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Category Archives: Water Wise

Rain Garden Class

Dallas has had record rainfall  in 2015 totaling 57.95 inches. Could homeowners be doing something to slow and/or lessen storm water runoff, create less pollution in runoff, or direct water that falls on your property so that groundwater supplies are replenished? Dr Fouad Jaber will address these subjects next Tuesday.

Date: Tuesday, December 8

Time: 10:00 am

Place: The Raincathcher’s Garden of Midway Hills (we will meet in fellowship all)

11001 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas 75229

Cost: Free!

Master Gardeners can receive one hour of education credit

This class is open to the public. Bring a friend, all welcome.

Record Rainfall Data

Video by Starla

Ann

Information about our speaker, Dr.Fouad Jaber:

Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in Integrated Water Resources Management
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
972.952.9672
f-jaber@tamu.edu

Dr. Jaber’s research emphasis is integrated water resources management. His area of study is focused on best management practices to mitigate the harmful effects of urbanization on storm water volume and water quality. He test the effectiveness of green infrastructure (GI) and low impact development (LID) practices such as porous pavement, bio-retention areas, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and wet detention ponds. Dr. Jaber also conducts research in water reuse in urban settings including grey water and A/C condensate reuse.

 

 

More About our Rainwater Cistern Installation Class on October 15, 2015

Consider this an introduction by Dr. Dotty Woodson for our class Thursday.  We are looking forward to installing our rain cisterns at Midway Hills Christian Church and teaching the how-tos so that you can set up rainwater harvesting at your home or office and save water.

Date: Thursday, October 15

Time: 10am-12noon

Place: 11001 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas 75229

Who: All are welcome!

Cost: $10 per person

Learn How to Harvest Rainwater for your Landscape

Rainwater Cistern Installation Class

10 am-12 noon, Thursday, October 15th

Location: Courtyard at 11001 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas 75229

Cost: $10 at the door

Our Rainwater Harvesting training will prepare you to catch the rain that runs off your roof and utilize it for your landscape.

Dr. Dotty Woodson, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Water Resources Specialist, and Tony Rizo of Organic Options, Inc and an accredited Rain Harvesting professional with American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA), will demonstrate how to set up a rain catchment system for your home or commercial building.

You will learn:

  • Site selection
  • Materials Needed
  • How to attach the cistern to existing gutters to catch rain
  • How to comply with city code for rainwater harvesting

 

Checks for the $10 fee should be made payable to DCMG.

The class will also qualify as Master Gardener education hours.

In case of rain, please check dallasgardenbuzz.com for further information.

 

ITCHING IN THE BLUEBONNET FIELD

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush

I start itching when I think of wildflowers. I guess I was slow as a kid in linking cause and effect– wildflowers and chiggers– together. I would merrily gather an armload of Indian blanket and pink evening primrose in the field next door, and next thing I knew, I was covered with red dots that itched for a week. When we went traipsing through the fields in Ennis last spring, I didn’t sit in a bluebonnet patch for a picture. We just smiled—standing up.

You can’t help but grin when you see Texas wildflowers. Former first lady Laura Bush, who’s our neighbor at the Raincatcher’s Garden, says, “Spring is my favorite time of year in Texas…The bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush that dot roadsides are more than just beautiful, they are indigenous symbols of our state.”

Well, it’s the season to dot roadsides. For us, that’s Midway Road. And we’re throwing not dotting.

The Raincatcher’s Garden borders on busy Midway Road, a six-lane artery running north-south through North Dallas. Next spring, about 20 feet of that boundary will be ablaze with “Texas-Oklahoma Native Roadside Mix” from Native American Seeds in tiny Junction, Texas. Texas bluebonnet, Indian blanket, greenthread, plain and lanceleaf coreopsis, purple coneflower, Mexican hat, winecup and Indian paintbrush plus a few more are in the mix.

Looking Across Midway Road of The Raincatcher's Garden, Wildflowers Srping 2016!

Looking Across Midway Road of The Raincatcher’s Garden, Wildflowers Spring 2016!

Planting in the fall gives seeds a chance to sprout or break seed dormancy. Some seeds need a chilling period (cold stratification). Others have a hard seed coat that needs to be worn down (scarification) before they can germinate. Following nature’s schedule gives seeds a chance to be ready for spring’s warm temperatures and rain.

The first step to spring wildflowers is to simply mow the existing vegetation as close to the ground as possible. Think scalping, but in the fall. Then take a sturdy metal rake, and pull aside the thatch for the compost pile. You want to have bare spots. Again using the rake, lightly till the surface of the soil no deeper than one inch. Any deeper, and you’ll disturb dormant weed seeds which could sprout. Smooth the area, again using your rake, and remove any leaf litter or debris.

Rustle around in the garage and find an adjustable, hand-carried mechanical seeder. Some species have small seeds that are hard to distribute evenly; paintbrush and bluebell seeds look like fairy dust. To scatter the seed, mix one part seed with four parts damp masonry sand, coffee grounds, perlite, potting soil or other carrier. Broadcast half of your seed/sand mixture in one direction. Refill your spreader and sow the other half in a direction perpendicular to the first sowing.

Happy seeds must get cozy with the dirt. The soil helps the seeds retain moisture for germination. The seed should either rest on the ground or at most be gently tamped down with a light stomp. Any more than 1/8” deep, and the seed may not have the energy to push through the dirt. Some of the seeds will be visible.

Opinions differ as to watering the seed. Some experts leave water up to the fall rains. Others, like butterfly expert Geyata Ajilvsgi, lay in soaker hoses. At the Raincatcher’s Garden, we’re going to try a little of both. Our new sprinkler system will be set to water the first few weeks to keep the newly planted soil from completely drying out, as suggested by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. As it gets cooler in the fall, the time between waterings can be longer.

We’re also going to plant some wildflowers outside of the sprinkler spray, and see if the fall rains are sufficient for growth. Wait until at least 50 percent of your wildflowers (of each species) have dropped their seeds before mowing in the spring. Use the highest setting on your lawnmower when mowing to keep from damaging emerging seedlings.

The Raincatcher’s Garden is getting some help planting wildflower seeds for next spring. Fourteen students in the Episcopal School of Dallas primer class have learned the story of Miss Rumphius, whose grandfather traveled the world and retired by the seashore. He asked his granddaughter, Alice (Miss Rumphius), to also travel and settle by the sea—and had one more request. He asked her to do something to make the world more beautiful.

Miss Rumphius gathered lupine seeds and scattered them along the Maine coast, as our visiting students will do with wildflowers along our roadside planting. They have mixed wildflower seeds with clay into little balls and will throw them on our wildflower area. Former first lady Lady Bird Johnson, who worked tirelessly to preserve America’s natural landscapes, would be thrilled.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Ann

 

WaterWise Tour Saturday, June 6th, 9am-3pm

We have been blessed with rain this year and now out of drought, so why do we need to be  WaterWise?  As one Texas rancher said “Texas is a continuous drought with intermittent floods.” Already you see gardens drying out and sprinklers being turned back on.

Dallas residents must practice the principles of WaterWise Gardening. So here’s your chance to see and learn.

Saturday, June 6th  get out the door before 9am to experience the many WaterWise Gardens in Dallas.  The self guided, free  tour is sponsored by City of Dallas Water Utilities, City of Dallas Parks & Recreation, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Dallas County Master Gardeners. Tour Headquarters are set up in 3 Dallas  locations with gardening classes taught by Master Gardeners at each location.

These are some of the best gardening experts in our town!

Along with the free classes, 19 gardens are on tour and 7 demonstration gardens. The Raincatcher’s Garden will be fully staffed.  Stop by and see us, we hope we are #1 on your list.

Go to savedallaswater.com for a tour map.

 Classes 

Central Tour Headquarters
City of Dallas – White Rock Pump Station, 2900 White Rock Road, Dallas, TX 75214

9:00 a.m. – WaterWise Gardening – Chrissy Cortez-Mathis
10:00 a.m. – Why, Where & How of Planting Your Landscape Tree – Eric Larner
11:00 a.m. – Redesigning Your Landscape – Judy Fender
12:00 p.m. – Best Trees for Your Landscape – Eric Larner
1:00 p.m. – Landscaping for the Shade – Judy Fender
2:00 p.m. – WaterWise Gardening – Judy Fender

North Tour Headquarters
Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center – 17360 Coit Road, Dallas, TX 75252

9:00 a.m. – WaterWise Gardening – C.A. Hiscock
10:00 a.m. – Plant Propagation – Roseann Ferguson
11:00 a.m. – Soil Preparation – C.A. Hiscock

South Tour Headquarters
City of Dallas – Kidd Springs Recreation Center – 711 W. Canty Street, Dallas, TX 75208

English
9:00 a.m. – Plants That Like to Grow Here – Kevin Burns
10:00 a.m. – Vegetable Gardening – John Hunt
11:00 a.m. – Lawn Care for Weed Owners – John Hunt
12:00 p.m. – Plants That Like to Grow Here – Kevin Burns

Bilingual (English-Español)
1:00 p.m. – Plant Propagation/Propagación de Plantas – Judy Meagher

NOTE: Dallas County Master Gardeners will be available from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to answer your gardening/landscaping questions in English or Spanish.

NOTA: Los Jardineros Maestros del Condado de Dallas estarán disponible de 9:00 a.m. a 1:00 p.m. para responder a sus preguntas de jardinería/paisajismo en inglés o español.

 9 a.m.-3 p.m. June 6. Free. 214-670-3155

Ann

Quote by: Pete Bonds, president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

What I Like About August

Walking through our hot, August garden last week, here are some of the things I saw and loved:

Cosmos Growing High  into the Sky

Cosmos Growing High into the Sky

Garlic Chives in Bloom

Garlic Chives in Bloom

And from my garden at home:

Orderly Okra

Orderly Okra

The tag that came with this plant reads:

Okra, Jing Orange

60 days. sun. drought tolerant. Lovely pods area deep reddish orange and quite colorful. This Asian variety produces lots of flavorful 6″pods. Unique. Pick pods when young and tender. (I recommend picking at  1.5-2″)

For an okra recipe you will love, click here.

For more about what’s blooming in August, click here.

Ann

It Keeps on Blooming

rock rose in bloom

 

Do you want a Texas native plant that, like the Energizer Bunny, just keeps on going/or in this case, blooming throughout our over 100 degree weather?  If so, then consider planting our Texas native Pavonia (Pavonia lasiopetala).  Like many of our native plants it also goes by many different common names: Wright’s Pavonia, Rock Rose, Rose pavonia, and Rose mallow.

rock rose close up Of course, these last few names give one a clue as to the most eye catching part of the plant: its beautiful, showy, rose colored flowers that are roughly 1½ inches wide with a bright yellow center formed by the pistil and stamens.  These flowers appear from April to November on a small shrub that has velvety, scalloped leaves and that grows only four feet tall (usually smaller, if sheared back to encourage more blooms).

Native to the Edwards Plateau through the Rio Grande Plains, Pavonia prefers dry, rocky woods and slopes, and open woodlands.  Though it will grow larger and bloom more profusely in full sun, it can even take partial shade.  Unlike many members of the Mallow family, it prefers to be dry, growing on well-drained limestone soils or even our clay soils.  It requires very little water, once established, and is a great plant for a WaterWise landscape.

Perhaps the only downside to Pavonia is that though it is considered a perennial, it is a short-lived perennial, tending to decline after three or four years.  However, it readily self-seeds and younger plants will come up to replace the older one.  Pavonia can also be propagated, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, from softwood tip cuttings.  “These cuttings should be taken in the spring before the plant starts to bloom.  Cuttings with big buds or blooms are at a disadvantage.  The cuttings root and grow fast in hot weather.  Cut a stem three to six inches long, just below the node.  Remove all but the top leaves and place in vermiculite.”

If you haven’t already decided that Pavonia is the plant for you, another one of its very favorable attributes is that it is a hummingbird and nectar-loving butterfly and moth attractant.  So if you are looking for a tough little native plant that is not only beautiful but feeds the hummingbirds and butterflies, consider planting a Pavonia/Rock Rose.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

Carolyn

Pictures by Starla

 

 

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