Lazy Gardener & Friends February 1, 2019

By: Nature's Way Resources | Published 02/01/2019


February 1, 2019

Dear Friends,

Here is the 280th 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 inspiring us in so many ways. 
Thanks so much!
This newsletter is a project of The Lazy Gardener, Brenda Beust Smith & John Ferguson. (John is 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 sign yourself up to receive this newsletter by clicking this link "Join Our Mailing List". We will never sell or share our mailing list to protect the privacy of our subscribers.


"The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age" -- Dylan Thomas, 1934
ONE SILVER LINING in having to start over with a new garden is being able to put in plants one always wanted but, for various reasons, never could have.
I always longed for a weeping yaupon like the one that, for decades, graced Mercer Botanic Garden's Visitor Center (above left). Now I have the perfect spot. To my delight, Joshua Kornegay of Joshua's Native Plants sweetened the purchase by pointing out how ideal these are for lazy gardeners.
Cousins to native tree and shrub yaupons, our native weeping yaupons are medium-speed growers (10'-15'), tolerate dappled shade-to-blistering sun and easily handle floods, droughts and all our soils. They're even pretty broad minded about drainage conditions. As you can see in the picture above, they produce magnificent cascades of early winter red berries. They don't mind brutal or moderate pruning, or -- "attention, lazy gardeners" -- just being left alone.
I also asked Linda Gay, former Mercer Botanic Garden Director, if the magnificent weeping yaupon pictured above took a lot of work to keep it so pretty. Her reply: "Easy plant . . . didn't need much pruning. Only trimmed the bottom of the skirt once or twice a year!" I can handle that!
DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO. When I finally conceded I couldn't transplant my 15'-20' vitex tree, left below, that towered over our 8' wooden fence, I bought (I thought) and planted a new one. After a year+ growing in our new yard, it’s obvious this will never be a magnificent tree. Apparently I unknowingly bought one of the new vitex dwarf shrubs now on the market. Hopefully one day it will look like the one at right below. My bad.
READ LABELS! No matter how much you think you know about plants, read labels! New versions (especially dwarfs) of old favorites abound these days. Even better, get to know your local nurseryman and ask his advice. He wants and needs your repeat business, which he won't get if you're not happy with your purchases!
HAPPY VALENTINE'S (PRUNE ROSES) DAY! This is our prime rose pruning period. As always, Houston Rose Society (largest rose society in nation!) is holding its big annual, free "PRUNING FOR BLOOM TIME" workshop, this year on Valentines Day, Thurs., Feb. 14, 7pm, Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion, 1500 Hermann Dr.
Rose pruning isn't absolutely necessary for all roses here (antiques & shrubs may only need occasional clipping to keep them friendly). But even many of these, and especially many hybrid roses, do benefit from pruning at this time to produce at maximum potential.
If you do prune, do it right, or risk problems down the line. In our Spotlight Article below, Rosarian Extraordinaire Baxter Williams lists the "FOUR MOST SERIOUS MISTAKES" even experienced rose growers might make when pruning roses
Before we get to the Big 4, however, Baxter also points out in his many talks:
Do use bypass clippers (not anvil shears, or loppers -- can damage stems
Do seal canes with white glue (Elmer's, etc), not black tree pruning paint which can burn bark -- only on very large diameter stems.
Do cut away older canes leaving new ones that grew last year (smooth green bark)
Do not cut more than 1/4 inch above a node (or leaf) as this can trigger dieback that might compromise the plant.
PHILLY GROUNDHOG VS "BIG AL" -- Who you gonna listen to? Sat., Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day. With northern temps what they are, no one expects Punxsutawney Phil (left) to predict an early spring! In truth, his accuracy rate is under 50%.
Big Al (left) at Gator Country Adventure Park has a decades-long, 100% successful Spring-predicting record. Texas' largest gator (13+' & 1000+ lbs) has genetics on his side. He CAN'T eat until Spring is close enough. Since this is important for gardeners, owners/alligator rescuers Gary Saurage & Arlie Hammonds said they'll report whether or not Big Al eats his Groundhog Day meal. A favorite? KFC!
PLEASE READ & HEED John's notes below on leaves & pine needles, which we all have in abundance these days. One of the great mysteries of life is why gardeners would get rid of all this incredibly great mulch & fertilizer source. Then go out & buy far less beneficial soil/mulch to use! Just boggles my mind!
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NOW . . . Can you guess the Top Four Rose Pruning Mistakes? See below!
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Favor? Check to make sure submitted events are published.
Cypergremlins abound. If it’s not in, let me know!
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NEWSLETTER is based on her 40+ years as the Houston Chronicle's Lazy Gardener.
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