Scion – December 2022

Volume 32, Issue #12 – December 2022

Liana Benavides, President BCMG

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” –Hal Borland

This year was another challenging one as things throughout our beautiful city were still coming back online after the pandemic shutdown. As things started opening up again, our eager Bexar County Master Gardeners went right back to volunteering.  We have all gained a lot of wisdom and experience over the past couple of years, and we will be that much more prepared for all that 2023 has to bring for our gardening enthusiasts throughout Bexar County.

We strengthened our community outreach with our “Ask a Master Gardener Teams” that attended events throughout SA as well as at Randolph AFB. Our signature Spring & Fall CULTIVATE! events continued to see increases in participation with hundreds of online attendees each season. Our monthly meetings have alternated between in-person at the beautiful San Antonio Botanical Garden in the afternoons and online via Zoom in the evenings. Our Children’s Vegetable Garden programs were also back in full swing this year, teaching young minds gardening skills as well as all about the beauty of nature.

We also saw the start of our newest Intern Class #65! Thirty interns recently completed their classroom training and have now embarked on earning their volunteer hours with the help of our new Mentor Team. We cannot wait to see how they do next year.

Follow us on our award-winning Facebook page to keep up with all the timely gardening tips over the course of next year. Check out our website and utilize our extensive gardening libraries to help you with your home gardens whether you are growing vegetables or ornamentals in ground or out of containers. And if you really get stumped, don’t forget about our Hotline Team, a free service staffed by experienced BCMGs that is ready to take your phone calls (#210-631-0400) or emails ([email protected]) M-F from 9am-12pm & 1pm-4pm.

We have plans for some great programming next year and hope you are able to join us. Monitor our calendar to find something that works with your schedule.

In the meantime, make sure to keep your plants (and yourselves) warm this month and enjoy the blessed holiday season.  We look forward to showing you all that BCMG can be in 2023!

Marsha Krassner, Principal Editor “In the Garden”

December in the Garden

Gardening does not stop in Texas in December, but it does slow down considerably.  Use the time to catch up on your note-taking and get some catalog” time in.  Mulch, mulch, mulch.  Sometimes its the only way to protect cold-tender plants.  Spider mites thrive in warmth.  Be sure to check your indoor plants for mites and take appropriate action.  

Evergreen Sumac

By Rocio Bomberg, Bexar County Master Gardener

“Native plants give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours. I want Texas to look like Texas and Vermont to look like Vermont.” Lady Bird Johnson

I have taken what Lady Bird Johnson said to heart and am transforming my landscape so that I have only native plants.

I am experiencing the difference it makes as I am seeing a wide variety of wildlife benefiting from my efforts. I am happy knowing my hard work is making a difference.

Texas has a vast range of climates, soil differences and water availability. Many native trees are growing within each of the Texas Eco-regions, where there is weathering, erosion, and deposition.

I would like to share with you one of my favorite landscape plants which has been underutilized…

The Texas Button Plant

By Sherri McShane, Bexar County Master Gardener

The Culinary Garden at the San Antonio Botanical Garden (SABOT) is truly a magical place. Within this lovely space there is a plant which is the number one curiosity sparker for the many people who visit. The plant? The Texas Buttonbush!

With its distinctive look of small round pincushions, the Texas Buttonbush attracts people as much as it does pollinators. Also known as the Common Button-bush (or Cephalanthus occidentalis),  it is a medium to large shrub with glossy, oval leaves and white, globe-shaped flowers. It can grow from 8 to 18 feet tall and  4 to 10 feet wide.

Fast growing and short lived, it spreads by suckering. An extremely adaptable plant, the Buttonbush has high heat tolerances and can grow in poorly drained areas, even surviving in dry sites if irrigated…

Stumped with Dead Palms

by Josie Seeligson, Bexar County Master Gardener

More than 20 years ago, my husband and I bought a property in rural South Texas, and I started planting. Besides a few heritage live oaks and mesquite trees, there was little shade, color, or interest in and around the house and barn compound.

But deep South Texas has magically transformed many dusty properties to virtual oases by adding palm and shade trees and using creative planting and space designs. We planted the fast-growing and readily available Washingtonia robusta/ Mexican Fan palms, because even with a limited budget, young plants could be bought, and we could “just add water.” Trial and error proved that palms planted near the slant of a roof grew far more swiftly from draining rain or even dripping morning dew. In contrast, those planted farther from a water source or too close to a water-sucking mesquite tree, grew at a snail’s pace compared to its peers in more fortuitous locations…

Texas Superstar Spotlight- Deciduous Holly

Ilex decidua

Truly outstanding small native tree, very low maintenance, which drops its leaves in fall to reveal showy red or orange berries (on female plants) that remain throughout the winter. Attracts songbirds. Heat and drought tolerant.

Hardiness: Zone 5

Exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Size: Height — 12 feet tall; width — 6 feet wide

Gardening Education Opportunities

December 1 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am

Home Grown Lecture Series 2022 – Plantable Christmas Tree Alternatives – Free

Presented by Brandi Keller, County Extension Agent – Horticulture as part of the Home Grown Lecture Series. Pre-registration is required.

Read More

December 9 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch & Learn with a Bexar County Master Gardener – Tree Care – Free

Bexar County Master Gardeners 3355 Cherry Ridge, Ste. 208, San Antonio, TX

Bring your favorite lunch and learn from one of our Bexar County Master Gardeners at this free seminar.  Seating is limited to the first 25 respondents and walk-ins will not be accepted, so please make your reservation in advance.  Others will be waitlisted and notified in the event of a cancellation. 

Read More

December 26

Offices Closed: Christmas Day (Observed)

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Bexar County Master Gardeners offices are closed today.

Frequently check the BCMG Calendar, as that is where all the new, upcoming programs will be posted. Click Here

BCMG News!

Photo by Lou Kellogg

Our BCMG class 65 tours Peterson Brothers Inc. wholesale garden nursery in San Antonio as part of the training curriculum to understand how garden plants are grown on a commercial scale.

Grace Emery, Marybeth Parsons, David Adams and Sara Holland Adams (left to right)
Photo by Rob De Rocher

Armed but not dangerous with pruning knowledge at the Arbor Day for SA at Southside Lions Park. Bexar County Master Gardeners advanced trained Basic Tree Care team members educate the public on proper tree pruning techniques.

Photo by Jasmine Torres, SABOT Volunteer Coordinator

The BCMG Culinary Garden Docents were recently treated to a “Meet and Greet” Coffee Get-together. Andrew Labay, head horticulturist at the SABOT gave an update on fall plantings in the garden as well as some interesting facts about the management of the plants.

BCMG Linda Sierra assisting a class attendee in tree selection Photo by Michelle Hobbs

A Basic Tree Course was recently held where attendees spent a half day learning about tree care. Presented by BCMG Tree Specialist, David Rodrigues, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent and Mark Bird, SA City Arborist, upon completion of the course, the attendees each received a tree.

Master Gardener of the Winter: Jorge Noverola

Jorge’s wife Cookie Noverola, granddaughter Ciarra Valadez and Jorge Noverola (left to right)

Jorge Noverola from BCMG Class 63 is our Master Gardener (MG) of the Winter.  Jorge was born in Belize, British Honduras, and his family came to the United States in November, 1962, after Belize was devastated by Hurricane Hattie.  His family settled in New Orleans, Louisiana, where Jorge attended an all-boys Catholic High School.  While there, he met his wife Cookie on a double date arranged by his niece, and they have been sweethearts ever since.

Jorge spent 22 years in the military and started a legacy of public service that lives on today through selfless volunteering in many aspects of his life…

Texas A&M AgriLife News!

Andres Villagran, Youth Gardens Coordinator teaches students about vegetables

Andres Villagran, Youth Gardens Coordinator for Texas A&M AgriLife enjoys his time spent at San Antonio schools in their on-site Vegetable gardens. He is currently partnering with Angie Gutierrez, Family and Community Health Agent, with her Learn, Grow, Eat & GO! (LGEG) Program at Riverside Elementary and Perales Elementary (every Friday). Both schools are learning about the nutritional benefits of healthy eating and pair these lessons with growing their own vegetables!…

Helpful Resources

Call in to Live Radio on Saturday mornings, with your gardening questions for David.
Call in: 210-737-1200 or 1-800-383-9624 on Saturdays from 7 am to 10pm

Or just listen to the show, and learn from everyone else’s questions!

WOAI 1200 AM – Lawn and Garden Show
Host: David Rodriguez, Bexar County AgriLife Extension Horticulturist.

Past shows are archived here, for easy listening on your computer, tablet or phone, anytime! Listen on your phone while you drive!

Ask a Master Gardener

Master Gardeners are available to help you with your gardening questions. We provide unbiased, research-based, locally relevant gardening information. Free service. You can reach us:

By phone: 210-631-0400 (Ask to speak to a Master Gardener)

Mon-Fri 9 am – Noon, 1-4 pm (Closed on county holidays)

Or Submit A Question Online

The phones and the Hotline are being operated from Master Gardener home telephones; hotline calls are being directed by the AgriLife Extension receptionist.

Bexar County Master Gardeners will once again participate in the Champions fore Charity fundraiser for 2022-2023.  We ask for your support to help us raise funds that will make us eligible for the additional 7% match from the Valero Texas Open. BCMG uses the funds to support our mission of providing unbiased, research-based, locally relevant gardening information through our hotline, seminars, workshops, children’s gardens, and culinary docent program.

Did you know that you may be able to make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) directly from your IRA to BCMG? Consult your tax or financial advisor for more information on this strategy that may even lower your taxable income.

We appreciate your consideration. Your donations are welcome through April 2nd. The link to make your donations is Valero Texas Open – Champions fore Charity.

Past webinars are posted on YouTube for your viewing (or reviewing) pleasure! Check often for new postings! Click here for the list.