February 14, 2007

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If a picture is worth 1,000 words, than a flower may be worth an entire novel. (Photo by Chris S. Corby)
  A Valentine's Day herbal

By Michael Bettler
Lucia’s Garden

I've often said that herbs are for more than just the enhancement of the flavors in food. Herbs also beautify your home and garden, support your health through their essential oils and bring a sense of calm into stress-filled lives. And herbs carry messages, as do garden flowers, to express symbolically what we want to simply say in words. Think for a moment: what flower most expresses love? A red rose. And what is the motto of the floral industry? Simply, "Say it with flowers."

Six thousand years ago, Egyptians wrote their legacy in hieroglyphic symbols of flowers, onions, palms, leeks and the lotus. The Greek Olympics were run for a crown of Bay Laurel (for nobility), until this last Olympic when the crown was made of Olive branches (for peace). Greek and Roman theater identified the presence of deities influencing the course of the play with Narcissus (self-love), Crocus (hope), Cereus (beauty), Oak (hospitality), Myrtle (love), and on, to all the fates. Lebanon still speaks of its Cedars; the French display their Fleur-de-Lis. There is a Tudor Rose for England, a Leek to represent Wales, as the Thistle represents Scotland and a Four-Leaf-Clover speaks of Ireland. Japan has chosen the Chrysanthemum; and China, the Peony. And what of the Bluebonnet and the "Yellow Rose" of Texas?

With this thought in mind, I want to carry forward the idea of the symbolism of plants that is over 50,000 years old in human history. Herbs and flowers have always been a part of weddings, funerals and personal moments of passage, brought forward by culture and custom into the 3rd century with the martyrdom of St. Valentine, to the 14th century with the "St. Valentine's Feast in Honor of Love," and are even now being prepared for Wednesday, February 14, for your home, your school or your office, for your special loved one.

The search is always on for something fresh, something unique, something different to give to that someone special, to express what a single rose, or a simple card and sugar candy hearts can say: "Be Mine," "Kisses" and "U-R-IT." What has been used from the time before a written language, sustained by cultural traditions and perfected by Victorian Lovers, are messages of the infinite layers of feelings presented in a simple floral bouquet written in the "Language of Flowers."

A small tussie-mussie or a bountiful bouquet can equally express your feelings in simple or in bold expressions. What will be different is that you have made it with herbs and flowers from your garden, to the one you love. You can flirt, woo and win the heart you desire.

Let's speak of Love and the Language of Love, and the herbs and flowers you can grow this time of year (or purchase at your local floral shop) to make a bouquet for that someone special. From the garden, harvest Rosemary (for "remembrance"), a little Thyme (for "fidelity"), a little Mexican Heather — Cuphia (for "admiration"), Mint (for "pleasure"), a Rose (every color meaning something unique in the way it expresses love, from "innocence" to "first blush" to "passion"), a sprig of Box Wood (for "constancy"), Lavender (for "devotion"), Oregano or Marjoram (for "joy"), and Parsley (for "a celebration feast").

Choose one or two, or several sprigs and flowers from your garden (or your neighborhood floral shop) and wrap them in a small bundle for a boutonniere or desk-favor, hide them in the refrigerator to be discovered on the morning of, hang them with raffia grass from a door knob, lay them on a car seat to surprise someone leaving for work or school, put them in a lunch sack, arrange them in a vase where they cannot be missed, or place the bouquet in the hands of the intended recipient when they least expect it. It is a gift of beauty and meaning for them only.

Present your floral message with a card, on the inside of which you have listed the herbs and flowers you have chosen along with their meanings, and you have taught someone to speak in the language of flowers. It is another dimension of your garden, affording you a source of gifts for special friends all year. Begin with Valentine's Day.

The most complete book on the language of flowers is Flora's Dictionary, the work of Kathleen Gips. She has collected and combined volumes of such dictionaries which were popular in Victorian England, and published this single book that includes a brief history of the protocol of the use of flowers, listings of hundreds of herbs and flowers and their symbolic meanings, followed by a dictionary of words or feelings you wish to convey and their representative herbs and flowers. Beginning with St. Valentine's Day and continuing all year, you can become floral-literate.

Lemon balm.

  Lemon balm (melissa officinalis) 2007 herb of the year

By Linda Turner Collins
Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group

Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis has been named the 2007 herb of the year by The International Herb Association.

Lemon balm — which should never be confused with Bee Balm (Monarda spp.) — and lime balm, along with citronella lemon balm and Quedlingburger lemon balm, are in the mint family, and like mint, they are easy to grow and can become somewhat invasive. All of these can be used for tea plant, culinary, cosmetic, household, and medicinal purposes.

The fresh leaves give a citrus flavor when used in cooking. You can use it in any recipe to give a lemon flavor. Also it makes into a refreshing summertime iced tea. Lemon balm smells like lemon cough drops.

Lemon balm-basil pesto

5 or 6 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of toasted pecans or walnuts or almonds, or nut of your choice
1 cup of lemon balm leaves
1 cup of basil leaves

Put 5 or 6 cloves of garlic in a food processor. Add to this or take away depending on your love for garlic. Add 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of toasted pecans or walnuts or almonds, any nut will work. Add one cup of lemon balm leaves and one cup of basil leaves. Store it in the fridge.

  Gardening tips

"The ants are active due to recent rains. My natural recipe for fire ant control is 4 ounces of orange oil and 4 ounces of agricultural or horticultural molasses to one gallon of tap water. Apply to one mound," writes Beverly Nord. "Both ingredients can be found at most garden centers."

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...

Way before the common honeybee was brought to this continent to serve as pollinators, hummingbirds were busy getting the job done. To survive, these small birds must consume half their weight each day, visiting hundreds of flowers and dining on insects along the way. Not only are they good pollinators but serve to control some insect pests and look good doing it.


  Upcoming garden events

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.

Mineola: The Wood County Master Gardeners, in cooperation with the Texas Cooperative Extension, are hosting the "2007 Spring Home Gardening Conference" from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 10, in the Oak Room of the Mineola Civic Center, 1150 North Newsom, Mineola. Sessions include "Native Plants," led by Carol Feldman, landscape architect; "Ornamental Grasses," led by Keith Mills, horticulturist, Caldwell Zoo; and "Rainwater Harvesting," led by Dottie Woodson, Texas Extension Service. Admission is free. For additional information, visit www.mastergardenersofwoodcounty.org or e-mail woodcountymg@yahoo.com.

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. For more information, call (281) 351-8851.

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 p.m. to 4 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.

Round Top: The 12th Annual Herbal Forum, "A Celebration of Lemon-Scented Herbs and Lemon Balm, Herb of the Year 2007," presented by The International Festival-Institute at Round Top and The Herb Society of America-Pioneer Unit, will take place at Festival Hill near Round Top, from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., Saturday, March 24, with optional participation workshops the previous day. The forum includes lectures by Lucinda Hutson, celebrated food, garden and lifestyle writer; Jim Johnson, director of the Benz School of Floral Design; and Henry Flowers, garden director at Festival Hill. While the plant sale, gift shop and bookstore are free and open to the public, registration for the forum is $75, with additional charges for lunch, dinner, and the Friday workshops. For more information, call (979) 249-3129 or visit www.festivalhill.org.

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.

Salado: The 4th annual Salado Yard and Garden Tour, a tour of yards and gardens in the historic village of Salado, will highlight characteristic and varied private and public gardens for the Central Texas landscape. From large to small, rambling to organized, annuals to perennials, water wise planting to courtyard container gardens, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The tour will be Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday, May 13 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Gardens will be self-guided with volunteers helping to answer questions when needed. Tickets will be $15 to view all gardens and are good for the two days. Maps will be available leading to each location with a description of each garden. Tours will be conducted rain or shine. The tour is sponsored by the Salado Garden Club and the Public Arts League of Salado. For further information, visit the Village of Salado website at www.salado.com or call (254) 947-8300.

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 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. For more information, visit www.main.org/aog.

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.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Herb Society meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday 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.

  Herbs for Texas a valuable resource

While Herbs for Texas includes a wealth of information about herbs, it also includes information about trees, shrubs, vines and ground-covers with edible and/or medicinal properties. In this fully illustrated, easy-to-use guide, Howard Garrett and veteran herbalist Odena Brannam offer expert advice on growing nearly 150 herbs suited to Texas gardens.

 $31.97 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.)


Texas Gardener's Seeds
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