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WELCOME TO DALLAS GARDEN BUZZ

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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Chrysalis Butterfly

A lovely friend and fellow Master Gardener has left us. Carolyn Bush died Friday, June 15, 2018.

From the beginning, Carolyn  supported our garden in many ways.  She brought her chickens when we had children visiting the garden on field trips. She also taught our visiting kids a  wonderful little class on cotton.  She brought a loom and let the kids weave. She taught them about growing cotton as well as it’s social aspects.

Carolyn Bush teaching children about cotton in 2014.

When we built our first rain garden in 2009 on Joe Field Road, Carolyn created posters explaining the whys and hows of rain gardens. She could be poetic as well as scientific in her explanation of things.

After our move to Midway Hills Christian Church in 2014, Carolyn began writing for Dallas Garden Buzz. Whenever she submitted an article, she always let me know we didn’t have to publish it  and reminded me to check for typos and errors. Of course, there never were any and we loved reading her point of view on everything from rose rosette, to unusual vegetable crops and then her last article written in February about cabbage white butterflies.  She didn’t like them as you can see from the title of the post: THOSE @#$%&BUTTERFLIES. Her gentleness had some limits!

Carolyn, the fund raiser, contributed to our craft sales with her handmade paper art and she was the instigator of our brick sales campaign.

Other gardens benefited from Carolyn’s knowledge and commitment including Hope Community Garden, Texas Discovery Garden and the chicken coop tour,” A Peep at the Coops.” She was also the capable layout and design editor of Helping Hands, the Dallas County Master Gardener monthly newsletter.

Chrysalis butterfly was Carolyn’s email address. A butterfly emerging from a cocoon is beautiful and a good representation of our friend.

Oh Carolyn, I wish I had known you were leaving us. I would like to tell you how much you were loved and that I admired your courage in the face of handicaps.  How wonderful it would be to see you pull up to our garden one more time in your trusty Subaru.

Goodbye dear Carolyn. We miss you,

Ann Lamb

Blog posts by the multi talented and productive Carolyn Bush:

Year of the Pulse

Malabar Spinach

A Musical Squash for the Edible Garden

Hanging out at the Mall

When Words Fail

Pretty Peas Please

Christmas in July

Made for the Shade

Cotton from Plant to Fabric

A Gardener’s Fright

It’s that Time of Year

Compost vs. Mulch, What’s the Difference?

Want to Try a Different Vegetable?

A Bright Spot in the Early Spring Garden

Vegetable Lambs

From Wheat to Bread

 

 

 

 

 

Summertime!

Color wheel at The Raincatcher’s Garden

Bog sage

Annette, Gail, Kathy and others have turned the color wheel into a spectacular sight. If you haven’t taken time to enjoy the wonder of the north garden, take a walk through it and check out the color wheel (love the bog sage in the blues!), the tomatoes in our tomato trial, and the beautiful flowers in the pollinator garden.

Did you know we harvested 17 pounds of red potatoes and  35 pounds of potatoes June 5th?

Our orchard looks wonderful this year with Champanel grapes in abundance and thriving fruit trees, and those daylilies in the mixed border are blooming like crazy.

Champanel grapes,one of our peaches and harvested potatoes!

Lisa Centala

Pictures by Starla Willis

Bye-bye Parsley, Thanks for the Greens!

We pulled up our beautiful, gorgeous, healthy, vibrant parsley today.  Why would we do this to our stunning, laugh-at-freeze-and-drought plant?  Because we are creating a landscape, not just a garden, and one of the tenants of landscape design is repetition.  A standard front-yard landscape may have only three different types of plants, but they may be used over and over in different areas of the yard.  With an edible landscape, we usually want to eat more than three different types of plants, so we find ways to modify the rules of landscape design.

 In this case, our parsley was living in a low wooden bed underneath the old swingset. Along the length of the swingset are four other low wooden beds, and for this season, they’ve been planted with peppers – five peppers per bed.  Four beds of peppers with one bed half full of parsley looks, well, odd. So we removed the parsley, added five more peppers, and created repetition – and cohesion – under the swingset.

Don’t cry too much for the parsley, though.  Big, green, vibrant and fragrant, it went home with our volunteers to be made into tasty morsels.  Do you have some parsley in your yard or garden? (Or local grocery?) Consider using some to make:

  • pesto – substitute it for the basil
  • tabbouleh – a wonderful summertime salad made with bulgur
  • chimichurri with it – an  Argentinian sauce for grilled foods
  • fry up sprigs – your choice if you want to dip them in a light batter first
  • ravioli – chop it up, mix with some ricotta and egg, salt and pepper, and fill ravioli with it
  • toss it into your next omelet or frittata
  • vinaigrette (or make a green goddess dressing)
  • how about a cream of parsley soup?  or in a falafel?
  • add it in to your regular salad, potato salad, meatballs, you can stick some practically anywhere you want a little – or a lot – of green

One last note:  There are three cultivars of parsley – curly, flat-leaf, and root.  All are biennials in our temperate climate, and this was the second year for this parsley plant.  The cultivar we were growing was the curly variety. The root variety will create a nice, edible taproot you can eat raw like a carrot, or cook like a turnip.  Look to central and eastern European dishes to see it featured. Flat-leaf is more commonly listed in today’s Western recipes, but curly and flat leaf can be used interchangeably.  Middle Eastern recipes are more likely to use the curly variety. Most people think flat-leaf is more flavorful, but if you grow your own, you’ll see that there’s plenty of flavor in the curly variety as well.

So, bye-bye parsley, and bon appetit stomach!

Lisa Centala and Edible Landscape team

Save these dates June 26 and 28th. 

The Peach Fever lunch on June 26 is sold out but class is open!

 

A Plea For Our Pollinators!

Susan and others have been working diligently in our butterfly garden. It’s beautiful and has a purpose. As gardeners do, Susan and I had a meaningful visit about the garden as we worked.  Here are my questions and her answers:

Why are you working so hard, selecting certain plants. You seem to be planting with a purpose.

The goal is to attract a wide diversity of pollinators and to that end, we need to cultivate a wide variety of plants all throughout the year.

Pollinators depend on us and it’s our sacred duty to provide for them in all their phases of life. It isn’t that easy, but like many things it’s very worthwhile.

Why as gardeners do we need to plant for pollinators? Isn’t this provided naturally?

Much of nature has been rearranged and habitats destroyed.  Every yard needs to count! Devote at least part of your garden to create a pollinator-friendly habitat.

Joy comes when you see these creatures thrive. If you take the step, I don’t believe you will ever go back to never-ending lawns with seas of begonias.

Keep going. it’s desperately needed and of serious importance for the next generation.

It’s up to us.

Thank you, Susan. You have inspired all of us to garden for the future.

Ann Lamb

Picture by Starla Willis

Under Raincatcher’s Resources, we have a list of butterfly friendly plants to help you get started.

Pollinator week is a week away.

 

 

 

 

Hugelkulturs and Tomatoes

This is a 4 minute video, taken in April, full of info about the origins and natural habits of tomatoes and the composition of a hugelkultur. Hugelkultur, pronounced Hoo-gul-culture, means hill culture or hill mound. Jeff Raska teaches us from our edible garden:

June update on tomatoes: It’s’s all in how you look at it.
We put leggy plants in late for our season, the hugelkultur soil is still very new (and we’re discovering that the angle of the hill is a bit steep in places). Add to that strong winds breaking the branches in some cases, and squirrels running around, breaking branches, digging, and harvesting the green fruit, and you don’t have a picture-perfect, ready for the cover of a glossy magazine hugelkultur.

Having said that, there are a couple of plants that seem to be thriving…

From The Edible Garden Team

Lisa Centala

Wonders of the Garden

Is it true that sometimes good things come in small packages? In this case, yes, except for me it was a box. Waiting on my doorstep was the package clearly marked ‘Please protect from freeze and extreme heat’. With the thermometer quickly climbing to the 100+ mark, heat was the main concern of this precious piece of cargo. Why all the fuss?

In March of this year our Raincatcher’s edible landscape team had just started to install the first green material for our newly redesigned garden. Converting the church’s abandoned children’s playground into a place of tranquility and sensual delight was a challenging task.

It had already been determined that one specific area, a 12’ square to be exact, would be anchored by a stately bay laurel. Surrounding it in grand Victorian style, would be those aromatic jewels of the garden, the fragrantly pleasurable scented geraniums.

Numerous trips to our local garden centers yielded a disappointingly small number, 4 chocolate scented and 8 nutmeg. Call, after call resulted in the same answer; “No”, we don’t have any old-fashioned rose scented geraniums this year. Finally, after one month of searching, the answer we had hoped for came from an internet supplier. “Yes”, we only have 8 left and this is the last of the crop. “I’ll take them”, was my immediate answer!

Carefully opening the box and sifting through layers of slightly dampened newspapers, my eye caught the tip of a jagged little leaf peaking through. And then, there they were in all their Victorian glory, 8 beautiful…happy and ready to be planted in our garden…’Old-Fashioned Rose’ Scented Geraniums. After a moment of delicately crushing and bruising the leaves, my head was filled with their heavenly scent. Yes, of course, it was worth the wait. And, we promise next month to share photos of their progress along with a few recipes using the leaves in some of our favorite baked goodies.  

Scented geraniums to be planted in the edible landscape at The Raincatcher’s Garden.

Note: If you happen to notice more than 8 plants, SURPRISE, I couldn’t resist the temptation when the lady from Georgia taking my order said that she also had 4 peach scented geraniums available. Rubbing their fuzzy little leaves in between my fingers, I caught the gentle scent of a fresh Texas peach. For me, it was a moment of pure summer bliss.

After a night at my house, our precious cargo will go to its new home; the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills. Please visit us at 11001 Midway Road. We’re in the garden every Tuesday from 9:00 – 12:00noon tending to our babies.

Linda Alexander

Two events coming up at Raincatcher’s:

Peach Fever-June 26

Edible Landscaping Lecture and nibbles from the edible  garden-June 28

Garden Bloggers Fling Day 1 and Stop 1

A rainy view of the entrance to Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center.”My special cause, the one that alerts my interest and quickens the pace of my life, is to preserve the wildflowers and native plants that define the regions of our land — to encourage and promote their use in appropriate areas, and thus help pass on to generations in waiting the quiet joys and satisfactions I have known since my childhood.”

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was our first stop on Friday. As we gathered for the group picture, they mentioned that rain was headed our way.  Being a native Texan, I should have heeded the warning when I heard “squall line”, but I was intent on seeing the treasures that awaited us.

Even in the rain, the cholla in the demonstration garden beckoned. It’s magenta blooms caught my eye through the stone window.

Cholla cactus blooms

  It began to sprinkle -colorful ponchos dotted the gardens and then it started to rain, then it began to go sideways, so we scurried to find shelter. It didn’t take long to realize that the elements were winning, but so was the garden – the much needed rain was a welcome sight, even though it came torrentially.

A caterpillar sighting lured some of us out of the stone alcove, but the elements were getting the upper hand –everything was soaked-our pictures were blurred , cameras were malfunctioning…

We retreated to the main entrance where we sought refuge under the eaves and ultimately in the gift shop. A beautiful bouquet of wildflowers brightened our dampened spirits (pun intended) in the restroom.

As we left, the sound of the stone cistern filling up was music to the ears. Even though it was a wash in some ways, it wasn’t all for naught.  It’s not often you get to see Lady Bird Wildflower Center through the rain.

Starla Willis

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