September 12, 2014

Dear Friends,

Here is the 74th 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, as popular as tropical butterfly weed is, natives might be a better choice. Center: UH leading the way with its green roof. Right, Natchitoches Noisette will be among cuttings shared by the Texas Rose Rustlers.

had a rose named after me and I was very flattered.  
But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: 
"No good in a bed, but fine against a wall." 
-  Eleanor Roosevelt (lifted from the Fall 2014 issue of the 
Texas Rose Rustlers' "OLD TEXAS ROSE" newsletter)

Mosquitoes and still-blasting-heat notwithstanding, Fall officially arrives Sept. 22. The good news: we are moving into a great blooming season.

Other regions consider Spring optimum time for spectacular flowers. That's true here, too.  But, for us, the very best period starts now and gets better until peaking in October.  Weather gets cooler and bugs fewer, so it's more fun to garden. Many flowers (roses, for example) are more beautiful now than at any other time of year. 
This is also the best time to root cuttings, especially of antique roses. The Texas Rose Rustlers' big annual antique rose Fall Cutting Exchange is Sat., Sept. 27, at Brookwood Community in Brookshire.  To request cuttings of specific antique roses,  email: Details:

Among the antique rose cuttings that will be available are a number of "found roses." These are roses given a "study name" until the real name can be discovered. Cuttings will be available for these fragrant "found roses, " left to right, "Drew's Rose" (scented), "Maggie" (bush or climber) and "Puerto Rico."



Rustlers are pros at taking and rooting cuttings.  And they'll be the first to tell you, if you don't "take" the cutting correctly, the chances of it rooting go way down. Taking and starting cuttings now will give your potential new plants a far better chance to set strong roots before being hit with our often devastating summer heat and drought. These are far, FAR harder on root systems than are our winters.


TRR Chairman Audrey Beust McMurray (yes, my sister!) explains offers these tips below on taking rose (and other) cuttings:  

1.  When choosing a stem for taking a rose cutting, look for one that either has a rosebud, bloom, or a spent bloom on it. If the bush has no evidence of blooms, just pick several strong stems that are green.  Do not pick out reddish or woody stems.  Avoid bendable new growth. 
2.  If you can, choose the end of a stem that is almost the width of a pencil and has at least six nodes on it.  The nodes have what look like little "pimples" on them.  You can find a node where a set of leaves meets the stem, as well as between sets of leaves. 
A cutting with at least six nodes is preferable, but not always possible.  If you can't get six, get as many as you can.  You do not have to strip off all of the leaves, though many rosarians prefer to do this. If you find a healthy, productive stem that is long, you can get multiple cuttings from it.  
Some climbers and ramblers, for example, have very long branches with nodes that are fairly far apart.  In that case,make sure that each cutting has at least four nodes.  
3.  Wrap your cuttings in newspaper or paper towel s, then moisten with plain water or your favorite rooting liquid (e.g. willow water).  I like to put about 1 oz of Medina Plus in a gallon of water, and moisten my rolled up cuttings with that. 
4.  Store your cuttings in a ziplock baggie in a cool place.  If you are out in the heat, be sure to store them in a cooler until you get them home and can transfer them into the refrigerator.
VERY IMPORTANT:  Don't forget to label the baggie with the name of the rose.  If you don't, you'll end up with a lot of roses named "Mystery Rose"! 
PS. Texas Rose Rustlers will share advice on "Rooting Made Easy" during the 

26th Annual Fall Festival of Roses Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence. ARE owner Mike Shoup co-present this rooting workshop. Full schedule of speakers and other details:

The University of Houston College of Architecture's Burdette Keeland Jr. Design Exploration Center sports a "Green Roof" (beginning stages, left, and a bluebonnet cover, center. Right, the Texas A&M's Langford Green Roof Project

PLANTS USED TO COVER ROOFS - for a variety of reasons -  have been around since the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Hobbits favored green roofs, probably for some of the same reasons this movement is growing in popularity now:   

           * aesthetic pleasure (especially in an often sterile urban setting 
           * cooler in summer, warmer in winter (than traditional roofs) 
           * protection of roofing materials against heat and sunlight 
    * beneficial rainwater conservation    
    * reduction of air pollulants, dust and smog levels
    * increased agricultural space
    * habitat for wildlife 
    * saves money in terms of heating/cooling costs
    * roofs last 3-4 times longer
                         (. . . hummmm . . . ) 
In practice, the challenges are often daunting - initial installation costs, weight,  excessive humidity (especially in our climate), soil control and maintenance, to name just a few.
Even so, the University of Houston is one of a select few institutions touted by the Princeton Review for demonstrating "an exemplary commitment to sustainability" - thanks in part to the Green Roof installed atop UH College of Architecture's Burdette Keeland Jr. Design Exploration Center

What was likely the first sloped-green-roof-in-Houston withstood Hurricane Ike without a single leak in the building.  So UH has proven it can be done efficiently enough to warrant coveted university funding. 

We have some great resources if you're interested in exploring this topic are:

the City of Houston Green Resource Center's Green RoofsThe GBRC has an educational green roof exhibit on display, and a real live green roof visible from the 2nd floor space.  Talk about a great field trip for garden clubs, schools, etc.!   

The HGRC's Green Roof is open to visitors. Program Director Steve Stelzer, AIA, LEED AP, hosts many tours that include their innovative irrigation system that uses HVAC condensation instead of a potable water system.  The roof is undergoing some work right now, but contact him if you'd like to arrange a future tour: Details: or

2. The Native Plant Society of Texas/Houston's free Thurs., Sept. 18, "Green Roofs" discussion by Houston Zoo Horticulture Supervisor 
Dustin Brackney (7:30 pm, Houston Arboretum, 4501 Woodway). Details:
Speaking of our Native Plant Soicety, Sat., Sept. 13 is NPSOT/H's Wildscapes Workshop & Native Plant Sale and lecture. Heading an impressive list of speakes is Douglas Tallamy, Ph.D., who will talk on "Bringing Nature Home." The workshop runs 8:30am - 3:30pm, Houston Zoo Brown Education Center, 6200 Hermann Park Drive. $50. Details: Native Plant Society of Texas/Houston Chapter event. Details: 832-859-9252 or  

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Angela Chandler of The Garden Academy is urging local gardeners to log onto, and participate in, this North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) website:  
What a great project, especially for children!
* * *  

Texas Native Milkweeds. Left, Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), was used medicinally and as a foodstuff by American Indians.  Center, Texas Milkweed (A. texana) is considered one of the most attractive of the native milkweeds and great for gardens. Swamp Milkweed (A. incarnata), found in wet soils near streams and ponds, can reach five feet. . 


Milkweed Watch, left to right: syrphid fly pupa, syrphid fly larva, scale destroyer larva, ladybug larva and aphid mummy.

Milkweed villages important for monarchs,
but they're only part of the success equation
by Soni Holladay 
Cockrell Butterfly Center Horticulturist / Greenhouse Manager
As the obligate host plants for monarch caterpillars, milkweeds are a staple in any butterfly habitat garden. However, many other insects call the genus Asclepias home, giving rise to the concept of a "milkweed village."
Milkweed plants produce cardiac glycocides, bitter-tasting toxins insects sequester to protect themselves from predators. Most if not all milkweed-eating insects have black, yellow and/or orange markings that warns predators of its foul flavor.
The bright yellow oleander aphid, Aphis nerii, sucks out sap, along with toxins and attracts predatory insects, including:
* The maggot-like larvae of syrphid. Syrphid pupae look like little brown or tan teardrops.  Leave them in place to ensure another generation of these beneficial flies.
* Tiny parasitic wasps such as braconids lay eggs in aphids' bodies.  A leftover brown "shell" is called an aphid mummy. These mummies are a good sign that your aphids are being parasitized. These wasps don't harm monarch caterpillars.
With great beneficial insects around, I hardly had to spray our milkweed crop at the museum with any insecticidal soap. Remove overwhelming aphid populations on milkweed with a sharp stream of water. Avoid damaging or knocking off beneficial insects.
Other "pests" of milkweed plants include:
* Milkweed leaf beetle, Labidomera clivicollis. Chunky, orange and black beetles and their larvae feed on milkweed leaves.
* Large milkweed bugs, Oncopeltus fasciatus, black and orange, oblong-shaped, sap-sucking true bugs, feed on the developing seeds, flowers and nectar of milkweed plants. They don't usually cause much damage.
The monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, eats voluminous quantities of milkweed leaves, and displays the textbook aposomatic coloration of white, black and yellow stripes. Monarch chrysalids, or pupae, are a gorgeous jade green with gold lines and spots.
Queen butterfly, Danaus gilippus, is similar to the monarch, with three pairs of tentacles instead of the monarch's two. Chrysalids are also similar, a bit smaller and may be a pale pink rather than green.
Monarch parasites include:
*  the tachinid fly that leaves a trail of white strings hanging from the chrysalis..
* The assassin bugs, Zelus sp., that paralyzes victim and liquefys its insides.
* Vespid wasps - the familiar large red wasps, Polistes carolinus, and the smaller yellow and black European paper wasp, Polistes dominulus.  
To protect caterpillars from these predators, place a screen such as a pop up or mesh laundry hamper between them and the wasps.
The protozoan parasite, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (Oe) eventually cause problems such as weakness, deformity, and even death. The popularity of tropical perennial milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, in this area encourages some monarchs to stay all winter, rather than migrating. Oe spores remain viable on the perennial tropical leaves. Native milkweeds die back. We encourage gardeners to cut back tropical milkweed every spring after the first generation of monarchs arrive and eat the milkweed down, and then again in fall before or during the migration, so butterflies will migrate and not overwinter here.
Only five to ten percent of monarch eggs make it to adulthood. Without their survival and natural demise, our native ecosystem would not be as diverse as it is. Butterfly-friendly gardens, especially if they include milkweed, help mitigate this loss of habitat due to urban sprawl and other factors.
Butterfly host & nector plants will be available at the Sat., Oct. 11 Cockrell Butterfly Center sale, 9am-noon (or until sellout) at the Houston Museum of Natural Science parking garage's 7th Level. Bring your own wagon

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MARK YOUR CALENDAR!! Sat., Oct. 11: 5TH Annual JANE LONG FESTIVAL, Fort Travis Seashore Park, Bolivar Peninsula, Tx. Details: For a free info kit, email 

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 Brenda's group lectures include: "How to Reduce the Size of Your Front Lawn to Save Water Without Infuriating Your Neighbors," "Landscaping for Security," "10 Commandments of Lazy Gardening," and "What's Blooming in the Lazy Gardener's Garden." Details:  















I read an article this week from the journal  of the American Phytopathological Society (Vol. 100, No. 9, 2010) titled "Induction of Systemic Resistance in Plants by Biochar, a Soil-Applied Carbon Sequestering Agent".  I wrote an overview of Bio-char as a soil amendment back in the May 19, 2014 newsletter, however as I read interesting new research articles I will be doing updates as needed to keep our readers informed.

Bio-char has many benefits as a soil amendment and now researchers are also finding benefits for disease control in the soil and on a plants foliage, and in insect control. Previous work has shown that biochar had a suppressive effect on Fusarium root rot in asparagus plants.


This paper looked at several common diseases of tomatoes and peppers and the effects of biochar 3% and 5% by volume of the soil and potting media.  They found:


Powdery mildew (Leveillula taurica) - Pepper plants grown in a biochar amended soil or potting medium (coconut fiber) has a significantly lower severity of powdery mildew. Note: The coconut fiber medium was found to be more conducive to disease development than the soil media.


Gray Mold (Botrytis cinerea) - Pepper and tomatoes plants were grown in a potting medium with 5% biochar.  There was a 58% reduction of disease symptoms in the biochar amended pepper plants, and a 75% reduction in disease symptoms in the tomato plants as compared to the non-amended control.

In addition, bio-char significantly reduced the symptoms of broad mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus) on the pepper canopy!

The exact mechanism is not known but believed to be a combination of two forms of resistance; Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR) and Induced Systemic Resistance (ISR).





Last issue I was talking about soybean meal as a natural fertilizer and the problems and dangers caused by genetically modified (GMO) soybean meal. I read a couple articles this past week on this issue.


The first was a report out of Denmark where pigs were fed GMO soybeans.  Immediately the pigs developed diarrhea and shortly later developed stomach ulcers and bloat (also seen in cows, horses and other livestock).  Piglets were born with birth defects and other health problems. It is believed that the health effects were caused by Round-Up residuals on and in the soybeans.  When the pigs were put on non-GMO feed the health problems cleared up.  It has been suggested that the toxins in the GMO soybeans if used as a natural fertilizer would be absorbed by plants.


The other report out of Brazil found that GMO soybeans lead to an increase in fungal infections and lower crop yield.



I recently read a report on what happens to the nutrients when an alfalfa field had been treated with the herbicide Roundup. 

% Reduction of Nutrients in Alfalfa by Glyphosate

Nitrogen              13%

Phosphorous       15%

Potassium           46%

Calcium               17%

Magnesium         26%

Sulfur                   52%

Boron                   18%

Copper                 20%

Iron                      49%

Manganese         31%

Zinc                      18%


The value of Alfalfa meal as a natural fertilizer is greatly reduced if treated with Round-Up.  Hence, only buy certified organic alfalfa for your garden.

Food for thought:


If Round-up affects Alfalfa, I wonder how many of our food crops are also affected with decreased nutrients. More and more food crops are genetically modified (GMO) to withstand much higher doses of Round-up. With dozens (hundreds?) of human health problems, caused or at least aggravated, by the lack of nutrients in our food supply it makes me wonder why anyone would even purchase food that was not certified organic.




Plants like Vinca sp. are known to host the fungal disease Phytopthora citricola and Pine Bark mulch has been shown to stimulate its growth.

Tree Care Industry Magazine -July 2014




The August issue of Acres, USA reported that researchers at Virginia Tech college of Agriculture and Life Sciences have found a natural and effective way to kill Poison Ivy. They found a naturally occurring fungus (Colletotrichum fioriniae) that kills this toxic weed.  They believe that it will be relatively easy to develop a soil granule with this fungus that can be applied to poison ivy infested areas to infect and kill the plant. The full report can be found in the journal "Plant Disease".


When I read a report like this I remember that God tells us in the book of Job to, "study nature and let it teach us".





 Gardening events only. Events listed are in Houston unless otherwise noted. 

Submit events written in the format used below, specifically earmarked for publication in the

 'Lazy Gardener & Friends Newsletter." Email to lazy

Fri. Sept 12: Greater Houston Plant Conference. 8am-4pm Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, 3033 Bear Creek Dr. Details:; 979-845-2604


Sat, Sept 13: Urban Harvest's Constructing the Home Vegetable & Fruit Garden. 9-11:30am.  $36. Location TBA, Houston. Details:  713-880-5540 or

Sat., Sept. 13:  Wildscapes Workshop & Native Plant Sale and lecture: Douglas Tallamy, Ph.D., on "Bringing Nature Home," 8:30am - 3:30pm, Houston Zoo Brown Education Center, 6200 Hermann Park Drive. $40, $50 after Aug. 29. Native Plant Society of Texas/Houston Chapter event. Details: 832-859-9252 or  


Sat., Sept. 13: Fall Lawn Care-What To Do When, 10:15am, at both Cornelius Nursery locations, 1200 N. Dairy Ashford and 2233 S. Voss. http://www.corneliusnurseries/events  


Sat., Sept. 13: The Art of Rooting Cuttings by Gay Hammond, 10am, Arbor Gate Nursery, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Free. Houston Rose Society event. Garden tool sharpening, 2-5pm. Fee. Details: 


Sat., Sept. 13: Growing Onions and Garlic by Ken Steblein, 9-11am, and Kitchen Gardening by Mary Demeny, 1-3:30pm, AgriLife Extension Office, Carbide Park, 4102 Main St./FM 519, La Marque. Free. Galveston County Master Gardener events. Details, 281-534-3413, 

Tues., Sept. 16: Sugar Land Garden Club Plant Sale Preview by Heidi Sheesley, 9:30am, KC Hall, 703 Burney Road, Sugar Land. Free. Details: 

Thurs., Sept. 18:  Green Roofs by Dustin Brackney, Houston Zoo Horticulture Supervisor: 7:30-9 pm, Houston Arboretum, 4501 Woodway. Free. Native Plant Society of Texas/Houston Chapter event. Details:

Thurs., Sept. 18: Mandatory Orientation Class for Montgomery County Spring Master Gardener Course, 9am, AgriLife Extension Office, 9020 Airport Rd., Conroe. Spring course: Tuesdays/Thursdays 9am-4pm, January -February, 2015. Details:; 936-539-7824.


Thurs., Sept. 18: Attracting Bluebirds to the Garden by Linda Crum, 10am, Arbor Gate Nursery 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Free. Details: 281-351-8851,

Thurs., Sept. 18: Flowers for Cool Weather and Warm Weather by Linda Gay, 9am-noon, V.F.W. Post 4719, 1303 Semands St., Conroe. $25.00 cash or check.

Sat., Sept. 20: Container Gardening, 6:30 p.m., Maude Smith Marks Library, 1815 Westgreen Blvd., Katy. Free. Harris County Master Gardener event. Details: 

Sat., Sept. 20: Fall Plant Sale, 8am, Harris County Extension Office, 3033 Bear Creek Dr. Details:

Sat, Sept 20: Urban Harvest's Fall Vegetable Gardening: What to Plant Now. 9-11:30am.  $36. UH Central Campus, 4800 Calhoun, Bldg & Room TBA, Houston 77004. Details: 713-880-5540 or 

Wed., Sept. 20: Native Plants for Your Landscape by Montgomery County Master Gardeners, 9am-3:30pm, Texas AgriLife Extension office  Association, 9020 FM 1484 Rd, Conroe. $15. Preregister at or 936-539-7824.

Sat., Sept. 20: Colorful Fall Colors, 10:15am, at both Cornelius Nursery locations, 1200 N. Dairy Ashford and 2233 S. Voss. http://www.corneliusnurseries/events


Sat., Sept. 20: Bulbs and Buddies by Heidi Sheesley and Chris Weisinger, 10am-3pm, Arbor Gate Nursery, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Details: 281-351-8851,


Sat., Sept. 20: Texas Tuff Landscape Plants by Sandra DeVall, 9-11am, free, and Grafting Workshop 1-3pm, AgriLife Extension Office, Carbide Park, 4102 Main St./FM 519, La Marque. Grafting Workshop registration required. Galveston County Master Gardener events. Details, 281-534-3413, 

Sun., Sept. 21: Pollinators - Bee Forum by Angela Chandler and Dean Cook, 11am, Arbor Gate Nursery, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Free. Details281-351-8851, 


Mon., Sept. 22: Fort Bend County Master Gardener Registration Deadline. Course runs Tuesdays/thursdays, Oct. 9-Nov. 6, AgriLife Extension Service Office, 1402 Band Rd. $200/$353 couple + 50 hours volunteer service.  Details:  http://fbmg.com281-633-7033 or the AgriLife office 


Tues., Sept. 23: Outstanding Plants - Texas Gulf Coast Gardener - Tier-2, 9-week course begins, Tuesdays, 9am-3pm, Mercer Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine-Westfield, Humble. Details/reservations: 281-443-8731. (Tier 1 starts Sept. 25. Need not attend #I to attend #2)

Tues., Sept. 23: Irises for the Gulf Coast Garden by Monica Martens, 6:30-8pm, AgriLife Extension Office, Carbide Park, 4102 Main St./FM 519, La Marque. Free. Galveston County Master Gardener events. Details, 281-534-3413,  


Thurs., Sept.25: Mercer Botanic Gardens 40th Anniversary Distinguished Lecture: Dr. Peter Raven on "Plant Conservation in a Rapidly Changing World," 6:30pm, Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Drive. Ticket details: 713-639-4629 or


Thurs., Sept. 25: Principles of Gardening - Texas Gulf Coast Gardener Tier-1, 9-week course begins, Thursdays, 9am-3pm, Mercer Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine-Westfield, Humble. Details/reservations: 281-443-8731. (Tier 2 starts Sept. 23)


Thurs., Sept.25: Mercer Botanic Gardens 40th Anniversary Distinguished Lecture: Dr. Peter Raven on "Plant Conservation in a Rapidly Changing World," 6:30pm, Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Drive. Ticket details: 713-639-4629 or


Thurs., Sept. 25: Growing Bountiful Berries for Best Personal Health by Cynthia Graham, 10am, Arbor Gate Nursery, 15635 FM2920, Tomball. Free. Details: 281-351-8851, 

Thurs., Sept. 25: Texas Tough Perennials by Linda Gay, 9am-12pm, V.F.W. Post 4719, 1303 Semands St., Conroe. $25.00 cash or check.

Sat., Sept. 27: Texas Rose Rustlers 2014 Fall Cutting Exchange, 10am, Brookwood Community, Brookshire. To request cuttings of specific antique roses, email: Details:


Sat., Sept. 27:  Sugar Land Garden Club Fall Festival and Plant Sale, 8:30am-1pm, Knights of Columbus Hall, 702 Burney Road, Sugar Land (new location).  Details:; Diana Miller, 713-724-3113, 

Sat., Sept. 27: Gorgeous Autumn Color in Containers, 10:15am, at both Cornelius Nursery locations, 1200 N. Dairy Ashford and 2233 S. Voss. http://www.corneliusnurseries/events


Sat., Sept. 27: Texas Tough Citrus by George Shackleford, 10am, Arbor Gate Nursery, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. Free. 281-351-8851,

Sat., Sept 27:  Brazoria County Master Gardener's Fall Plant Sale, 8 am-noon, Brazoria Environmental Education Station, Hospital Dr.& CR 171, Angleton. Details: 979-864-1558 x 110 or

Sat, Sept 28: Urban Harvest's Sustainable Living Through Permaculture, Class 1. 2-6pm. $40. Private Residence @ 610 West Loop/Stella Link.  Detais:  713-880-5540 or 

Wed., Oct. 1: What to Plant Through October by Randy Lemmon, 9:30am, University Baptist Church, 16106 Middlebrook Dr. Free. Gardeners By The Bay event. Details: Marjorie, 281-474-5051. 


Thurs., Oct. 2: Garden Club of Houston Bulb and Plant Mart Early Bird Shopping and Party
4:30-7:30, St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, 2450 River Oaks Blvd. $20. Details: 
(Note new site)


Fri., Oct. 3: Garden Club of Houston Bulb and Plant Mart, 9am-5pm; St. John the Divine Episcopal Church 2450 River Oaks Blvd. Free. Details: Details: new site)


Sat., Oct. 4: Garden Club of Houston Bulb and Plant Mart, 9am- 2pm, St. John the Divine Episcopal Church 2450 River Oaks Blvd. Free. new site)

Sat., Oct. 4: Montgomery County Master Gardeners Pre-Fall Plant Sale Presentation followed by Sale, 8am-9am, Agrilife Extension Office, 9020 Airport Road, Conroe. Free. Details:

Sat., Oct. 4: Mercer Botanic Gardens Autumn Plant Sale and Market/Houston Orchid Society workshops & displays, 8am-3pm, 22036 Aldine-Westfield, Humble. Free. Details: 281-443-8731


Sat, Oct. 4: Fabulous Fall Festival Plant Sale, 9am-2pm, Stephen F. Austin State University Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet, Nacogdoches. Free. Details: (936) 468-4404,

Sat., Oct. 4: Preparing Gardens for Fall Plantings by Fort Bend Master Gardeners, 9-11am, Demonstration Gardens, Agriculture Center, 1402 Band Road, Rosenberg. Details: 281-341-7068,

Sat.-Sun., Oct. 4-5: Spring Branch African Violet Club Annual Fall Sale, 10am-4pm Sat., 10am-3pm Sun, Judson Robinson Jr. Community Center, 2020 Hermann Dr. Free. Details: Karla Ross, 281-748-8417,

Sun, Oct 5: Urban Harvest's Sustainable Living Through Permaculture, Class 2. 12:30-5:30pm. $50. UH Central Campus, 4800 Calhoun, Charles McElhinney Hall #106, Details: 713-880-5540  or

Tues., Oct. 7: Native Bees by Dr. Jack Neff, 7pm, Museum of Natural Science Lower Level Conference Room, 5555 Hermann Park Dr. Free. Butterfly Enthusiasts of Southeast Texas (BEST) event.

Wed., Oct. 8:  Winter Vegetable Gardens by Darnell Schreiber, Lunch Bunch, Mercer Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine-Westfield, Humble. Free. Details 281-443-8731. 

Thur., Oct. 9: "Soil Biology and Gardening", "Mulches and Compost","Backyard and Small Scale Composting" by John FergusonMercer Arboretum, 9am - 3 pm, Texas Gulf Coast Gardeners Class. Details:  

Thurs., Oct. 9: Pesticides: Innocent or Guilty by Dr. Donald Myers, 7:30pm, St. Andrews Episcopal Church parish hall, 1819 Heights Blvd. Free. Houston Rose Society event. Details:

Fri.-Sat., Oct. 10-11: The Southern Garden Symposium, St. Francisville, LA.      

Sat., Oct. 11: A Day of Bonsai Fall Show, Mercer Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine-Westfield. Details: 281-443-8731


Sat., Oct. 11: Cockrell Butterfly Center Fall Plant Sale, 9am-noon, Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Drive. Free. Details: 713-639-4751;

Sat, Oct 11: Urban Harvest's Designing a Wildscape for Pollinators. 9-11:30am. $50. UH Central Campus, 4800 Calhoun, Charles McElhinney Hall #106. Details: 713-880-5540 or

Sat., Oct. 11: Galveston County Master Gardener Plant Sale,

Preview: 8-8:50pm, Sale: 9am-1pm, Wayne Johnson Community Center, Carbide Park, 4102 Main St./FM519, Lamarque.

Sun, Oct 12: Urban Harvest's Designing Bountiful Gardens Through Permaculture (series of 6 classes). First class: 12:30-5pm. $404. UH Central Campus, 4800 Calhoun, Charles McElhinney Hall #106. Details: 713-880-5540 or

Tues., Oct. 14: Trees,Choice & Maintenance, 6:30pm, Clear Lake Park Meeting Room, 5001 Nasa Parkway, Seabrook. A Harris County Master Gardeners Precinct 2 event. Free. Details: 

Wed., Oct. 15: Fall Fertilization for the Landscape ,Ornamentals and Grasses  by Skip Richter.  10am,Clear Lake Park Meeting Room, 5001 Nasa Parkway, Seabrook. Harris County Master Gardeners Precinct 2 event. Free. Details:

Thurs., Oct. 16:  Plant Propagation by Randy Johnson, Horticultural Consultant- Randy Johnson Organics: 7:30-9 pm, Houston Arboretum, 4501 Woodway. Free. Native Plant Society of Texas/Houston Chapter event. Details:    


Sat., Oct. 18, Conservation Conversation - Leaf Mulch Madness, 10:00 am at Cypresswood Water Conservation Garden, 4107 Evening Trail Drive, Spring, TX 77388, Free, Details and reservations


Sat, Oct 18: Urban Harvest's Fruit Tree Basics. 9-11:30am. $50. UH Central Campus, 4800 Calhoun, Charles McElhinney Hall #106. Details: 713-880-5540 or

Mon., Oct. 20, Open Garden Day with Harris County Master Gardeners at Precinct 2. 8:30-11am, Genoa Friendship Garden,1202 Genoa Red Bluff Rd. 9:30am: Educational Programs and Master Gardeners Q&A.Details:


Sat, Oct 25: Urban Harvest's Self-Watering Container Gardening. 9:-11:30am.$50. UH Central Campus, 4800 Calhoun, Charles McElhinney Hall #106. Details: 713-880-5540  or


Sat.-Sun., Oct. 25-26:  Southwest Bromeliad Guild Show and Sale (Texas & Louisiana

, DoubleTree Hotel Houston Airport, 15747 JFK Blvd. Sale: 9am-5pm Sat.;10am-3pm Sun. Show: 2pm-5pm Sat.; 10am-3pm Sun. Free. Details: Gene Powers, 281-633-9036.

Fri., Oct. 31: 3rd Annual Sustainable Landscapes Conference, 8am-3pm, Big Stone Lodge, Dennis Johnson Park, 709 Riley Fuzzell Road, Spring. Details/reservations: 281-443-8731

Fri.-Sat., Oct. 31-Nov. 1: 26th Annual Fall Festival of Roses, Antique Rose Emporium, Independence. Details:

Sat. Nov. 1: 42nd annual Herb Society of America/South Texas Unit's Herb Fair, 9am-3pm, Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray. Free. Details:  (note new site.)


Thurs., Nov. 6: Mercer Botanic Gardens 40th Anniversary Distinguished Lecture: Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson on "Growing an Ark: The Expanding Role of Botanic Gardens in Plant Conservation." 6:30 pm, Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Drive Houston, Ticket details 713-639-4629 or

Wed., Nov.12: Herb Gardening for Home Use by Marilyn O'Connor, noon-2pm, Lunch Bunch, Mercer Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine-Westfield, Humble. Details/reservations: 281-443-8731

Tues., Nov. 18: Ten Commandments of Lazy Gardening by Brenda Beust Smith, 10am, Knights of Columbus Hall, 702 Burney Road, Sugar Land. Sugar Land Garden Club event. Details:

Thurs., Nov. 20:  Native Seed & Plant Swap and Social,7:30-9 pm, Houston Arboretum, 4501 Woodway. Free. Native Plant Society of Texas/Houston Chapter event. Details:


Mon., April 21: What's Blooming in the Lazy Gardener's Garden by Brenda Beust Smith, 10am, Walden on Lake Houston Club House.  Lake Houston Ladies Club event. Non-member reservations required:Carol Dandeneau. #832-671-4475


To ensure rapid publication, submit events in the exact STRAIGHT LINE  format used above so they can be copied and pasted right in. Events NOT submitted in our format will take longer to get published as someone has to reformat and retype them. 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. 

Brenda recently ended her decades-long stint as Production Manager of the Garden Club of America's BULLETIN magazine. Although still an active horticulture lecturer and broad-based freelance writer,  Brenda's main focus now is  THE LAZY GARDENER & 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 co-editor 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. 
COUPON: 20% Off Our Container Soil Mix At Nature's Way Resources
. (Offer good for retaill purchases of bulk material only at Nature's Way Resources (101 Sherbrook Circle, Conroe TX).
Offer Expires: 09/28/14