August 3, 2011

Welcome to Texas Gardener’s Seeds, the weekly newsletter for Texas gardeners. Please do not reply to this e-mail because the sending address is not monitored. See the bottom of this newsletter for information on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editor.



Cypress vine (
Ipomoea quamoclit) (above, center) and morning glory (Ipomoea acuminata ‘Blue Dawn’) (above) grow up to “enliven” dead spaces. (Photos by William Scheick)

The garden reader:
Growing up

By William Scheick
Book Reviewer

Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet. Garden Up!: Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces. Cool Springs Press, 2010. 223 pp. $19.95.

I can’t recall when wood privacy fences started to become a standard homescape feature in Central Texas. In 1969, when my first house was built in Austin, my neighbors and I had see-through, four-foot chain-link fences.

On different segments of my acre-lot fence, I grew various plants, including wisteria, small-flowered climbing roses, blackberries and raspberries.

But at some point — perhaps as homes were constructed on increasingly smaller parcels of land, such as my present residence — six-foot wood privacy fences started to define home property lines. And at a still later point, eight-footers began to appear.

Wood privacy fences mark boundary lines, somewhat improve home security and can shelter plants against wind and too much sun exposure. Even so, their monotonous looming ugliness dominates the scene, stymies our eyes’ wanderlust and blights an aesthetic sensibility.

So it is not surprising that homeowners often rely on plants to blanket portions of their monstrous fences. Morning glory, hyacinth bean, cypress vine, pink jasmine, trumpet vine, honeysuckle, coral vine and (toughest of all) star jasmine, among others, are favorite choices to combat the wall-of-wood eyesore.

Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet, the authors of the enlightening and well-made Garden Up!, refer to such transformations as “living walls.” But they are far more imaginative about possibilities than the usual blanketing efforts evident in most neighborhoods.

Instead, the authors offer guidance about soilless walls, pocket-style arrangements and succulent designs. “Shallow root systems and low water requirements make succulents an ideal choice for the demanding conditions of a living wall, while the amazing range of colors, textures and forms is perfect for creating a show-stopping design.”

A living wall is only one type of vertical gardening. The authors also provide sections on balcony basics, urban courtyards, arbors, trellises, privacy plantings, and hiding unsightly utility objects.

Then there are the dinky and skinny yard spaces, often used to store garbage cans. Tiny narrow patches “hidden away on the side of a house,” the authors proclaim, can become “prime garden real estate. With a little vertical know-how, these overlooked spaces can be turned into gardens that delight.”

The word “delight” perfectly summarizes my experience while enjoying Garden Up! It’s not only a beautiful, well-designed and richly illustrated book; it’s also a fruitful wellspring of practical advice for do-it-yourself home-landscape transformations.



Grass blades. (Photo courtesy of NaturesFinestSeed)

Five tips for planting and caring for your lawn in the summer heat

By Rob Wendell
NaturesFinestSeed

The hot summer months are a stressful time for your lawn, especially if your lawn is just beginning to grow from seed. The following five tips can help your lawn adjust and thrive in the summer heat.

Tip One: Keep your lawn a little taller than usual. The taller your lawn is allowed to grow, the better your lawn can keep the little water that it has available. A slightly longer lawn will allow a little more shading of the soil, which allows a little more water to remain in the soil when compared to a shorter lawn.

Tip Two: Hold off on the fertilizer. Most lawn fertilizers contain nitrogen, which has the ability to burn your lawn even under the best of conditions. As the hot summer temperatures take their toll on your lawn, adding fertilizer can be a hindrance instead of a help. If you really need fertilizer in the summer, consider a slow release fertilizer to reduce the amount of nitrogen that is reaching your lawn.

Tip Three: Water your lawn in the morning or the evening. Any water that is applied to your lawn is only useful if the water reaches the roots of the lawn. So watering during the cooler parts of the day, like mornings or evenings, will allow more water to soak into the soil instead of being evaporated away by the hot sun.

Tip Four: Water for longer periods of time during the cooler hours. When you water for longer periods of time, you allow more water to soak down into the soil. This prompts the roots of your lawn to grow deeper into the soil where the roots may find water even when the top inch of the soil becomes dry.

Tip Five: Don’t mow in the hotter part of the day. Mowing your lawn causes the lawn blades to leak fluids until they can heal themselves. By mowing your lawn in the hotter parts of the day, your leaf blades will lose more water than if you mow during the cooler parts of the day; such as morning or evening.

Rob Wendell is the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Granite Seed Company. Rob led the launch of NaturesFinestSeed.com, a division of Granite Seed focused on bringing superior seed products to consumers nationwide.


Gardening tips

If your irises appear crowded and didn’t bloom properly this past spring, they should be divided. Irises do best if they are divided every 3 o 4 years. The best time to do so is August and September but you can move them anytime if necessary. Irises are not native to our state but they are one of the toughest, most drought-tolerant perennials around and should be included in every Texas landscape.

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...

That black, powdery stuff on the seed heads of your Bermuda grass is smut, a fungal disease. It can be messy and sure is unsightly. Instead of trying to control it with a fungicide, try applying a nitrogen fertilizer that will help the Bermuda put on new leaf growth.


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. 

Austin: Cooler weather gives you an opportunity to grow and enjoy food that flourishes in the fall and winter months. Broccoli, lettuce, Swiss chard, radishes and spinach are just a few of the favorites that grow well here. Join Master Gardener Patty Leander, a Texas Gardener contributing writer, to learn about these varieties and strategies for bringing a bountiful fall harvest to the table! “Fall Vegetable Gardening” will be presented Saturday, August 6, from 10 a.m. until noon, at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin. For more information, contact the Master Gardeners Help Line at 512-854-9600. This seminar is presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners, a volunteer arm of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County. www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Seabrook: Anthony Camerino, County Extension Agent – Horticulture, will present a lecture on Lawn Care. from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 9, and The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the lake side),5001 NASA Parkway, Seabrook. This lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://harris-tx.tamu.edu/hort/.

Joshua: Junior master gardening classes will be held the second and fourth Wednesday of each month beginning August 10 and continuing through December 14, at the McPherson House, 204 S. Main, Joshua. These classes are appropriate for children 5-13, though children younger than 7 must attend with an adult. Registration is required and seating is limited. For information about specific classes or to register, contact Pat Kriener at 817-793-4625 or wildwoodc@yahoo.com.

College Station: Earth-Kind Gardening 101, led by Joe Masabni, Ph.D., Texas AgriLife Extension, Vegetable Specialist, will be held from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., August 16, at Larry J. Ringer Library, 1818 Harvey Mitchell Pkwy, College Station. Registration is $10/person. For additional information contact brazosmg@brazosmg.com.

Rockport: Marthanne Mitch, Master Gardener, will present "Butterfly Gardens" from noon until 1 p.m., Tuesday, August 16, at the Aransas County Library, 701 E. Mimosa, Rockport. For additional information, call (361)-790-0103.

Seabrook: Dr. Carol Brouwer will speak on Hydroponics for the home gardener at 10 a.m., Wednesday, August 17, at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the lakeside), 5001 NASA Parkway, Seabrook. This lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://harris-tx.tamu.edu/hort.

Fort Worth: The Organic Garden Club of Fort Worth presents "Self Sustainability for Your Lifestyle," August 20, at the Deborah Beggs Moncrief Botanical Garden Center-Oak Hall, 3220 Bontanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth. This free day of lectures includes sessions on growing tomatoes, garlic, and herbs, and raising bees and goats. For more information, contact Esther Chambliss at herbalhen@yahoo.com or 817-263-9322.

Bryan: "The Beauty and Benefits of Native Plants and Grasses," led by JCarolyn Fannon, will be held from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m., August 23, at The Brazos Center, 3232 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan. For additional information contact brazosmg@brazosmg.comm.

Bexar County: Register now for Bexar County Master Gardener Class #54. Classes begin August 24, meeting once a week 4 p.m.-8 p.m., and end November 16. Application form available at www.bexarcountymastergardeners.org. Click on New Master Gardener Class Application. Registration deadline is August 10.

Cibolo: Do you have a love for gardening and want to learn more about horticulture? Then the next Guadalupe County Master Gardener training class is for you. Classes are on Wednesdays, August 24 to December 7 from noon to 4:30 p.m. at St Paul Evangelical Church, 108 S Main, Cibolo. Learn from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension specialists, staff and local experts. Topics cover botany and plant growth, entomology, Xeriscaping, propagation, herbs and vegetables, tree care and pruning principles, composting and organic horticulture, water conservation and much more. Registration is $170 with a 10% discount if received by August 1. For more information, visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org or contact Jose Antonio Contreras, elmerojose@gmail.com, 830-401-0800.

Bryan: A Fall Gardening Seminar will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., August 27, at The Brazos Center, Room 102, 3232 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan. Sessions include Jim Johnson, AAF, AIFD, TMFA, Distinguished Lecturer, Texas A&M University on "Seeing is Believing"; Kayron Dube, DDS, Brazos County Master Gardener on "Earth Systems—Soils"; Patty Leander, Travis County Master Gardener Vegetable Specialist and Texas Gardener contributing writer on "Fall Vegetable Gardening"; and Chris Wiesinger, The Southern Bulb Company, on "The Bulb Hunter & Heirloom Bulbs." Registration is $50/person and includes snacks and sandwich lunch buffet. Preregistration by August 23 is preferred. Seminar information and registration form is available at brazosmg.com.

Austin: Fall Transplanting and Dividing Perennials will be presented from 10 a.m. until noon, Saturday, September 10, at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin. Fall is the best time to transplant and divide your garden perennials. Learn how to share your extra plants with others and re-locate perennials that may have overgrown their current place in the landscape. Get a jump on spring blooms by giving them a chance to develop a strong root system. Join Master Gardener Velia Sanchez-Ruiz in proper planning and execution of these essential garden tasks. For more information, contact the Master Gardeners Help Line at 512-854-9600 or visit www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Nacogdoches: Greg Grant leads "Landscape Design" from 9 a.m. until noon, September 10, in Room 118, Ag Building, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches. $15 members, $20 non-members. For more information or to make reservations, call 936-468-18312 or email erodewald@sfasu.edu.

San Antonio: The Amazing Butterfly Exhibit at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston at N. New Braunfels, San Antonio, opens the weekend of September 17-18 and continues through January 8, 2012. Explore the interactive maze to learn about the incredible life cycle of butterflies and the surprising challenges they face every day. The exhibit is free with admission. Admission is $8 adults; $6 students, seniors, military; $5 children age 3-13. For additional information, call 210-829-5100 or visit www.sabot.org.

Conroe: The Montgomery County Master Gardener Association is pleased to present Greg Grant, Horticulturist, Plant Propagator and Humorist on Tuesday, October 4. The program will start at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Thomas LeRoy Education Center, 9020 Airport Road, Conroe, which is across the street from the Lone Star Convention Center. Greg is a contributor to Texas Gardener Magazine, among others, and his topic for the evening will be Home Landscaping — Texas: Right Plant, Right Place. His talk will include basic landscaping design principles as well as some of his favorite plants. This is a rare opportunity to see one of Texas’ best gardening speakers in a local setting. The fee will be $20.00 per person and seating will be limited. Please call 936-539-7824 Monday through Friday for more information, or visit www.montgomerycountymastergardeners.org. There will also be information available about the Montgomery County Master Gardeners’ Fall Plant Sale at this event, which will be held Saturday, October 15, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

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.

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 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.

Longview: The Gregg County Master Gardeners Association meets the second Wednesday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension Office, 405 E. Marshall Ave., Longview. The public is invited to attend. There is an educational program preceding the business meeting. For further information call Cindy Gill at 903-236-8429 or visit www.gregg-tx.tamu.edu.

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.

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 texascatalina@yahoo.com.

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

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Texas Gardener’s Seeds is published weekly. © Suntex Communications, Inc. 2011. All rights reserved. You may forward this publication to your friends and colleagues if it is sent in its entirety. No individual part of this newsletter may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher.

Missed an issue? Back issues of Texas Gardener’s Seeds are available at www.texasgardener.com/newsletters.

Publisher: Chris S. Corby ● Editor: Michael Bracken

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