May 30, 2007

Welcome to Texas Gardener's Seeds, the weekly newsletter for Texas gardeners. Please do not reply to this e-mail as the sending address is not monitored. See the bottom of this newsletter for information on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editor.

  Nine Texas communities receive prestigious environmental award

Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) announced on May 22 the nine winners of the 2007 Governor's Community Achievement Awards (GCAA), one of the most prestigious annual environmental awards in Texas. The communities of Dickinson, Katy, Lake Jackson, Munday, Pearland, Plano, Sanger, Throckmorton, and Waco were selected by KTB to share an award of one million dollars from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to be used for landscaping projects in their communities.

Keep Texas Beautiful chose one community from each of nine population categories for their achievements in seven areas including community leadership and coordination, education, public awareness, litter prevention and cleanup, illegal dumping enforcement, beautification and property improvement, and solid waste management.

"These communities have made outstanding efforts to clean and beautify their environment," Debbie Johnston, Keep Texas Beautiful president, said. "Texans should be proud of the work put forth by the citizens, businesses, and local governments in these communities to improve their neighborhoods, schools, parks, and public spaces. They are helping to make our state the most beautiful in the nation!"

Every community in Texas is eligible to apply for the Governor's Community Achievement Award. The winners each receive a share in one million dollars worth of landscape prizes based on population categories. The smallest population category (under 1,000) receives $60,000 in landscaping projects; the largest population category (more than 250,000) receives $265,000 worth of landscaping projects.

The GCAA program has recognized outstanding communities for 38 consecutive years, and the Texas Department of Transportation has provided the prize funds since 1985. KTB will formally award these communities on July 12, 2007 in San Antonio during the 40th Annual Keep Texas Beautiful Conference.

Keep Texas Beautiful, a statewide grassroots environmental and community improvement nonprofit and affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, strives to educate and engage Texans to take responsibility for improving their community environment. KTB and its more than 340 affiliates work with government, businesses, civic groups, and volunteers to ensure that every Texan has the opportunity to take individual responsibility for making Texas the cleanest, most beautiful state in the nation. For more information on programs and events, call (800) CLEAN-TX or visit

Texas Cooperative Extension entomologist Dr. Mike Merchant inspects railroad ties for Formosan subterranean termites at a house in Wylie, near Dallas. (Texas Cooperative Extension photo by Mike Jackson)
  Aggressive termites found in north Texas community

By Mike Jackson
Texas Cooperative Extension

Entomologists with Texas Cooperative Extension are helping a Dallas-area community hunt Formosan subterranean termites, one of the most aggressive and destructive species in the world.

"They're like termites on steroids," said Extension entomologist Mike Merchant, who is based in Dallas.

Formosans were recently discovered by a pest control company working in Wylie, a suburb of Dallas in Collin County, he said. They were found in several homes clustered in the same neighborhood.

Their presence raises concerns because they destroy more wood than common termites, Merchant said. The area's most common species, the Eastern subterranean, for example, would eat only a section of a wooden beam and move on. Formosans would hollow it out completely.

"We hate to see these guys spread," he said. "We want them stopped."

The Formosan is an Asian species that was transported to the United States aboard trade ships, according to Extension literature on the insect. They were first reported in Houston in 1956. They are named after Formosa, the large island of Taiwan.

They were probably brought to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in railroad ties used to support backyard walls and as borders in landscaping, Merchant said. Since the 1990s, communities in Aledo, Grapevine, Flower Mound and Rockwall have reported having them. Formosan termites have also been found in nine other states with temperate climates.

"People think the ties are insect-proof because they've been soaked in creosote," he said. "But the creosote only soaks in so far."

Merchant advised homeowners to watch for signs of termites.

Formosans swarm at night, often around artificial light, he said. Eastern subterraneans swarm during the day.

Formosans are honey-colored and a bit larger than the Eastern subterraneans, which are black, he said.

Neighbors should share information and band together to get rid of the termites, said Wendell Daniel, the owner of All Pest Solutions who reported the Formosans to Extension.

"You talk to your neighbor about a lot of things, but you don't talk about roaches, you don't talk about termites," said Daniel, a Wylie resident. "In this case you should."

Property owners who find them should call a pest control company to have them exterminated, Merchant said. They should also notify Extension entomologists, (972) 231-5362, who keep track of the insects' whereabouts. Merchant said he hoped that local governments, or perhaps the state, would eventually initiate Formosan eradication programs.

"If you can get in early on an infestation, I think it's possible to eradicate them in an area," he said. "It's an issue that has been bothering me for a number of years and nobody's doing anything about it. It's pretty much left up to the homeowner."

For additional information about the pests, go to

  Gardening tips

"I am so tired of all the stink bugs ruining my beautiful tomatoes," writes Carolyn Grissom, "that I came back with a vengeful vacuum cleaner. Works great, but be careful not to vacuum off all the leaves from the plants. I am so pleased not to see those critters. I'm  sure it will take more than one treatment but I'm ready for the attack and will not have to worry about any insecticides or poisons. Hubby says to use his shop vac next time to avoid ruining my house vacuum."

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...

It is more than just an old wives' tale but also good practice to place a small piece of charcoal in each vase of cut flowers. The charcoal draws bacteria and keeps the water fresh and free of odor.


  Upcoming garden events

Austin: The Fifteenth Annual Texas Bamboo Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday, August 25 and 26 at Zilker Botanical Garden, Austin. Sponsored by the Texas Bamboo Society, the event will celebrate the wonders of bamboo with presentations, demonstrations and education information, including Bamboo 101, a Bamboo Kite Making Workshop led by Greg Kono, and Bamboos of Southeast Asia presented by Harry Simmons. Bamboo plants and crafts will be for sale. For additional information, call (512) 929-9565 or visit

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

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association “Hidden Gardens Tour & Fall Plant Sale” will be held Saturday, September 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Hidden Gardens Tour and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the Fall Plant Sale at Green Acres, 611 East Mimosa Street at Pearl Street, Rockport. Get your tickets and maps at Green Acres for this one-day event in addition to purchasing those much-wanted plants that you can’t find anywhere. The maps will lead you to wonderful Hidden Gardens in both Aransas County and San Patricio County. Be sure to take the time to wander through the demonstration gardens at Green Acres, which are continuously being updated and maintained by the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association. Admission is $10.00. For pre-registration tickets and/or questions contact the Aransas County Texas Cooperative Extension, Rockport, at (361) 790-0103.

Fort Worth, Dallas: Visit America's very best, rarely seen, Private Gardens. The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Program has been opening the gates to America's best private gardens since 1995. The 2007 season features more than 350 gardens across 21 states. Learn about gardens participating in your area through the Open Days Directory, an annual publication listing open gardens with garden descriptions, open dates and hours, and directions. To purchase a Directory or for more information, call (888) 842-2442 or visit The $5 admission fee supports the expansion of the Open Days Program around the country and helps build awareness of the Garden Conservancy's work of preserving exceptional American gardens such Peckerwood Garden in Hempstead. 2007 Texas Open Days: Fort Worth: October 14; Dallas: October 20.

Belton, Temple, Killeen: The Bell County Master Gardener Association will host the Fall Glory garden tour Saturday, October 20, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Gardens in Belton, Temple and Killeen will be showcased. Admission is $5 for adults. For additional information, contact Sue Morgan at (254) 698-8668.

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

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

Dallas: The Rainbow Garden Club of North Texas meets the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Meetings are held at member's homes and garden centers around the area. For more information, visit

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

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.

  Book Sale:
  The Louisiana Iris

A comprehensive guide to the culture of the Louisiana Iris, Marie Caillett and Joseph K. Mertzweiller's The Louisiana Iris represents more than 200 years of combined experience of the editors and 18 other contributing members of the Society for Louisiana Irises. This book is not available through the on-line bookstore. Limited supply available.

 $29.84 while supplies last!

  Southern Lawns

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!

  Texas Wildscapes

Noreen Damude and Kelly Conrad Bender's Texas Wildscapes helps gardeners design gardens to provide habitat for native wildlife. More importantly, it furnishes lists of beautiful and useful native plants appropriate to the specific region of Texas in which you live. This book is not available through the on-line bookstore. Limited supply available.

 $26.63 while supplies last!

Order any of the above books by calling 1-800-727-9020.

(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. 2007. 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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