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The Rainbow Garden at Raincatcher’s

If your green thumb is ready to branch out into living color, visit our Rainbow Garden for inspiration and plan on taking lots of photos. You’ll find a colorful mix of flowers and vegetables growing in harmony. In the summer heat, early morning is a good time to stop by. Enjoy iridescent dragonflies and come face to face with giant bees casting their drunken shadows on the garden, touch fuzzy silver green lamb’s ear, and see if you can identify standing cypress. (Hint- it is red.)

See the violet morning glory threaten to take over the purple heart growing beneath it. Compare the many shades of blue flowers and notice the exuberant orange Mexican sunflower. Inhale the aroma of fresh basil and see how the eggplant and strawberries are doing. 

Now take a shady break under the garden’s charming vine-covered entrance arbor and make notes before heading to the nursery to create your own rainbow. The rainbow garden doesn’t get any shade from the hot summer sun and receives only minimal supplemental water so you know these plants can take the heat in your own sunny spots at home. Drop by anytime and let the garden inspire you.

Gail Cook

 Pictures by Starla Willis and Ann Lamb

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Gardening By The Yard


9:00 AM – NOON

  Raincatcher’s Garden Midway Hills Christian Church

 11001 Midway Road, Dallas, TX 75229

Cost: $15.00/session or $60/for all 5 sessions


July 23        Fall Into Gardening

Stephen Hudkins, County Extension Agent/Horticulture Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Dallas County

  • Establishing the raised bed garden- construction, soil, irrigation
  • Square foot garden design
  • Selecting the vegetable varieties
  • Planting dates for successful fall harvest

August 6     Water Conservation in the Home Landscape

Dr. Dotty Woodson, Extension Program Specialist – Water Resources Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

  • Rain Water Harvesting – Rain barrels and cisterns
  • Drip irrigation for landscape beds
  • Calculating needs and programming your lawn sprinkler system


August 20            The Earth-Kind® WaterWise Landscape

  • Dr. Steve George, Extension Horticultural Specialist Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
  • Fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees in your landscape. Come and learn what are the best proven Earth-Kind® plants to have in your landscape that will stand up to the tough soil and weather conditions that we have in the Dallas Metro area.

September 3                   Establishing a Backyard Vineyard

Michael Cook, Viticulture Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Come and learn the art of backyard viticulture production

  • When do I plant
  • What varieties are best for our area
  • What soil conditions do I need
  • What about frost
  • What do I need to have for support
  • When do I get to have my first glass of wine from my grapes

September 17       Healthy Home Lawns

                   Stephen Hudkins, County Extension Agent/Horticulture Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Dallas County

    • Fall maintenance- fertilization, aireation, weed, insect and disease control
    • Maintaining the lawn during the winter
    • The pros and cons of over-seeding
  • You will also have the opportunity to see five turf grass types which are growing in the demonstration plots as well as view the drip irrigation system that has been installed under each plot.

Reservations not required, pay at the door. Master Gardeners can receive CEU credit. Public is welcome!

Rain Garden Education, 3-01-2016

Rain Garden Class and Installation

9-10am Lecture in the Community Hall

10am-1pm (or as long as it takes!) Installation in the east lawn Tuesday, March 1st

Location: 11001 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas 75229

A Rain Garden is a planted shallow depression in the landscape that collects and stores rainwater runoff from roofs and other impervious surfaces until it can infiltrate the soil. Also known as bioretention areas, rain gardens are planted with appropriate hardy and attractive plants to provide color and beauty to the landscape and help conserve water and protect streams and rivers from pollution and erosion. Our training will prepare you to capture and conserve rainwater in a beautiful garden.

Led by specialists from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service:

Dr. Fouad Jaber, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in Integrated Water Resources Management, and Dr. Dotty Woodson, Extension Program Specialist, Water Resources

You will learn:

  • Site selection
  • Design considerations
  • Materials Needed
  • Appropriate plant choices for Dallas County

Open to the public. Stay for just the class or help as long as you can in the garden – all are welcome. The class will also qualify as Master Gardener education hours.

In case of rain, please check for further information.


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


Information about our speaker, Dr.Fouad Jaber:

Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in Integrated Water Resources Management
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

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

Want To Try A Different Vegetable?

Now here’s a Jeopardy question that might have stumped even the best contestant:

Answer: A subtropical vine that has beautiful white fringed, lacy flowers that have a sweet perfume, leaves that when crushed smell like “hot buttered popcorn,” and edible fruit that can grow up to three feet or more long and looks like a creature.

Question: What is Snake Gourd?

Snake Gourd Growing at Hope Garden

Snake Gourd Growing at Hope Garden

Snake Gourd (genus Trichosanthes, which is Greek for “hair flower”) is an edible gourd grown throughout India, Australia and Insular and Mainland Southeast Asia. Because it loves hot, humid climates, it is a good plant to grow in our hot, humid Dallas summers. Though most snake gourds can grow to enormous lengths, there is a shorter variety, called Snake Gourd India Short which grows only to about four to six inches.


All true edible snake gourds, Trichosanthes anguina or T. cucumerina, get soft when ripe and usually disintegrate on the vine, unlike many mature gourds that form a hard shell. They are eaten when very immature, while the fruit is tender and the seeds are still soft.   The mature fruit turns bright orange when ripe and has seeds surrounded by a bright red pulp. The mature fruit often breaks open spilling the contents, which look like big clots of blood (hence the name “anguina”). The red pulp is sweet to the taste and considered a delicacy by Southeast Asian children.

Snake gourd seeds can be planted in full sun in late spring after the soil is warm. The seeds have a hard coat and need to be soaked overnight. Though the vines can sprawl on the ground, they do best when grown on a sturdy trellis. Trellised snake gourds, especially those with stones tied to the blossom end, tend to be straighter than the curved gourds that are left to grow on the ground. The fruit of the India Short variety is picked just before it turns from moist to dry feeling. The longer varieties are harvested when they are about 16-18 inches. With a taste reminiscent to cucumbers and texture similar to zuchinni squash, Snake Gourd can be fried, stuffed or boiled.   It is also good in soups and stir-fry. Snake Gourd is often used in Indian dishes and there are many recipes using it on the internet.

Finding edible snake gourd seeds is somewhat difficult. I recently tried to order on Ebay seeds of Snake Gourd India Short from a grower in India. However the seeds were confiscated at US Customs. There are however several seed companies that sell the edible long variety, so check on the internet. However, just be sure that you are ordering edible Snake Gourds, either Trichosanthes anguina or T. cucumerina. There is another ornamental, hard shelled variety that is used in crafts that is readily found in seed racks even in our big box stores. Though they would be fun to grow, they are not edible.


Cardboard for Weed Control

At our old garden, we faced the  problem of all other gardens: weed invasion. At our new garden, we are making a concentrated effort to try to reduce the problem of weeds. You may have seen some of our Master Gardeners carrying cardboard from trash picks ups, we even get calls from friends donating “nice cardboard.”

Lisa Hauling Cardboard to The Raincatcher's Garden

Lisa Hauling Cardboard to The Raincatcher’s Garden

We prefer the plain brown stuff, stripped of packing labels and any plastic and broken down please.

We lay it down, overlapping seams, with 3-6 inches of mulch on top. Several layers of cardboard is permissible and  more mulch equals less weeds.  Some say to water the cardboard to make it more pliable. Of course, during this rainy year we have not had to do that.

Cardboard Peeking Out From Under Mulch, More Mulch to be Added

Cardboard Peeking Out From Under Mulch, More Mulch to be Added

And here’s a word about our mulch selection: you can see our mulch looks organic.  We use chopped up tree trimmings, not purchased mulch.  If you are buying mulch (we prefer free), don’t buy the colored mulch that has dye added.

Mulch Close-Up

Mulch Close-Up

Besides cardboard and mulch, what do you need?  Willing labor!

Thank You Judy, Abbe, and Michele!

Thank You Judy, Abbe, and Michele!

Our most recent mulch drop off came from Dallas Arborilogical Services. More is needed to build our beautiful, weed free garden. For drop off information, call the Dallas County Master Gardener hotline, 214 904 3053 and say The Raincatcher’s Garden sent you.


Pictures by Starla

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