Home and Garden

One of the most anticipated gardening events of the year is this weekend. Ann Bares, master gardener, and one of the event coordinators, says, “Get there early if there are unique plants you are looking for.”

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If you have a tendency to forget to water and otherwise “abuse” your plants, succulents are for you. A succulent is a plant that retains water and has thick, fleshy water storage organs. Succulents store water in their leaves, their stems or their roots. You are probably familiar with cactus, aloe and agave. There are hundreds more lovely succulents available around town when you start to look. It is addictive.

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Bart Brechter, curator of Bayou Bend Gardens in Houston, will be the guest speaker at the upcoming Magnolia Garden Club “Bounties of Black Gold” Flower Show. His topic will be organic gardening, a technique he has used to transform Bayou Bend Gardens into “the state’s only formal organic public garden.” His work with the River Oaks Garden Club has helped to maintain the integrity of Bayou Bend Gardens as Ms.

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The sago palm plant is one of the most primitive living seed plants around today. You can recognize it by its rough trunk, topped with feathered rugged leaves. Although nicknamed sago palm, it is actually related to conifers and the ginkgo tree. According to Lynn McKamey of Rhapis Gardens, all cone bearing plants trace their origins back to the ancient flora of the early Mesozoic era.

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Dinosaurs probably snacked on the relatives of the cycads that you have in our yard today. Yes, cycads are those unique plants that resemble palm trees. The cycad family dominated the landscape during the Mesozoic era more than 150 million years ago. We are probably most familiar with the cycad called the sago palm.

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Someone is giving away free trees? Jefferson County Master Gardeners, under the volunteer guidance of Glen Watz, will be giving away one-year old, bare-rooted seedlings to the local community. Get there early to get yours. The Campbell group is sharing trees with area residents on Friday, Feb. 10, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Jefferson County Master Gardener test garden at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport.

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We hear about the USDA hardiness zones and most garden centers sell plants with tags clearly marking which zone the plant is best suited for. With few exceptions, gardening success is vitally linked to selecting plants that suit your climate. Our area hardiness zones are Zone 8 and Zone 9.

If you want a low maintenance garden, stick with plants for your zone. But that being said, you can cheat the zones a little. It might be interesting to expand your plant palette and push the limits by creating microclimates.

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When it is just too cold, too wet, and just too nasty outside to plant in your yard or garden, get thee to a nursery that sells seeds. Just standing there and looking at those racks of colorful seeds and dreaming of the garden you could have should make you feel better.

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Gardening doesn’t stop in Texas when it’s December, but it does slow down. This is a good month to check all of your gardening tools. Repair, replace, discard, oil and sharpen tools. Are there some tools or gardening supplies that you need? Make a wish list.

Vines, ground covers, ornamental grasses: Ground covers and ornamental grasses can be planted or transplanted. Make sure they stay moist but no need to fertilize until next spring. Cut back growth of vines if there is a freeze or brown damaged growth. Mulch to protect the roots from extreme cold.

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The International Seed Saving Institute has the mantra “Feel the need for seed!” Yes, this institute does exist. It is located in Arizona and is a great resource for seed saving, permaculture and any questions related to seed saving.

Why should you become a seed saver? Seed saving is as old as gardening. Years ago gardeners considered seeds from their favorite plants to be treasures to be guarded. Since seeds these days are relatively inexpensive, you may ask, “Why should I be a seed saver.”

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