March 3, 2010

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Strange beauty of Ballerina rose (1937) petiolated leaf-axil.


Flamboyant ‘Spooky’ dianthus. (Photos by William Scheick)

  The garden reader
Seeing is believing

By William Scheick
University of Texas at Austin

Wolfgang Stuppy, Rob Kesseler and Madeline Harley. The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants. Firefly Books, 2009. $29.95.

When I was an undergraduate student, my botany professor (who turned out to be my favorite college instructor) said something during my first semester with her that struck me as strange at the time. She said that it was likely there were several of us taking the course that term primarily for inspiration for fine-art designs.

I was surprised by that possibility then, and I still am now because her lectures were packed, her exams rigorous and her lab practicums bruising. Who in their right mind would take such demanding courses from her simply for a chance to appropriate the various exquisite biological patterns revealed under a microscope?

As I reflect on that long-ago occasion, I am not sure now whether she was as sincere as I then thought. Maybe she was engaging in a private professorial joke. Sly humor, after all, is one way of coping with the wonky ways of students.

It is possible, though, that she herself had an art-like appreciation of the beautiful designs found in nature. That never came across in her studious lectures, but I do remember her expression of awe when I showed her a copy of Raymond Carlson’s The Flowering Cactus (1954).

While by today’s standards the color reproductions in that book are crude, back then they were state of the art. The tall, slender book cost $7.50, and she had to own a copy, too.

I am thinking about this time-capsule moment because the authors of The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants specifically blur the line between science and art. They celebrate a resilient connection between natural patterns and craft designs.

“Prior to the second half of the 20th century,” the authors write, “there was a vital, shared passion and appreciation of the plant world in which thoughtful observers all played a part, including artists and artisans.”

To recover that older connection, the authors of The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants present close-up images of flowers in gorgeous large-format detail. Even more spectacular, they include artist Rob Kesseler’s color enhancements of high-magnification, originally black-and-white scanned electron micrographs of pollen and seeds.

In these enhanced photographs, the authors explain, color is “used intuitively to create mesmerizing images that lie somewhere between science and symbolism, sensual markers inviting further contact with unseen miracles of the natural world.”

Fantastic photos — images that transcend the bounds of the ordinary — dominate the book. Detailed information about each depicted plant or plant part is expertly included in “List of Illustrations,” unobtrusively positioned at the back of the book. The running commentary offers technical insights.

As the extravagant cultivar ‘Spooky’ dianthus suggests, many gardeners crave unusual plant features. Sometimes, as with the pink petiolated leaf-axils of the Ballerina rose (1937), surprisingly unexpected and strange floral beauty is already at hand and in front of our face, but commonly goes unnoticed without a deliberate, tightly focused second look.

The authors of The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants rejoice in such “masterpieces of natural architecture and structural engineering,” especially those invisible to the naked eye that have to be seen to be believed, or even imagined. Such detailed close-up features, brilliantly alight against glossy black backgrounds, amount to an unforgettable visual feast.


The lighter side of gardening
Midnight in the garden shop of good and evil

By John Hershey
Freelance Writer

Gardening is like watching celebrities ballroom dance on TV: it's suddenly very popular. The only difference is that there is a rational explanation for the gardening trend. New gardeners are motivated by the economic situation, a desire to eat fresh, healthy food, and the realization that gardening is a more productive way to spend a Saturday than golf. And more fun.

If you're new to gardening, you may be planning a visit to an area garden center. Before you go, you need a brief orientation. From the outside, it looks like a quaint shop where you might enjoy a leisurely browse among the gnomes and pick up some seeds. But once inside, you step into an epic battle between the forces of life and death.

Most traditional, non-organic garden shops are starkly divided into two diametrically opposed departments. On one side of the store, you find seeds, plants, soil, and compost — the things you need to nurture life. The other section gives you the means to kill it.

You'll know right away when you've crossed this line. One minute, the live plants and bags of organic compost fill the air with that intoxicating, earthy aroma of a garden or forest. You feel safe, at home, one with the natural world. But then you cross an aisle, and suddenly you're on the beach with Robert Duvall. Acrid fumes burn your nostrils, your eyes begin to water. Welcome to the herbicide and pesticide section. Apparently, some people love the smell of RoundUp in the morning. Smells like ... victory garden.

Well, not to me.

The shelves are filled with bags of yucky stuff to eradicate every imaginable form of life. Yet as any organic gardener knows, none of it is necessary. I think the real marketing strategy is to exploit irrational fears of nature and offer the power to subdue all the scary things that await you if you venture into this heart of darkness to grow some lettuce.

The common phobia of snakes is a marketing gold mine, judging from the number of products promising to expel them from my garden. But I've never seen a venomous serpent coiled under my pumpkin leaves. In our family, we're thrilled when we see garter snakes in the garden. They're great fun to watch. And if you chase them away with chemicals, you'll probably have too many slugs, spiders, rodents, and other garter snake prey. Of course, then someone will be happy to sell you poison for these creatures. When they're gone, you'll be overwhelmed by whatever they used to eat. And so on as you blast your way down the food chain in an endless spiral of death.

Gardening is such a peaceful and serene activity, yet big garden business markets the fun of killing more than anyone except possibly the video game industry.

Actually, you can start with a policy of deterrence. You know, peace through strength. Repellents are available to drive out rabbits, dogs & cats, moles & voles, or any other creature. And I know they work: I was repelled immediately.

Of course, to the type of gardener who sees nature and all its glorious flora and fauna as The Enemy, deterrence won't work for long. Eventually they must resort to force and deploy some Kill-a-Bug, Root Killer, Critter Ridder or Deer Off. My favorite brand name is simple yet powerful in its violent imagery: Slug & Snail Death!

One puzzling item is called The Giant Destroyer. I thought it was to keep the Jolly Green Giant from stealing your green beans, but the label says it kills gophers, moles, rats, skunks, squirrels, and other animals that don't seem giant to me.

If this seems reminiscent of chemical warfare, it is. As we learned from Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the first pesticides were based on poison gases developed for the battlefield. The brand names reflect their military origin: Delta Eight, Weed-Free Zone, Systemic Insect Drench, Ground Clear. The difference is the UN Convention on Chemical Weapons apparently doesn't apply in the garden. The one exception to this marketing strategy is an avian repellent called "Bye Bye Birdie," but for obvious reasons names evoking brute force are more common than references to musical comedy.

My head spinning from the bewildering range of specific poisons (not to mention the fumes), I finally saw one product that makes all the others unnecessary, the ultimate weapon of mass garden destruction: KillzAll.

That's really its name! I was going to make up some funny pesticide names that were really violent and over the top, but I couldn't do any better than the real products. This is one-stop shopping for eliminating all that pesky life that tends to show up in your yard or garden.

For gardeners who decide to go nuclear, there's a whole group of products that just wipe out everything in their path, with names like Noxall and Organocide. Think about what that name means! If it's alive, this product kills it. How can this be an effective sales pitch to gardeners?

There must be a market for all this stuff, but it sure seems contrary to the reasons for gardening in the first place. In an unpolluted ecosystem, many beneficial insects are happy to help you pollinate your plants and protect them from harmful bugs. Organic gardening is all about symbiotic relationships with other creatures in the garden. But judging from the names, the manufacturers of KillzAll and Organocide aren't interested in such fine distinctions. These products are from the "Let God sort 'em out" school of horticulture.

Call me old school, but to me gardening is not about not killing everything in sight except one favored plant. It's about fostering a diverse and healthy little ecosystem, which is hard enough without pouring poison all over the place. Having learned to garden by trial and error (mostly error), I need all the life I can get out there. I start many more seedlings than I need, on the assumption that only the fittest will survive the fickle weather and my gardening ability. Sometimes I get discouraged and feel like I don't need to buy any Organocide because that's one skill that comes naturally to me! But I don't give up. I just plant a lot of seeds. Gardening is a natural process — our seeds want to grow as much as we want them to. We just need to help them along.

But not with KillzAll.

“Midnight in the Garden Shop of Good and Evil” originally appeared in The Underground News and is reprinted with the author’s permission. To read more garden-variety humor and commentary, visit John's website: www.rakishwit.com.


 

The compost heap
EarthKind roses

"Thank you for your great coverage of the new EarthKind roses ('Two long-established roses earn Earth-Kind distinction,' Seeds, February 24, 2010)," writes Barbara Vance. "McLennan County Master Gardeners have worked with EarthKind roses over five years now and are developing a new demonstration garden on the grounds of the Heart of Texas fairgrounds, planting probably this fall. Six of our members are EarthKind specialists, working closely with Dr. Steve George to help spread the word of the ease of growing EK roses. Thank you for helping share the message. Texas Gardener's Seeds and the magazine are wonderful resources for Texas gardeners, and I appreciate your publications."


 

Gardening tips

How you ever pre-sprouted your potatoes? This technique will give you a jump on the growing season. It is kind of like starting your vegetable seedlings inside. Just place your seed potatoes in a warm (70 degree or so) spot with a little indirect light about two weeks before you intend to plant them. When the sprouts are about 1/2-inch long, it is time to cut the potatoes into seed pieces, dip in sulfur and plant.

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...

Someone asked us the other day "if you could plant only one peach tree in your landscape, which variety would it be?" Well, the answer has to be Red Barron. This attractive tree features the most beautiful semi-double, pinkish red blooms you will find along with delicious, high-quality fruit that ripens from mid-June to early July. If you find one on sale at your favorite nursery, there is still time to get it planted before spring busts loose.


Upcoming garden events.

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. 

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 www.riveroaksgardenclub.org or call (713) 523-2483.

Kingsland: Learn how to propagate your favorite plants from Master Gardener and expert propagator Rose Lackey at a free program presented by the Kingsland Garden Club on Friday, March 5, at the Kingsland Library at 1:15 p.m. Rose has taught propagation techniques at the Master Gardener certification classes for many years. Visit http://yantislakesidegardens.giving.officelive.com/events.aspx for information about upcoming events in the Highland Lakes area.

Bryan: Texas AgriLife Extension and Brazos County Master Gardeners will host Rainwater Harvesting: An Earth-Kind Approach to Water Conservation, Saturday, March 6, from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at The Brazos Center, Room 102, 3232 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan. Justin Mechell, Extension Program Specialist I, and J. Brent Clayton, Extension Assistant, will discuss Texas Rainwater and You and Rainwater Harvesting Basics. The $40-per-participant registration fee includes rain barrel, program handouts and refreshments. Attendance is limited to 50 participants and advance registration by March 1 is required. For additional information, visit www.brazosmg.com.

Tomball: Ann Wheeler, Log House Herbs, will present “Herbs for Every Garden,” Saturday, March 6, beginning at 10 a.m. at The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Wheeler shows how herbs can be enjoyed anywhere and everywhere giving basic to advanced tips. For additional information, visit www.arborgate.com or call (281) 351-8851.

Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardeners Association will hold a "Spring Fever" Symposium March 6 at its new VEG Pavilion, located at 283 Bachelor Dr., Victoria. Topics will include creating cut flower arrangements, running a vineyard and making wine, and selecting unique perennials. Brunch will be served. Early registration will be $30 through March 1, and thereafter cost will be $35. For more information telephone Victoria County Extension Office at (361) 741-9148 or visit www.VCMGA.org for a printable brochure and registration form.

Austin: The Sunshine Community Gardens, 4814 Sunshine Drive, Austin, will hold its annual plant sale Saturday, March 7, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tomato and pepper plants will be featured, but other vegetables, herbs and ornamentals will also be available. For additional information, visit www.sunshinecommunitygardens.org.

Tomball: Angela Chandler will present “Basic Pruning and Training Techniques,” Sunday, March 7, beginning at noon, at The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Chandler will show techniques to promote the beauty and health of trees and shrubs. For additional information, visit www.arborgate.com or call (281) 351-8851.

Glen Rose: “The Lang Sisters of Granbury” will be the featured free Community Education Program Monday, March 8, 6:30 p.m., at the Citizens Center, 209 SW Barnard St., Glen Rose, and sponsored by the Somervell Co. Master Gardeners. Learn how to turn gourds into birdhouses from these! They will share tips on growing the gourds, instructions on cleaning, drying and painting the gourds and will share a few laughs along the way. For additional information, e-mail somervellmg@gmail.com.

Pearland: As part of its Green Thumb Gardening Series, the Harris County Master Gardener Association will present a program on "Great Plants for Houston," Tuesday, March 9, from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m., at Bass Pro Shops, Highway 288 at the Sam Houston Tollway, Pearland. This lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Tomball: Ann Wheeler, Log House Herbs, will present “Herbs for Every Garden,” Tuesday, March 9, beginning at 10 a.m. at The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Wheeler shows how herbs can be enjoyed anywhere and everywhere giving basic to advanced tips. For additional information, visit www.arborgate.com or call (281) 351-8851.

Kingsland: Join Master Gardener Violet Carson for an interesting and informative presentation on Spring Vegetable Gardening at a free Green Thumb program from the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners and the Kingsland Library Lunch & Learn series at noon on Wednesday, March 10, at the Kingsland Library. The Master Gardeners will provide drinks and dessert. Visit http://yantislakesidegardens.giving.officelive.com/greenthumb.aspx for information on the Green Thumb Program and how you can be notified of our free programs.

Nacogdoches: The SFA Gardens will host its monthly Les Reeves Garden Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 11, in room 110 of the Agriculture Building on Wilson Drive on the SFA campus. Dr. Mike Arnold, Texas A&M Horticulturist, will present Knowing the Flowers from the Weeds and Other Fun Things We Learn in Aggie Horticulture. Dr. Arnold is a professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University where he conducts research on bridging the gap from the nursery producer to the landscape professional and home consumer of landscape plants. He has degrees in horticulture from Ohio State University and North Carolina State University, he helped develop the Texas A&M Nursery/Floral Crops Research and Education Facility, and he is the author of Landscape Plants for Texas and Adjacent States. For more information, contact Greg Grant at (936) 468-1863 or grantdamon@sfasu.edu.

Austin: “Starting Your Vegetable Garden Right” a seminar about soil and the first steps of starting a vegetable garden, will increase participants’ vegetable gardening knowledge. Learn about soil amendments, the correct way to prepare and handle transplants and how to prepare and plant seeds. This demonstration presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners Association is free, open to the public and will be held: Friday, March 12, 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., at the Demonstration Garden at AgriLife Extension Office of Travis County, 1600B Smith Rd., Austin. For additional information, call (512) 854-9600 or visit www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Houston: Houston Urban Gardeners (HUG) will meet Friday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Houston Garden Center, 1500 Hermann Dr. in Hermann Park, Houston (713-284-1989). The topic will be how to cook vegetables for serving our families and friends. Chef Tarsha Gary with Ecotone and other local chefs will give us cooking demonstrations. Attendees will also share favorite vegetable recipes. For up-to-date information, visit www.houstonurbangardeners.org.

Austin: Enjoy juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and delectable green beans straight from your garden. Learn how to plant and maintain a spring vegetable garden from Master Gardener Vegetable Specialist and Texas Gardener Contributing Writer Patty Leander, who will share her expertise on vegetable varieties that perform well in Central Texas, recommended planting times, and composting Saturday, March 13, from10 a.m. until noon, at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin. This seminar is loaded with basic facts and helpful ideas, useful to both new and experienced vegetable gardeners. This seminar is free and open to the public. This is one of our most popular seminars, so please come early to get a seat. Presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners Association, a volunteer arm of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County. For information, visit www.tcmastergardeners.org or call the Master Gardeners desk at (512) 854-9600.

Huntsville: The Walker County Master Gardeners will hold their annual spring sale from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., Saturday, March 13 at the Texas AgriLife Extension office, 102 Tam Rd, Huntsville. Roses, natives, heirloom vegetables, herbs, bulbs, variety of trees (including fruit), seeds and much more will be available at the sale. There will be a pre-sale seminar Saturday, Feb 27 at the Texas AgriLife Extension office from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Roses, natives, heirloom vegetables and perennials will be covered at this seminar. For additional information, call (936) 435-2426 or visit www.walkercountymastergardeners.org.

Nacogdoches: The Stephen F. Austin State University Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden will host the annual Nacogdoches Azalea Trail Symposium March 13 in Room 110 of the Agriculture Building on Wilson Drive on the SFA Campus in Nacogdoches. Noted Texas A&M horticulturist Dr. William C. Welch will be the featured speaker. Dr. Welch will share his enthusiasm for camellias and other heirloom plants in his lecture "A Passion for Camellias." Dr. Welch is the author of Perennial Garden Color, Antique Roses for the South, The Southern Heirloom Garden, and The Bountiful Flower Garden. Southern Heirloom Gardening by William Welch and Texas Gardener Contributing Editor Greg Grant will be published by Texas A&M Press in the spring of 2011. Bill Welch is a regular contributor to Southern Living magazine. His homes and gardens have been featured in books and articles throughout the South, and he was recently presented the Great Gardeners Award by the American Horticulture Society. In his lecture, Dr. Welch will present the many benefits of adding fall-blooming Camellia sasanqua and spring-blooming Camellia japonica to residential azalea gardens. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.; the program is from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Lunch is provided, followed by tips on pruning camellias, propagating azaleas, and a guided tour of the SFA Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden by Barbara Stump and Dr. Welch. The symposium is sponsored by SFA Gardens and the Texas Chapter of the Azalea Society of America. Admission is $30 to SFA Gardens members and $40 to non-members. For more information and to register, contact the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau at (888) OLDEST-TOWN or www.nacogdochesazaleas.com. For information about the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, e-mail sfagardens@sfasu.edu or call Barbara Stump (936) 468-4129.

Rosenberg: Fort Bend Master Gardeners will hold their annual Perennial Sale and Seminar on Saturday, March 13 at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds, Building D, 4310 Highway 365, Rosenberg. At 8 a.m., Heidi Sheesley, owner of TreeSearch Farms, will give an overview of plants at the sale. The sale will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 1 p.m. or until sold out. Visit www.fbmg.com for more information about varieties that will be on sale.

Tomball: The 9th Annual Herb Luncheon, featuring Chef Molly Fowler, The Dining Diva, and Ann Wheeler, Log House Herbs will be held Saturday, March 13, 11 a.m. at The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Make reservation early. Space is limited. Cost $40.00. For additional information, visit www.arborgate.com or call (281) 351-8851.

College Station: Gardening Study School, Series 13, Course III will be held March 15-16, TAMU, College Station Registrations requested by March 5. Taught by Dr. Joe Novak, Texas A&M University Department of Horticulture Curriculum includes plant growth, pruning techniques, growing outdoor flowers, botanical gardens, classifying plants, and bonsai. Most classes will be at the Horticulture Building at TAMU. Tours include the Holistic Teaching Garden and the Horticulture Research Gardens. A copy of the registration form can be download from the A&M Garden Club Web page: http://www.sallysfamilyplace.com/Clubs/GardenClub.htm. Admittance is limited to 35 attendees. The National Garden Club's Gardening Study Courses are designed to provide information on topics of interest to those especially interested in gardening, horticulture and related topics.

Houston: Tour the working and demonstration gardens maintained by the Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2, at the Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff, Houston, Monday, March 15, from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Included in the tour are an extensive vegetable garden, fruit orchard, perennials, roses, herb and cactus gardens, and two working greenhouses. Master gardeners will be on hand to answer questions during this free event. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Rockport: Jeanna C. Godfrey, DVM, Master Gardener, will present "Plants and Pets, What's Toxic and What's Not," from noon until 1 p.m., Tuesday, March 16, at the Aransas County Library, 701 E. Mimosa, Rockport. For additional information, call (361) 790-0103 or visit http://aransas-tx.tamu.edu.

Tomball: Diana Foss, Urban Wildlife Biologist, will discuss “Great Habitat Plants for Spring and Summer,” Tuesday March 16, 10 a.m. at The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Encourage and maximize wildlife in your garden and landscape through plant selections. For additional information, visit www.arborgate.com or call (281) 351-8851.

Seabrook: Linda Knowles, president of the Native Plant Society of Houston will speak about "Using Native Plants in Home Landscaping" as part of the Harris County Master Gardener Association's Master Gardener Lecture Series, at 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 17, at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the lakeside), 5001 NASA Road 1, Seabrook. Knowles will discuss how she developed her front yard landscaping using native plants and was able to satisfy her neighborhood association. For additional information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Tomball: Chef Chris Crowder & Ann Wheeler, Log House Herbs, host “An Evening with Chef Chris and Ann," Friday, March 19, 6:30 p.m. at The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. From the garden to the kitchen, Ann and Chris combine their talents preparing culinary treats. For additional information, visit www.arborgate.com or call (281) 351-8851.

Conroe: The Montgomery County Master Gardeners Spring Plant Sale will be held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., Saturday, March 20, at 9020 FM 1484, Conroe. Beginning at 8 a.m., County Horticulturalist Tom LeRoy will discuss sale items. Seating is limited. For additional information, call (936) 539-7824.

San Antonio: The Native Plant Society of Texas will present "Native San Antonio" from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., Saturday, March 20, at Eisenhower Park, 19399 NW Military Drive, San Antonio. Events include presentations by Judit Green, Howard Peak, Phil Hardberger, and Dave Barrett; a tree giveaway; a native plant sale and exchange; and much more. For additional information, contact D. J. Edwards Jr. at djedwardshomes@yahoo.com or (210) 824-3556.

Tomball: Seth Knight, retire Professor of Horticulture, will discuss “Bugs, The Good and The Bad,” Saturday, March 20, 10 a.m. at The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Learn to tell the good guys from the bad guys as well as control options available. For additional information, visit www.arborgate.com or call (281) 351-8851.

San Antonio: The Native Plant Society San Antonio Chapter will meet Tuesday, March 23 at 7:00 p.m. in the Lions Field Adult & Senior Center, 2809 Broadway at E. Mulberry, San Antonio. Guest speaker Tom Castano will discuss harvesting fibers from Texas native plant to make useful items and craft projects. This meeting is free and open to the public. Social and seed/plant exchange at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact Bea at (210) 999-7292 or visit www.npsot.org/sanantonio,

Tomball: Dr. David Creech, Regents Professor of Horticulture, Stephen F Austin University, will discuss “Fifty Plants You Shouldn’t Live Without,” Tuesday, March 23, 10 a.m. at The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Dr. Creech, respected horticulturalist, will share 50 rare and unusual plants and then auction after the presentation. . For additional information, visit www.arborgate.com or call (281) 351-8851.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners will hold their spring plant sale from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., Saturday, March 27, at Green Acres, 611 E. Mimosa, Rockport. In the event of rain, the event will be postponed until April 3. For additional information, call (361) 790-0103 or visit http://aransas-tx.tamu.edu.

Tyler: The East Texas Orchid Society will host "The Golden Age of Orchids Show," 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., Saturday, March 27, and noon until 4 p.m., Sunday, March 28, at Discovery Science Place Annex, 302 N. Broadway, Tyler. For additional information, visit www.centraleasttexasorchidsociety.org.

Waxahachie: The Ellis County Master Gardeners will hold their 10th Annual Lawn & Garden Expo on Saturday, March 27, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Waxahachie Civic Center, IH-35E and 287 Bypass. Neil Sperry will be the keynote speaker. More than 100 exhibitors will be selling and promoting lawn and garden-related products. Ellis Master Gardeners will hold workshops throughout the day, and there will be a children's workshop area and door prizes. For additional information, visit www.ecmga.com or call (972) 825-5175.

Houston: Dr. Douglas Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, will speak in Hamman Hall, Rice University, on Wednesday, March 31. The event begins with a social at 6:30 p.m. Tallamy's lecture begins at 7 p.m., followed by a panel discussion from 8 until 8:30 p.m. For parking information, visit http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~hamman/parking.htm. For additional information, call Houston Audubon, (713) 932-1693.

Fulton: Presented by the Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group, the Sixth Rockport Herb Festival will be held Saturday, April 3, from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., with programs starting at 9 a.m., at the Paws & Taws Fulton Convention Center, 402 N. Fulton Beach Road, Rockport-Fulton. For more information, visit www.rockportherbs.org.

Austin: Cool Plants for the Shade Garden is a free, in-the-garden discussion to be held Friday, April 9, from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. in the Demonstration Garden at AgriLife Extension Office of Travis County, 1600B Smith Rd., Austin. See some of the shade loving plants growing and learn about other perennials and annuals which require limited sun. This seminar is free and open to the public. It is presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners Association, a volunteer arm of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County. For information, visit http://www.tcmastergardeners.org or call the Travis County Master Gardener's help desk at (512) 854-9600.

Quitman: The Governor Hogg Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. 100 Gov. Hogg Parkway. Quitman, will host a Plant Sale and Dogwood Fiesta Saturday, April 10, at 9 a.m. and is over when the plants are gone. Find new, uncommon and Texas-tough perennials, ornamental grasses, hanging baskets, exotic plants and natives. For more information, visit www.woodcountyarboretum.com or call Pam Riley (903) 466-4327.

Austin: The AgriLife Extension Office of Travis County, 1600 B Smith Road, Austin, will host "Plant Propagation" from 1 a.m. until 11 a.m., April 17. Learning how to propagate from existing plants is a great way to populate your garden or pass along your favorites to friends. This seminar covers various propagation methods including cuttings, layering, and division, and help you overcome that fear of starting plants from seeds. The seminar will be part presentation, part participation so class size is limited to 30 participants. Please call the Master Gardener Help Desk at (512) 854-9600 to reserve your place. Participants must also bring scissors and an empty, clear plastic, 2-liter soda bottle with lid for the hands-on project. This seminar is free and open to the public. For additional information, visit www.tcmastergardeners.org or call the Travis County Master Gardener's help desk at (512) 854-9600.

Nocogdoches: The SFA Gardens at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches will host its annual Garden Gala Day on April 17 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the lower arboretum parking lot on Wilson Drive. Stephen F. Austin State University Outdoor Pursuits will host an Earth Day Celebration in conjunction with this year’s sale. The event features the annual spring plant sale fundraiser benefiting the SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, and educational programs hosted at the gardens. All the plants are produced at SFA by the staff, students and volunteers. A wide variety of hard to find, “Texas tough” plants will be available. The public is encouraged to arrive early and bring a wagon. For more information, call (936) 468-4404, or visit http://arboretum.sfasu.edu and click on “upcoming events.”

Stephenville: The annual Native & Heirloom Plant Fair will be held Saturday, April 17 on the grounds of the beautiful Stephenville Museum in Stephenville.  A wide variety of vendors offer native & adapted plants, herbs, garden supplies, concessions, books, produce, yard art, seeds, and arts & crafts. Informative speakers will share gardening ideas. Vendor space is free; contact Russell for details at pfau@tarleton.edu or (254) 968-9761. For additional information, visit http://www.stephenville.com/museum/.

Rockport: David Ilfrey, Landscape Designer, will present "Deigning with Native Plants" from noon until 1 p.m., Tuesday, April 20, at the Aransas County Library, 701 E. Mimosa, Rockport. For additional information, call (361) 790-0103 or visit http://aransas-tx.tamu.edu.

Austin: The Travis County Master Gardeners Association will present DIY Pond Building, Wednesday, April 28, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m., at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin. Always dreamed of a little pond in your yard? Not only can you have one but you can build it yourself. Attend this free seminar and learn step-by-step lessons on the basics of building a pond yourself. This seminar will help you determine the supplies and equipment needed for the job, gather information about pond plants, and determine which fish will do well in your pond. In addition, hear instructions on general pond maintenance, installing pond lighting and how to prevent unwanted critters in your pond. This seminar is free and open to the public. For more details, visit http://www.tcmastergardeners.org or call the Travis County Master Gardener's help desk at (512) 854-9600.

Austin: "Gardening for Butterflies & Hummingbirds" will be held at the Demonstration Garden at the AgriLife Extension Office of Travis County, 1600 B Smith Road, Austin, from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m., Friday, May 7. This seminar is appropriate for anyone wanting to incorporate the correct plants into the garden to attract these beauties. Learn plant food sources, host plants and nesting places for the most common butterflies and hummingbirds in Central Texas. This seminar is free and open to the public. For additional information, visit www.tcmastergardeners.org or call the Travis County Master Gardener's help desk at (512) 854-9600.

Rockport: The 10th Annual Hidden Gardens Tour by Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners will be held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturday, May 8. Tickets are $10 and are available from the Aransas County Texas AgriLife Extension office, 611 E. Mimosa. In the event of rain, the tour will be rescheduled for May 15. For additional information, call (361) 790-0103.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Antique Rose Emporium and the Comal Master Gardener Association will present their annual Herb Affair at the Antique Rose Emporium, 7561 E. Evans Road, San Antonio, Saturday, May 8, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Dill, the 2010 Herb of the Year, will be featured. Demonstrations will include the many ways to use herbs throughout the home and garden, including herbs for pest control, cleansers, nature printing and other crafts. For additional information, visit www.antiqueroseemporium.com, http://grovesite.com/mg/comal, or call (210) 651-4565.

Alvin: The Lone Star Daylily Society will hold a daylily and plant sat, May 15, from 9 a.m. until sold out, at the Alvin Senior Center, Alvin. Judging of flowers begins at 10:30 a.m. and the show opens to the public at 2 p.m., For additional information, visit www.lonestardaylilysociety.org or call Michael Mayfield at (281) 996-9310.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Daylily Society Show and Sale will be held Saturday, May 15, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels, San Antonio. For additional information, call (210) 824-9981.

Austin: "How to Create a Wildlife Habitat" will be presented from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., Saturday, May 22, at the Demonstration Garden at AgriLife Extension Office of Travis County, 1660 B Smith Road, Austin. Learn how to attract butterflies, birds, insects, toads, and other creatures by utilizing plants which create food, cover, water and places to raise young. A Master Naturalist volunteer will lead the discussion. This seminar is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.tcmastergardeners.org or call the Travis Country Master Gardener's help desk at (512) 854-9600.

Nacogdoches: The Stephen F. Austin State University Pineywoods Native Plant Center will host the 5th Lone Star Regional Native Plant Conference June 2-5 in Nacogdoches. The conference will be held on the SFA campus, home to the Mast Arboretum, the Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, and the 40-acre Pineywoods Native Plant Center. Join a unique blend of naturalists, horticulturists, nurserymen, landscapers, and gardeners and for talks ranging from green roofs to landscape design and native azaleas, guided tours featuring unique local flora, and educational workshops. Registration begins February 1. For more information, visit http://arboretum.sfasu.edu or contact Dawn Stover at (936) 468-4404 or dparish@sfasu.edu.

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.

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 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 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.

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 http://www.npsot.org/WilliamsonCounty/default.htm.

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 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.

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 http://www.jcmga.org/.

Arlington: The Arlington Men's Garden Club meets from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month (except December) at the Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center Street, Arlington. For more information, contact Lance Jepson at LJepson@aol.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 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 www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.

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.

Brackenridge Park: The Native Plant Society San Antonio Chapter meets every fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Lions Field Adult and Senior Center, 2809 Broadway at E. Mulberry, Brackenridge Park, except August and December. Social and seed/plant exchange at 6:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. For more information, contact Bea at (210) 999-7292 or visit www.npsot.org/sanantonio.

Dallas: The Dallas Organic Garden Club meets at 2:30 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of each month at the North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Rd.,  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.


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.

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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
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volume 22
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volume 23
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volume 24 (November/December 2004 through September/October 2005),
volume 25 (November/December 2005 through September/October 2006),
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*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.

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Texas Gardener’s Seeds
is published weekly. © Suntex Communications, Inc. 2010. 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