RSS Feed

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Local Gardeners and Their Lovely Lime Trees

March 3, 2021

Our dear friends, Sheila Kostelny and Paula Spletter, are master gardeners extraordinaire. Paula is a graduate of the class of 2009 who works at Northhaven Gardens as their Creative Director, specializing in color pot combos. She is a garden lecturer and speaker with an extensive knowledge of herbs and succulents. And, with the impressive gift of a custom designed greenhouse built by her sweet husband, gardening year ‘round is her greatest pleasure.  

Paula Spletter with her citrus collection

Sheila also graduated in 2009 and has just recently completed her vegetable specialist certification from the Texas Master Gardener Association. Her backyard-raised herb and vegetable garden beds leave you starry-eyed with wonder. Sheila, too, enjoys having a greenhouse to take her through the seasons. 

Sheila and her lime tree which looks a little sad this year but has produced one lime. Usually it is more productive.

Together, these two ladies have guided us through many gardening projects at Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills. We love to spend time with them and, yes, when they speak, we listen!

Just recently, we ran across a photo that left us drooling. It was the creative work of nationally acclaimed food stylist and photographer, Eva Kosmas Flores. Photos of her Coconut Lime Tart with a Coconut Graham Cracker Crust inspired us to learn more about the possibility of growing lime trees locally. Paula and Sheila were just the gardeners needed to advise us in the endeavor. Join us in this informative and inspiring Q & A as they take us on a journey of Texas lime tree “tips’”.

To start, when did you become interested in growing lime trees?

Paula: I think when my little sister moved to Florida. When I would visit, she had a variety of citrus trees in her backyard. I’ve always enjoyed growing citrus trees and have quite a collection. I prefer the taste of limes over lemons. A thornless lime is a must have!

Sheila: I have had a Meyer lemon tree for probably 10 years that I purchased at Sunshine’s Miniature Trees on Greenville Avenue.  Since that time, I’ve added Persian Lime, Sweet Kumquat, and Arctic Frost Satsumas.  

Was there a particular variety that you felt most appropriate for our Zone 8 climate?

Paula: Not really. I went by what was recommended by Texas A & M for our zone and of course what garden friends had success with.

Sheila:  To be quite honest, I purchased the Persian Lime tree from Costco 4 years ago.  It wasn’t a purchase that I researched ahead of time.   

Lime trees are tropical plants so how do you manage year-around care?

Paula: They do prefer some late afternoon shade, especially in our harsh summer months. Surprisingly, they can take pretty cold temperature in short bursts. It’s the prolonged cold temperatures that destroy good tissue. What can’t fit in my “barn” are on flat bed dolly’s and rolled into the house. They are generally starting to bloom in the winter, so I get the extra bonus of their scent. 

Sheila:  The ability to bring these potted trees into my greenhouse at the threat of 32-degree temperature is a luxury I cherish.   I have one Arctic Frost satsuma planted in the ground in my west garden and one planted in its original pot in my raised bed.  At the point that I realized that this weather storm was going to hang around a while, I removed the potted satsuma and put it in my greenhouse.  I’m not sure if either of them will survive at this point as they have survived temperatures as low as 9 degrees.

When is harvest time and about how many limes does each tree yield?

Paula: For me, harvest is in late fall. The current Mexican lime I have I might get a dozen, or so, limes off it. They are smaller limes and tend to ripen quicker. Fortunately, the birds seem to leave them alone. Strong winds tend to knock the blooms off so I don’t get as many as I should.

Sheila:  Harvest time is around November for me.  My lime tree struggled this year and I’m not quite sure why.  It really started to kick start in December (of all times) and was beautiful when it was placed in my greenhouse in mid-January.  It started putting out an abundant amount of blooms and produced 4 limes.  At one point, I had my greenhouse heater a bit too high and the citrus didn’t like that at all.  It showed its displeasure by promptly shedding it’s leaves, leaving me with ONE lime left.  Typically, I can expect about 5 or 6 limes a year and they are wonderful.

What do enjoy most about having lime trees in your garden?

Paula: Oh, the blooms! The scent is intoxicating! I cut stems full of blooms just to have in the house.

Sheila:  As with all my citrus, I love being able to watch it produce from bloom to fruit and, as with anything homegrown, enjoy its rich sweetness and flavor like no other.

How do you use the limes from your lime tree?

Paula: They usually don’t ripen at the same time so I’m bad about just peeling and eating them off the tree. But they do make great margaritas!

Sheila: As I mentioned, my lime harvests haven’t been luxurious.  However, there’s nothing like a vodka and soda with a squeeze of home-grown lime.  😊

Linda Alexander

Coconut Lime Tart with Graham Cracker Crust

Advice from Texas AgriLife on growing citrus

The joys of growing Citrus in North Texas

Cheers for Chervil!

February 25, 2021

As volunteer master gardeners took a walk-about around the garden this week to access freeze damage to our plants, something unexpected caught our eye. Our lovely, delicate little chervil plants had not only survived the freeze but appeared to be just as perky and robust as before. Left unprotected during the extreme cold event, they seemed to be welcoming us back into the otherwise “brown” garden. 

Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium, is a member of the carrot family. (Coincidentally, just a few steps down from our chervil plant, a tiny little carrot sprig had survived, as well.) Chervil is an annual herb that grows best in cooler weather. In our Zone 8 climate, it succumbs to the sweltering summer heat. Seeds can be sown in place in early spring and again in fall. Some of our local garden centers already have 4” pots in stock, as well.

Chervil growing in our garden after the freeze

The taste of chervil can be described as parsley-like with a hint of myrrh or anise. You may know it as one of the herbs that make up the traditional French herbal spice mixture fines herbs. Fresh chervil wilts easily, so harvesting as close to preparation time as possible is advised. Use it generously in salads, cream soups, with eggs and salmon and added at the last minute to many classic sauces. 

Scrambled eggs sprinkled with chervil

In 2014, we discovered a recipe that earned the “super star” award in our cookbook, ‘A Year on the Plate’. Every Herb Pesto received a perfect score from our tasting committee. Most members agreed that the small amount of chervil (1 tablespoon) called for in the recipe gave it a refreshing lift. 

Chervil grows best in a location with morning or filtered sun and rich, slightly moist soil. At Raincatcher’s, we planted it on the south end of our Hügelkultur bed where it receives filtered shade from the red oak tree. We also have a clump growing in the sensory garden where it is thriving in morning sun and afternoon shade.

A graceful clump of chervil growing in your garden is something to be celebrated. Its feathery, pale green foliage with tiny white flower clusters that reach 3 inches across is a charming plant for the fall, winter or spring garden. Our vote is for all three!

Linda Alexander

Assessing Freeze Damage in Your Landscape

February 24, 2021

Question: Will my landscape survive last week’s deep freeze?

Answer: The short answer is: it’s too soon to tell.   Damage to soft, tender plants may be immediately recognizable; leaves look water-soaked, dark green and withered. Stems may collapse and get mushy.  However, damage to woody plants, trees and shrubs may take longer to appear and will depend on the part of the plant that was injured and the growth stage of the plant at the time of frost.  Buds, shoots and small branches are the most susceptible.  Winter damage usually does not become apparent until spring, when growth normally resumes. Winter damaged plants are slow to initiate growth, may show distorted growth, death of leaf and flower buds, or die-back of shoots and branches.  

With warmer temperatures on the horizon, it may be tempting to rush out and begin pruning branches and shoots that look dead. Instead, we encourage you to wait. 

Winter is still with us and the average last frost date is around March 16. Premature pruning can actually aggravate the damage that has already been done.  Pruning cuts will expose previously protected plant tissue to the elements.  Pruning can stimulate new growth that will then be susceptible to freezes later in the season.  Because dormant branches and dead branches can look the same, there is a risk of removing healthy tissue the plant needs for recovery in the spring.  Allowing dead limbs and foliage to remain at the tops of plants can help protect the lower leaves and branches from future frost.

TAMU recommends delaying pruning until time reveals the areas of living and dead tissue and until the threat of additional frosts and freezes has passed.  Fortunately, trees and shrubs have the ability to leaf out again if the initial growth is damaged or destroyed. Good care during the remainder of the year, such as mulching and watering during dry periods, should aid in the recovery process.

The University of Massachusetts has a great site about the effects of cold damage on landscape plants.  Not all the information will be applicable to our Texas climate, but the principles of assessment and treatment of frost damage can be used in any situation where a severe and unexpected freeze has occurred.  

 

Margaret Ghose Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2017


More questions about freeze damage?

Dallas County Master Gardeners would like to help.

Volunteers staffing the Dallas County Master Gardeners Help Desk provide FREE gardening advice to area residents. These Master Gardeners welcome the opportunity to help solve your gardening problems.  You can easily contact us by sending an email to dallasmg@ag.tamu.edu

This is the best way to contact the Help Desk.  Include your name and zip code, with as much information as possible regarding the nature of your problem.

Japanese Maple Sale

For tree information and purchase click here.

Baby, It’s Getting Cold Outside.

February 10, 2021

Better get out more of those covers for your plants. This arctic blast is lasting through mid-week next week and temperatures are forecast to drop way down into the single digits. I have checked the weather app on my phone much more than I ever checked instagram or any other media platform and my level of anxiety was rising until I talked to Jeff Raska.

Jeff Raska, our county horticultural agent, gave some advice.

Cover all bedding plants even pansies and kale, cover all soft tissue plants and perennials that have broken bud. Shrubs that are marginally cold tolerant may also need a cover. That would include Pittosporum, Indian Hawthorn, and Loropetalum. Boxwood may get frost damage so consider covering them.

Just like us, our plants are not used to this cold weather snap so protection is in order. Fortunately, we may get rain first and Jeff says that will help a ton!

As far as frost cloth versus using bed sheets, Jeff says he has saved many plants with bedsheets. Frost cloth or frost blankets are better and will give better protection, but if you run out of those, empty out your linen closet and put those bed linens over your plants.

Looking out at my yard, I am deciding which plants are my favorites and prioritizing them. My relatively new bed of pittosporum, my giant kale, and the fall planted ShiShi Gashira camellias in front are getting the frost cloth and I may even double it. The huge Indian Hawthorns that flank my front yard beds will also get special treatment. I wish there was a way to help by Chinese Snowball Viburnums that are already blooming. For them, I will have to say a prayer.

In closing, Jeff reminded me that nature happens, Things will grow back, as long as they don’t get root damage. The sun will shine again.

Ann Lamb

Flowers for a warm Texas fall

An extra Thanksgiving greeting to all our readers. We think you will enjoy this blog of a fellow Texan. Look at her Leopard plant!

 

Source: Flowers for a warm Texas fall

Raincatcher’s Pansy and Plant Sale, Sale Ends Friday, October 30th

Don’t miss out. Our sale ends at 10:00pm tonight. Please take a look at our sign up genius to see the beautiful pansies you can get for $17.00 a flat. Iris like the pretty one pictured below and crinums and plumeria also are available. We are changing the pick up time from Tuesday to Wednesday to accomodate Election Day on Tuesday.

Note new pick up time: November 4th , 9am-1pm for pick up.

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/805084EAFAD22A4FC1-raincatchers3

Raincatcher’s Press

Linda Alexander wrote the following article for the magazine, Estate Life Old Preston Hollow and Bluffview (October edition.) It’s a lovely way to introduce friends to our garden. After reading, enjoy a delightful musical and photographic tour of this special place by watching the video at the end of the aritcle.  And, remember to visit us anytime.

Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

Situated just a half block north of the Midway and Royal Lane intersection is a Dallas County Master Gardener project that you are welcome and encouraged to visit. Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills is located on the grounds of Midway Hills Christian Church at 11001 Midway Road. Master gardeners are on site every Tuesday from 9am until noon to manage and care for 12 different garden areas. Here you will find lovely examples of unique and beautiful garden demonstrations:

North Garden areas:

*Pollinator Garden – Birds, bees, butterflies and hummingbirds all seem to find their place here.  Swallowtails and fritillaries along with small skippers and honeybees are attracted to the flowers of ‘Miss Huff,’ a huge variety of lantana.  Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ is a favorite of our large native bees. Painted Ladies and duskywing butterflies find the lovely lavender flowers of prairie verbena to their liking. And, the Eastern Black Swallowtail larvae make good use of the common fennel plant.

*Color Wheel – If you need help creating a specific look in your landscape, check out the options in our color wheel. Lemon thyme, jalapeno peppers and airplane plant are stars of the green spoke. Blue lovers might give Stokesia aster, black and blue salvia and Gregg’s mist a try. For a bold red look, we’re growing autumn red sage, salvia Greggii and amaryllis. If you’re drawn to mellow yellow try growing columbine, rudbeckia and Stella d’Oro lilies in your garden.

*Grape Arbor – This year our Champanel vines produced enough grapes to make over 40 jars of jelly. Yummm! You might be inspired to start your own grape arbor.

Fruit Orchard – Peach, pear and plum trees were perfectly selected, trimmed and shaped per our Dallas County Extension Agent’s instructions to yield maximum production. We’re especially excited about the new apple tree espalier added to the orchard last year.

*Raised Vegetable Beds – Gardening enthusiasts will find good examples of what grows best in our Zone 8 climate every season of the year. Fall and winter crops include tomatoes, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, greens and winter squashes.

*Composting Area – This is the place where food scraps, leaves and grass clippings are turned into the “black gold” of our garden. Digging into a pile of sweet smelling, finished compost is a gardening joy. Applying it to the soil assures us that we are creating a nurturing environment for growing healthy plants.

Central Garden areas:

*Rain Garden – This area directly in front of the church demonstrates the benefit of capturing rainwater overflow and directing it to a low-lying bed filled with plants that thrive in both wet and dry conditions. Look for crinum, purpleheart, purple coneflower, Turk’s cap, dwarf palmetto and American beautyberry.

*Courtyard – Most visible to church members and tenants is an area of sun and shade between church buildings. Ample shade provides the perfect growing conditions for a variety of Japanese maples and redbud trees, bear’s breeches, beautyberries, cast iron plant, hellebores and sedums. Sunny spots welcome a variety of spring- and summer-blooming bulbs, a dramatic candlestick plant, rosemary and hoja santa among many others.

*The Edible Landscape – Located directly behind the church is an old, abandoned children’s playground where we introduced the concept of combining food with landscaping. Throughout the garden we demonstrate creative ways to integrate edibles into traditional beds and borders. It’s a daunting task to follow the criteria that every plant added to this garden must have at least one part that is edible. With over 75% shade and small pockets of sun to work with, our greatest challenge is finding innovative ways to create an edible landscape each season of the year. We are constantly searching for the lesser-known edible annuals, perennials and evergreens to use in creating a pleasing design aesthetic. Sweet woodruff, variegated society garlic and dwarf trailing sweet myrtle are some new examples of adding style and beauty to our edible landscape.

Raincatcher’s garden is a unique place to visit. We often meet guests who come just to experience the tranquility of a quiet and relaxing environment. Others come to have their senses stirred by the vast array of blooming flowers or herb-lined pathways filling the air with their fragrance. Many come for the educational programs and helpful information which can be applied to the home garden. Children delight in finding caterpillars chomping away on the fennel or monarch butterflies darting from one bloom to the next.

Starting in late winter and spring of 2021 we hope to resume our educational agenda of lectures, seminars, tasting lunches and tours of the garden. Follow us on dallasgardenbuzz.com for a listing of upcoming events and registration information as well as gardening tips and recipes.

When creating and sampling recipes for our 2016 cookbook, A Year On The Plate, these two autumn recipes received rave reviews. There’s still time to plant Swiss chard, turnips and kale for a delicious garden-to-table meal.

Kale Salad with Warm Cranberry Almond Vinagrette 

Minestrone Soup

Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills is a research, education and demonstration garden and project of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Dallas County Master Gardeners located on the campus of Midway Hills Christian Church.

Linda Alexander

Video by Starla Willis

Raincatcher’s Plant Sale Online Purchasing Available Now

Welcome to the 2020 Raincatcher’s Plant Sale, pandemic edition. While there’s nothing we gardeners love more than browsing through the aisles looking for plants, we’re hoping that you’ll do some online shopping instead this week. As Master Gardeners, we’re still being very diligent about observing social distancing guidelines and limiting the size of gatherings.

Home grown scented geraniums for sale! View these and a good variety of other
desirable garden favorites via our on line plant sale.

 

On the other hand, we’ve been growing, dividing, propagating and digging plants for months in anticipation of this much-needed fundraiser, so this sign-up is our answer to how to share all these well-adapted and well-loved plants with you while keeping both our community and our volunteers safe.

We hope you enjoy browsing the list of creatively arranged and presented plants here.

Here’s how it works:

Sign up to reserve the items you wish to purchase. There’s no need to create an account in Signup Genius, but we will need your email address.

Watch your email for an invoice in the next day or so from the Dallas County Master Gardener Association Square Payment Processing account. Please pay your invoice with a credit or debit card by Monday, June 1st

Come to the garden at Midway Hills Christian Church for a “no-contact” delivery of your plants on Tuesday, June 2nd, between 10am and 1pm. Please protect your vehicle upholstery ahead of time if needed. You will need to remain in your vehicle for Master Gardeners in protective masks and gloves to load your purchases for you.

Please note: volunteers are not allowed to take cash or checks for this sale. All purchases must be prepaid by credit or debit card.

Enter the church parking lot from the south entrance only and drive around to the west side of the property. Please form a single line if others are receiving deliveries ahead of you.

A Master Gardener volunteer will greet you and get your name then direct your vehicle to a loading area.

Another Master Gardener will bring your pre-paid purchases to your vehicle. Please remain in your vehicle and unlock the back door or pop open the trunk or cargo area, and the volunteer will place everything inside for you.

Easy as pie, you’re on your way home with a car full of plants to enjoy this summer!

  Raincatcher’s is a research, education and demonstration garden and project of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Dallas County Master Gardeners located on the campus of Midway Hills Christian Church.

Lisa Centala

Plant Sale Sign Up Genius

 

 

Read This: The Pollinator Victory Garden

Source: Read This: The Pollinator Victory Garden

%d bloggers like this: