January 8, 2014

'Bulb hunter' tells tale of far-reaching fascination with flowers

By Kathleen Phillips

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


For Chris Wiesinger, a love of gardening goes back to his preteen years. But it was when he first saw papery, brown, rock-like items in a box with a picture of beautiful flowers on the front that he was smitten.


"I was enthralled by the idea that something that looked like rocks could turn into flowers, so I bought some, planted them and forgot about them," Wiesinger remembers. "Then some red tulips came up, and they were beautiful."


Those tulips died, but Wiesinger's love for bulbs flourished - leading to his nickname "Flower" while in the military corps at Texas A&M University. He then went on a search for heritage bulbs across the southern U.S. from California to North Carolina and established the Southern Bulb Co. north of Tyler, which raises and sells them.


Now Wiesinger has a book, "The Bulb Hunter," that blends his personal adventures into the tale of his company. The book, published by Texas A&M Press, is co-authored by Dr. William Welch, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist who encouraged Wiesinger from his college days. Welch weaves Wiesinger's bulbs into interesting landscape ideas to help gardeners learn how to use them in home plantings.


"Horticulture sort of tags along with my personal story," said Wiesinger, who begins the book as a single man and shares his courtship and marriage through the pages. "I have long held that people learn through stories, not just the facts. So it's a socratic method of teaching about gardening and horticulture."


Ironically, it was the dead tulips that taught Wiesinger about bulbs. He learned that not all bulbs are suitable for all climates. And that propelled him in pursuit of forgotten bulbs across the South.


"I began to look for those that could survive. Some are as old as time. You find them in a space where the trees are gone, the house is gone, the cement is gone, but there are daffodils," he said. "The original bulbs may have died, but the clump survived by multiplying."


Wiesinger matches his search with the movement of people, finding some that originated in Africa, the Mediterranean and ports of Japan, for example, and thrived where immigrants or travelers to those areas settled and planted the bulbs they brought.


"There is something young and wild and western about what I do, and even sometimes when I've run into scary situations," he said. "It's a niche, but it's a fun niche."


Both Wiesinger and Welch share stories in the book about how the urge to dig or photograph a blooming bulb has led to tense moments. As Wiesinger puts it, "every piece of land is owned by somebody." Welch recalls one incident in which he wanted to climb over a fence to get a closer picture of a flower. Just then, the land owner drove up to inquire what he was doing. Welch's response that he was just taking pictures didn't yield an offer from the landowner to let him go closer.


Whether searching for abandoned bulbs or buying from a company such as Wiesinger's, Welch said bulbs are a good fit for today's garden because they are low-water, low-care plants.


"It's exciting to know we can have various bulbs blooming at different season. Many have been around for many generations," said Welch. "For people who are interested in gardening and history as well, this book would be useful. A lot of people are looking for sustainable plants in the garden, and they may be interested in bulbs. Companion plants for bulbs are important so we wanted to include them."


For beginning bulb planters, Wiesinger recommends the narcissus 'Grand Primo,' which is planted in fall to bloom in spring. They are "fragrant, reliable and fast to multiply, and one bulb can pack in two or three blooms a season." A spring-planted bulb, 'Rain Lily,' which blooms regularly every three or four days after a rain, is another good one for beginners, he said.


More information about can be found at http://bulbhunter.com.


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


A home for gnome


By Judith M. Vance 

Freelance Writer


I looked at the bare patio of my new-to-me house, wondering how I'd make it inviting. My late husband Jonathan, who passed away three years ago, did the gardening. Relocating, to a smaller older home, I realized it was time to spruce up the yard.


Looking forward to this challenge, I jumped into books and the Internet for information. I missed my Jon! Tears filled my eyes.


My doorbell rang.


Why, who could that be? I asked myself. I cautiously opened the door.


"Hi! My name's Patrick Benson. Your neighbor. Yellow house? I thought I'd introduce myself."


There before me stood a Greek god. Tan, chiseled jaw, wide shoulders, highlights in his hair, and gorgeous green eyes. I was mesmerized. I'd quite forgotten who I was and where I was for one brief moment.


"Oh! Where are my manners?" We shook hands."I'm Tara Brooks. Come in."


"I see you're unpacking," he said. "If this is a bad time, I can come back later."


I threw my hands up in the air, laughing. "I need a break!. I'll fix you coffee. Tea? Anything?" I giggled. "I'm a bit rummy. I've been working in the dirt all day. And it's hot here in Texas. I'm from Idaho. How 'bout you?"


Patrick looked out my sliding glass door at my back yard.


"I'm from Texas, Tara, and work at a garden center. If you need help landscaping..... I...."


"I need all the help I can get. See my stack of gardening books?" I pointed at my dinette table.


We spent two lovely hours browsing gardening books. Creative ideas abounded, my smiling heart made me blush again, and I started plans, in mind, immediately.


"I'm leaning towards collecting succulents and sedums. My husband grew them at our old house. I love them."


"They'll grow nicely here in Texas."


"I'd better unpack. I work at the book store early tomorrow."


"I loved your gardening books. The garden center beckons me early tomorrow. I'd best be going."


"I enjoyed myself."


I watched him as he walked back next door. He seemed nice enough, for a new neighbor. He probably got his good looks from working outdoors.


The next day traveled quickly. I'm glad I'd planned my garden journal, for I now had lists of pots and plants to buy. After work, I stopped by the garden center.


With my large cumbersome cart,I strolled off to the succulents and sedums section. Such lovely sedums in greens; some with color. I especially loved 'Angelina' with its orange and 'Tricolor' with its rose-color. I loaded Hen and Chicks and a variety of succulents. Excitement built within me while finding wonderful specimens.


I loaded strawberry pots, potting soil, fertilizer and tools. I found decorative pots when Patrick appeared. Oh, this was like Christmas morning! I couldn't believe my luck. The sun shone on him as though he'd been put there by the heavens. Too many romance novels, Tara, I said to myself.


"Gardening Tara! Good choices." His gaze went from the cart and back to my face. He smiled at me.


"Thanks. These pots are awesome. They'll add contrast to the detail in the plants."


He rang up my purchases, helped me to my SUV and I was off.


The next few weeks flew by quickly. I'd taken a vacation so that I could spend time planting at my house.


I put a moon garden of only white plants at my front door. Rocks edged the flowerbeds filled with sedums and succulents. I had an antique wheelbarrow for a planting.


I added a fairy garden in the back yard. I heard children out front and investigated. They were playing at Patrick's.


He waved. I walked over to him.


"I want to introduce you to my children, Max and Adrian. I've been divorced from their mother for five years now."


"I don't have children, but I love them. I can adopt yours!" We all laughed. I shook Max and Adrian's hands. "My name's Tara."


"Hi," they said in unison.


Patrick looked at me. "I need to get the kids to a movie. Join us.?"


"I'm too dirty." I turned to walk away, but hesitated. Was I being rude?


"Patrick? Would you, Max and Adrian like to come for take-out pizza at my house later?"


"That sounds great! The movie should be over by six-thirty."


"Just come on over when you get back."


"Will do."


I picked flowers for the living room and kitchen. I was anxiously awaiting our guests. Razor, my dog, kept perking up his ears and Samantha, my cat, kept rubbing on my legs. They seemed to know something was in the air.


I worked on the yard some more. The patio bench was now in the shade. That's good. We can visit outdoors.


Patrick came with his kids. He was holding something in a big bag.


"I have a gift for you. I've noticed your yard lately. I've been peeking through the chain-link fence at the back yard, too."


"Secret agent? I'd love a gift!"


Reaching out my hands, I noticed it was heavy, but he held it. He let the bag off slowly, winking at me.


"Is this a good home for Gnome?"


I smiled and kissed Patrick on the cheek.


"It's a perfect home for gnome. It'll make a good addition to my fairy garden, unless he might scare them away in the night."


"I don't think anything would scare fairies away in the night at your house, Tara. It's so inviting now. It's beautiful!"


"I'd better go call the pizza order in."


"Let me get it. It's my treat."


"How did I luck out with a neighbor like you?"


"I'm the lucky one. You took the gnome, didn't you? My ex-wife hated them."


"I love gnomes! It's rather odd how we women dislike certain things and adore others."


Pizza night became a bi-monthly affair. Patrick help me put in a fountain. We're planting it this weekend, with a family of gnomes!


Judith Vance is a freelance writer. She's appeared in a poetry anthology in 1982, The Poetic Churchman - A Memorial Anthology to George Herbert (1593-1633), Edited by John H. Morgan, Rector and Priest-in-Charge of Saint John of the Cross, U. S. A. and in a local area anthology called, You Know You're a South Sounder If.... Produced by The Olympian in 2004. Judith writes regularly for True Story and True Confessions.

Getting ready for spring gardening


By Tom Harris, Ph.D.

The Hill Country Gardener  


Like the old country/western song said, "There's only two things that money can't buy; one's true love and the other's home grown tomatoes." That is so true; isn't it?


Like everything else, though, these things don't just happen by themselves. It takes a little planning work (not hard but consistent), lots of sunshine, good soil, fertilizer, and water...even true love. Right?


Planning a garden means to be sure that the vegetable garden runs east-west so that the veggies get full sunshine all day, every day. The beds don't have to be all that deep; 6 inches is plenty. The beds should be only about 4 feet across so that you can reach in from both sides. Length is optional, but once you go beyond about 12 feet, it sort of defeats the purpose.


The "work" part means that you will have to expend some effort to make the garden usable and easy to work in. This usually means turning the soil and adding nutrients to it as needed by the plants. If you don't want to go to this much trouble, go to the soil place in town and buy a truckload of whatever they define as "vegetable garden mix" (it should be about 1/3 to 1/2 compost in composition). By the way, a 4' x 8' bed 6" deep takes about 1/2 cubic yard of soil. They'll figure it out for you if needed.


Or, if you prefer, you could grow your veggies in a large container of some type. You can grow anything in a container that you can grow in the ground. Keep in mind, though, that the bigger the plant gets, the bigger the container/pot has to be.


The variety, planting dates, and plant spacing are all important to the successful vegetable gardener. If you don't have that list, write me at gardener@gvtc.com and I'll send it to you.


As far as fertilizer goes, you can use whatever you already have on hand. Organic or not makes no difference to the plant...nitrogen is nitrogen wherever it comes from. Just don't depend on compost or manure to have that much fertilizer in it - it's not there. You'll need to fertilize the vegetables regularly after they start growing - every 3-4 weeks works for me.


Watering the vegetable garden is best done with drip irrigation if at all possible. It never gets the leaves wet and always puts the water right where it's needed - on the roots only.


On my website, I have a book that my neighbor and I wrote a couple years ago that has just about everything you need to know to garden and use drip irrigation. It's called "Drip Line Gardening." If you visit the website, www.thehillcountrygardener.com, click on "Products/Services" and then click on "Publications" and you'll see it. You can get a CD if you'd rather have it that way.


Harvesting in the veggie garden is also important. If you leave the vegetables on the plant too long, the plant "goes to seed" and stops producing. That's a fact, not an old wives tale.

Gardening tips

David McAree suggests getting an early start with potatoes:


"Many people cut seed potatoes up and let them cure in a dry environment.


"It is tricky to plant seed potatoes with eyes because they break easily.


"While cutting firewood we saved the sawdust.


"We cut up potatoes and mixed the potatoes in damp sawdust, placed them in a bucket covered with a feed sack and left them on an enclosed back porch. Three weeks later we noticed that cut potatoes had sprouted roots. Not eyes, roots.


"When planting time came we planted the rooted eyes. We had an early and successful crop!"




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 2014 Planning Guide & Calendar. Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips. 

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.



La Marque: Jerry Hurlbert will present "Growing Avocado and Papaya" at 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Saturday, January 4 at the Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Hurlbert, Moderator and Coordinator of Texas Rare Fruit Growers Association, has 35 years of experience growing avocados. Learn the best varieties for the Gulf Coast, how to start plants from seeds, as well as tips on tree planting and cultivation methods for growing avocados. Discover the best methods for protection of plants from cold and sun, especially for young trees. (There will also be information on growing Papaya but this topic will not be covered in as much depth.) For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net.


La Marque: Galveston County Master Gardener Herman Auer, Propagation Specialist, will present "Grafting," a program and hands on workshop, 1 p.m.-3 p.m.. Saturday, January 4 at the Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Attendees will leave the class ready to begin their own grafting projects with confidence. The two grafting methods presented will be T-bud grafting, used on many types of fruit and citrus trees about the size of a pencil, and the more commonly used Wedge grafting. Additional grafting specialists will be on hand to provide one-on-one assistance. Note: Class is limited to 32 participants. You must pre-register in order to attend. Others may attend for observation only. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net.


La Marque: "Successfully Growing Peaches In Galveston County" will be resented by Galveston County Master Gardener Herman Auer 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday, January 7, at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Learn the best variety selection (both white and yellow flesh) for Galveston County, what to look for when buying your peach tree, and the best planting locations. Learn about chill hours, rootstock, pruning to shape and thinning methods that lead to larger fruit and greater yield. Find out how to judge ripening dates and the best time to harvest. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net.


Humble: The Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens will celebrate its 40th birthday during an all-day open house starting at 11 a.m., Wednesday, January 8. This kickoff event marks the beginning of festivities scheduled throughout 2014 to commemorate this special year. For more information, call 281-443-8731.


San Antonio: Dr. Tom Harris, master gardener and Seeds contributor, will present "Grow Anything, Anywhere in a Container" 10 a.m.-noon, January 8, at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels @ Funston, San Antonio. For more information, visit www.sanantoniogardencenter or call 210-824-9981. 


Nacogdoches: SFA Gardens at Stephen F. Austin State University will host the monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Thursday, January 9, in the Agriculture Building, Room 110, at 1924 Wilson Drive. Jason McKenzie with The Arbor Gate Nursery in Tomball will present "A Native Texas Cottage Garden the Arbor Gate Way."McKenzie specializes in native southeastern plants and focuses on reforestation of woodlands, native habitat gardening, and native cottage gardens. He is former owner of the Pineywoods Nursery and a past chapter president of the Native Plant Society of Texas. He has traveled the southeastern U.S. collecting and growing rare and unique natives that have landscape and habitat value. With a focus on education, Jason speaks to many garden clubs and professional events. The Arbor Gate Nursery (arborgate.com) is one of the state's premier specialty nurseries, featuring an inspired collection that includes unusual plants, artisan-created decorative pieces, and a constantly changing array of items that bring beauty, comfort, and flavor to the home and garden. Although traditionally held the third Thursdays, the Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series will now be held the second Thursday of each month. A rare plant raffle will be held after the program. The lecture is free and open to the public, but donations to the Theresa and Les Reeves lecture series fund are always appreciated. For more information, call 936-468-1832 or e-mail grantdamon@sfasu.edu.  


San Antonio: The 2014 herb of the year, Artemesia, named for the Goddes Artemis, will be the subject of a presentation by Leslie Bingham, Madeline Sprague and Robin Mayer at 6:30 p.m., January 9 at the San Antonio Herb Society's meeting at the Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels, San Antonio. Cuttings to share and examples of various species of the plant will be available as will a pamphlet which outlines uses for the herb. For additional information, visit www.sanantonioherbs.org.


Austin: The lowly worm is one of your soil's best friends! Learn how worm composting can help recycle kitchen and paper waste in your home, providing you with castings and 'tea' to boost garden productivity. Patrick Van Haren, owner of Microbial Earth, will detail the value and management of earthworms on Saturday, January 11, from 10 a.m. until noon, at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin.


La Marque: "Successful Spring Vegetable Gardening" will be presented by Galveston County Master Gardener Luke Stripling 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Saturday, January 11 at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Mr. Stripling has more than 65 years of hands-on experience of growing vegetables. Learn how to plan and start a vegetable garden. Find out about the best soils, location and plant varieties to use for Galveston County. Gain knowledge on pollination, mulching, composting, and the effects of full sun and shade on vegetable gardening. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net. 


San Antonio: David Rodriguez, extension horticulturalist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, will present "Growing Backyard Fruit Trees and Berries" at Milberger's Nursery & Landscape, 3920 N. Loop 1604 East, San Antonio, 10:30-noon, January 11. Rodriguez will guide participants in the successful selection of the most appropriate fruit trees and berries and will explain how to plant and maintain them correctly.  


You may be surprised at the 'hidden' ways to grow food in your own yard! Amanda Moon, co-owner of Trinity Gardens in Austin, will expound on the virtues of edible landscaping on Monday, January 13. The Austin Organic Gardeners Club meets at Austin Area Garden Center, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., in Zilker Botanical Gardens. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the opportunity to meet and mingle with local gardeners; club business begins at 7 p.m., followed by the guest speaker's presentation. Bring a little cash for the raffle! For more information, visit www.austinorganicgardeners.org.


Corinth: The Denton County Master Gardener Association will offer a comprehensive "Design for your Yard" landscaping class on four consecutive Monday evenings beginning January 13 and concluding Feb. 3. The series covers design considerations and preparation, hardscape and plant selection. All classes are held from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Global Spheres Center, 7801 S. Stemmons Freeway (I-35E), Corinth. The series is open to the public for a fee of $15, which includes all materials required. Students can sign up online at www.dcmga.com and pay for the class using PayPal or mail a check to the Denton County Master Gardener Association office.


Glen Rose: Phylliss Webster, Hood County master gardener, will present "Firewise Landscaping" at Senior Citizens Center, 209 SW Barnard, Glen Rose, beginning at 6:30 p.m., January 13. 


Houston: Mary and Roger Demeny will discuss kitchen gardening at 6:30 p.m., Monday, January 13, at the Houston Urban Gardeners meeting held at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 W. Gray, Houston. For additional information, visit www.HoustonUrbanGardeners.org.


Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardener Association will begin its 2014 "Lunch and Learn with the Masters" program series Monday, January 13. The event will feature Victoria County Extension Agent Peter McGuill as guest speaker. He will discuss "Modern Turf Grass Management." The event is held from noon until 1 p.m. and is free to the public. Participants may bring a sack lunch and beverage. On Feb. 24 Master Gardener Roy Cook will discuss "Growing Vegetables Throughout the Year." For additional information, including location of the presentation, contact lindajunelees@gmail.com.


Seabrook: Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2 will present "Soils and Composting" as part of their Green Thumb Series at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 14, at Clear Lake Park meeting room (on the lakeside), 5001 NASA Parkway, Seabrook. For additional information, visit hcmga.tamu.edu.


Seabrook: Heidi Sheesley of Treesearch Farms will present a program on the fruit and citrus trees available at the February 15 Master Gardener sale, Wednesday, January 15, at Clear Lake Park meeting room (on the lakeside), 5001 NASA Parkway, Seabrook. For additional information, visit hcmga.tamu.edu.  


Seguin: The Guadalupe Master Gardeners will meet at 7 p.m., Thursday, January 16 at the Justice Center, 211 Court Street, Seguin. Mark Fanick, from Fanick Nursery, will discuss Fruit Trees. The meeting is free and open to the public. The regular business meeting will be at the end of the program. For additional information, visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org or call 830-303-3889.


La Marque: "Planting Fruit Trees" will be presented by Galveston County Master Gardener Herman Auer, 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Saturday, January 18 at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Auer will teach how to properly plant container-grown and bare-root trees. This program will also cover root trimming, pruning, and correct planting depth for fruit and nut trees to properly anchor for longevity. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net.    


Schertz & Seguin: The Guadalupe Master Gardeners Organization will present "Preparing Your Spring Vegetable Garden" at 2 locations on Saturday January 18, from 9 a.m. to noon. The sessions are conducted by Gardening Specialists, from Guadalupe Master Gardeners. One session will be in Schertz at the Guadalupe County Annex Courtroom, 1101 Elbel Road, with Deedy Wright as the presenter. The same topic will be at the Mary B. Erskine School Cafeteria, 216 East College Street in Seguin. The presenter will be Clara Mae Marcotte. Both sessions will start at 9 a.m. and last until noon. Topics covered at both sessions will be: Vegetable Selection, Garden Soil Preparation, Seed Starting, Cold Weather Protection Methods, and Vegetable Garden Maintenance. Handouts will be proved as part of the fee. The cost of the seminar will be $20 at the door. You may buy your tickets at the AgriLife Office, 216 East College Street, Seguin, during normal business hours for $15.00. For more information, call Bob at 210-289-9997.


Houston: Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2 will host Open Garden Day, 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m., Monday, January 20, at their Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd., Houston. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions. Free and open to the pubic. Children welcome. For additional information, visit hcmga.tamu.edu.


La Marque: "Anyone Can Grow Roses" will be presented by Galveston County Master Gardener John Jons, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday, January 14 at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Topics covered included the basics of growing hybrid tea roses, variety selection, bed preparation, planting, culture, and insect and disease control. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net.


Humble: "Creating Your Personal Garden Sanctuary" will be presented 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Thursday, January 23, at Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road. Humble. This hands-on class, taught by Darnell Schreiber, will guide participants in designing the perfect serene space for any home landscape and includes a tour of Mercer's gardens. Bring personal garden photos and a pair of scissors. Seating is limited, so please call 281-443-8731 to make reservations. 


Conroe: The Montgomery County Master Gardeners are having their annual Fruit and Nut Tree Sale, featuring bare-root fruit trees from apples to pomegranates, pecans and more, on Saturday, January 25, at 9020 Airport Road, Conroe. Program is at 8 a.m.; sale is from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. For more information, call 936-539-7824 or visit www.mcmga.com.


Humble: Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens and The Mercer Society (TMS), will offer the third and final segment of the Texas Gulf Coast Gardener (TGCG) program beginning Monday, January 27 for a six-week period onsite at Mercer, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble. Registration is open now through January 20, so call 281-443-8731 or visit the park to enroll. Tier 3 classes focus on landscape design, the use of hardscapes and water features in the landscape, and sustainable design practices. Participants will be introduced to an effective process for analyzing and designing a successful landscape, with emphasis on residential sites. A broad range of exciting lessons and lectures, presented by Mercer staff and experts from the greater-Houston area, will accompany practical design workshops with such topics as designing mixed borders; effective water use and conservation in the home landscape; and ways to incorporate fruit- and vegetable-producing plants into visually-appealing landscape designs. Classes will be held every Monday from January 27 through March 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break. The cost of enrollment for TMS members is $100; enrollment for non-members is $115. Participants will receive a text book, class supplies, and a custom-designed TGCG gardening apron. The TGCG curriculum was developed by Mercer staff with guidance from Dr. David Creech, professor of horticulture at Stephen F. Austin State University, and staff from Mast Arboretum in Nacogdoches. The program gives participants the knowledge and skills needed to start, develop, and maintain their own gardens through a variety of gardening and horticulture topics specifically designed for the pleasures and challenges of the Texas Gulf Coast climate.




Nacogdoches: SFA Gardens will host a special lecture at 7 p.m., Tuesday, February 4, Dr. Peter H. Raven, president emeritus of the St. Louis Botanical garden and renowned conservationist will be speaking on "Conservation in a Rapidly Changing World." Raven's lecture will be the inaugural lecture in the new Ina Brundrett Conservation Education Building. Raven is one of the world's leading botanists and advocates of conservation and biodiversity. For four decades, he headed the Missouri Botanical Garden, an institution he nurtured into a world-class center for botanical research and education, and horticultural display. He retired as president in 2010 and assumed the role of president emeritus and consultant through 2014. Described by Time magazine as a "Hero for the Planet," Raven champions research around the world to preserve endangered plants, and he is a leading advocate for conservation and a sustainable environment. In recognition of his work in science and conservation, Raven is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the prestigious International Prize for Biology from the government of Japan and the U.S. National Medal of Science, the country's highest award for scientific accomplishment. He has held Guggenheim and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships. Raven was a member of President Bill Clinton's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. He also served for 12 years as home secretary of the National Academy of Sciences and is a member of the academies of science in Argentina, Brazil, China, Denmark, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, the U.K., and several other countries. The author of numerous books and reports, both popular and scientific, Raven co-wrote Biology of Plants, an internationally best-selling textbook, now in its sixth edition. He also co-authored Environment, a leading textbook on the environment. The Ina Brundrett Conservation Education Building is located at the Stephen F. Austin State University Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet St., Nacogdoches. The event will be free and open to the public but to ensure seating and for more information call 936-468-1832 or e-mail erodewald@sfasu.edu. 


Schertz: Do you enjoy the colors and antics of butterflies, hummingbirds, and song birds in your garden? Want to find out how you can entice them to visit your yard? Then attend the Natives to Fly For: Attracting Butterflies, Hummingbirds, and Song Birds to Your Yard workshop. This daylong event will feature four experts to show you how you can have lots of little visitors in your landscape: Craig Hensley, award-winning community educator with Texas Parks & Wildlife, will explain "Butterfly Basics: Who They Are and What They Need"; Mark Klym, coauthor of Hummingbirds of Texas, will speak on "Want Hummingbirds? Think Lasagna"; Ann Mallard, Audubon Society member and nature photographer specializing in bird life, will present "Songs in the Garden--Creating a Native Habitat for Birds"; Kelly Simon, author of Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife, will pull all this information together as she shows participants how to create a "Central Texas Habitat." The workshop takes place Saturday, February 22, at the Schertz Civic Center, 1400 Schertz Pkwy, Schertz. The hours are 9-3 and the $40 registration fee includes lunch and snacks. Registration begins at 8:30. Door prizes will be given throughout the day. In addition to the workshop, participants can shop the booths of two local nurseries offering many of the plants discussed by the speakers, purchase books on workshop topics, and select bird-related items from Wild Birds Unlimited. Authors Mark Klym and Kelly Bender will sign their books during lunch. But wait, there's more! A beautiful bluebonnet quilt and two 55-gallon, hand-painted rain barrels will be raffled during the workshop. Raffle tickets may be purchased at the event. Natives to Fly For is sponsored by the Guadalupe County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. For more information and to purchase tickets, call 830-303-0333. The number of tickets is limited, so call early. For more information, visit http://npsot.org/wp/guadalupe/.     




Jacksonville: The Cherokee County Master Gardener Association will hold their annual Spring Conference March 8. The conference will be held at the First Christian Church Fellowship Hall, 1920 Beaumont Street, Jacksonville. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the first speaker will be at 9 a.m. There will be a $10.00 fee which includes drinks, refreshments and a chance to win one of four door prizes. The program will feature three well known respected speakers. Greg Grant is Lecturer in the School of Horticulture at Stephen F. Austin State University. He was formerly the Cherokee County Horticulturist with the Texas Cooperative Extension in Rusk. He is also co-author, with William C. Welch, of the book Southern Heirloom Garden, and he is a columnist for Texas Gardener magazine. He has traveled extensively to botanical and public gardens throughout the United States and Europe and is a popular public speaker in the southern United States. Dave Whitinger is the creator of several large and popular websites, most notably Dave's Garden and All Things Plants. He moved to Cherokee County in late 2007 and lives just outside Jacksonville with his wife and 6 children. They have a homestead with extensive gardens, cows, chickens, and various other domestic animals. In addition to being a member of the Cherokee County Master Gardeners, Dave is also a software programmer whose passion is to bring gardeners together and provide them with custom made software tools that both serve gardeners as well as take online gardening to the next level. Keith Hansen has been the Texas AgriLife Horticulturist for Smith County since 1992. Prior to that, he was the extension agent for Nueches County. Keith has a weekly column, "Keeping it Green," in the Tyler Morning Telegraph and has written numerous articles for other publications. For more information, contact Ginny Scurlock at 903-530-8610 or at ginnyscurlock@yahoo.com.

Monthly meetings


If you would like your organization's events included in "Monthly Meetings" or would like to make a change to a listed meeting, please contact us at Monthly Meetings. To ensure inclusion in this column, please provide complete details. 




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.


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 www.txmg.org/wichita 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.


Midland: The Permian Basin Master Gardeners meet at noon, the first Wednesday of each month at the Permian Basin Readiness Center at the Midland International Airport. For more information, call 432-498-4071.


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.


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 http://gonzalesmastergardeners.org 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 www.austinorganicgardeners.org.


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, August and December at St. John's Lutheran Church in Marion. Directions to St. John's Lutheran Church: From FM 78 turn south onto FM 465 and the church is just past the Marion School on the right. From IH-10 go north on FM 465 towards Marion. The Church will be on the left, just before you get to town. 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 guadalupecounty@npsot.org.


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 quitmangardenclub@gmail.com.


Denton: The Denton County Master Gardener Association meets from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. the second Wednesday of each month at 401 W. Hickory St., Denton. Meetings are open to the public. More information is available at: http://dcmga.com/.


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 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.


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


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 new Orange County Expo Center on Hwy 1442 in Orangefield. Enter the building in the front entrance, first door on the right, Texas AgriLife offices. Pot luck supper at 6 p.m. Visit http://txmg.org/orange 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 www.sanantonioherbs.org.


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 http://www.amgardenclub.com/.


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 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 Sharon Smith at 817-894-7700.


New Braunfels: The Comal Master Gardeners meet at 6 p.m. the  third Monday of each month (except April and December,) at the GVTC Auditorium, 36101 FM 3159, New Braunfels. An educational program precedes the business meeting. The public is invited to attend. For additional information, call 830-620-3440 or visit  http://txmg.org/comal/. 


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 aransas-tx@tamu.edu or call 361-790-0103.


Sugar Land: The Sugar Land Garden Club meets on the third Tuesday of each month, September through Novemberand 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.


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 boeblingen@centex.net 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 http://www.npsot.org/Houston.


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 www.fbmg.com.


Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month, at the Justice Center, 211 Court Street, Seguin. After a brief social hour, the meeting and guest speaker begins at 7 p.m. The meeting is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 830-303-3889 or visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.




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 www.npsot.org/sanantonio.


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 brazosmg.com 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 khtromza@yahoo.com.


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 www.ogcfw.webs.com.


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 www.npsot.org/sanantonio 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 hnpat@prairies.org.


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 info@leandergc.org.


Dallas: The Dallas County Master Gardeners meet the fourth Thursday of each month at 11:30 a.m. For location and program information, visit http://www.dallascountymastergardeners.org/ or contact The Helpdesk, M-F, 8 to 4:30 214-904-3053.


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 www.gdogc.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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