April 22, 2009

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Cold-hardy tropicals add flair to ordinary gardens

Tropical plants are popping up in botanical gardens with increasing frequency, as garden designers use unusual plants to add dashes of color and flair to otherwise ordinary gardens.

That's fine for the lucky folks in the Rio Grande Valley, where nighttime temperatures rarely get close to freezing. But what about the rest of us Texans who deal with frigid winters? Tropical plants are, well, tropical. They do not like cold weather. If left in the ground to overwinter, the typical tropical plant will die a quick and permanent death. And who has time to dig up delicate tropical plants each fall and baby them all winter long so they can be replanted next spring?

That's where cold-hardy tropical plants can come to the rescue.

It may sound like an oxymoron, but cold-hardy tropicals really do exist. According to Byron Martin, co-owner of Logee's Tropical Plants (www.logees.com), there are several varieties of plants that are thought of as "tropical" that can easily survive USDA Zone 5 and 6 winters.

"Tropical plants can give a garden a unique look and feel," said Martin. "Cold-hardy tropical plants offer visual interest and variety with the added benefit of being tolerant of most winter climates. There is nothing quite as wonderful as introducing the large leaves, vibrant flowers and delicious fruits of tropical plants into a North American garden."

Martin's list of must-have cold-hardy tropical plants for American gardens includes the seven plants described below. "Don't be afraid to plant something new," encourages Martin. "It's time to go beyond petunias and mums."

Passiflora incarnata 'Maypop'

Passion Flowers are delightfully exotic, with showy flowers that nearly shout out their tropical heritage. But 'Maypop' passion flower is actually native to North America, and it can handle a tough Zone 5 winter and come back strong the next spring. Like all Passion Flowers, 'Maypop' is easy-to-grow, and its vining habit can be trained to cover a trellis or climb up a fence or pole. Delightfully fragrant, three-inch wide flowers with creamy pinkish lavender petals in a fully banded corolla appear throughout the summer. The flowers develop into succulent fruit. This is the hardiest of the Passion Flowers, growing successfully as far north as New England.

Musa basjoo (Hardy Banana)

With this Hardy Banana you'll get a defining tropical look. And, yes with proper mulching, this tough plant can withstand temperatures below zero. This extremely vigorous banana grows several feet tall in a single season and in time forms large clumps that can reach up to 13 feet in height. Also known as the Japanese Fiber Banana, Musa basjoo makes a fine container specimen. If grown inside, it is easy to grow and will tolerate varying conditions of temperature and light with ease. Although it does produce bananas, they are not edible. Simple to grow, give it plenty of water, fertilizer and sunlight.

Gardenia jasminoides 'Frostproof'

A cold-hardy gardenia that is also deer-proof sounds like a gardener's dream come true. 'Frostproof' is a prolific bloomer of fragrant, pinwheel-shaped 3-inch flowers. Easy-to-grow and bloom, this new cultivar has a distinctive cup in the middle of the blossom, and the blooming season lasts from spring to fall. The plant has a nice symmetrical upright form with very attractive narrow green foliage that is about half the size of standard gardenia leaves. 'Frostproof' can be maintained at a compact 12-14 inches tall in a pot, but grows to about 3 feet tall outdoors. It requires moist, somewhat acidic, soil and full to partial sun. As the name implies, it is more tolerant of early frosts. Hardy to zone 6.

Clerodendrum bungeii (Rose Glory Bower)

This hardy Clerodendrum bungei with its flamboyant large umbels of rose-pink flowers can be grown inside as a potted showpiece or outside in your summer garden. The fragrant flowers appear spring through fall. Vigorous and easy-to-grow, the semi-herbaceous shrub has large, deep-green leaves and intricate pink globe-like flowers. The plant often dies back to the ground in winter, but comes back strongly in spring. In fact, the underground root system is invasive so the plant will spread unless kept in check. Prune when it gets too large and it will come back to fullness. Mulch in winter for Zone 6 hardiness.

Jasminum officinale (Hardy Jasmine)

This reliable and hardy species adds a sweet and enchanting fragrance to any outdoor garden. For a stellar performance, this vigorous climber needs a cold period to initiate bloom. Hardy to Zone 6 in a sheltered spot, the cold of winter brings this deciduous vine into a constant flow of sweet fragrant flowers right through the growing season. This is not a plant for a warm sunny window or a warm greenhouse, as it needs cold night temperatures down to freezing and below to realize its full potential. Hardy jasmine is a perfect plant to grow near a home's entryway, so you can breathe in the heavenly scent of jasmine from late spring to fall.

Ficus carica 'Chicago Hardy'

This edible fig can take sub-freezing temperatures die back in the fall and re-sprout in the spring. The medium-sized fruit ripens to a delicious sweetened in late summer and early fall. Also known as 'Bensonhurst Purple,' this tough, easy-to-grow plant traces its origins back to Sicily. It is officially cold hardy to Zone 6, although some Zone 5 gardeners have successfully grown it, too. For north Texas and Panhandle gardeners, mulch this plant heavily with hay or leaves when dormant. Ficus carica is also an excellent container plant.

Passiflora caerula 'Clear Sky'

Passion flowers are so delightfully distinctive and make such a major "tropical" statement that Martin simply had to include two passion flowers on his list of cold-hardy favorite plants. Passiflora caerula is a famous passion flower species, but 'Clear Sky' is an improvement upon the original. This variety shows greater vigor than the standard caerulea and the flowers are an inch larger and much heavier in appearance. Each of the beautiful flowers carries a pristine clear light-blue color around the corolla. And, of course, it has the delightful fragrance of Passion Flowers, and the same vining habit. 'Clear Sky' is a tetraploid hybrid created by Roland Fischer of Hemer, Germany. It is not as cold hardy as Passiflora incarnata 'Maypop,' but it can easily survive a Zone 7 winter (and probably colder in a protected spot).

Texas Forest Expo offers overview of seminar helping reconnect families with nature

Texas Forest Service

Every week, Tracy Adams and her two young boys spend about an hour at the playground just a few blocks from their College Station home.

Sometimes, they work together in the small garden planted in their backyard.

And even while just driving around, Adams and her children try to take the time to notice and enjoy the sound of the birds and the color of the leaves.

But that wasn't always the case. The change came after attending a Nature Realized seminar. Created by Texas Forest Service, the course helps families get back outside and reconnect with nature.

"I showed up to the first day with my kids in tow — both had Happy Meal boxes and Game Boys in their hands," Adams said, laughing. "We were the poster children. It was kind of embarrassing."

An overview of the Nature Realized: Connecting Your Children to the Land seminar series will be offered 11 to 11:45 a.m. Sunday, April 26, as part of Texas Forest Expo 2009. The three-day event is being held at the Lone Star Conference Center in Conroe.

The annual Texas Forest Expo is designed for all landowners — whether they have just one tree in their backyard or thousands. It offers free classes in wildfire prevention, land management and lawn and garden maintenance, as well live demonstrations, more than 60 information booths and an indoor forest maze for the kids.

The Nature Realized program was created by Angie Soldinger, conservation education coordinator for Texas Forest Service, as a way to get parents and children talking about the importance of nature — and back outside together. Soldinger has presented the six-part series more than a half-dozen times to church congregations, school organizations and community groups.

"We're just seeing more and more children staying indoors and not reaping the benefits of nature," Soldinger said. "From an agency perspective, the less children are getting outdoors and getting that connection to nature, the less likely they'll be concerned about the environment as adults.

"We're looking at creating a generation of environmental stewards in the future."

For more information about Texas Forest Expo, visit http://texasforestexpo.tamu.edu. There you can find detailed information about the expo, as well as a class schedule and directions to the event. Also available: an eight-page informational magazine and pre-recorded public service announcements in English and Spanish.

Gardening tips

"To keep your chives from spreading too far, plant them in your raised garden in a cinder block," writes Gillien Oliver. "The block has two perfectly sized holes for a smaller garden and can be easily moved later if not sunken into the garden itself. The blocks also work for other herbs as well as strawberries and other vegetables."

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...

Early settlers to our country nicknamed daisy fleabane or costmary Chrysanthermum balsamita the "Bible plant" because its balsam-scented leaves were used as Bible markers by the Puritans. Costmary has been used since medieval times to protect books from insects.

  Upcoming garden events

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patrico Master Gardeners will host Kids Garden Fest from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., Saturday, April 25, for children ages 4-12. A sack lunch will be provided. Parental supervisor required. Kids Garden Fest will be held at Green Acres, Children's Discovery Garden, 6111 Mimosa, Rockport. In the event of rain, the event will move to the Arasas County Library, 701 Mimosa, Rockport. For additional information, e-mail ararsas-tx@tamu.edu or call (361) 790-0103.

Wichita Falls: The Benson Iris Society will hold their spring iris show on Saturday, April 25. “When Iris Eyes Are Shining” is the theme. The show will be at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, 4605 Cypress Avenue, Wichita Falls. Iris growers are invited to enter up to 15 specimens in the competition Saturday morning from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. The varieties must be named varieties. Vases will be provided for the exhibitions. The entry categories include Tall Bearded Iris, Medians, Arils and Arilbreds, Historical Irises (those introduced 30 or more years ago), Space Age (horned, spooned or with flounces) and Beardless Irises. Collections and English Boxes may also be entered. Members of the Benson Iris Society may also enter Artistic Design arrangements. Judging begins at 11 a.m. The show will be open to the public from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. and is free. For additional information, call Deborah Rutledge, Benson Iris Society President, (940) 569-0922 or Annetta Reusch, Benson Iris Society Vice-President, (940) 592-9001.

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.

Fredericksburg: The Texas AgriLife Extension Service will present a "Vine Nutrition and Canopy Management" advanced wine-grape grower workshop from 1-5 p.m. April 27. The workshop will be held at the Pierce’s Disease Research Center vineyard. The center is located at 191 Business Court Drive, Fredericksburg. Topics related to producing quality fruit for quality wine will be presented by Penny Adams, AgriLife Extension’s Hill County viticulture advisor, and Fritz Westover, the agency’s Texas Gulf Coast viticulture advisor. Adams will present information on grapevine nutrition, petiole sampling and fertilization techniques. Westover will demonstrate grapevine canopy management techniques. Experienced grape growers are the target audience for the advanced workshops, but that new commercial wine-grape growers can also benefit from attending. The Vine Nutrition and Canopy Management workshop fee is $20, and attendees must register for the event. Registration can only be made through AgriLife Conference Services at their Web site, http://agrilifevents.tamu.edu, or by calling (979) 845-2604.

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.

Fredericksburg: A Texas AgriLife Extension Service-sponsored “Prospective Wine-Grape Growers Workshop” for Central Texas is scheduled for 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on April 28. The workshop will be presented at the AgriLife Extension office, Gillespie County Agriculture Building, 95 Frederick Road, in Fredricksburg. Workshop topics include: necessary viticulture expertise, vineyard site selection, risk factors, vineyard labor requirements and vineyard economics. Penny Adams, Texas AgriLife Extension's Hill County viticulture advisor, and Fritz Westover, AgriLife Extension’s Texas Gulf Coast viticulture advisor, will provide the program instruction. The prospective growers workshop is a prerequisite for registration and acceptance into the Texas Tech Viticulture Certificate Program. Cost for the workshop is $125 per person or $200 per couple, and includes educational materials and lunch. Registration can only be made through AgriLife Conference Services at their Web site, http://agrilifevents.tamu.edu, or by calling (979) 845-2604.

Austin: Travis County Master Gardeners Association will present "Creating a Wildlife Garden," May 2, from 10 a.m. until noon, at Hampton Branch, Austin Public Library, 5125 Convict Hill Rd., Austin. This seminar will teach you how to build a habitat that is more attractive to beautiful songbirds, butterflies, frogs, and other beneficial wildlife. Using native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees will increase the beauty of your property, protect the environment, and provide a nurturing refuge for all types of animals. Requirements for building a certified wildlife habitat will also be covered. For more details, see http://www.tcmastergardeners.org or call the Travis County Master Gardener's help desk at (512) 854-9600.

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.

Aransas/San Patrico Counties: The Aransas/San Patrico Master Gardeners will host a Hidden Gardens Tour, Saturday, May 9, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Explore eight beautiful gardens in Aransas and San Patricio Counties. $10 per person. Tickets may be purchased at Green Acres, 611 E. Mimosa, Rockport, and at Greens N Things, 801 Moore Ave., Portland. For additional information, e-mail ararsas-tx@tamu.edu or call (361) 790-0103.

Sugar Land: The Sugar Land Garden Club will host its tenth annual Spring Garden Tour on Saturday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour, which is open to the public, will highlight eight delightful gardens in the Sugar Land area and feature diverse gardening styles. Tickets are $12 to view all eight gardens or $3 for a single garden and are available for purchase at any of the gardens. For a listing of all addresses and a map to the gardens, visit www.sugarlandgardenclub.org or call (281) 491-9609.

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.

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.

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.

Rockwall: The 2009 Tour of Gardens sponsored by the Rockwall County Master Gardener Association will be held May 16 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. This year the tour features four private gardens with a variety of styles, two local business gardens and the ever growing and changing Rockwall County Discovery Garden. Tour addresses and a map will be on the tickets. This is an at-your-leisure tour. Tour the gardens in any order you choose, just be sure to leave enough time to visit all the gardens before they close at 2 p.m.! Tickets are on sale at American National Bank, all Rockwall branches; Calloway's in Mesquite; Covington's in Rowlett; Culver's Restaurant in Rockwall; Homesley's in Forney; Land Art, Landscape Source and North Texas Waterscape, all in Rockwall. Tickets are also available at the County Extension Office, 1350 East Washington Street, Rockwall, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. (closed noon until 1 p.m. for lunch), as well as any Rockwall County Master Gardener. For more information, call (972) 204-7660 or visit http://rockmga.org.

Victoria: The Victoria County Master Gardeners Association will hold its 2009 Annual Garden Tour May 16, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and May 17, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Six beautiful gardens which extend into home living areas will be featured. Tickets are $15 per person and may be ordered by check payable to VCMGA and addressed to Victoria County AgriLife Office, 442 Foster Field Dr., Victoria, TX 77904. For additional information about locations and the May 16 tour plant sale, call the AgriLife Office at (361) 575-4581.

Houston: Tour the working and demonstration gardens maintained by the Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2 on Open Garden Day, Monday, May 18, 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., at Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff, Houston. Visit a wonderful garden that includes an extensive vegetable garden, fruit orchard, perennials, roses, herb and cactus gardens and two working greenhouses. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions during this free event. Children are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Bring 1 gallon or smaller plastic plant pots and trays to re-cycle and the Master Gardeners will put them to good use. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patrico Master Gardeners will host "Composting the Easy Way," presented by Russell Bell, Master Gardener, as one of their Brown Bag events, from noon until 1 p.m., Tuesday, May 19, at the Aransas County Library, 701 Mimosa, Rockport. For additional information, e-mail ararsas-tx@tamu.edu or call (361) 790-0103.

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.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patrico Master Gardeners will host "Rainwater Harvesting," a seminar presented by Karen Ivey, Administrator, San Patricio Municipal Water District, from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 1.m., Saturday, June 6, at the Old Rockport School,, 619 N. Live Oak, Rockport. For additional information, e-mail ararsas-tx@tamu.edu or call (361) 790-0103.

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.

Austin: Travis County Master Gardeners Association will present "Rainwater Harvesting for Your Garden," Saturday, June 13, from 10 a.m. until noon at Riverplace Country Club, 4207 River Place Blvd., Austin. Enjoy a free seminar concentrating on capturing rainwater and lowering water usage in your landscape. This session will teach you all the basics on building a non-potable rainwater harvesting system. In addition, learn about rain gardens which capture valuable rainwater in your landscape. Vendors representing tank and gutter companies will be available to answer specific questions. City of Austin representatives will be available to answer permit and rebate questions. This seminar is free and open to the public and does not require reservations. For more details, visit http://www.tcmastergardeners.org or call the Travis County Master Gardener's help desk at (512) 854-9600.

Austin: The Travis County Master Gardeners Association are hosting "Becoming A Garden Detective: Diagnosing Plant Problems," from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m., June 16, at Steiner Ranch Towne Square Community Center, 12550 Country Trails Lane, Austin. Just when you think you've done everything right by your plants, one of them starts to go downhill. One of the biggest challenges for gardeners is correctly diagnosing plant problems and finding effective, safe solutions. Is your plant dying because of an insect, environmental or disease problem? Learn the causes of plant problems, the process for diagnosing plant problems, and preventive garden management techniques. This class is free and open to the public. A plant clinic will run during the seminar to help you diagnose current problems so please bring samples of problem plants. For more information, visit http://www.tcmastergardeners.org or call the Travis County Master Gardener's help desk at (512) 854-9600.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patrico Master Gardeners will host "Weeds to Watch For," presented by Lonnie Matthew, Master Gardener, as one of their Brown Bag events, from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 16, at the Aransas County Library, 701 Mimosa, Rockport. For additional information, e-mail ararsas-tx@tamu.edu or call (361) 790-0103.

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.

Austin: The Austin Pond Society will host the 2009 Pound Tour July 18 and 19. Approximately 15 ponds will be included in the tour on Saturday and another 15 on Sunday. For additional information, visit www.austinpondsociety.org.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patrico Master Gardeners will host "Xeriscape Gardening with Native Plants," presented by Karen Ivey, Administrator, San Patricio Municipal Water District, as one of their Brown Bag events, from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 21, at the Aransas County Library, 701 Mimosa, Rockport. For additional information, e-mail ararsas-tx@tamu.edu or call (361) 790-0103.

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.

Schertz: The next Guadalupe County Master Gardener training class is for anyone with a love for gardening and a desire to learn more about horticulture. Classes are on Wednesday August 12 to December 9th from 6:15 p.m. until 9:15 p.m. and two Saturdays at the Schertz Civic Center, 1400 Schertz Parkway, Schertz. Instructors include Texas A&M AgriLife Extension specialists, staff and local experts, including Malcolm Beck, Patty Leander and Drs. Larry Stein and Mark Black. Topics include botany and plant growth, entomology, Xeriscaping, propagation, herbs and vegetables, tree care and pruning principles, composting and organic horticulture, water conservation and much more. Registration is $170 with a 10% discount if received by June 10, and $125 for 2nd household member if sharing a handbook. Payment plan also available. For more information, an application and a list of speakers, please email gsammermann@gvec.net or call (830) 372-4690. Applications are also available on our Web site at www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.


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.

Pearland: 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 Bass Pro Shop, Highway 288 at Sam Houston Tollway, Pearland. For more information visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu or call (281) 991-8437.

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. NOTE: The April meeting date and location have changed. The April meeting will be held Tuesday, April 14, at the Antique Rose Emporium, 7561 E. Evans Road, San Antonio. Robbi Will, former commercial plant nursery manager, will present a program on propagating native plants. As usual, the program begins at 7 p.m., followed by a short business meeting.

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.

Brownwood: Brown County Master Gardeners Association meets the second Thursday of each month, from Noon to 1 p.m., at the Brown County AgriLife Extension Office, 605 Fisk, Brownwood. For additional information, call Freda Day (325) 643-1077, or Mary Engle (325) 784-8453.

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 Senior Circle Rooms, College Station Professional Building II, 1651 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.

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.

Glen Rose: The Somervell County Master Gardeners meet at 10 a.m., the third Wednesday of each month at the Somervell County AgriLife Extension office, 1405 Texas Drive, Glen Rose. Visitors are welcome. For more information, call (254) 897-2809 or visit www.somervellmastergardener.org.

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/.

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

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.

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.

$21.30 plus shipping*

Order online with credit card at www.texasgardener.com or call toll-free 1-800-727-9020.

*Or with credit card by phone and receive FREE shipping. That is a $3.50 savings! Visa, MasterCard and Discover accepted.

Wish you’d saved them?

Are you missing an important issue of Texas Gardener? Or, perhaps, just tired of thumbing through stacks of back issues looking for the tips and techniques you need to make your garden grow? These new CDs provide easy access to all six issues of
volume 23 (November/December 2003 through September/October 2004),
volume 24 (November/December 2004 through September/October 2005),
volume 25 (November/December 2005 through September/October 2006),
volume 26 (November/December 2006 through September/October 2007), and
volume 27 (November/December 2007 through September/October 2008)*.

$16.99 per CD includes tax and shipping

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020.

(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)

*Other volumes will be available soon.

Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac

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

$26.63 plus shipping*

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020 or order on-line.

*Mention Texas Gardener’s Seeds when ordering by phone and we’ll waive shipping charges. (Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)

Fiber row cover valuable year-round

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

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

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020 or order on-line.

(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)

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.

Missed an issue? Back issues of Texas Gardener’s Seeds are available at www.texasgardener.com/newsletters.

Publisher: Chris S. Corby Editor: Michael Bracken

Texas Gardener’s Seeds, P.O. Box 9005, Waco, Texas 76714 ● www.TexasGardener.com