September 6, 2006

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In a city block of eight homes, the front lawns have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air-conditioning. (Photo by Chris S. Corby)


  Major benefits of turfgrasses

By Tara McKnight, CEA-Hort.
Texas Cooperative Extension
Wichita County

Some individuals and organizations continue to question the need for turfgrasses in our landscape, believing that turfgrasses waste water and require too many pesticides and fertilizers that can be harmful to the environment. With the extended drought condition in our area, turfgrasses are coming under even more scrutiny. It is important to recognize that turfgrasses provide many benefits to the environment. Listed below are some of the major benefits of turfgrass.

Turfgrasses act as a great air filter. It is estimated that turfgrass areas trap some 12 million tons of dust and dirt in a year's time. Just one acre of grass can absorb hundreds of pounds of fossil fuel-created sulfur dioxide in a year.

Turfgrass growing in lawns can act as a sink for carbon dioxide. This process is referred to as "carbon sequestration." The ability of a plant to take up carbon into its leaves, roots and other plant parts is seen as a way to reduce excess carbon in the air from the burning of fossil fuels which, it is theorized, causes global warming. Researchers at Colorado State and the USDA-ARS estimated that golf course greens and fairways alone can sequester up to 1 ton per hectare (2.47 acres) of carbon per year.

Turfgrasses act as nature's air conditioner. In a city block of eight homes, the front lawns have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air-conditioning. Without turfgrasses in the urban areas, temperatures would rise significantly.

Turfgrasses are a good source of oxygen. A 2,500 square foot lawn can produce enough oxygen for a family of four.

Grass contributes greatly to improving the underlying, existing soil. The lawn can continually improve topsoil by producing new plants with roots that have their own life cycle, adding organic matter as plant parts die off and decompose.

Grass/soil systems have the ability to trap large amounts of water. A healthy 10,000 square foot lawn can absorb more than 6,000 gallons of rainwater without noticeable runoff. The water nourishes the grass, trees, shrubs, and flowers before soaking through the topsoil to replenish groundwater.

The work of Southern Land Company, winners of the 2006 Because Green Matters Award for its green approach to landscaping and real estate development.

  Because Green Matters Award seeks to honor patrons of the green

A famous frog once said it isn't easy being green — and it isn't — it's hard work! Project EverGreen honors the company, organization or individual that promotes the beneficial effects of green spaces through a major project to create or improve a green space with its annual Because Green Matters Award program. The award is presented each year on Earth Day, April 22.

In 2006, Project EverGreen recognized Southern Land Company, Franklin, Tenn., for its green approach to landscaping and horticulture in real estate development. In 2005, the University of Akron won for adding 30 acres of open green spaces, including the planting of 30,000 new trees that line the defined campus.

"Green spaces have an impact on every aspect of our life," explains Den Gardner, executive director. "Our environment, economy and lifestyle are all improved by well-maintained green spaces."

The Because Green Matters award is open to anyone. Interested parties may nominate themselves, their company or their organization. Applications are available at and will be judged and a winner selected by a group of independent, expert judges. Applications must be postmarked by March 1, 2007. The winner will be notified in March 2007.

Project EverGreen is a national non-profit organization representing green industry service (end-user) providers, associations, suppliers/distributors, media companies and other organizations. 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.

Narcissus, one of many spring-flowering bulbs that can be planted in the fall. (Photo by Chris S. Corby)

  Plant bulbs this fall

One of the most popular gardening activities in the autumn is planting spring-flowering bulbs, which need a period of chilling before they bloom. Here are some tips from the Mailorder Gardening Association (MGA) to ensure the best blooms from your bulbs.

1. Loosen the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches and mix in some compost and some balanced fertilizer.

2. Plant bulbs pointy side up.

3. To prevent chipmunks and squirrels from digging up freshly planted bulbs, throw a few mothballs into the holes along with the bulbs.

4. Cover bulbs with soil.

5. Water bulbs immediately after planting. This tells the roots to start growing.

6. Cover the planting area with a layer of mulch to protect against extreme temperatures.

The MGA also advises planting bulbs in clusters of 10 or more for the most dramatic color impact. And don’t be afraid to mix colors and varieties! For a list of mailorder catalogs that sell top-quality bulbs, visit and click on "bulbs."


  Readers' Gardening Tips

Hella Wagner writes: "Need a border for your flower bed? Like a nice glass of wine, too? Dig a trench about 9 to 10 inches deep, fill up 3 to 4 inches with fine sand, stick empty(!) wine bottles upside down into the sand, refill trench with more sand and top with soil or mulch. If you cannot dig this deep, try beer bottles. My border is 109 bottles long!"

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...

Spiders are nature's weathermen. They will only weave their webs when the air is dry—no rain. So, when you see them building new webs you can be sure that the weather will be clear.



'Buttercream' lantana, one of several plants being introduced by Greg Grant, Pineywoods Native Plant Center research associate, at this year's Fabulous Fall Festival October 7. (Photo by Greg Grant)

  Upcoming Garden Events

On September 7, Seeds Publisher Chris Corby and Seeds Editor Michael Bracken will celebrate their birthdays. Due to unusually dry conditions, a local burn ban prevents them from lighting the candles on their cakes out of fear that the combined flames will endanger homes and property throughout central Texas.

The Gregg County Master Gardeners are offering a Rose Workshop led by Mark Chamblee of Chamblee Roses on September 9, from 8:30 a.m. until 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 Society of Waco will host Ann McCormick, the Herb 'n Cowgirl, September 12, 9:30 a.m. in the Whitehall Center at Carleen Bright Arboretum in Woodway (east of Waco). Regular readers of Texas Gardener will recognize Ann McCormick as a frequent contributor on the subject of herbs. Ann will be speaking on "Passion in the Garden," a discussion of the symbolism of herbs and flowers. The meeting is open to the public. For directions, contact the Arboretum at (254) 399-9204.

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

There's a new music scene coming to the San Antonio Botanical Garden. On Saturday, September 30, Gardens by Moonlight will offer popular, high-charged live music performances from 7 until 11 p.m. Gardens by Moonlight will feature a rare San Antonio performance by the Grammy-winning band "BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet." Joining BeauSoleil at the top of the bill is former San Antonio resident Monte Montgomery. Also performing are Seth Walker, Wilber Beasley and Body & Soul, The Ron Wilkins Quartet, Django's Moustache, Mariana Scuros-Ornelas, and Buttercup. Under the fall moonlight, visitors can indulge themselves on a variety of culinary treats ranging from cold Asian salad to barbequed shrimp on a stick. Drinks include sodas, wine, imported beers and others beverages. While the music plays, Gardens by Moonlight guests can wander through the unique areas of this vibrant San Antonio institution. Visitors can experience the formal gardens, the exotic conservatory and stroll along the newly renovated Texas Native Trail, exploring the Texas Hill Country and the East Texas Piney Woods surrounding the small lake. In the Lucile Halsell Conservatory area, exquisite granite sculptures of renowned artist Jesus Moroles are displayed. In the Formal Gardens, Roger Colombik's 35-foot bronze ship sculpture and four bronze and stone vessels can be viewed. Beautiful lighting adds to the glowing spell of the evening, capturing the bright white blooms and aromatic scents of night blooming flowers — jasmine, moonvine and brugmansias. Advance tickets for Gardens by Moonlight are $12 per person and are available September 11 through September 29 at area Starbucks and the Botanical Garden's Garden Gate Gift Shop. Tickets are $15 at the gate; $12 for Botanical Society members. Tickets are non-refundable. The gates open to the public at 7 p.m. There is free parking at the Garden, plus free parking at Terrell Plaza, 1201 Austin Highway, with free — and frequent — shuttle service to the Garden starting at 6 p.m. In case of inclement weather, a rain date is set for Sunday, October 1. The San Antonio Botanical Garden is located at 555 Funston @ North New Braunfels Avenue. For more information, the public can call the Garden at 210-829-5100 or visit its website at

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 SFA Mast Arboretum's annual Fabulous Fall Festival plant sale will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 7 at the Stephen F. Austin State University Intramural field on Wilson Drive, between College and Starr in historic Nacogdochess. A great selection of rare, unusual, and Texas-tough trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous perennials, grasses and groundcovers will be available. Greg Grant, Pineywoods Native Plant Center research associate and contributing editor/columnist for Texas Gardener magazine, will introduce his pink 'Pam Puryear' Turk's Cap, 'Buttercream' Lantana, and the 2006 Texas Superstar, 'Henry Duelberg' Sage. Many of the rare Aromi hybrid deciduous Azaleas will be offered as will a good number of the rarely available, Texas native, Southern Sugar Maple (Acer barbatum). Proceeds from the plant sale help support the SFA Mast Arboretum, the Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, the Pineywoods Native Plant Center and educational programs. Please help support these great Texas treasures. For more information, call (936) 468-4404 or visit

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 September 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 McLennan County Master Gardeners and the Carleen Bright Arboretum will host a Texas Superstar seminar Sunday, October 15, at 2 p.m. at the Carleen Bright Arboretum in Woodway (east of Waco). Jerry Parsons, horticulture specialist with Texas Cooperative Extension in San Antonio, will be the featured speaker at this free event open to the public. For additional information, contact Barbara Vance at (254) 741-0000.

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 through 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

  Plants to pass along

Passalong plants have survived in gardens for decades by being handed from one person to another. In this lively and sometimes irreverent book, 117 such plants are described, giving particulars on hardiness, size, uses in the garden and horticultural requirements. Although Steve Bender and Felder Rushing live in and write about the South, many of the plants they discuss in Passalong Plants will grow elsewhere.

 $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 September and we'll waive shipping charges. (Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)

  Fiber Row Cover valuable year-round

Grow-Web encourages plant growth and development, and also provides protection from insects, birds, diseases and frosts. It is also air and water permeable and allows for ventilation. Grow-Web provides excellent protection to seedlings when applied directly to the seedbed.

 $30.64 per 12.3' x 32.8' roll (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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