January 14, 2015

Schools create living laboratories


By Alison Risso

Director of Marketing and Communications

REAL School Gardens


Texas Gardeners know how interesting and satisfying gardens can be, but there's also a movement afoot to install learning gardens in schools across Texas to give children the educational benefits of gardens.


While many gardens are simple veggie patches, or pretty places to pass the time, school gardens can be dynamic outdoor classrooms. With the right features and training, schools can create gardens that are living laboratories where children can experience everything from Science and Math to Language Arts in an engaging hands-on way. REAL School Gardens is a nonprofit started in Fort Worth that creates elaborate learning gardens in low-income schools and then spends three years training teachers how to use them to boost academics. The nonprofit now partners with 100 schools in 10 school districts in three states as well as the District of Columbia.


For most low-income schools, the first step is to create the learning garden.The REAL School Gardens program unites teachers, parents, businesses and the students themselves to design a learning garden tailored to each school's unique needs. Then, the nonprofit invites hundreds of volunteers to create the learning garden in just one day.


But just as a garden needs constant care and cultivation, REAL School Gardens then spends three years training teachers how to use their new garden as a hands-on instructional tool. The nonprofit sends out seasoned outdoor educators to work side-by-side with teachers, sharing proven tips and techniques tailored to each teacher's individual needs. Teachers also get ready-to-use lesson plans that are easy to implement and continue to receive new activities and garden materials to help them succeed.


In Dallas' Esperanza "Hope" Medrano Elementary School, Bianca Marquez teaches fifth grade science. She said her students used to struggle with their Earth Science lessons. Now that she's teaching those subjects in the garden, students grasp all the concepts more easily. "It makes it a little bit more tangible for them, rather than just talking about how erosion is taking away and weathering is breaking apart. They actually get to see it, they actually get to experience it firsthand. So I can see that it's making an impact," Marquez says.


In addition to giving children first-hand experiences in Earth and Life Sciences, REAL school gardens have been proven to be effective teaching tools for other key subjects. Students can learn Math while measuring and computing volume, area, and perimeter of garden beds. And gardens provide children of all incomes a rich natural experience to fuel language development. For example, in one Language Arts lesson on adjectives, children each gather a leaf or a rock, and must then write down a detailed description so their teacher can pick out their rock from among all the others.


While anecdotal evidence abounds, there are also measurable benefits to the program. REAL School Gardens partner schools have seen standardized test score pass rates increase between 12%-15%. Science scores saw the largest increases, placing students on a path for success in a professional job market that increasingly requires STEM skills. Most teachers - 94% - reported the REAL School Gardens Program got their students more engaged in learning, and the REAL School Gardens Program almost doubles teacher effectiveness and job satisfaction in partner schools.


These impressive results, and the learning gardens themselves, wouldn't be possible without program funding from foundations and corporations. While partner schools cover a portion of the costs, the majority of the program fees are covered by corporate contributions. These funding partners work with REAL School Gardens to achieve their education, health, and environmental goals for their corporate social responsibility programs. They also get to send hundreds of employee volunteers out to the school to work side by side with teachers, parents and students to create the garden during a fun day of service. REAL School Gardens will be working with funders such as Wells Fargo, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas and FedEx to build new learning gardens in the Dallas/Fort Worth area this spring.

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

Killer Tan

By JoAnne Lucas

Freelance Writer


"Die, you weasly chartreuse varmit!"


I hit it with a stream from the sprayer. The ugly little rascal sat up on its many hindquarters and gestured for me to "Put 'em up."


I shot it again, but Superworm still inched toward the rich promise of a ripening tomato. I headed it off at the pass and we grappled in hand-to-hand combat. From the driveway a driver tooted his horn and my adversary dropped down into a jungle of plant leaves. I vowed to return.


I stay in the apartment over the garage while Stella, my late father's second wife, jets around to better climes. I watch over the house and take care of the vegetable garden and Dad's roses during summer. Stella's too cheap to hire a full-time gardener to see to the grounds, only a lawn service for surface appearances. Dad always took pride in his rose garden, and I've kept it up since his sudden death two years ago. In the fall, I return to the University.


Dad's will stipulated Stella to be the sole executrix and my guardian until I marry (only with her consent) or reach the age of 25. So Stella carried my love life, allowance, and inheritance in her graspy little hands. Since I'm only 20 now, she would continue to pay herself an increasingly outrageous salary as executrix and live in my father's house for another five years. Forget my getting married, she's already nixed or lured away every prospective boyfriend I've brought around. Poor Dad, he must have had some really gnarly middle-aged crisis thing after Mom died. What else explained his marrying a she-devil of a woman only six years my senior? I'd get along with her better if she'd made Dad happy.


The family lawyer, Hugh Dearing, waited for me on my little porch. Besides having the personality of wet newspaper, Hugh wrote up Dad's last will and was a frequent guest of Stella's. He cleared his throat to signal the beginning of some lawyerly pronouncement.


"Er, you know Stella went on a trip to Mexico?" he asked.


Well, duh! Of course I knew, and he knew I did. He was here two hours early last week to take dear Step-mama to the airport. I also knew that was the day Stella told him she couldn't stand his possessiveness and wouldn't go out with him anymore.


Hugh sat silently at the kitchen table with me. Stella had left off making up her special tanning glop until that morning. We watched her carefully slide iodine into a pot that held hot baby oil. The sudden acrid smell had attacked my nose and made my eyes water. Stella bragged on her compound; how soft her skin felt and how she was going to get a tan to die for. She always made the tanning solution herself, and added strongly brewed tea after it cooled to cut the iodine smell. A glass Pyrex measuring cup of tea stood waiting beside another filled with one of her concoctions. Stella fancied herself a "good witch" and messed around with herbs and homemade remedies. I also considered her a witch, the one with the green face, and I was Dorothy.


She continued dictating her directions for me to write down. "I want you to use this on the vegetables instead of that commercial control. Spray once a month."


I reached for the glass container next to the tea. "Don't do that, stupid, that's pure nicotine. Use gloves to fill the sprayer. You'll get ill if you get any on your hands. I don't want Hugh calling me home because you've got a tummy ache."


What a slam! The only time Hugh ever called her about me was when she was in the Greek Islands last year; I needed an emergency appendectomy and she had to fax her approval of the expenditure.


Before I could make some remark that would probably cause another big reduction in my allowance, she left the room.


Hugh stood up and walked over to look out the window. I left to get the sprayer. Must be nice to dump a guy and still have him around to take you to the airport. I substituted Brad Pitt for the lawyer and dreamed on.


I returned with the sprayer, snapped on the rubber gloves, and slowly poured the brown liquid into the sprayer. Hugh watched, taking in every detail so he could tattle to the s-mom later. I picked up the container and waggled a pinkie bye-bye to Hugh. I was really glad to be rid of the two of them for a few weeks.


But it's only been six days now.


"Er, I'm afraid I have some bad news," he said. "Stella is dead."


I didn't move.


"The Mexican authorities are a little vague about the cause of death."


It seemed that because of the weather, Stella couldn't sun-bathe until two days ago. The bad weather returned that evening, but not Stella. When the storm let up they found her on the beach. Everything else had been swept out to sea. They thought her heart was not good, or maybe an allergic reaction to something she ate. Hugh made arrangements to have the body buried there.


He said that Stella's death negated the guardianship. I would now come into my full inheritance.


I nodded. He stood up, put his hand down on my shoulder, and said I could call on him anytime; perhaps we could do dinner. He squeezed my shoulder and left.


I sat on the porch a long time and thought about how Hugh was alone in the kitchen that day. Maybe it could never be proved murder, but first thing tomorrow I'm having all the locks changed, hiring a new lawyer, and using only tanning lotions that are factory-sealed.


I picked up my sprayer and a stick and returned to the garden. "Yo, worm! You want your dose of tea with one lump or two?"


JoAnne Lucas lives and writes in the small city of Clovis, California - which likes to pretend it's Texas.

Tycoon: New tomato worth a try!


By Robert Burns

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


Tycoon tomato has many characteristics that rival or even best the Celebrity tomato, the long-standing favorite of many commercial and home growers, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist.


Tycoon tomato has superior resistance to diseases and nematodes, and it can produce very large fruit of superior quality. All these characteristics and more won it the Texas Superstar title, said David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture in Bexar County and member of the Texas Superstar selection board.


For example, Tycoon is resistant to tomato yellow leaf curl virus, a disease that has become a major problem for many varieties in the past few years, Rodriguez said. It is also resistant to the fungi verticillium and fusarium, races one and two, and tomato spotted wilt virus, as well as nematodes.


Tycoon is an annual and determinant variety, which means that it is bushy rather than vining, and produces and ripens all its initial fruit crop at nearly the same time, most often within about a two-week period, he said.


Most home gardeners as well as commercial growers prefer determinant varieties because they're easier to manage and usually don't take up as much space. Also, the plants continue to produce fruit well into the summer, another plus for Texas gardeners.


As if all these favorable characteristics weren't enough to qualify Tycoon as a Texas Superstar, it's also capable of growing very large tomatoes, Rodriguez said. A common-size tomato for most reliable varieties, including Celebrity, is about 6 to 8 ounces.


"But we've been seeing and hearing reports from other growers as well that under optimum management, Tycoon can produce tomatoes 1 pound and larger and of very high quality," he said.


As for flavor, that's a subjective matter, Rodriguez noted, but Tycoon does have a very good sugar-to-acid ratio, which should please most people's taste.


All Texas Superstar plants undergo extensive tests throughout the state by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension horticulturists, said Dr. Brent Pemberton, AgriLife Research horticulturist and chair of the Texas Superstar executive board, Overton.


Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by Texas A&M AgriLife Research, a state agency that is part of the Texas A&M University System. More information about the Texas Superstar program can be found at http://texassuperstar.com/.


To be designated a Texas Superstar a plant must perform well for consumers and commercial growers throughout Texas, Pemberton said. Superstars must also be easy to propagate-which ensures the plants are not only widely available throughout Texas, but also reasonably priced.


Editor's Note: If you want to give Tycoon a try and start your own transplants, you can order bulk seed from Paramount Seed, www.paramountseed.com , or we have a limited amount of seed that we would like to share with our readers for $4 for 10 seeds to cover postage and handling. Send payment to Texas Gardener, PO Box 9005, Waco, TX 76714 or call 1-800-727-9020 to pay with credit card.

Gardening tips

"I've found chop sticks to be awesome tools when transplanting," writes Debbi Harris. "1. They help separate plants without touching them. 2. They dig holes you need & the depth needed. I do my whole transplanting process without ever touching the seedling and have a real good growth rate. Plus, this is a good way to recycle!"


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 2015 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.



San Antonio: On Wednesday, January 14 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., David Rodriguez, County Extension Agent-Horticulturist, will present Joey Villarreal, Proprietor and Brewer of Blue Star Brewing Company, Todd Huntress, Operator of San Antonio Homebrew Supply & Home Brewer, along with Bexar County Master Gardener and Home Brewer, Lou Kellogg in the first Backyard Gardening Series presentation for 2015: The Basics of Home Brewing 101. Held at Blue Star Brewing, The Blue Star Arts Complex, 1414 S. Alamo St, San Antonio 78210. 2 CEUs for Master Gardeners. Fee: $20. RSVP to Angel Torres 210-467-6575 or email matorres@ag.tamu.edu. Must be 21 years of age or older.


Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners will meet Thursday, January 15, at the AgriLife Building, 210 East Live Oak, Seguin. A social gathering will be at 6:30 p.m. followed by the educational program at 7:00 p.m. The topic of the meeting will be "Planning Planting for Spring." There will be several Master Gardeners hosting small group discussions relating to spring gardening, lawn care, and tree care. The membership meeting will follow the educational program.For additional information, please call 830-303-3889 or www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.


La Marque: Growing Citrus in Your Own Backyard, Saturday, January 17, 9-11 a.m. at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Galveston County Master Gardener Chris Anastas will present a program on how to successfully grow citrus trees. The presentation will cover such topics as rootstock and variety selection, cultural care of trees, typical disease and insect pest problems, and freeze protection. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net.


Rosenberg: Join the Fort Bend Master Gardeners on Saturday, January 17, for a program to preview the trees and plants to be sold at their Annual Fruit and Citrus Tree Sale. It will include how to heel in your fruit trees, pruning and how to plant as well as an overview of plants at the sale. The program will be held at the Bud O'Shieles Community Center, 1330 Band Road, Rosenberg. The doors open at 8:30 a.m. and the program will be from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. For more information call 281-341-7068 or visit www.fbmg.com.


San Antonio: Free Fruit Tree Seminar, Saturday, January 17, 9 a.m. to noon, Fanick's Garden Center Inc., 1025 Holmgreen Rd, San Antonio. Dr. Larry Stein from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will show you how to properly select, plant, prune and maintain fruit and nut trees for maximum production. Also learn about the overall care of your trees before and after harvest. 3 CEUs for MGs.


La Marque: Gardening by the Square Foot, Tuesday, January 20, 6:30-8 p.m. at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Presented by Galveston County Master Gardener John Jons. This program is an introduction to the methodology of gardening by the square foot. Discover this unique way of planning the bed, selecting plants, building the bed, maintaining the bed and renewing the bed. This is an ideal program for anyone who would like to learn a simple, productive method of gardening and will also enable them to teach children or adults with limitations how to learn and enjoy gardening. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net.


Seabrook: Wednesday, January 21, Heidi Sheesley, owner of Treesearch Farms, will present "Citrus and Fruit Trees for the Houston area" at 10 a.m., in the meeting room at Clear Lake Park, 5001 NASA Parkway,Seabrook. The trees will be available at the Master Gardener sale on February 14 at Campbell Hall in Pasadena. For more information, visit https://hcmga.tamu.edu.


La Marque: Successful Spring Vegetable Gardening, Saturday, January 24, 9-11:30 a.m. at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Presented by Galveston County Master Gardener Luke Stripling. Stripling has over 65 years of hands-on experience 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.


McKinney: The Collin County Master Gardeners Association will host "Spring into Vegetable Gardening" on January 24, from 8 a.m. until noon at the Landing at Myers Park and Event Center in McKinney. The focus of the program will be vegetable gardening in Collin County from January through May. Vegetable garden experts will discuss the specifics on when and what to plant in Collin County, with month-to-month guidelines for January through May planting. Attendees will learn about the importance of soil and soil preparation, how to propagate seeds, and which varieties of plants grow well in the area. Master gardeners will be available to answer questions at demonstration tables on the following subjects: water conservation with rain barrels and drip irrigation, propagation, gardening resources, soil amendments, compost, vegetable container gardening, raised bed construction, and more. Representatives from Texas Pure Products will be on hand with examples of compost and mulch. Tour the potager and vegetable trial gardens at the end of the program with the volunteers who work in these gardens. This ambitious project began in the fall of 2013 with 16 raised beds, including two wheelchair-accessible beds, and utilizes the principles and practices of Earth-Kind Environmental Stewardship. Registration will open online January 3 at the CCMGA website www.ccmgatx.org. There is a $10 per person fee payable online (credit card only) or at the door with cash, check or credit card. Contact Kathleen Brooks at 469-401-3873 with questions or for additional information.


Rosenberg: The Fort Bend Master Gardeners will hold their Annual Fruit and Citrus Tree Sale on Saturday, January 24, at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds - Barn H, 4310 Highway 36S, Rosenberg. The sale will open at 9 a.m. and will run until 1 p.m. or until sold out. For more information call 281-341-7068 or visit www.fbmg.com.


La Marque: Anyone Can Grow Roses, Tuesday, January 27, 6:30-8 p.m. at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Presented by Galveston County Master Gardener and American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian John Jons, the program will cover all the basics for growing large, beautiful, sweet smelling and healthy roses in Galveston County. Topics will include rose selection, bed preparation and maintenance, planting, pruning, disease and insect management and any questions that on growing roses. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net.


La Marque: Growing Great Tomatoes (Part 2), Saturday, January 31, 9-11:30 a.m. at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. The second part of the three-part program on Growing Great Tomatoes in Galveston County. Galveston County Master Gardener Ira Gervais reveals secrets for planting and growing great tomatoes. Learn about the various varieties that do well in this area, how to make your selections, how and when to transplant your seedlings and various growing techniques. Find out about soil requirements and needed nutrients and the temperature ranges for best tomato fruit set. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net.


La Marque: Growing Blueberries, Saturday, January 31, 1-3 p.m. at Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. Presented by Dr. David Cohen, an accomplished home grower of blueberries by avocation and a practicing physician by trade. Dr. Cohen has an impressive "blueberry patch" as part of his home landscape and has gained considerable hands-on experience with successfully growing blueberries under our growing conditions. Learn the facts about blueberries and site selection and preparation. Find out about variety recommendations for this area and the planting, spacing, fertilizing and pruning requirements. The program will also cover harvesting and understanding the problems and the costs of growing blueberries here in Galveston County. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email GALV3@wt.net.


Victoria: Victoria County Master Gardener Association will hold a "Lunch and Learn With the Masters" program Monday, February 9, noon-1 p.m., at Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria. Victoria master gardeners Pat Koening and Emory Powitzky Jr., will discuss "Blackberries: The Other Black Gold for Gardeners." The event is free to the public, and those who desire to do so may bring a sack lunch and beverage.


San Antonio: Spring Floral Design Classes at the San Antonio Garden Center will be held Tuesday, February 17, 24, and March 3, from Noon-3 p.m. Tuition is $75 for the 3 classes. Learn how to design your own floral arrangements in these hands-on classes with Instructor Melissa White. Fresh flowers, greenery, container, and instruction for a take-home finished project each week with emphasis on flowers and colors of spring. Classes are held at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels. Further information at www.sanantoniogardencenter.org or call 210- 824-9981. Registration deadline is February 13. Make check payable to San Antonio Garden Center. Tuition for missed classes cannot be refunded.


New Braunfels: The Comal Master Gardeners and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service present their Spring Seminar featuring tomatoes, keyhole gardening, and nutrition at McKenna Events Center, 801 West San Antonio Street, New Braunfels. February 21, from 8:50 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Cost is $49.00, and includes lunch, snacks, seminar booklet, and vegetable gardening handbook. Speakers include William D. Adams, author or co-author of Texas Tomato Lover's Handbook, The Southern Kitchen Garden, Commonsense Vegetable Gardening for the South, and Growing Fruits and Nuts in the South. Dr. Deb Tolman will provide all the details of keyhole gardening and Ashley Currie will provide a talk on health and wellness. Seating is limited so register early to save your place. Registration forms are available at http://txmg.org/comal/event/seminar/. For additional information, call 830-620-3440.


San Antonio: Advance your gardening expertise, plus gain self-satisfaction through volunteer efforts which enhance the quality of life for citizens of your community using the science and art of horticulture. Bexar County Master Gardeners and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will offer Master Gardener Intern Training Class #59 from February 25 to May 27 (noon-4 p.m., each Wednesday) at 3355 Cherry Ridge, Suite 208, San Antonio. Registration for Class 59, is open NOW through February 9. See the attachment for details, application form, and planned class agenda. For more information, call 210-467-6575.

Rosenberg: Join the Fort Bend Master Gardeners on Thursday, February 26, for a program to preview the plants to be sold at their Annual Vegetable-Herb Plant Sale. The program will be held at the Bud O'Shieles Community Center, 1330 Band Road, Rosenberg. The doors open at 8:30 a.m. and the program will be from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. For more information call 281-341-7068 or visit www.fbmg.com.


Dallas: For more than 30 years, Dallas Blooms has been a tradition as the largest floral festival in the Southwest. This year's theme plays homage to the beloved state: Dallas Blooms: Deep in the Hearts of Texans. This Texas-sized extravaganza, February 28-April 12, features more than 500,000 blooming spring bulbs along with Texas themed topiaries, entertainment, food and special activities celebrating Texas. Dallas Blooms features tulips, daffodils, Dutch Iris and hyacinths, pansies, violas, poppies and thousands of other spring-blooming annuals and perennials that bloom throughout the entire festival, so the garden changes all the time. The finale of this spring celebration is the mass flowering of the garden's collection of 3,000 azaleas that bloom through the end of April. Throughout the festival and beyond, there are multiple events to celebrate Dallas Blooms including Mommy and Me Mondays, Tiny Tot Tuesdays, a special 1980's concert and Easter activities. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, 8525 Garland Road, Dallas. More information can be found at www.dallasarboretum.org.


Rosenberg: The Fort Bend Master Gardeners will hold their Annual Vegetable-Herb Plant Sale on Saturday, February 28, in front of the greenhouse behind the Agriculture Center, 1402 Band Road, Rosenberg. The sale will open at 9 a.m. and will run until noon or until sold out. For more information call 281-341-7068 or visit www.fbmg.com.


Longview: The annual Spring Garden and Landscape Seminar will be presented by the Gregg County Master Gardeners, on Saturday, March 7, at the First United Methodist Church, Faith Center, Whatley St. entrance, from 7:45 a.m. to noon. Chris Wiesinger, owner of The Southern Bulb Company, will be the speaker. He is nationally known as the "The Bulb Hunter." Wiesinger's topic will be "Seeking Botanical Treasures." He has a passion for seeking bulbs once-lost to the Southern gardeners, bulbs that thrive in warm climates, many of which are heirloom and rare flower bulbs. Wiesinger will have bulbs and copies of his two books for sale at the seminar. There will be vendors, door prizes, raffle and refreshments. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. For information, call the Gregg County AgriLife Extension Service at 903-236-8429 or visit www.txmg.org/gregg.  


Huntsville: Herb Festival at the Wynne Home will be held Saturday, March 28, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., at 1428 Eleventh Street, Huntsville. Sponsored by the Texas Thyme Unit of the Herb Society of America. Herb, butterfly and hummingbird, camellias and citrus plants for sale. Herbal and garden vendors, artists, musicians, food, and children's activities. Speakers: Bill Varney of UrbanHERBAL, Dave Whitinger of Allthingsplants.com, and Master Gardener Bonney Kennedy.

The Festival is FREE. For information, call 936-891-5024 or visit www.facebook.com/texasthymeunit.


Quitman: The Wood County chapter of Texas Master Gardeners will host a spring conference featuring speaker Steven L. Chamblee. March 28, at Quitman High School, 1101 East Goode Street, Quitman. "Time to Plant Smarter" will focus on plants and gardening methods specifically for east Texas. Chamblee is the Chief Horticulturist for Chandor Gardens in Weatherford, Texas. He serves as Consulting Editor and Author for a gardening magazine, writes a monthly e-newsletter column entitled "Native Son," and is an Adjunct Instructor for Tarrant County College and Texas Christian University's Extended Education. He will introduce Texas Tough Plants which are environmentally friendly and native to the state. This will be especially informative for people new to the area or state and adapting to Texas weather and seasons. He will cover subjects on trees, shrubs and color with emphasis on heavily flowering herbaceous perennials. The conference will also have mini-seminars on native plants, rainwater harvesting and worm farming. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. Door prizes will be awarded and refreshments will be available. For more information contact: Gloria Jean Rosewall at gloriajeanerosewall@gmail.com; Roy Culbertson at royculb@gmail.com; or Lin Grado at lingrado@gmail.com.



Nacogdoches: On April 17-19, Stephen F. Austin State University will host the sixth Big Thicket and West Gulf Coastal Plain Science Conference. The focus of this year's plenary session will be "Watersheds and Waterflow" to be addressed by invited speakers. Dr. Francis "Ab" Abernethy, professor emeritus of English at Stephen F. Austin State University and editor emeritus of the Texas Folklore Society, and Dr. Kirk O. Winemiller, Regents Professor, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University will give plenary presentations. The Science Conference provides a forum for scientists and resource managers to share their research in the West Gulf Coastal Plain ecosystem, which comprises a variety of communities including southeastern pine forests, bottomland hardwood forests, and prairies. All topics relevant to the ecology of the region are appropriate, including studies of plant communities, wildlife, restoration ecology, effects of climate change, invasive species, fisheries, and large-scale disturbance ecology. In addition to the general call for papers, symposia or special sessions may be planned and available on a variety of topics. Contact the Program Committee BigThicket2015@gmail.com  if you are interested in hosting a session. Presenters are encouraged to submit manuscripts to be published in a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Southeastern Naturalist. All manuscripts will be subject to the full peer-review process and the standards of the Southeastern Naturalist. Abstracts for papers can be submitted to Dr. Chris Comer BigThicket2015@gmail.com by 1 March. Registration fees are $100 by 20 March; late registration is $150 and student registration is $25. Registration for only one day is $60. Optional field trips are not included in fees. Three trips are planned: 1) Saline Prairie, led by Will Godwin and Jason Singhurst; 2) Tonkawa Sand Hills, led by James Van Kley, and 3) Birding in the SFA Experimental Forest, led by Cliff Shackelford. Sponsors of the event include the Big Thicket Association, Stephen F. Austin State University, USFS Southern Research Station, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Big Thicket National Preserve. Contact Dan Saenz of the U.S. Forest Service (Conference Chair) with questions at dsaenz@fs.fed.us or check the conference website at www.bigthicket.org for additional information.

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. 




Kaufman: The Kaufman County Master Gardeners meet the first Monday of each month at the First Community Church at 1401 Trinity Drive in Crandall. January through April and August and September meetings are at 9 a.m., with the remaining meetings beginning at 7 p.m. For additional information visit http://www.kcmga.org, call 972-932-9069 or email to sbburden@ag.tamu.edu.

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.

Dallas: Garden Masters, Inc., meet the first Wednesday of each month at North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Rd., Dallas. The club hosts different speaker each month from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Bring your lunch! For more information, email Bunny Williams at bunny-williams@sbcglobal.net.


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.

New Braunfels: The Comal Garden Club meets the first Thursday of each month at 9:30 a.m. at Southbank Clubhouse, 222 Southbank Blvd., New Braunfels. 




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.

Jacksonville: The Cherokee County Master Gardeners meet on the second Monday of each month at 9:30 a.m. at Woodmen of the World, 1800 College Ave., Jacksonville. For more information, e-mail Tom Abbott at tom@deerfield-abbey.org.  


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's Learn at Lunch program meet the second Wednesday of each month. The business meeting begins at 11:30 a.m., with the program at noon, at the AgriLife Extension Office, 405 E. Marshall Ave., Longview. The program is presented for horticultural education and is free to the public. For further information call 903-236-8429, visit www.txmg.org/gregg, or like us on Facebook at Gregg County Master Gardeners. 


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.

Smithville: The Smithville Community Gardens meets at 5:30 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the Smithville Recreation Center. 


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.


Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 1:30 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month. For more information, call Carole Ramke at 903-986-9475.


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 Gardener's meet on the third Monday of each month at McGregor House, 1628 W Henderson, Cleburne. Meeting times are at 2 p.m. October through April, except December and at 6 p.m. May through September. An educational program precedes the business meeting. For additional information, contact Sue Matern at 817-517-9076.


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.


Evant: The Evant Garden Club meets on the third 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 254-471-5860.  


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 November and January through April at 10 a.m. at the Sugar Land Community Center, 226 Matlage Way, Sugar Land. The club hosts a different speaker each month. For more information, visit www.sugarlandgardenclub.org.


Denton: The Denton Organic Society, a group devoted to sharing information and educating the public regarding organic principles, meets the third Wednesday of each month (except July, August and December) at the Denton Senior Center, 509 N. Bell Avenue. Meetings are free and open to the public. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are preceded by a social at 6:30. For more information, call 940-382-8551.


Glen Rose: The Somervell County Master Gardeners meet at 10 a.m., the third Wednesday of each month at the Somervell County AgriLife Extension office, 1405 Texas Drive, Glen Rose. Visitors are welcome. For more information, call 254-897-2809 or visit www.somervellmastergardeners.org.


Granbury: The Lake Granbury Master Gardeners meet at 1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at the Hood County Annex 1, 1410 West Pearl Street, Granbury. The public is invited to attend. There is an educational program each month preceding the business meeting. For information on topics call 817-579-3280 or visit http://www.hoodcountymastergardeners.org/.


Seabrook: The Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold an educational program at 10 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at The Meeting Room at Clear Lake Park (on the Lakeside), 5001 NASA Road 1, Seabrook. The programs are free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.


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.


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 email npsot.sanantonio@gmail.com.


Houston: The Houston Chapter of the Native Prairie Association of Texas (HNPAT) meets from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month at 3015 Richmond Ave., 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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