November 7, 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.

  The garden reader:
Garden outings

By William Scheick
University of Texas at Austin

Eileen Houston. The Garden Lover's Guide to Houston. Texas A&M University Press, 2007. $19.95. 190 pp.

Jessie Gunn Stephens. Touring Texas Gardens. Republic of Texas Press, 2003. $18.95. 270 pp.

Suzanne Winckler. Prairie: A North American Guide. University of Iowa Press, 2004. $16.95. 132 pp.

"We are stardust / We are golden," according to Joni Mitchell's song "Woodstock" (1969), "And we've got to get ourselves / Back to the garden."

But there is no going back; there is only going forward.

That's not so bad for gardeners, particularly those of us perennially inspired by visions of future gardens superior to the ones we have managed so far. It's that way for me. I always dream that next year's gardens will outperform this year's gardens. After all, by next year presumably I will be more experienced in horticultural matters than I am this year, right?

Another way of going forward and nurturing fantasies of ever-more successful home landscapes is to visit other gardens. So I am always grateful for books designed to introduce me to places where I can find gardening inspiration.

Such books don't get much better than Eileen Houston's The Garden Lover's Guide to Houston, released this month. This guide is packed with information about gardens available for year-round visitations in the Houston area.

Ms. Houston's book is also outstanding for its excellent organization. Separate chapters feature gardens open to the public, annual garden events and pick-it-yourself farms. There are also sections devoted to day trips, child-oriented nature centers, volunteer opportunities and local plant societies.

The only oversight I noticed in this handy and handsome book occurs in its concluding sections on print and Web resources. Missing is any reference to the Saturday edition of The Houston Chronicle, which routinely provides a calendar of gardening events together with 1 or 2 humdinger articles on local gardening. Although I live in Austin, I always read Kathy Huber's nearly weekly question-and-answer column, one of the best gardening advice guides found in a Texas newspaper. Also not to be overlooked is Brenda Beust Smith's down-to-earth "Lazy Gardener" series, another Chronicle bonus for Houstonites.

Although it is 4 years old, Jessie Gunn Stephens' Touring Texas Gardens remains a valuable source on more than 100 statewide attractions. Presented in easy-to-scan outline form, each entry in this guide provides information on location, fee, accessibility, garden type and sponsored activities. A description of each of the grounds is also provided.

Touring Texas Gardens is full of surprises, especially when it identifies display gardens at locations not commonly considered tour sites, such as The Natural Gardener in Austin. There are, as well, useful appendices. Particularly notable is the list of gardens designed by theme azalea, butterfly, cactus, herb, hummingbird and Japanese, among others.

For wildflower lovers, Suzanne Winckler's Prairie: A North American Guide includes a helpful section on what remains of our Lone Star native grasslands. Ms. Winckler, who was born in Texas, identifies 28 in-state locations, which she subdivides into regions ranging from the high plains, cross timbers and Edwards plateau to the Texas gulf. Ms. Winckler admits that the desert grasslands of West Texas deserve fuller coverage than she is able to present.

This guidebook includes maps, driving directions and brief regional data relating to more than 300 grassland fragments. Arranged by Canadian provinces and American states, this traveler's companion reports the name and size of each prairie remnant and gives a contact telephone number. There is also a two-paragraph description of each location.

It's a slim book but loaded with information and easily tucked into a car's glove box.

  The compost heap
Tip thanks

"I have submitted an idea to Seeds in the past and enjoy reading other tips," writes Janean Thompson. "Is it possible to include the email of the sender so one might correspond with him/her and thank them for the tip? The current bulb idea is great and could be used for other plants too."

Some contributors prefer not to share their e-mail addresses in a public place such as this newsletter, but we're happy to forward any messages sent to us. Michael Bracken, Editor

  Gardening tips

"When planting bare rooted shrubs and trees, be sure to prune heavily (at least one-third) to compensate for the roots that were lost when the plant was dug," writes Doug Smith.

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...

Plants like to grow in warm soil so old time gardeners with cold, clay soil would often bury wool in a trench and work it into the soil before planting. The wool helped the clay clods break down and improved the soil drainage and helped it warm up quicker in the spring.


  Upcoming garden events

Orange: The Leaf and Petal Garden Club and the Orange County Master Gardeners have partnered to sponsor a presentation by Chris Wiesinger. Wiesinger is the founder and owner of the Southern Bulb Company, a flower bulb farm in East Texas that offers perennial flower bulbs for warm climates. Most SBC bulbs are time-tested heirlooms once forgotten in the trade and now rescued from old home sites destined for commercial developments and highway expansions projects. Wiesinger and his Southern Bulb Company seek to recapture something that was once "lost" to the Southern gardener: heirloom and rare flower bulbs that thrive in warm climates. Wiesinger, a 2004 Horticulture graduate from Texas A&M and now known as the "bulb hunter," will lead a journey through time and the South, delighting listeners with adventurous stories and information on perennial bulbs for Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana gardens. The open-to-the-public event will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, November 8, at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center, 602 Green Ave., Orange. For additional event information and/or directions, contact Susan at

Abilene: The Texas Cooperative Extension office in Taylor County will conduct the "Big Country Pecan Short Course" from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. November 13 at the Extension office in Abilene. The offices are located on the southeast corner of the Taylor County Fairgrounds at 1982 Lytle Way. The Texas Department of Agriculture will offer continuing education units for licensees of private pesticide applicator (3.5 general; one integrated pest management, 1.5 laws and regulations) and structural pest control (one of each: safety, laws and regulations, pest, integrated pest management and lawns and ornamentals). "Whether you are a homeowner, commercial pecan producer or a landscape and nursery professional, this program should have information to meet your needs," said Melissa Clifton, Extension horticulturist in Taylor County. "Experts with Extension and the Texas A&M University System will join nursery professionals to share the latest research and best practices for effective management of pests, diseases and nutrient management for maximum yield. I feel confident in saying no matter how much you know about pecans, you'll learn something new worth knowing at this short course," Clifton said. Morning topics will include: "Pesticide Labeling and Mode of Action," "Current Laws and Regulations," and "Pecan Pests and Monitoring Programs." A catered lunch will be provided. The keynote speaker will be Mendy Shugart, a Texas Department of Agriculture marketing expert. Afternoon topics will include: "Management of Pests in Stored Products," "Effective Nutrient Management for Maximum Yield," "History and Function of Pecan Shows," "Grading and Classification of Pecans," "Effective Marketing Strategies," and "Establishment and Pruning of Pecan Trees." Individual pre-registration is $25 by Nov. 9 and $40 thereafter. The fee will include lunch. To pre-register or for more information call the Extension office in Taylor County at (325) 672-6048.

League City: The Gulf Coast Garden Forum will hold its next meeting on at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, November 13 at the Amegy Bank, 303 East Main Street, League City. The program will be "The Lowly Mushroom" by Ellen Hutto, Saltgrass Science Program. Light refreshments are served and the public is invited. For additional information, call Nancy Busko at (281) 332-5294.

Waco: Many composers have been inspired by the sounds of nature, and the Waco Symphony Orchestra will present three inspired compositions Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 (Pastorale), Copland's "An Outdoor Adventure" and Respighi's "Pines of Rome" in "Musical Landscapes," an all-orchestral celebration of the out-of-doors on Thursday, November 15. The concert, held in Waco Hall on the Baylor University campus in Waco, begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale October 1 and may be purchased by phoning (254) 754-0851 or on-line at

Galveston: Festive sights and sounds will fill Moody Gardens at the sixth annual Festival of Lights November 17 through January 5. This whimsical celebration will kick off the holiday season on November 17, with Santa Claus parachuting in to switch on the lights. Festival of Lights is celebrated Thursday through Sunday November 17 through December 16, and daily beginning December 17. Transforming its lush tropical garden setting into a winter wonderland, Moody Gardens will be adorned with more than a million twinkling lights and dozens of light displays. In addition to experiencing the lights, guests can also strap on a pair of skates and glide across the ice at the Outdoor Ice Rink at Moody Gardens. Indoors, visitors can take pictures with Santa or even gaze upon a giant poinsettia tree. Moody Gardens will feature a variety of holiday-themed films during the Festival of Lights. Three films will be playing at the IMAX 3D theater and two films will be playing at the Ridefilm theater. The Garden Restaurant will feature a delectable holiday buffet, offered from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Group rates of $20 per person are also available for groups of 20 or more, and include admission to Festival of Lights and the holiday buffet. Admission into the Festival of Lights is $5.95, and tickets to additional attractions including the Rainforest Pyramid, holiday IMAX 3D film, holiday Ridefilm, Outdoor Ice Rink and Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, can be purchased for only $4.00 each. For more information, call Moody Gardens at (800) 582-4673 or visit

Lake Jackson: For several years John Panzarella has hosted a citrus tasting and open house in his backyard, 404 Forest Drive, Lake Jackson, which is about 50 miles south of Houston. The next open house will be Saturday, December 15 from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Taste 40 to 50 citrus varieties and see different varieties of fruit trees. Panzarella has approximately 200 different varieties of citrus, 50% to 70% fruiting, plus several varieties of persimmon, sapote, guava, pawpaw, loquat, pomegranate, avocado, papaya, fig, peach, passion fruit, mango and pecan trees growing in his backyard. You are invited to visit, taste the citrus, and see one of the largest citrus collections in the state of Texas and the largest collection north of the Texas Rio Grand valley. See the giant Panzarella orange and the giant 10 lb. Panzarella cluster lemons. You will also have the opportunity to view a multi-grafted tree which has grapefruits, tangerines and oranges growing on it. For more information, call (979) 297-2120, e-mail, or visit

Houston: Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale will be held Saturday, January 19, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. A class describing all varieties for sale, as well as providing vital information on how to plant and care for each type tree will be held January 5 and 12 (your choice), from 2 to 4 p.m. A nominal fee of $10 is charged for the class. Register for the class by calling Urban Harvest. Sale and classes at Emerson Unitarian Church, 1900 Bering Dr., Houston. For detailed information about the sale as well as about fruit trees, check the Urban Harvest website

Burnet: The Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association will sponsor the 10th Annual Hill Country Lawn and Garden Show, March 22, from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Burnet Community Center on E. Jackson in downtown Burnet. The show features garden-related vendors, a children's booth, a raffle, and seminars. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call Paula Montandon, Show Chairman, at (830) 693-0163.

Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at a new eco-farm in Kilgore. If there is enough interest, we will also start a Sunday afternoon monthly meeting. For more information, call Carole Ramke at (903) 986-9475.

Allen: The Allen Garden Club meets on the first Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the little blue-gray house located at 102 N. Allen Dr., Allen. For more information, visit

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

Denton: The Denton Organic Society, a group devoted to sharing information and educating the public regarding organic principles, meets the third Wednesday of each month (except July, August and December) at the Denton Senior Center, 509 N. Bell Avenue. Meetings are free and open to the public. Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. and are preceded by a social at 6:30. For more information, call (940) 382-8551.

Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners meets the third Thursday of each month at the Texas Cooperative Extension Bldg. at 210 E. Live Oak at 7 p.m.  For more information, phone (830) 379-1972 or visit

Fort Worth: The Organic Garden Club of Forth Worth meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month except July and December at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens main building. Refreshments are served. For more information, call (817) 274-8460.

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.

  Hot off the press: Doug Welsh's Texas Garden Almanac

Doug Welsh's Texas Garden Almanac is a giant monthly calendar for the entire state a practical, information-packed, month-by-month guide for gardeners and "yardeners." This book provides everything you need to know about flowers and garden design; trees, shrubs, and vines; lawns; vegetable, herb, and fruit gardening; and soil, mulch, water, pests, and plant care. It will help you to create beautiful, productive, healthy gardens and have fun doing it.

 $26.63 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 November and we'll waive shipping charges. (Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)

  Fiber row cover valuable year-round

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

 $30.64 per 12.3' x 32.8' roll (includes shipping!)

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020. Not available through on-line bookstore.

(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)


Texas Gardener's Seeds
is published weekly. Suntex Communications, Inc. 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

Texas Gardener's Seeds, P.O. Box 9005, Waco, Texas 76714 ●