April 2, 2008

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'Diamond Frost' euphorbia. (Photo by William Scheick)

The garden reader:
Going coastal

By William Scheick
University of Texas at Austin

Howard Garrett. Plants for Houston and the Gulf Coast. University of Texas Press (www.utexas.edu/utpress/), 2008. $24.95. 154 pp.

John Watson, Carole Peterson and Deanna Payne. In Our Backyards: Public and Private Gardens of the Texas Coastal Bend. Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, 2005. $39.95. 120 pp.

Fans of the gardening section in the Friday edition of The Dallas Morning News are familiar with Howard Garrett's weekly advice column. A horticulturalist, certified arborist and landscape architect, Garrett is a staunch advocate of using only organic methods in our yards. Known as "the dirt doctor," his most frequent remedy for ailing plants is "Garrett juice," a foliar spray which varies in formula depending on the problem to be treated.

The "dirt doctor's" garden-bedside manner is straightforward and often blunt. "Organic gardening is not a fad," he states. "Many in the universities and some on radio will tell you that total organic programs won't work. They are wrong."

For more than 30 years Garrett has also been a prolific author of gardening books — 14 so far, including Howard Garrett's Texas Trees and Texas Gardening the Natural Way. His new book Plants for Houston and the Gulf Coast, with bright close-up photographs, features nearly 400 plants suitable for home landscapes in Southeast Texas.

While the habit, culture, uses and problems of each plant are detailed, not all receive Garrett's enthusiastic endorsement. "I am not noncommittal about plants," he writes in his new book's introduction. "My likes, dislikes, and experiences with all the plants are always expressed."

You can count on that.

For example, Garrett humorously takes to task people who "think spiraea is old-fashioned." He calls them "landscape snobs."

The information Garrett provides in his new book is terse, but useful. He is interested less in elegance of writing style than in telegraphing crucial gardening facts as quickly as possible.

This means that each entry is short and to the point — easily taken in by readers.

Now and then, though, little things get left out. In the recommendation of Texas kidneywood (bee bush), for instance, there is no mention that deer crave this plant as if it were dessert.

On the other hand, there are pleasant surprises among the plants Garrett includes. This is the case with 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia, an unusual spurge I personally enjoy.

"Don't be fooled," he writes about this delicate-looking annual. "This plant is tough! Both heat and drought tolerant, it blooms constantly throughout summer." Similar to other drought-tolerant plants, this one needs water for several weeks until it is established in the ground.

My 'Diamond Frost' is not drought tolerant because it is kept in a container, safe from killing frost. Its foliage signals for help by noticeably drooping whenever the soil becomes dry. Once the plant is hydrated, its leaves quickly spring back without any sign of damage.

If you live in Southeastern Texas and are curious about a wide range of gardening possibilities for your yard, you will find Plants for Houston and the Gulf Coast a welcome guide.

Whether you live on or only visit the Texas Gulf coast, you will also appreciate the exquisite photography gracing In Your Backyard: Public and Private Gardens of the Texas Coastal Bend. This book emphasizes gardens designed in response to the environmental issues now confronting our state's coastal region.

Turning the pages of this gorgeous volume is like being on a garden tour of private grounds you otherwise would never get to see.


Gardening tips

There are many common signs that indicate a plant is stressed but not necessarily under nourished. A wilting plant most likely needs to be watered. Limp or curling leaves on plants usually indicate pests or disease while plants that produce nothing but leaves have likely been over fertilized.

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...

You can expect continued fair weather when the setting sun looks like a ball of fire and the sky is clear, the moon shines brightly and the wind is light.


Upcoming garden events

Boerne: The Cibolo Nature Center (www.cibolo.org) 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 nature@cibolo.org.

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 www.rockportherbs.com.

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 http://arboretum.sfasu.edu 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 pfau@tarleton.edu.

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 (http://www.tcmastergardeners.org/) 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 http://www.insideaustingardens.org.

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 www.sabot.org.

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 http://grovesite.com/mg/smg.

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 www.antiqueroseemporium.com/event.

Sugar Land: The Sugar Land Garden Club will host its annual Spring Garden Tour on Saturday, May 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour, which makes a great Mother’s Day activity, showcases eight lovely gardens in the Sugar Land area. A wide variety of styles and designs will be featured including a Monet-inspired theme; cottage, topiary and tropical styles; and an Asian garden with a Koi pond. Club members will be available at each location to share gardening tips and to answer questions. Tickets are $10 for the entire tour or $2 each for a single garden, and are available for purchase at any of the gardens on the day of the tour. For recommended starting locations or a map of the gardens, visit www.sugarlandgardenclub.org or call (281) 565-4658.

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 http://www.dcmga.com.

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 http://www.tcmastergardeners.org.

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 http://pnpc.sfasu.edu.

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 www.tcmastergardeners.org.

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 dmcolburn@ag.tamu.edu.

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 www.blancolavenderfest.com/festival/index.php. For more information about Texas Lavender Hills Farm & Market, visit http://www.texaslavenderhills.com/.

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.

MONTHLY MEETINGS

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 www.allengardenclub.org.

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.

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 http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu 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 www.rockportherbs.com.

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 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 www.RainbowGardenClub.com.

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 http://www.npsot.org/Houston.

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 www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.

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 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.


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