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Garden Tips for Central Texas

Winter Plant Damage - A Gardener's Woe
By: Bob Beyer, Travis County Master Gardener

In February 2011, Austin and central Texas experienced rare winter conditions that even put native plants to the stress test.  With a week that saw low temperature of mid teens to near 20 degrees for a prolonged period of over 72 hours where temperatures never got above freezing,  this was just too much for some plants to bear.  On top of that, the deep freeze followed a healthy rainfall just ahead of plunging temperatures which dropped 60 degrees within 48 hours. During this period, an inch of powdery fine snow fell.  Winter temperatures have been periodically running 20 degrees below normals. Read more>> 

By: Bob Beyer, Travis County Master Gardener

A garden should be more than just a cultivated area with plants in it. It should show creativity, have something to draw the eye to it, and I submit, should be FUN for all. To add that last element, try a little "whimsy". This adds real character and individual art, or your own creativity. A warning here, however. You can easily get carried away and detract from the beauty of your plantings by overindulging in whimsy or getting too tacky, but here are a few items I have seen in other gardens that have made me smile and enjoy the garden they adorned more than I otherwise would have. Read more>> 

By: Bob Beyer, Travis County Master Gardener

Bromeliads are one of the best kept secrets in the plant world. My goal is to introduce you to the wonderful world of bromeliads and try to let you know what you are missing if they are not part of your plant collection. They are diverse, fascinating, and relatively easy to grow.  There are 54 genera and 3,168 species of identified bromeliads throughout the world.  They have been hybridized extensively and many new striking plants have resulted with both bloom and foliage that offer more color than any other plant I am aware of. Because bromeliads are "different" looking than traditional plants and most people consider them exotic, therefore perceived as hard to grow, bromeliads have not caught on among plant enthusiasts nearly as much as they deserve to. Read more>> 

By: Bob Beyer, Travis County Master Gardener

On a recent 12 day eco-tour of Costa Rica, I was astounded by the lush, fast growing, beautiful plants, flowers, and the wildlife they attract. In fact Costa Rica has created a healthy eco-tourism economy by deciding to leave their natural ecosystem alone and protect 26.6% of their land area as biological preserves. That drew us there to see for ourselves a pristine and healthy rain forest ecosystem that thrives at both sea level and in volcanic mountain ranges above 6,000 ft. Read more>> 

©Zilker Botanical Garden,
Austin Area Garden Council