Hello world! We hope you will enjoy our posts, which will coverall aspects of our Garden Club life! Read here for news of our many activities and events!

We are members of Texas Garden Clubs and National Garden Clubs, and the Garden Club year typically runs from September 1st through May 31st.  On the second Friday of August we will have our “Membership Social/Pot Luck” at our regular location, the College Station Waste Water Facility, 2200 North Forest Parkway, College Station, TX 77845, starting at 9.30 am.  You are welcome to join us and find out who we are, and what we do!  Find us on Facebook, and check our website amgardenclub.com

Milkweeds for Monarchs

A&M Garden Club has been supporting and promoting the National Garden Clubs’ initiative/project to plant butterfly gardens, register butterfly gardens (under the Million Pollinator Project), and help schools and individuals to established Monarch Way Stations.

We held a Milkweed event last week at Lick Creek Park in College Station, TX, which was a great success.   There were people lining up around the building to get in!!!  Several varieties were offered, including:

Asclepias curassivica (“tropical milkweed”),                         A. asperula, (“Antelope Horns”)
                                      See the source image

                            A. viridis, (“Green Antelope Horns” or “Spider milkweed”)

See the source image

A. tuberosa, (“Butterfly weed”)                                             A. incarnata, (“swamp milkweed”)
See the source imageSee the source image

and Gomphocarpus (Asclepias) physocarpus (Balloon Milkweed) – see Featured image at top of this post, plant growing in the wild three thousand miles from land on one of the Azores islands in the middle of the Atlantic!!!  It is shown in the middle of the photo – look for the “balloons”!!  I took this photo four years ago, and it took me almost that long to find where I had filed it!!!!

All of the above have slightly different cultural requirements.  The original plan was to purchase plants from a wholesaler and sell them as a fundraiser, but the availability of mature plants was very limited, and those that were available were priced out of our budget.  Hence the starting of many, many seeds!  They are not all “native” to Texas; however, they have widely and successfully naturalized!  Do your research before you buy!!   Which is your favorite?

This seeding project started about 3 years ago, with several members taking some home to start.  The Chairman of the “Butterfly Committee” did a wonderful job of coordinating, sowing and nurturing all these hundreds of plants;   students from one of the Entomology classes at TAMU helped repot, and hours of love and care went into these tiny plants.  We had some two-year old plants, but most were one year seedlings.  One of them even had a tiny baby caterpillar on it;  photos of the “event” were taken before the doors were opened!

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Branching Out by Suzanne Milstead

Branching Out-

As habitats continue to shrink, we’ve all been encouraged to replace this loss with plantings in our yards to support wildlife.   While we do plant annuals and perennials consider adding trees.

Trees provide shelter and food for a wide array of wildlife. More than 100 animal species eat acorns including rabbits, squirrels, and gamebirds. Songbirds and small mammals consume fruits and seeds. Woodpeckers, red tailed hawks, and owls nest in the cavities of hollow or dead trees.  Butterflies, moths, and honeybees use trees as nectar sources.

A few of my favorites include:

Vitex (Texas Superstar) is drought tolerant and produces purple or white spikes spring to fall.  After the spring bloom, trim the dead spikes for reblooming.  This is a favorite for hummingbirds and butterflies.

Mexican plum is a native that gives you fragrant blooms in early spring.  A profusion of white flowers create a feast for the bees.

Rusty blackhaw viburnum is another native flowering white tree with gigantic white clusters of blooms. It blooms mid spring.

American Beautyberry is a native tree or shrub, easy to grow as an understory.  The dark purple fall fruit attract a variety of birds including our state mockingbird.

vitex                        mexican plum

viburnum

beauty berry

For an easy to read chart use this web site:

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_PLANTMATERIALS/publications/etpmctn12910.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet & Savory Dandelion Rosemary Shortbread

Have you ever been disappointed not to find dandelions growing in your lawn?  Once you have tried this shortbread recipe, you will be when you can’t find any!  Don’t be tempted to use the “Texas Dandelion” the recipe is much more delicious with Taraxacum officinale, the real thing!  This is not a recipe original to me – there are many versions on the internet.
Dandelion.FlowerIngredients:
2 cups brown or white rice flour
1 cup organic, unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
1 cup Swiss Cheese (if you use sharper, hard cheese, go easy on the salt)
1/4 cup dandelion petals & greens, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
Black pepper to taste
Sea salt to sprinkle on top (see note above about cheese)

In a large bowl beat butter with sugar and honey until light and fluffy.  Add in dandelion petals and chopped leaves.  Be sure to remove the green sepals – mix in until just combined.
Stir the rice flower into the butter mix in 2 additions.  After the first, stir in the cheese, rosemary and black pepper.  Then add the remainder of flour to make a smooth dough.
Roll the dough in waxed paper to form a firm cylinder.  Cover and refrigerate until firm – about 1 hour.

While chilling, preheat oven to 325F.

Slice the cylinder of dough into 1 inch thick rounds using a sharp knife and place on baking sheet a good 2 inches apart.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt, if using.
Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pan after 10, until just golden.  Beware of burning during the last few minutes.
Cool completely on baking sheet – they will be very delicate until they are cool and you don’t want them to break up!

Note: if you cut the rounds thinner, it is even more important to watch that they don’t burn.  Enjoy!!!

Bells are Ringing

No, not royal wedding bells you may have guessed after this past Sunday’s events across the ocean, but Bells of Ireland, Molucella laevis, also known as shell flower. Inspired by one of Suzanne’s blog posts to start a new flower bed, I revived a flower bed by the front curb that had gone to grass and instead planted lots of seeds from here and there. This particular flower bed is across the street from one of our neighborhood mailbox clusters, so am hoping it will bring delight to neighbors as they collect their mail and inspire them to plant some flowers also, as well as provide a way-station for pollinators. Already spotted a green bee this morning stopping in for breakfast. Was delightfully wrong about Bells of Ireland, as thought they would not grow. Placed behind zinnias that started blooming early, the Bells of Ireland are expected to keep ringing and getting taller and the plan is to let them dry out and maybe use them in a flower arrangement, who knows? And to think they were almost mistaken as a weed and pulled out early on in their growth.

Have heard fresh Bells of Ireland can be a bit tricky to use in flower arrangements because they will bend towards the light, which can be an issue if you placed the flowers in an arrangement early just so and what you think is perfection and it is a few hours before the judges see it. Reminded me of tulips that keep growing in all directions when put in arrangements. Such errant behavior by flowers in arrangements may just improve it and make it more noteworthy.

Anyone know what the pink flower below is? I think the seeds were in an envelope labeled tall, red, and long lasting before being planted in the same flower bed as the Bells of Ireland. It is neither red, or tall, being about 6 inches tall.

Is the bug a friendly wasp? It was quite small, around 0.5 inches.

What do you have growing pretty in your yard?

Blue Star Memorial Re-dedication Ceremony in College Station

Members of the A&M Garden Club, veterans, and guests participated in a re-dedication ceremony for the Blue Star Memorial Marker at the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial in College Station. The Blue Star Memorial Markers are a  tribute to the Armed Forces of America and is a program by National Garden Clubs, Inc.

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photos courtesy of Dale S, veteran and husband of garden club member Judy S

Hummingbird Moth Visitor to Home Garden

A member of the Sphinx moth family enjoys a meal of lantana nectar in the garden in Austin, Texas. Seems like this one is in a bee costume to me. Had to use the flash on my point and shoot camera to stop motion as it flitted around from flower to flower pretty much ignoring this fumbling photographer. What interesting insects have you seen in the garden lately?Read More »