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Mealy Blue Sage 

Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea) is a low maintenance, perennial plant that is native to Texas and Mexico and is heat and drought tolerant.   It is a 2 – 3 foot sprawling plant that forms a mound as wide as the plant is tall.  Its upright growth and showy flowers make it ideal for the back of a perennial garden.   The leaves have a grayish cast which makes a good contrast to the green foliage of other plants. 

Mealy Blue Sage has numerous flowers on a terminal spike and it requires at least 6 hours of sun for optimal growth and flower production. The stunning purple-blue flower spike brightens the landscape and attracts pollinators to the garden.  Once the flowers are spent, it produces a small, papery capsule that some birds enjoy as food.   The plant will reseed itself after established and the seedlings can be easily transplanted to other areas of the garden. This plant will grow thicker and will flower better in the fall if cut back in mid-summer 

This is yet another fabulous perennial plant that we will have available at our plant sale at Raincatcher’s Garden at Midway Hill Christian Church (11001 Midway Road, Dallas Texas 75229) on Thursday May 4th from 10 AM – 3 PM.  Hope to see you there!!!  

Jackie James, Dallas County Master Gardener 1993

Veggie Greenrose

Green Rose in a Vase

On a typical Sunday morning following church, my husband and I can be found enjoying brunch at our favorite local bistro. A few weeks ago, was no exception. Parigi is owned by a dear friend of ours who, in “oh so chic” Parisian style, never fails to greet guests with a petite tabletop centerpiece of fresh flowers.

Taking a seat at our usual window table, we were mesmerized by the small but stunning floral display in front of us. Our server smiled as we inquired about the apple-green petals with bronze tips resembling a rose but tightly connected in a lettuce-type formation. Her answer was and short and simple… “I only know that it is called ‘Veggie Greenrose’.”

Brunch was delightful and relaxing but once in the car, a google search took me to a source that provided the best explanation. Here is an abbreviated version of what I learned. 

Our admiration was for a unique rose known as Green Rose, thought to be a descendant of Old Bush, a two-hundred-year-old form of Rosa chinensis viridiflora. China roses are extremely hardy and well suited to Zone 8. One grower observed that many winters, in Zone 8, the Green Rose never loses its leaves but remains a vibrant green with a tinge of red. 

While the buds on Green Rose bloom like any other rose, when open, there are never any petals. Interestingly, the rose bloom is made up of sepals on top of sepals followed by more sepals. Characteristic of its design, the sepals usually come together to form the “holder” of the flower. This holder is called a calyx, but the Green Rose never makes a true flower. Without a flower, there is no seed and no next generation of the plant. 

Thankfully, gardeners throughout the years who held Green Rose in high esteem, chose to take cuttings that were graciously shared with family and friends. Today, this rose exists due to the kindness and love of these special admirers. 

However, locating a source for Green Rose can be challenging. Once again, thanks to the internet, Mountain Valley Growers in Squaw Valley, California had them in stock. I ordered three small plants. Joyfully, my order arrived two weeks ago.

Following their instructions, Green Rose spent a few days acclimating to our climate. After a carefully selected location, it is now growing in my garden. And my dear friend and fellow master gardener, Ann Lamb, agreed to grow one of the plants in her garden. We plan to compare their growth over the next few months and eventually start taking cuttings to share with family and friends.

Ann and Linda with our beginner Green Roses

It is enchanting to consider a diminutive and wonderful rose that first appeared as early as 1743 in the area that later was named China. Even more intriguing is the fact that, at one time, it was forbidden for anyone outside of the Forbidden City to grow this rose. It was the sole property of the emperors!

Emperors aside, Ann and I have no walls or thoughts forbidding anyone to grow a beautiful rose that should have a place of honor in any rose garden! Let us know if you would be interested in having a cutting someday.

Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008

We have several rosarians amongst our Master Gardener crowd. Has anyone grown the Green Rose? If you have, send us a picture.

Four Nerve Daisy

Four-Nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris Scaposa) is a Texas native perennial plant that blooms almost year round.  It is evergreen with gray green foliage and bright yellow flowers that bloom on long leafless stems.  The plant itself is 6 – 12 inches tall (including the flower stem) with a 1 foot spread.  It is heat and drought tolerant and pest and disease free.  It also attracts butterflies and bees!


I have been growing this plant for about 10 years now and it has become my favorite plant.  I have paired it with grape hyacinth and have found this to be a great combination because they both bloom in early spring.  It’s a great border plant or rock garden plant and does well in full sun.  It does not tolerate over watering which is a good thing in my book!!!
This plant has a long taproot and does not transplant well.  It spreads from seeds and does well if dug when the seedlings are small.  I have been digging these tiny seedlings and will have some available at our plant sale at Raincatcher’s Garden on May 4th.

Raincatcher’s Annual Plant Sale

May 4th, 10 AM – 3 PM

We will have annuals, perennials, herbs, peppers, succulents, shrubs, trees, groundcover, bulbs, houseplants, decorative pots, yard art, and more.

Location: The courtyard at 11001 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas 75229

Jackie James, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 1998

Friends of the Garden

Many of you have seen these color change artists in your own gardens but do you really know what they are and how they help to limit plant pests?

The green anole, Anolis carolinensis, is a small to medium-sized lizard, with a slender body and a long tail.  Its head is elongated and has numerous ridges between its eyes and nostrils, and smaller ones on the top of its head.  Its toes have adhesive pads to facilitate climbing.  The males are 15% larger than the females, and the male dewlap (throat fan) is three times the size of the female’s and ranges in color from bright orange to a light pink, whereas the females dewlap is lighter in color.  The extension of the dewlap from the throat is used for communications.  Males can also form a dorsal ridge behind the head when displaying or when under stress.

The green anole’s body coloration can vary from dark brown to bright green and can be changed like many other kinds of lizards, but anoles are closely related to iguanas and are not true chameleons.  The anole changes it color depending on mood, level of stress, activity level and as a social signal, (for example, displaying dominance).  Although often claimed, evidence does not support that they do it in response to the color of their background.

Ever seen one with either no tail or a very short one? An interesting fact is that the anole, like many lizards, has an autotomic tail, which will wiggle when broken off to distract a predator and allow the anole to escape.

This species is native to North America, where it is found mainly in the subtropical parts of the continent.

An anole’s diet consists primarily of small insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, flies, moths, cockroaches, small beetles, and other arthropods, including spiders, as well as occasionally feeding on various mollusks, (think snails and slugs), grains and seeds.

Jon Maxwell, Dallas County Master Gardener

Creating a Smorgasbord for the Bees

In a recent article from gardenbetty.com, Linda Ly listed the best flowers to grow for bees. She identified them as the ‘Foolproof Five’. Much to my delight, I’ve been growing each of them for many years and agree with her that they are seasonal favorites for the bees. They can be found growing in my raised beds, in containers and in ground when more space is needed. Most of them receive at least four to five hours of morning to early afternoon sun and then dappled shade for the remainder of the day. Before sharing the list, let’s answer a few very important questions: 

Do the colors of the flowers make a difference when attracting pollinators? 

Bees have amazing eyesight which gives them the ability to see color much faster than humans. Their color vision is the fastest in the animal world – five times faster than humans. Every bee has two large compound eyes and three ocelli giving them trichromatic eyesight. Humans base their color combinations on red, blue and green while bees base their colors on ultraviolet light, blue and green. 

Bees cannot see the color red, but they can see reddish wavelengths such as yellow and orange. They can also see blue-green, blue, violet and “bee’s purple”, a combination of yellow and ultraviolet light. According to scientific studies, the most likely colors to attract bees are purple, violet and blue. Yellow is also a favorite color for bees. Dark colors like red, brown and black make them aggressive.

What is it about the color blue that bees love?

The simple answer is that flowers in the violet-blue range produce the highest volumes of nectar. Herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees generate a blue or (UV) ultraviolet scattering effect. Since bees see blue spectrum colors best, their foraging trips often take them to their preferred nectar-and-pollen-rich plants within this range.

Is color the only deciding factor for bees to select flowers?

Bees do not depend upon color for identifying flowers to collect pollen and nectar. For bees, flowers are identified by shape more than the bright color. Simple flower shapes with easily accessible centers are most desirable. Single flowers with open petals are a bee favorite.

Flat flowers that they can land and walk on are also preferred.

If you’re ready to start planting, here’s a look at the top five:

Borage (Borago officinalis)

A bee on a purple flower

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Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Coneflower (Echinacea spp.)

Milkweed (Asclepias)

Mint Family (Lamiaceae) Basil, Lavender, Varieties of Mint, Oregano, Salvia, Thyme and More

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For more information, including a lengthy list of flowers, herbs shrubs and trees for attracting pollinators go to:  https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and type in Central Texas Bee-Friendly Plants – Texas A&M University

For a yummy and colorful honey treat try Yogurt Parfait with Thyme Honey and Fruit. Serve it for breakfast, brunch or as a stunning dessert. Thyme honey is a variety of monofloral honey made from the nectar and pollen of thyme flowers. Its unique flavor profile and intense taste make it a beautiful compliment to the creaminess of the yogurt layered with crunchy bites of fresh fruit and granola. The collecting season for this highly aromatic honey is only a few weeks in the summer – from late June to August. 

Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener, Class of 2008

Tomato Talk

Me-Ann at the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden in Florida

Like a bee going from flower to flower for different types of nectar, I am flying all over gathering information from many sources about tomatoes. Last year I learned of a grower, Bobby’s Best. You can find him on instagram-Bobby’sbeststarts.com

Recently he was kind enough to share his compelling explanation of the advantages of using organic fertilizers. Remember if you feed your soil, it will feed you!

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0b3k9rnty84MkkqNSpA8g65Rw

Ann Lamb, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2005

Download the video after opening the link. If any of our dear Dallas Garden Buzz readers have trouble viewing the link, please let me know.

The Three Different Types of Honeybees in a Hive

*Queen Bee – A hive contains just one queen bee who lives on average three or four years.  Her role is very specific and unwavering which is to mate and lay eggs. She is somewhat larger than the other bees and has a longer abdomen. She also has shorter wings than the others which cover about two-thirds of the length of her abdomen when folded. She has a long stinger but with fewer barbs than those of the worker bees. 

The queen only makes one flight when she leaves the hive as a virgin queen. In this time drone bees are attracted to her and mate with her during the flight, depositing several million sperm cells. That’s enough to last her lifetime. The rest of her life is spent inside the hive (unless conditions become overcrowded because of a growing population, in which case she will swarm, taking part of the colony with her). It’s just too risky outside the hive and she’s too important to the well-being of the colony. Her genetics, along with those of the drones she mated with, determine the quality and temperament of the colony as a whole.

A fertile queen bee can lay more than her own weight in eggs each day (up to 2,000 or one every 20 seconds). You might say that she is an egg laying machine. This role is vital to the continued existence of all the bees. 

Because the presence of a healthy laying queen is so essential to a colony, it’s very important for beekeepers to be able to find and recognize the queen. Often the queen is marked to make her easier to spot.

*Worker Bees – The worker bee is a non-fertile female. She cannot produce like the queen bee. She’s also the busiest bee in the hive. The worker bee takes on many different roles throughout her life. Most colonies have 30,000 to 80,000 female worker bees.

Their first role in life is as nurse bees. The first few days of a young adult worker bee is devoted to looking after the brood. Tasks include preparing brood cells and feeding larvae with a mixture of honey and pollen. After about three days

special glands on the head of the worker become active and secrete a milky substance known as royal jelly. This is a very nourishing liquid fed mostly to the larva of future queen bees and to adult queens. Other bees are only fed small amounts of royal jelly. The nurse bees are also responsible for maintaining the temperature of the brood at a steady 95°F. If the temperature drops, the bees huddle together to generate body heat, and if it gets too hot, they deposit water drops around the hive, then fan the air with their wings to cool the hive by evaporation.

Next comes the care taking role of the worker bee. This involves cleaning debris from the interior of the hive and building and repairing wax comb. This role usually lasts about one week. During this time, they may also take on guard duties at the entrance to the hive.

The final role of the worker bee is foraging. Worker bees forage for nectar, pollen, water and plant resins which bees use to make propolis (also known as bee glue, this is used to seal up gaps in the hive). Foragers make ten or more round trips each day from hive to blossoms; some are dedicated pollen foragers and others are nectar foragers.  A foraging bee visits fifty to one hundred flowers on every collection trip it makes from hive to blossoms. 

Foraging is the final phase of a worker bees’ life. Bees usually die in the field during foraging duties. The length of time they spend foraging will depend on the amount of energy they spend. If foraging sources are close to the hive, then a worker bee can go on foraging for anything between 15 and 38 days. In the winter, when activity slows down completely the worker bee can live as long as 140 days! A typical life span is about 4 to 6 months.

*Drones – Drones are the laziest bees in the colony. The only thing they have on their minds is finding a virgin queen to mate with! Their only role is to produce

These male bees are bigger in size than worker bees and have bigger compound eyes and large muscular wings. They also have no stinger. 

Males are created when the queen comes across a larger drone cell, and when laying the egg, she doesn’t fertilize it. This results in the drone. At first, drone bees are fed by the nurse bees, but as they grow older, they help themselves to honey directly from the hive.

It is believed that the presence of drones in the hive is reassuring to the rest of the colony. If the queen needs replacing, the drones are ready and eager to perform the task. A bee colony consists of several hundred male drones.

The life of a drone bee is short, but sweet, lasting only about 3 months. Because drones don’t know how to forage, they sometimes die of starvation. 

Drones also make good decoys to protect the queen bee during mating flights. With only one queen, a few drones eaten by predators isn’t important. Drones are expendable. 

And, sadly, for the drones who succeed in mating with the queen the end is near. During the process of mating with the queen, the drone’s abdomen is ripped off and the bee dies. How honorable that a life is given for the good of the colony!


Types of Honey

Top to bottom: Liquid Honey, Comb Honey or Honeycomb, Chunk Honey, Crystallized or Creamed Honey and Flavored or Infused Honey

Liquid Honey is the most popular. This is the honey that is extracted from the honeycomb by spinning in a centrifuge or by relying on gravity to drain it from a honey-comb filled frame in a box-style bee house. Many beekeepers or honey connoisseurs believe this is the freshest honey as it still in it’s original state, exactly as the honeybees made it. Raw honey contains natural pollen form the blossoms and some trace minerals.


Comb Honey, Honeycomb or Section Honey is till in its original hexagonally shaped was containers produced with wax that has been excreted by bees. Some consider this to be the jewel of the the beehive. Honey in the comp is uniquely delicate and light because it still inside the was where the bees stored it. A perfect honeycomb specimen has no uncapped cell, dry holes, drips (called weepings) or damage from bruising. It should appear smooth and consistent in color. Honeycomb can be round or square.


Chunk Honey is a chunk or piece of honeycomb floating in a jar of liquid honey. In a typical honey shallow, you’ll see it is possible to cut out three pieces of honeycomb that are four inches by four inches, leaving a narrow piece left over. This “extra” piece is what is reserved for chunk honey, leaving no part of the honey frame wasted. That piece should be placed inside the jar perfectly vertical with the beeswax cells pointing up from the center foundation piece. For consuming, you can choose to either pour the liquid honey out from around the comb or scoops out a chunk of the comb itself. Preferences aside, chunk honey is like the having the best of both worlds..


Crystallized or Creamed Honey is spreadable honey with a lovely granular texture that dissolves on the tongue. It is high in glucose which causes the honey to crystallize quickly. Most honey will crystallize over time. It is still perfectly good. With a unique quality of being both smooth and rough at the same time, many prefer it in this form. Crystallized honey appears creamy and almost opaque in color.


Flavored or Infused Honey is a mild-tasting honey that has flavors steeped or infused into it to enhance its natural flavor. Some interesting added flavorings are fruit flavors, herbs, spices or essential oils. Always check to see if the honey you are purchasing is the authentic varietal or an enhanced product with additives.

Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008

Honey Carrot Soup on the left.

Egg Salad Toast with Hot Honey Drizzle on the right.

Raincatcher’s Memories

When I go to the Raincatcher’s garden (est.2005), I am like a Grandmother visiting her grandchildren. The garden has been a blessing to me for many years.

First, I see and smell a Mexican Plum tree and remember Elizabeth Wilkinson’s plan for our garden. The plum is planted in our “under the power lines” garden where you can find trees that will not grow into power lines. In other words, they are just the right height. I give this tree a pat on the head and move on. Grandmothers like to see growth.

Mexican Plum Tree

Next I see daffodils blooming and remember this purchase from Southern Bulbs. Oh gosh Daffy Dil, I remember when you were just a baby.

I spy beautiful Redbuds and think of Eric Larner, our tree expert, and the team leader of the Citizen Foresters of Dallas. He planted these 3 Redbud trees.

And here is a close up of the Redbud. You know how Grandmothers like to get up close.

Under my feet I see bluebonnets. I have to laugh because Lisa Centala put me in charge of the wildflower meadow, but of course we know who really takes care of the flowers of the field.

Bluebonnets ready to pop!

And then there are all the newborns at the garden!

Finally, I want to tell you about two of our gardeners. I am the grandmother so I will call them my greats.

Cynthia and Mark Jones are beaming because for the first time in three years they were able to teach a class to Lakewood Elementary children called Tops & Bottoms. The class is based on the Caldecott Honor book of the same name by Janet Stevens. Lettuce and carrots were harvested from our garden for the children. The students loved tasting the vegetables and reading the book.

So hats off to my greats!

One more beauty-

A trough full of edibles, pansies and swiss chard.

The garden is in good hands. I am a mighty proud grandmother.

Ann Lamb, Dallas County Master Gardner Class of 2005

Don’t forget our tomato and pepper plant sale on Tuesday at Raincatcher’s.

Tomato and Pepper Transplants for Sale at Raincatcher’s Garden

March 11, 2023

You may not be thinking about tomatoes tonight but I am. March 15th is the frost free date for the Dallas area which means it is not likely we will have a frost after that date. However, next week we may have a few low temperature nights so you may want to wait to plant. Regardless of the date you choose to plant, you are going to want to come to our garden on Tuesday to purchase tomato and pepper plants; lovingly started and tended by Raincatcher’s volunteers. See details below. Ann

It’s time to plant!!!

TOMATOES and PEPPERS, TOMATOES and PEPPERS, TOMATOES and PEPPERS

The MG volunteers of Raincatchers at Midway Hills have grown several varieties of tomatoes and peppers from seed and will have them for sale.

Tuesday, March 14th, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon

Courtyard Garden

Midway Hills Christian Church

11001 Midway Rd. Dallas 75229

$2.00 per 4” pot

Cash or Check only, please

Sarah Sanders, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2006

Jackie James, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 1998

Don’t be confused-we have our big plant sale coming up May 4th and will talk it up over the next few weeks.

Wintertime Garden Artistry

February 17, 2023

“Every gardener knows under the cloak of winter lies a miracle.” Luther Burbank

So while you are waiting, please enjoy these winter scenes.

Wintertime photos from The Raincatcher‘s Garden and a few from Linda’s yard.

Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008

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