January 12, 2011

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Texas oranges. (Photo courtesy Texas AgriLife Extension Service)

Texas citrus gets the green light to ship again

By Rod Santa Ana
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

What could have been a financial disaster for the South Texas citrus industry has been averted, thanks to a recent finding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to industry leaders and scientists at the Texas A&M-Kingsville Citrus Center at Weslaco.

“In October the Texas citrus industry implemented a self-imposed ban on shipping fruit to California, one of our most crucial markets,” said Dr. Mani Skaria, a citrus pathologist at the center. “But now USDA has determined that it is safe to ship our citrus to citrus-producing states despite earlier fears that our citrus would spread sweet orange scab, a fungal disease whose symptoms look a lot like the normal wind scar blemishes found on most of our citrus.”

After a risk assessment, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Plant Protection Quarantine determined on Dec. 22 that citrus fruit that undergoes the normal packing fruit treatment procedures eliminates the threat of the spread of sweet orange scab. Treatment includes washing the fruit before applying disinfectants, fungicides and wax, he said.

“What this means is that we’re back to business as usual,” said Ray Prewett, president of Texas Citrus Mutual in Mission. “Earlier regulations by USDA prohibited shipping any fruit with the SOS wind scar-like symptoms, which affected virtually all of our fruit. But now USDA says we can ship fruit as long as it goes through the packing-house procedures and is accompanied by documentation.”

Prewett said the earlier restrictions had affected shippers to varying degrees but is thankful the restrictions were lifted relatively early in the shipping season and did not remain in effect for as long as they could have.

“It was also nice to see that California, a citrus-producing state that buys 25 percent of our fruit, immediately switched back to buying Texas citrus when the restrictions were eased, which says a lot about the quality and reputation of our fruit,” he said.

Other citrus-producing regions that have been confirmed by tests at the USDA lab in Beltsville, Maryland, to have sweet orange scab include Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi, Prewett said.

For now, organic fruit, which does not undergo packing-house procedures, still cannot be shipped if it is destined for fresh market sales to consumers in citrus-producing states. But it’s expected that in the next few days organic citrus destined for processing or juicing in citrus-producing states will be allowed to ship since regulations will require the peel to be destroyed, Prewett said.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” he said. “We’ll be working on getting organic fruit for fresh markets in citrus-producing states approved, as well as trying to unravel why SOS symptoms vary from area to area; they are not all uniform. But the good news is that the trend in fruit pathogens, whether bacterial or fungal, seems to be that they are not a transfer pathway. Fortunately, in many cases, and unlike plant material, fruit is not a vector for pathogens.”

Skaria is also pleased by the trend and happy that Rio Grande Valley citrus is once again making its way to profitable markets throughout the country and the world.

“The last I heard is that since the easing of restrictions, shippers are scrambling to find enough trucks to ship our citrus to market. That’s a good problem to have,” he said.


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 second of four gardening-themed short stories presented for your enjoyment. — Michael Bracken

Fertile Fiction
Hello, Lynn

By Cathy Seckman

“Gonna be a lot of work,” Andy commented.

Jenny nodded, looking out over the neglected acreage. “We can do it.”

“You’re sure?” Andy kicked at a tangle of briars. “I know this garden is half the reason we bought the property, but don’t you think we’ll need professional help?”

“No!” she scoffed. “We’re young and strong. You’ll see, this time next year we’ll have paradise right outside our back door.”

Andy smiled at her enthusiasm. “What we don’t have,” he felt compelled to add, “is money.”

She waved it off. “Maybe this time in two years. Let’s get to work.”

They put in three hours that night, clearing brambles and burning them. By the end of the week they had a better picture of just how much work was ahead. But they could also see the good bones of the garden — perennial beds that could be revived, unique ornamental trees, and the nice surprise of an herb bed, overrun now with mint and sweet woodruff. Someone had loved this garden, that was certain. Jenny wondered why the realtor hadn’t said much about the previous owners.

“It’s stump-pulling day,” Andy decided on Saturday morning. “We have to get those out of the way while the ground is dry.”

Jenny brought their old pickup truck around to the back while Andy gathered shovels and chains. The first stump was in the far corner of the garden, beside an old trellis that still supported a climbing rose.

“What was it?” Jenny wondered. “An apple tree? Oh, look, is this part of a birdbath?” She reached down for a rounded chunk of concrete and tugged it free of the tangled grass.

“I think you’re right,” Andy said. “Maybe we could put a new one here, eventually. With bird feeders?”

“This is going to be perfect,” Jenny said with a sigh. “Think what it will look like in a few years.”

“It won’t look like much unless we get to work,” Andy said pragmatically. “Throw that chain here.”

Andy chained the stump while Jenny started the pickup. When he gave her the sign she eased forward in low range, giving it more gas as she felt more resistance.

“Go, go, go!” Andy shouted. “Almost there! Pull!”

She stepped harder on the accelerator, feeling the tires bite in. “Glad we haven’t planted grass yet,” she had time to mutter before the truck suddenly sprang free, dragging the stump across the ground. Hard clumps of dirt cascaded from the tree’s roots. Jenny leaned from the window, craning her head back. “Should I keep going?”

Andy waved her on. “Take it all the way to the burn pile. I’ll see what we’ve got.”

When Jenny returned, Andy was waist-deep in the hole, tossing out rocks. “Look at the size of these,” he called. “Maybe I could build a rock wall. And I think I found more of your bird bath. Look at —” He suddenly went quiet.

“What is it?” Jenny asked, dropping out of the pickup truck. “The birdbath? Or something else?”

“Something else,” Andy said quietly. Both of his hands were cupped around a small white object. He cradled it carefully as he climbed out of the hole, stumbling once, but not losing his grip. He held it out to her, an unreadable expression on his face.

Jenny looked at it for several seconds before she understood what she was seeing. It was half-familiar, something she’d seen before, but she couldn’t make sense of its presence under the roots of her tree stump. “Is that a —?”

Andy nodded. “Yeah. I think it is. I really think it is.”

* * *

They called the township police department. “They’re more local than the sheriff’s department,” Jenny said. “They’ll know the history of the property.”

“That realtor,” Andy mused. “She really did sidestep our questions about the previous owners, didn’t she? I guess I know why, now.”

They were in their kitchen. On the table in front of them, set carefully on a clean towel, was most of a human skull, with a good-sized hole at the back. Jenny touched the ragged edges of the hole.

“Do you think this is what happened? Was it murder?”

“What I’m wondering is if the rest of him — or her — is down in that hole.”

Jenny shivered.

A police officer arrived, and Andy rose to let him in. The man, who had a chief’s badge pinned to his shirt, came straight to the table and put his hands down gently on either side of the skull. He seemed to struggle for a moment, then he cleared his throat and said, “Hello, Lynn.”

* * *

“It’s the end of a long, sad story,” he said later, as they walked back from an inspection of the otherwise empty hole. “I grew up with Lynn. This was her parents’ property. None of us liked her husband, but we didn’t say so. Not long after her parents died and Lynn inherited everything, she came up missing.” He stopped at the back porch, leaned heavily on the railing, and looked out over the yard. “Lynn loved this garden,” he said. “She’d be happy you folks are bringing it back.”

There was silence, then Andy asked quietly, “Did he kill her?”

The chief shook himself. “Oh, sure. We all knew that.” He gave them a look full of old pain and frustration. “Trouble was, we had to prove it. It took years. We found pieces of her in different places — the river, the dump. Eventually we had enough evidence to put the guy behind bars for good. But we never found the last piece of her.”

He took Jenny’s hand, and splashed it with a tear. “Now we can put her to rest. You folks will bring her garden back, and that’ll be good.” His shoulders shook once, then he stepped back and wiped his eyes. “It’ll be good.”

Cathy Seckman is a book indexer and freelance writer. Visit www.cathyseckman.com for more information.


Gardening tips

Avoid adding wood ash from the fireplace to your garden if your soil is alkaline or if you are growing blueberries or other acid-loving plants. Wood ash is alkaline and would increase the alkalinity of your soil.

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...

Sassafras Sassafras albidum is a native American tree that is famous for being the original flavoring for root beer. The aromatic bark from the tree was used for that purpose but is not longer recommended because it contains safrole, a suspected carcinogen.


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.

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.

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.

Bryan: The Brazos County office of Texas AgriLife Extension and the Brazos County Master Gardeners will host "The 2011 Earth-Kind Gardening 101 Series" each month through October. These monthly meetings, ideal for beginning gardeners, will teach everything from how to amend soil and grow healthier plants to tips for selecting the best spot for a vegetation garden. Classes will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., January 18, February 15, March 29, April 19, May 17, June 21, July 19, August 16, September 20 and October 18. Attend one session or attend them all. $10 per class session. Pre-registration is preferred, one week in advance of a session, but walk-ins are welcome. For more information or a registration form, visit brazosmg.com or call 979-823-0129.

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.” 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. Four classes remain. On January 18 Dr. Steve George presents “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.

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.

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

Marfa: Aspiring arborists wishing to learn the art of grafting and budding should not miss the Winter Tree Grafting and Landscaping Seminar to be conducted by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. January 20 at the Marfa National Bank on South U.S. Highway 67 in Marfa. The seminar involves the AgriLife Extension offices in Presidio and Brewster/Jeff Davis counties. The grafting/budding session is only a part of the schedule with the remainder being devoted to tips on how to ready the winter landscape for the coming spring and summer. Topics and speakers will include: When and How to Prune Dormant Landscape Plants, Debbie Benge, AgriLife Extension horticulturist for Ector and Midland counties; Vegetative Propagation Using Cuttings, John White, Chihuahuan Desert Gardens curator at the University of Texas, El Paso campus; Winter Soil Improvement, Benge; Vegetative Propagation Using Grafting and Budding, White; Planting and Transplanting Techniques, White. For more information call Jesse Lea Schneider at 432-729-4746 or Logan Boswell, AgriLife Extension agent for Brewster/Jeff Davis counties, at 432-837-6207.

Nacogdoches: The SFA Gardens at Stephen F. Austin State University will host its monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Thursday, January 20, in Room 110 of the Agriculture Building located at 1924 Wilson Drive, Nacogdoches. Naturalist Keith Kridler will present “Bluebirds Chase My Blues Away.” Kridler is co-founder of the Texas Bluebird Society and co-author of The Bluebird Monitors Guide. He maintains an extensive bluebird trail in northeast Texas with hundreds of nest boxes and lectures widely on the subject. He is also a Master Gardener, a commercial daffodil farmer, and an officer in the Texas Daffodil Society. The Theresa and Les Reeves Garden Lecture Series is generally held the third Thursday of each month at the SFA Mast Arboretum. Refreshments are served by the SFA Gardens volunteers before the lecture with a rare plant raffle being held afterward. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Greg Grant at 936- 468-1863 or grantdamon@sfasu.edu.

Conroe: The Montgomery County Master Gardeners’ Fruit and Nut Tree Sale will be held Saturday, January 22, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., at 9020 Airport Road, Conroe. A program by Tom LeRoy, County Horticulturist, begins at 8 a.m. Apples, cherries, citrus, blueberries, blackberries, pluots, plums, nectarines, onion sets, seed potatoes and so much more will be available! Please bring your wagon and join us. Have your fruit trees pruned before you leave the sale! For more information, call 936-539-7824.

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.

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.

Rosenberg: Fort Bend Master Gardeners will hold their annual Fruit and Citrus Tree Sale and Seminar on Saturday, February 12, at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds - Building D, 4310 Highway 36S, Rosenberg. An overview of plants at the sale will be given at 8:00 a.m. The sale will open at 9 a.m. and run until 1 p.m. or until sold out. Persons attending the sale are welcome to bring their own wagons. Visit www.fbmg.com for more information on varieties that will be on sale.

Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardener Association Lunch & Learn With the Masters program will hold two programs in February: February 14 master gardener Jerome Janak will discuss "Rose Planting, Pruning and Care" and February 28 Alton Meyer will discuss "Planting and Growing Fruit Trees." The programs run from noon until 1 p.m., at the Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria, and are free to the public. Bring a sack lunch and drink. For more information call 361-575-4581.

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.

San Antonio: Spring garden preparation and annual pruning are coming up on the calendar. Here’s a Saturday seminar that is just what you need to prepare for a garden of delights in your yard.  Extension Horticulturist David Rodriguez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Bexar County Master Gardeners, will lead Earth-Kind Educational Program: Pruning and Q&A Gardening Seminar from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., February 19, at Schulz Nursery, 3700 Broadway, San Antonio. Don't hesitate to bring plenty of questions and garden samples. Cost is free. For more information, call 210-804-0600.

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.

Waxahachie: The Ellis County Master Gardeners will host their 11th Annual Lawn & Garden Expo on Saturday, March 26, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., at the Waxahachie Civic Center, 1950 N. I-35E, Waxahachie. There will be 100+ exhibitor booths focusing on lawn- and garden-related products and services. There will be educational opportunities with the emphasis on fun for the whole family. There are activities throughout the day, including children and adult workshops presented by Ellis County Master Gardener specialists. There will be a huge Master Gardener plant sale area, as well as an  information booth where specialists answer horticultural questions. Tickets are $5.00 at the door; children under 12 are free. Free tickets are available from our sponsors. For a list of our sponsors, as well as further information on the Expo, visit www.ecmga.com or call 972-825-5175.

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: Rockport: Monthly meetings of the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners are held at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at Texas AgriLife Extension Service - Aransas County Office, 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 at 2 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at McGregor House, 1628 W. Henderson, Cleburne which includes a program and a meet & greet. For more information, call Diane Asberry at 817-558-3932.

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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