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WELCOME TO DALLAS GARDEN BUZZ

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.

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Plan Now to Attend the May Master Gardener Meeting and Plant Sale

Dallas County Master Gardener Association

May Meeting

 10:00am Plant Sale · 11:30am Meeting · Thursday, May 25th

Location: Midway Hills Christian Church Fellowship Hall, 11001 Midway Rd.

(West side of Midway just north of Royal Lane) Dallas 75229

Please use the south and west parking lots at Midway Hills Christian Church. The north lot is used by Dallas Cooperative Preschool parents.

 Plant and Brick Sale

Find summer-hardy plants to continue the gardening season with selections from our annual plant sale.

Honor a loved one with a brick purchase.

Cash, checks or credit cards accepted.

 

Program: “Fifty Shades of Green” showcasing 50 common

and rare native plants to use in the home landscape

 

Speaker: Ricky Linex who is a wildlife biologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). He is also the author of

“Range Plants of North Central Texas, A Land User’s Guide to Their Identification, Value and Management” – a plant identification book for Texas detailing 324 various regional grasses, forbs, and woody plants.  

Book Sale 

The gift shop at Texas Discovery Gardens is the sole retail outlet in Dallas County for sales of this interesting book.  In conjunction with Mr. Linex’s presentation to DCMGA, a representative from the TDG gift shop will be present at our meeting and will sell copies of “Range Plants”.  The retail price of the book is $25.00.  All profits from the gift shop support TDG’s educational programs and mission.

Please join us for the plant sale and the monthly meeting,

which are both open to the public.

 

Purple Martins Have Arrived At The Raincatcher’s Garden

Deirdre starts this utube video saying “so these are the gourds where we’d really like to have a Purple Martin Colony.” She then explains the preparation and that we have been waiting two whole years for Purple Martins. No more waiting!

As of the beginning of May 2017, Purple Martins have landed at The Raincatcher’s Garden.

Purple Martin Close Up

Looking for friendly neighbors? Put up a Purple Martin house. It’s comparable to a miniature neighborhood in your backyard and Purple Martins chirp pleasantly and  perform aerial acrobatics to snap up flying insects.  Unfortunately, Mosquitoes only comprise as low as 3% of their diet.

At the end of the breeding season they gather in big flocks and make their way to South America.

Next year, we should see some of the same Purple Martins again!

Purple Martins At Home!

Video and Pictures by Starla Willis

If you are having trouble watching our Purple Martin Utube video, please click here.

Ann Lamb

Butterfly In My Garden

Around April 5, I caught a glimpse of a butterfly in my garden and ran out to get a closer look. I really couldn’t miss it since it had a wingspan of over 5 inches. It fluttered about my garden rue and then took off over the fence. I didn’t see any eggs just then but a week later there were tiny specks that might be larvae! By April 19, there were four “orange dog” caterpillars of the Eastern Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes. They look like bird droppings to deter predators.

Caterpillar On Rue

I have grown Ruta graveolens since becoming a Dallas County Master Gardener in 2006 and love its blue-green foliage and tiny yellow flowers. Along with various trees it is a host plant of the beautiful Giant Swallowtail larvae. The adults visit my garden every year but these are the first caterpillars I have seen. Photographing the adults is challenging as they are always in motion, fluttering away as they feed.

Then last fall I noticed this mating pair on my Loropetalum bush right at eye level. These are distinctive from the Eastern Black Swallowtail adult in that the and the row of large yellow spots on the dorsal (top) side meet in the middle of the wing rather than near the bottom and the ventral view is mainly yellow.

Eastern Giant Swallowtail Butterflies Mating

As of May 2, the four caterpillars have grown to over 2 inches and should pupate soon. The chrysalis stage is variable but usually takes 10–12 days. I hope to photograph at least one chrysalis and adult as it emerges. With luck they will return to my garden rue to produce another generation in the fall. Bugguide.net states they overwinter as a chrysalis.

Two Caterpillars!

Caterpillar Hosts: Trees and herbs of the citrus family (Rutaceae) including Citrus species, prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata), and Common Rue (Ruta graveolens).

Adult Food: Nectar from lantana, azalea, bougainvilla, bouncing Bet, dame’s rocket, goldenrod, Japanese honeysuckle, and swamp milkweed. Here’s one feeding on clammyweed last summer.

 

Eastern Giant Swallowtail on Clammy Weed

Grow Common Rue and you might have these interesting and beautiful garden visitors!

Susan Swinson

 

When Words Fail

    Probably almost all of us have had those situations where mere words alone seem to fail us.   Occasionally it is in the happy times, such as an upcoming marriage or a new home, when there are too many well-wishes that one wants to say.  However it is often in the sad, gut-wrenching times when one feels at loss for words.  At these times for gardeners, the language of symbolic herbs and flowers may be of help.

Tussie-mussies (a.k.a. tussie mussy) are symbolic bouquets of flowers and herbs.  Though often associated with the Victorian era during which the language of flowers and herbs were codified and instructions for making tussie-mussies were found in books such as Godey’s Ladies Book, the actual history of the tussie-mussie goes back much further than Queen Victoria’s era.  In fact, due to the lack of hygiene and sanitation, the use of nosegays to mask odors has been traced to medieval times and can be found in several cultures such as Greece, Turkey, and the Aztecs of Central and South America.  Because the meanings of herbs and flowers were derived from various cultures, some herbs and flowers took on widely divergent meanings, sometimes even opposite meanings.  For example, according to an article in Mother Earth Living, the inclusion of basil in a tussie-mussie meant “best wishes” in Greece, “hatred” in Italy, and “sacred” in India.  However a few herbs and flowers have retained their same meaning throughout the world.  Rosemary is an herb that commonly means “remembrance.”

In compiling a vocabulary of symbolic herbs and flowers, most people start with lists of herbs and flowers and their meanings found in books such as Tussie-Mussies: The Victorian Art of Expressing Yourself in the Language of Flowers by Geraldine A. Laufer and The Illuminated Language of Flowers by Jean Marsh.  Though it helps to have a wide variety of herbs and flowers available, even a very small bouquet of mixed flowers can say “love.”  As opposed to a typical large bouquet, a tussie-mussie is normally just the size of a nosegay.  Tussie-mussies can be presented in a small vase or, if you really want to get fancy and be historically-correct, antique tussie-mussie holders can be found on Ebay. Just be sure to include a card that explains the meaning behind each herb or flower.

Flowers and herbs gathered for a tussie-mussie

Over the years I have made tussie-mussies for friends who have new jobs, weddings, and babies.  I have also found the language of flowers to be especially appropriate in those sad times, such as a bouquet that was given to a friend who was placed on hospice.  That tussie-mussie  (composed of geranium for friendship, Lamb’s Ear for kindness, thyme for courage, rosemary for remembrance, sage for wisdom, bay for peace, peppermint for warmth of feeling, honeysuckle for gentleness,  oak for strength, and, of course, flowers for love seemed to say it all.

Carolyn Bush

Picture by Starla Willis

Tussie- mussies by some of our school children here.

Have you ever seen a butterfly laying an egg?

Thanks to our own intrepid photographer, Starla, for capturing a rare picture of a butterfly laying an egg.

Black swallowtail butterfly laying an egg on fennel

And here’s the egg-

Look for the creamy yellow egg located on the lower right of the picture

*Eggs are laid singly on the host plants—usually on new foliage and occasionally on flowers. Development time is variable depending on temperature and host plant species, but generally the egg stage lasts four to nine days, the larval stage 10–30 days, and the pupal stage nine to 18 days.

Fascinating!

Ann Lamb

Picture by Starla Willis

*http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/bfly2/eastern_black_swallowtail.htm

Study up on our butterfly garden by looking at the right hand side of the front page of Dallas Garden Buzz under Raincatcher’s Resources for a list of hummingbird and butterfly plants or type butterfly in our search box for a host of articles on butterflies.

 

Arugula Has Its Day

Tuesday at Raincatcher’s we noticed that the arugula was bolting. Lovely little white blossoms crowned the tops of all the arugula plants in our raised bed.  The bees couldn’t have been happier.

However, it also reminded us that the time had come for one final harvest. Carefully we clipped our way through the plants with bees buzzing all around us.  A very generous amount of arugula, at least 6 pots full, was harvested and shared with our volunteers.

Here is a delightful recipe for using fresh, peppery arugula brought in straight from the garden. A nice addition to the salad would be 1 bunch fresh roasted beets.  Be creative, arugula supports a variety of many different ingredients.

 

Arugula Growing at The Raincatcher’s Garden

Arugula Salad

Ingredients:

¼ cup sliced natural almonds

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 ½ tablespoons red-wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

3 cups baby arugula (about 3 ounces)

3 or 4 radishes (thinly sliced)

Directions:

  1. Cook almonds in oil in a small skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until pale golden. Cool almonds in oil, (nuts will get darker as they cool). Transfer almonds with a slotted spoon to a small bowl and season with salt.
  2. Stir together shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt and oil from almonds in a large bowl.
  3. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, thinly slice radishes.
  4. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over the top and toss well to coat the leaves.

Yield: 4 servings

Note: Freshly “pulled” radishes were added to the salad, as well.

 

 

 

 

Linda Alexander

Find out more about arugula here .

And here’s another way to use harvested arugula.

April Gardening, 2017

Making our raised beds even better!

Dallas County Master Gardeners at The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

Upcoming Educational Events-Bring your friends and neighbors:

Saturday, April 8th , Spring Lawn Care by Stephen Hudkins and Jeff Raska at the Extension office, 10am until noon. Call the Master Gardener Help Desk for more information-214.904.3053.

Address: 10056 Marsh Ln Ste 101B, Dallas, TX 75229.

Saturday, April 15th, Updating the Home Landscape for Sun and Shade by Brad Sandy at Raincatcher’s, 10 until noon.

Address: 11001 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas, 75229. 

Ann Lamb

Picture by Starla Willis

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