March 5, 2008

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Lime green Nicotiana is a long-blooming heirloom dating to at least 1930. It is not as fragrant as other flowering tobaccos, but is prized for its blue-green leaves and lime-tinted flowers. (Photo by William Scheick)

The garden reader:
The joy of gardening magazines

By William Scheick
University of Texas at Austin

The Heirloom Gardener, ed. Jere and Emilee Gettle. Rare Seeds Publishing. $12 a year (4 issues).

Tropical Treasures Magazine, ed. Gorden Bower. Top Tropicals, LLC. $20 a year (4 issues).

Gardening magazines are one of life's joys.

They are full of pleasant surprises. It's not just the substantial advice they provide that makes them so welcome. It's also their sheer beauty.

Plants never look better than in magazine layouts. That doesn't bother me. It's the gardening photographer's artistic mission to present a plant at its photogenic best.

Gorgeous plant images in gardening periodicals set an ideal standard for me to imagine in my yard. My garden is, first and foremost, all about imagining. I see it in my mind before I see it in the ground.

What does bother me is the impact of economic pressures on gardening magazines. Many of them have been steeply scaled back, resulting in a reduced number of issues published each year. Now, sometimes, the publication pattern is so oddly numbered and so peculiarly clustered that it is difficult to know when to expect an issue or whether all of them have in fact arrived.

Such wonky scheduling is driven by economic pressures, especially when large corporate owners insist on unreasonable thresholds of financial return.

This is certainly the case with newspapers, but also consider the fate of one of the oldest of American periodicals, House and Garden, first published in 1901. In 2007, it had a substantial circulation of nearly 1 million readers — an increase of nearly 7% over the previous year.

Even so, "we no longer believe it is a viable business investment for the company," reported Chuck Townsend, president and CEO of Condé Nast. The magazine ceased publishing last November.

Think about it — a million paying readers are not enough for "a viable business investment."

This situation is all the more reason to celebrate and support the independent publishers of gardening periodicals, such as Texas Gardener. The independent publishers are, like us, "in it" mainly for the joy of it. The profits can be marginal, to say the least in many cases, but these magazines appear with an admirable steadiness and superior level of production that evince pure dedication.

The Heirloom Gardener

"It's hard to believe we've published this magazine for over five years," write editors Jere and Emilee Gettle in the Winter, 2008, issue of The Heirloom Gardener. "We feel really blessed to have had such great writers, subscribers and supporters who have kept us going."

The Heirloom Gardener, which appears four times a year, offers articles accompanied by both modern and antique images beautifully reproduced on "grass-roots" pulp paper. An exquisite time capsule, this quarterly is devoted to the conservation of old-fashioned produce and flowers.

As industrial farming has increasingly invested in a small number of crops and in genetically modified produce, older varieties of fruits and vegetables have disappeared. There are people who are concerned about the decline in the diversity of the veggie gene pool. They believe that the agricultural practices of our time, restricted to so few plants, are vulnerable to potentially devastating diseases and infestations.

Not all heirloom gardeners are motivated by such an apocalyptic vision. As the fascinating ensemble of articles in The Heirloom Gardener show, many gardeners grow old-fashioned vegetables simply because they savor unique culinary tastes and forms, while others grow hard-to-find old-time flowers simply because they value their heritage and beauty.

Tropical Treasures

"There must be such a magazine, But we couldn't find it," Tatiana Anderson and Michael Dubinovsky write in the inaugural (Spring, 2007) issue of Tropical Treasures Magazine. "So we created it — a magazine devoted to growing tropical plants in areas where, let's face it, they wouldn't stand a chance if their growers don't know a palm tree from a petunia."

Tropical Treasures, which appears four times a year and has just completed its first year of publication, is a handsome brightly-illustrated guide to both familiar and unfamiliar plants.

It is, as well, an extraordinarily useful how-to manual. A surprising amount of information is packed into this digest-sized periodical fitting so cozily in the hand.

One of the best articles so far offers a comprehensive consideration of which lights work best for growing indoor plants. The answer wasn't obvious, at least to me.

Tropical Treasures, The Heirloom Gardener and other such independently published magazines are valuable not only as homey resources for special-interest gardening communities. They are equally valuable for their example of the spirit of gardening soaring above the bottom-line.

For me, the next best thing to being in the garden itself is being graced with the inspiring enthusiasm of the independent publishers of specialty gardening magazines.

  Gardening tips

If you are adding shrubs to a new or existing landscape, consider their mature size when spacing them. Properly spaced, the ground around them may be a little bare the first few years but that is better than having to relentlessly prune them to keep them in bounds. Consider filling in the bare spaces between plants with annuals the first few years until your shrubs become established.

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...

Old roses tend to be more fragrant than modern hybrids. That is because newer selections have been bred for a wider color range, stiffer necks that won’t nod and bend, and petals that ship well. Yes, there are some very fragrant modern roses like Mister Lincoln, Fragrant Cloud and a few others. However, nothing exudes fragrance like a garden full of old roses, and modern roses pale in comparison.


  Upcoming garden events

Houston: River Oaks Garden Club will host its 73rd annual Azalea Trail Friday through Sunday, March 7, 8 and 9 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day. Azalea Trail, 2008, will celebrate the 51st anniversary of Miss Ima Hogg's gift of her beautiful home and gardens, Bayou Bend, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The trail will feature four private houses and gardens, as well as Bayou Bend, Rienzi and the River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics Building and Gardens. Tickets for seven admissions are $15 before March 7 and $20 during the trail. Single admissions are $5. For additional information, call (713) 523-2483 or visit

Rosenberg: The Fort Bend Master Gardeners will hold their annual Perennial Sale on Saturday, March 8. An overview of plants will be given by Heidi Sheesley, owner of TreeSearch Farms, at 8:30 a.m. The sale will open at 9:30 a.m. and will last until 1 p.m. The sale will be held at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds-Building D, 4310 Highway 36Sm Rosenberg. Visit for more information.

Mineola: The Wood County Master Gardeners will present their 6th Annual Gardening Conference, "Gardening from the Ground Up," Saturday, March 8, at the Mineola Civic Center, Live Oak Room, 1150 N. Newsom. Admission is free. Registration begins at 8 a.m. The program will run from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. The featured speakers will be Dr. Bill Knoop, Professor Emeritus, Texas A & M University, speaking on lawn care, and Daniel Duncum, District Urban Forester, Texas Forestry Service, speaking on landscape tree management. Both speakers will be available for questions. Booths, with gardening information, will be staffed by the Wood County Master Gardeners. They will have additional information on local projects including the Wildscape and Sensory Gardens at the Mineola Nature Preserve and the Gov. Hogg Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens being developed in Quitman. Attendees are invited to visit with the vendors who will have plant and garden related items for sale before the program starts and during breaks.

Tomball: The Arbor Gate will host its third annual Rose Festival March 8. More than 100 varieties of old and antique roses will be available, as will guest speakers and informative booths. The Arbor Gate is located at 15635 FM2920, Tomball. For additional information, contact (281) 351-8851 or visit

League City: The Kemah Bay Area Garden Club will meet Wednesday, March 12. This will be a tour of Christ Church Cathedral and Gardens. A carpool will leave at 9:15 a.m. from the Amegy Bank parking lot, 303 East Main Street, League City. Plan to purchase lunch on the grounds and listen to a live band perform “Great Songs of the Past.” For additional information, call Nancy Busko, (281) 332-5294.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association will hold its "Spring Plant Sale" Saturday, March 15, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Green Acres, 611 East Mimosa Street at Pearl Street, Rockport. Purchase those much wanted plants that you have been wanting to buy and can't find anywhere. 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. This event is open to the public. For more information, contact The Texas AgriLife Extension Service at (361) 790-0103.

Friendswood: The Gulf Coast Gardener’s Forum will meet Wednesday, March 19, 9:30 a.m. at the Marie Workman Garden Center, 112 W. Spreading Oaks. Friendswood. The program will be “Landscape Designs” by Ginia Keen Mattern, Master Gardener, Harris Co. Precinct 2. Light refreshments are served and the public is invited. For additional information, call Nancy Busko, (281) 332-5294.

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.

Palestine: The Anderson County Master Gardeners will hold their annual tree sale on Saturday, March 22, in Old Town on the porch of Maryjean's, a local boutique. The sale takes place during the first weekend of Dogwood Trails, an annual celebration in Anderson County. The sale starts at 9 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m. Most trees are in three to five gallon containers and range in price from $12.00 to $20.00. Varieties include: Summer Red Maple, D.D. Blanchard Magnolia, Sweetbay Magnolia, Nuttall and Live Oak, Crape Myrtles (several varieties) and White Dogwood.

Boerne: The Cibolo Nature Center ( sponsors its 18th Annual Mostly Native Plant Sale Saturday, April 5, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Kendall County Fairgrounds. Find native and non-invasive plants that are tried and true for the Hill Country. Enjoy demonstrations and programs on a variety of  subjects related to gardening in this special region of Texas. For more information, contact the Cibolo Nature Center at (830) 249-4616 or

Rockport: Fourth Annual Rockport Herb Festival presented by the Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group will be held Saturday, April 5, at the Rockport-Fulton High School Commons, 1801 Omohundro, Rockport, 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Herb Festival will provide an array of herb programs, herb cooking demonstrations, a food court, herb booths with lots of herb information and products for sale, and a plant sale which will include herbs, roses, orchids and a few other plants. For more information, contact Linda (361) 729-6037, Ruth (361) 729-8923 or Cindy (979) 562-2153 or visit

Kingsland: The Kingsland Garden Club will hold their Spring Plant Sale on Saturday April 5. The sale will open at 9 a.m. at the Kingsland House of Arts and Craft Spring Show behind Wells Fargo Bank off FM 1431 in Kingsland. A wide variety of plants will be available for sale at reasonable prices so arrive early for the best selection. Master Gardeners will also be there to answer gardening questions.

Nacogdoches: The Stephen F. Austin State University Mast Arboretum will host its annual Garden Gala Day on April 12 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the SFA Intramural Fields on Wilson Drive. The event features the annual spring plant sale fundraiser benefiting the SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, and educational programs hosted at the gardens. All the plants are produced at SFA by the staff, students and volunteers. A wide variety of hard to find, "Texas tough" plants will be available, including a truly eclectic mix of hard to find annuals and tropicals, as well as a tried and true assortment of perennials. Several new coneflower varieties and many floriferous varieties of Chinese lanterns will be available. Hard-to-find leopard plants, variegated tapioca, the unusually heat tolerant 'Summer Beauty' bear's breeches, rare varieties of Angels' trumpets, and a host of butterfly plants including milkweed and passion vine also will be for sale."Gardeners also will find a wide variety of natives, perennials, annuals, tropicals, and shrubs, trees, and vines suitable for southern landscapes. Greg Grant, Pineywoods Native Plant Center research associate, will have several of his introductions available, including 'Pam Puryear' and 'Big Momma' Turk's caps, 'Henry Duelberg' and 'Augusta Duelberg' sages, 'Nacogdoches' yellow rose, and his brand new, 'Peppermint Flare' rose mallow. He also will have several types of hardy bulbs available including the heirloom milk and wine lily, Crinum x gowenii; the very rare iris-flowered Canna x iridiflora 'Ehemanii'; copper lilies; and giant prairie lilies. The native plant center will offer a wide range of East Texas natives, like rattlesnake master, button snake root, red buckeye, prairie phlox, inland sea oats, bee balm, and a number of trees for shade, wildlife forage, and habitat restoration. The public is encouraged to arrive early and bring a wagon. For more information and a list of plants for sale call (936) 468-4404, or visit and click on "upcoming events."

Stephenville: A Native and Heirloom Plant Fair will be held at The Stephenville Historical Museum at 525 E Washington Street, Stephenville, April 12 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. There will be several presentations made throughout the day relating to various aspects of gardening. Booth space is available for vendors at no charge. For additional information, contact Russell Pfau at

Victoria: The Victoria County Master Gardeners will hold their Spring Plant Sale at the 4H Activity Center at the Victoria Airport, April 19, from 8 a.m. until sold out. The plants are grown by the Master Gardeners at their homes or at the greenhouse operated by Master Gardeners. While attending the plant sale, also visit the recent addition to the Victoria Educational Gardens next door. A pond, daylily garden, international garden, iris garden, rose garden, and a container garden are just a few of the features.

Austin: The Travis County Master Gardeners Association ( will host the Inside Austin Gardens, 2008, tour Saturday, April 19, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Inside Austin Gardens is a unique educational tour of seven gardens, including demonstrations, plants for sale, and experts on hand to answer gardening questions. $10 per ticket; children under 12 free. For additional information, visit

San Antonio: Take a “walk across Texas” at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston @ N. New Braunfels, San Antonio, Saturday, April 19, 9 a.m. until noon, enjoying the beauty of spring wildflowers right in the heart of San Antonio. Hike the loop trail system of the Texas Native Trail which winds through an 11-acre native area of the Botanical Garden, where you will experience the diverse ecosystems of the Hill Country, East Texas Piney Woods and South Texas Plains. Enter the world of early Texas by visiting the historic cabins and living historians dressed in period clothing from the Sons of the Republic, Chapter 7. Enjoy Pioneer biscuits and gravy, compliments of sponsor C.H. Guenther & Son. The Alamo Area Master Naturalists will offer various displays, bird walks and art activities. Also, just in time for spring planting, gardeners may purchase all types of plants made available by various plant societies. Botanical Society members may enter early at 8:00 a.m. Free admission from 9 a.m. to noon on this day. For more information, call (210) 829-5100 or visit

Galveston: Moody Gardens and the International Oleander Society will host the Earth Day and Oleander Festival at Moody Gardens on Galveston Island April 26-27. The Oleander Festival is an annual event dating back to 1921 that honors the beautiful flower and educates guests about the history of the oleander on Galveston Island and throughout the world. Area plant societies, clubs, and vendors are invited to set up booth space to display and sell their plants. There will be a floral design competition were professional, amateur and child participants can display their work to be judged. Earth Day celebration activities by Moody Gardens and its community partners will include arts and crafts, entertainment and presentations great for the whole family. "We are pleased to bring these two events together here at Moody Gardens in Galveston," said John Zendt, General Manager of Moody Gardens. "We are excited about promoting the environmental conservation missions of both Moody Gardens and the International Oleander Society and inviting the public to have some fun while learning about global and local environmental issues." Admission to the Earth Day and Oleander Festival is free to the public. For more information, call Moody Gardens at (800) 582-4673.

Tyler: The Smith County Master Gardeners will hold their 6th Annual Home Garden Tour, rain or shine, on Saturday, May 3 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Five private gardens in Tyler will be showcased on the tour. Tickets will be available April 1 and are $8.00 in advance. They can be purchased from The Smith County AgriLIFE Extension office at 1517 W. Front St., Suite 116, Tyler, TX 75702 or by mail from Andie Rathbone, 13270 Oak Hill Lane, Flint, TX 75762. Tickets will also be available on the day of the tour for $10.00 and can be purchased at any of the gardens on the tour. For more information, visit

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association will hold its annual “Hidden Gardens Tour” Saturday, May 3, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Arrive at Green Acres, 611 East Mimosa Street at Pearl Street, Rockport, and get your tickets and maps for this one-day event. Receive maps 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. This event is open to the public. The cost is $10.00. For pre-registration tickets or for more information, contact The Texas AgriLife Extension Service at (361) 790-0103.

Denton County: The Denton County Master Gardener Association presents the 2008 Walk Through the Gardens Tour of private gardens in Southern Denton County on Saturday, May 10, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. For more information, call (940) 349-2883 or visit

Nacogdoches: The Stephen F. Austin State University Pineywoods Native Plant Center will host the 4th Lone Star Regional Native Plant Conference May 28-31 in Nacogdoches. The conference will be held on the beautiful SFA campus, which is home to the Mast Arboretum, the Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, as well as the 40-acre Pineywoods Native Plant Center. Join a unique blend of naturalists, horticulturists, nurserymen, landscapers, and gardeners to hear talks ranging from rare plants to conservation and propagation. Complete Conference Package, which includes all meals Thursday-Saturday, Thursday field trip, Friday through Sunday conference, Saturday program/dance; and proceedings — $250 May 7th or before; $300 after May 7th. For additional information, visit

Santa Fe, N.M.: The 12th annual Santa Fe Botanical Garden tours will take place Sunday, June 1, and Sunday, June 8, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Featured gardens include Xeriscape, shade gardening, hearty perennials, roses, great estates and an historic compound. $35 per person per tour; $60 for both tours; under 16, free. Tickets on sale May 1 through the Lensic Box Office, (505) 988-1234.

Blanco: The Blanco Chamber of Commerce will host the fourth annual Blanco Lavender Festival June 14-15. The entire town of Blanco and the surrounding countryside will be bathed in lavender during the Lavender Festival. The Lavender Market, on the grounds of the historic Blanco County Courthouse, is always a must-see highlight of the festival. Selected vendors and artists from across the Hill Country will offer lavender-related pleasures and treasures from the finest craftsmen. At the courthouse, speakers give lavender-related educational programs. Texas Lavender Hills Farm & Market will be part of the Blanco Lavender Festival tour each day from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Events at the farm include lavender crafts, pick-your-own lavender, live music, picnic lunches, lavender lemonade, lavender peach tea, lavender goats milk ice cream, lavender products for sale and more. For more information about the festival, visit For more information about Texas Lavender Hills Farm & Market, visit

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association will hold a "Fall Plant Sale" Saturday, September 27, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Green Acres, 611 East Mimosa Street at Pearl Street, Rockport. Purchase those much-wanted plants that you have been wanting to buy and can't find anywhere. 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. This event is open to the public. For additional information, contact The Texas AgriLife Extension Service at (361) 790-0103.


Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at a new eco-farm in Kilgore. 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

Friendswood: The second Tuesday of each month the Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold a free evening educational program for the public, called the Green Thumb Series, at Southeast Church of Christ, 2400 W Bay Area Blvd., Friendswood, about 1 mile west of I-45 and Baybrook Mall. For more information visit or call (281) 991-8437.

Rockport: The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group, founded in March 2003, meets the second Wednesday of each month, with the exceptions of June and July, to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs, including historical uses and tips for successful propagation and cultivation, meets at 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport at 10 a.m. Sometimes they take field trips and have cooking demonstrations in different locations. For more information, contact Linda (361) 729-6037, Ruth (361) 729-8923 or Cindy (979) 562-2153 or visit

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 p.m. and are preceded by a social at 6:30. For more information, call (940) 382-8551.

Houston:  The Native Plant Society of Texas — Houston (NPSOT-H) meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month except for October (4th Thursday) and December (2nd Thursday). Location varies. For locations, for more information on programs, and for information about native plants for Houston, visit

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

Longview: The Northeast Texas chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets the third Thursday of each month at St. Mary's Parish Hall in Longview. For more information, call Logan Damewood at (903) 295-1984.

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.

  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 March 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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