time. However, only 50 percent agreed that landscaping was important in reducing energy costs. In the same way there seems to be a lack of knowledge of the role green space can play in helping regulate air quality. Forty percent of survey respondents either disagreed or said they didn't know that trees, shrubs and turfgrass remove pollutants from the air.

The survey, conducted nationwide, is part of Project EverGreen's ongoing work in assessing awareness of the benefits provided by well-maintained urban landscapes both public and private. It's not surprising that more education is needed to fully appreciate all dimensions of the value green space has for our society, Gardner said, but there are signs of progress. For example: Respondents indicated that if tax increases were necessary for the purpose of building public green spaces and parks, they'd vote yes 55 to 45.

Headquartered in New Prague, Minn., Project EverGreen is a national non-profit organization representing green industry service providers, associations, suppliers/distributors, media companies, other organizations and individuals. Project EverGreen's mission is to raise the awareness of the environmental, economic and lifestyle benefits of landscapes and promote the significance of those who preserve and enhance green spaces at home, work and play.

  Children’s garden, nature books receive national award

By Kathleen Phillips
Texas Agricultural Extension

Five children's books have been selected for the Growing Good Kids Book Award, according to Randy Seagraves, Texas Cooperative Extension's Junior Master Gardener spokesperson.

Books honored this year are: "Our Apple Tree" by Gorel Kristina Naslund, "Leaf Man" by Lois Ehlert, "Miss Ladybird's Wildflowers" by Kathy Apelt, "The Tree Farmer" by Chuck Leavell and Nicholas Cravotta, and "Earth Mother" by Ellen Jackson.

The book awards were presented July 29 during the National Children and Youth Garden Symposium in St. Louis.

The book award program is an effort to recognize "engaging, inspiring works of garden and ecology-themed children's books ... that tell value lessons in imaginative ways," Seagraves noted. The award is jointly sponsored by the National Junior Master Gardener Program, which is administered by Extension and the American Horticulture Society.

For more information about the books and about the Junior Master Gardener curriculum, see


  Readers' Gardening Tips

"I have a mature German Shepherd who is keen on 'mining operations,'" writes Gail Pomerantz, an expatriate South African who grows many native South African plants in her southeast Texas garden. She found a way to discourage her dog and shares this tip: "Fill a clear plastic soda bottle (no colored plastic) with water and lay it in the area where your pouch is digging." After Gail placed three bottles in her favorite shrubbery, the German Shepherd stopped digging there. "I do not know the physics behind this remedy, but I believe it has something to do with light refraction," she writes. "I hope it continues to work."

While not conclusive proof that Joy kills mosquitoes, spilled dish soap can leave slippery walkways and porches. Doris Medd writes, "My Dad believed in the solution as a spray on himself so if he slipped it was his fault and nobody else's. Actually, he didn't like smelling like bug spray and the Joy spray was as effective as commercial bug sprays. He passed away last summer and whenever I see a bottle of Joy I always think of him."

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...

Many old-fashioned flowers are open-pollinated, not hybrids. That means they will grow true from seed and can be collected and replanted with confidence. Hybrid plants are the result of crossing two different plants together. The resulting seed will not grow true from seed. If you want to propagate hybrid plants, take cuttings or divide the plants instead.

  Upcoming Garden Events

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.

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 Gregg County Master Gardeners are offering a Rose Workshop led by Mark Chamblee of Chamblee Roses-Tyler on September 9, 8:30 a.m.-noon, at the Gregg Country Extension Office, 405 E. Marshall, Longview. Seating is limited. $20 admission includes a container grown rose for each participant. Tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information, call (903) 236-8429.

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.

The Arbor Gate will sponsor “Kindergarten for Rose Lovers...Learn About Teachers' Pets!” presented by Mark Chamblee on Saturday, September 23, at 10 a.m. Admission is free. The Arbor Gate 15635 FM 2920 Tomball. For more information, call (281) 351-8851 or visit

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.

Castro Garden Club's "Fall Tour of Homes" in Castroville will take place October 7, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets will be available Sept 1 and can be purchased in advance by writing Castro Garden Club, P.O. Box 10, Castroville, TX 78009. Tickets will be sold the day of the tour at the Landmark Inn State Historic Site. Ticket price will include admission to the Landmark Inn State Historic Site, courtesy of The Friends of the Landmark Inn, to visit the newly renovated Gristmill. Proceeds from the tour will benefit Castro Garden Clubs special projects. Admission: $12.00 per person. For more information contact: Priscilla Garrett, (830) 931-2262; Bonnie Keller, (830) 931-2614; or Joan Menard, (210) 677-8979.

Ernesto Velez Koppel of Colombia will lecture on his country's flower industry October 11 at Texas A&M University. His talk is the second in the Distinguished Lecture Series on International Floriculture. Koppel is the Association of Colombian Flower Growers and Exporters board of directors chair. The lecture series is sponsored by the Texas A&M horticultural sciences department's Ellison Chair in International Floriculture. The presentation will include background on what led to the formation of the Colombian flower association, known as ASOCOLFLORES, its current activities and its plans for the future. Koppel also will describe the group's global impact. For further information, contact Tammy Landry, program coordinator, at or (979) 845-7342.

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

  Learn to cook with flavorful herbs  

Indulge your senses with the lively flavors, vivid colors and tantalizing aromas of fresh herbs. The Herb Garden Cook Book is a comprehensive guide that gives you creative, festive recipes as well as valuable gardening information. Lucinda Hutson's expert advice will help you grow robust and flavorful herbs using organic growing techniques, harvest and store herbs, and prepare more than 150 delicious and innovative recipes.

 $28.77 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
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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