March 26, 2008

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More than 2 acres in a Farmers Branch park have been set aside for an EarthKind rose test garden.

Dr. Steve George, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist, and Gaye Hammond, plant a rose in an EarthKind test garden at Gussie Field Watterworth Park in Farmers Branch, near Dallas. (Texas AgriLife Extension photos by Mike Jackson)

Volunteers plant nation's largest EarthKind rose test garden

By Mike Jackson
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Dr. Steve George surveyed the field of newly planted roses in Farmers Branch and wondered aloud if any would have the mettle to earn EarthKind distinction.

Only a few may make it, said George, a horticulturist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Dallas.

"We're searching for roses to constitute the first national collection of EarthKind roses," he said.

Farmers Branch, a Dallas suburb, and AgriLife Extension teamed up to plant the roses in the largest EarthKind rose test garden in the nation, George said. The goal is to identify EarthKind roses that can be grown almost anywhere in the country.

About 40 Farmers Branch employees and Texas Master Gardeners volunteered recently to plant 100 rose cultivars over 2-1/2 acres of a public park set aside for the project. The project is being coordinated by AgriLife Extension in Dallas.

Most of the roses in the four-year study are winter hardy in regions well north of Texas, George said.

"And so we want to see how far south they will come, because from that group we hope that we will find a number, or at least a handful that will make it from Houston to Minneapolis, L.A. to New York City with no sprays and no fertilizer," George said.

George is teaming up with two other horticulturists on the project: Dr. Derald Harp of Texas A&M University-Commerce; and Dr. David Zlesak of the University of Minnesota.

The test garden was planted in Gussie Field Watterworth Park, in a complex next door to Farmers Branch City Hall. City leaders are proud to show off the rose collection along busy Valley View Lane, said Pam Smith, Farmers Branch's park landscape manager.

"Our official motto is 'City in the Park,' so we absolutely value what beautification adds to the quality of life or our residents," Smith said.

The city, which contributed $25,000 to the project, will maintain the garden, Smith said. The Houston Rose Society donated an additional $25,000, said Gaye Hammond, the society's past president.

Society members eagerly contributed to the project, Hammond said. The organization intends to help propagate EarthKind roses because they are easy to grow and good for the environment.

"People aren't going to sacrifice their lives to grow plants," Hammond said. "Our mission was to make roses easier to grow for people.

"Plant them and forget them," she said. "If you can grow weeds, you can grow roses. EarthKind takes the guesswork out of it."

There are rose association members all over the country who will also participate in growing and testing the roses in their regions, Hammond said.

EarthKind roses are robust and thrive in tough conditions, George said. Grown and evaluated over years, the roses aren't fertilized or pruned. They are not treated with pesticides and are watered far less than other roses.

AgriLife Extension horticulturists have been assessing and identifying EarthKind roses for almost 20 years, he said. The roses need eight hours or more of full, direct sun and good air movement over the leaves. Before planting, three inches of compost are tilled in. The soil surface is mulched year-round with shredded tree limbs or hardwood bark.

The Farmers Branch collection is headed for rigorous testing, George said.

"Based on what we have learned nationwide, there's probably more environmental damage done by the misuse of fertilizer than there is by pesticides," he said. "So these will never be fertilized, never be sprayed. We're going to be greatly reducing the amount of water once they're established."

Water use can be reduced by up to 70 percent by using a drip irrigation system, George said.

"If they're good enough to be EarthKind, once they're established, they'll be very drought and heat tolerant," he said. "So we're looking for roses that have such good tolerance, or resistance to disease and insect problems, that almost never will they have to be sprayed."

George said EarthKind roses will eventually be tested using treated wastewater from sewage plants. Florida, for example, promotes the use of such recycled water for lawn irrigation as a conservation measure.

"We've tested our roses against almost all of the environmental stresses: alkaline soils, clay soils, heat, drought, disease, insects and the cold," he said. "The one thing we haven't tested them against is how they perform against recycled water.

"We think that's the next big coming thing," he said. "Instead of waiting 10 years and having that question thrust upon us, we want to start testing our roses now to see how they do against recycled water. Our prediction is that before too many years go by, many cities will be mandating the use of recycled water."

Gardening tips

"When trimming the spent flowers from your crapemyrtles (trim, don't do the crape murder thing)," writes Judy Manning, "save the trimmings and put then in 4" pots and keep moist. In no time at all they will start rooting, and you will have many new little crapemyrtle trees to either keep, give away or sell."

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 send 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 may not know the time of year at any given time, but they can figure it out by measuring the length of night time as demonstrated by the color change in poinsettia. This phenomena is called photoperiodism.

Upcoming garden events

Fort Worth: The Fort Worth Botanic Garden Conservatory is hosting the spectacular Butterflies in the Garden March 1-30. The exhibit is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. See hundreds of exotic butterflies amidst the beautiful tropical plants in the 10,000-square-foot glasshouse. Tickets are available in advance through Central Ticket Office by phone, Internet, or in person. Day-of ticket sales are subject to availability and are sold on-site at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. For more information, including a link to Central Ticket Office, visit

Nacogdoches: Each Nacogdoches Azalea Trail season, Stephen F. Austin State University Mast Arboretum hosts an Azalea Trail Symposium to bring together azalea experts and gardeners. This year, "Secrets of Azalea Gardens, Old and New" March 29 emphasizes the depth of public azalea gardening in East Texas and Louisiana. The Symposium will begin in Room 110 of the SFA Agriculture Building (on Wilson Drive) at Stephen F. Austin State University from 9:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $25 and includes lunch, three speakers, and a tour of Texas' largest azalea garden, the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden. Speakers include Bart Brechter, "Historic Bayou Bend Gardens"; Dr. Regina Bracy, "Creating the New Margie Y. Jenkins Azalea Garden"; and Margie Jenkins, "Easy Ways to Propagate Evergreen and Deciduous Azaleas." Bring your cameras, take some notes, and add to the wealth of azaleas in your gardens, old and new. To register for the symposium, call 1-888-OLDEST-TOWN (1-888-653-378-8696) or visit For questions about the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, contact Barbara Stump at (936) 468-4129 or

Bacliff: The Kemah-Bay Area Garden Club will meet at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, April 2, at Bayshore Friends Church, 3507 Walsh Ave., Bacliff. Michelle Johnson, environmentalist, will present "Bay Area Wildlife Rehabilitation" and a light lunch will be served. The public is invited. For more information, call Nancy Busko, president, at (281) 332-5294.

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

Quitman: The Friends of the Arboretum will host their Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, April 12, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., at the Gov. Hogg Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, located in the Gov. Jim Hogg City Park, 518 S. Main Street, Quitman. For additional information, contact Pam Riley at (903) 967-2820.

Amarillo: Amarillo Area Master Gardeners will host EarthKind Landscape Design School, an all-day class led by Dr. Steven George, Horticultural Specialist and EarthKind concepts expert on April 12. Follow-up consultations by experts on design ideas that can beautify your landscape will be scheduled on May 24. Cost for both days is $75 per household, limited enrollment, registration deadline April 1. Call Potter County AgriLife at (806) 373-0713 to register.

League City: The Kemah-Bay Area Garden Club will present "Nature's Beauties, Style Show and Luncheon" featuring fashions from Atrium Boutique of Galveston, Friday, April 18, at South Shore Harbour Country Club, 4300 South Shore Blvd., League City. Raffle ticket sales begin at 10 a.m., followed by lunch and the style show at noon. Tickets are $25 per person, and proceeds from the event enable the club to provide scholarships to local students. For more information or tickets, call Marsha Klaus at (281) 535-6580 or Dori Robinson at (281) 554-3734.

Longview: Gregg County Master Gardener Spring Garden and Landscape Seminar is scheduled for April 19, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. in The Pope John Paul II Center at St. Matthews Catholic Church in Longview. The Center is located near Pine Tree Road and Dundee at 2904 Arrow Lane. Featured speakers are Dr. Doug Welsh, Extension Horticulturist, Texas A&M and Aubrey King of King’s Nursery, Tenaha. Dr. Welsh will address "Ten Common Mistakes of Texas Yardeners." Aubrey King (a third-generation nurseryman) will present "New and Exciting Plants for East Texas." Visit vendor tables for plant and garden related items before the program starts, during breaks and following the program. Refreshments and door prizes provided. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Call (903) 236-8429 for tickets and information.

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.

San Antonio: Comal Master Gardeners and Antique Rose Emporium will present An Herb Affair, an herb festival with demos, crafts, samples, and info for growing, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., May 3 at the Antique Rose Emporium, 7561 E. Evans Road., San Antonio. For more information, call (210) 651-4546 or visit

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

Austin: Learn how to creating a Tropical Paradise by attending a free seminar featuring speakers are from the Travis County Master Gardener Association and Natural Gardener Nursery staff, Wednesday, May 21, 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin. Perennial Tropical Plans for Central Texas covers many of the tropical plants that can tolerate/thrive in the local growing conditions. Plant this selection once and enjoy the look for a long time. Tropical Plants for the Interior discusses the conditions preferred by the plants to remain healthy. Many varieties that favor interior living are included. Time will be spent on problems and pest that are common to interior tropical plants. How to Grow Ferns to create a lush look. Discover the varieties of ferns and conditions necessary for successful growing ferns in our local area. Integrating Tropicals with Natives for a Tropical Look discusses using tropical plants as annuals as well as in pots along with perennials to create that tropical feel. Bring samples of diseased, bug eaten, sick plants to the Plant Clinic. Experts will diagnose the problem and offer possible remedies. The seminar is sponsored by the Travis County Master Gardener Association in partnership with the AgriLife Extension, Travis County. For more information, call (512) 854-9600 and ask for the Master Gardener's desk 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.

Austin: The Travis County Master Gardeners Association in partnership with the Travis Country AgriLife Extension will present a seminar on pond building at the Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin, from 10 a.m. until noon, Saturday, June 7. Among the topics covered will be small pond construction, pond plants, fish selection, and general pond maintenance. Although the seminar is free, the Austin Parks Department charges $3 for parking. For additional information, call (512) 854-9600 and ask for the Master Gardener's desk or visit

Georgetown: Junior Master Gardener Specialist Training will be presented June 11-12, at the Williamson County Extension Office, 3151 SE Innerloop Road, Georgetown. For additional information, contact Donna Colburn, at (512) 943-3300 or

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.

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