December 16, 2009

Welcome to Texas Gardener’s Seeds, the weekly newsletter for Texas gardeners. Please do not reply to this e-mail because the sending address is not monitored. See the bottom of this newsletter for information on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editor.

  Gardeners — start your catalogs

The weather outside is frightful, but the garden catalogs are so delightful.

Inside where it's warm and cozy, the annual garden catalog season is in full bloom. Mailboxes are filling up with colorful garden catalogs, and millions of Americans are relaxing in their most comfortable easy chairs with stacks of colorful garden catalogs. Dreams of colorful spring flowers and a bountiful harvest of fresh vegetables dance in their heads.

It is no accident that January has officially been proclaimed National Mailorder Gardening Month by the Mailorder Gardening Association (, because the first of the year is traditionally when garden catalogs start arriving in mailboxes. Garden catalogs are filled with colorful pictures of new plants and blooming gardens, so they offer a much-needed emotional boost for gardeners who are longing to get their hands into garden soil and raise another crop of gorgeous flowers and delicious vegetables.

"There is no better way to beat the winter doldrums than to flip through a stack of mailorder gardening catalogs or visit online gardening websites," said Howard Kaplan, president of the Mailorder Gardening Association (MGA). "Garden catalogs show you new possibilities for your garden and also serve as time-saving planning tools. Garden catalogs offer the widest possible variety of plants, seeds, bulbs and gardening supplies — including the newest products not yet available in retail stores. Plus, mailorder catalogs and online Web sites offer useful tips and information to help you create a more beautiful garden."

To get the most from gardening catalogs and websites this season, follow this helpful advice:

  • Visit and click on "catalog search" to see a list of garden catalog companies. Then click on the individual names to visit specific Web sites and request garden catalogs.
  • Use garden catalogs as planning tools for your spring garden. Flip through a few catalogs to see what kinds of new plants and products are being offered this year.
  • Mark the plants, seeds, preplanned gardens, tools and garden accessories that you’re interested in with sticky notes.
  • Go back through the catalogs and review everything you've flagged with a sticky note. Make a list of all of the plants and products that you simply must have.
  • Place your orders early. The most popular seeds, plants, and new products often sell out quickly. (Seeds will usually be shipped early in the season to give you the option of starting them indoors. Plants will be shipped when it is safe to plant them outdoors based upon your zip code.)
  • Keep a list of all the orders you've placed so you can track the deliveries as they come in.
  • File the catalogs in a safe place so you can refer to them later, and you can easily contact each catalog company if questions about your purchases arise. Remember, too, that most garden catalogs and Web sites have helpful gardening experts that you can contact to get additional gardening information and advice.

For more information about mailorder gardening — including a glossary of gardening terms, smart shopper tips and information about the winners of the annual MGA Green Thumb Awards for new plants and gardening products — visit

The lighter side of gardening
What the garden gives us: Food, and a cornucopia of useful symbols

By John Hershey
Freelance Writer

Whenever I'm in a group of people talking about Denver Urban Gardens, everyone naturally and subconsciously peppers their speech with garden metaphors. We believe, for example, that instead of trying to start many more gardens quickly in a top-down approach, the DUG network should grow organically, from the grass roots. DUG does not try to transplant the community garden model into neighborhoods from outside. Rather, when the desire to create a garden germinates among committed people in the neighborhood, DUG supports them in nurturing the project. We all want community gardens to be successful and benefit neighborhoods for many years, so DUG's mission is to help when neighbors join together to cultivate new gardens, because experience shows that urban gardens tend to thrive and be, um, perennial when they are deeply rooted in the community.

Wow, that was at least nine garden metaphors (ten if you're willing to count "peppers") in one little paragraph about our organization. I suppose it's natural that horticultural allusions would sprout up (eleven!) in discussions about a gardening network. But that's just the low-hanging fruit! Look around: gardening imagery is constantly invoked to explain and teach lessons about all areas of life. The garden is fertile ground that yields a bounty of metaphors you can organize your whole life around.

Can you dig it?

The abundance of garden images in our language shows that a garden is not just a place to grow food. As a microcosm of the natural world and the cycle of life, the garden produces excellent models of how we and our communities can grow and thrive in ways that are more organic, sustainable, and in harmony with the natural order.

For example, I am a person of very strong values and deeply held convictions. I don't live in accordance with them, but I have them. So I know that all of these principles that lead to success and personal satisfaction — cooperation, discipline, delayed gratification, self-sufficiency, and so on — can be unearthed by working in a garden. A garden is, well, a garden where good values take root and flourish as examples for us in other areas of our lives. And if we wanted to summarize them all, we would pick a garden metaphor: You reap what you sow.

The garden metaphor is adaptable to all fields of human endeavor, including even business and government. The city of Littleton, Colorado, actually adopted the garden as its official symbol of economic development. The garden model was seen as an alternative to the common practice of offering costly tax breaks and other incentives to lure big existing companies from outside, a top-down approach akin to planting GMO corn and drenching it with Roundup to obliterate whatever life remained in the local soil. Under Littleton's garden model, the city saved money by spending a much smaller amount (seed capital?) to create a favorable environment (fertile ground!) for local entrepreneurs to grow businesses in a culture of diversity, innovation, and creativity. I don't know all the details — when it comes to economics, I'm much more comfortable on the metaphorical level. But from what I've read, thousands of successful, homegrown small businesses are flourishing as a result of this garden strategy.

On the national level, the garden is the go-to symbol of hope and renewed economic growth. In recent interviews, both current Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and his predecessor Alan Greenspan claimed to see "green shoots" sprouting in various sectors, reflecting their cyclical view that an economic springtime is coming.

We talk about so many fundamental things in gardening terms because growing food is among the most basic human acts. So thinking like a gardener keeps us grounded when we venture out into the complex modern world. Perhaps in some ways it is good that the economic crisis is undermining what used to be generally accepted ways of living — for example, insisting that our food be cheap, even if that means it's unhealthy and gross, so we can spend our money consuming more important things like plasma TVs. Ideas like that have to be weeded out eventually — they don't give us what we really need. Gardening leads us back to more natural ways of thinking about food, the relative value of time and money, and other very basic things. So it's no surprise that more people are turning to the garden as a model for a life that makes more sense and as a tangible place to start living it. For the community gardening movement, in other words, these are the salad days.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must hurry out to the garden. It's autumn, there's not much left to harvest out there, and I have to go and take a leek.

John Hershey is a dad, gardener, and recovering lawyer. To read more garden-variety humor and commentary, visit John's Web site:


Gardening tips

"I kept my dog's cone-shaped Elizabethan collar from a recent surgery and use it to protect good plants when I spray weeds," writes Vivian Miller. "I use one end of the cone to isolate the offending plants and spray from the other end."

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 2010 Planning Guide & Calendar. Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.

Did You Know...

Texas Persimmon occurs in all parts of Texas except the pineywoods, rolling plains and high plains. It is a small tree barely taller than 10 ft in most cases. The attractive tree has beautiful peeling outer bark and smooth inner bark with shades of gray, white and pink. Some individual Texas persimmon trees even match the beauty of the fabulous madrone. Persimmons make a great addition to a landscape where space is limited and are much easier to propagate than madrones.

Upcoming garden events

Houston: Urban Harvest will host "Food for Thought," a new, thought-provoking series of panel discussions on today's hot topics that support growing and eating locally. The panels will be lead by local and regional experts, are scheduled for the third Wednesday of each month, and began November 18. Each evening will begin at 7 p.m. with a brief period to socialize, then a panel discussion from 7:15 until 8:15 followed by a Q&A session until 8:45. Upcoming dates and topics are: December 16, "Fresh Fruit Year-Round"; January 20, "Living the Locavore Life"; February 17, "Tools of the Trade." The location(s) for the subsequent events will be announced later. For additional information, call (713) 520-7111.

Nacogdoches: The SFA Gardens will host its monthly Les Reeves Garden Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 17, in room 110 of the Agriculture Building on Wilson Drive on the SFA campus. Dr. Dave Creech, director of the SFA Gardens, will present SFA Gardens — Plants and Plans. Dr. David Creech, Regent’s Professor, has been at Stephen F. Austin State University since 1978 and is director of the SFA Mast Arboretum and Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, and co-directs the Pineywoods Native Plant Center with Dr. James Kroll. Dr. Creech received his B.S. and Ph.D. in Horticulture from Texas A&M University and his M.S. from Colorado State. His research effort has focused on blueberry germplasm and production studies, alternative crop/alternative technology, crop nutrition, and evaluation of new plant materials for the South. A free plant raffle will be held following the lecture. There is no charge for the lecture and no reservations are required. The Les Reeves Garden Lecture Series is held the third Thursday of each month at the SFA Mast Arboretum Nacogdoches. For more information, contact Greg Grant at (936) 468-1863 or

Houston: Urban Harvest's annual fruit tree sale will take place from 8 a.m. until noon, January 9, at the Rice University Football Station Concourse, Houston. The 2009 sale featured almost 6,000 trees and berries and the organizers except even more tree for this sale. For additional information, visit

New Braunfels: Comal Master Gardeners are now accepting applications for their Spring 2010 Training Class beginning January 27 and ending May 12. Applications are currently on the Comal Master Gardener Web site at: Applications will be accepted until December 15; however, the class is limited to 30 people and applications are accepted in the order they are received. The class usually fills to capacity, so early registration is important. The class meets each Wednesday afternoon from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. beginning January 27. The cost of the 16-week course is $150 and includes the Master Gardener Handbook published by Texas A&M, propagation supplies, and all other materials. The $150 is payable on the first class day in January. Topics covered in the class include Plant Growth and Development; Compost, Soils, Irrigation, and Fertilizers; Roses; Annuals, Perennials, and Bulbs; Organic Vegetable Gardening; Landscape Trees; Propagation; Fruit and Nut Production; Wildscapes and Native Plants; Pests and Diseases; Xeriscapes; Turf Grass; Home Landscapes and more. Speakers include professors from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M System; Texas State University faculty and retired professors, specialists in the gardening field, and Master Gardener specialists. For additional information, call (830) 620-3440 or email Classes are held at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, 325 Resource Drive, New Braunfels.

Houston: The River Oaks Garden Club will host the 75th Anniversary Azalea Trail. March 5, 6, and 7. Azalea Trail features tours of four private homes and three well-known historic sites: Bayou Bend, Rienzi and River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics Building and Gardens. Tickets for seven admissions: $15 before March 1, $20 during the event, or $5 per location. For additional information, visit or call (713) 523-2483.


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 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

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

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 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 except July and August at the library, 798 Schertz Parkway, Shertz. A plant exchange and meet-and-greet begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by a program at 7 p.m. For additional information or an application to join NPSOT, contact

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

Beaumont: The Jefferson County Master Gardeners meet at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the AgriLife Extension Office, 1225 Pearl Street, Suite 200, Beaumont. For more information, call (409) 835-8461.

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.

Georgetown: The Williamson County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. 8th Street. Georgetown. For additional information, contract Billye Adams at (512) 863-9636 or visit

Orange: The Orange County Master Gardeners meet at the Salvation Army in Orange on the second Thursday of each month. A covered-dish dinner at 6:30 p.m. is followed by a speaker and business meeting at 7 p.m.

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

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

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

Cleburne: The Johnson County Master Gardener Association meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month. The public is invited to attend. There is an educational program each month preceding the business meeting. For information on topics call (817) 556-6370 or visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners meets at 7 p.m. the third Thursday of each month,  except December, at the Texas AgriLife Extension Bldg. at 210 E. Live Oak, Seguin. An educational program preceeds the business meeting. The public is invited to attend. For topic or other information, call (830) 379-1972 or visit

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

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.

Texas Wildscapes:
Gardening for Wildlife

By Kelly Conrad Bender

NEW EDITION of the popular Texas Parks & Wildlife book, now with fully searchable DVD containing all the plant and animal information you need to customize your backyard habitat.

Whether you have an apartment balcony or a multi-acre ranch, the Texas Wildscapes program provides the tools you need to make a home for all the animals that will thrive in the native habitat you create.

In Texas Wildscapes, Kelly Conrad Bender identifies the kinds of animals you can expect when you give them their three basic needs: food, water, and shelter. She then provides guidelines for designing and planting your yard or garden to best provide these requirements for the many birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates the environment will attract.

$31.88 includes tax and shipping

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

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 20 (November/December 2000 through September/October 2001),
volume 21
(November/December 2001 through September/October 2002),
volume 22
(November/December 2002 through September/October 2003),
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),
volume 27 (November/December 2007 through September/October 2008) and
volume 28 (November/December 2008 through September/October 2009)*.

$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

Publisher: Chris S. Corby ● Editor: Michael Bracken

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