A&M Garden Club Celebrates the 2017 Winter Holiday Season

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Even recent snow could not keep these dedicated A&M Garden Club members from missing the club’s annual holiday potluck and social. An estimated 30 members and guests out of 77+ members attended this fun event between gardeners brought together by their love of plants and wanting to share the value of plants with our community to make it better.

One of the regular service projects over the past 2 years coinciding with various holidays is providing plant-theme decorations to a few lucky residents at Crestview apartments. The decorations are shared when a garden club member delivers a meal as part of their work with the Meals on Wheels program.  Workshops to make the decorations are held in a member’s home and gives club members a chance to build community while making Valentines, pine cone turkeys, and other decorations bringing the joy of plant crafts at different times of the year to recipients and makers alike. Using plant material for decorations is a great way to bring the outdoors in to those that might not be able to get outside very much. Small gestures like giving someone a pine cone turkey can help lift the spirits and be a conversation starter.

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Got Collard Greens Growing in Garden?Get Eating ‘Em

Collard greens are an attractive and nutritional addition to fall/winter gardens in Texas. Many prepare collard greens as a nice side to a main dish or add some chopped leaves to soups or pasta dishes. Collard leaves also make a great substitute for tortillas, adding extra veggie power and color to wraps. Carefully slicing off the part of the main leaf rib that sticks up above the rest of the leaf before preparing gives the wrap a consistent texture. Blanching the leaves makes for a more colorful and tender wrap. The wrap can be filled with whatever you like and makes a satisfying light meal or snack if you include protein like beans, chickpeas, quinoa, and/or rice. Adding in red or orange with carrots, tomatoes or peppers makes it especially pleasing to the eye.

Out in the garden, be vigilant about getting rid of pests such as cabbage caterpillars which can seem to appear out of nowhere on collard greens and other cruciferous vegetables in the winter garden. Manually removing caterpillars works and keeps produce organic. Wearing garden gloves can make this task less repulsive for the squeamish and the task can even be a little fun as hunting and finding pests on your produce can feel like hunting Easter eggs with the right frame of mind.

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Photo by A&M Garden Club Member Recognized in National Garden Club Contest

Congratulations! to Idalia A for her photo recognized as a finalist in the National Garden Clubs 2017 Photo Contest. It and other finalist photos are a joy to look at

http://www.gardenclub.org/resources/2017-photo-contest/ngc-photo-contest-2017.pdf

Close up photography of what we might see every day in our gardens can give us a better understanding of our home gardens and help us hone our observation skills to know what our gardens need to thrive to generously give back to us and to nature in so many ways.

 

A Vine to Grow “Butterflies” in a Different Way

Need a vine for a fence in your Brazos Valley garden? Want something that delights with yellow blooms and gives seed pods that can be used in arrangements or crafts? Consider planting Butterfly Vine, also called Orchid Vine, Mascagnia macroptera, because it has seed pods that resemble butterflies and blooms that look similar to orchids. Although it may freeze back in winter, it tends to come back from the roots.  It is easy to grow and tolerated being in a large pot for several years at my house till I decided on a location, a community garden where it attracts beneficial insects like bees.  It is not native. If you do want a hardy, blooming vine that is native, think about coral honeysuckle vine, Lonicera sempervirins, which has red tubular flowers hummingbirds like, or plant both vines in different locations on your fence.  Do you have vine growing tips or memories to share?

A&M Garden Club donates Children’s Book to Library

Clara B. Mounce Public Library Children’s Librarian Elaine P accepts the National Garden Club book “The Saved Seed” from the A&M Garden Club.  Members present include Judy S, Deana D, and Sharon B. The book tells the story of a pumpkin seed’s journey and is a great read for the Fall season, or any time of year. Johanna R. used her calligraphy skills to inscribe a message in the front cover commemorating the donation by our club as part of our celebration of this year’s National Garden Club theme “Plant America” and the State Garden Club theme of “Sowing Seeds the Texas Way”. We are sowing the seeds of a love of gardening and reading in our community’s children.

SMALLbookdonation2017photo by Roger S.

Sometimes Life Gives you Pineapples

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The backyard garden can bring surprises at the most unexpected times. Just when you think August Texas heat has decimated any hope of beauty with only the hardiest of native or adapted plants showing any spark, garden magic happens to lift the spirits. Spouse-unit of A&M Garden Club member Deana D took this photo today in their backyard. This container grown pineapple bloom has been years in the making from a cut off pineapple top from the grocery store. Raccoons or squirrels kept digging it up in the first few months after planting and it received inconsistent care in its container by yours truly, but apparently this plant had the grit it takes to live and bloom despite not always getting ideal nutrition or watering. It brings inspiration to do the same through good times and challenging times.

May you also find something to delight and inspire in your garden and if you’d like to share with other A&M Garden Club members, please contact one our blog contributors (find out more at the upcoming meeting). Happy Gardening!

Butterflies in Bryan at the Museum

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Our A&M Garden Club exhibit was a popular air-conditioned destination on July 29, 2017 at the Brazos Valley Museum of National History in Bryan, Texas. Visitors were able to get their questions answered, learn more about gardening for butterflies, and take home butterfly friendly plants, flower seeds, informational flyers, and for youth we had butterfly paper folding projects, wildflower bookmarks, and butterfly refrigerator magnets made out of recycled materials. The milkweed plants became very popular as word spread that baby monarch caterpillars were on some of the plants.