March 31, 2104

Dear Friends,

Here is the 52nd 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.



When the Cockrell Butterfly Center recommends/sells plants to attract these jewels of nature, we listen. Available at the Cockrell April 5 sale will be: left above, passionvine (Passiflora suberosa); left below, tithonia; and, l to r, fireworks, red porterweed and candlestick plant (Cassia alata)

by Brenda Beust Smith

Butterflies have really been "in the news" lately - from the growing popularity of habitat gardens to the major threat from Oe.

The pathogen Oe (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha) is thriving in subtropical areas (such as ours) when gardeners don't allow their butterflyweeds to die completely back in winter. This butterfly nectar/host plant should cheerfully return in spring. Protecting it so it doesn't die back also protects this steadily-multiplying pathogen which is causing life-threatening distorted growth in all of the monarch's life cycles. 


Don't let this stop you from planting butterflyweed, native or tropical. This fabulous flower has just been named Plant of the Year by the Garden Club of America, right. Technically speaking, GCA is honoring the native Asclepias tuberosa, also known as milkweed, right. Often what nurseries carry is A. curvassavica, or tropical butterflyweed. But they look so much alike. Butterflies and Oe like them both. 
Nature's never simple, is she?

Between Oe, droughts, hurricanes and urban sprawl, Habitat Highways (as Chris LaChance tagged them) are being disrupted for all migrating species. Now that butterflies are heading north, along with so many birds, what we plant in our home gardens is making a difference, according to Hugh Wedgeworth of BEST (Butterfly Enthusiasts of Southeast Texas).  

We live in a delightfully unique ectone, according to B.E.S.T. This transitional area of vegetation between two different plant communities, such as forest and grassland, has some of the characteristics of each, which makes it  especially attractive for migrating species. 

The same is true of our yards, which is why ponds or water gardens, combined with woody areas, open areas and planted gardens, make a landscape even more attractive to these jewels of nature.

It's okay to check state or national catalogs for great butterfly plant ideas.  But don't spend a lot of money on anything until you're sure of for local planting advice. Many such plants recommended even for other parts of this state need to go in raised beds or on slopes in our area.

We have some unique differences from, say, Central or East Texas and if you don't pay attention to these, your plants will never thrive and may not even survive. 

Many highly-touted butterfly plants:

1. are also low-water plants. 
We usually have spring and fall monsoons. Plant them at ground level here and the roots will be weakened by staying too wet for too long. (Think sprinkler systems too!

2. are native to areas with very porous sandy or limestone soils. We have gumbo clay.  It's very right soil, perfect for many plants, but it can also be like concrete when dry and play dough when wet.

The solution? Raise the beds using rich organic matter. Either work in lots of leaves and pine needles, or add compost. Remember, everything sinks here (joys of living in a marsh).  If you can get the bed up a foot high, great. If not, as high as you can. Be sure to border it well so your great soil doesn't all wash away.

BEST Butterfly Counts can always use more participants. The next one is April 3 on the Big Thicket Loop in East Texas at the Nature Conservancy of Texas Roy E. Larson Sandyland Sanctuary (just east of Silsbee in East Texas).    

The Conroe Butterfly Count is underway this weekend. For future counts in this area, call David Henderson, 281-827-3729. The Bolivar Peninsula Butterfly Count was discontinued after Hurricane Ike. Other Butterfly Counts coming up include: April 12-Spring Cypress; April 13-Houston Lakes.  Log onto the BEST website for news of these and future ones. BEST is a member of NABA (North American Butterfly Association).

BEST's meetings are always open to the public. The next one is Tuesday, April 1, at the Cockrell Butterfly Center, Museum of Natural Science, Hermann Park. 7pm social, 7:30pm meeting featuring "Butterflies of Southeastern Peru" by the Bill Miller family.  Just drop in. No reservations needed.

*  *  *

Two sales Saturday, April 5, will have choice selections:

* Cockrell Butterfly Center Spring Plants Sale.  9am-noon (or sell-out), Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Dr., 7th level of the parking garage, Details:  

* White Oak Bayou Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden Plant Sale & Lecture, White Oak Conference Center, 7603 Antoine. 9am-Heidi Sheesley lecture. 10am-2pm-Plant Sale. Details: 

The White Oak Bayou garden should inspire other neighborhoods. Residents and businesses united to beautify their neighborhood conference center grounds, that now serve as a teaching tool for home gardeners and, especially, their children. Thirty trees/large shrubs, 800 lower shrubs/flowers, 60 yards of compost and loads of leaves later, this Near Northwest Management District project, with the help of Heidi Sheesley and Treesearch Farms, is now in constant use.

Among butterfly/hummer-attracting plants Heidi recommends:
    * Aristolochia fimbriata - Fimbriata Dutchman's Pipe
    * Berlandieria texana - Green Eyes
    * Calliandra emarginata - Dwarf Fairy Duster
    * Callirhoe - Standing Winecup
    * Gomphrena lindheimari - Gomphrena 'Fireworks'
    * Salvia vanhouttei 'Dancing Flames - Dancing Flames Salvia
    * Stokesia laevis 'Peachies Pick' - Peachies Pick
Below, White Oak Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden is created.

Check the Calendar below for more great organizational plant sales.  You won't believe how many there are!

*  *  *  

SPEAKING OF NATURE'S PURE DELIGHTS, Brian Treadway of Durham Elementary PTA sent this shot of ladybugs, right, to promote his school's annual release of "interesting critters." They sure could use donations of some trees to plant during their April 12 grounds clean-up day. Bryan can pick up trees.  Email him at
First graders in this just-north-of-Garden Oaks school watch and learn about life cycles and natural vs. chemical controls.  Last year they released the microscopic beneficial wasps, which raised some eyebrows until everyone saw exactly what they were.
*   *   *

HANG THOSE ORCHIDS! As promised last week in connection with our Society Spotlight on the Houston Orchid Society, here are some of the delightful orchids-in-trees I photographed on our recent trip to the Hobe Sound/Jupiter area of Florida - thanks to great planning of the Garden Club of America's Bulletin Committee meeting chairman Stephanie Wilson.

No reason why we can't do this here. In the wild, both grow in Vs of branches or attached to ragged strips of bark. Most of these pictured are just wired to the trees. Orchids (and bromeliads) love our heat and humidity as long as they're in shady spots. When temperatures drop, unwire and bring them inside. Now's a good time to look up for "perches" or "supports" your trees might be offering. 




John's Corner  



Soil Amendments #19 - Sawdust






This past week I was talking with a couple different customers whom were having problems with their plants from yellowing to poor growth. In both cases they had purchased a bagged soil product from one of the box stores. After eliminating other possible causes I asked them about the soil they used. From their descriptions it was a sawdust based product which is the reason it was so cheap as it does not work very well.  As a result, today's topic is: sawdust.


Sawdust can be a beneficial soil amendment when used correctly.  However it rarely is used correctly. Healthy fertile soil has 30 carbon atoms to every nitrogen atom or what is called a 30:1 (C:N) ratio.  All sawdust comes from the logs of various species of trees (pine, oak, redwood, cedar, etc.) and may have a C:N of 500:1 or more!  In nature the microbes always eat first. Bacteria have a 5:1 ratio and most fungus 20:1 ratio, hence as they digest the carbon in the lignin and cellulose of the sawdust they require a tremendous amount of nitrogen.  The microbes suck up all the soils nitrogen, and there is none left available for the plants which leads to the yellowing.  I used nitrogen as an example, but the microbes also need other nutrients which they also use up creating several nutrient deficient problems that lead to insects and diseases not to mention poor growth and unsightly color.


Sawdust contains 40% lignin and 60% cellulose with a little  bit of waxes, resins and oils mixed in.  It is low in nutrient density, only containing 0.048% nitrogen (N), 0.007 % phosphorus (P), 0.017% potassium (K) and 0.106% calcium (Ca) which varies depending on the wood the sawdust comes from.


Sawdust consists of very small particles of wood which have lots of surface area, thus there is a lot more surface for microbes to attack it (places for them to attach to the wood particles and eat it). This results in a much quicker breakdown of the wood as compared to wood shavings or wood chips as a mulch.  Sawdust does break down into humus, creates soil structure, increases aeration (porosity and permeability), increases a soil's water holding capacity, and increases microbial activity after it has broken down. Depending on many factors, this may take months to years.


As fungus species break the wood particles down, they produce weak organic acids that can acidify the soil if too much sawdust is applied at one time.  As a result one may have to apply dome from of limestone or dolomite to neutralize the acidity. Hardwood sawdust tends to break down more quickly than conifer sawdust, and sawdust from rot resistant woods like cedar or redwood may take much longer (years).


In general, it takes about 24 pounds of pure nitrogen (240 pounds of a 10-10-10) per ton (3-4 cubic yards if dry) of sawdust, hence it ties up nitrogen for a long time. Eventually after decomposition is complete, the nutrients will be available for plants.


One study on potatoes found that as the amount of sawdust was increased, the yield went down and the number of culls (mis-shapen or bad potatoes) also increased for the first two years, then returned to normal after the sawdust had decomposed.


Another study found that sawdust in a potting mix completely controlled "damping off" (Rhizoctonia solani) only if there was 16,000 ppm or more of sawdust in the mix (this is only a few percent). Another study found that sawdust was very effective in breaking down certain fungicides that are used on the leaves of trees once it washes into the soil.


A major source of sawdust used in the discount products found in bags at big box stores comes from the medium density fiberboards (MDF) that is used in making furniture, cabinets, etc. This is an engineered product that uses a urea-formaldehyde resin (UF) to glue the wood particles together and the one that causes so many health problems when it out gasses formaldehyde vapors into ones home.  The University of Tennessee has done studies of what happens when it is applied and incorporated into soil.  They found that the UF resin is rapidly decomposed to urea and formaldehyde which is then further decomposed over 12 months by soil bacteria into harmless carbon dioxide, ammonium and water.


Up to 8 tons of MDF sawdust could be applied per acre into the top six inches of soil and have a release rate of formaldehyde into the air that is 28-83 times less than what is allowed for residential soil.  However homeowners buy bags of this product thinking it is a potting medium and use it in their homes and gardens where there is no soil with the required microbes to break it down, hence it out gasses formaldehyde and cause plant growth problems. 


Another problem that occurs is that oak trees that are dying from Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora) are cut down and sold for lumber.  The sawdust then is sold and the disease spores may be spread into your garden.


Summary: Sawdust can be a useful soil amendment if used correctly and enough time has passed before one grows a crop or plant. However, it is tedious for most gardeners and there are better and more economical choices for improving the soil.





- good source of organic matter and will eventually degrade into humus

- improves soil physical properties

- increases a soils water holding capacity

- improves a soils aggregation, porosity, tilth and reduces erosion

- relatively inexpensive

- increases microbial activity

- sequesters carbon in the soil

- easy to spread

- easy to walk on if used on pathways

- best usage is a feedstock for making compost

- can be used to bioremediate oil contaminated soils

- can be used as a feedstock to make bio-char





- quality and risk varies greatly

- bacterial and fungal pathogens may reactivate when applied

- possible chemicals that can harm our health

- few nutrients

- high carbon content causes a nutrient imbalance causing other nutrients to be tied up and unavailable for months to years

- can blow or wash and become unsightly if used as a mulch

- becomes hydrophobic when dry and hard to rewet and may repel water

- some producers blacken the sawdust before selling it (see article on colored mulch). 

- low cost bagged products may contain sewage sludge to darken it and give it more nutrients

- hidden costs from extra fertilizer and liming agents required to loss of one's plants











 (Events in Houston unless otherwise noted. No events picked up from other newsletters or media releases.  Submit written in the format below, specifically earmarked for publication in the Lazy Gardener & Friends Newsletter.) 




Tues., Apr. 1: Uniquely Different Plants by Rand Hopkins, 10am, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920 Rd, Tomball. Free. 281-351-8851,

Wed., Apr. 2: Gardeners By The Bay Annual Plant Sale, 9:30am-noon, University Baptist Church, 16106 Middlebrook Dr. Details: Marjorie, 281-474-5051 or      


Thurs., Apr. 3: 25 Best Orchids I've Seen in the Past 3 Years by Greg Allikas, 7:30pm, First Christian Church, 1601 Sunset Blvd. Free. Houston Orchid Society event. Details: Houston Orchid Society 


Sat., Apr. 5: Cockrell Butterfly Center Spring Plant Sale, 9am - noon (or sell- out!), Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Dr., 7th level of the parking garage, Details: 


Sat., Apr. 5: Easy Care Roses by Robbi Will, 10am, Enchanted Forest, 10611 FM 2759, Richmond. Details: 281-937-9449. Repeated: 2pm, Enchanted Gardens, 6420 FM 359, Richmond. Details: 281-341-1206.

Sat., Apr. 5: Fort Bend County Master Gardener Open Demonstration Gardens, 9-11am, Agriculture Center, 1402 Band Rd., Rosenberg. Details: 281-341-7068 or 


Sat., Apr. 5: Bromeliad Society/Houston Plant Sale, 9am - 3pm, Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray. Free workshops 11am & 1pm. Details: 713-858-3047, 


Sat. Apr. 5: Tropical Paradise by Linda Gay, 10am, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920 Rd, Tomball. Free. 281-351-8851,

Sat., Apr. 5:  A Prairie Celebration of Lawther-Deer Park Preserve. Free hourly tours 8 am-5pm. Dinner at Monument Inn at 7pm ($40).  Details/registration (required) at; or email  

Sat., Apr. 5: White Oak Bayou Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden Plant Sale & Lecture, White Oak Conference Center, 7603 Antoine. 9am-Heidi Sheesley lecture. 10am-2pm-Plant Sale. Details: 

Sat., Apr. 5: Nurturing Your Garden and Raising Chickens, Jenkins Sunshine Farm LLC, 5800 Jackson Rd., Montgomery. 10am-4pm. Free. Details: 936-648-6145 or

Sat.-Sun., Apr. 5-6: Kingwood Garden Club Gardenscapes Home & Garden Tour. Self-guided. 10am-4pm Sat., noon-4pm Sun. Tickets $20 all sites, $5 each. Under 12 free. Details:

Tues., April 8: Landscape Maintenance/Lawns, 6:30pm, Clear Lake Park Meeting Room, 5001 Nasa Parkway, Seabrook. Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2 event. Free. Details:   

Tues., Apr. 8: Favorite Wildlife-Friendly Natives for Every Season
by Diana Foss., 10am, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920 Rd, Tomball. Free. 281-351-8851,    


Wed., Apr. 9: Container Vegetable Gardening by Jeremy Kollaus, noon-1pm, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920 Rd, Tomball. Free. 281-351-8851,
Wed., Apr. 9: Cypress Creek Daylily Club Plant Sale, 10am-6pm, Klein United Methodist Church , 5920 FM 2920, Spring. Free. Details: 281-363-4385 or 

Thurs., April 10: "Hybridizing - A Simple Experiment for the Garden Owner" by Houston Rose Society President Mary Fulgham, 7:30 pm, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 1819 Heights Blvd. Free Houston Rose Society event. or Facebook.


Thurs., April 10: "The Chinese Economic 'Bloom' - People, Plans and Plants for a Verdant Earth" by Dr. David Creech, 10am, Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Dr. $18. Reservations required: 713-639-4629,

Fri., April 11: "The Chinese Economic 'Bloom' - People, Plans and Plants for a Verdant Earth" by Dr. David Creech, 10am. M
ercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine-Westfield, Humble. $18. Reservations required: 281-443-8731,

Sat., Apr. 12: Attracting Hummingbirds by Mark Klym, 10am, Enchanted Forest, 10611 FM 2759, Richmond. Details: 281-937-9449. Repeated: 2pm, Enchanted Gardens, 6420 FM 359, Richmond. Details: 281-341-1206.


Sat., Apr. 12: Tomball Garden Club Annual Plant Sale, 201 Market St., Granny's Korner, Tomball. 9am-2pm. Details:  


Sat., Apr. 12: Container Herb Gardening by Henry Flowers , 10am, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920 Rd, Tomball. Free. 281-351-8851,


Sat., Apr., 12: Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden Clinic, 10:15 a.m. at both Cornelius Nursery locations, 1200 N. Dairy Ashford and 2233 S. Voss. Free.


Sat.-Sun, Apr. 12-13: Houston Orchid Society Show and Sale, lobby, Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Dr. Free. Sat. 9am-5pm Sat., 9am-4pm Sun. Details:   


Sat.-Sun., April 12-13: 50th Annual Bluebonnet Festival, Chappell Hill. Details:    


Sun., Apr. 13. The Natives Are Restless by Mark Bromstad., 1pm, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920 Rd, Tomball. Free. 281-351-8851,

Mon., Apr. 14: Grand Prizes for Small Sizes flower show, 1:30-3:30 pm; Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray St. Free Far Corners Garden Study Club event. 


Tues, Apr. 15:  I Love a Rainy Night - Water Collection, Conservation and Gardening for Drought by Boone Halladay, 10am, Knights of Columbus Hall, 702 Burney Road, Sugar Land. Free. Sugar Land Garden Club event. Details:   

Wed., April 16: Crazy Ants by Extension Specialist Paul Nester, 10am, Clear Lake Park Meeting Room, 5001 NasaParkway, Seabrook. Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2 event. Free. Details: 


Wed., Apr. 16: Herbal Skin Magic by Karen Cottingham, 7pm, Judson Robinson Community Center, 2020 Hermann Dr., 713-284-1997. South Texas Unit of The Herb Society of America event. Details:


Fri.-Sat., Apr. 18-19: Jerry's Jungle Garden Spring Sale, 9am-5pm both days, 712 Hill Rd. Bring your own wagon., 832-978-5358


Sat., Apr., 12: Proven Flowers for Your Texas Garden Clinic, 10:15 a.m. at both Cornelius Nursery locations, 1200 N. Dairy Ashford and 2233 S. Voss. Free.


Mon., April 21: Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2 Open Garden Day, 8:30-11am, Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd. 9:30am: Educational Program. Master Gardeners Q&A. Free. Details: 
Sat., Apr. 26: Choosing the Right Vine by Margaret Sinclair, 10am, Enchanted Forest, 10611 FM 2759, Richmond. Details: 281-937-9449. Repeated: 2pm, Enchanted Gardens,   6420 FM 359, Richmond. Details: 281-341-1206.

Sat., Apr. 26: Self-Watering Containers
by Angela Chandler, 10am, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920 Rd, Tomball. Free. 281-351-8851,

Sat., April 26: Backyard Basics - Fruit Production by Deborah Birge, 8:30-11am, Fort Bend County Extension Office,  1402  Band Rd, Rosenberg. $15 ($25 couple). Details:, 281-342-3034, or

Sat.-Sun., Apr. 26-27
:  "Through the Garden Gate" Heritage Gardeners of Friendswood Spring Garden TourSat. 12-4pmSun. 1-5pm, five gardens in Friendswood, 112 W. Spreading Oaks; tickets $10. Details: 281-992-4438 or

Sun, Apr., 27: Space City Hibiscus Society Sale, 1-4pm, East Harris Co. Activity Center 7340 Spencer Highway, Pasadena; 

Sat.-Sun., May 10-11: Houston Cactus & Succulent Society Spring Sale,
9am-5pm, Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 W. Gray. Details: 

Sat., May 3: Know Your Enemy
(garden bugs)
, 10am, Enchanted Forest, 10611 FM 2759, Richmond. Details: 281-937-9449. Repeated: 2pm, Enchanted Gardens, 6420 FM 359, Richmond. Details: 281-341-1206. 


Sat., May 3: Houston Hemerocallis Society and Houston Area Daylily Society  Daylily Sale, St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 1819 Heights Blvd. Details:    


Fri.-Sat., May 3-4: Houston Pond Society and Lone Star Koi Club, 2014 Water Garden and Pond Tour, 10am-6pm. Self-guided tour. Tickets $10 available at 30 water gardens and (starting April 26) at Nelson Water Gardens in Katy (  Details:, or 713-822-5515.      


Sat., May 10:  Sugar Land Garden Club Annual Spring Garden Tour, East New Territory Subdivision, Sugar Land. 9am-3pm. Map and details:    


Sat., May 10: Space City Hibiscus Society Sale, 1-4pm, Nessler Center, 2010 5th Ave. N. Texas City. Details: 
Sat., May 10: Brazosport Daylily Sale, St. Mark Lutheran Church, Lake Jackson. Details:

Sat., May 17: Creating a Backyard Wildscape
by Tricia Bradbury, 10am, Enchanted Forest, 10611 FM 2759, Richmond. Details: 281-937-9449. Repeated: 2pm, Enchanted Gardens, 6420 FM 359, Richmond. Details: 281-341-1206.    


Sat., May 17: Lone Star Daylily Society Sale, Alvin Senior Center, Alvin. Details:  


Sun., May 18:  Celebration of Daylilies, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Payne's in the Grass Daylily Farm, 2130 O'Day Road, Pearland, Texas  77581.  Details:  281-419-6661, 281-485-3821. Details:


Sun., May 18: Lone Star Hibiscus Society Sale, 1-4pm, Knights of Columbus Hall 702 Burney Rd. Sugar Land. Details: 


Sat., May 24: Enjoy a Night Blooming Garden, 10am, Enchanted Forest, 10611 FM 2759, Richmond. Details: 281-937-9449. Repeated: 2pm, Enchanted Gardens, 6420 FM 359, Richmond. Details: 281-341-1206. Details:     


Sun., June 1: Space City Hibiscus Society Sale, 1-4pm, East Harris Co. Activity Center 7340 Spencer Highway, Pasadena. 

Sun., June 8: Lone Star Hibiscus Society Sale1-4pm, Knights of Columbus Hall 702 Burney Rd. Sugar Land. Details:  

Sat., June 14: Bolivar Peninsula Plant Sale and Bazaar
, 11am-4pm, free, Bay Vue United Methodist Church, 1441 Jane Long Highway (Hwy 87), Crystal Beach. Details: 409-684-2634

Sat, June 14 : The Plumeria Society of America Show & Plant Sale, 9 to 3pm, Bay Area Community Center, 5002 NASA Parkway, Seabrook, Texas 77586 -  Clear Lake area.   Details:


Sat, July 26 : The Plumeria Society of America Show & Plant Sale
, 9 to 3pm, Ft. Bend County Fairgrounds, 4310 1st Street, Rosenberg. Details: 



You have to send it to us! 
All submitted events should be written in the exact format used for events above and
must be specifically labeled for publication in LAZY GARDENER AND FRIENDS NEWSLETTER.  Email to:


Need speakers for your group?  Or tips on getting more publicity for events?
Brenda's free booklets that might help:  "Lazy Gardener's Speakers List"
of area horticultural/environmental experts, and "Lazy Gardener's Publicity Booklet"

(based on her 40+ years of her Houston Chronicle "Lazy Gardener" coverage of area events)  Email specific requests to:
Please help us grow by informing all your membership of this weekly newsletter! 

                                                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 a coordinator and occasional article contributor.

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 Soil Mix" ( ). Please note: this offer is for bagged or bulk material purchases by retail customers only at Nature's Way Resources, located at 101 Sherbrook Circle, Conroe TX.
Offer Expires: 04/13/14