Scion – April 2019

Volume 29, Issue 4 – April 2019

To say March is one of our busiest months (tied with February, Rodeo month, of course) would not be an overstatement. We sponsored CULTIVATE!, and supported Spring Bloom, the two-day Zoo Monarch Festival, and the Garden Center Plant Sale; conducted Culinary Docent training; kicked-off two Children’s Vegetable Garden sessions; launched the Top Tomato Contest; and continued the Brown Bag and Earth-Kind education series. April promises to be just as exciting with many events already scheduled for Earth Day.

I am happy to announce our Master Gardener of the Spring, Bill Swantner, an engaging speaker for the Speaker’s Bureau and other events, as well as a volunteer for many other Master Gardener efforts. Congratulations, Bill, and “Thanks for all you do!”

Thanks to all who contributed to Birdies for Charity. Your donations support our BCMG organization and activities.        

Spring is a time for the new board to accomplish many outstanding things. This is due to the desire by the board to get our organization to the level our membership needs to function as a cohesive unit. Thanks to all of you for letting the Bexar County Master Gardeners shine.

Both CULTIVATE! and the Monarch Fest were very successful events, well-attended by the community. I send huge thanks to all who participated in extending our outreach!

New opportunities will be coming soon, so please stay tuned.

Thanks for your support,

Grace Emery

Announcing the New 2019 Recognition Pin

To recognize San Antonio’s role as an important butterfly migration way-station and habitat, the Bexar County Master Gardeners Board selected the Monarch Butterfly as our 2019 recognition pin.  You can earn this pin by completing a minimum of 6 CEUs and 30 volunteer hours as well as attending at least 2 BCMG monthly meetings. 

Congratulations to the first Master Gardeners to earn the 2019 Monarch pin (as of March 25)!  Get your rodeo hours submitted now and complete your CEUs to earn your 2019 Master Gardener certification and the Monarch pin.  You can pick up your pin at the monthly BCMG meeting or on Tuesdays and Thursdays when the BCMG office manager has office hours.  Contact Susan Noonan for other delivery options.


NEXT BCMG Board Meeting will take place 3 – 5pm on Thu, Apr 18 at 3355 Cherry Ridge 78230. If you are interested in placing items on the agenda, email President Grace Emery by Thu, Apr 11.  And, all members are welcome to observe the meetings; however, in order to accommodate seating, please email Grace Emery that you will be attending.

The TX A&M AgriLife Extension Office and BCMG offices will be closed on Friday, April 19 for Good Friday, and Friday, April 26, for Battle of the Flowers parade.


Master Gardener of Spring: Bill Swantner

The birth of spring brings new hope that our world and our lives can be renewed and improved. From the seasonal renewal of nature we get a revival of energy to enrich ourselves and our environment. It is therefore fitting that our Master Gardener for the Spring Season, Bill Swantner, is a man who has spent a lifetime enriching his own life, the lives of other people, and the environment in which we all live.

Bill’s warmest memories from his childhood are of people in his westside San Antonio neighborhood as they spent time outside raking, mowing, and edging their lawns so that when one looked over the manicured neighborhood yards, one had a feeling of peace, of neighbors who cared for their environment and for one another. Bill remembers how these neighbors talked to one another about their yards, swapping information about what worked and what didn’t in their beautification projects. As a young boy yanked prematurely out of his bed at 8:00 a.m. to do his share of raking and trimming, Bill listened to the ramblings of his neighbors and deep in his soul was born the desire to continue these conversations. That is what he has done throughout his life.

Bill’s attachment to the soil has its roots in the rich soil of Indiana, where his ancestors worked the family farm. Bill proudly points out the fact that his cousins still work on those Indiana farmlands.His own father, however, chose a different path when he joined the Air Force. He became part of the Security Service as a Russian linguist and settled in San Antonio, where Bill grew up in the westside neighborhood surrounding St. Mary’s University.

Following a totally different path than his father, Bill first pursued a music major at the University of Texas and then a Divinity Major at the Lutheran Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. Just as his trumpet spoke to the souls of his listeners, now his words from the pulpit of Hope Lutheran Church in San Antonio rang out with Jesus’ message of renewal and hope to the souls of his listeners hungry for refreshment and relief from their drab lives in a secularized world. It was just a small step for Bill to show them yet another way to find refreshment and enrichment for their spirits.

As he approached his retirement as Pastor of Hope Lutheran, Bill began to contemplate how he might best continue his service to God and his fellow man in his golden years. He looked at many possibilities but kept coming back to the Master Gardeners. Soon the decision was made, and Bill joined Class 61.

As a Master Gardener Bill does what he remembers his neighbors doing when he was a boy and what he did to uplift the souls of others during most of his adult life: he talks! As a member of the Speakers Bureau, Bill goes all over San Antonio and the surrounding area speaking on gardening topics. He speaks to teachers and children as part of Ruby Zavala’s outreach programs. While he is selling plants at the many gardening events in which the Master Gardeners participate, Bill talks to anyone with a question about gardening. Just as he once found joy in sharing the good news of the gospels, he now finds fulfillment in sharing additional ways people can renew their spirits as they work to revive dead soils and dying plants in their natural world.

Bill also knows that knowledge must first be gathered before it can be shared, so he has become an insatiable learner. His first concern was the basics of gardening, the soil. Bill has studied the soils in the area and ways to enrich them. Concern for soil quality naturally led him into composting and, from there, into plant selection and propagation. He gets his information wherever he can: classes, conferences, and conversations with other gardeners. Just as he once heard his neighbors doing, Bill swaps gardening information with experts in different fields. He also learns from his own experimentation. As Bill puts it, “My yard is my laboratory.” He has a greenhouse, where he propagates a wide variety of plants that he regularly gives away. His latest goal is to successfully propagate poinsettias and geraniums.

Bill’s message to his fellow gardeners is to follow their passion. Fortunately, for those who have been lucky enough to meet Bill, his passion has always been to change and enrich lives. His greatest thrill is to hear someone say, “Now I understand, and it makes a difference in my life.” As we feel the spirit of renewal well up in our hearts, see the miracle of creation begin to emerge in nature, and turn our grateful hearts to our Creator who has once again brought us through the dark days of winter, we can also be thankful for the passionate drive of Bill Swantner and other selfless gardeners like him who are dedicated to improving people’s lives by sharing with them the joy of bringing order and beauty to our natural world.

GVST Watersaver Landscape Design School – Course and Consultation will be held on Sat., Apr 6, 9am-1pm at The Wells Center, 303 Pearl Parkway, Ste 114, 78215.  Fee:  $30/person or $50/household.  More info online.

EARTH-KIND HOME GARDENING SERIES #5:  Turfgrass 101, featuring Master Gardener, Lou Kellog, Wed, Apr 10, 6:30 – 8:30pm, AgriLife Ext. Off., 3355 Cherry Ridge, Ste 208, 78230, $15.  Register under “Here’s the Latest”.    2 CEU; Code 001.

BROWN BAG – LUNCH & LEARN FOR APRIL:  Lawn Basics.  Speaker:  Master Gardener, Lou Kellogg.  Join the lunch group on Fri, Apr 12, Noon  – 1pm in the AgriLife Ext. Off., 3355 Cherry Ridge, Ste 208. 1 CEU; Code 001. FREE.

ANNUAL GRAFTING SEMINAR:  Learn how and why fruit, nut, and citrus trees are grafted.  Learn multiple grafting and budding techniques and the care of trees before and after.  Sat, Apr 13, 9am – Noon, Fanick’s Garden Center, 1025 Holmgreen Rd, 78220, featuring Dr. Larry Stein, TX A&M AgriLife Research & Extension.  3 CEU, Code 001.  FREE.

XERISCAPING:   with MG Oliver Smith, hosted by San Antonio OASIS, at 2201 St. Cloud, 78228 on Tue, Apr 16, from 10:30am – Noon. 1.5 CEUs, Code: 001

EARTH-KIND HOME GARDENING SERIES #6:  The Importance of Trees, Planting Trees & Maintaining Trees, featuring City Forester, San Antonio Parks & Recreation, Ross Hosea, Wed, Apr 24, 6:30 – 8:30pm, AgriLife Ext. Off., 3355 Cherry Ridge, Ste 208, 78230, $15.  Register under “Here’s the Latest”.  2 CEU; Code 001.

BROWN BAG – LUNCH & LEARN FOR MAY:  Texas Superstar Plants for Your Landscape.  Speaker:  Master Gardener, Lynn Cox.  Join the lunch group on Fri, May 10, Noon  – 1pm in the AgriLife Ext. Off., 3355 Cherry Ridge, Ste 208. 1 CEU; Code 001. FREE.

And remember, you can find all the TEXAS MASTER GARDENER ADVANCED (formerly Specialist)  COURSES offered at the TMGA website.  If you are interested in attending any courses, please email David Rodriguez, Extension Agent-Horticulture, Bexar County. BCMG CEU Code: 001. 

See the BCMG Calendar for MORE learning opportunities in APRIL!

Check the calendar every month!

Become a Master Gardener!

  • Class 63 starts August 21, 2019; classes meet every Wednesday from Noon – 4 pm for 13 weeks
  • Cost:  $260 payable in full on the 1st day of class
  • Application available online early May (BCMG website)
  • Application deadline:  June 17, 2019
  • Approved applicants must attend a group interview (interviews in July)
  • For more information visit Bexar County Master Gardeners website at or Bexar County website at

Youth Garden Activity Prep – Wednesdays & Thursdays in Apr, 10am – 1pm. 2 Volunteers needed each day to help cut out bees and butterflies, prepare activities, and other. Sign up on VMS. VMS Code 1200.


The Children’s Vegetable Garden at Phil Hardberger Park needs MGs to help water the garden on Thurs, Fri, or Sat (morning or evening) from now until the first week of June.  Please email [email protected] for details and to volunteer.  

Culinary Garden Volunteers needed: Thu, Fri, Sat, 10am – 1 pm, Apr 4, 5, 6 and 11, 12, 13 and 18, 19, 20 and 25, 26, 27. San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston Pl, 78209. Sign up in VMS. VMS Code 100.

Earth Day Pot-A-Plant: Mon, Apr 22, 9am – noon and noon – 3pm. Nimitz Middle School, 5426 Blanco Rd, 78216. Sign up on VMS. Contact: Ruby Zavala VMS Code 1200.

….even MORE opportunities available on the VMS Calendar!

Purple Martins: Their Role and Requirements in San Antonio Ecosystems will be presented by John Henry, retired educator and purple martin house manager at San Antonio Botanical Gardens (SABOT) for 15 years. Learn about habits, habitat requirements, role in our ecosystems, and how to attract them to your yard. Class will include a tour of SABOT birdhouses. Sponsored by San Antonio Water System and held at SABOT on Sat, Apr 6, 10 am to 11:30 am; Fee: ($9-$12), or free with membership or general admission. Registration required.

in recognition of all the time, passion, and hard work!

Reminder:  Pre-registered AgriLife Extension-Bexar County volunteers & guests. Recognition Luncheon, Tues Apr 2, 11am – 1 pm.  San Antonio Garden Center 3310 N. New Braunfels Ave, 78209 (Pre-registration ended Mar 29.)

SABOT volunteers:  Appreciation Luncheon, Sat, Apr 6, 11:30am – 1:00pm, San Antonio Botanical Garden, Educational Classrooms, 555 Funston Pl, 78209.  Food, music, Fiesta medals!

A Very Special Invitation..

Hello Bexar County Master Gardeners,

Developing educational programs based on community needs is the foundation of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s success.

Our mission is “Improving the lives of people, businesses, and communities across Texas and beyond through high-quality, relevant education.”

Our ability to meet educational needs depends on knowing what local residents see as the issues that impact their lives. To learn what those issues are, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of Bexar County and its Leadership Advisory Board will be hosting a Texas Community Futures Forum on Friday, April 5, from 9 a.m.—11:30 a.m.

We cordially invite you to attend the forum to help us identify the problems and issues facing Texans today.

Unable to join us for the day of the event and would like to provide input? We encourage you to take a few minutes and complete an online survey here.

Thank you,

David Rodriguez

County Extension Agent-Horticulture


TWO Scholarships Will be Awarded in 2019!


2019 Gardening Conferences

2019 TMGA Conference is April 25-27, 2019 event hosted by the Victoria County Master Gardeners.  Speakers, food, tours, garden-crafty workshops are planned.  Leadership training on April 24.  For more info visit the Conference website.

The 17th Biennial Conference for the International Master Gardener community, Penn’s Woods: Digging into Our Roots, will be held June 17-21, 2019 at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, Valley Forge, PA.  Registration is now open.

Get your Solanum Lycopersicum growing and ENTER the TOP TOMATO CONTEST!!!!

Details, specific judging/prizes at


Culinary Docent Training and Refresher at the Culinary Garden, San Antonio Botanical Garden

New and old Culinary Docents trained to work in the Spring Culinary Garden.

Monarch Fest at the San Antonio Zoo

Photos by: Marybeth Parsons, Grace Emery