January 17, 2007

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  Look out your window

Michael Bettler
Lucia's Garden

I often think of Gertrude Jekyll, English garden designer of the last century who said, "The main purpose of the garden is to give its owner the best and highest kind of earthly pleasure." I like this quote because I want to instill the need to look inward in designing a garden, to find what you want your garden to become. Begin your design at a window, any window: a kitchen window, a bedroom window, a patio door, a door opening on to an outdoor balcony. Your garden is going to be the first thing you see. Let it be a joy!

Like having babies and not thinking that you will soon have teenagers, when you first begin your garden, plan its shape as you would like to see it for the next several years. You can change it as it matures, certainly, but give it its initial design by looking at it from one or two vantage points as you greet it each day going out to the mail box, or to get the morning paper, or as you would want it to be seen by invited house guests, encouraging them to explore your yard, your patio deck, or to visit a balcony. It should be a place to rest your eyes and excite your curiosity and imagination.

What do you do with that straight and narrow, obliquely aimed, covered walkway that borders the car park area of the driveway between the kitchen door and the garage? What do you do with the gas meter and the air conditioning unit? What do you do with telephone poles rising from the middle or the ends of your back fence?

Find a window, perhaps the one over the kitchen sink to offer a visual break while making sandwiches or washing dishes. Sit at the breakfast nook table and look out the patio door. Pull the curtains back in the bedroom and look out into the yard from the vantage point of sitting on the side of the bed. Now dream your garden, what you want it to be. "Create," as Hal Borland reminds us, "a bit of paradise within an imperfect world."

Elements to keep in mind are the possibilities of intense color patches, of breaking up straight lines with varied heights and leaf colors and textures of background and understory plants. Look for ways to accentuate the sun or fill in the shade. Build sanctuaries for birds and butterflies, lizards and toads, squirrels and the family cat who loves to sun herself, quietly musing on a garden paver or an arbor bench. Place a bird bath in an open area to entice thirsty cardinals and jays or dusty sparrows. Place a feeder on an overhanging limb, accessible to the tree visitors, with a long enough hanging line to make refilling easy and long enough to keep squirrels guessing.

Build a pathway as a border to the garden, using heavy bark mulch or gravel, keeping in mind the propensity of lawn grasses to "fill in the blank" seeking new soil. Use your garden hose to initially scribe out your pathway, 18 inches to 24 inches wide, with soft curves that help the eye move across the breadth of the garden. Place large terra cotta containers along the path, just inside the garden, as "islands" to hold your eye with interest, planting low florals or herbs at their front base to hide their position in the garden.

If you have a patio garden or a balcony, array various sizes and shapes of planters and terra cotta pots to create small garden collections, leaving space between the larger pots to allow for smaller pots in the front and places between for Mother Nature's creatures to find shade or an occasional hiding bug. Frame these container gardens at their ends with large pots filled with upright and prostrate rosemaries or stands of lemon grass. Italian oregano stands up while Greek oregano tends to cascade. Chives require shallow containers and form beautiful borders for container gardens. Scented geraniums come in a broad variety of scents, colors and textures. Thyme can be interplant in any container. Mints must go into their own containers, one single variety per container, spaced wide apart as they are invasive and prolific cross-breeders. They are excellent in hanging baskets in mottled shade in high summer.

A single half whiskey barrel can contain an average "kitchen garden," depending on how frequently and how much you harvest. Drill five to seven 1/2-inch holes in the bottom for drainage and place it where you want it before you fill it and plant it out. (You will not be able move it from that spot without the aid of the local high school football team.) Wood containers lend wonderful textures to pocket gardens, and they help retain soil moisture and proper root temperature during both summer and winter.

Statuary in any garden can be of St. Fiacre (Patron Saint of Gardeners), St Elizabeth (Patron Saint of Roses), St. Frances (Patron Saint of Animals), Kwan Yin (the Patroness of Children and Mercy in Asia), The Buddha (for meditation), and others, birdbaths or a single large stone can define any number of garden themes. Large, broken terra cotta pots can be turned up-side-down for toad or lizard habitats. Old iron-legged chairs can have their seats removed and become the supporting frame for a container garden, cascading down the front while standing tall in the back, or large gardenias, geraniums, cascading and climbing ivy.

Garden design is about theme, color, texture and plant selection. Jim Nollman, author of Why We Garden writes that a garden "...creates a sense of place...(and is)...a pocket paradise." Look out your window now and dream the garden you wish to see.

  Coalition plans to engage millions in lawn care discussion
SafeLawns.org, an international coalition of for-profit and non-profit organizations, is declaring 2007 The Year of the Safe Lawn. In an effort to promote environmentally friendly lawn care and conservation of resources, SafeLawns.org will engage millions of people, including homeowners, school systems, lawn care professionals, lawn and garden retailers and political officials.

Spearheaded by HGTV host and lawn care author Paul Tukey, named the nation's Gardening Communicator of the Year in 2006, SafeLawns.org will involve more than 100 other media personalities from the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Lawns cover nearly 40 million acres of the U.S., making grass the largest agricultural crop in the nation. Lawn care, as it is currently practiced, is also a huge component of environmental contamination, pesticide poisoning and general human illness. Products associated with lawn care have been shown to be especially toxic to pets and children, as well as numerous birds and insects. The average home lawn requires an average of 18 gallons of fuel per year and hundreds of gallons of water per site. SafeLawns.org will demonstrate that healthy green lawns can be created without the use of toxic products, with minimal use of water and fossil fuel.

A national kickoff will occur in March of 2007 in Washington, D.C., to be followed closely with appearances on the major New York morning shows. SafeLawns seminars will be presented at hundreds of public events, from Seattle, to San Francisco, Toronto, Philadelphia and Boston throughout the spring. Subsequent activities will include the development of SafeLawns demonstration sites at public gardens across North America, and a massive outreach campaign to schools, municipalities and government officials.

Paul Tukey is working with lawn care experts across the nation to create the most comprehensive collection of how-to videos ever compiled for the natural lawn care industry. These will be available on safelawns.org, or on DVD, for public education, by early 2007. A downloadable Power Point presentation, compiled by Tukey and others, will also be available free of charge for educators and media communicators.

  Gardening tips

"Save water and extend the life of wooden whiskey barrels by lining with plastic," writes Omega Baker. "Recycle shower curtains, plastic table clothes or a child's inflatable pool for liner. Don't forget to punch holes for drainage!"

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 T-shirt. Here's a chance to get published and be a garden stylist as well! Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.

  Did you know...08000">Gardening Tips.


  Upcoming garden events

Waco: The Texas Cooperative Extension will host the 45th annual Blackland income Growth Conference January 16 and 17, at the Waco Convention Center, Waco. Among the sessions of interest to gardeners are "Rainwater Harvesting for the Homeowner" led by Billy Kniffen, county extension agent, and "Controlling Weeds in Lawns, Flower Beds, and Vegetable Gardens" led by Dr. Paul Bauman, extension weed specialist. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Admission fees vary. For addition information, see http://stephenville.tamu.edu/BIG/.

Houston: Urban Harvest will host its annual fruit tree sale Saturday, January 20, 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Emerson Unitarian Church, 1900 Bering Drive, Houston (West of Loop 610 between San Felipe and Westheimer). A pre-sale talk discussing the fruit trees available at the sale begins at 8:00 a.m. and continues until 9:20 a.m. There will be a large selection of citrus trees, as well as trees that produce peaches, plums, apples, pears, figs, pecans, grapes, blackberries, persimmons, and more. For more information on fruit varieties and directions to the sale, visit www.urbanharvest.org.

Mesquite: The Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association will present the 6th annual Texas Conference on Organic Production Systems, "The Local Food Revolution: Bringing Texas Home" January 24 through 27, in Mesquite. Speakers include Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow from the Leopold Center and Jessica Prentice, chef, educator and author of Full Moon Feast. Included among the activities will be farm tours, a new farmers workshop, and an organic home gardening workshop. For additional information, call (877) 326-5175 or visit www.tofga.org.

Canyon: Vegetable growers, processors and gardeners can renew their production and marketing skills at the fifth annual High Plains Vegetable Conference in Canyon. The January 25 conference will feature information relevant to marketing, pest management, food safety, biosecurity and agriculture. Registration begins at 7:45 a.m. at the West Texas A&M University Alumni Banquet Facility at the corner of North Third and 25th streets in Canyon. The cost is $25 per person before Jan. 15, and $30 per person at the door. This fee covers all materials and lunch. Door prizes donated by agribusiness exhibitors will be awarded. The morning session will focus on marketing strategies, potato breeding, head and moisture stress, and integrated disease management. The afternoon session will address weed and insect control, a Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide update, biosecurity and agriculture, foodborne diseases and food safety. For registration or exhibit information contact Russ Wallace or Wendy Durrett at (806) 746-6101.

Conroe: Montgomery County Master Gardener Association Annual Fruit and Nut Tree Sale, Saturday, January 27. Lecture 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. featuring varieties available in the sale. Sale 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Montgomery County Extension Office 9020 FM 1484 Conroe. For more information, call (936) 539-7824.

Marble Falls: Highland Lakes Master Gardeners and Texas Cooperative Extension will offer classes to become a Master Gardener starting February 1, on Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m. for 11 weeks in Marble Falls. Class size is limited so call the extension office at (512) 756-5463 or go to http://hillcountrylgshow.com to get additional information on the classes and the Master Gardener program. Answers to additional may be obtained by calling Robert Yantis at (325) 388-8849 or Carol Kowing (830) 693-5377.

Tyler: Drought-stressed shade trees, water-challenged azaleas, rainwater harvesting – all these topics and more will be addressed at an upcoming conference in Tyler on February 10. "The drought of 2005 – 2006 made us all aware of just how dependent we are on water to maintain our yards and gardens," said Keith Hansen, Texas Cooperative Extension horticultural agent, Smith County. With the drought in mind, Hansen, program planner of the 14th East Texas Spring Landscape and Garden Conference, has arranged for a variety of speakers on drought management. Jim Bohlmann, certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture, will give suggestions on avoiding stresses, drought and otherwise, that affect tree health, Hansen said. Steve Brainard, former president of the Azalea Society of America, will tell how to successfully grow azaleas in various landscape conditions and conserve water in the process. Billy Kniffen, Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Menard County, will give a presentation on rainwater harvesting. Hansen noted that Kniffen is recognized for being the statewide expert on rainwater harvesting. And not everything has to be about the drought, Hansen said. Mary Wilhite, co-owner of Blue Moon Gardens in Edom, will talk about selecting plants to attract butterflies and birds to home landscapes. The Saturday conference will be held at Tyler Rose Garden Center. Registration is open to the public and will be at the door from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. The $15 registration fee will include lunch. The program will end at 3:30. During the breaks, commercial exhibitors will display lawn and garden plants, products and equipment, Hansen said. For more information, contact Hansen at (903) 590-2980 or by e-mail at khansen@ag.tamu.edu. "This popular all-day program provides both green and brown thumbers with practical and interesting gardening information specific for East Texas conditions," Hansen said.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston, will host "Chocolate Day," Saturday, February 10, 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Activities include chocolate tastings, chocolate mint plant giveaway, exotic fruits tastings, and children's crafts. Admission to the garden: $6 adults, $3 children 3-13, $4 students, military and senior citizens. Admission to the event is included with admission to the garden. For more information, contact (210) 829-5100 or visit www.sabot.org.

Longview: Gregg County Master Gardeners are hosting their Spring Garden and Landscape Seminar, Saturday, February 24, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at First Methodist Church Faith Center, 400 N. Fredonia St., Longview. Garry McDonald, Horticultural Research Associate, Texas A&M University will present "Beautiful Plants for Hot, Humid Summers" and "Future Texas Superstars-Maybe." Daniel Duncum, District Forrester with Texas Forest Service, will address "What's Killing My Trees and What Can I Do About It?" Garden related vendors, door prizes and refreshments are offered. Advance tickets $10 and $12 at the door. Call 903 236 8429 for more information or visit www.greggmastergardeners.org/.

Houston: Volunteers with Texas Cooperative Extension in Harris County will present a gardening workshop 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. February 27 in the Extension auditorium, 3033 Bear Creek Drive, Houston. Members of Master Naturalists' Gulf Coast chapter will present "Green Home and Garden Workshop." The volunteers will give presentations that will include selecting low-cost plants, planning neighborhood beautification projects, identifying invasive plants and designing landscapes using plants that require less water to thrive. "The Master Naturalists have developed this program to help any homeowner make his home an oasis," said Wayne Thompson, Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Harris County and the coordinator of the Master Naturalist program. "However, they are also inviting housing developers, builders and boards of directors from homeowners associations. Many individuals in these groups are not only homeowners, but they also are responsible for planning and landscaping public areas in subdivisions, so the information will benefit many." The $20 registration fee will cover the program and lunch. For registration information, call Diana Todd, (281) 855-5600. A registration form can be downloaded from the Harris County Extension agriculture and natural resources events calendar at http://harris-tx.tamu.edu/anr/events.htm.

Bonham: The Fannin County Master Gardeners are hosting their 3rd Annual Garden, Lawn and Home Expo on March 31, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Multiple Purpose Complex in Bonham. One of the speakers, Mark Chamblee of Tyler's Chamblee's Rose Nursery, will talk about Earthkind Roses. The educational event also features varied vendors for plants, garden crafts, and more. For more information, call (903) 583-7453 or visit www.fannincountymastergardeners.org.

Marble Falls: The Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association will sponsor the Ninth Annual Hill Country Lawn & Garden Show March 31, at the Lakeside Pavilion in Marble Falls. It is open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free Admission and seminars. It features garden related vendors, demonstrations, a children's booth, raffle and seminars by Malcolm Beck, Bill Luedecke and the Antique Rose Emporium. For more information go to hillcountrylgshow.com or call (325) 388-8849.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston, will host a Spring Plant Sale, Saturday, March 31, 9 a.m. until sold out. Purchase healthy, hardy plants suitable for the San Antonio environment and get expert advice from SABG volunteers, many of whom are Master Gardeners. Admission to the garden: $6 adults, $3 children 3-13, $4 students, military and senior citizens. Admission to the event is included with admission to the garden. For more information, contact (210) 829-5100 or visit www.sabot.org.

Rockport: The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group will present the Third Annual Rockport Herb Festival Saturday, at the Rockport-Fulton High School Commons, 1801 Omohundro, Rockport, April 7, from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The festival will include a variety of herb programs, herb cooking demonstrations, herb booths with lots of information and products for sale, and a plant sale that will include herbs, roses, heirlooms, orchids, bromeliads, tropicals, palms, garden art and pottery. There is no admission fee. For additional information, contact Linda T. Collins at ltcollins_1@charter.net or visit www.rockportherbs.com.

Nacogdoches: The annual Spring Garden Gala plant sale at Stephen F. Austin State University’s Mast Arboretum will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at the intramural field on Wilson Drive, Nacogdoches. “We will offer a great selection of rare, unusual, and Texas-tough trees, shrubs, succulents, and herbaceous perennials, as well as many heat loving tropicals,” said Dawn Stover, Mast Arboretum research associate. “All of the plants are produced at SFA by the staff, students and volunteers.” Greg Grant, Pineywoods Native Plant Center research associate, will have a number of his introductions available as well, including the pink flowered ‘Pam Puryear’ and large flowered ‘Big Momma’ Turk’s cap. “Many of the rare Aromi hybrid deciduous azaleas will be offered, as will a good number of the rarely available native East Texas red buckeye,” Stover said. Proceeds from the plant sale help support the SFA Mast Arboretum, the Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, the Pineywoods Native Plant Center and educational programs. For more information, call (936) 468-4404 or visit http://arboretum.sfasu.edu/.

Waco: "Easy-Care Roses for Busy People," an EarthKind Rose Symposium hosted by McLennan County Master Gardeners and Texas Cooperative Extension, will take place in Waco, Saturday, April 21, 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., at Texas State Technical College, 3801 Campus Drive. Among the speakers will be Dr. Steve George, Professor and Landscape Horticulture Specialist, Texas Cooperative Extension, Dallas; Mark Chamblee, owner Chamblee Rose Nursery, Tyler; Gaye Hammond, President, Houston Rose Society; Steve Huddleston, Senior Horticulturalist, Fort Worth Botanic Garden; and Rachelle Kemp, Landscape Design Instructor, Texas State Technical College, Waco. Registration is $56 per person and pre-registration is required. Registration includes snacks, beverages, all course materials, and a two-gallon rose. For more information, call (254) 757-5180 or visit www.mclennanmastergardeners.org.

Tyler: The 6th annual Spring Home Garden Tour, sponsored by the Smith County Master Gardeners, will be held Saturday, May 5. Area gardens will be showcased and will afford visitors ideas an inspiration for their own garden, large or small. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions or discuss planting ideas.

Ft. Worth: The Greater Fort Worth Herb Society presents its 21st Annual Herb Festival May 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens in Fort Worth. The Festival will feature the sale of herb plants and herb-related products. There will also be a silent auction, crafts, music, demos, food and much more. Special event speakers will be Randy Weston of Weston Gardens and Mary Doebelling of Our Thyme Garden. Admission is $5 for adults. The Botanic Gardens are located at 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd Dr., Fort Worth. For more information, please visit www.greaterfortworthherbsociety.org or call (817) 966-7126.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Botanical Garden is sponsoring a trip to Italy September 4 through 15, featuring Italy's villas and gardens. Escorted by Bob Brackman, the Director of the Garden, an exceptional itinerary has been designed for lovers of leisurely travel and beautiful homes and gardens. Famous for their gardens, Italians still build on their ancestors' legacy with the creation of exquisite country villas surrounded by terraced, fountain-filled gardens that have become symbolic of Italian style. Experience the rich cultural heritage of Italy. Visit special gardens, famous museums, the important cities of Florence and Rome, plus the Lake District, and the small villages which make Italy so charming, such as Cinque Terre, Santa Margherita and Tuscan villages. Feast on fabulous Italian cuisine and enjoy la dolce vita. Land cost per person sharing is $3550 plus air, which includes a $100 tax deductible donation, most meals and gratuities. For more information, contact Marianne Martz of Fuller Travel at (210) 828-6311 or marianne@fullertvl.com.

Garland: 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: 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.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Herb Society meets at 7:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels (corner of Funston & N. New Braunfels). For more information on programs, visit www.sanantonioherbs.org.

Dallas: 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) 824-2448 or visit www.dogc.org.

Arlington: The Arlington Organic Garden Club meets from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month (except November and December) at the Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center Street, Arlington. For more information, contact David at (817) 483-7746.

If you would like your organization's events included in "Upcoming Garden Events," please contact us at Garden Events.

  Grow great grass

If you're tired of your neighbor bragging about his superior lawn, this is the book for you! Southern Lawns provides complete step-by-step instructions for planting and/or maintaining every major type of southern grass lawn, including Bermuda Grass, Centipede, St. Augustine, Zoysia, Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass. In addition to a special "month-by-month" section with activity lists for every month of the year, author Chris Hastings includes a complete glossary of lawn care terms. This book is not available through the on-line bookstore. Limited supply available.

 $26.62 while supplies last!*

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020.

 *Mention Texas Gardener's Seeds when ordering by phone during the month of January 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 Seedsds, 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 Seeds0" bgcolor="#FFFF00">

Texas Gardener's Seedsds, 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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