December 1, 2010

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.

The garden reader:
Practical and inspirational gardening designs

By William Scheick
University of Texas at Austin

Nan Booth Simpson and Patricia Scott McHargue. Texas Gardening for the 21st Century. Bright Sky Press, 2009. 208 pp. $19.95.

Nan Booth Simpson and Patricia Scott McHargue. The Texas Garden Resource Book. Bright Sky Press, 2009. 272 pp. $19.95.

Vaughn Sills. Places for the Spirit: Traditional African American Gardens. Trinity University Press, 2010. 160 pp. $29.95.

It’s the gift-giving season once again, and if you are wondering what the gardeners in your life might appreciate, here are three possibilities.

Informed by landscape architectural expertise, Texas Gardening for the 21st Century would be ideal for anyone planning to reshape home grounds. With detailed, easy-to-follow chapters on arrangement and construction, this book offers ample advice about limitations and options.

“While most homeowners are eager to immediately leap into planting,” Nan Booth Simpson writes, it is wiser and more economical to adopt “a much more thoughtful approach.” That’s the purpose of her book: to offer “timesaving ideas” as well as recommendations based on “carefully researched, environmentally friendly products that will make every aspect of gardening easier and more rewarding.”

Simpson particularly values “the gardening practices of our earliest settlers” in Texas. These settlers, she observes, even “had the right idea when they built their homes to capture breezes.” <">While I wish more of this interest had materialized in Simpson’s comments, her book nonetheless provides a handy guide to planning and maintaining a garden. Particularly noteworthy are her money-saving tips, highlighted in bold print, sprouting variously throughout her book.

The Texas Garden Resource Book, also by Simpson, is a companion volume to Texas Gardening for the 21st Century. Each of its 12 chapters, featuring 12 geographic regions defining our state, describes outstanding public gardens, science centers, nature preserves, nurseries and garden-furnishings retailers — places most likely to instruct and motivate gardeners.

To give an idea of what this book offers, here’s a mere sample of the detailed entries for region 9 (the Hill Country): Austin Nature and Science Center, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Umlauf Sculpture Garden, Wild Basin Wilderness, Zilker Botanical Gardens and Cibolo Nature Center, among others.

80 or so inspirational home landscapes, brilliantly photographed over the course of 20 years, are documented in Places for the Spirit: Traditional African American Gardens. Vaughn Sills photographed these uniquely designed and spiritually significant gardens in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.

“In my search for gardens,” Sills recalls, “I drove through small towns and cities and along country roads, stopping when I saw a certain kind of beauty.” That special beauty differs from the typical garden patterns celebrated, for example, in Texas Gardening for the 21st Century. Instead, the beauty of Sills’ photographed gardens conveys their owners’ symbolic efforts “to communicate with ancestors, fend off harm and offer security to those who enter.”

Several uncommon garden objects — including watching dolls, in-ground vertical pipes channeling the deceased and tree-hung bottles designed to catch evil forces — “relate to magical powers or the spirits of ancestors, meanings that go back centuries and across an ocean.” Many of these gardens feature significant variations on circles, carefully arrayed conch shells and white-painted tires or stones — “reverberations of ancient traditions, which create a tangible sense of the sacred.”

These intimations of the sacred are elegantly conveyed in Sills’ large-scale images, rendered in black and white to visually enhance evidence of garden patterning. Color would have been a distraction, obscuring the subtle features defining these out of the ordinary gardens.

Texas public lands benefit folks from all walks of life

By Buddy Gough
The Nature Conservancy of Texas

What do such diverse and far-flung places like Matagorda Island, Enchanted Rock and the Davis Mountains have in common?

They are just a few examples of the many places where The Nature Conservancy of Texas helped create or expand public lands — precious and iconic properties that have enriched the lives of generations of nature lovers from Texas and around the globe.

In nearly five decades of working with landowners and local, state and federal agencies, the Conservancy has made acquisitions to provide eventual public access to state natural areas, federal wildlife refuges and many of its own preserves throughout the entire state.

In many locations like the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, the access is year-round, but is limited in others where the overall goal is to preserve and protect fragile habitats and rare flora and fauna.

The latter tend to be open in controlled situations under the guidance of experienced naturalists, but they can allow visitors glimpses to special areas largely undisturbed from the impacts human use heaps on popular state parks.

A good example is the Honey Creek Natural Area located adjacent to the Guadalupe River State Park west of San Antonio.

Consisting of 2,293 acres bordering the spring-fed flows of Honey Creek, the 1,825 acres forming the heart of the natural area was acquired by the Conservancy in 1981, when it was known as the Honey Creek Ranch, and was conveyed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department four years later.

Since then, the creek and its surroundings has been allowed to return to a natural state and the property is a Hill Country jewel lined with cypresses and sycamores fed by free-flowing waters and gathering blue-green pools.

It is especially rich in native flora and fauna — many species of trees and grasses call the property home, as does abundant wildlife ranging from deer and turkeys to rare golden-cheeked warblers. The varied aquatic species ranges from the Guadalupe bass — Texas' state fish — to the endemic Honey Creek Cave salamander.

The Conservancy's legacy of the past, however, continues unabated today in seeking to preserve natural treasures for future generations to enjoy.

To learn more about The Nature Conservancy's work in Texas, including other places we help protect, visit

Gardening tips

What do you do with all those green tomatoes that you pulled from the vines just before the hard freeze last week? Our favorite way to enjoy them is to slice them, dip them in cornmeal and fry in a little olive oil. Yum!

Have a favorite gardening tip you’d like to share? Texas Gardener’s Seeds is seeking brief gardening tips from Texas gardeners to use in future issues. If we publish your tip in Seeds, we will send you a free Texas Gardener hat. Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.

Did You Know...

Seeds that are considered viable will germinate when they break dormancy and begin growth. It is usually a combination moisture, warmth and air that enables them to germinate. The viability of seeds varies significantly with some remaining viable for a short period while many are viable for a year or more and a few for more than a century.

Upcoming garden events.

If you would like your organization’s events included in "Upcoming Garden Events" or would like to make a change to a listed event, please contact us at Garden Events. To ensure inclusion in this column, please provide complete details at least three weeks prior to the event.

Dallas: Texas Discovery Gardens offers its second Master Composter Certification Course Saturday, December 4. The class lasts from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and is $50; $40 for TDG members. Learn about composting techniques, helpful insects, worms, and compost tea. With completion of optional volunteer hours, participants will receive a certificate. Class includes lunch, a book, compost thermometer, and worm bin, courtesy of Living Earth. Find details and sign up at or call (214) 428-7476. Texas Discovery Gardens is located at 3601 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Dallas, TX 75210 (Fair Park at Gate 6). Parking is free for course participants if they mention the course and TDG at the front gate.

Houston: Urban Harvest's Citrus Tasting Class will be held December 4, from 10:30 a.m. until noon at Oberholtzer Hall on the University of Houston's main campus. Sample several dozen varieties of citrus, all grown locally. This class can help you decide what trees to purchase at Urban Harvest’s January Fruit Tree Sale, also at the University of Houston. Cost: $23 for members, $35 for non-members. Visit for more information.

Nacogdoches: Join SFA Gardens horticulturist, Dawn Stover, Saturday, December 4 for “Deck the Halls” and learn how to make beautiful holiday decorations from your own garden. Using her years of experience as Research Associate in charge of the SFA Mast Arboretum, Dawn will share easy techniques allowing you to make the perfect wreath and magnolia garland for your home. The cost of the class is $20 for Friends of the SFA Gardens members and $30 for non-members. Seminar space is limited so advance registration is requested. To register contact the education office at 936-468-1832, e-mail, or send payment with name, address, daytime phone number, and seminar title to SFA Gardens-Garden Seminars, PO Box 13000-SFA Station, Nacogdoches, Texas, 75962-3000. The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. until noon in room 118 of the Agriculture Building at 1924 Wilson Drive on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus. To learn more about becoming a member of the Friends of the SFA Gardens, call the education office at 936-468-1832.

Georgetown: The Williamson County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will meet at 7 p.m., Thursday, December 9, at the Georgetown Public Library, 2nd floor. There will be a silent auction and potluck dinner. Visitors welcome. For additional information, contact Susan Waitz at 512-948-5241 or visit

Bryan/College Station: Applications are being accepted for the Brazos County Master Gardener 2011 Training Class which will be held from January to May. Classes meet on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Applications and more program information is available at or contact the Brazos County office of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service at 979-823-0129 for more information.

Kingsland: Master Gardener Sheryl Yantis will present "Hill Country Roses." Learn about the easy care roses that are beautiful, require minimal maintenance and grow in our area. This program is presented free by the Kingsland Garden Club at the Kingsland Library on Friday, January 7. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. and the program follows at 1:45 p.m. For more information, visit

Georgetown: The Williamson County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will meet at 7 p.m., Thursday, January 13, at the Georgetown Public Library, 2nd floor. Ginger Hudson will present her new book Landscape Maintenance for Central Texas Gardens. Visitors welcome. For additional information, contact Susan Waitz at 512-948-5241 or visit

Highland Lakes: The Highland Lakes Master Gardeners, a volunteer arm of Texas AgriLife Extension, will start Master Gardener Training Classes March 1 in Marble Falls. Visit to learn about the classes, cost, application and the Master Gardener program. Enrollment is limited so get your application in by January 15.

Houston: The Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale will be held 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. or until sold out, January 15, at Robertson Football Stadium on the University of Houston campus, Scott Street at Holman Street, Houston. This annual sale brings together far more types and varieties of fruit trees than can be found anywhere else in the greater Houston area. Fruit trees are easy to grow in metro Houston, with little care and big results. Learn more about growing fruit trees from Urban Harvest. For more information, visit

New Braunfels: Registration has begun for the Comal Master Gardener Training Class which will be held from January 19 to May 11, 2011. Applications for the class are currently on the Comal Master Gardener website at or contact the Texas AgriLife Extension Service office at 830-620-3440 for more information. Class size is limited and applications are accepted in the order they are received. The class will meet each Wednesday afternoon from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Comal County Office, 325 Resource Dr., New Braunfels (behind the Comal County Recycling Center).

McKinney: The Collin County Master Gardeners will present The Garden Show, March 26 and 27 at the Myers Park and Event Center near McKinney. The show is focused on providing research based horticulture information to area residents. For more information, contact or visit

San Antonio: Viva Botanica! — A Garden Fiesta for the whole family will be celebrated at the San Antonio Botanical Garden on the first Saturday of the Fiesta week in San Antonio, April 9, 2011. Decorate your stroller or red wagon and wear your finest Fiesta attire to enjoy the spring beauty of the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Start the fun with a children’s parade and the coronation of lucky young visitors to the Garden’s first ever Fiesta Flower Court. Viva Botanica crafts, music, inflatable “bouncies” and games combine the natural environment of the Garden’s 33 acres with Fiesta fun. Stamp your Fiesta Passport on your “walk across Texas” experience along the Texas Native Trail, where families can explore the East Texas lake, the Hill Country’s limestone spring and historic cabins, and the Bird Watch at the farthest reach of the South Texas region. Interactive stations along the way will engage guests of all ages in the wonders of the natural world. For home gardeners, the Botanical Society will host its popular Spring Plant Sale of San Antonio friendly plants, all lovingly grown in the volunteer greenhouse at the Garden. Viva Botanica activities will be offered 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Garden is open 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Anne Marie’s Carriage House Bistro is open for weekend brunch 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. The San Antonio Botanical Garden is located at 555 Funston at North New Braunfels Avenue with free parking. Admission is $8 adults; $6 students, seniors, military; $5 children age 3-13. The Botanical Garden is operated under the auspices of the City of San Antonio Department of Parks & Recreation and is open year-round except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, visit


Houston: The Harris County Master Gardeners meet at noon the first Tuesday of each month at the Texas AgriLife Extension, 3033 Bear Creek Drive (near the intersection of Highway 6 and Patterson Road), Houston. For additional information visit or call 281-855-5600.

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

Marion: The Guadalupe County (Schertz/Seguin) Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets on the second Tuesday of each month except July and August at The Library, 500 Bulldog, Marion. There is a plant exchange and meet-and-greet begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by the program at 7 p.m. Visitors are welcome. For more information or an application to join NPSOT visit or contact contact

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.

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

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

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

Cleburne: The Johnson County Master Gardeners meet the third Monday of each month at McGregor house on the corner of West Henderson and Colonial Dr. in Cleburne. A program starts at 6 p.m., followed by a meet-and-greet with refreshments and a short business meeting. For information 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 7:00 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 precedes the business meeting. The public is invited to attend. For topic or other information, call 830-379-1972 or visit

Atlanta: The Caddo Wildflower Chapter of Native Plants Society meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Horne Enterprise building in Atlanta at 7 p.m. Visitors are welcome. For additional information, contact Kay Lowery at

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

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.

San Antonio: The Native Plant Society of Texas San Antonio Chapter meets the fourth Tuesday of the month, except August and December, at the Lions Field Adult & Senior Center, 2809 Broadway, San Antonio. Social and plant/seed exchange at 6:30 p.m., program at 7:00 p.m. For more information, visit or call Bea at 210-999-7292.

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

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.

In Greg's Garden:
A Pineywoods Perspective on Gardening, Nature and Family

An intimate and personal exploration of the life of one of Texas’s most beloved gardeners, In Greg’s Garden: A Pineywoods Perspective on Gardening, Nature and Family gathers in a single volume the first nine years of Greg Grant’s columns from Texas Gardener magazine.

Revised and updated from their original publication, these 54 essays reveal the heart and soul of a seventh generation native Texan who has devoted his entire life to gardening, nature and family. With degrees in floriculture and horticulture from Texas A&M University and extensive hands-on experience as a horticulturist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Stephen F. Austin State University, Mercer Arboretum and San Antonio Botanical Gardens, Grant has successfully introduced dozens of plants to the Texas nursery industry, all while maintaining long-held family property and renovating the homes of his ancestors in Arcadia, Texas.

In Greg’s Garden: A Pineywoods Perspective on Gardening, Nature and Family is a must-read for every Texas gardener.

Available only for Kindle. Order directly from Amazon by clicking here.

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 customizTexas Wildscapes program provides the tools you need to make ahome 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),
volume 28 (November/December 2008 through September/October 2009) and
volume 29 (November/December 2009 through September/October 2010)*.

$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!)

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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.

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Publisher: Chris S. Corby ● Editor: Michael Bracken

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