September 27, 2013

Dear Friends,


Here is the 29th issue of our weekly gardening newsletter for Houston, the Gulf Coast and beyond. This a project of The Lazy Gardener, Brenda Beust Smith, John Ferguson and Mark Bowen (both John and Mark are with Nature's Way Resources). We also have a great supporting cast of contributing writers and technical specialists who will chime in and tweak away regularly. We would love to keep receiving your input on this newsletter . . . . comments . . . . suggestions . . . . questions. . . .Email your thoughts to: Thanks so much for your interest.
Please  or sign yourself up to receive this newsletter by clicking the "Join Our Mailing List" link just below. We will never sell or share our mailing list to protect the privacy of our subscribers.



Left, our native milkweed dies back to protect monarchs. The more colorful tropical milkweed (aka butterflyweed) won't without our help. (Milkweed photo courtesy of Cockrell Butterfly Center)

"We have met the enemy, and he is us." 
 -- Pogo, created by Walt Kelly
Well, maybe that's a little harsh.   

Normally we do more good than bad in our gardens. 

But some monarchs might now be agreeing with Pogo right now.  

Already they are facing 
huge habitat loss caused by humans building new roads, housing developments, agriculture.  And now, we may be encouraging another threat.
O.e.  (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha) is a protozoan parasite whose spread is being facilitated by gardeners who aren't taking the necessary precautions that should come with selecting "exotic" (over native) forms of milkweed (aka butterflyweed).
We use the nickname "butterflyweed" for the beautiful orange-red-yellow forms of our native (and less-eyecatching) milkweed. The monarch happily uses both our native and tropical milkweed.
Soni Holladay, Cockrell Butterfly Center Horticulturist / Greenhouse Manager, explains that problems arise when people raise a lot of monarch butterflies (a popular hobby now) in an enclosed space without regularly cleaning materials and containers.    
Or, when gardeners allow multiple generations of exotic butterflyweed to grow in our gardens without cutting them back in twice a year.
Native milkweed dies back, providing a necessary "interruption" in the natural cycles of this parasite. With our increasingly warm winters, decorative or exotic butterflyweed is often evergreen, and doesn't die all the way ba ck to the ground.  This allows the parasite to proliferate all winter long.
These parasites spread to the hatching caterpillars and by butterflies themselves. The result: steadily increasing populations of caterpillars with faded or blurry stripes, chrysalis that either emerge deformed or can't emerge at all, and too-pale butterflies with engorged abdomens.
It's not a pleasant thought, but a reality that needs to be addressed.  Quickly.
If you're going to attract monarchs with tropical milkweed - the red/yellow/orange butterflyweed - Soni says to cut back plants twice a year to six inches from the ground. 

Chip Taylor , from Monarch Watch, recommends cutting back tropical milkweed near the end of the migration (the third week of October here) and again in late February - so that it will be ready by mid March. This also helps with O.e. by not tempting the Monarchs to stay here during the winter and to keep migrating to Mexico - therefore the O.e. infected Monarchs will be rogued out.
Milkweed/butterflyweed grows so quickly in our area, this will actually give you healthier, thicker, prettier plants that bloom more prolifically.  Without this regular pruning, tropical milkweed/butterflyweed tends to get tall, leggy and often falls over.  Right?

If you are interested in rearing monarchs inside or in an enclosed area - clean all surfaces with a 10% bleach solution, do not overcrowd plants with caterpillars and clean up their frass. Good website on this:
Two more great websites:
* has the best explanation of O.e. and great pictures. should do all we can to help the little guys.
Even better, talk with the local experts!  They'll all be on hand Saturday, Oct. 12, at the big Cockrell Butterfly Center's plant sale. It opens at 9am and runs until sell-out or noon on the 7th level of the Museum of Natural Science Parking Garage. Parking is free if you spend $30 or more at the sale.  

Parking is covered.  Best idea: go early, get a great parking spot, do your plant shopping, get your questions answered, store your plants in the car, and then go visit the Cockrell Butterfly Center if you never have. It's a true treasure everyone should experience.  Among the flowers the Cockrell recommends for attracting butterflies - and they will have at the sale - are:

Left to right, red tithonia, passionvine  (Passiflora foetida) and fireworks. (Photos by Soni Holladay and Nancy Greig)
Let's end on an even happier note.  Did you know that the Cockrell's new Butterfly Rearing Program now is sending out up to 15 different species to other institutions, like The National Zoo! 

Also Moody Gardens, Cockrell outreach programs in schools, etc. Pretty cool, eh?  

If for some reason you can't make it to the Cockrell itself or to the plant sale, they'll have their usual fascinating "alive" booth at the Garden Club of Houston's Bulb and Plant MartOct. 4-5.  See our calendar listing below for details. 

The Cockrell is also offering these excellent definitions for those directions you always receive with plants:

  • Drought tolerant - low water needs once the plant is established after planting.
  • Tender perennial - most of the plant will die back in the winter and grow back in the spring especially if it is well mulched - however it is possible that it may not grow back.
  • Re-seeds - will produce seeds and may spread. However, seed can also be collected before they are released.   
  • Deciduous - drops its leaves in the winter and will re-foliate in the spring.
  • Full sun - needs 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. 
  • Part or light shade - can handle a few hours less sun.
  • Native (at the Cockrell sale) - native to east Texas and can be found growing wild near the Houston area.  (They will also have plants native to other parts of Texas.)   
Don't forget this is the big Garden Faire weekend at Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens. Now that finally the weather is cooling off a bit, this will be a great family outing time, not to mention all the great plants and gardening type goodies to buy!  Check the Calendar below for details. 

Questions aimed at me can be emailed to (altho I'll get any you send to this newsletter as well). 
"THE LAZY GARDENER'S GUIDE ON CD" - Specifically for Houston Area gardens - WHAT TO DO EACH MONTH - when to fertilize, prune, plantwhat where, best plants for sun, shade, butterflies, hummingbirds,etc. Based on Brenda's quirky 40+ year Houston Chronicle Lazy Gardener column. PDF format, print out only the month you need.  $20 total, checks payable to Brenda B. Smith. Mail to: Lazy Gardener's Guide on CD, 14011Greenranch Dr., Houston, TX 77039-2103.

For correspondence that is specific to Brenda, feel free to email her directly at 




MULCH CORNER                  







Rubber Tires:


Crushed Tires (loose tire chips) -


Rating:           Extremely Poor quality

Application:    Apply 3-6" deep


Pros:    Tested in agriculture, decomposes very slowly, reduced weed growth of 86% in field tests when compared to unmulched soil. Available in several colors.


Cons: Limited availability and very expensive, increases heat index (gets so hot it can burn plants), can cause extremes of wet and dry conditions, some studies show possible higher disease problems, USDA tests show excessive leaching of Zinc causing severe phytotoxicity in acid soils and will contaminate soils with other tire components.  Other tests around the world have confirmed USDA research and have shown that as little as 5% ground tire rubber in potting media is toxic to petunias and Impatiens ["Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 27 (13 & 14), 1996].  Tests at Colorado State University found that growth of geraniums grown in media with tire chips were lower than with traditional media [HortScience 32(4):674-676, 1997].  Additional research at Iowa State and Mississippi State has also found decreased growth and other problems when used in a potting mix with Geraniums and Poinsettia plants [HortScience, Vol 32(5), August 1997].  Some of the dyes used to color tire chips may be toxic. Several reports of spontaneous combustion when applied too thickly.  Often sinks into the soil due to its higher density when compared to organic mulches. Note: Works best on poor, unhealthy alkaline soil. Can cause permanent damage to your soil.

Try to avoid, for very special cases only.



Crushed Tires (pressed and glued tire chips) - Several gardening magazines are advertising weed block mats made from old tire chips.  These are mulch mats made from tire chips that have been glued together by heating or by use of a chemical binder.  The chips are pressed into 1-2" thick mats and cut into a variety of shapes and sizes such as circles to place around shrubs and trees.  These mats are laid down as a mulch and weed block.  They are advertised as allowing air and water to pass through the mat but prevent weeds from penetrating.   The black color of the tire chips will increase the heat index and the tire chip mats will most likely suffer from the problems of plastic mulches.  Also the same type of chemical leaching and phytotoxic effects are to be expected as from chipped tires since they are made from the same feedstock material.


Landscape Fabric - (sometimes sold as weed block fabric):


Rating:           Bad, do not use

Application:    Flowerbeds with perennials and shrubs


Pros:    Fast and easy to apply, doesn't rot, better than plastic as air and water can penetrate soil to some degree, reduces light reaching soil reducing weed seed germination, prevents some weeds by preventing them from penetrating the fabric.


Cons: Expensive, does not work very well, ugly, prevents earthworms from reaching soil surface to feed effectively killing them off. This results in reduced aeration (low oxygen) which favors pathogen growth in the soil. Hence, it is sometimes associated with increased occurrence of plant diseases and pests.


Note:   Most types do not stop nut grass from penetrating and growing. Works and looks best when covered by some form of organic mulch. They are some newer types entering the market that use biodegradable plastic and last about one season but no test results published to date.

Best used under pathways and other limited use applications.


Aluminum Foil:


Rating:  Generally bad, do not use


Application: Vegetables and flowerbeds with succulents.


Pros: Same as plastic, the reflective nature tends to interfere with aphid movement reducing the spread of disease, keeps soil cooler than plastic, promotes a longer growing season and increases time over which a plant will yield.  New research has found that the reflective nature of white or foil mulches reduces damage from thrips and whiteflies on garden plants in addition to aphids.


Cons: Expensive, ugly, labor intensive, over time repeated use can cause Aluminum toxicity in soil.  Best use is in limited special purpose applications or applied loosely over a good organic mulch to allow air and water to penetrate into the soil (it helps to punch holes into the aluminum foil), remove after the growing season.


Old carpet:


Rating: Fair to good but for special purpose use only.

Application:  Old carpet (or new carpet scraps) is sometimes used as a weed block for pathways and play areas.  Apply with pile side facing down and backing facing upwards for best results.  Overlap edges by at least 1' when applying and secure corners and edges with 8-12" long metal stakes.  Cover with a coarse organic mulch for appearance.


Pros: Many people believe that old carpet works better than weed block fabrics for weed control.  Lets air and water penetrate easily but stops most weeds.  Usually free or inexpensive, can be cut to desired width and length, often found in wider sizes than landscape weed control fabrics.


Cons: Does not decompose, blocks earthworm movement in soil profile, ugly if not covered with another type of mulch for appearance, difficult to remove once it has been on the ground a while.




Not applicable in our area but prevents heaving and freeze/thawing during temperature changes, and its use is critical to many species of plants.  It also contains small amounts of nutrients (nitrogen, calcium, sulfur and potassium) picked up from dust and atmospheric gases.  Experiments at the Siberian Botanical Gardens have found that plants watered with melted snow grew twice as quickly.  They found that snow contains 40% less "heavy water" or deuterium oxide than normal water.  Heavy water molecules slow down some chemical and biological processes.



Crushed concrete - very poor (possible chemicals contamination problems).


Pottery shards - special purpose mulch that may look good in special application, see previous article on gravel. 






                                      IN THE NEWS:

                                              Fall maze, pumpkin patch opening in Cleveland


September 28: 9 a.m. to noon. Meet the experts and discover trends in water-wise gardening at Woodlands Landscaping Solutions, 8203 Millennium Forest Dr., The Woodlands. Booths and demonstrations spotlight water-saving methods, rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation, lawn care, vegetable and habitat gardening, easy care techniques and more! The plant sale offers heirloom bulbs; native and nearly perennials, shrubs and understory trees. Compost, compost bins, worms, garden gifts, and organic products will also be available for purchase.  Free event. For more information, call 210-210-3800 or visit


September 28-29: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Garden Faire & Fall Festival. Garden Faire is held on Mercer's west side at the picnic area. Kid's Korner provides families with free nature activities and crafts. The event features regional plant societies, local artists and crafts people who specialize in garden art. Garden-related arts and crafts and plants are available for purchase. There is no charge to attend and parking is free.


September 28: "Perennials for the Gulf Coast - Plant Sale Preview"9-11 a.m. Heidi Sheesley of Treesearch Farms will give a presentation highlighting the plants that will be available at the October 12th Galveston County Master Gardener Ornamental & Perennial Sale. Seminar will be held at the Wayne Johnson Community Center. Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park, 4102 Main Street (FM 519), La Marque. For course reservations, call 281-534-3413, ext. 12 or email


September 28: Autumn Container Gardening -  at both Cornelius Nursery locations. Autumn Container Gardening Clinic, 10:15 a.m. at both Cornelius Nursery locations, 1200 N. Dairy Ashford and 2233 S. Voss: Free. Symbols of the Fall Harvest infuse new qualities into your container gardens. See an array of Fall flowers to refresh containers.  Utilize the natural beauty of Autumn blooms to inspire your spaces.  Get inspiring container gardening ideas and useful tips to enhance your Fall container displays.


September 29: Houston: Sustainable Living Through Permaculture 1: SLTP 1. The design principles of Permaculture (PC) are explained, observed and illustrated in a series of breakout sessions at a home and garden remodeled to reflect PC sustainability principles. Sunday, September 29. 2 - 6 p.m. $50. NE Loop Residence. Location to be provided to enrolled students. For more information, call 713-880-5540 or visit 

September 30 - October 1: Texas Fruit Conference, Bryan/Collage Station, 

Hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Specialists-Monte Nesbitt, Larry Stein, Jim Kamas, Russ Wallace, Register Online: or by phone: (979) 845-2604.


October 2: The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of Fort Bend County is accepting applications for the Fall 2013 Master Gardener Training Class.  The 4-week class will begin the morning of Wednesday, October 2, 2013, and will meet each Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through October 30th.   Subjects include design planning, diseases, insects, soil, water conservation, trees, edible landscape, perennials and roses, Earth-KindŽ practices, and more.


October 2: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Texas High Tunnel Conference, Bryan/College Station, hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Specialists-Monte Nesbitt, Larry Stein, Jim Kamas, Russ Wallace, register online:  or by phone: (979) 845-2604.


October 4: The Texas Rose Rustlers are traveling to Tyler for their fall meeting. October 4th they will meet at Chamblee's Rose Nursery at 1:00pm for talk by Mark Chamblee and introduction of a new rose "Delightful Phyllis," hybridized by a TRR member. From there the group will tour the Tyler Rose Gardens before traveling to Nacogdoches. Saturday, October 5th plans include the SFA Plant Sale and then a visit to King's Nursery in Tenaha. Sunday morning includes a visit to Greg Grant's home in Arcadia. For additional information please email


October 4th: OHBA/Texas AgriLife Plant Health Workshop. Go to to see details and to register. All day lectures from Houston's' leading horticulture educators. $60.00 pp


October 4-5: Bulb & Plant Mart at Holly Hall Retirement Community, 2000 Holly Hall St. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 4; 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Oct. 5. New this year: a Garden Garage Sale of garden treasures.  Sponsored by the Garden Club of Houston. Details: 


October 5: Nacogdoches: The SFA Gardens at Stephen F. Austin State University

will host its annual Fabulous Fall Festival Plant Sale from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, October 5, at the SFA Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet St. in historic Nacogdoches. A wide variety of hard-to-find, "Texas tough" plants will be available, including Texas natives, heirlooms, tropicals, perennials, shrubs, trees, and exclusive Greg Grant and SFA introductions. Most of the plants are extensively trialed in the gardens before being offered to the public and most are produced by the SFA Gardens staff and volunteers. This popular event benefits the SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, Gayla Mize Garden, and educational programs hosted at the gardens. The educational programs at SFA Gardens reach more than 15,000 students ages 1 to 100 on a yearly basis. The public is encouraged to arrive early and bring a wagon. For more information, call (936) 468-4404, or visit two weeks before the sale for a list of available plants.


October 5: Enjoy the rustic settings, traditional harvest themes and wholesome fun at either Cornelius Nursery location all day (9 a.m. - 7 p.m.), at our annual Fall Harvest FestivalYour family will find lots of fun activities to do including: Pumpkin Decorating, Story Corner, Mad Science, Pansy Pottin' Station, Birding Craft, Picture Takin' Place, Scarecrow Village, and Creating Fall Landscape Displays" Gardening Clinic at 10:15 a.m. This event takes place at both Cornelius Nursery locations. Learn more a

October 5-6: Spring Branch African Violet Club, Annual Fall Sale, West Gray Multiservice Center

1475 West Gray Street, Houston, Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, 10:00a.m. - 3:00p.m.,

Free Admission, Violets of all types such as standards, miniatures, semi-miniatures, and trailers will be available.  Other Gesneriads such as Episcias and Streps and supplies such as potting soil, pots, and fertilizers will also be featured.  Club members will be available to answer general questions on growing African Violets.  For further information, contact Karla Ross, 281-748-8417,

Note:  This is our fall sale and does NOT include a show.


October 8th, 10 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., Harris County - Texas A&M AgriLife Extension presents: Growing and Cooking with Herbs, Location: Buchanan's Native Plants, 611 East 11th Street, Houston, for more information: phone: 281-855-5624 or email 


October 9: Montgomery County Master Gardeners will present "Landscaping with Texas Natives", 7-9 p.m., at the Thomas LeRoy Education Center, 9020 Airport Road, Conroe. "Landscape Design with Texas Natives" will be presented by Wm. Alan King, Registered Landscape Architect. "Why Choose Natives?" and "Native Alternatives" will be presented by Diana Foss, Texas Parks and Wildlife. Registration is $20 per person, due by October 1. Late Registration will be $25. Door prizes! Registration form and more information available at or by calling 936-539-7824.


October 10, 2013 at 7:30 p.m - 9:30 pm.  "A Vision of Roses...A vision of ARS"  will be the topic of the Houston Rose Society Meeting. Note new meeting location: the Parish Hall of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 1819 Heights Blvd, Houston, Texas 77008.  Entrance to parking lot is on W 19th Street near Yale St.  Our speaker is Pat Shanley, the Vice President of The American Rose Society.  Free admission.


October 12: Plant Sale at the Fourth Annual Jane Long Festival,11am-4pm, Fort Travis Seashore Park, Bolivar Peninsula, near the Ferry Landing.


October 12: 2:00 p.m., Class/Workshop at Clown Alley Orchids, "Dividing and Mounting Plants", Lecture, Demonstration & Workshop. Each student will mount a free plant to take home. Tuition $25 includes the blooming size plant and mounting materials. Where: Clown Alley Orchids, 3119 Lily Street, Pasadena, 281-991-6841,


October 12: 10 a.m., The Calendar Garden Program: Natives for Fall with Mark Bowen. Mark is the General Manager of Nature's Way Resources and a native plant and organic specialist. He will be showing us some great natives to use for fall gardening.  Location: 30730 Old Hockley Rd. Magnolia*Counts as CE Hours for Master Gardeners. CLICK HERE to register now!


October15th, 10 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., Harris County - Texas A&M AgriLife Extension presents: Making Living Arrangements with Indoor Plants, Location: Buchanan's Native Plants, 611 East 11th Street

Houston, TX 77008, for more information: phone: 281-855-5624 or email

October 16: 10:00 a.m.,
Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2 - 3rd Wednesday Lecture Series will present Gaye Hammond, Houston Rose Society as the speaker. She will be giving a "hands-on" rose propagation class. Free and open to the public. Clear Lake Park meeting room, (on the lakeside), 5001 Nasa Parkway, Seabrook Texas 77586. For more info: 281 855 5600 or


October 18th, 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.,  Harris County - Texas A&M AgriLife Extension presents: Juicing, Drying & Freezing, location: Culinary Institute LeNotre, 7070 Allensby

Houston, for more information: phone: 281-855-5624 or email

October 18-19 - 41st Annual Herb Fair, South Texas Unit, Herb Society of America, (new location) Bethany Christian Church, 3223 Westheimer, Houston. Oct. 18, 4-7pmOct. 19, 8am-1pm. Herb plants, herbal products, crafts, jellies, blends, books, garden supplies, etc. Free growing advice. Special classes: 9 a.m.: Lois Sutton & Pam Harris, "Sitting Pretty - Assembling Herbal Chairs" and 10:30 a.m.: Beth & Jim Murphy, "Small Space Herb Gardens featuring Containers, Sprouts and Propagation Tips."Proceeds benefit local and national herb gardens and education. 

October 19-20: Peckerwood Garden in Hempstead, TX, would like to let everyone know of their upcoming Fall Open Days. We will be open two weekends, October 19 & 20 and November 9 & 10. Plant sales are from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Guided garden tours are at 1:00 & 3:00 pm. Tours are $10.00. The garden is not wheelchair accessible and please, no young children. The Garden is not a "wander at will" type location and is only available through the guided tours. Peckerwood Garden is located at 20571 Hwy. 359 in Hempstead, TX. The phone number is 979-826-3232 and e-mail We can also be found on Facebook.


October 21: 8:30 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2 will host Open Garden Day at their Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd., Houston, TX 77034. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your gardening questions.  Hours are 8:30 am - 11:00 am with a program on dividing Daylillies, Canna Lillies and Iris at 9:30 am.  Free and open to the public.  Children invited!  For more info: 281 855 5600 or


Oct 26th OHBA's 'OktOHBAfest'! OHBA's annual party that raises money for college scholarships. This year it is at Buffalo Brewery 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm. Coming in costume gets you a discount. Please go to to register and see details.  


November 1-3:  Antique Rose Emporium's 25th Annual Fall Festival of Roses. Free.  Programs: Nov. 1 - 11am, Propagation by Glenn Schroeter; 1pm, Grow Roses by Judy Barrett; 2:30pm, Psycho Lighting by Linda Lehmusvirta; 3:30pm, Afternoon Tea. Nov. 2 - 11am, Grandma's Garden by Greg Grant; 1pm, Lawn Gone by Pam Penick; 2:30pm, Bulbs by Chris Wiesinger; 4pm, Fearless Gardening 101 by Felder Rushing. Nov. 3 - Behind Scenes Tour by Mike Shoup. Details: 


November 9th, 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.,Harris County - Texas A&M AgriLife Extension presents: Jams & Jellies for the Holidays

Location: Culinary Institute LeNotre, 7070 Allensby, Houston, for more information: phone: 281-855-5624 or email

November 9-10: Peckerwood Garden in Hempstead, TX, Fall Open Days. Plant sales are from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Guided garden tours are at 1:00 & 3:00 pm. Tours are $10.00. The garden is not wheelchair accessible and please, no young children. 

The Garden is only available through the guided tours. Peckerwood Garden is located at 20571 Hwy. 359 in Hempstead, TX. The phone number is 979-826-3232 and e-mail
Submit calendar items to Events must be submitted by the sponsoring organization. Please note: "garden calendar request" in the subject line. We list calendar items up to two months ahead of time.
Need speakers for your group?  Brenda's "Lazy Gardener's Speakers List" of area horticultural/environmental experts is available free for the asking. Email your request to:


                                             ABOUT US


. . . but Brenda Beust Smith is also:

   * a national award-winning writer & editor
   * a nationally-published writer & photographer 
   * a national horticultural speaker
   * a former Houston Chronicle reporter
When the Chronicle discontinued Brenda's 45-year-old Lazy Gardener" print column a couple of years ago, it ranked as the longest-running, continuously-published local newspaper column in the Greater Houston area.

Brenda's gradual sideways step from Chronicle reporter into gardening writing led first to an 18-year series of when-to-do-what Lazy Gardener Calendars, then to her Lazy Gardener's Guide book and now to her Lazy Gardener's Guide on CD (which retails for $20. However, $5 of every sale is returned to the sponsoring group at her speaking engagements).

A Harris County Master Gardener, Brenda has served on the boards of many Greater Houston area horticulture organizations and has hosted local radio and TV shows, most notably a 10+-year Lazy Gardener run on HoustonPBS (Ch. 8) and her call-in "EcoGardening" show on KPFT-FM. 

In addition to her position as Production Editor on the Garden Club of America's magazine and her freelance writing career, Brenda's latest venture is "THE LAZY GARDENER'S & FRIENDS HOUSTON GARDEN NEWSLETTER" with John Ferguson and Mark Bowen of Nature's Way Resources. 

A native of New Orleans and graduate of St. Agnes Academy and the University of Houston, Brenda lives in Aldine and is married to the now retired Aldine High School Coach Bill Smith. They have one son, Blake.

Regarding this newsletter, Brenda is the lead writer, originator of it and the daily inspiration for it. We so appreciate the way she has made gardening such a fun way to celebrate life together for such a long time.
John is a native Houstonian and has over 27 years of business experience. He owns Nature's Way Resources, a composting company that specializes in high quality compost, mulch, and soil mixes. He holds a MS degree in Physics and Geology and is a licensed Soil Scientist in Texas. 
John has won many awards in horticulture and environmental issues. He represents the composting industry on the Houston-Galveston Area Council for solid waste. His personal garden has been featured in several horticultural books and "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine. His business has been recognized in the Wall Street Journal for the quality and value of their products. He is a member of the Physics Honor Society and many other professional societies.  John is is the co-author of the book Organic Management for the Professional. 
For this newsletter, John contributes articles regularly and is responsible for publishing it.

Mark is a native Houstonian, a horticulturist and organic specialist with a background in garden design, land restoration and organic project management. He is currently the general manager of Nature's Way Resources. Mark is also the co-author of the book Habitat Gardening for Houston and Southeast Texas, the author of the book Naturalistic Landscaping for the Gulf Coast, co-author of the Bayou Planting Guide and contributing landscape designer for the book Landscaping Homes: Texas. 
With respect to this newsletter, Mark serves as the editor.

Pablo Hernandez is the special projects coordinator for Nature's Way Resources. His realm of responsibilities include: serving as a webmaster, IT support, technical problem solving/troubleshooting, metrics management, quality control, and he is a certified compost facility operator.
Pablo helps this newsletter happen from a technical support standpoint. 

Save 20%: Redeem this coupon for a big discount on Nature's Way Resources "Native Mix" ( ). Please note: this offer is for bulk material (by the cubic yard) purchases by retail customers only at Nature's Way Resources, located at 101 Sherbrook Circle, Conroe TX.
Offer Expires: 10/6/13