Newspaper Articles


Barbara Porsch, Master Gardener I wouldn’t trade my beautiful big trees for anything. Over the years through trial and error, I have found my favorite half dozen plants that give me more bang for my buck in the shade.

  1. Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) is a dependable foundation plant that is evergreen and requires little care except trimming out damaged fronds at the beginning of new growth. Too much sun can scald the fronds and burn them.  When planting, the crown of the plant should rest at the surface of the soil when watered in.
  2. Cast Iron (Aspidistra elatior) is another evergreen plant that doesn’t like the sun at all. A native of China, it is

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Carol Siddall, Master Gardener Being a gardener and loving the Christmas season, you can bet money I have a poinsettia in my home.  I am known to give them as gifts also.  They were the flowers for my December wedding, so they hold a special place in my life. This plant was first introduced to the United States by Joel Poinsett, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico.  Thus it was subsequently named the poinsettia.  Back in the 60's most of the poinsettias grown and sold were still the tall red ones.  They were hard for the florists to manage, so we started seeing shorter types coming into the market.  Growing poinsettias became easier. Today poinsettias are a major crop for greenhouse produ

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  Gardening in the fall is the best time of the year for many projects.  The weather is cooler (mostly), the night time temperatures are getting down into the 60’s or lower and many bugs are flying south or going into dormancy.  But best of all bargains are to be had at the nurseries and garden centers as they are marking down plants to lower winter inventory. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Shrubs and roses are best planted in the fall because the roots have time to develop a good system without the stress of the high temperatures. Plants need less water due to the lower temperatures.
  2. It is a good time to reevaluate the home landscape to take out those plants


Bess Barlau, Master Gardener Tried and true plants or adapted to our area are always welcome additions to beautify and simplify our lives because  they survive and thrive in our harsh climate.  Some can be found in local nurseries. Some favorites and reliable ones are: Chili pequin (Capsicum annuum), our original native chile pepper.  It is loved by both birds and Tex-Mex gourmets. Silver pony foot (Dichondra argentea) forms ground covering mats that can tolerate moving.  It also grows well between flagstones and looks good draping from pots. Blonde ambition (Boutelouea gracilis)  is a grass that has curvy blonde eyelashes, movement, and usually holds its blooms through winter

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By Debbie Roland,  Master Gardener The Permian Basin will soon be raking and bagging leaves.  If you don’t have a compost pile to put them in or a friend who wants them, why not make leaf mold?  It is an excellent and free-soil amendment which will have a huge impact on your soil health and is simple to make. Leaf mold is what happens when you let leaves decompose.  It is dark brown to black, crumbly and has an earthy smell.  Simply, it is composted leaves but instead of adding organic matter as you would in a compost pile you just use leaves. It is a soil conditioner and increases water retention, improves soil structure, and provides a habitat for earthworms and beneficial bacteri

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Carol Siddall Master Gardener In the middle of winter, a few spring blooming flowers can put a smile on everyone's face.  Now is the time to start forcing those bulbs. Choose a bulb that is forcing-friendly like grape hyacinths, daffodils and hyacinths.  Bulb sellers will often note which bulbs are best for forcing.  Check the number of weeks needed from planting until bloom before you buy or order. Spring blooming bulbs need a chilling time so they will form flower buds.  You can order them pre chilled or you can chill them.  I chill mine in the refrigerator (don't freeze them).  It may take 10 to 18 weeks depending on your bulb you want to force.  If you do chill in the refrigerat

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Shan Wheeler, Master Gardener The rains we had this summer were so much better for plants than our West Texas hard water! After one of our big rains, I was dutifully making the rounds emptying everything that could hold water to help deter mosquitoes, pouring each into flowerbeds or collecting it in a five gallon bucket to use later. But the compost container is a large wash tub which was heavy so I just lifted up one end and drained it. Then I thought, that was dumb – that could have become compost tea! In Master Gardeners’ Trainee Class we had discussions regarding the effectiveness of the tea; some said great and  others said so-so. There are numerous compost tea recipes on the inte

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  Barbara Porsch, Permian Basin Master Gardener Herb Enthusiast I want to talk to all of you out there who have basil growing in your garden.  Take this as a warning to use as much of your basil as possible now before the first frost.  Basil will be the first herb to succumb to even a little frost. Basil has been cultivated in Europe for 2000 years and there are at least 200 different varieties.  It has been thought to be poisonous, good for the heart and used for bites of venomous beasts.  Early Greek and Roman physicians believed the only way to grow a good crop of basil was to scatter the seeds while cursing and stomping feet.  Fortunately for us in west Texas, basil thrives


Carol Siddall, Master Gardener

  To me, it is hard to imagine a garden without some pansies.  These charmers have endeared themselves to gardeners for almost two centuries.  You can't help but smile when you look at their cheerful "faces".  They should be in our local nurseries before too long, and I know I will have to bring some home. The pansies grown today are hybrids derived from several species of Viola.  The common name "pansy" comes from the French word "pensee": a thought or reflection.  This refers to the flower "face" that is created by the bold blotching and veining on the petals. Young plants in bloom at the nurse

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