RSS Feed


Above: Nasturtiums, Watercress, Lavender, Fennel, and Broccoli

Gardening in North Central Texas is enough to make you throw away your trowel.  Our summers are hot enough for a blast furnace.  Our winter chill can freeze pipes and coat trees with ice.  We’re pummeled with spring storms and hail, but when we most need the rain, not a cloud is on the horizon.  Dallas’ unforgiving black clay forms clods hard as rocks and is so alkaline, its pH is off the chart.

DALLAS GARDEN BUZZ shares our journey through the triumphs and missteps of gardening in our North Texas heat, clay soil, limited water, and high alkalinity.  In the world of gardening, there is always a story to be told and sage advice to share.  As we dig, trim, harvest, and cook, we’ll give you the best information we can gather from our “hands on” work in  The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills, a Research, Education and Demonstration garden at 11001 Midway Road in Dallas.

DALLAS GARDEN BUZZ is written by Dallas County Master Gardeners, volunteers trained by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

dcmga_logo_20160109-jpg-2017 agrilife_logo_9-12-jpg-2017

Rose Rosette Disease Research Update

Apple Trees Espaliered

We have planted 4 varieties of apple trees at The Raincatcher’s Garden. Jim gives us the names of the apples and a lesson in espalier in this utube video.

Tomorrow morning, March 6th between 9 and noon, Jeff Raska will be at The Raincatcher’s Garden to prune our new apple trees and our peach and plum trees. Join us!

Video by Starla Willis

Apple talk by Jim Dempsey

More about out orchard varieties here.



A Winter’s Wonder, Lonicera fragrantissima

Just when you need it the most, Lonicera fragrantissima, also known as Winter Honeysuckle bursts on the scene with its powerful scent and dainty little creamy flowers.

The blooms provide pollen and nectar to bees who are foraging on a winter’s day.

When you plan your garden, get used to including other’s needs, especially our pollinators.  Winter can be a bleak time for overwintering butterflies and bees.

Dr. William Welch suggests planting Winter Honeysuckle by a gate so when you brush by it you can enjoy the scent.  It can be grown in partial shade or full sun.  For a look at it in full sun, click here.

If you arrive early at the next *Texas Discovery Garden sale,  you might be able to take home your own small start of this fast growing fragrant bush.

Ann Lamb

*Texas Discovery Garden Sale-April 6-8, 2018

More info about Lonicera fragrantissima right here on Dallas Garden Buzz!




“If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If a white post is left alone it will soon be a black post”  GK Chesterton said that in 1908.  He went on to say that it takes constant vigilance just to keep things the same.

Perhaps garden cleaning is not the first thing that comes to mind when reading Mr. Chesterton’s words. Perhaps the healthy eating plan was not carefully followed during the holiday and sadly things did not remain the same.

But now think about the garden. The natural look is wonderful however it actually requires the constant vigilance to maintain.  When a few plants overtake their companions and then move on to cover paths and obliterate borders, that is no longer really any look at all.  The fact is action is required if a space is  to be a garden.

Roger cleaning up the garden and putting fallen leaves to good use by shredding them for garden mulch. Yeah Roger!

Susan trimming back plants in our herb garden.

So, it is time for garden clean up. It’s a job with no glamour and little thanks but gardeners are tough and the time is NOW.

Susan Thornbury

pictures by Starla Willis

  • More garden clean up specifics will be posted next week. Get your tools ready!
  • It’s time to prune roses in Dallas. Click here for information.
  • Apple trees at Raincatcher’s Garden? Yes! Subscribe to our blog for future posts. We will give all our succulent secrets about planting apples.

Those @#$%&! Butterflies

Though curses aren’t usually the words usually associated with seeing beautiful butterflies soaring around your garden, if you are a home vegetable gardener or part of a community garden that donates produce to food pantries, there is one butterfly that you may dislike.

Large Cabbage White Butterfly on Cabbage

No, it is not the butterflies whose larval host plants are dill, parsley and fennel.  Many people who have butterfly gardens purposely grow extras of these plants as host plants for the butterfly larva. By following the rule “one for me, and one for the birds and butterflies.” you can have your share and the butterflies/caterpillars can have theirs.   However for vegetable gardeners, the sight of pretty white butterflies flitting around members of the brassica family (ex- kale, cabbage, mustard, turnips, etc) can mean only one thing:  an invasion of hungry larva caterpillars that will soon damage their crops.

Large Cabbage White Butterfly Larvae, note larvae color is green not pink as this photo shows

Cabbage white butterflies, also known by butterfly-lovers as “summer snowflakes,” are found in two sizes, the Small Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) and the Large Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris brassicae.)  The small cabbage white butterfly, though still considered an agricultural pest, is not as voracious a feeder as the Large Cabbage White Butterfly and will be the focus of this article.

The Small Cabbage White Butterfly is found throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa.  It was accidentally introduced to Quebec around 1860 and spread rapidly throughout North America.  By 1898 it had spread to Hawaii and by 1929 to New Zealand.  Often, one of the first butterflies to appear in the spring, it lays eggs on the underside of a leaf.  The eggs are laid singly and are yellow making them difficult to spot.  The eggs hatch after about five to fourteen days and then the damage to members of the mustard family begins.  Using their powerful mandibles, the larva munch holes in the leaves.  Sometimes they will even eat into the heart of a cabbage, leaving a shell in its place.  The larva then pupate, to start the whole cycle again.

Cabbage Damage Due to White Butterfly Larvae

Thankfully there are safe biological and barrier controls for this pest butterfly.  In the mid 19th century the Australian government introduced parasitic wasps to control the damage produced by both species of butterflies.  However this approach is only suitable for large commercial growers.  There are other insects however that can help.  These include ladybird beetles, lacewings, and some species of insect-eating birds.  A physical control might include covering the plants with mosquito netting or other barriers.  Be sure to secure all the edges.

Perhaps the easiest organic method of control is to use Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a naturally occurring bacteria that kills a caterpillar but leaves beneficial insects unharmed.  When the caterpillar eats a treated leaf, it will get an upset stomach, stop eating, and die within four days.  Just be sure not to apply it in wet weather as the spray will wash off.

By using Bt or other methods of control, you should be able to “have your cabbage and eat it too.”

Carolyn Bush








The Frostweed, yes.


Good morning, I am sending you this article on an interesting perennial phenomenon  from a favorite blog of mine, called Portraits of Wildflowers. You can find it via this morning’s post: The Frostweed, Yes!

We also have several wonderful pictures and write ups about Frostweed on Dallas Garden Buzz. You can find them by using our search or clicking here.

Happy 2018 to all our readers!

Ann Lamb


More About Frost Protection

A few more tips from our gardeners:

I always cover our variegated pittosporum and cyclamen when it gets down to low 20’s. I use frost cloth now but old sheets have worked just fine in the past. I’ll cover the  garlic, radishes and collards in my garden  to be safe. Susan Swinson

Water  well and cover with frost cloth being sure the cloth is held down but not smashing the leaves–pick some now if it’s at that stage and hope for the best.  It’s not too late to replant after the artic blast–must think positive!! Susan Thornbury


Good night garden, stay warm!

Ann Lamb



%d bloggers like this: