Newspaper Articles

SCHOOL HOUSE LILIES

Carol Siddall, Master Gardener

This bulb is also known as Oxblood, Hurricane, and Red Spider Lilies.  It is in the Amaryllis plant family, and it is native to Japan.  You sometimes see them sold in nurseries across Texas and they can be ordered from out of state nurseries, or you can try talking  your friends into sharing some of their bulbs!  They are one of my favorite bulbs to plant.  They are unusual from other bulbs as the flower appears first.  It is such a treat to look out one morning in fall and see that beautiful red bloom showing.  (My experience has been that they do not bloom every year.  Probably depends on how much rain we get and when it falls.) The dark gre

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A BEAUTY IN THE NIGHT

Barbara Porsch, Master Gardener  The night blooming cereus is certainly not the most beautiful foliage plant.  It is quite often rangy, even unsightly.  Then for a one night stand it blooms and compensates for all of its disadvantages.  The egg shaped bud covered with tan sepals grows out of a vein on the leaf, slowly unfurls during the day and opens about 10 o’clock at night, regrettably fading shortly after the sunlight strikes it the next morning. There are several flowering cacti called night blooming cereus that all have breath taking white flowers centered by innumerable delicate stamen. They may measure up to 12 inches in diameter and ar

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BEWARE: INVASIVE PLANTS

By Debbie Roland, Master Gardener

If a plant could be my nemesis, it would definitely be the Mexican Petunia.  My Mom gave me my plant in 1990.  It was only one small stalk.  Fortunately, I planted it in a bed that is surrounded by concrete.   However, I am still constantly thinning it to keep it from spreading and invading the rest of the flowerbed and the yard.   The picture of it growing out of the concrete 15’ away from where it is planted will give you a hint about the battle I am fighting. Another is Queen Anne’s Lace.   A fellow Master Gardener gave me a few seeds with this warning:  “Be careful with these.  They can be a little invasive.”  Well,

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DAHLIA–A SOMETIMES FORGOTTEN FLOWER

Carol Siddall, Master Gardener

The dahlia, in my book, is one of the prettiest and showiest flower in the family garden.  My mother could grow beautiful dahlias that would have taken prizes if she had ever entered them.  Me, I am not so fortunate, but that doesn't keep me from trying!  Dahlias are gorgeous heat lovers that provide color summer through frost. The dahlia was named in the late 1700s for Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl.  The dahlia began to be popular in American gardens around 100 years ago with good reason.  They are easy to grow in full sun and thrive in any soil type.  Their blooms can last up to a week, and they make wonderful cut flowers

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UNDERSTANDING HUMMINGBIRDS–CAN THEY SING?

Carl White, Master Gardener and bird Enthusiast

The hummingbird tongue extends and retracts some 20 times per second when drinking.  The tongue separates so as to trap the sugar water and draws that up into its mouth.  Scientists are still puzzled as to how the drawing of the water and swallowing are coordinated.  So extends the mystery of the amazing little birds we so enjoy each summer.  First, that the common habitant of the West Texas area is the Black-chinned species, which spends its winters in Central America and also on the Gulf coast.  The greatest traveler is the Rufous, traveling some 4,000 miles from Mexico to Alaska.  Being well adapted to cold, this migration

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HERBS – MEDICINAL OR CULINAR

Barbara Porsch, Master Gardener and Herb Enthusiast

I love herbs and love to grow and use them in my culinary adventures.    In fact, I hardly thought of them as being advantageous medically.  But more and more today I see references about certain herbs being helpful to combat medical problems.   Looking back, I have always seen a historical use of herbs for medicinal purposes.  It is hard to know which use came first…… the culinary or the medicinal. Let’s look at Lavender.  In ancient times, the Greeks and Romans used it to perfume their baths.  During the renaissance it was overshadowed by the medicinal herbs of the day.  Then later it was rediscovered

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SUCCULENTS

 

Roger Corzine, Master Gardener

Succulents are an interesting group of plants that seem to be earning more gardener interest at present. However, there also seems to be some misunderstanding about the word ‘succulent’. I have found that many people seem to equate the terms "cactus" and "succulent". There is a statement in botanical circles that says, “Nearly all cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti,” so let me explain. First, the term succulent is not a scientific name. So any plant that stores water in its leaves or stems or roots can be called a succulent no matter what plant family it is in.  
HOW TO MAKE A BUTTERFLY FEEDER

Shan Wheeler, Master Gardener Intern

If you love butterflies but have either a shady garden with little sun to induce flower production or mostly evergreen flowerless bushes, you can still lure those beautiful creatures to their very own butterfly heaven by a couple of simple methods.  Every gardener enjoys seeing butterflies coming to their garden. A butterfly feeder can be fabricated from a Mason jar.  Using twine, cut two pieces of string that are 48" long. Wrap each string around the neck of the jar and tie a knot. The two knots should be opposite each other. You will now have four ends of string extending from the jar; take one string from opposing

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KEEPING A GARDEN JOURNAL

By Debbie Roland, Master Gardener

My friend asks “That’s pretty!  What is it?”  My response: “I have absolutely no idea.”  Thus began my garden journal.  After taking a class on journaling at the Master Gardener State Conference, I knew it was the answer to my problems – or at least part of them.  I remembered that my now gone gardening neighbor, Buddie, kept a record of how much rain we got each year and when we got it.  He also recorded what he planted and when. There are expensive, formal journals available, but I have found that a five subject spiral notebook does the trick.   In one section I keep track of the rainfall, its date and how bad the stor

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