March 27, 2013

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Super-size it: Large container gardens in 3 easy steps

Tesselaar Plants

As the popularity of outdoor leisure spaces explodes, designers are stressing the need for larger container gardens. Not only do bigger pieces better match the scale of surrounding trees and architecture, experts explain — they soften the harsh lines and defined spaces of hardscaping.

So how do you go about super-sizing containers? Here’s a step-by-step guide from the experts.

1: Size up the setting

First, the pros say, evaluate your surroundings.

“Groups of big planters are useful for softening edges and corners of large spaces,” explains Todd Holloway, owner of Pot Incorporated, an award-winning container and landscaping company in Vancouver, British Columbia. “Singular, large planters can be used symmetrically at the corners of spaces to add height and boundaries that define architectural elements. Large bowls are being used more frequently as focal points or as companions to seating areas in outdoor rooms. And oversized containers can add an organic element against bare walls next to outdoor gathering places.”

When used appropriately, says Holloway, large containers can also direct traffic throughout garden paths. “Framing your garden spaces with large planters,” he notes, “is also a great way of incorporating color and interest as a trick to invite guests into the area.”

How tall should you go? A general rule of thumb, says Holloway, is to keep the tallest designs around the perimeter of a space and the lower ones around furniture and gathering spaces. When it comes to the proportions of the designs themselves, he advises using the “rule of thirds” — devote one third of the height to the pot and the remaining two-thirds to the plants, or vice versa.

Dan Benarcik, a horticulturist who designs large container gardens for Chanticleer (a famous public estate garden in the Philadelphia area), likes using big designs as doorway flankers and as anchors for the corners of patios. He also likes positioning pots so that “there’s an experience with them.” For instance, he places them so they’ll be backlit by the sun, giving colorful or variegated foliage a brilliant, stained-glass glow. One of his favorites for this use is the colorfully foliaged Tropicanna cannas.

Don’t get too worried about making your container garden “too tall,” says Benarcik: “People have more problems with achieving height than the other way around.” In the end, he says, it comes down to learning from experience and developing your own idea of what’s aesthetically pleasing.

2: Choose your plants

Next, choose at least one plant that will give you the height you need.

“When you’re going out to buy the plants to fill your containers, you really want to think in threes,” says the Massachusetts-based Dave Epstein in one of his recent Growing Wisdom how-to videos on creating containers. “You want something that spills over the sides … something that fills the center … and something that’s the ‘wow factor,’ or what some people call the ‘thriller.’”

The “thriller” is where you can bring in the height, says Epstein, choosing the colorfully foliaged Tropicanna cannas, (with white petunias as the spiller and magenta celosia as the filler).

“Tropicanna cannas are ideal for a couple of reasons,” says Epstein, also recommending taller tropical and large-leaved plants and grasses for height or volume. “First, they are very forgiving. If clients miss a watering cycle, the plants bounce back. On the other hand, they can stand wet feet to the point of being used as water garden plants.” The colorful foliage means season-long interest, he adds, although the lily-like, tropical blooms are certainly a bonus. “And since there are several leaf colors to the cannas, you can design almost any container and incorporate the canna into the middle or back of the arrangement.”

Benarcik is a fan of cannas, too: “Pound for pound, cannas are the best plants for large container gardens, and surprisingly drought tolerant,” he says. His other recommendations for big planters include cordylines, phormiums (New Zealand flax — “especially the dusty or brown tones”), bulbines (he likes ‘Hallmark’), hibiscus, brugmansia (Angel’s trumpet), chenille plant (especially ‘Inferno’), coleus, banana, alocasia, variegated cassava (tapioca) and larger bromeliads (especially the orange and burgundy tones).

In addition to cannas, bananas, alocasias and colocasias, Holloway likes using papyrus, bamboo (for a fine-textured, organic, modern feel), daturas, fuchsias and abutilon. He also loves interestingly shaped conifers, noting that large containers can be beautiful with just one plant — or as many as you feel the design calls for. “Using them in colder areas allows you to hold on to year-round interest,” he says. “Alternately, you could use deciduous trees with charming bark or branching appeal.”

Epstein, who also uses conifers, will sometimes even use just the branches to extend the height of a piece.

“And, with the rising interest in growing food,” says Holloway, “large containers can serve as an exceptional extension of your food garden to reduce just a few more food miles.” His recommendations for large-container edibles include: artichokes, twining pole beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and even squash vines. “Fruit trees and berry bushes or vines can also be used effectively in large planters,” he suggests, citing dwarf apples and pears, fig trees or raspberry plants as alternatives to ornamental plants in grandiose containers. “If you have some wall space or arbors to cover, try grape or kiwi vines in large planters.”

When it comes to mixing and matching plants, Epstein says it’s about echoing or contrasting colors and textures. In his video, he notes how the broad, flat, ovate or lanceolate leaves of Tropicanna cannas differ from the fleshy rosettes of echeveria, yet the two go together, since they’re both shades of burgundy. In that same pot, however, he notes how you can contrast the dark burgundy with either a white petunia or purplish-pink celosia. “And don’t forget the color of the pot,” he says, noting it also can coordinate or contrast with the rest of the design.

Epstein’s also a big fan of using Flower Carpet groundcover roses and Festival Burgundy cordyline in large containers, for their natural pest and disease resistance, season-long interest and ability to withstand extreme climate conditions.

“If you want roses that stand up to hot, dry conditions in containers, the original Flower Carpet line is an excellent choice,” he says. “For hot, humid weather, Flower Carpet’s new Next Generation line — which got excellent reviews from the Dallas Arboretum — is your best bet.” Festival, he adds, is extremely architectural, with its graceful fountains of burgundy, glossy, straplike leaves.

Jimmy Turner, senior director of gardens at the Dallas Arboretum, loves to use the Storm series of agapanthus in large containers. After all, it was the only agapanthus to survive in the arboretum’s famous plant trials in intense heat, drought and humidity.

3: Pot and maintain

When it comes to larger containers, Epstein likes lightweight, synthetic pots mimicking the look of heavier materials that dry out quicker (like wood, metal or clay). If the pot doesn’t already have holes for drainage on the bottom, he adds them with a drill. For even better drainage, he then fills the bottom of the pot with rocks (or even sticks, shells and other organic matter) and then a soilless, lightweight potting mix.

After filling the pot about halfway with the mix and working in a slow-release, granular fertilizer, Epstein likes to pot the tallest plant first, first loosening its roots. (If you put the tall plant in the center, the filler can go all the way around that and the spiller all the way around that, he notes. If you put the tall plant in back, the filler can go in front of that and the spiller in front of that). After the plants go in, Epstein adds a layer of mulch on top of the soil to help hold in moisture.

Larger plants also demand larger containers that can accommodate the roots of the plants’ ultimate size, says Holloway, adding that a larger volume of soil can also hold more water, longer. “At the very least, your container's volume should be roughly a third to a half the size of the eventual volume of the mature plants,” he says.

If your mature plants are expected to grow to 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide, for instance, your planter should be no smaller than 1 to 1.5 feet tall by 1 to 1.5 feet wide.

Epstein recommends watering in the cool of the morning (for less evaporation). “Make it part of your morning routine, like brushing your teeth,” he suggests. “Then you don’t have to think about it the rest of the day.”

First, he says, check the moisture level by sticking your finger 2 to 3 inches into the soil. Only water if it’s dry, to prevent overwatering. In addition to the slow-release granular fertilizer, you’ll also have to feed your large containers with liquid fertilizer for optimum growth and performance.

“It’s a hard truth — plants in containers do dry out quicker than those in the ground — and larger designs, especially, do require some maintenance,” says Epstein. “But with a bit of front-end planning and a few expert tricks, you’ll have magazine-worthy containers to enjoy the whole season.”

  Popularity of raising chickens continues to grow as more seek sustainable food options

Tractor Supply Company

As the popularity of chicken ownership continues to increase across the country, more families are taking control of what they put on the dinner table by raising poultry as a fun and educational family activity, or even as a small business opportunity in support of the local food movement. Whatever the reason, to make your experience of owning chickens the best it can be, it's a must to arm yourself with all you need to know to successfully own and raise healthy, productive chickens.

The first consideration to address, if applicable, is determining whether residential zoning ordinances allow chickens, backyard coops or chicken houses. Residents should check with their municipality's zoning board for relevant codes and to see if approval is needed before structures are erected. When applicable, check neighborhood homeowner associations as well.

Once conditions of ownership are understood, expert advice and information from the seasoned professionals at Tractor Supply Company can help potential chicken owners start successfully by setting expectations and removing doubt caused by myths and misperceptions.

“One of our main questions was how much noise a flock of chickens would make and how it could affect our family as well as our neighbors,” said Danielle Newman of Livermore, Calif., who has been raising chickens with her family for the past seven years. “We asked the store manager at our local Tractor Supply and were told that since we had no plans to own a rooster, the noise would not be an issue, and it certainly hasn’t been at all.”

In fact, hens are fairly quiet. And roosters are not necessary for hens to lay eggs for consumption. Hens will let out a brief squawk to show off a new egg or if they become distressed. Otherwise, the noise from a hen is almost nonexistent.

Another common myth about raising chickens centers on the smell created by a small flock. In reality, chickens create no more odor than any other household pet.

“We’ve found that smell isn’t an issue in the least,” said Jenn Butt of Ruckersville, Va., a chicken owner for nine months. “We clean the coop regularly, and we really like having the compost for fertilizer. Honestly, the compost was a surprise bonus we weren’t expecting. We saw fantastic results in our garden and flower beds.”

Additionally, safety of the flock is a primary concern for many potential chicken owners.

“We have a lot of hawks where we live, so when we bought our first chickens last year we placed some large fake owls around our yard to scare away any winged predators,” said Kelly Nichols of Bloomville, NY. “We also created an area for the chickens that has a mesh cover on it, and we haven’t had any problems with safety.”

If your chicken yard area is not enclosed, it’s highly recommended to close and lock your coop at night to ensure good protection for your birds. Other predators to be aware of are raccoons, weasels, and yes, even the family dog or cat.

A final factor that is often overlooked involves the true motivation for buying chickens. With the correct research and planning, they can be a great family project to teach values and responsibility in addition to being a reliable and safe food source. However, gifting chickens to children, particularly as Easter gifts, is not the right reason to buy birds. Chickens are living creatures that can live 10 years or more but require proper care.


Applications now being accepted for the Keep Texas Beautiful Youth and Educator Awards

Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) is now accepting applications for the 2013 Keep Texas Beautiful Youth and Educator Awards. The award program honors extraordinary students, educators and volunteers working to improve and beautify their communities. Awards are given in a number of categories to elementary through college-level youth, as well as educators and youth organizers.

The Ruthe Jackson Youth Leadership Awards recognize the outstanding efforts made by youth whose accomplishments are bringing about cleaner, more beautiful campuses, parks and communities. The Sadie Ray Graff Awards recognize those in the field of education who encourage or demonstrate efforts to promote the Keep Texas Beautiful mission of educating and engaging Texans to take responsibility for improving their community environment. In addition to the award recognition, all first place winners also receive a $100 cash prize. KTB will formally present the Youth and Educator Awards during its 46th Annual Conference in San Antonio, scheduled for June 17-20, 2013.

Applications are available online at the Keep Texas Beautiful website at or call 1-800-CLEAN-TX to request a copy. Applications are due to Keep Texas Beautiful on Tuesday, May 7, 2013, by 5 pm.


Gardening tips

"Wooden skewers and floral tape are both cheap and make excellent stakes and ties for young tomato and pepper plants," suggests Jennifer Michulka. "When planted in the garden, the stakes will discourage cutworms." 

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 2013 Planning Guide & Calendar. Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.

Did you know...

Thomas Jefferson’s favorite vegetable was the English pea. He and other area gardeners held a contest each spring to see who could produce the earliest crop of English peas. The winner of the contest would host a dinner for the other contestants.

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: Extended hours and special events for spring occur during Wildflower Days, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s season of blooms. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is located at The University of Texas at Austin, 4801 La Crosse Ave, Austin. From Monday, March 11, through Friday, May 31, the center grounds are open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with general hours extended on Thursdays until 8 p.m. for the spring season. Wildflower Days celebrates the 2013 spring season with events for all ages, including: New Nature Art Exhibits, Through Memorial Day, May 27— kinetic sculptor Jim La Paso brings giant, wind-driven metal sculptures of wildflowers and other subjects to the center’s grounds, alongside indoor nature exhibits by Shou Ping, master of 3-D watercolors, and Denise Counley’s plein air watercolors in The Store; Go Native U, Through early June — a Nature in Art series is among new spring educational offerings, with individual classes and sustainable gardening series also available; Spring Plant Sale & Gardening Festival, Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14 — gardening tips from experts and plenty of trees, bushes, wildflowers and other drought-tolerant native plants for purchase; Wild Night Out, Thursday, May 2 — enjoy music, wine and appetizers. Meet artists who donated works for this year’s Silent Art Auction and bid on their works in advance; Wildflower Gala & Silent Art Auction, Friday, May 3 — the most fun — and most sustainable — garden party ever; National Wildflower Week Photo Exhibit, Monday, May 6, through Sunday, May 12 — Texas Highways and the Wildflower Center present a portfolio of amazing wildflower photographs; Gardens on Tour, Saturday, May 11 — a tour of five private native gardens featuring native plant plus the beautiful landscapes at the Wildflower Center on Mother’s Day weekend. For more information, call 512-232-0100 or visit To learn about onsite activities beyond wildflower viewing, visit A new Admission Kiosk near the front entry cistern offers on-site details. Admission fees at new Kiosk: $9 adults, $7 seniors and students, $3 children, and free for members, children under 5.


Glen Rose: The Prairie Rose Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will meet at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 2, at Somervell County Citizens Center, 209 SW Barnard, Glen Rose. Karen Richardson, local landscape architect and owner of River Glen Studio in Glen Rose will discsuss using native plants in the landscape. Her program, "Don't Say NO to Natives Until You KNOW Natives" will demonstrate how plants can move beyond the stereotype of naturalistic gardens and can fit beautifully into a more modern, contemporary or formal landscape.

Dallas: Join National Geographic explorer, Boyd Matson, on April 4 at the Dallas Arboretum, 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, as he takes you on a virtual trip around the world and shares a behind the scenes look at what it takes to get the in-depth stories from the far corners of the globe. Matson hails from Ft. Worth and started his career in 1969 at KTVT. In 1971, he became Sports Director at KXAS where he worked until 1974. He has co-anchored ABC's World Wide News and USA Today TV, been a correspondent for Real Life with Jane Pauley, been a senior correspondent for Today on NBC and anchored NBC's Sunday Today. While at National Geographic, Matson has hosted shows such as "Explorer" and "Wild Chronicles," contributed to Traveler magazine and radio program "Nat Geo Weekend." Tickets to both the lecture and reception are extremely limited, so please register today by calling Joy Matthews at 214.515.6538 or register online here. Reception in DeGolyer Library, 6 p.m. - 6:45 p.m., $30 Nonmember or $27 for Member. Lecture in Rosine Hall, 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., $40 Nonmember or $36 for Member. For additional information about Matson's lecture and reception, visit

Humble: Tour to Shangri-La. 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Friday, April 5, at the Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, one mile north of FM 1960. Let someone else do the driving as you head east to Shangri-La in Orange, for a distinctly different garden experience. Take a barge ride along a bayou as you learn about the natural history of this renovated historical estate that is chock full of state-of-the-art “green” buildings and outstanding landscape features. Captivating wetland rookeries are a must-see for birders! The tour includes travel, snacks and refreshments on the journey, and lunch. The fee for TMS members is $70, non-members is $80. Call 281-443-8731 for reservations.

Austin: Trowel and Error, Mayfield Park Gardening Symposium, will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., Saturday, April 6, at Mayfield Park, 3505 W. 35th Street, Austin (next to Laguna Gloria Art Museum). The symposium presented by historic Mayfield Park includes topics dear to the heart of Central Texas gardeners in a series of “must hear” lectures. At 10 a.m. Jay White, avid gardener, writer for Texas Gardener, Texas LIVE, The Masters of Horticulture blog, presents “Weed Free Organically”; at 11 a.m. Vicki Blachman, certified master gardener, food stylist, professional chef, contributing writer for Texas Gardener, presents “Herbal Infusion: Capturing the Essence of Culinary Herbs”; and at noon Robin Howard Moore, garden and landscape designer, presents “Striking Color Combinations with Shade-taking Perennials.” What’s a garden event without a plant sale? Mayfield has the best deals in town for hard-to-find heirlooms and other perennials perfect for the April garden. A “garden goodie” raffle for the discerning gardener will round out the day. As always, Trowel & Error benefits one of Austin’s favorite and enchanting parks, historic Mayfield. Guests tour the restored Mayfield-Gutsch home, surrounded by stone-walled gardens patterned in the 1920s after the cottage gardens of England. Towering palms, flowering trees and perennials line meandering paths set among ponds filled with water lilies and fish. Gregarious peacocks supervise overflowing flower beds planted and maintained by community volunteers. Sponsored by Friends of the Parks  of Austin, a non-profit organization, Trowel and Error is the solitary fund-raiser for historic Mayfield Park. Although admission is free, a $5.00 donation is requested. For more information, call 1-512-453-7074, email or visit

Austin: The Green Corn Project Spring Dig-ins will take place over three weekends in March and April to install and refurbish vegetable gardens for the underserved communities in Austin. Participating in a dig-in is a great way to share gardening knowledge or learn to garden while helping to bring nourishing food to others. The remaining two weekends are: April 6/7 and April 13/14. For more information and to register, visit

Bryan: The Brazos County Master Gardener's Spring Fundraiser - Plant Sale & Preview will be held Saturday, April 6, at the Demonstration Idea Garden, at the Brazos County office of Texas AgriLife Extension, 2619 Hwy 21, West, Bryan. The sale is open from: 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. A Plant Preview and Educational Booth will open prior to the sale at 8 a.m. Plants offered at the sale focus on heat and drought tolerant perennials suitable for Brazos County weather and climate; herbs and recommended vegetable varieties for this area; pass-along plants from Master Gardeners private collections; and bulbs selected for Brazos County growing conditions. The Plant Preview includes an opportunity to walk through sale area to view plant offerings, and Master Gardeners will be available during the sale to answer your plant and gardening questions. Come early, Join the fun, and bring your wagon! For additional information, visit, call 979-823-0129, or email:

Cleburne: The Johnson County Master Gardeners Plant Sale is Saturday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo Grounds, 1315 South Main, Cleburne. A wide variety of sustainable plant selections will be available, including drought-tolerant perennials, blooming annuals, Earth-Kind Roses, herbs, tomatoes, peppers and “pass along” plants, home grown by Master Gardeners. This event is made possible by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Many hard-to-find plants will also be on hand, including Gayfeather, Foxglove, Mist Flower and Rock Rose, in addition to more readily available plants, like Impatiens, Butterfly Bush, Coneflower and Double Red Knock-out Roses. For more information, call the Johnson County Extension Office at 817-556-6370 or email Johnson County Extension Agent Zach T. Davis at

La Marque: Marilyn Simmons, Galveston County Extension Agent for Family & Consumer Sciences, will present “Preserving the Harvest — Water Bath Canning” from 9 a.m. until noon, Saturday, April 6, at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. This program on how to carry out water bath canning will be a classroom and hands-on workshop in the kitchen. Class is limited to 15 participants with a $15 fee for materials. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email

Orange: The Orange County Master Gardener Association will host their annual spring plant sale, Saturday, April 6, from 8 a.m. until noon at their greenhouse located at Jewel Cormier Park (8235 FM 1442) in Orangefield. There will be a large selection of plants, including Texas Star & Native Texas plants, along with bedding, annuals, perennials, tropicals, house plants, vines, shrubs, trees, roses, succulents, herbs and some vegetables and many more. or directions and more information, visit

Seabrook: Precinct 2 Harris County Master Gardeners will present a program about "Summer Color & Smart Planting for Water Conservation" at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 9, at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the lakeside), 5001 NASA Parkway, Seabrook.

Austin: “Care of Ornamental Trees” will be presented Saturday, April 13, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., at Austin Community College, South Campus, room 1130, 1820 W. Stassney Lane, Austin. Oak wilt, one of the most destructive tree diseases in the United States, is killing oak trees in central Texas at epidemic proportions. Dr. David Appel, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at Texas A&M, will teach which trees are affected by oak wilt, how to identify the disease, how it is spread, and how it can be managed. We will discuss preventative measures that can help you avoid this devastating disease. Register at keyword: Trees, or by phone at 979-845-2604. Class fee is $25 (water and snacks provided). Free parking available. Sign-in at the security desk with your vehicle license number. This class is presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners, a volunteer arm of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County.

Schulenburg: The Schulenburg Garden Club is holding its annual Flower Show celebrating 75 years of community service Tuesday, April 16, at the Schulenburg Civic Center, 1107 Hillje Ave., Schulenburg. Open to the public from noon until 4 p.m. Free Admission. Food, drink and plants for sale. For additional information, contact

Nacogdoches: The SFA Gardens at Stephen F. Austin State University will host its annual Garden Gala Day Spring Plant Sale from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the SFA Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet St. in historic Nacogdoches. A wide variety of hard-to-find, “Texas tough” plants will be available, including Texas natives, heirlooms, tropicals, perennials, shrubs, trees, and exclusive SFA and Greg Grant introductions. Most of the plants are extensively trialed in the gardens before being offered to the public and most are produced by the SFA Gardens staff and volunteers. This popular event benefits the SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, Gayla Mize Garden, and educational programs hosted at the gardens. The educational programs at SFA Gardens reach over 15,000 students ages 1 to 100 on a yearly basis. The public is encouraged to arrive early and bring a wagon. For more information, call 936-468-4404, or visit and click on “garden events” for a list of available plants.


Houston/Ft. Worth: A total of 10 Texas gardeners will share their private gardens with the public in 2013 through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program, America’s only national private garden-visiting program. Open Days in Texas take place on the following dates. Sunday, October 13: Visit four private gardens open in Fort Worth, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Features include a country estate with formal spaces and an organic orchard, an urban garden using earth-friendly methods and native plants, sculptural pieces and unusual container plantings, and a cottage garden focused around a fountain and large planting beds. Each of these Open Days Program dates is self-guided and no reservations are required. A $5 admission fee collected at each garden supports the national preservation work of the Garden Conservancy. The Open Days program features hundreds of magnificent spaces not normally open to the public. From April through October, garden hosts across the country welcome the opportunity to learn and exchange gardening ideas, and give the public access to explore and enjoy their private gardens. For a complete list of the more than 300 private gardens participating in eighteen states, visit the Garden Conservancy and its Open Days program online at or call toll-free weekdays, 1-888-842-2442. The 2013 Open Days Directory ($21.95 including shipping and handling) is the only comprehensive source for details on the 2013 season. The Directory provides descriptions, visiting dates and hours, and driving directions to each private garden. The Directory also includes one free admission ticket to any private garden participating in the program, a $5 value. To purchase a Directory or to join the Garden Conservancy as a member and receive a free copy, call 1-888-842-2442 or visit



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

Wichita Falls: The Wichita County Master Gardener Association meets at 5:30 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension Office, 600 Scott Street, Wichita Falls, on the first Tuesday of each month. For more information, visit or call 940-716-8610.

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.

New Braunfels: The Comal Master Gardeners meet at 6 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month (except December) at the GVTC Auditorium, 36101 FM 3159, New Braunfels. An educational program preceeds the business meeting. The public is invited to attend. For additional information, call 830-620-3440 or visit

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.

Gonzalas: Gonzales Master Gardeners hold their monthly meeting at noon on the first Thursday of each month at 623 Fair Street, Gonzales. Bring a bag lunch, drinks provided. Contact AgriLife Extension Office at 830-672-8531 or visit for more information.


Austin: Austin Organic Gardeners Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month (except December) at the Austin Area Garden Center, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. For more information, visit

Evant: The Evant Garden Club meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m., usually at the bank in downtown Evant. To confirm the date, time and place of each month's meeting, call 254-471-5585.

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

Quitman: The Quitman Garden Club meets at 2 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the Quitman Library on E Goode Street, Quitman. It is a diverse group that welcomes all visitors.For more information, e-mail

Humble: The Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble, hosts a Lunch Bunch the second Wednesday of each month from noon until 2 p.m. Take a sack lunch or order a box lunch from Starbucks when you call 281-443-8731 to reserve your spot. Master Gardeners and Masters Naturalists may earn CEU credits by attending.

Jacksboro: The Jacksboro Garden Club meets at 9:30 a.m. the second Wednesday of each month (except June, July and August) at the Concerned Citizens Center, 400 East Pine Street, Jacksboro. For more information, call Melinda at 940-567-6218.

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

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

Woodway: The McLennan County Master Gardeners meet on the second Wednesday each month at noon at the Carleen Bright Arboretum, 9001 Bosque Blvd., Woodway. Educational programs follow the business session. For more information, call 254-757-5180.

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.

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 Association holds their monthly meeting on the second Thursday of each month. A short program is presented. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army Bldg. cor. MLK & Strickland in Orange. Pot luck supper at 6 p.m. Visit for more information.

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

Angleton: The Brazoria County Master Gardeners meet at 11 a.m. on the second Friday of each month at the Brazoria County Extension Office, 21017 County Road 171, Angleton. There is a general business meeting followed by a brief educational program each month. For further information call 979-864-1558, ext.110.

College Station: The A&M Garden Club meets on the second Friday of each month during the school year at 9:30 a.m. in the training room of the College Station Waste Water Facility building at the end of North Forest Parkway, College Station. Expert speakers, plant sharing, and federated club projects help members learn about gardening in the Brazos Valley, floral design, conservation, and more. For more information, visit

Houston: The Spring Branch African Violet Club meets the second Saturday of each month, January through November, at 10:30am at the Copperfield Baptist Church, 8350 Highway 6 North, Houston. Call Karla at 281-748-8417 prior to attending to confirm meeting date and time.

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 Sharon Smith at 817-894-7700.

Corpus Christi: The Nueces Master Gardeners meet at noon the third Tuesday of each month, except December, at Garden Senior Center, 5325 Greely Dr., Corpus Christi. An educational program precedes the business meeting. For further information call 361 767-5217.

Rockport: Monthly meetings of the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners are held at 10 a.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at Texas AgriLife Extension Service - Aransas County Office, 892 Airport Rd., Rockport. For additional information, e-mail or call 361-790-0103.

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

Brownwood: Brownwood Garden Club meets the third Thursday of each month, 11:30 a.m.– 1 p.m.  The club meetings are at Southside Baptist Church, 1219 Indian Creek Road, with refreshments and a speaker presentation. Visitors are welcome. For more information, email or call 817-454-8175).

Houston: The Native Plant Society of Texas — Houston (NPSOT-H) meets at 7:30 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 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 June and 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


Brackenridge Park: The Native Plant Society San Antonio Chapter meets every fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 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

Bryan: The Brazos County Master Gardeners, a program of Texas AgriLife Extension, meet the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Brazos Center, 3232 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan. There is a public gardening program at each meeting and pertinent information may be found at or 979-823-0129.

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.

Linden: The Caddo Wildflower Chapter of Native Plants Society meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at the senior citizens building at 507 S Kaufman St. in Linden at 6:30. Visitors are welcome. For additional information, contact Karen Tromza at

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 Deborah Beggs Moncrief Garden Center, 3220 Botanic Blvd., Ft. Worth. Refreshments are served. For more information, call 817-263-9322 or visit

San Antonio: The Native Plant Society of Texas San Antonio Chapter meets the fourth Tuesday of each 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.

Houston: The Houston Chapter of the Native Prairie Association of Texas (HNPAT) meets from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month at Bayland Park Community Center, 6400 Bissonnet, Houston. For more information, contact

Leander: The Leander Garden Club meets on the fourth Thursday of each month (except July and August) at 10:30 a.m. at the community room behind the Greater Texas Federal Credit Union,1300 N. Bell, Cedar Park, unless there is special event planned. Following a program and short business meeting, we share a pot-luck luncheon. To confirm the meeting place and time, please call president Cathy Clark-Ramsey at 512-963-4698 or email

Dallas: The Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club meets at 7:00 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the REI, 4515 LBJ Freeway, 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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By Greg Grant
Foreword by Chris S. Corby

An intimate and personal exploration of the life of one of Texas’ most beloved gardeners, In Greg’s Garden: A Pineywoods Perspective on Gardening, Nature and Family gathers in a single volume the first 10 years of Greg Grant’s columns from Texas Gardener magazine, and is amply illustrated with Grant’s own full-color photography.

Revised and updated from their original publication, these 60 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. 2013. All rights reserved. You may forward this publication to your friends and colleagues if it is sent in its entirety. No individual part of this newsletter may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher.

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