Tuesday, June 07, 2022
Shade, glorious shade... What is better than shade during a hot, Texas summer? I am lucky to have big, gorgeous trees in my yard, even the tree with it’s natural beehive. But, what do I plant underneath all this shade? The tricky part in North Texas is that shade can be very dry, so typical plants that would grow in shade along creeks and lakes do not thrive. That said, there is a fern for every condition: from drought to bog. Shady areas can also sometimes have poor drainage, which can prevent other types of plants from growing. Color is a challenge because the shadow can make certain colors disappear. White flowers and variegated foliage are commonly used in shade because they “pop,” but with the right green background, other colors can look great as well. Fortunately, our GDOGC speaker this month, CA Hiscock, is going to fill us in on how to successfully design a shade garden while considering the actual type of shade (deep, dappled, or partial?) and the types of plants that will thrive.
While I am resting in the shade this month, I am thinking about our upcoming club events. Next week is our annual Garden Tour. See the schedule and map link below. We have four lovely gardens to see and a demonstration on plant propagation on the agenda. Be sure to attend the tour and pick up a few pointers because it is time to start seeds and root cuttings to produce product for our annual GDOGC Plant Sale in early October! Good ideas are cool season plants such as herbs like parsley and cilantro, vegetables like greens and lettuces, and annuals like nasturtiums. Perennials are best transplanted in the fall, so any bulbs, tubers, native perennials, and cuttings are good candidates. Customers typically are looking for natives and pollinator plants in particular. The sale will be in early October. Remember, we also welcome gardening tools and other related items like pots, books, and garden décor. Rounding out the year will be our Annual Field Trip in November, this time to Ft. Worth and areas southwest. Stay tuned for details, plus our upcoming Holiday Party!
One of my favorite things about gardening is the element of surprise. This year, I suddenly have multiple lovely Prunella vulgaris (var. lanceolata) plants coming up in a perennial bed and between my flagstones around the pool. The color compliments my Dahlberg daisies perfectly, and I had nothing to do with the garden design. Mother Nature strikes again! The common name for this native annual wildflower is self-heal due to its medicinal properties. Per the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, it "was used medicinally by many North American tribes, giving rise to the common names used today. The Quileute, Quinault, and Coast Salish in the Pacific Northwest rubbed the juice from the plant on boils to heal them. The Delaware, Mohegan and Iroquois made a drink or body wash of plant tops to reduce fevers. The Nuxalk boiled the entire plant to make a weak tea that was taken for the heart. Studies have shown that P. vulgaris has antibiotic properties, lowers blood pressure, and contains a compound (ursolic acid) that is believed to increase urination and fight tumors. It is still used as a medicinal herb today, but plants are known to concentrate lead compounds and other pollutants, so they should not be gathered from roadsides". It provides food for the pollinators, and reseeds easily. You can bet I will collect seeds for the annual seed exchange. Like many of our wildflowers, it is useful for erosion control, which is one of the reasons the Texas State Wildflower Program continues to reseed our roadways (https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/maintenance/wildflower-program.html).
In the GDOGC, we are also always happy with new gardening surprises, whether they are new members, new speakers, or new ideas for club activities. On June 11th, however, we are resuming an old activity, the Annual Garden Tour. Three member gardens will be included, and a visit to a community garden. Details to follow in the next few weeks, but mark your calendars for Saturday, June 1th. We have a nice variety of upcoming speakers, including our lecture on bugs this month (see below), a presentation on shade gardening in June, and a sure-to-be-lively talk by Chrissy Cortez-Mathis and her hubby Sean Mathis on Gardening for Biodiversity in July.
As for the Prunella, what a nice treat! This common "weed" is pretty and has an interesting story. Find more information here: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_PLANTMATERIALS/publications/orpmcfs11168.pdf.
Prunella vulgaris (var. lanceolata) also known as Self-heal. Photos by Allison Liddell
Greetings GDOGC! As I drove home from Chicago this week, it was fun to watch the transformation from still-pretty-wintery Chicago to all-out spring in North Texas. In Chicago the crocus and daffodils were just barely blooming. In Missouri, the redbuds and dogwoods were in their full blooming splendor, but the daffodils were spent. There are SO MANY redbuds in Missouri! By the time we reached the Texas-Oklahoma border, we could see green, green, green and dense fields of bluebonnets and paintbrushes. One of the joys of gardening is being an up-front participant in this process every year. So much to be done in the garden!
Likewise, spring brings more activities for the club. The Oak Cliff Earth Day event was a big success. We had beautiful weather, plenty of volunteers and lots of fun like-minded people to chat with. Big thanks to Karen Wright for organizing the volunteers and the table for the event. The new canopy was a great idea! On May 7th we will have our next table event at the Native Plants and Prairies festival at the Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake. Look for a sign-up at the April meeting. In early June we are planning a garden tour in the Garland area. If you live in Garland or East Richardson and would like to show members your garden, please let a board member know. We like to get inspiration from others! It doesn't need to be perfect or large, just loved. Speaking of volunteering, we are always in need for volunteers to host events like the seed exchange or the holiday party. We will also be looking for nominees for board positions for next year. Please help out if you can. The current board has been working hard for a couple of years now-let's give them a break. Speak up if you are interested in any board position, in becoming the apprentice for the website, doing the newsletter, or hosting an event. It takes a village!
Early morning at Lake Michigan from Loyola University
Happy March everyone!
I think spring is here, although with the weather shifts I think it is a different season every day! Watch the forecast carefully to time your plantings. I use the planting dates from Texas A&M and from North Haven Gardens to plan my planting schedule. Also be sure to check out all of the local plant sales. This is one of my favorite times of year just because of the plant sales! Jacki has added a bunch of the local plant sales to the GDOGC website. Check it out
https://www.gdogc.org/calendar.html. There are also a number of garden tours coming up such at the White Rock East Garden Tour on May 15th (https://www.whiterockgardentour.org/). We'll try to add more of these events to the calendar. If you find out about one that isn't listed, please let Jacki know.
GDOGC has a great series of speakers planned over the next few months-stay tuned for more info. In March Rusty Allen of North Haven Gardens will be speaking on the story of the nursery (yikes two tornadoes!), and will give us some intel about new plants coming in this year. If you missed our first meeting back in February, then you definitely need to come see the new meeting room. It's lovely, with much better acoustics, and a great AV set-up. In April, we have a Master Gardener coming to speak on growing and caring for culinary herbs, with discussion of how to use them in cooking as well. Look for a talk on bugs in May, then shade gardening in June. Finally our former prez (and Master Naturalist) Chrissy Cortez-Mathis and her husband Sean are going to speak on gardening for biodiversity in July. Quite a line-up!
Drum roll, please... We have our first volunteer table event in over 2 years!!! Oak Cliff Earth Day on April 3rd. We will have a sign-ups both on-line and at the March meeting. Working a shift at a community event is really fun and a great way to get to know other club members better. No experience necessary!
Remember, it's membership time. This is the last newsletter that will go to all of our subscribers this year. Starting in April, the newsletter is a member benefit. Be sure to update your membership, either on-line or at the March meeting. Speaking of the newsletter, we'd love to see more pics from your garden, a recipe you like, or an article about a garden-related thing that you have written in the newsletter. Feel free to send these items to our newsletter editor Elizabeth Negron (libneg @gmail.com) See you soon!
Brr... Happy Icy February!
As I plant my eggplant seeds and work in the greenhouse today, I'll be dreaming of spring. My first tray of tomato seedlings are already up and another two trays should be sprouting any minute. Next week, I'll tackle pepper seeds and some flowers, like cosmos and coleus, plus some herbs. Then, there is the pruning and clean-up I'll need to do by the end of February. I'm also leaving things in place for the animals and insects to enjoy. The outdoor vegetable beds have onions and peas which I have temporarily covered in frost-cloth. Fingers crossed! Cilantro and parsley have also already started growing where they have re-seeded and I'll plant some lettuce and greens soon, too. Lots to do in the garden, even in the February month.
Our February theme is trees. Unfortunately, this is the month when I cringe walking around my neighborhood, as tree after tree is topped off. The house photographed below had EVERY SINGLE TREE, not just their crape myrtles, topped off. All of the large branches of these big shade trees were cross-cut. Yikes! At this month's meeting you will hear more about properly pruning trees. Note: Always consult a certified arborist for the larger trees.
Crape "murder" particularly bothers me because they are such pretty trees with lovely bark. The ones around my pool (bad idea to plant them there once you see the pink pool in July!) look so nice in winter reflecting in the water. They are full of birds and right now, the cardinal pairs are arriving.
For more on trees, check out Joe Gardener's recent podcast about them:
GDOGC is still looking for a few people to show their gardens in the annual garden tour in April. Please let a board member know if you are interested! We also are looking for ideas for the fall Field Trip. Typically, we like to visit nurseries, gardens, or farms within about 1 to 1.5 hours of Dallas.
See you at the February meeting! We will be in person at North Haven. Don't forget to bring things for the door prizes. Any plants, seeds, pots, or other garden items you would like to share will be welcome. We'll have a raffle, as well! Among the prizes, will be some beautiful, large succulents.
Well, it's another year and still we're amongst a pandemic, but that never stopped the Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club. Fortunately, we were able to squeeze in our annual field trip and our holiday party while numbers were down. See photos below - a grand time was had by all! We were lucky to have such nice weather for both events and it was fantastic to see club members in-person.
It's time to get our schedule for 2022 in place. The GDOGC Board met this past weekend and we have great plans for you! This month's speaker is a club friend, Heather Rinaldi, who has a wealth of knowledge about worm composting and soil biology. We look forward to her presentation as our January speaker, albeit by Zoom.
We have decided to hold the plant sale in the Fall again this year, as this is the best time for planting. From a fundraising perspective, we had our most successful plant sale EVER this past October. That said, we may do a mini-sale of tomatoes, peppers, and other spring vegetables in March. If you have extra seedlings, we would love to have some contributions. Now is the time to start the seeds indoors. Since we aren't having the big plant sale in April, we will be holding our annual garden tour that month. If you live in the Oak Cliff/Dallas/Lakewood/or Midway Hills area and would like to be on the garden tour, please let a board member know. The Field Trip will likely take place in November. Conversations around destinations are in progress. Your ideas are welcome! Which direction should we go?