Category Archives: Gardening Notes

The Winter Landscape

Winter is not the most favorite time of year for most folks when it comes to gardening and enjoying your yard. The bright flowers of summer are a faded memory, fall tree colors have dropped to the ground, and the days grow shorter as we approach the winter solstice, bringing chilly, often damp, cloudy and dreary conditions. Yet, the changing seasons also bring about transformations in the yard and landscape that cannot be appreciated at other times of the year. Now that trees are bare, their interesting branching… Read More →

Holiday Plant Care

Although artificial trees have become quite common, having a fresh-cut tree for the holidays is still quite popular. A question we sometimes get is, “What special solution is best for keeping my Christmas tree green?” The answer is – good ol’ plain water! Research done at North Carolina State University a few years ago compared several homemade solutions to plain water. They looked at water only, water plus household bleach, water with aspirin tablets, and water with 7-Up. Nothing was found to work as well as clean, plain… Read More →

Put Your Garden to Bed and Get Ready for Spring

This is the time of year to put your flower and vegetable garden to bed, and start getting ready for your spring garden. Now that we’ve had some hard freezes, annual flowers and warm-season vegetables are finished and can be removed from the garden. Cut back browned tops of herbaceous perennials like salvias, phlox, lantana, cuphea, cannas, and others. Chop them up and throw them in the compost pile. I like to leave until spring the dried coneflower seedheads for finches to feed upon. Ornamental grasses can be… Read More →

Gardening Tips for November

Standing in my yard today reminded me of why we typically call this time of year “fall” instead of autumn. Almost with no breeze, elm leaves float down like confetti, requiring yet another sweeping of the walk leading to the front door. But, I’m not complaining. This is a lovely season, with mild weather and beautiful scenes both in landscapes and in the country side as trees begin their transition to winter dormancy. Fall leaf color can vary year to year based on temperature and soil moisture leading… Read More →

Gardening Tips for September

September is a swing month in the garden, since summer has not completely left us yet, but the milder days of fall are around the corner. You could almost say this is a time of preparation because many consider fall to be the best time to be planting both cool season vegetable crops and trees and shrubs for our landscapes. September also has a couple of local gardening educational opportunities. The First Tuesday in the Garden series presented by Smith County Master Gardeners in their I.D.E.A. Garden starts… Read More →

Not Your Common Groundcovers

Landscaping any yard presents many opportunities and challenges. Opportunities might include creating a design to facilitate movement from one place to another, or focus attention on a great feature on the home or special plant. Maybe it is to showcase a special plant. And there are always challenges, like figuring out the best plants for that spot that gets too much sun for shade-loving plants, but not enough for most blooming plants. Or, plants that will take constant wetness, dryness, deep shade, shallow soil, etc. Or, plants that… Read More →

Gardening Tips for July

Happy July! It’s time for fireworks, watermelons and summer vacations. Get your wide brimmed hat and sunscreen out, and protect yourself from intense sun as you go about your July gardening chores. Drink plenty of water, and take frequent breaks. Don’t let heat exhaustion sneak up on you! And always wear mosquito repellent to reduce the chance of being bitten and contracting West Nile Virus. Check out the series of articles about mosquitoes on Citybugs.tamu.edu Vegetables. How is your vegetable patch doing? Some spring-planted types may be starting… Read More →

Overton Horticulture Field Day

Last week the rains didn’t dampen landscapers, Master Gardeners and industry reps from attending the annual Horticulture Field Day in Overton, Texas, where trials of a wide range of mostly annual flowers and foliage plants were planted in replicates to see which ones had what it takes to make a good showing in our hot, humid (and often rainy) East Texas climate. Of course, this is just the end of June, and it will be interesting to see which ones will still be going strong when it comes… Read More →