May 1, 2015

Dear Friends,

Here is the 105th issue of our weekly gardening newsletter for Houston, the Gulf Coast and beyond. We really appreciate all of our readers hanging in there with us, sharing stories and inspring us in so may ways. 
Thanks so much!
This newsletter is 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.






If you like celebrating various dedicated "Days," get your fun flowery hat on.

* MAY 3-9 IS NATIONAL WILDFLOWER WEEK and a myriad of activities are planned at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. (

* MAY 4 IS NATIONAL GREENERY DAY - a time to commune with nature and to be thankful and appreciative of it's abundance. Although this is celebrated in many countries, the most important celebration takes place in Japan where Greenery Day celebrates the birthday of Japanese Emperor Hirohito.

More "Days" to come, but our flowery celebrations all start with May Day, May 1, officially the first day of summer. A tradition that dates back to the early Romans, May Day originally honored Flora, their goddess of flowers. Throughout the centuries, May Day celebrations have been held in almost every country on Earth.

I can't think of a more fitting flower to honor on May Day than the daylily, named for the length of day each individual bloom lasts. But each daylily produce so many flowers, that stat is barely noticeable. The daylily is such an international flower, widely used gardens everywhere and, in particular,  in Chinese and Asian cuisines. 
So many cultivars exist, and bloom at different times, it's possible to have daylilies in bloom all summer long.  

But one does have to be careful. My sister almost considered daylilies invasive in her Philadelphia garden. They are far more civilized here. Still, while most daylilies do well in our area, some may not. So your best bet is to always seek advice from a local source. Three great opportunities are coming up (see Calendar below for details):

*  Sat., May 9: Cypress Creek Daylily Club Flower Show at Mercer Botanic Garden ( Details. 281-356-2543 or

* Sun., May 17: Two great daylily open gardens;
    - Payne's in the Grass, 9am-5pm, 2130 O'Day Road, Pearland. Free. Details: 281-485-3821, 713-419-6661 or 

    - Shimek's Daylily Gardens, 8am-6pm, 3122 Country Road 237, Alvin. Details: 281-331-4395 or


I remember when daylily growers ringed our city. That 's no longer true today, although there are still a few left ( Paula Payne and Nell Shimek are two of our leading growers today. Both are members of Lone Star Daylily Society which, May 14-16, will host American Daylily Society's Region 6 Meeting at Hilton Garden Inn Houston, 12101 Shadow Creek Parkway, Pearland, coinciding nicely with Nell's & Paula's famous annual Open Garden Days. (Click meeting link for the open-to-public plant sale info.)

Left, Nell and Harvey Shimek in their Display Garden. Center, Ceopatra, one one of Nell's favorites. 
Right, Payne's in the Grass garden with (insert) Walter Kennedy, on of Paula's favorites.

The Shimeks' official American Hemerocallis Display Garden boasts about 850 different cultivers, focusing on older proven varieties, plus thousands of their own seedlings. Leon and Paula Payne decided to forego the challenges of maintaining their National Display Garden designation to focus on hybridizing, now averaging around 800 different very new (with some old favorite) cultivars.

So together, the Shimek and Payne gardens give visitors a complete view of the overall daylily scene. This is why, when these two internationally-recognized experts speak, I listen. As Paula explains:

"When most people start growing daylilies, they are interested in the biggest, brightest color they can find. These ARE stunning. But there is a whole other world out there for the taking. I always tell newbies not to overlook the miniatures since although their flowers are much smaller - less than 3" in diameter - they produce masses of them - a bouquet on a stem."

Miniature flowers are less than 3" wide. Left to right, Paula lists Little Mystic Moon, Little Peter Piper and Baby Jessie (a miniature double).
Nell lists Golden Summer, Siloam Bo Peep and Witches Wink,

Many of the new double-flowered varieties don't even resemble daylilies. A "Spider" daylily's petal length is four times the petal's width or more. "Toothy edge" or "tooth" daylilies have "visible protrusions from the petal" - among other definitions. Then there are those bred for intricate eye zones. Daylilies now come in every color but blue. And that's on the horizon, Paula says.

Nell loves Brookwood Bairn, left, and Fol de Roi (spider). Next, Lone Star Red Stallion is one of Leon Payne's spider introductions. 
At right, two toothy edge daylilies: Wild Cherry Roundup and Fashion Police.

I sure can relate as Paula reminisces: "When we first started growing daylilies, we grew the ones from my Grandmother's garden - the old orange and 'yellow ditch lilies.' These new hybrids are definitely not your Grandmother's daylilies!" Both these ladies' great recommendations from their own gardens are pictured here.

* * *


Friday, May 8, is both National Iris Day and National Public Gardens day - and you can celebrate both at Mercer Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine-Westfield, Humble (in North Harris County).

Iris Day is really big in Japan where these wonderful flowers are believed to ward off evil spirits. Iris leaves are dropped into bath water to ward off illness and drunk in sake to ensure longevity. Iris was the Greek goddess of rainbow and that's certainly appropriate for our magnificent Louisiana irises. These are true lazy gardener plants. They thrives in remote Southern Louisiana stretches that can be swampy half the year and desert-dry the other half. Sound familiar? You just described my backyard.

LA iris do equally as well in our "normal" landscapes, or in pots. My Louisiana iris guru, Josephine Shanks, grows them in hanging baskets! They come in almost all colors and don't take umbrage at all if totally ignored.

At Mercer Botanic Gardens, the William Dean Lee Louisiana Iris Collection shares the waters of Storey Lake with an amazing array of turtles. The late Dean Lee, a longtime Mercer volunteer, was a nationally-recognized Louisiana iris expert and hybridizer. And the timing for Mercer's "National Public Garden Day" celebration is perfectly timed for the peak bloom period for these super-hardy bloomers.

Among the myriads of flowers now in bloom in the Mercer gardens, left, is Cypella herbertii - Herbert's Goblet Flower, a South American bloomer that loves baking heat and high humidity. Sound familiar? Needs good drainage and full to partial sun.


The now 7-year-old National Public Gardens Day is always celebrated on the Friday preceding Mother's Day. This year, over 550 North American botanic gardens, arboreta, museums, zoos and entertainment gardens will be participating. As its special celebration, The Mercer Society, which operates the Mercer Gift Shoppe, among other activities, will offer all its sale roses at 30% off through the weekend (10am-4pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 8, 9 & 10.
 If you arrive between 10 am & 1 pm on Friday, drop by the Mercer Gift Shop to say hello. I'll be there smelling all the great flowers for sale! Details:

Mercer's gardens aren't the only place to look for spectacular blooms. The Mercer Gift Shop is also budding out with sale plants galore. Left to right, Aster frikartii that flower summer through fall, 'Miss Ruby' buddleia (butterflybush) and 'Let's Dance Midnight' hydrangeas. All roses will be 30% off.

* * *

Mucho thanks to reader Betty Rexrode who pointed out that in my April 16 column, the featured caterpillar feeding on fennel was a black swallowtail caterpillar, not a monarch. It's been her observation much prefer bronze fennel to green fennel. And, she adds, all her host plants are lush and ready for eggs to be laid.

* Brenda's "LAZY GARDENER'S GUIDE" - a when-to-do-what in Greater Houston area gardens - is now available on CD only (pdf file). $20. Checks payable to Brenda B. Smith and mailed to: Lazy Gardener's Guide on CD, 14011 Greenranch Dr., Houston, TX 77039-2103. For a free copy of May's To-Do List, email lazy





Attracting Native Pollinators - The Xerces Society Guide,  Forward Dr. Marla Spivak, Storey Publishing, 2011,  ISBN: 978-1-60342-695-4



We have a beautiful avocado tree at our facility and a couple years ago it set hundreds of avocados that soon fell off due to a lack of pollination by honey bees.   


As a society we have lost most of our honeybees commonly used for pollination due to massive use of toxic chemicals and genetically engineered crops (GMO's).  As a result I started learning more about our native pollinators and how to attract them as part of my garden. What I have learned is that there are a lot of native pollinators from bees, beetles, wasps, flies, to butterflies and moths that will do the job of pollination if we give them a little help.


This book is easy to read with many excellent pictures to help one understand and identify our native pollinators. It explores each of the different insect groups and what they require for food (plants) and habitat.  This book covers their importance to ecology as well as our own food supply.  Providing a healthy habitat as part of our gardens is an easy thing to do and it supports healthy plant communities, food for other wildlife and beautifies our landscape with flowering plants. One of the best things is that these plants are easier to take care of as they have less problems, many are perennials and others reseed. This book is about how small changes to our yards and gardens will help in the care and treatment of our native pollinators, and there importance to the survival of our society and natural world. 








TO SUBMIT EVENTS: Find a similar event in our calendar below and copy the format EXACTLY. 

Then you can add additional information. Email to lazy

Any other formatting will result in a delay in publication. Events will not be picked up from newsletters.



Sat., May 2: Spring Garden Tour, 9am-3pm, Venetian Estates; rain date May 9;Sugar Land Garden Club event. Details: 


SAT., MAY 2: NATIVE PLANTS FOR TEXAS GARDENS, 10:15am, Cornelius Nursery, 2233 S. Voss. Free. Details:


SAT., MAY 2 :HOUSTON ROSE SOCIETY BOOTH, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Spring Bazaar, 1819 Heights Blvd. Free. Details:


SAT., MAY 2: FENG SHUI IN THE GARDEN, 10:00am, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball.  Free.  Details: or 281-351-8851



SAT-SUN., MAY 2-3: NOTICE OF CANCELLATION:  HOUSTON CACTUS AND SUCCULENT SOCIETY'S SPRING SALE, 9-5, Metropolitan Multi-Services Center (now closed for repairs), 1475 West Gray. Free. Houston Cactus & Succulent Society event will be rescheduled at later date: 


FRI., MAY 8: NATIONAL PUBLIC GARDEN DAY CELEBRATION, 8am-5pm, Q&A WITH BRENDA BEUST SMITH, 11am-1pm, Mercer Botanic Garden, 22306 Aldine-Westfield, Humble. Details:  

SAT., MAY 9: CYPRESS CREEK DAYLILY CLUB FLOWER SHOW. 1-4pm. Mercer Arboretum & Botanical Barden, 22306 Aldine-Westfield Rd., Humble.  Free. Details. 281-356-2543


SAT., MAY 9: WORM COMPOSTING WORKSHOP, 9:30-11:30am, Missouri City Recreation and Tennis Center, 2701 Cypress Point Drive. $15/family. Limited space: registration details: or 


SAT., MAY 9: BEAUTIFUL & PRACTICAL GROUNDCOVERS 10:15am, Cornelius Nursery, 2233 S. Voss. Free. Details:


SAT., MAY 9: MONTGOMERY COUNTY MASTER GARDENERS OPEN GARDEN, 9-11am, Texas AgriLife Extension Office, 9020 Airport Rd., Conroe. Free. Details: 936-539-7824.


SAT., MAY 9: "ART IN THE GARDEN", 10am-3pm, PREMIER SHARPENING - TOOL SHARPENING, 2pm -5pm The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball.  FREE.  Details: or 281-351-8851


SAT.-SUN, MAY 9-10: NATIONAL PUBLIC GARDEN DAY CELEBRATION, 8am-5pm, Mercer Botanic Garden, 22306 Aldine-Westfield, Humble. Details: 


SUN., MAY 10: OPEN DAYS AT PECKERWOOD GARDENS, Hempstead. Garden Conservancy event. Tours 11am & 1pm. $10. Details:, 979-826-3232; 

Tues., May 12: Plumeria Society of America quarterly meet, 7pm, Garden Center, 1500 Hermann Drive in Hermann Park. Details: 


Thurs., May 14: Basic Pest Control for Gardeners by Harris County Master Gardeners. 6:30-8:30pm. Barbara Bush Library, 6817 Cypresswood Dr., Spring. Free. Details: Register 281-855-5600


Thurs., May 14-Sun, May 17: Master Composter Program, City of Houston Green Building Resource Center, 1002 Washington Ave. $40. Details: 


Fri.- Sun., May 15-17 Bromeliad Society/Houston 44th Annual Standard Show & Sale, Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens 22306 Aldine Westfield, Humble. Hours and details: 713-858-3047


Sat., May 16: Basic Pest Control for Gardeners by Harris County Master Gardeners. 10am-Noon. Maude Smith Marks Library, 1815 Westgreen Blvd., Katy.  Free. Details: Register 281-855-5600


SAT., MAY 16: THE ART OF LANDSCAPE DESIGN, 10:15am, Cornelius Nursery, 2233 S. Voss. Free. Details:


SAT., MAY 16: TEXAS ROSE RUSTLERS' SPRING SYMPOSIUM. 9:30am-4+pm, Nature's Way Resources,101 Sherbrook Cir, Conroe. Details:

SAT. MAY 16: FARMERS MARKET AT IMPERIAL: TREESEARCH PLANT SALE, Sugar Land. 9 am - 1 pm.  The Great Grow, a 501c3 School Garden event. Details: 


Sun., May 17: Payne's in the Grass Daylily Farm Open Garden, 9am-5pm, 2130 O'Day Road, Pearland.  Free. Details: 281-485-3821, 713-419-6661, 


Sun., May 17: Shimek's Open Daylily Gardens, 8am-6pm, 3122 Country Road 237, Alvin. Details: 281-331-4395 or 832-489-4395; (under Open Gardens)


TUES., MAY 19: BASIC PEST CONTROL FOR GARDENERS BY HARRIS COUNTY MASTER GARDENERS. 6:30-8:30pm, Spring Branch Memorial Library, 930 Corbindale. Free.  Details: Register: 281-855-5600


Thur., May 21: Basic Pest Control for Gardeners by Harris County Master Gardeners. 6:30-8:30pm. Freeman Branch Library, 16616 Diana Lane. Free. Details: Register 281-855-5600


THURS., MAY 21: THE CREATION OF A SCHOOL GARDEN BY AHLENE SHONG & JAMIE SCOTT, 7-9pm, Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, 4505 Woodway. Free. Native Plant Society o America- Houston Chapter event. Details:

THURS., MAY 21: WILDFLOWER WALK WITH LAN SHEN, 6-7pm. Start: pedestrian bridge parking lot, 7575 N. Picnic Lane. Native Plant Society of Texas-Houston Chapter & Native Prairies Association of Texas event. Details: Free. Details:   


Sat., May 23: Open Days at Peckerwood Gardens, Hempstead. Garden Conservancy event. Tours 11am & 1pm. $10. Details:, 979-826-3232; 

SAT., MAY 23: JUST IN TIME, DRIP IRRIGATION, 10:15am, Cornelius Nursery, 2233 S. Voss. Free. Details:

Sat., Mar. 28: Documenting Peckerwood Garden Plants by Sue Howard, noon, Peckerwood Gardens, 20559 FM 359, Hempstead. Free but reservations required:;, 979-826-3232

SAT., MAY 30: DESIGN STYLISH CONTAINER GARDENS FOR POOLSIDE AND PATIO, 10:15am, Cornelius Nursery, 2233 S. Voss. Free. Details:


SAT., JUN 6: TOMATO CONTEST, 10am, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball.  Free.  Details: or 281-351-8851

Sat., June 13: Plumeria Society of America Sale, 9:30am-3pm, Bay Area Community Center, 5002 NASA Parkway, Seabrook. Details:   


SAT., JUNE 13: PREMIER SHARPENING - TOOL SHARPENING, 2pm-5pm, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball.  Free.  Details: or 281-351-8851


WED., JUNE 17: SUMMER CHILDREN'S CAMP - "FUN GARDEN STEPPING STONES", 9am-12:30pm, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball.  Free.  Details: or 281-351-8851


Tues., July 14: Plumeria Society of America quarterly meet, 7pm, Garden Center, 1500 Hermann Drive in Hermann Park. Details:   


FRI., JULY 17: SUMMER CHILDREN'S CAMP - "WHIMSICAL WIND ART", 9am-12:30pm, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball.  Free.  Details: or 281-351-8851


Sat., July 25: Plumeria Society of America Sale, 9:30am-3pm, Fort Bend County Fairgrounds, Richmond.  Details:  


TUE., AUG 4: SUMMER CHILDREN'S CAMP - "ALL ABOUT HUMMINGBIRDS", 9am-12:30pm, The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball.  Free.  Details: or 281-351-8851


Tues., Oct. 13: Plumeria Society of America quarterly meet, 7pm, Garden Center, 1500 Hermann Drive in Hermann Park. Details: 



If we inspire you to attend any of these events, please let them know you heard about it in





TO SUBMIT EVENTS: Find a similar event in our calendar below and copy the format EXACTLY.

Then you can add additional information. Email to lazy

Any other formatting will result in a delay in publication. Events will not be picked up from newsletters.




Please help us find a forever home(s) for Dottie and Penny For more information. If you get a chance, come see them at the Magnolia/FM 1488 Petsmart this Sunday from 11am- 4pm.

As part of Nature Way Resources' in kind sponsorship of the dogs at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter, we help promote adoptions and donate mulch for their dog park as needed. 


                                                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, certified permaculturist 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 periodic 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. 


Mary is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker United and an avid volunteer with the Montgomery County Animal Shelter and MCASociety

With respect to the newsletter, Mary contributes the adoptable dog of the week write-ups and makes other periodic writing contributions relating to gardeners and their dogs.

COUPON: Nature's Way Resources. 20% off Garden Mix Light Plus. 
. (Offer good for retail purchases of this product by the cubic yard at Nature's Way Resources (101 Sherbrook Circle, Conroe TX). Expires 05/17/15.