Lazy Gardener & Friends for June 3, 2019

By: Nature's Way Resources | Published 06/03/2019

Lately I’ve received several “what is this little yellow wildflower?” pictures from readers — not surprising since this is by far the best season in years for DYCs.
I am absolutely in love with DYCs for a couple of reasons:
  • Yellow immediately draws the eye, often faster than any other color.
  • Every spring they blanket fields, medians, freeway green strips and vacant lots.
  • And . . . often DYCs bring back fond memories of the late Carmine Stahl, our well-known edible native plant expert and author of "Trees of Texas" (Texas A&M Press).
One day as I followed Carmine around for an interview on edible weeds, I asked him the name of a beautiful yellow wildflower. “DYC,” he said.
Down the path, I spotted a totally different yellow bloomer. Again, Carmine answered, “DYC.” Finally had to ask, "What’s a DYC?"
?Carmine replied, “Damn Yellow Composite.”
Carmine didn’t invent this nickname. It’s on Wikipedia: “...any yellow flower in the family Asteraceae." The sexually-active little plants cross so easily, they may even stump experts. I figure if the DYC’s good enough for someone as renowned as Carmine Stahl to use, it's good enough for me. 
Over the years, I transplanted a lot of DYCs into my own yard. They stayed perky-pretty for a long time after transplanting, ideal for making gardens look gorgeous for parties!
Problem is, when not in bloom, most look like truly sad weeds. I’d forget where I put them and kept pulling them or smothering them under heavy mulch. So they never returned for me.
SEEN ‘ROUND TOWN: Speaking of fabulous flowers, kudos to Linda Gay for pointing out what a spectacular year this is for purple-spike-flowered vitex trees. Ditto for magnolias, with their pure white flowers and fire engine-red seeds. Both vitex and magnolias now come in dwarf varieties, amazingly with the same-size magnificent flowers as on their standard size "parents." “Dwarf” magnolias are favorites for commercial and home landscapes alike.
L to r, vitex, magnolia and mimosa
Unfortunately, as pretty as mimosas are, they are NOT recommended for planting any more. They’ve become so invasive, they're destroying native habitat vital to local fauna. Don’t plant any new ones.
MEA CULPA TO THE READER who sent in this picture at left below asking for an ID. Your email disappeared so I apologize for this impersonal response! I couldn't identify it. But I know my real expertise lies in knowing where the REAL experts are. Houston gardening lecturer extraordinaire and former Mercer Botanic Gardens Director Linda Gay to my rescue again: “It is the mature fruit of Ficus repens, aka Fig Ivy.”
Fig ivy fruit, left. Right, Salvia x 'Wendy's Wish,'
S. 'Ember's Wish' and S. 'Love and Wishes'
BEHIND MANY GREAT PLANTS ARE FASCINATING STORIES. Tip o’ the trowel to Friendswood gardener Dale Phillips who pointed out Wendy’s Wish Sage, one of our recent “Have You Tried. . .” selections, has a wonderful connection to the Make A Wish Foundation chapters in America and Australia.
This hybrid, Salvia x 'Wendy's Wish', is credited to Wendy Smith of Rosebud, Australia. It appeared as a chance seedling in her planting of Salvia buchananii and S. chiapensis 'Purple Majesty' seedlings. Wendy, a big supporter of the Make A Wish Foundation, added “Wish” to her name and decreed part of sale proceeds would benefit the Make a Wish Foundation in America and Australia. Also in this "Wish"-dedicated series are Ember's Wish Sage (S. x 'Ember's Wish') and Love and Wishes Sage (S. x 'Love and Wishes'). Who else would tell you these things?
Sally in Crosby wants to know the difference between salvia and sage. All sages are Salvias, the Latin (or Genus) name. But not all salvias are sages:
  • Generally sage refers to salvias closely associated with cooking or medicinal use.
  • Salvia generally refers to those used mostly as ornamental plants.
But once a plant moves into retail trade, growers often pick their own names. For example, Wendy's Wish Sage is also being marketed as Wendy's Wish Salvia. Infuriatingly confusing, eh? One does wish horticultural powers-that-be would get together on these things.
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AS LONG AS WE'RE DOING BACK-STORIES, I fell in love with this beautiful grotto garden adjacent to, of all places, a Bolivar Peninsula fish market.
Lorenzo Guevara's advertising signs for his longtime "I Need Money" fresh
shrimp market in Crystal Beach always makes us smile. Now his market also boasts a very special floral niche, definitely a mood lifter while you're waiting in line. The Guevara's floral homage to the Virgin Mary is a integral aspect of their family life which as seen so much including losing their home and business in Hurricane Ike.
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Good news from JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine) has found a significant reduction in the risk of cancer among consumers whom eat organic food. The higher the consumption of organic foods the greater the reduction in risk. For non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma the risk decreased by 86 percent at the highest level of consumption or organic food and a 76 percent lower risk of all lymphomas.
A question that comes up several times per year is the possibility of soil contamination in urban areas. Common contaminates in urban soils include pesticides, petroleum products (anti-freeze, used oil, etc.), radon, asbestos, lead, chromated copper arsenate (treated wood), creosote, heavy metals from artificial fertilizers, fibers from roofing materials, etc. Humans are exposed to soil contaminates by ingesting soil, breathing volatiles and dust, absorbing them through our skin, and eating food grown in contaminated soil. With more and more school and church gardens, local gardens on vacant property, old commercial and industrial site being converted into park land, old dump sites, etc. we need to be aware of potential problems. To learn more, the Soil Science Society of America has a couple papers on the contamination issue on their website:
A recent paper in the Journal Nature was on land use and conventional food production not meeting people’s needs. Agriculture destroys forests and biodiversity, squanders water and release one fourth of all our greenhouse gasses worldwide. Over 800 million people remain undernourished and 2 billion are deficient in micronutrients and obesity on the rise. The reason to go organic continue to increase.
I remember as a kid my grandmother would have me plant radishes as they are very easy to grow. This helped develop my love of gardening and why I enjoy eating radishes today (as a kid I could not wait till they were large enough to eat). The May issue of Life Extension had an article on the health benefits of radishes. Radishes contain phytochemicals called isothiocyanates which have potent anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that higher consumption of radishes is associated with a lower incidence of lung and colorectal cancers. Other studies have shown the sulforaphane in radishes have been found to inhibit prostate, colon, breast and ovarian cancers. Radishes have also been shown to be effective at healing gastric ulcers. As a kid I would scatter seeds from radishes and turnips in the corner of my dads St. Augustine lawn each fall. I would harvest the radishes and turnips all winter as the grass was dormant. In the spring I observed the grass would green up quickly and start growing much earlier than the neighbors. I now know why, as radishes are used commercially as a very effective cover crop to loosen heavy compacted soils and add organic matter.
Every day I read about the connection between plants, nature and our health. A recent study published in the Journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment found that strawberries growing next to hedge rows adjacent to forests had better pollination, and the weight and quality of the strawberries increased. This an example of the benefits of “companion planting”.
The consumer group Center for Media and Democracy has many informative papers on issues that society is facing:
The link below is an article on the dangers of sewage sludge, known as biosolids, and their affect on our health and the environment.
Many new research papers have been recently published on the effect sewage sludge has on soil life, contamination by radioactive elements from chemotherapy, etc. When I have finished reading them, I will give an update.
A study by researchers from the European Union Joint Res
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