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Category Archives: Fall

Serenading the Snapdragons

Sunflower girl, as she is affectionately called, stands proudly in our garden as a reminder to pause for a moment of rest and relaxation. The quite, gentle sounds of her music take me back to a time in my life, when I too, enjoyed playing simple melodies on my flute.

She was a gift many years ago from my husband who somehow knew that her presence in the garden would make me smile. We named her “Sunflower Girl” as a tribute to my love of mammoth sunflowers. But the flute she gently caresses in her hands speaks sweetly to me of bygone days.

Seasonal changes in this small area of our garden seem to grace her with an elegance that she wears well.  Fall is especially joyful as the snapdragons surrounding her are bursting with a beautiful display of calming colors. I can’t think of a flower that would be more appropriate for my sweet sunflower girl to be serenading.

Snapdragons will always have a place in my garden, but it wasn’t until recently that I learned the answer to a perplexing question. Why are they called snapdragons, anyway? Thanks to “the spruce” for this rather comical but accurate answer. ‘The common name derives from the shape of the individual flower heads, which resemble the snout of a dragon, and which even open and close in a snapping motion, as often happens when pollinators open the jaw to reach the pollen’.

Snapdragons should be planted in springtime or fall in a full sun location with well-draining soil. After planting, clip the top stem and any long side shoots to encourage more flowers. When blooms begin to fade during summer’s heat, clip the plant by one-third to one-half and expect more blooms when temperatures begin to cool in fall. Keep evenly moist but let the soil dry out about an inch deep before watering.

The showy blooms of snapdragons are delightful to use in floral arrangements but, for me, that would leave a lonely sunflower girl with no one to serenade. The lyrical melodies she plays for them is a refreshing sound in my garden. Just listen, isn’t that the chirpy opening to Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 2 in D major filling the air?

Note: Local garden centers currently have a wonderful variety of snapdragons in stock.

Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008

Snapdragons are long lasting and rabbit resistant. Read more about them here.

The North Garden at Raincatcher’s

he North Garden continues to thrive with a crew of three to five gardeners on Mondays and help with hardscaping from the regular workday group on Tuesdays. 

We were especially grateful for the substantial progress made on Intern Day in the new Donation Garden where we will be demonstrating ridge and furrow gardening and donating the produce to area food banks. 

Making progress on the Donation Garden

This week we harvested peppers, okra and pole beans and put together 10 family packs of the vegetables for donation. There were plenty of peppers left for the jam and jelly team to make their popular jalapeño jelly. We also harvested the calyces of Roselle Hibiscus for jam.

Monday’s Harvest

Vegetables packed for donating

The pepper varieties we have growing are North Star, Gypsy, Jimmy Nardello, Tajin, Emerald Fire, Poblano, and Sweet Roaster.  North Star and Gypsy peppers are heavy producers and 0 on the Scoville Scale. North Star is known for production under a wide range of conditions. Both it and the Gypsy variety are very easy to grow. The Jimmy Nardello peppers are not quite as productive but they have an excellent sweet taste and nice crispy texture.

The Tajin and Emerald Fire are very productive jalapeño hybrids with low to moderate degrees of spiciness.  We didn’t see many Poblanos in the Spring and Summer but now that temperatures have dropped, the plants are heavily laden with mild green peppers.  The Sweet Roasters were productive and flavorful but unexpectedly hot.

We also grew Clemson Spineless and Hill Country Red okra. The Clemson Spineless is very productive but must be harvested daily to keep the pods from getting tough and stringy. The Hill Country Red is not as productive but it tastes great and the pods are very tender despite their ridged barrel shape. 

The Northeaster pole beans are surprisingly delicious. Several gardeners and visitors have tasted them in the garden and all were in agreement that they were very enjoyable even uncooked. 

Raincatchers volunteers are always welcome to sample any produce growing in the North Garden. It’s a great way to tell if you would like to grow the same variety in your home garden.

Beverly Allen, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2018 

Raincatcher’s Pansy and Plant Sale

Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills is pleased to offer pansies and violas at a fantastic price for your fall and winter landscape color. “What’s the difference?” you might ask. Pansy blooms are larger than viola blooms, but violas are reported to have more blooms per plant and be somewhat more cold-tolerant. We love them both! We’ve also added alyssum this year – so pretty in container plantings. All plants are sold in 18-count flats of 4” pots.

Sale Date: 10/7 at 7am through 10/11 at noon.  All flats $19 (including tax)

Pick up purchased plants at Raincatcher’s on Wednesday, 10/27, 1-4pm (details below)

All pansy orders must be paid for by Thursday, October 14th. If you opt out of paying through Signup Genius, you may bring cash (exact change only please) or check made out to DCMGA to the Raincatcher’s Garden on Tuesday, 10/12, from 9am until noon or email Lisa Centala at lcentala@gmail.com to make other arrangements. 

All prepaid pansies and plants may be picked up at Raincatcher’s from the shade pavilion in the north garden on Wednesday, 10/27, from 1pm until 4pm. Raincatcher’s is located on the campus of Midway Hills Christian Church at 11001 Midway Road, Dallas, TX. We offer delivery in the Dallas area for large orders of 10 flats or more. Please indicate “delivery requested” in the comments section of the signup, and we will notify you to make arrangements. Volunteers will be available to help pull and load your order.

Place your order using the following link:

Sale Dates: 10/7 at 7am through 10/11 at noon.  All flats $19

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/805084EAFAD22A4FC1-raincatchers7

Thank you for your order!

Why Fall Is For Planting

A Fall View of The Raincatcher’s Garden

Fall in Texas is a relief. The air is cooler, welcome rains return and the searing temperatures of summer that last into the night dissipate. It is also a time for planting. 

Fall is the best time to get ready for next year’s growing season. The cooler air and warm soil temperatures are ideal for establishing new transplants. Trees, shrubs and perennials planted in fall, develop strong roots and continue to grow through our mild winters and thus, are more established when hot summer weather arrives.

If you choose to plant in the fall, your perennials will bloom more profusely the following spring than spring plantings. This head start will help new plants take off earlier and more vigorously and be in better shape to face the challenging conditions of our summers.

Timing is everything. Hopefully, you are ready to dig!

Ann Lamb, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2005

Pansy Lovers: In the next few days, information will be coming to you on Dallas Garden Buzz about our pansy sale. The prices are super and the selection is excellent. Your purchase helps us. I am doubling what I bought last year!

Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

From all of the plant lovers, seed starters, soil amenders, bakers, composters, diggers, trimmers, mowers, brick layers, planters, harvesters, propagators, jam and jelly makers, fund raisers, and every other volunteer who lovingly nurtures and cares for Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills, we wish you a blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving.

Meet Diane – A Frequent Visitor to the Raincatcher’s Garden

Our new friend, Diane

I met Diane at the Raincatcher’s Garden a couple of months ago when she was in the edible garden and courtyard taking photos.  I stopped to say hello and she raved about our garden.  She lives in the neighborhood and had noticed the garden from the street. Eventually she stopped by to check it out – and the rest is history. 

She told me she sends a selection of the photos each week to people to “brighten their day.”  Diane sent some of her photos to me and I was so impressed that I thought it would be nice to share some on Dallas Garden Buzz. 

We have made two slides shows from Diane’s photos for you to enjoy.

Diane sends weekly emails (subject line Happy Merry Monday) to about 20 friends, family members and former co-workers.  Many of the recipients live in Dallas but the photos reach people in Tennessee, Arizona and Ohio as well.

 She also shares her efforts with about 25 people from her church who are home bound. Several of these people don’t use a computer so Diane gets copies made and mails the photos to them!!!  It is a pleasure to think of all of the people who are enjoying our garden through her images.

DCMG volunteers have worked hard (within the activity limitations of the pandemic) to ensure the garden remains beautiful and well kept. Many of us have found working at the garden to be a much needed retreat from everything that is happening in the world.

 As gardeners we take great satisfaction in the knowledge that visitors to the garden and recipients of Diane’s photos are enjoying the positive benefits and beauty of nature. 


Jackie James

Dallas County Master Gardener 1993

Pumpkins on Parade

Pumpkins and Sweet Potatoes

Two harvest-season jewels that have become an intrinsic part of classic autumn fare.

“For pottage and puddings and custards and pies,

Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,

We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,

If it were not for pumpkins, we should be undoon”.

This Pilgrim Verse from sometime around 1633 was the introduction to our pumpkin segment of the ‘Grow and Graze’ program last Tuesday. Seems that our Pilgrim forefathers were just as enchanted with pumpkins as we are today. Susan Thornbury helped us to understand the history and fascination with this much-loved fruit/vegetable.

*The early colonists ate pumpkins because they were available and they badly needed food.

*Pumpkins are Cucurbits, just like cucumbers and summer squash. They need warm soil, plenty of sunshine and regular watering. Additionally, they tend to be large plants that need room to grow.

*Timing is important when it comes to growing pumpkins. Many varieties take 100 days to mature. But even more important is soil temperature. Pumpkins want soil that is warm, but seeds will not come up if the soil is too hot. For our climate, that means the end of May to the first part of June is the ideal time to plant pumpkin seeds. It is advantageous to plant seeds since they sprout easily when their requirements are met.

*Pumpkins will perform best when planted in one to two feet of loose fertile soil with plenty of compost added to the mix. Raised beds are a preferred way to grow pumpkins in our area.

*Squash vine borers can be devasting to a pumpkin crop. Usually appearing in springtime, prevention is the best way to deal with the problem. Check under the leaves often for egg clusters. If found, smash them. Insecticidal soap can be used for prevention but use caution as it can be harmful to bees which are essential for pollinating the flowers.

*When selecting a pumpkin for outdoor decorating look for one that is blemish free with no soft spots or damage to the rind. A bit of stem looks nice and may help the pumpkin to last longer.

*For cooking, select a small 2 to 3-pound pie pumpkin. If purchasing canned pumpkin, look for the cans that say 100% pure pumpkin. Libby pumpkin is made from a variety that the company developed called Dickinson.

Autumn Bisque 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons butter, divided

1 ½ cups chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

¾ cup chopped carrots

¼ cup chopped celery

4 cups chicken broth, divided

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup chopped leeks

3 cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree

1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme

Garnish: toasted pumpkin seeds 

Directions

In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Add 2 cups chicken broth and simmer for 3 minutes; remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Pour the broth mixture into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth; set aside.

In the same stockpot over medium heat, heat the remaining olive oil and butter. Add the mushrooms and leeks and cook for 6 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown.

Add the remaining broth, vegetable-broth puree, pumpkin, coconut milk and red pepper flakes; simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the salt, lemon juice and thyme; simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, if desired.  

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Black-Eyed Pea-And-Sweet Potato Salad

Ingredients

2 medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 purple onion, quartered and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

⅓ cup lime juice

½ cup mango chutney

3 (15.8-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Bring potato and water to cover to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Drain and set potato aside.

Sauté onion in hot oil in saucepan over medium heat 4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and next 4 ingredients. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir together lime juice and chutney in a large bowl; add potato, onion mixture, peas and remaining ingredients, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Linda Alexander

 

 

Fall, Bring It On!

   My garden has begun to greet me in the morning feeling a little more perky in the cool air of fall and I too breathe a sigh of relief from the relentless heat of August. My smile is soon replaced with a frown as I survey the damage from my little friend, a small bunny that has ignored my no trespassing signs.

Maybe you are like me and mourn the end of summer’s offerings especially tomatoes and peaches but I know their demise makes room for fall blessings like spinach, kale (which my husband refuses to nibble unlike my bunny) and broccoli.

Goodbye summer, It’s time to pull out our fall garden calendars and dig in. I’m hoping you are able to read this article, Gardeners Learn to See Time Differently from the Washington Post by Joanne Kaufman.

She reminds us that we are governed by the vagaries of the planting season and the rhythms of the garden.

Above: Fall garden seed packets, my favorite is Parris Island Cos Lettuce.

In Texas, now is the time to scrape away some of our worn out, burned up plants and prepare for fall. The next few months are an especially rewarding time to garden in Dallas.

Ann Lamb

Planting Times for North Central Texashttp://dallas-tx.tamu.edu/files/2010/06/Vegetable-Planting-Guide.pdf

North Haven Gardens Vegetable Planting Dateshttps://www.nhg.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NTxVegPlanting.pdf

 

Fall Garden Class

September 5th at 10am at The Raincatcher’s Garden- Native and Adaptive Plants, click here for more info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More About Fall Color in Dallas 2018

The trees in North Texas are brighter and more colorful than ever — or at least that’s what some Dallas residents have determined.

Dallasites on Facebook have taken notice of the colorful fall foliage, with one poster saying, “All of that rain must’ve helped because I’ve never seen such pretty autumn leaves in Texas as I have this year.”

Another commenter said, “This year has been the prettiest of the 13 years we’ve been here.”

While that’s all conjecture, Daniel Cunningham, horticulturist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and self-proclaimed “Texas Plant Guy,” said Texans taking notice of brighter colors might be onto something.

Cunningham explained that cool weather helps to break down the chlorophyll — that’s the green pigment in plants — allowing the yellow and orange pigments to shine through. When temperatures reach just above freezing, it increases anthocyanin formation, and that pigment produces the red and purple leaves.

The rain storms that plagued North Texas recently may have also helped the trees keep their leaves longer, giving them more time to change colors for all to see.

A commenter in a Facebook thread of Frisco residents comparing North Texas’ fall leaves with the colors of Northeastern fall leaves said, “As a lover of all things fall and someone who finally did a fall foliage trip a couple of years ago, it really is stunning this year.”

Cunningham said that autumn is the best time to plant trees in Texas as well as the perfect excuse to head over to a local tree nursery.

Another Facebook user said, “It’s gorgeous if you take side streets to your destination wherever that may be just to see the foliage.”

Cunningham agreed.

“Folks, get outside and enjoy it,” he said. “Whether you do that by walking in your neighborhood or hiking around DFW, do it because we probably only have two more weeks of this lovely fall color to enjoy.”

Thank you to the Dallas Observer and Nashwa Bawab  for allowing us to print this story.

Ann Lamb

Click here for tree  suggestions to plant now that will be rock stars next spring, article by Daniel Cunningham

Japanese Maple picture by Starla

 

Fall Color in Dallas 2018

 

Sweetgum tree with brilliant fall color at Raincatcher’s Garden

Eric,

This Fall has been spectacular with so many kinds of trees with brilliant fall colors. Some had said it has to do with our long hot summer while others have said the rain came at just the right time and it’s a combination of the two weather factors.

What do you think is causing such beautiful fall color in 2018?

What trees would you recommend for fall color? Say someone wants to buy a tree this fall in hopes for future fall color in their yard.

What about Shantung Maples, I see alot of those in my neighborhood and I like the shape of them. Ann

Hi Ann – So good to hear from you. I agree with you 100 % on the beautiful fall colors for many of our trees in the Urban Forest. There are many different opinions on the reasons for the beautiful colors this Fall. The truth is that tree people know that temperature(highs and lows), water, first freeze date, all play a part in the Fall colors but cannot figure out the exact timing of these variables to come up with a nice tidy equation that will let us all know when to expect the beautiful  colors.

My neighbor from New York planted a Bradford Pear a few years ago . She loved the Fall colors but also found out the final ending for Bradford Pears is not pretty. I suggested she might want to look at the Shantung Maple. She planted one four years ago and every year would ask me when the beautiful oranges and reds would show up. I told her to be patient, the yellow colors looked great but it wasn’t until this Fall that she finally got the brilliant oranges that she has been waiting on. I am thinking of trying one of the Shantung maples at RCG. I have given up on the Ginkgo. They require too much tender loving care for the first two years and we need to recommend trees that are hardy and can survive with a minimum amount of care to the public. I would also like to be able to fine a Big Tooth Maple but availability in the nurseries is very limited.

I think you are on the right trail with the Shantung.

Have a great Holiday season,

Eric

Thank you,Eric, and thank you for all the effort and thought you put into our demonstration forest at Raincatcher’s!

Ann Lamb

Picture by Starla Willis

Eric Larner is a Dallas County Master Gardener from the class of 2006 and a Citizen Forester. He and his wife, Jane(also a Master Gardener) work at The Raincatcher’s Garden and many other places in Dallas planting and speaking about trees.

 

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