March 4, 2009

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This version of a late 16th-century engraving depicts uncultivated nature as dark and ugly.

The garden reader:
Early-American flower power

By William Scheick
University of Texas at Austin

Lawrence D. Griffith. Flowers and Herbs of Early America. Yale University Press, 2008. 292 pp. $50.00.

Judith Summer. American Household Botany: A History of Useful Plants, 1620-1900. Timber Press, 2004. 396 pp. $27.95.

Among the earliest forms of American-related cultural productions were advertisements encouraging settlement in the New World. Many were written, but some were pictorial, including Theodor Galle's version of Jan van der Straet's late 16th-century engraving of Amerigo Vespucci's discovery of America.

The details of this engraving are meticulously designed to suggest a number of implications that presumably would appeal to the imagination of prospective settlers. One implication suggests that the New World is a wilderness of untapped natural resources.

Typically for the time period, wild nature in this engraving is not imaged as beautiful. It is portrayed as dark and ugly, harboring strange-looking "underworld" plants sinisterly preferring deep shadow instead of sunlight.

When this engraving was created, plants were valued for their usefulness, not for their ornamental attractiveness and certainly not for their natural wildness. During van der Straet's time and later, agriculture defined the ideal image of nature.

So van der Straet's engraving depicts New World nature as an unsightly waste. But the engraving also promises that New World nature is a fertile resource ready to be productively transformed by "enlightened" European farmers.

Attitudes toward plants would change several decades after van der Straet created this engraving. Plants would still be prized primarily for their utilitarian functions, but increasingly they would also become treasured as beautiful possessions.

Notable in this timeline of changing attitudes toward plants is the tulip craze of the mid-1630s, when wealthy Dutch and other European investors speculated wildly on a seemingly endless rise in the value of various bulbs. When the saturated market eventually collapsed, catastrophe was inevitable for people who risked every asset in the over-inflated tulip-market bubble.

During this craze, tulip beauty was prized. Even so, this beauty was treated as a commodity. In a sense, then, an aesthetic appreciation of tulip beauty was mired in 17th-century utilitarian values similar to those applied to agricultural produce.

Eventually, the convulsions of tulip fever would lead to real "flower power," a deeper and purer general regard for plants simply for their beauty.

As would be expected, New World colonists necessarily clung longer than their homeland relatives to the utilitarian model for horticulture. For them, clinging to practical horticulture was often a matter of survival.

Incidentally, in American Household Botany: A History of Useful Plants, 1620-1900, Judith Summer provides a detailed account of the many ways our American ancestors made practical use of plants.

The colonial herb garden, cultivated for both culinary and medicinal benefits, basically followed the utilitarian agricultural paradigm. At the same time, though, herb gardens allowed for clever experiments in design layout, companion plantings and overall visual effect.

During the 18th century in America, growing plants for their ornamental splendor became a far more frequent phenomenon. The records Thomas Jefferson kept about his remarkable gardens at Monticello from 1766 to 1824 clearly show a passion for plants appreciated as much for their ornamental splendor as for their economic worth.

Which brings me to Lawrence D. Griffith's stunning book, Flowers and Herbs of Early America. Mr. Griffith, who is the plant curator for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, has combed historical archives to identify 58 plants grown as herbs and as ornamentals by early southeastern settlers.

The historic place of each of these heirloom plants is profiled together with practical gardening tips. Surprises sprout up frequently, such as the pink-bracted hormium sage, the blue pimpernel and the striped French marigold.

The herb entries are no less surprising. Included are blessed thistle (to treat scorpion strings), dark-leaved orach (to stretch the food budget) and eye-catching strawberry blite (to provide edible fruits).

The 9 x 10-inch images by photojournalist Barbara Lombardi are breathtaking. As a pleasant bonus, reproductions of early hand-colored engravings, watercolors and woodcuts visually conduct the reader back in time.

It's easy to linger long when perusing Flowers and Herbs of Early America. And it's equally easy to yearn for such historic beauty to ornament our own gardens.


Portable kit may one day detect plant disease before disastrous outbreak

By Kathleen Phillips
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

This science may literally be outside the box: A briefcase-sized kit is carried to a field where thousands of tons of food are growing. The search is for microorganisms that could infect and kill the plants, wreaking havoc on the food supply and market.

If the equipment in the box finds the pathogen, experts can tell farmers how to prevent the devastation. Quick and accurate are key.

That's what scientists plan to do within three years, according to Dr. Won-Bo Shim, Texas AgriLife Research plant pathologist. He's lead investigator on a $1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that takes aim at protecting the nation's food and agriculture from bacterial, fungal and viral agents on the homeland security select list.

PADLOC is what they have already named the futuristic kit — Pathogen Detection Lab-On-a-Chip.

"It's a portable system," Shim said. "The idea is to shorten the current detection process to a few hours so that a plan could be set up to minimize impact from such plant diseases."

Currently, if a new plant disease appears on a farm, it could take days to find, sample, ship to a lab and run tests to verify, Shim explained, and that time increases the chance for irreversible damage to the food supply and marketplace.

One of the novel approaches to creating a faster system, Shim explained, is collaboration between the experts in plant pathology and his co-investigator Dr. Arum Han, a Texas A&M University electrical engineer who specializes in nanotechnology where things are measured in billionths.

The two met almost accidentally at a social for professors. Shim recalls that as each asked the other about their research efforts, the notion clicked that one's skill could supplement the other to develop a better detection system.

"There's a need for a system that is not only portable but rapid, accurate and 'dummy proof' so that someone with no background in the science could use it," Shim said. "The technology we need is already available to both plant pathology and engineering. We're just putting them together."

But the nature of diseases in plants presents the challenge. Humans and other animals have an immune system, so researchers predict the strains of flu that might be present in a given year and make a vaccine against that, he explained.

Because plants do not have immune systems, breeders are constantly trying to stay ahead of disease outbreaks by breeding new varieties — a process that can take years, Shim said. If a new or foreign plant pathogen is introduced to an area, susceptible plants are not able to defend themselves. If farmers knew about the presence of such a disease early enough, the infected portion of the crop could be eradicated to prevent disease from spreading to the remaining fields.

"One thing about plant diseases is that there are so many," Shim explained. "There are bacteria, fungi and viruses that cause plant diseases, and the symptoms are also quite diverse. Even the experts when they see a disease on a plant will scratch their heads about the cause, especially if it is a newly introduced microorganism."

In the 1980s and 90s, plant pathologists relied on visual inspections to determine diseases, he said. More recently, technology emerged to allow labs to detect pathogens at the molecular level with high precision and accuracy. However, this diagnostic process requires a lab equipped with bulky instruments.

With Han's expertise in nanotechnology, the team plans to cram this "lab" into a "box." And that means packing the sophisticated measuring devices, reagents, power supply and other features that now take up lab space into a parcel no bigger or heavier than a briefcase.

The kit, he said, would be "a library to target the plant diseases of national interest."

The first goal is to make a kit to test in the field. Shim expects that to be accomplished within the first two years of the three-year project. He and plant pathology colleague Dr. Dennis Gross will then do field testing for accuracy.

Next, a team of Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents will test the user-friendliness of the kit around the state from the rice fields in the southeast to the ornamental crops in the northeast and the field crops in the west.

Shim acknowledges that the project is high risk. The team promises USDA a prototype in three years. But he said the proposal made for the grant was already so detailed in its design that the two are confident enough to speak of PADLOC as if it is already a product.

"It's a new tool from existing technology," Shim said. "But we hope that it can make recommendations in real-time for farmers so that we would be able to stop a local problem from becoming a regional or national one."


Gardening tips

"I have been growing my own tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants this year and was looking for a way to water without wetting the foliage," writes Jennifer Michulka. "I used a dish detergent bottle with a squirt top and it works very well. Diluted liquid fertilizer can be added when required."

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 copy of Texas Gardener's 2009 Planning Guide & Calendar. Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.


Did You Know...

Not all nematodes are bad boys. In fact, beneficial nematodes are an important part of the soil ecology that helps convert organic matter into nutrients like nitrogen that plants need to survive. You may not be able to see these microscopic worm-like animals like you can earthworms but they are just as important to soil health.


Upcoming garden events

Tomball: "Home Vegetable Gardening," led by Jeremy Kollaus, will be held at Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, Tuesday, March 3, 10 a.m. Jeremy’s low key approach to gardening appeals to the laid-back gardener in each of us. Not only an experienced vegetable gardener, Jeremy is also a great cook, so expect some culinary tips! This class is free. For additional information, call (281) 351-8851.

Brownwood: The newly organized Brown County Master Gardeners Association will hold it first planning meeting Thursday, March 5, 6:30 p.m., at the Brown County AgriLife Extension Office, 605 Fisk Ave., Brownwood. For more information call Mary Engle (325) 784-8453, or Freda Day (325) 643-1077.

Houston: The River Oaks Garden Club's 74th annual Azalea Trail will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 6, 7 and 8, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day, and will feature four beautiful private homes and gardens. Tickets for admissions are $15 before March 6 and $20 during the trail or $5 per location. For additional information contact the River Oaks Garden Club at (713) 523-2483 or visit www.riveroaksgardenclub.org.

Mineola: Master Gardeners of Wood County will host a Spring Conference, “Landscaping from the Ground Up,” Saturday, March 7 at the Convention Center in Mineola. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Speakers include well-known author Dr. William C. Welsh, Texas A&M University Professor and columnist for Southern Living, and Kenny Rollins, County Extension Agent of Titus County. There will also be exhibits featuring garden art, birdhouses, spring and fall flowering bulbs of East Texas and many other landscaping related items. The conference is open to the general public. There is a registration fee of $5.00. Following the conference, tours are available at the Governor Hogg Park and Botanical Gardens and Arboretum in Quitman and the Mineola Nature Preserve. For additional information, contact Pat Wilson at pmarts42@yahoo.com.

Glen Rose: The Somervell County Master Gardeners Association Community Horticulture Education Series host "Rainwater Harvesting," a presentation by Greg Marsh, at 6:30 p.m., March 9, at the Somervell County Citizens Center, 209 SW Barnard, Glen Rose. For additional information, visit www.somervellmastergardeners.org.

Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardeners will present "Weed Control," Noon-1 p.m., March 9, at the Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria. Paul and Mary Meredith will speak. Free to public. Bring sack lunch. For additional information, contact Victoria County Extension Office, (361) 575-4581.

Huntsville: Walker County Master Gardeners will present a free seminar "Creating a Backyard Habitat" on Tuesday, March 10 at 6 p.m. at the County AgriLife Extension Office at 102 TAM Road (located on the corner of Hwy. 75 North and TAM Road approx. 2 miles north of the Pilot Truck Stop). The seminar will provide information on how to create a habitat for butterflies, bees and birds in your own yard using Texas native and perennial plantings, some of which are deer-resistant, too. Plants used by pollinators for larval food and nectar will be identified and earth-friendly methods for creating a habitat will be discussed. If you have questions, please call (936) 435-2426.

Pearland: The Harris County Master Gardener Association presents Dr. Carol Brouwer, County Extension Agent for Horticulture, and Karen Breneman, Harris County Master Gardener, who will provide expert insight into "Great Plants for the Houston Area," Tuesday, March 10, 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m., at Bass Pro Shops, Highway 288 at the Sam Houston Tollway, Pearland. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Tomball: "Native Plants for the Gulf Coast," led by Jason McKenzie. Pineywoods Nursery, will be held at Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, Tuesday, March 10, 10 a.m. Jason shares his extensive knowledge of native plants. His enthusiasm for this wonderful group of plants is infectious and he will have you incorporating natives in every corner of your garden. This class is free. For additional information, call (281) 351-8851.

Georgetown: The Native Plant Society of Texas, Williamson County Chapter meets from 7 to 9 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Georgetown Library, 402 W 8th St., Georgetown. On Thursday, March 12, Jason Radcliff, landscape architect with TBG Partners, designed the landscape at the Wolfe Ranch Town Center. He will talk about plants, design and a bit about maintenance.

Huntsville: Walker County Master Gardeners will present a free seminar "Herbs and Heirlooms" on Thursday, March 12 at 6 p.m. at the County AgriLife Extension Office at 102 TAM Road (located on the corner of Hwy. 75 North and TAM Road approx. 2 miles north of the Pilot Truck Stop). The seminar will provide information on the wonderful world of herbs — culinary and medicinal. Topics also include discussion of heirloom vegetables, especially tomatoes. Come away with a list of herbs and vegetables for your own kitchen garden and recipes for your kitchen table. If you have questions, please call (936) 435-2426.

Huntsville: It's a Spring Thing! Walker County Master Gardener's will hold their Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, March 14 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Master Gardeners Greenhouse located north of Huntsville on the corner of Highway 75 N. and TAM Road (102 TAM Rd.) approximately 2 miles north of the Pilot Truck Stop. Bring your wagon, your gardening and landscaping ideas and load up with a wide assortment of vegetables (including heirloom tomatoes and peppers), herbs, Texas natives and perennials, hard-to-find pass-along plants, citrus, persimmon, blackberries, blueberries and much more. Many of these selections won't be found at the "big box" stores. Gardeners willing and weather permitting, we may have fresh, seasonal produce. Come early and shop the Country Store for gardening shoes/boots, gloves, hats, books and tools. Refreshments will be available. Proceeds will be used to benefit Master Gardener community activities and educational projects. For more information, please call (936) 435-2426 or visit www.walkercountymastergardener.org/.

Tomball: "Herbs Unplugged Two" will be held at Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, Saturday, March 14, at 10 a.m. Ann Wheeler, Log House Herbs, and Chef Chris Crowder will discuss Simple Herbal Recipes along with easy growing tips. Gunters Heirloom Vegetables will also be on hand. This class is free. For additional information, call (281) 351-8851.

Houston: Tour the working and demonstration gardens maintained by the Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2, Monday, March 16, 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff, Houston. The garden includes an extensive vegetable garden, fruit orchard, perennials, roses, herb and cactus gardens and 2 working greenhouses. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions during this free event. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Austin: Growing a Spring Vegetable Garden, presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners Association, a volunteer arm of the Texas A&M and Travis County AgriLife Extension Service, will be held March 18, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin. Enjoy juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and delectable green beans straight from your garden. Baskets of okra and armloads of squash can be grown in your garden! Learn how to plant and maintain a spring vegetable garden from Master Gardener Patty Leander, a frequent contributor to Texas Gardener, who will share her expertise on vegetable varieties that perform well in Central Texas, recommended planting times, and composting. This seminar is loaded with basic facts and helpful ideas, useful to both new and experienced vegetable gardeners. This seminar is free, open to the public and does not require reservations. Please arrive early as this is one of our most popular seminars. For more details, visit http://www.tcmastergardeners.org or call The Travis County Master Gardeners help desk at (512) 854-9600.

Seabrook: The Harris County Master Gardeners lecture "Color Your Garden — Master Gardener Favorites" will be presented by Ginia Keen-Matern, who is both a Harris County and Chambers County Master Gardener, March 18, 10 a.m., at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the lakeside), 5001 NASA Road 1, Seabrook. Keen-Mater is an accredited landscape design consultant for National Gardening Clubs of America. She has taken pictures of master gardener gardens and will explain how the use of sound design principles create beautiful gardens. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Conroe: Montgomery County Master Gardeners Spring Plant Sale will be held Saturday, March 21, 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.. Program by Montgomery County Horticulturist Tom LeRoy begins at 8 a.m. Limited seating. Texas AgriLife Extension Office, 9020 FM 1484, Conroe. For additional information, call (936) 539-7824.

Houston: The Harris County Master Gardener Propagation Workshop, "Growing Plants from Seeds and Cuttings," will be offered Saturday, March 21, 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., at Environmental Institute of Houston, University of Houston Clear Lake, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., MC540, North Annex Office, Houston. Propagation is a great way to save money. In this hands-on workshop, learn about and practice a variety of methods to propagate popular plants. All participants will take home the plants they propagate. Early registration fee $15 before March 14. Registration at the door $20. Attendance is limited. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Nacogdoches: Nacogdoches Azalea Trail Symposium: Azaleas and More—Companion Planting will be held Saturday, March 21, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at the Stephen F. Austin State University Agriculture Building on Wilson Drive, Nacogdoches. Symposium presenters focus on colorful companions for azalea gardens: “Japanese Maples in the Landscape” by Elizabeth Mundy, owner of Acer Acres, Inc. in Beaverdam, Virginia, and “Perennials for Shade” by Dawn Stover, Ornamental Plant Evaluations Research Associate at the Mast Arboretum. Includes Japanese maple grafting workshop, grafting knife, and tree to take home. Lunch is provided, followed by tips on propagating azaleas and a guided tour of the SFA Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden by Barbara Stump. Co-sponsored by SFA Mast Arboretum and the Texas Chapter of the Azalea Society of America. Fee $40 to SFA Gardens members; $50 to non-members. Call (936) 564-7351 or sfagardens@sfasu.edu to register or for more information.

Tomball: "Southern Treasures," featuring Dr. Bill Welch and Chris Wiesinger sharing their passion for southern garden gems, will be held at Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, Saturday, March 21, 10 a.m. This class is free. For additional information, call (281) 351-8851.

Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardeners will present "Budding and Grafting Ornamentals," Noon-1 p.m., March 23, at the Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria. James Rother will speak. Free to public. Bring sack lunch. For additional information, contact Victoria County Extension Office, (361) 575-4581.

Tomball: "A Simple Approach to Life and Gardening" presented by Malcolm Beck, is a timely and special visit by the father of organic gardening practices in Texas, held at Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, Tuesday, March 24, 10 a.m. This class is free. For additional information, call (281) 351-8851.

Cleburne: The Johnson County Master Gardener Plant Sale will take place Saturday, March 28, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., at Hulen Park, Cleburne. Natives, herbs, butterfly plants, tomatoes, peppers and much more will be available. Demos and lectures will be presented by the Master Gardeners throughout the day and there will be activities for the kids in the Jr. Master Gardener booth. For more information, contact Pat Kriener at (817) 793-4625.

Bonham: The Fannin County Master Gardeners will host the 5th Annual Fannin County Garden, Lawn & Home Expo from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., March 28, at the Multi-Purpose Complex in Bonham. There will be five guest speakers, a variety of vendors, and lunch may be purchased from the Fannin County 4-H Club. For additional information, call (903) 583-7453.

Burnet: The Eleventh Annual Hill Country Lawn and Garden Show sponsored by the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners Assn. in conjunction with the Burnet Co. AgriLife Extension Service will be held on Saturday, March 28, from 9 a. m. to 3 p. m. at the Burnet Community Center located at 401 E. Jackson St. in Burnet. Vendors feature only lawn and garden products, such as herbs, native plants, vegetable plants, bedding plants as well as the latest in equipment and garden decorations. There will be informative speakers and demonstrations as well as children's activities. No charge for admission. For additional information, contact Sammye Childers, Publicity Chair, at sammyenmike@yahoo.com or (830) 693-5061.

Granbury: The Lake Granbury Master Gardener Association Plant Sale will be held April 4, 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., at the Hewlett Park Pavilion across from the Hilton Hotel. Texas natives, perennials, annuals, vines, vegetables, shrubs and trees will be available along with a limited amount of beautiful, handmade garden art. Master Gardeners will present hourly mini-seminars beginning at 9 a.m. For more information, contact Kristi Brooks at remuda1@aol.com.

Stephenville: The annual Native & Heirloom Plant Fair will be held April 4, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Stephenville Museum, 525 E Washington St., Stephenville. Vendors will be offering native Texas plants, adapted plants, herbs and vegetables, arts & crafts, gardening supplies, nature and garden related gifts, concessions, and much more. Speakers will be delivering informative presentations and/or workshops. A self-guided nature trail along the Bosque River is on site. Vendor space is FREE; interested vendors should contact Russell Pfau at pfau@tarleton.edu.

Georgetown: The Native Plant Society of Texas, Williamson County Chapter meets from 7 to 9 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Georgetown Library, 402 W 8th St., Georgetown. On Thursday, April 9, Kerry Blackmon, District Landscape Architect with the TxDOT Austin district, will discuss survey factors that have to be considered when designing roadside landscapes and native plant use. There will also be a question and answer session.

Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardeners will present "Color Your Landscape With Annuals and Perennials," Noon-1 p.m., April 13, at the Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria. Nancy Kramer will speak. Free to public. Bring sack lunch. For additional information, contact Victoria County Extension Office, (361) 575-4581.

League City: The Kemah-Bay Area Garden Club will again award a $500 scholarship to a graduating senior in the Dickinson or Clear Creek School Districts. Students planning to study Horticulture, Floral Design, Agriculture, Aquaculture, Landscaping, Forestry, Environmental and related subjects may apply. Last year's recipients may reapply. The deadline to submit applications is April 15. For applications and more information, please contact Eileen Gilley at (281) 535-1978.

Nocogdoches: The SFA Mast Arboretum will host its annual Garden Gala Day on April 18 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the SFA Intramural Fields on Wilson Drive, Nocogdoches. This event features the annual spring plant sale fundraiser benefiting the SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, and their educational programs. All of the plants are produced at SFA by the staff, students and volunteers. 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."

Rosenberg: The Texas Rose Rustlers and the Fort Bend Master Gardeners will present "Fling With Felder," 10 a.m., April 18, at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds, Building C, Rosenberg. Felder Rushing has authored 15 gardening books, writes numerous newspaper columns, and hosts a radio garden talk program. He uses an off beat, “down home" approach with humorous anecdotes and irreverent garden metaphors to help gardeners get past the “stinkin’ rules” of horticulture. Admission is free. For additional information, contact Becky Smith at bas@wcec-wb.net.

San Antonio: Spring is budding April 18-19 at the San Antonio Botanical Garden! Walk Across Texas, an official Fiesta event at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston at North New Braunfels Avenue, San Antonio, will be held 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 18. Just in time for spring planting, gardeners will want to get there early for the Spring Plant Sale on the same weekend. All varieties of San Antonio-friendly plants will be on sale Saturday-Sunday, April 18-19, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. The annual Walk Across Texas event literally gives visitors a "walk across Texas" right in the heart of San Antonio. The loop trail system of the Texas Native Trail winds through an 11-acre native area of the Botanical Garden allowing guests to experience the diverse ecosystems of the Hill Country, East Texas Piney Woods and South Texas Plains. And don't forget the Spring Plant Sale held in the Garden's Greenhouse area. Hundreds of spring plants expertly cultivated by the San Antonio Botanical Society Plant Team of Volunteers and several plant societies will be on sale Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Botanical Society members may get a sneak peek of the Plant Sale a day early — Friday, April 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m. as well as 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. For more information, call (210) 829-5100 or visit www.sabot.org.

Woodway: A Gardener's Gathering will be held at the Carleen Bright Arboretum, Woodway, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., April 26. The free event, sponsored by Woodway Beautiful, will include an opportunity to gather growing tips and advice, purchase plants, and enjoy an afternoon of music and events for the entire family. For additional information, contract (254) 399-9204.

Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardeners will present "Insect Control," Noon-1 p.m., April 27, at the Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria. Helen Boatman will speak. Free to public. Bring sack lunch. For additional information, contact Victoria County Extension Office, (361) 575-4581.

Tyler: 2009 Home Garden Tour, sponsored by the Smith County Master Gardeners, will be held May 2, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Five delightful homes, ranging from a large formal traditional garden in an historic neighborhood to a modest home in a country setting, spotlight a variety of landscaping styles and methods. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the day of the tour. To order tickets: make checks payable to SCMG and mail to 14608 Foxwood Circle, Tyler TX 75703.

Georgetown: The Native Plant Society of Texas, Williamson County Chapter meets from 7 to 9 pm on the second Thursday of each month at the Georgetown Library, 402 W 8th St., Georgetown. On Thursday, May 14, Kelly Conrad Bender of Texas Parks and Wildlife, and author with Noreen Damude of Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife, will speak on creating wildscapes and how you can get the latest information, since the book is now out of print.

Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardeners will present "Rainwater Harvesting," Noon-1 p.m., May 11, Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria. Glen and Kathy Chilek will speak. Free to public. Bring sack lunch. For additional information, contact Victoria County Extension Office, (361) 575-4581.

Fort Worth: The Greater Fort Worth Herb Society's Annual Herb Festival will be held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., May 16, at the Fort Worth Botanic Center, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth. For additional information, call (817) 874-6405, e-mail festival@gfwhs.org, or visit www.gfwhs.org.

Greenville: The Hunt County Master Gardeners Town and Country Tour will be held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. May 30 at Heritage Garden, 2217 Washington St., Greenville. In the event of rain, the event will be held June 6. For additional information, visit www.huntcountymastergardeners.com or call (903) 455-9885.

Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardeners will present "Essentials for Building a Trellis, Arbor and Raised Beds," Noon-1 p.m., June 8, at the Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria. Ed Gregurek will speak. Free to public. Bring sack lunch. For additional information, contact Victoria County Extension Office, (361) 575-4581.

Quitman: The Friends of the Arboretum is hosting a photography contest to promote and document the natural resources, history and beauty of Wood County. Both amateur and professional photographers are encouraged to participate in this contest. Photographers are to submit electronic images of flowers, native plants, landmarks, architectural elements, and landscapes that depict one of the four seasons in Wood County. Images must have been taken within Wood County, and within the last two years. These photographs will be used by the Friends of the Arboretum various print and electronic media to be distributed at various venues and displayed on the Friends' website. First prize winners in each class will receive a professionally printed 11 X 14 canvas of their original work, which will be donated by jeb Originals in Winnsboro. Second and third place winners will each receive a ribbon. And, all prize winners will receive recognition from the display of their work in various venues and forums. Classes are: Adult Amateur, Adult Professional, Student Senior Division (Ages 17 to 14), and Student Jr. Division (age 13 and younger). There is no entry fee, but all entries must be accompanied by the completed official entry form, which can be downloaded at http://woodcountyarboretum.com. Entries must be received prior to midnight on July 1. Contestants may enter as many times as they wish, but a separate official entry form must be included for each entry. The Gov. Hogg Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, located in Quitman, is a 23-acre site dedicated to gardens, walking trails and the preservation of historic buildings. The development of the site is ongoing with volunteer help from Wood County Master Gardens, local garden clubs, various civic organizations and the generosity of the area businesses. The Friends of the Arboretum is a non-profit group dedicated to raising funds and volunteering time in support of the development of the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. For additional information, contact Pam Riley at (903) 967-2820 or email friendsarboretum@yahoo.com.

Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardeners will present "Water Gardening," Noon- 1p.m., July 13, at the Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria. Pat Plowman will speak. Free to public. Bring sack lunch. For additional information, contact Victoria County Extension Office, (361) 575-4581.

Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardeners will present "Mulching, Composting and Water Conservation," Noon-1 p.m., August 10, at the Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria. Monica Pilat will speak. Free to public. Bring sack lunch. For additional information, contact Victoria County Extension Office, (361) 575-4581.

MONTHLY MEETINGS

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners meets at 9 a.m. the first Tuesday of each month at the AgriLife Extension Office - Aransas County, 611 E. Mimosa, Rockport. For additional information, e-mail aransas-tx@tamu.edu or call (361) 790-0103.

Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 10 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at Wildwood Eco-Farm in Kilgore. For more information, call Carole Ramke at (903) 986-9475.

Allen: The Allen Garden Club meets at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month, February through December, at the Allen Heritage Center, 100 E. Main St., 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.

Houston: The Clear Lake City Garden Club meets the second Tuesday of each month September through May at 9:30 a.m. in the Board Room of the Clear Lake Recreation Center, 16511 Diana Lane, Houston. This small garden club is open to all residents of the Bay Area interested in horticulture and making new friends. Visitors are welcome meetings. For further information, please e-mail Sue at flosflores@comcast.net.

Schertz: The Guadalupe County (Schertz/Seguin) Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Guadalupe County Annex, 1101 Elbel Road, Shertz. A plant exchange and meet-and-greet begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by a program at 7. For additional information or an application to join NPSOT, contact guadalupecounty@npsot.org.

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.

College Station: The A&M Garden Club meets on the second Friday of each month during the school year at 9:30 a.m. at the Exit Center, 1600 Rock Prairie Road, College Station. Expert speakers, plant sharing, and federated club projects help members learn about gardening in the Brazos Valley, floral design, conservation topics, and more. For more information, visit www.sallysfamilyplace.com/Clubs/GardenClub.htm.

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.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners host Brown Bag events the third Tuesday of each month, from noon until 1 p.m. at Aransas County Library, 701 E. Mimosa, Rockport. For a complete listing of all events or additional information, e-mail aransas-tx@tamu.edu or call (361) 790-0103.

Sugar Land: The Sugar Land Garden Club meets on the third Tuesday of each month, September through November and January through April at 10 a.m. at the Sugar Land Community Center, 226 Matlage Way, Sugar Land. The club hosts a different speaker each month. For more information, visit www.sugarlandgardenclub.org.

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.

Granbury: The Lake Granbury Master Gardeners meet at 1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at the Hood County Annex 1, 1410 West Pearl Street, Granbury. The public is invited to attend. There is an educational program each month preceding the business meeting. For information on topics call (817) 579-3280 or visit http://www.hoodcountymastergardeners.org/.

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.

Rosenberg: The Fort Bend Master Gardeners meet at 7:15 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month except December at the Bud O’Shieles Community Center located at 1330 Band Road, Rosenberg. For more information, call (281) 341-7068 or visit www.fbmg.com.

Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners meets the third Thursday of each month at the Texas AgriLife 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.

Edna: The Jackson County Master Gardeners present their "Come Grown With Us" seminars on the fourth Tuesday of each month, January through October, beginning at 7 p.m. at 411 N. Wells, Edna. The seminars are free, open to the public and offer 2 CEU hours to Master Gardeners or others requiring them. For additional information, contact the Jackson County Extension Office at (361) 782-3312.

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.

Seabrook: The Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold an educational program at 10 a.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at The Meeting Room (on the Lakeside) at Clear Lake Park, 5001 NASA Road 1, Seabrook. The programs are free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

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. To ensure inclusion in this column, please provide complete details at least three weeks prior to the event.


The Southern Kitchen Garden

By William D. Adams and Thomas R. Leroy

A kitchen garden, or potager, is a celebration of the seasons: brimming with vegetables, herbs, flowers, and even fruit trees, it’s our link with nature and a source for fresh produce. The kitchen garden has always been an important part of life in the rural South, at times meaning the difference between being well-fed or going to bed hungry. In recent times, the kitchen garden has become more fashionable and now more and more homeowners are reaping the delicious rewards of growing their own food.

A kitchen garden needs little more than a small raised bed, so an aspiring gardener with only a modest backyard will have plenty of room to get started. If you have more space on your hands, then you can include some produce requiring a little more space like fruit trees, corn or pumpkins.

In the book, the authors with take you through the process of starting your very own kitchen garden from location to soil preparation to planting and then to harvest. It is also loaded with useful information on propagation, pest control and is laced with mouth-watering recipes and beautiful color photographs.

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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.

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Texas Gardener’s Seeds
is published weekly. © Suntex Communications, Inc. 2009. 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 ● www.TexasGardener.com