March 9, 2011

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Good fungi might prove even better for plant, human health

By Kathleen Phillips
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Researchers have come closer to understanding how a common fungus “makes its living in the soil,” which could lead to its possible “career change” as a therapeutic agent for plant and human health.

That’s according to Dr. Charles Kenerley, Texas AgriLife Research plant pathologist, and a team of scientists from the U.S., India and France, whose study on Trichoderma virens is in February’s Journal of Biological Chemistry.

T. virens already enjoy a good reputation in the plant world. The fungi is found throughout the world in all types of soil, Kenerley explained.

“We started working with this organism because it has what we would call biological control activity,” he added. “They are used either as seed treatment, as a foliar spray, or in the mixtures of potting soil at nurseries (to help control disease).”

Because they are mycoparasites, T. virens attack other, less desirable fungi that can harm roots and foliage of plants, he added. Colonization of plant roots by T. virens also prompts the plant to produce defense responses to fight off pathogenic fungi.

As a bonus, when no pathogens are loitering, T. virens enhance the growth of plants, he added.

“These fungi are very diversified organisms that have various roles in ecology,” Kenerley said, “so agriculture has adopted them for use in biocontrol or growth promotion. T. virens will colonize most agricultural crops including corn, cotton, sorghum and alfalfa, as well as woody plants and numerous other nursery plants.”

Anything good enough to fight off disease and encourage growth might have more to offer, the scientists reasoned, so they looked deeper.

Sure enough, Kenerley noted, T. virens also produce antibiotics and short chains of amino acids called peptaibols. Amino acids — because they string together to form protein — are like the cinder blocks of all living things.

In this study, the researchers found two classes of peptaibols that contain more than 70 components that had never been described.

“What is also exciting is that the 11- and 14-amino acid peptaibols have great diversity. The chemists I work with have been able to identify 52 different forms of this 11-amino acid peptaibol,” Kenerley said. “When you have so many different forms, you have now a suite of compounds that you can test (for potential uses).”

Sorting out that diversity to determine any specific uses for each of the 52 forms is something the team continues to pursue.

“Some might be interesting for use in plant science and some might be looked at by the pharmaceutical industry for human uses,” he said.

The researcher said finding potential uses for the compounds will not be easy.

“The biggest challenge is not only in selection of the most appropriate form, but then how do you gear the organism to produce more of what you want rather than the whole suite of its compounds,” Kenerley said. “There’s probably an ecological reason the fungus produces a diversity of these compounds. I’m sure it has to do with survival in the soil, and its interaction with other organisms and plant roots.

“The compounds are not necessarily there for our benefit, but we would like to use these compounds in different applications,” he added.

While Kenerley’s team is considering agricultural uses for the peptaibols, others are considering pharmaceutical uses for treating tumors in humans or perhaps their ability to work against harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses, he said.

“You can see that they would have great potential if they have therapeutic value but are not harmful to the hosts — the hosts being humans,” Kenerley added.

The scientist said once researchers understand how the peptaibols are produced by the fungus, the fungus could be potentially modified to produce only the part needed for a specific use.

“If we can demonstrate a cheap way to make these, the specific form desired could be synthesized,” he said. “The problem right now is there are so many forms of these peptaibols, you really don’t know which one to go after. We need to figure out ‘do I need a combination of these things? or really do I only need to make one or two?”

Kenerley’s team is working with chemists in France to determine which peptaibols to select for continued work.

  State poster contest helps teachers school their students about the benefits of trees

By Holly Huffman
Texas Forest Service

Fourth and fifth grade teachers tasked with educating their students about trees and the benefits they provide have a tool to help liven up their lessons — the 2011 Texas Arbor Day Poster Contest.

A diverse community forest is a healthy community forest, and that’s just the point that the state poster contest is focusing on this year.

Sponsored by Texas Forest Service and open this year to both fourth and fifth grade students, the contest carries the theme Trees are Terrific in all Shapes and Sizes! It’s designed to boost students’ environmental stewardship by having them create a community complete with not just trees but the right trees planted in the right places.

The contest — and included environmental lessons — are correlated to the state curriculum for science and art, said Contest Coordinator Pete Smith.

“It’s just a fun way to educate students about the benefits that come from the trees that surround us,” Smith said. “It’s not about forests somewhere else; it’s about trees where we live, trees that we see every day. Hopefully, the lesson will instill in them an environmental ethic that they can carry forward.”


Unlike previous years, the national contest sponsored by The Arbor Day Foundation will not be held. As such, rules for the state competition have been tweaked this year.

Both fourth and fifth grade students are eligible to participate.

Posters may be no larger than 11 inches by 17 inches.

The deadline for each school to submit its winning poster is March 25, 2011.


The winning student will receive a $500 savings bond and a year-long family pass for Texas state parks, as well as a framed copy of his or her poster and an invitation to the Texas Arbor Day ceremony in Pearland on April 29, 2011.

The winning teacher will receive a personal iPad and $250 to go toward classroom supplies.

The winning school will receive $250 for environmental books or supplies and a tree planted on the campus as part of an Arbor Day celebration.

For more information about the contest or to download the 2011 Activity Guide, visit the 2011 Texas Arbor Day Poster Contest website. Or, email Poster Contest Coordinator Pete Smith at


Making friends with your garden intruders

Messina Wildlife

As the warm weather moves in for good and you make your way outside to enjoy your yard this spring, you may find that you’re not the first one to get your hands, or paws in the dirt. It seems as if every year, more and more animals are finding their way into backyards, flower beds and gardens then ever before, causing homeowners more problems than ever.

For some of us, the occasional deer that decides to pass by our decks on a spring day or the rabbit that quietly hops through our grass is nothing more then a pleasant reminder of the flora and fauna that spring brings each year with its arrival. However, if you’re one the many that sees these animals as unwanted intruders prying on your beloved tulips and roses, their arrival can most certainly be met with equal parts fear and disdain.

Before you throw up your hands in defeat or take drastic measures in defense of your pansies by erecting a high fence at the cost of natural aesthetics, there are a few things you should probably know to help send a message to these unwanted guests who’ve chosen your yard as a preferred buffet stop that the party is over.

Most likely, the deer you see this spring is the same deer that you saw last fall…though they may have brought company with them. As the number of predators has fallen in recent years, the rise of healthy offspring has grown from the occasional fawn to twins or triplets in some cases, and they stick by mom’s side until they can learn to survive on their own, which means as she teaches them the best spots on the block to fill up, they’ll be sure to remember to come back when they’re on their own.

The unfortunate fact for all of us that spend so much time planning the perfect back yard oasis is that female deer do not migrate, instead they will seek haven in the familiar settings of the same neighborhood year after year. The same will go for any female offspring that successfully learn to forage and survive the harsh winter. The bucks, however, will migrate for miles in search of habitat and a mate, which, unfortunately, leads to more deer to deal with next year.

The best moves you can make to stop the damage caused by these animals is to consult with your local extension service or university to find out what native plants are the most deer resistant. After all, one deer can consume more than ten pounds of foliage a day, and as you have probably already figured out, there’s no such thing as a deer-proof plant, no matter what your local garden center tells you. There is simply what a deer will eat first, and what a deer will eat later. Even harsh plant material such as andromeda, barberry, boxwood and holly are, at best, least preferred to deer browsing, and selecting plants like these is a great way to start your defense against their voracious appetite.

As for the rabbits and other nesting animals that have begun their exploration of your yard and ground attack on your newly emerging flowers, consider their size and use it against them. Small decorative fences and walls can be a great way to hide your true intention: protection. If you’re able to find out where these animals tunnel and make their nests, you should consider decorative ways to close and cover them up. A large potted flower pot can take up the space that they’ve been using in a way that provides some color to a spot you may have neglected, while freshly mulched beds can disrupt a familiar nesting spot just enough to relocate your unwanted guests.

And when all else fails, there are plenty of homemade remedies and commercially available products to help. For years, Irish Spring’s soap has been shaved and sprinkled in flower beds to keep animals away, but you need to keep an eye on the area as rain and watering will wash it away quickly. If you want something a little more professional, try your local garden center or hardware store for commercial products such as Messina Wildlife’s Animal Stopper line (

No matter how you decide to defend your turf this spring, remember that while the expression may be that good fences may make good neighbors, learning to live with nature makes for a good life. By being able to coexist with the animals that pose a threat to your garden, you may find new joy in seeing how wonderful they can surprise you just by being there.


Houston rainwater-harvesting training for professionals set March 11

By Robert Burns
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Rainwater harvesting might be one of the few ways to irrigate your landscape if water restrictions come into play because of drought, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.

"Not many people realize this now, but most of Texas is currently under drought conditions, and come summer, water restrictions may be implemented," said Brent Clayton, AgriLife Extension assistant with the Texas A&M biological and agricultural engineering department. "As far as I know, most localities will let people use harvested rainwater water for irrigation during times of restrictions."

Rainwater harvesting is also a cost-efficient means to control flooding if the situation turns around, Clayton said.

To respond to requests from professional irrigators, AgriLife Extension will offer a one-day training in collecting and using rainwater on March 11 at the AgriLife Extension office in Harris County, 3033 Bear Creek Drive, Houston.

Participants will be charged $150 if they preregister, or $175 for same-day registration.

There will be 90 percent refund for those who preregister but who cancel before the day of the program. The registration fee will include lunch and a new manual published by AgriLife Extension titled, "Rainwater Harvesting: System Planning."

"This 200-plus-page manual is an extensive guide for those looking to plan a rainwater harvesting system," Clayton said.

Though larger commercial systems will be discussed, the focus of the training will be on rainwater for use in the landscape and home, Clayton said.

Registration will start at 8:30 a.m., with the presentation beginning at 9 a.m.

The first presentation will be a brief introduction of the trainers and their backgrounds. Next will be a "big picture" overview of rainwater harvesting methods used throughout the state. Sustainability as well as economics will be discussed.

"Sizing of Rainwater Harvesting System Components" will review the basic components of a rainwater harvesting system, including information on how to size a storage tank, cover designs and conveyance-pipe systems.

After lunch, "Methods to Improve Stored Water Quality" will cover selecting roofing materials, gutter screening, first-flush diversion design, basket screens, connection of multiple tanks and dealing with overflows.

"Pumps and Controls" will review various commercial pumps and control systems.

In "Treatment of Harvested Water," AgriLife Extension experts will explain what kind of treatment is needed for collected water depending on whether it is for potable or non-potable use.

The session titled "Maintenance" will cover maintenance of filtering and disinfection devices, as well as tanks, gutters and rooftops.

The training will wind up at about 4:30 p.m. with an opportunity for participants to review, evaluate and ask questions.

To register, go to the AgriLife Extension conference services website at and search for "rainwater." Alternately participants may call 979-845-2604 to register.

For more information, contact Justin Mechell at 979-845-1395 or

The compost heap
Global warming: 'Compost' or 'political junk science'?

"I read Seeds and Texas Gardener as soon as they are available but I must take issue with one of the articles here," writes Eric Kolber. "The article about weeds and CO2  ('Carbon dioxide pollution helps weeds thrive, lowers impact of herbicides,' Seeds, March 3, 2011) is interesting but the mention of global warming should be tempered since it is really junk science that has brought it out and popularized by Al Gore ( follow the money to see if he benefited or was truly interested in the earth, check out the size of his house). Since we have been in cooling cycle for the last 20 years at least, the hyper radicals have even ceased to call global warming by that name, now as a further subterfuge it is called climate change. I would suggest staying neutral at worst or at best call junk science for what it is, compost. Thank you for a great magazine and weekly tips, I'd be lost without them."

"I'm a new subscriber," writes Gary Pirhala. "I may cancel if I read anymore of this liberal global warming nonsense ('Carbon dioxide pollution helps weeds thrive, lowers impact of herbicides,' Seeds, March 3, 2011). The last two years of global warming are killing my palm trees and perennials. I would like to respect your magazine and newsletter. Please don't inject political junk science."

Gardening tips

If you are trying to attract butterflies to your garden don’t forget to provide a food source for the caterpillars as well as nectar plants for the butterflies. Good plants for this purpose include Italian flat-leaved parsley, passionflower vine, dill and fennel.

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...

Kaolin is naturally occurring clay that is used by organic gardeners to control insects and plant diseases. It is mixed with water and sprayed on plants to form a fine white film that provides a barrier that stops many insects and a few diseases. It can be easy wiped off prior to consumption but is so safe that it is often used as and anti-caking agent in processed foods and in toothpaste and some medicines.

Field of vetch wanted

Wanted: Field of vetch in East Texas. Jerry Stroope, Stroope Honey Farms, Houston, is looking for a fairly large meadow with an abundance of vetch. He will place a truck load of hives in the meadow in return for a case of honey. He noticed a field of this fragrant, purple flowered legume between Henderson and Nacogdoches last year. To take advantage of this sweet deal, call Jerry at 281-732-5850.

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.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Garden Center Spring Plant Sale will be held Friday and Saturday, March 11-12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 3310 N. New Braunfels @ Funston, San Antonio. Shop for beautiful, quality plants along with an assortment of unique plants at the donation station contributed by members from their own yards and gardens. For more information visit, or call 210-824-9981. Note: Cash and checks only.

Conroe: The Montgomery County Master Gardener Association Spring Plant Sale will be Saturday, March 12 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at 9020 Airport Road, Conroe. A presentation by County Horticulturist Tom LeRoy will be at 8 a.m. Antique roses, citrus, avocados, more! Bring your wagon!  For additional information, visit or call 936-539-7824.

Huntsville: Walker County Master Gardeners present their Annual Spring Plant Sale, Saturday, March 12, from 8 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at 102 Tam Road (at Hwy 75, 2 miles north of the Pilot Truck Stop), Huntsville. Included in the sale will be vegetable plants, heirloom tomatoes, annuals, shrubs, natives, herbs and many unusual plants. A pre-sale seminar “Everything Tomato” will be held Thursday, March 10, 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at the same location. Call 936-435-2426 for more information.

Moulton: Keep Moulton Beautiful (KMB)’s next “Breakfast with the Masters” program is scheduled for Saturday, March 12, from 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. at the Moulton Community Center. Planting season is just around the corner, so Gerald Bludau, master gardener from Victoria, will present “Spring Vegetable Gardening.” This session is offered free to the public and KMB will be providing free coffee and doughnuts. For more information, contact KMB President Kathy Hughes at 361-596-4433.

Nacogdoches: The Stephen F. Austin State University Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden will host the annual Nacogdoches Azalea Trail Symposium Saturday, March 12, from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. in Room 110 of the Agriculture Building on Wilson Drive on the SFA Campus in historic Nacogdoches. Noted SFA horticulturist, Dr. David Creech, will be the featured speaker. Dr. Creech will share his enthusiasm for native and other azaleas in his lecture, “Deciduous Azaleas, New Landscape Accents for Your Garden.” He will discuss the unique features of deciduous azaleas, including their bright colors and fragrance, and how to use and grow them to best effect in home landscapes. Unlike the more common evergreen azaleas, deciduous azaleas bloom before the foliage emerges and sport fragrant showy flowers in unusual color combinations including bright yellow and orange. Dr. David Creech, Regent’s Professor, has been at Stephen F. Austin State University since 1978 and is director of the SFA Mast Arboretum and Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, and co-directs the Pineywoods Native Plant Center. Dr. Creech received his B.S. and Ph.D. in Horticulture from Texas A&M University and his M.S. from Colorado State. His research effort has focused on blueberry germplasm and production studies, alternative crop/alternative technology, crop nutrition, and evaluation of new plant materials for the South. Lunch is provided, followed by tips on propagating, growing, and pruning azaleas, plus a guided tour of the SFA Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden by Barbara Stump and Dr. Creech. The program is sponsored by Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens. Admission is $30 for SFA Gardens members; $40 for non-members. To register, call 936-564-7351 or e-mail For more information e-mail or visit

Rosenberg: The Fort Bend Master Gardeners will hold their Annual Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, March 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 a.m. The program is free and open to the public, no reservation required. The sale will open at 9 a.m. and will will run until 1 p.m. Visit for more information about the plants that will be at the sale.

San Antonio: Visit the San Antonio Botanical Garden during Spring Break for daily children’s programs for ages 7-11 beginning at 10 a.m. each morning. Registration and fees vary. Monday, March 14 Pioneer Life in the Garden. Explore the Garden's pioneer log cabins! We'll learn how early settlers raised animals and grew and preserved their own vegetables. Fee: $3 plus Garden admission ($5/child, members free). Tuesday, March 15 Japanese Gardening and Culture. As children tour our Japanese Garden, they will discover the hidden meaning of features such as the stone turtle, hills, and lanterns. Kids will also learn about Japanese culture by making crafts and learning fun words in Japanese! Fee: $3 plus Garden admission ($5/child, members free). Tuesday, March 15 Seed Balls: What is a seed ball? Seed balls are miniature gardens waiting to form. They are created by rolling together a mixture of native seed, clay, sand and compost into a ball. Finished seed balls can be distributed in areas where irrigation is limited and a wildflower garden is desired. The right amount of rainfall is all that is required for germination. Horticulturist Michelle Gorham will guide children ages 5-12 through this fun, messy and informative class. Register through NEISD Community Education at Fee: $27 (includes Garden admission) plus $5 supply fee due on the first day of class. Wednesday, March 16 Birding for Kids! From talons to camouflage, birds have amazing adaptations! Come join us to learn about how these adaptations help birds survive in the wild. We'll practice focusing binoculars and observing birds through them before we go birding in the Garden. Fee: $3 plus Garden admission ($5/child, members free). Thursday, March 17 Worm Bins. Kids can learn how to turn their carrot tops and leftover lettuce into food for worms. Finished reading that newspaper? Throw that in, too! Now you're ready for some pet worms to help turn your kitchen scraps into rich soil for your plants. Register through NEISD Community Education at Fee: $27 (includes Garden admission) plus $5 supply fee due on the first day of class. Friday, March 18 Junior Gardeners. Kids will get their hands on horticulture through fun crafts and gardening activities! Fee: $3 plus Garden admission ($5/child, members free). The San Antonio Botanical Garden is located at 555 Funston at North New Braunfels Avenue with free parking. The Botanical Garden is operated under the auspices of the City of San Antonio Department of Parks & Recreation and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, the public can visit

Livingston: Learn how to create a pollinator garden at 6:30 p.m., March 15, at the Texas AgriLife Extension office meeting room behind 602 E. Church, Livingston. For directions or more information, call 936-327-6828.

College Station: "Gardening Study School I" will be March 17-18 at the Texas A&M University Horticulture Building, College Station. Taught by Dr. Joe Novak, Texas A&M University Department of Horticulture, the course includes botany, soils, houseplant basics, plant propagation, garden ecosystems.  Admittance is limited to 35 attendees. Registration of $100 is due postmarked by February 24 to Texas Garden Club GSS State Chairman: Jane W. Cohen, 3655 McCullough Road, College Station, TX 77845; 979-690-3500. A registration form may be downloaded from: 1) NGC web site at, then Schools, then Gardening Study Schools, then March 17-18; 2) Texas Garden Club web page at, then events, then March 17-18, Registration Form; 3) A&M Garden Club web page at, then activities, then Gardening Study School. The classes usually go from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., with sign-in the first 15 minutes. The Gardening Study Schools are a series of 4 schools. Each school may be taken individually. Courses are usually offered about 6 months apart. Attendees who take all four within a seven-year period, may become a Gardening Consultant. Schools are offered regularly through Texas Garden Club sponsorship.

Kingsland: Get ready for "Spring Vegetable Gardening" with Master Gardener Violet Carson in a free Green Thumb program presented by the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners on Thursday, March 17 at noon at the Kingsland Library, 125 W Polk. For more information, visit

Round Top: The 16th Annual Herbal Forum at Round Top Plant Sale and “Thyme Well Spent” gift shops presented by the Pioneer Unit of the Herb Society of America will be open to the public Friday and Saturday, March 18 and 19 (Friday from 9a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.). They will be located adjacent to the Festival Hill Concert Hall, which is on Jasper Road, 1/2 mile north of Round Top off of Highway 237. This plant sale has become one of the most anticipated plant sales in the area for gardeners seeking herbal plants and other garden plants suitable to this area that are seldom available in local retail outlets. Henry Flowers, the Director of Gardens at Festival Hill, will present an overview of the plants at the sale Friday morning at 10 a.m. The gift shops offer many garden-related hand-crafted items, including herb-based products. Proceeds support the gardens at Festival Hill and the educational activities and scholarship programs of the HSA-Pioneer Unit. Herbal Forum information is at or 979-249-3129.

Austin: A Passion for Plants: An East Austin Garden Fair will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturday, March 19, the last weekend of Spring Break, at New Covenant Fellowship of Austin Church, 1507 Wilshire Blvd., Austin. The theme of the fifth annual fair is Edible Landscaping. This free public gardening event will feature hands-on demonstrations of how to dig a garden bed, harvest rain water, grow fruits and vegetables organically, start plants from cuttings and seeds, and how to cut back on chemicals that harm our environment and ourselves. Come for the free advice from on-site experts who will answer all of your gardening questions, for tips on living healthier and happier, and for fun educational activities for kids to get them out in nature in your own back yard! Get ready for spring with all the free information needed to start an edible landscape, whether it’s one plant in a pot or a whole yard full, and enjoy eating healthier and being healthy! Hosted by Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Travis County Master Gardeners Association, the Sustainable Food Center, and the Holistic Education and Health Network. Call the Texas AgriLife Extension Service at 512-854-9600 for more information.

San Antonio: Linda Reed from Ladybug Natural Brand Products will present "Square Foot Gardening" at 10 a.m., March 19, at the Antique Rose Emporium, 7561 E. Evans Road, San Antonio. This free presentation will demonstrate how to get the maximum yield with the square-foot gardening approach to growing. For additional information, call 210-651-4565 or visit

Lufkin: A Spring Native Plant Seminar will be presented March 22, at 6:30 p.m. at Angelina County Extension Office, 2201 South Medford Drive, Lufkin (next to the Farmer’s Market on the Loop). Dawn Stover, Research Assistant at SFA Arboretum will speak on “Native Plants in the Landscape.” Dawn will discuss her favorite native plants and how to include them in your landscape. This event is hosted by Angelina County Extension and the Angelina Master Gardener Native Plant Committee and is open to the public. For more information, call 936-634-6414 or visit

Lake Charles, La.: 2011 Southwest Louisiana Garden Festival, March 25-26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, La. The Southwest Louisiana Garden Festival inside the Burton Coliseum is celebrating gardening with its 12th Annual Show and Plant Extravaganza about gardening, flowers, trees, shrubs, garden accessories, books, demonstrations, educational lectures, and general garden tools. Area, regional and interstate exhibitors and vendors will be there to assist you with your plant and garden needs. The Federated Garden Clubs of Southwest Louisiana will present: “Lovely Louisiana” their 2011 flower show theme. They will be displaying their floral design and horticulture talents. There will be new and exciting educational programs about garden topics of interest by LSU AgCenter specialist, as well as, regional, state and national guest speakers. The festival attracts more than 4,000 garden lovers, residents, and visitors each year. There will be a Plant Health Clinic with professionals from the LSU AgCenter as well as Master Gardener volunteers who will help diagnose plant problems and answer garden questions. Educational garden seminars will be on-going throughout the two day event. The 4-H ‘Rent-A-Kid’ will be there to help festival-goers carry out items to their vehicles. Educational programs include Home Vegetable Gardening and Fruit Production held on Friday while programs on Ornamentals and Landscape Gardening & Herbs being held on Saturday. The SWL Master Gardeners will present their Garden Fest Preview Party with a Gumbo Supper & Silent Auction in the Chalkley Room of the Burton Colisem on Thursday, March 24, 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Donation of $10.00 in advance for admission. Tickets can be purchased at the LSU Agcenter, 7101 Gulf Hwy., Lake Charles. Attendees will enjoy the gumbo supper, participate in the Silent Auction, preview the Garden Show and purchase from the Garden Fest vendors that evening. Regular Garden Festival hours are Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission is $2 for adults and free for children 12 and under. For more information, visit, or contact Robert Turley or Pat Ortego at 337-475-8812.

Nacogdoches: The SFA Pineywoods Native Plant Center will host a two-part garden seminar, “How to Identify and Attract Backyard Birds,” on March 25 from 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. and on March 26 from 8 a.m.-11 am. Participants will enjoy a Friday evening lecture with Cliff Shackelford, ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, about identification of common local birds. On Saturday morning, Cliff will lead a leisurely birding stroll through the PNPC property and on to the Shackelford home near the Pineywoods Native Plant Center to visit their backyard made “for the birds.” Shackelford is a 7th generation Texan and started bird watching at the early age of nine. He holds both B.S. and M.S. degrees in biology, with an emphasis in avian ecology, from Stephen F. Austin State University, and has authored more than 50 publications on birds and birding. He is the lead author of the book Hummingbirds of Texas, published in 2005 by Texas A&M University Press. Participants will meet for both sessions at the Tucker House at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet Street, Nacogdoches. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended, and binoculars are available for first-time birders that need them. Cost is $20 for members of SFA Gardens Friends and $25 for non-members. To register, call the SFA Gardens Education Office at 936-468-1832 or email

Burnet: The 13th Annual Hill Country Lawn and Garden Show, will be held at the Burnet Community Center, 401 E Jackson, Burnet, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., Saturday, March 26. Free to public. For more information, contact

Houston: The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Program Garden Tour: March 26 visit five Houston private gardens, open to benefit the Garden Conservancy and Peckerwood Garden. No reservations required; rain or shine. Visit website for complete garden descriptions and driving directions. Admission is $5 per garden; children 12 and under are free. See or call The Garden Conservancy toll-free weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, 1-888-842-2442.

McKinney: The Collin County Master Gardeners will present The Garden Show, March 26 and 27 at the Myers Park and Event Center, McKinney. The Garden Show is packed with exciting and informative educational events with hands on activities and demos by local experts. Mariana Greene, Dr. Dotty Woodson, Kim Schofield, Dr. Greg Church, Michael O’Keefe, Roger Sanderson, Dr. Steve George, Buddy Lee and many Collin County Master Gardeners will speak on timely information on outdoor living in North Texas. Tour Our Perennial Trial Garden; Learn How to Build a Rain Barrel; Creating and Using Compost; Building a Raised Bed; Vegetable Gardening; Growing Herbs; Planting for Summer Color; Learn How to Propagate Plants; Growing Great Turf Grass; Growing in Containers; What is IPM?; How do I Collect and Use Rain Water?; Improving Your Sprinkler System; Visit With Local Garden Clubs and Nonprofit Organizations; Learn How Our Collin County Cities Are Going Green; Visit the Great Vendors and Much, Much More. Admission is 2 cans of food or $2 per car for the North Texas Food Bank. For more information, contact or visit

San Antonio: Native Plant Society of Texas, San Antonio Chapter will host the 2nd Annual "Native San Antonio!" on Saturday, March 26, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Land Heritage Institute, 1349 Neal Rd., San Antonio. Free and open to the public, this is an outdoor celebration of all things native to San Antonio that will include a tree give-away, native plant sales, guided nature walks, activities for kids, hay rides, Native American Hot Rocks Cooking and Chuck Wagon Demo, arts and crafts, food, music and speakers. For additional information, visit

Seabrook: Gaye Hammond, past president of the Houston Rose Society, will present "The Rose — America's True Native" at 10 a.m. March 26, at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake (on the lake side), 5001 NASA Parkway, Seabrook. This lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

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 or call 972-825-5175.

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. The remaining classes will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., 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 or call 979-823-0129.

Austin: There’s an old saying in the pest control industry: “There are two types of homes in Texas — those with termites and those that will have them within seven years.” Which category do you fit into? This class will arm homeowners with information so they feel comfortable discussing management options for termites with pest professionals. Do you know how termites look for food? Can you tell the difference between ants and termites? Learn how to identify the types of termites found in Central Texas and their management options at Termite Training for Homeowners, Wednesday, March 30, from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. at Travis County AgriLife Extension Office, 1600-B Smith Rd., Austin. For additional information, call 512-854-9600.

Austin: Enjoy the pleasures of fresh homegrown vegetables. Imagine baskets of okra, tomatoes, squash and green beans from your own garden! Learn how to plant and maintain this garden from Master Gardener Vegetable Specialist and Texas Gardener Contributing Writer Patty Leander when she leads “Spring Vegetable Gardening,” from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., March 30 at Old Quarry Branch Library, 7051 Village Center Dr., Austin. She will share popular varieties for Central Texas, recommended planting dates and tips for organic gardening and insect control. This free seminar, packed with information and color photographs, will benefit both new and experienced gardeners, so don’t miss this great kick-off to spring gardening! Arrive early to ensure a seat as this is one of our most popular seminars. 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 or call the Master Gardener Public Gardening Help Desk at 512-854-9600.

Highland Lakes: The Kingsland Garden Club Annual Plant Sale will be held at the Kingsland House of Arts & Crafts Spring Sale behind Wells Fargo Bank on Chamberlain St. in Kingsland on Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3. Purchase good home-grown Hill Country plants at reasonable prices. Arrive early for best selection.  Open Saturday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. For additional information, visit

Stephenville: The annual Stephenville Native & Heirloom Plant Fair will be held Saturday, April 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Stephenville Museum, 525 E Washington St., Stephenville. Vendors will be offering native and adapted plants, herbs, vegetables, arts & crafts, concessions, and more. Informative speakers. Vendor space is free; contact Russell at 254-968-9761 or For more information, including directions, visit

Austin:: Learn the answer to “What’s Bugging my Vegetables?” Saturday, April 9, from 10 a.m. until noon at Homewood Heights Community Garden, 2606 Sol Wilson Ave, Austin. Learn about the most common garden insects…good and bad. Knowledge is power and you’ll walk away knowing you can identify the eggs, nymphs, and adults. Discover Integrated Pest Management (IPM), an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. Park in the neighborhood. Garden is on the north side of street west of Sol Wilson/Ridgeway intersection. 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 or call the Master Gardener Public Gardening Help Desk at 512-854-9600.

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:

Cleburne: The Johnson County Master Gardener Association 3rd Annual Plant Sale will be held Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Cleburne Senior Center 1212 Glenwood Drive Cleburne. Native and adapted plants selected for Johnson County Featuring perennials, shrubs, vegetables, herbs and annuals. Large selection of Earth-Kind roses. Planting advice from Johnson County Master Gardeners. Free admission and parking. Free education classes Children's Activity Center. For additional information, visit

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 or

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. 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

Dallas: The Greater North Texas Orchid Society will host "Expose Yourself to Orchids," an orchid show and sale, Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Texas A&M Extension Center, Pavilion Building, 17360 Coit Rd., Dallas. Free Admission. For additional information, visit

Nacogdoches: 2011 Family Fun Days planned through Nacogdoches Naturally, an outdoor education component of the Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens, will include exciting outdoor weekend programs beginning in January and extending through May. Upcoming events include: April 16, SFA Garden Gala Day Plant Sale and Earth Day Celebration, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., SFA Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet Street; April 30, Farm and Forest Day, 9 a.m.-Noon, SFA Beef Center, Highway 259; May 14, Lake Sam Rayburn/Caney Creek Recreation Area, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Lake Sam Rayburn Nature Center, $10 per family. Events are free unless otherwise noted. For more information or to register, call Kerry Lemon 936-468-5586 or email


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: 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 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

Brownwood: The Brown County Master Gardeners Association meets the first Thursday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension Office, 605 Fisk Ave., Brownwood. For further information, call Mary Green Engle at 325-784-8453.

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 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 and

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 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

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.

Leander: The Leander Garden Club meets on the fourth Thursday of each month (except July and August) at 10:30 a.m. at the Leander Presbyterian Church, 101 N. West Drive, Leander, unless there is a field trip or an event at a member's home. Following a short business meeting, there is usually a program, followed by a shared pot-luck luncheon. To confirm the meeting place and time, please call Cathy Clark-Ramsey at 512-963-4698 or email

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.

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