January 5, 2011

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The author’s glasshouse. (Photo by William Scheick)

The garden reader:
No refuge from life’s inclement weather

By William Scheick
University of Texas at Austin

Ruth Kassinger. Paradise Under Glass: An Amateur Creates a Conservatory Garden. William Morrow, 2010. 347 pp. $24.99.

One feature of the board game called Clue always bothered me when I was a child. The notion that someone could be murdered in a conservatory seemed outrageous.

As an urban working-class kid, I first had to look up just what was a conservatory. But once I found out, I knew it would be too wonderful a room for a murder to ever occur there.

So from an early age I imagined what it would be like to have a conservatory — a place where the splendor of blooming tropical plants could be enjoyed and maintained all year totally free from the annoying contingencies of weather.

I was thinking of a proper conservatory or at least a large sunroom. But, as it turned out, I was content for years with a self-assembled wood-and-plastic greenhouse my wife gave me as a gift. With some effort, we even disassembled and then reassembled it when we moved to another home.

My greenhouse was fun, but never an indoor Eden. Neither is Ruth Kassinger’s conservatory in Paradise Under Glass — her biographical account of how she coped with dispiriting life issues by slowly but steadily transforming the deck of her Maryland home into a Victorian-inspired solarium.

She had to deal with more than a bout of mealy bugs. Some plants didn’t get along, and there were the inevitable losses. Still, if her effort didn’t result in “an unchanging paradise where [she] would be cocooned from decline and loss,” it did nonetheless give her a renewed sense of life-affirmation.

Like legendary fishermen’s tales of the “big one” that got away, gardeners are prone to top one another’s horror stories. They can’t help it because, it seems, there’s plenty of gardening horror to go around.

If I were to write my greenhouse narrative, for instance, I’d have a chapter about the time I lost my “paradise within” to a whitefly infestation. The entire greenhouse had to be emptied and then quarantined for a very long time.

There would also be a chapter on the year of the invading rats, which shredded plants and then inaccessibly encamped to breed deep within various interior stone features.

With rats leaping in every direction, we tore the thing down and splurged on a big metal-and-glass kit to be erected on a backyard slab. We planned to assemble it over spring break, and indeed we did, but that’s as much as we are willing to share about that part of the story.

Our glasshouse has been up for years now and is a delight — except when the power goes out during a rare Central Texas snow or ice storm.

Like Kassinger, we too were inspired by the jungle-effect of the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory in Washington, D.C. But our glasshouse does not showcase the sort of lush big-leafed tropicals Kassinger enjoys in her solarium.

Instead, ours supports a fantastic array of blooming cacti and succulents.

A big story lies behind such small human attempts to create indoor Edens, and Kassinger expertly tells that story. She chronicles the centuries-deep history of both the human quest for exotic plants and gardeners’ attempts at beautiful solariums for displaying floral marvels.

History aside, though, Paradise Under Glass remains at its core an intimate account of the author’s personal quest for renewed perspective. If Kassinger doesn’t quite find a sanctuary in her conservatory, she does find the strength to cope with the inclemency of life’s weather.


Editor's Note: Gardening news is slow at the beginning of the year, and many gardeners are unable to work in their gardens during winter. We thought you might enjoy a change of pace during this slow season, so following is the first of four gardening-themed short stories presented for your enjoyment. — Michael Bracken

Fertile Fiction
Garden Party

By Rekha Ambardar

“Sure you don’t want me to bring something tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Carrie Blake told her friend, Luellen. “It’s just an informal garden party with lemonade, iced tea and cookies. I just want everyone to see what I did with the garden, before fall rolls around and the flowers fade away.” She chuckled. It was a standing joke that she spent more time in the garden than in her house.

“You’ve put so much work into it,” Luellen said. “I can’t wait to see it.”

“See you tomorrow.”

“I’ll just be a little late,” Luellen said. “I have to pick up my granddaughter, Megan, from her friend’s.”

“Did your son move back here then?” Carrie said. “I’m glad. You were so looking forward to it.”

“Yes. He’s found a job, too. He eventually wants to open his own business.” Luellen sounded happy. “You should meet him. You and he have a lot in common.”

Carrie smiled to herself. Ever since she broke off her engagement, her friends were trying to fix her up with somebody or the other.

After Luellen hung up, Carrie got busy putting some wire fencing around her bushes. The garden had been carefully planned, with a small fountain, a birdbath, and a winding path covered with small white pebbles. A white wooden arch completed the back edge of the garden.

The next day turned out to be a shocker. Overnight a high wind had stirred things up in her garden. Worst of all, the latticed wooden archway in the back of the garden, Carrie’s pride and joy, had fallen to the ground.

She managed to get off work a little early at the supermarket and hurried home. She could at least try to raise the arch before the ladies arrived that afternoon.

The arch had not just fallen but had dumped itself clumsily in such a way that she could barely move it an inch, let alone lift it. And with her shoulder bothering her from an earlier chore, it didn’t seem a good idea to try repositioning the arch.

She went into the house and called Scenes and Scapes, the company that had helped with the arch, and was told,. “Ben has gone on a job, but we have Jake — he’s new. He’ll come over and help you this afternoon.”

Just as Carrie gave up hope of seeing the workman from Scenes and Scapes, their van pulled up in her driveway and out jumped a handsome, muscular, thirty-something guy with a tan to die for.

She went outside and introduced herself.

“I’m Jake. Heard you had a minor disaster,” he said with a grin.

“Yes, it’s out back.”

“Uh-oh,” he said when he saw the fallen arch.“We’ll have it up in no time.” He began work on it. Stemming it securely, he tested it to see if it would fall again. It was firm as a rock.

“Thanks,” Carries said. “I’m having a party out here and you’ve just helped salvage it.”

He looked around. “Nice work with the landscaping,” he said. “Did you do all this yourself — the pathway, the gravel, the flowers?”

She nodded. “It’s a hobby. Helps me relax. Working in retail can get busy.”

“It involves a bit of lifting and moving.” She sensed admiration in his tone. A compliment from the expert, since he worked for Scenes and Scapes, was nothing to sneeze at.

“The wheelbarrow sure helps.” Carrie rolled her shoulders with a grimace. “But I feel the kinks from the work I put in.”

Jake moved to secure a bit of black wire fencing that had fallen away. “I hope to start a garden, now that we have some space,” he said. “We just moved into town.”

“Does your wife like gardening, too.”

“I’m divorced. My daughter helps me with the yard work. She seems to like it.”

Something in the way he said it was endearing. Not only did he like the outdoors but he seemed to be close to his daughter as well, and she would have to be very young.

A slamming car door brought her back to the realization that her guests would arrive soon.

“Guess they’re here.” She turned to Jake. “Thanks for coming over just in time.”

He grinned. “If you need anything more, I’d be happy to help. And there’ll be no charge — you’ve already put in all the work.”

Her heart swelled with pleasure. He was nice.

Luellen came around back, followed by a little girl.

“Daddy.” The little girl flew to Jake. He lifted her up with a whoop of joy.

“I see you’ve already met my son.” Luellen beamed with pride.

Carrie gaped. “This is your son? He just helped me with my garden arch.”

“Didn’t I tell you the two of you had a lot in common?” Luellen looked pleased with herself.

Jake nodded. “I’m finding out.” He glanced at his watch. “Oops! Got to be going. Have a few more jobs to finish.”

Carrie felt a thud in her gut. She probably wouldn’t see him again. “Thanks for coming on such short notice.”

He turned around. “Could you maybe give me some hints on my garden tomorrow? I’ll throw some brats on the grill and we could have a party.”

“Glad to,” Carrie said. She’d see him again.

“Can you come, Mom?”

Luellen appeared to consider. ”Just remembered — I have the women’s auxiliary meeting, sorry.”

“Too bad. Megan will have to play hostess, right, sport?” Jake raised his hand to wave.

Megan nodded happily.

The guests soon arrived and the party was a success. Megan helped Carrie pass around the cookies and pour the lemonade and iced tea.

“I’m so glad you and Jake met,” Luellen said when they were alone later. “I couldn’t have done it better if I’d planned it.”

Luellen was right. After all, how could Carrie know whom Scenes and Scapes would send to mend her arch?

Rekha Ambardar has published more than a hundred stories and articles in print and electronic magazines. She is also the author of two contemporary romance novels. Visit her website at http://rekha.mmebj.com to learn more.


Urban Harvest Farmers Markets is growing

Urban Harvest is partnering with Highland Village in Houston to manage and expand the upscale shopping center’s existing farmers market in the new year. Customers can expect to find many of their usual vendor favorites plus some exciting changes that will enhance the market.

The biggest change is moving the farmers market to a new day. After a short holiday break, the Urban Harvest Farmers Market at Highland Village will debut on January 9 on its new day and time — Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Other major cities such as New York, San Francisco and Chicago are also opening Sunday farmers markets in premier locations. With Urban Harvest’s flagship Eastside Farmers Market on Saturdays and the Urban Harvest Highland Village Farmers Market and Urban Harvest’s Discovery Green Farmers Markets on Sundays, Houston has an entire weekend filled with fresh produce straight from local growers and vendors.

As a natural tie-in to the Sunday brunch tradition, the Highland Village Farmers Market will feature a farm-to-table market brunch theme each Sunday with chef- and farm-driven market menus. Other changes include an infusion of many new vendors offering a wider selection of offerings, with a focused expansion of the local farm product component to offer more produce, meats and dairy products.

The Urban Harvest Highland Village Farmers Market will also add another component found at their other markets: Chef’s Corner, sponsored by My Table magazine, where chefs will do live cooking demos using local products.

“We are hoping that this change is seen as a positive one,” says Bowen. “Our goal is to give as many vendors as possible a venue to sell their locally-grown and -produced items while providing consumers options of days and times that fit a variety of schedules. We hope the community will embrace this new Sunday market.”

The Urban Harvest Highland Village Farmers Market will offer some exciting new opportunities to prospective market vendors, and encourages those interested to send inquiries to mark@urbanharvest.org.

Urban Harvest’s family of farmers markets includes Eastside Farmers Market, 3000 Richmond at Eastside, held Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon; Discovery Green Farmers Market, 1500 McKinney, held Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.; and City Hall Farmers Market, 400 Rusk, held Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and, the newest member, Highland Village Farmers Market, 4055 Westheimer, held Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information on Urban Harvest, its Farmers Markets and other programs, visit www.UrbanHarvest.org.


The Compost Heap
Sprouting sprouts

“How many sprouts could a sprouting sprout sprouter sprout if a sprouting sprout sprouter could sprout sprouts?" asks Edwin Smith.

Since a sprouting sprout sprouter should be able to sprout sprouts, the amount of sprouts it could sprout depends on the size of the sprouts and the size of the seed being sprouted.— Chris S. Corby, Publisher


Gardening tips

"If a windstorm buffets a recently planted tree," writes Vivian Miller, "encircle the tree with five gallon buckets and fill them with water to weight down the rootball and help stabilize the tree."

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 2011 Planning Guide & Calendar. Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.


Did you know...

The pH scale runs from 0 (acid) to 14 (alkaline). Most vegetable crops do best in soils ranging for 6 to 7. Pure water is 7. The only way to know what the pH of your garden soil is to have it tested.


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.

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 http://yantislakesidegardens.giving.officelive.com/kgc.aspx.

Austin: “Grow the Best Garden Veggies Ever!” a free demonstration of how to grow the best vegetables you can, will take place from 10 a.m. until noon, January 8, at Sunshine Community Gardens, 4814 Sunshine Dr., Austin. It all starts below your feet, in the very soil your plants grow in; quality soil = quality vegetables. Master Gardeners will share techniques applicable to any soil type. Bring chairs if desired, but event will be rain or shine. Only street parking is available for this event. This seminar is free and open to the public. It is presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners, a volunteer arm of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County. For more information, visit www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Farmers Branch: Roses are rapidly becoming a mainstay of Farmers Branch landscaping and will be made easier for local gardeners by a series of five free classes, “Landscaping with Roses in 2011,” beginning January 11. New this year will be the opportunity to purchase roses for personal landscaping. Plus, all participants who attend all five classes, and the pruning clinic to follow the week after the final class, will be eligible for a 30 minute personal landscape consultation by Texas A&M’s Dr. Steve George or Farmers Branch Landscape Manager Pam Smith. All classes will be held at the Farmers Branch Community Recreation Center, 14050 Heartside Place, from 7 until 8:30 p.m. each scheduled evening. The series kicks off on January 11 with Pam Smith offering “Helpful Hints for Successfully Landscaping Your Yard.” Dr. Steve George follows on January 18 with “Earthkind Roses — Lessons from the Garden.” Dr. Greg Church closes out the month on January 25 with “Perennials for the EarthKind Garden.” On February 1, Tim Allsup and Jerry Haynes will speak on “The Art and the Care of Garden Tools — Creating the Patina & Perfecting the Edge.” Carole Mainwaring will offer “David Austin Roses — Ahhhh” on February 8. Following those classes, the series concludes with a Rose Pruning Clinic at 10 a.m. on February 12. Participants are asked to register for classes by calling the Farmers Branch Community Recreation Center at 972-247-4607. “Landscaping with Roses in 2011” classes are sponsored by the Farmers Branch Parks and Recreation Department, the Dallas Rose Society and the Dallas Area Historical Rose Society.

Seabrook: The Harris County Master Gardener Association will present a program on Fruit Trees for Harris County Tuesday, January 11, from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m., at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the lake side), 5001 NASA Parkway, Seabrook. Herman Auer, Galveston County Master Gardener, will be the lecturer. These lectures are free and open to the public. For more information visit: http://harris-tx.tamu.edu/hort/greenthumb.htm.

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

Austin: “Central Texas Gardening 101” will be presented from 10 a.m. until noon, January 15, at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin. If you’re a newcomer to Central Texas or need a refresher on the, learn tips and tricks to making your Austin garden a success! Included will be a seasonal growing calendar, how to work with challenging soils, maintenance schedules for pruning and planting, valuable information about giving new plants a headstart and much more. Join Daphne Richards, Horticulture Agent at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service for Travis County to get the facts and ask questions of your own. This seminar is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Livingston: Tired of struggling to make that hard pack clay (or sugar sand) into fertile rich soil you can garden with? Tried Raised Beds. The Polk County Texas AgriLife Extension office will start 2011 with a discussion on how to create and maintain raised beds. In a raised bed you can mix together the perfect blend of soil to grow you garden, weed free! At least for a few weeks. The meeting will be held January 18 at the AgriLife meeting room behind the offices at 602 E Church St., Livingston. For more information or directions, call 936-327-6828.

Stephenville: A Prospective Wine-Grape Grower Workshop will be held January 25 at the Texas AgriLife Research & Extension Center in Stephenville, 1229 U.S. Highway 281 North. Registration will begin at 8:30 am, and program presentation will take place from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The workshop is a one-day educational program designed to provide an overview of the unique requirements and economic risks associated with establishment and operation of a commercial vineyard in Texas. Fran Pontasch, AgriLife Extension viticulture advisor for North Texas, and Dusty Timmons, AgriLife Extension viticulture advisor for West Texas, will provide program instruction. Weather permitting, a discussion during the workshop would take place in the AgriLife Extension vineyard at the Center. The program was created to address the most common concerns potential grape producers may have prior to committing valuable resources toward a commercial vineyard enterprise. Program topics include: necessary viticulture expertise, vineyard site selection, risk factors, vineyard labor requirements and vineyard economics. The fee for each workshop is $125 per person or $200 per couple, and includes educational materials and lunch. Registration for the workshop can be completed through AgriLife Conference Services at their website, http://agrilifevents.tamu.edu. The workshop serves as a prerequisite for application to the Texas Viticulture Certificate Program offered by Texas Tech University and AgriLife Extension. For more information on the certification program, visit http://winegrapes.tamu.edu and see Educational Opportunities. For more information, contact Fran Pontasch 254-968-4144 or fmpontasch@ag.tamu.edu.

Burnet: Join Master Gardener and Landscape Design Consultant Sheryl Yantis for "Texas Tough Plants" at a public Green Thumb program presented by the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners at the Herman Brown Free Library on the Courthouse Square in Burnet on Saturday, February 19. The program will start at 10:30 a.m. Learn about the beautiful plants recommended for the Hill Country. For additional information, visit http://yantislakesidegardens.giving.officelive.com/greenthumb.aspx.

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 http://yantislakesidegardens.giving.officelive.com/class.aspx 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 www.urbanharvest.org.

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 http://www.txmg.org/comal/ 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).

Seabrook: Dr. Carol Brouwer, Harris County Extension Agent, will present "Pruning Trees and Shrubs" at 10 a.m., January 19, at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the lakeside), 5001 NASA Parkway, Seabrook. Brouwer will discuss correct pruning techniques. This lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, visit: http://harris-tx.tamu.edu/hort.

Beaumont: Nesting Season Kick-Off 2011, presented by the Texas Bluebird Society and sponsored by the Golden Triangle Audubon Society, will be held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday, January 29, at Beaumont Botanical Gardens in Tyrell Park, 6088 Babe Zaharias Drive. Beaumont. Join with other TBS members to explore solutions to the most predominant challenges faced in providing the best habitat and promoting solid conservation practices for our native cavity nesters. Guest Speakers include Texas Gardener columnist Greg Grant, speaking about “The Hole Truth: East Texas Woodpeckers,” and Cliff Shackelford, speaking about “Nuthatches in Texas: Nuttin' but the Truth.” Registration for this event is required. $12 Advanced Registration (includes hot lunch) deadline is January 15, 2011; at-the-door registration is $6 (no lunch). To register or for additional information visit http://www.texasbluebirdsociety.org/documents/registration2011kick.pdf.

Bryan: "Earth-Kind Gardening Seminar" will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., January 29, at The Brazos Center, 3232 Briarcrest Dr., Bryan. Learn all you need to know from experts for successful gardening in Central Texas. learn about easy-to-grow Earth-Kind roses and Garden Design from Gaye Hammond, Houston Rose Society, and Andrea Fox, MLA and Master Gardener. Learn how to grow fresh, flavorful vegetables and herbs from Dr. Joe Masabni, Extension Specialist, and Ann Wheeler, Log House Herbs. $50 per person. For more information and a registration from, visit brazosmg.com or call 979-823-0129.

Austin: “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” will be presented from 10 a.m. until noon, Saturday, February 5, at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin. Roses add color and wonderful scent to the garden year-round! Attend this free seminar to learn how to select, plant, prune and care for these wonderful plants. Earth-Kind and Antique roses, which are known for their high performance, disease resistance and insect tolerance, will be featured topics of discussion. Travis County Master Gardeners Carolyn Williams and Holly Plotner will arm attendees with the tools they need to explore this fascinating area of horticulture! For more information, visit www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Cat Spring: The Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Austin County Grape Growers Committee will co-sponsor the 19th annual Gulf Coast Grape Growers Field Day on February 11 in Cat Spring, about 75 miles west of Houston. The field day will be held at the Cat Spring Agriculture Society Hall, 13035 Hall Rd. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with presentations and activities scheduled from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Viticulture topics addressed at the field day will include grape pest and disease management, grape maturity for wine quality, management practices for new vineyards, grower discussion panels and the latest in Texas AgriLife vineyard demonstrations. Speakers will include experts from AgriLife Extension, industry, and the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association. A minimum of three continuing education units will be available to licensed pesticide applicators. Registration cost, which includes lunch, beverages and a wine social, is $20. All registration for this year’s field day will be at the door and must be paid in cash or by check. For more information, contact Fritz Westover at 281-855-5608 or fawestover@ag.tamu.edu.

Austin: “Planning and Planting the Spring Vegetable Garden” will be presented from 10 a.m. until noon, Saturday, February 12, at Sunshine Community Garden, 4814 Sunshine Dr., Austin. This hands-on seminar provides information on plant and seed selection, tips for increased germination, spacing and other techniques to ensure gardening success. Street parking available only. This seminar is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Sunset Valley: “Taking Care of the Lawn,” two seminars on lawn care, will be presented from 10 a.m. until noon, Saturday, February 19, at Sunset Valley City Hall, 3205 Jones Rd., Sunset Valley. “It's Dead! How to Establish a New Lawn” will be presented from 10 a.m., until 11 a.m.; “How to Promote Lawn Health” from 11 a.m. until noon. Learn what to do to start a new lawn or replace a lawn, including grass varieties, soil preparation, and watering. Discover easy mowing, irrigating, and fertilizing tips for lawn maintenance. Park in the Tony Burger Center across the street from Sunset Valley City Hall. This seminar is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Longview: The 2011 Spring Garden and Landscape Seminar, sponsored by the Gregg County Master Gardeners, will be March 5, from 8 a.m. until noon, at the First Methodist Church Faith Center, 400 N. Fredonia, Longview. Tom LeRoy Extension Agent, Conroe, will speak on "Vegetable Gardening" and "Everything You Want to Know about Tomatoes." Leslie Halleck, Horticulturist, Botanist and Gardener, Dallas, will speak on "Growing Herbs." There will be door prizes, raffle, vendors, and refreshments. Advance tickets are $10 or $12 at the door. Call 903-236-8429 for more information.

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 thegardenshow@dfwair.net or visit www.ccmgatx.org/thegardenshow.

Cameron: The 2nd Annual Milam County Nature Festival will be held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., April 9 at Wilson-Ledbetter Park in Cameron. This is an educational and fun family event for all age groups with presentations, exhibits and hands on activities in a variety of nature areas including birds, bats, insects, butterflies, snakes, horned lizards, fish, wild animals, wildflowers, native grasses, and much more. For more information, visit: http://txmn.org/elcamino/naturefest/.

Rockport-Fulton: The Seventh Rockport Herb Festival will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the Paws & Taws Fulton Convention Center, 402 N. Fulton Beach Road, Rockport-Fulton. Featured speakers include Susan Wittig Albert, New York Times bestselling author of the China Bayles series, books that "contribute to our knowledge, information, use, or enjoyment of herbs"; the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series; and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries written with her husband Bill Albert under the pseudonym Robin Paige. Also speaking will be Judy Barrett, founder of Homegrown Texas Magazine and author of What Can I Do With My Herbs? and What Makes Heirloom Plants So Great? Chef Kevin Argetsinger will present a cooking demonstration, and there will be other on-going cooking demonstrations throughout the day. In addition, Jeff Transeau of Charta Olives will speak on growing Olive Trees in Texas and the Texas Olive Industry. Texas olive oil and olive trees will be for sale. For additional information, visit www.rockportherb.org.

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 www.sabot.org.

MONTHLY MEETINGS

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 http://hcmga.tamu.edu 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 aransas-tx@tamu.edu or call 361-790-0103.

Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. 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.

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 www.npsot.org/GuadalupeCounty/ or contact contact guadalupecounty@npsot.org.

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.

Rockport: The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group, founded in March 2003, meets the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. at 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs, including historical uses and tips for successful propagation and cultivation. 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.org and http://rockportherbies.blogspot.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.

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.

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 LJepson@aol.com.

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 http://www.jcmga.org/.

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.somervellmastergardeners.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 7:00 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 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 precedes the business meeting. The public is invited to attend. For topic or other information, call 830-379-1972 or visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.

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 frostkay268@aol.com.

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.

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 www.npsot.org/sanantonio 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 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.


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