January 31, 2007

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Sadie, a 10-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, walks carefully on an ice-covered driveway near College Station. Not only has the ice and cold inconvenienced Sadie and others like her who ventured out, but it poses some risks to landscape plants, said John Begnaud, Texas Cooperative Extension horticulturist in San Angelo. Begnaud said the extent of the damage may not become apparent until bud-break in March or early April. (Texas Cooperative Extension photo by Edith Chenault)
  Cold can burn landscape plants

By Steve Byrns
Texas Cooperative Extension

Ice and cold have gripped much of the state for several days this winter, leaving many Texans to wonder about what's to become of their frozen landscapes.

John Begnaud, Texas Cooperative Extension horticulturist in San Angelo, said in addition to low temperatures, the duration of the cold also is a significant plant-damaging factor.

"We're in USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) plant hardiness Zone 7B, so we can historically expect an average annual minimum temperature of between five and 10 degrees Fahrenheit," Begnaud said. "Duration of cold, especially temperatures below freezing, can allow plant tissues to be more deeply penetrated by low temperatures. This can harm marginal plants to our area such as oleander, some palms and even perennials such as lantana and plumbago."

The extent of the damage may not become apparent until bud-break in March or early April, he said. Some injury may not appear until the plants are stressed by summer's heat and dry weather.

Oaks, pecans, nandina, hollies and others will show no damage because they are well suited to the extremes of Zone 7B, Begnaud said.

"Deciduous trees and shrubs are likely to see little or no damage from ice," he said. "Evergreen plants such as ligustrum, boxwood, Indian hawthorn and especially pittosporum may show browning of leaves with irregular discolored patches. Some evergreens respond with tarnished or bronzed foliage. This will be particularly noticeable on the youngest or newest leaves. This damage may remain on the plant throughout 2007 unless removed by pruning after new spring growth appears."

Begnaud recommends removing ice from plants only when it may cause limb breakage. Thumping or bumping is the method he recommends. He said a rapid thaw, such as that caused by pouring hot water over a plant, may cause ice crystals to pierce plant tissue and actually increase the damage.

Current conditions demonstrate the need for proper planting of evergreens, Begnaud said.

"Shadows cast by evergreens such as live oak trees slow the thawing process during cold spells," he said. "Trees that shadow streets and homes don't allow the sun to warm and melt accumulated ice for another day or two, thus promoting the chance of damage from a prolonged cold snap. That's why we always recommend planting evergreen trees on the north or east side of a home and deciduous trees on the south and west sides. This has a definite affect of allowing the sun to warm your home in winter, which not only will help your plants, but your heating bill as well."

  The lighter side of gardening
The day Wal-Mart ran out of peat moss

By Hugh Neeld
Freelance Writer

It was an ordinary October day, or at least it started out that way. The early fall sunshine and crisp feel of the air had inspired me to put in a new flower bed alongside my driveway.

I'd already put in the necessary dirt and was now ready to work in some peat moss and plant shrubs. I went to the place where we buy all the consumer goods we need, Wal-Mart. Just about everything we put in the flower beds comes from there, so I had no reason to go elsewhere for peat moss.

I drove through the area on the parking lot where they always display that kind of product, but didn't see it. There was plenty of bark, fertilizer and potting soil, but no peat moss. Well, I thought to myself, they just haven't brought it out from the storeroom, and no one has called it to their attention.

After parking the car, I went in to place my order, pausing to speak to the greeter at the garden department entrance.

"Howdy," I said. "I just drove through the loading area looking for peat moss, but didn't see it."

"We don't have any out there," he said, explaining why I hadn't seen it.

"Yes," I replied. "I noticed that right off the bat. Can you get somebody to bring up eight bags from the warehouse?"

"Can't do that," the greeter said. "We're out of peat moss."

"Out?" I said. "You mean like completely out?"

"Yes sir," he said. "We're completely out of peat moss."

It might have been my imagination, but I think he was getting a little satisfaction from telling me this news.

"Can you tell me where I might be able to find peat moss in town?"


"Can you tell me when you'll be getting some?"


I was flabbergasted. This was the first time that I could remember Wal-Mart ever being out of anything I needed. If it had been something that was out of season, or some sort of rare product, I could understand, but peat moss?

For a fleeting moment, I had the exact same feeling I had when I learned that there was no Santa Claus. It was akin to going to McDonald's and being told they were out of French fries. After all, Wal-Mart is not just the world's largest retailer, it's the world's largest company — bigger than Exxon Mobil, General Motors and General Electric, selling more in three months than Home Depot sells in a year. It does more business than Target, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Safeway and Kroger combined. Wal-Mart out of peat moss? It just didn't make sense.

I remembered the story about the time Wal-Mart sold a gallon jar of Vlasic pickles for $2.97 — a year's supply of pickles for less than $3! It was Wal-Mart's way of making a dramatic statement to consumers, saying "This represents what Wal-Mart's all about. You can buy a gallon of pickles here for $2.97. And it's the nation's number one brand."

Along with most Americans, I had bought into the idea. Now I felt betrayed.

Bystanders had overhead my conversation with the greeter, and before I left, the news had circulated throughout the store. Even people who weren't in the market for peat moss were filing complaints with management and talking boycott. There was even a rumor circulating that the Red Cross was setting up a tent in the parking lot to dispense emergency supplies of peat moss, but nothing ever developed.

I found some peat moss at a feed store down the street the next day, so everything worked out OK. The only problem is, how long will it take me to reestablish that bond of trust that was so nearly destroyed the day Wal-Mart ran out of peat moss?

  Gardening tips

"As you start seedlings this spring," writes E. F. Hubbard, "sow them sparsely into seed trays to avoid damping off disease (fungus) and weak plants."

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...

Many scented flowers mimic the sex pheromones of butterflies and moths to attract them as pollinators. This is particularly important in the dark. That is why there are so many scented flowers that bloom in the evening.


  Upcoming garden events

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.

Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners are hosting the first in a series of Gardening Workshops, Saturday, February 17 at the County Extension Office at 210 East Live Oak, Seguin.  9:15 "Pruning and Jump Starting Your Roses for Spring"  with Ed Bradley of the San Antonio Rose Society, who will demonstrate "how to" prune your roses; 9:15 "Traditional Vegetable Gardening" with vegetable expert Larry Taylor; 10:30 "Daylilies, The Perfect Perennial" with Marcia Richardson of the San Antonio Daylily Society; 10:30 Raised Bed Gardening with Bob Grafe. Arrive early at 9:00 for hot coffee and linger late for great door prizes. Four classes will be offered free to the public. Space is limited, so please register early by calling the Extension Office at (830) 379-1972.

Longview: Gregg County Master Gardeners are hosting their Spring Garden and Landscape Seminar, Saturday, February 24, from 8 a.m. to 1 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/.

Edna: The Jackson County Master Gardeners will present their "Come Grow With Us" program, featuring Chris Weisinger of The Southern Bulb Company on February 27 from 7 until 9 p.m. at the Jackson County Services Building, 411 N. Wells, Edna. Free to the public.

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.

Houston: The River Oaks Garden Club will host its 72nd annual Azalea Trail March 2 through 4, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Azalea Trail will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Miss Ima Hogg's gift of her beautiful home and gardens, Bayou Bend, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The trail includes stops at River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics Building, 2503 Westheimer at Kirby; Bayou Bend, 2940 Lazy Lane or One Westcott at Memorial Drive; Rienzi Home and Gardens, 1406 Kirby Drive at Lazy Lane; 3425 Del Monte Drive; 2456 Inwood Drive; 56 East Broad Oaks; and 415 Shadywood. Tickets for seven admissions are $15 before March 2 and $20 during the trail. Single admissions are $5. For more information and complete descriptions with pictures of all the homes and gardens, visit www.riveroaksgardenclub.org.

Cedar Hill: Petal Pusher's, 813 Straus Road, will host "Going Native, Texas Style," native plants for the landscape by designers "Native Dave" and Christy Ilfrey on Saturday, March 10 at 10:30 a.m. This event is free. For more information, call (972) 291-7650.

Cedar Hill: Petal Pusher's, 813 Straus Road, will host "Perennials and Roses that are Texas-Tough" with Vickie Thaxton on Saturday, March 10 at 1 p.m. This event is free. For more information, call (972) 291-7650.

Tomball: Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, will host the Second Annual Rose Festival, Saturday, March 10, 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. This popular event includes guest speakers and informative booths. More than 100 varieties of old and antique roses will be available! Free. For more information, call (281) 351-8851.

Tomball: Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, will host the Sixth Annual Herb Luncheon Saturday, March 17, 11 a.m. featuring Molly Fowler, The Dining Diva, and Ann Wheeler, Log House Herb Farm. Learn about different types of herbs and how to grow them while you enjoy a scrumptious lunch. $35 Due upon registration.

Woodway: The Woodway Beautiful Commission for the City of Woodway will hold A Gardeners Gathering Sunday, March 18 at the Carleen Bright Arboretum from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. This event is free and will feature representatives from many garden organizations to share information as well as a Children's Corner, local garden vendors, a walk with the Audubon Society, Country Store, and featured speakers throughout the afternoon. Music and refreshments will be provided.  For information call the Arboretum (254) 399-9204. In the event of rain the event will be held in the Woodway Family Center.

Tomball: Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, will host “Vegetable Gardening for the Gulf Coast” Saturday, March 24, 10 a.m. Learn great tips as well as garden basics from Tom LeRoy, Extension Horticulturalist, and Bill Adams, Horticulturalist Emeritus. Free. For more information, call (281) 351-8851.

Tomball: Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, will host “Herbs Made Easy” featuring Ann Wheeler, Log House Herb Farm, Sunday, March 25, 1 p.m. With the knowledge from this class you can start your own herb garden or simply add herbs to your existing beds. Free. For more information, call (281) 351-8851.

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 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/.

Cedar Hill: Petal Pusher's, 813 Straus Road, will host "English Gardening Texas Style" by Master Gardener and British Native Andrea Rucker on Saturday, April 14 at 10:30 a.m. This event is free. For more information, call (972) 291-7650.

Cedar Hill: Petal Pusher's, 813 Straus Road, will host "Petal Pusher's Picks" by nationally known landscape architect Rosa Finsley on Saturday, April 14 at 1 p.m. This event is free. For more information, call (972) 291-7650.

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.

Rockport: An herb study group founded in March 2003 meets the second Wednesday of every month at the ACISD Maintenance Department (Formerly Rockport Elementary), 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport at 10 a.m. to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs, including the historical uses of the herbs and tips for successful propagation and cultivation.

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.

  Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard with welcoming landscapes  

Roll out the welcome mat for butterflies and hummingbirds. In this lavishly illustrated book, author Sally Roth reveals the secrets for creating irresistible gardens and welcoming landscapes that lure these amazing creatures up close and personal.

 $18.09 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 February 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.)


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