COUNTY MASTER gardener volunteers and the AgriLife Extension Service office are co-sponsoring a fruit orchard and garden tour on Saturday, May 14, from 9:00am to noon. The program is open to the public and free of charge.
Homeowners who grow – or plan to grow – fruit or vegetables for home use will find the tour sites to be of considerable benefit.
Three fruit orchards are on this year’s tour route. Each will be open during the three-hour session. You have the option of touring all three orchards or just one or two – you choose your own combination.
This year’s sites contain a wide variety of fruit trees and range from Fruits ’N’ Such, an impressive fruit-tree orchard at 6309 Avenue U near Bogeyman Drive in Dickinson, to the master gardeners’ demonstration orchard in Carbide Park in La Marque and a home orchard in Santa Fe. Between all three, peach, plum, citrus, fig, apple and other fruit trees can be seen.
All three sites also contain a wide variety of vegetables. Vegetables are grown in dozens of raised beds at Carbide Park and in the ground at Fruits ’N’ Such. Visitors may also tour an impressive herb garden next to the Fruits ’N’ Such orchard. If you’re looking for the freshest produce to purchase, you can pick it yourself while you’re there.
If you are interested in seeing the amazing diversity of fruit trees that can be grown in a backyard, be sure to include a tour of Santa Fe master gardener Bill Verm’s home orchard.
If you have an interest in roses, be sure to visit the display beds of Earth-Kind roses while at Carbide Park. Homeowners love their magnificent blooms and fragrance.Roses have a centuries-long reputation as the most neurotic members of the plant world. Consequently, gardeners spend considerable cash buying fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides to sustain their specimens and much time pruning, deadheading and watering them to keep them blooming.
Roses that qualify for the Earth-Kind designation are very low-maintenance and perform very well under a variety of growing conditions.
To obtain a map with directions to the tour sites, visit the county’s AgriLife Extension Service office in Carbide Park at 4102B Main Street in La Marque, or call it at 281-309-5065. A printable copy of the tour map and additional details are also available online at aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.html.
William Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Visit his website at aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm.
I HAVE received numerous e-mails asking about the name of the plants providing the vibrant yellow displays in the cemeteries between 40th and 43rd streets on Broadway on Galveston Island.
The flowers are produced by coreopsis basalis, more commonly known as goldenmane tickseed, golden wave coreopsis or dye flower. I should point out that the inclusion of “tickseed” in one of its monikers describes the appearance of the plant’s mature seed.
The word “coreopsis”, which is the scientific name for the plant, is derived from the Greek word for “bug-like” due to the resemblance that coreopsis seeds bear to ticks.
Tickseed is the common name for coreopsis but, for practical purposes, the scientific name is also used as its common name. Perhaps this is because retailers feared consumers would shun a plant associated with bugs – even if only subconsciously.
Golden wave coreopsis is a Texas native wildflower that also brightens roadsides and fields in other areas of the county from early April into mid June. The plant is heat and drought tolerant and requires little fussing to produce lavish amounts of color in the garden.
It can also be found in other southern states and has been observed as far north as Connecticut and Illinois.
Golden wave coreopsis typically grows 12 to 18 inches tall and produces showy yellow petals botanically known as ray flowers. At the base of each petal, or ray flower, is a distinctively colored spot that can range from dark red to maroonish in color. The size of this spot is variable and in some plantings it is barely noticeable.
As golden wave coreopsis and other species of coreopsis finish their bloom cycle, the seed heads become unsightly. In small beds of coreopsis, it is best to cut them as close to the foliage as possible to prevent an untidy mass of stubble. Removing spent blossoms and stems often stimulates another cycle of flowering.
This wildflower reproduces by reseeding itself. New plants can also be started from seed, which is available from many mail-order seed sources.