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Q: I recently bought an older home and need help in identifying a large shrub that is producing abundant and large clusters of pea-shaped flowers that are bright red. There are small thorns on the stems. Can you identify this shrub?

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A major activity for many homeowners for many weekends to come will be mowing the lawn. Yes, it’s that time of the year. With multiple rounds of generous rainfall over the past few weeks, lawnmowers will likely be in full use in July.

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Every year I receive numerous questions about strange, misshapen growths on the leaves and stems of oak trees (primarily live oaks). These growths, known as galls, are often the result of certain types of very small insects that lay their eggs on oak leaves or stems.

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Q: We have patches of a weird growth on our St. Augustine lawn that seemed to have appeared overnight. The growth is blue-black in color and can be easily rubbed off leaf blades. What is it and what should we do about it?

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Those busy folks down at Island ETC (East-End Theatre Company) are preparing to open its 16th season with a grand opening night on Friday, July 6. Graciously sponsored by Joe Tramonte Realty and VJ Tramonte, this promises to be one of the “don’t miss” events of the summer. The doors will ope…

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I commonly hear from gardeners who complain that grass won’t grow under a tree no matter what they do. When I mention that the shade created by the tree is the likely problem, the typical, and understandable, response is that grass always grew there before.

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More than forty couples renewed their wedding vows during a group ceremony at Hotel Galvez & Spa, A Wyndham Grand Hotel, on Saturday, June 9. The ceremony was officiated by Justice of the Peace Jim Schweitzer.

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June signals the start of the summer season. As I am preparing this column, rain clouds are moving into the area. While we are not in a severe drought situation, most gardeners have started to provide supplemental irrigation to plants and are hopeful for rainfall.

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Have you been looking for an easy-to-grow tropical tree that is sure to make your landscape a tropical paradise? Consider adding a plumeria tree (also known as frangipani tree) to the warmer areas of your yard. Plumeria is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and delightful plants grown in …

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Over the past few days, I received several calls regarding the identification of a shrub-like plant that is growing along the Seawall on Galveston Island. The impetus for so many calls was not surprising.

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One topic I have yet to discuss in this column is poison ivy. Poison ivy is abundant in urban, suburban and rural landscapes in addition to parks and other areas. Gardeners often come into contact with poison ivy and many contract a bothersome rash as a result. It pays to be able to identify…

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The TDB’s have an annual spring luncheon every year. It started out as a mother/daughter luncheon for Mother’s Day when they first started in the ’50s. As time went on, they started to lose a lot of mothers and started inviting their daughters. In later years, they have included granddaughte…

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While cool night time temperatures over the past few weeks have been very pleasant, we should be prepared for warming temperatures and longer, sunnier days with the arrival of May.

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Offering 50 performances from more than 40 musical acts, the first-ever Third Coast Music Festival will entertain residents this weekend with a multitude of events designed to attract visitors to the island.

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D’Feet is a not-for-profit organization, that depends on contributions and donations. The organization’s next fundraiser, Third annual Celebration of Spring, Mah Jongg and Chinese New Year — The Year of the Dog will take place on Thursday, May 24th. It will be conducted between 10 a.m. and 3…

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Over the years I have become an ardent admirer of bulbs of all types. Bulbs are easy to plant and care for and are suitable for beds or containers. It’s hard to believe that so much beauty can come from such humble origins.

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Since 1992, the Internal Medicine Department has held its alumni reunion with a dinner at Gaido’s for physician alumni. This year’s dinner honored Dr. Marc (and Debbie) Shabot. He was recognized for initiating the association and for his hard work over the past 27 years organizing the annual…

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You can invite butterflies into your landscape if you provide the right conditions and the right plants. If you want butterflies in your yard, there are certain things to do and certain things not to do.

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April is a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoor garden, especially after an unusually cold winter season. Landscapes that were turned dull brown are beginning to display vibrant colors that remind gardeners of the benefits of gardening in the Upper Texas Gulf Coast region.

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Amaryllis is a popular bulb that will be providing stellar performances in many local landscapes over the coming weeks. Even though the leaves of amaryllis plants were frozen back to the ground from the cold snaps in January, the below-ground bulbs rapidly generated new growth that will prod…

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I received a call last week from a Friendswood resident. She was excited that she was finally able to establish a respectable bed of bluebonnets in her front yard. She was also mystified that several bluebonnets produced pink flowers!

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When does spring arrive here in Galveston County? That depends on whom you ask and how they gauge the arrival of spring. For some gardeners, the distinctive flush of flowers produced by Texas redbud trees is a sure sign. For others, it’s the delightful smell of grape chewing gum produced by …

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Last weekend was likely a pleasant and busy one for most gardeners as they cleaned up landscapes damaged by winter’s freezing temperatures. Many plants in home landscapes may appear to be dead at first glance including Blue Plumbagos. Blue Plumbagos rank as one of my favorite perennials. Yes…

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The first day of spring will arrive in a few days at 11:15 p.m. March 20, according to the astronomical definition). From a gardening perspective, the exact timing of “spring” is less precise.

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The master gardener volunteers sponsored a spring plant seminar and sale last Saturday at the rodeo area at the county fairgrounds. Weather conditions on the day of a sale are always a concern. Our bar for ideal weather for the spring plant sale is quite low: no freezing temperatures, no den…

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It’s the middle of February and the Master Gardener annual Spring Plant Seminar and Sale is nearing. This year’s seminar and sale will be conducted Feb. 17 in the Rodeo Arena at the Galveston County Fairgrounds along Highway 6 in Hitchcock.

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The winter season has provided something for everyone: days warm enough to turn on the air conditioner then nights cool enough to have to turn on the heating system. We’ve had ample rains at times, some impressive thunder and even some snow (though technical speaking the snow arrived during …

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For growing purposes in our Texas Upper Gulf Coast growing area, herbs can be loosely grouped into cool season-annuals, warm-season annuals (which live for one season and then die) and perennials (which live for several years). Some gardeners grow herbs as ornamentals for their beauty and ap…

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When did our landscapes move north? Are we not situated on the balmy Gulf Coast of Texas? Should our USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map rating be changed?

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Many Gulf Coast gardeners think of gardening as a spring and summer activity. As I walked through the Master Gardener Discovery Garden in Carbide Park last week on a very cool and misty Thursday morning, I was inspired by the abundance of winter vegetables being grown — broccoli, cauliflower…

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When you think of citrus, images of grapefruits, lemons, limes, and oranges are most likely to come to mind. It’s unfortunate that the citrus you see in the supermarket represents a very small portion of the variety of citrus that can be grown locally.

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The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and others are collaborating to offer water testing opportunities for Galveston County private well owners affected by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey.

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Last Saturday, I took a stroll through the Discovery Garden located near the AgriLife Extension Office in Carbide Park. I experienced a moment of déjà vu as I approached a vegetable bed maintained by Master Gardener Aulvey Campbell. He has nurtured a bountiful crop of healthy mustard greens …

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While the calendar indicated that the fall season arrived several weeks ago, gardeners had to wait a while for proof. I experienced two acceptable forms of proof last week: 1) I had to turn the heater on in my car last Wednesday when driving home, and 2) I had to turn the heating unit at hom…

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At last, real fall weather conditions have arrived to start the week and cooler temperatures will grace our area for more than a day or two. Cooler mornings in October will make it a joy to get out and work in the home vegetable garden.

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If you missed the 2017 Master Gardener Fall Plant Sale last Saturday, you will have another opportunity. Master gardeners will conduct a sequel to the fall plant sale from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday at the Discovery Garden in Carbide Park, 4102 Main St., in La Marque.

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Most gardeners have been anticipating the arrival of the first “genuine” cool front. With all due respect to the science of meteorology, my definition of a cool front in the fall is one that gets your attention by immediately uplifting your spirit when you first walk outside in the morning.

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Periodically, I am asked how I decide what topic to write about in this weekly column. Well, sometimes it’s a straightforward process as in last week’s column about pruning and fertilizing plants in the landscape.

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Hurricane Ike caused the loss of 40,000 trees on Galveston Island. The Galveston Island Tree Conservancy was formed to address that loss and has replaced over 15,000 through grant-funded plantings and giveaways.

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Weeds in the landscape. Weeds in the vegetable garden. Just about every gardener has their own weed or army of weeds to disparage or groan about.

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The dog days of August have arrived. Daytime temperatures have already danced around the century mark during the last week of July so there is no need to remind you that August is the peak of the heat season in Galveston County.

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Have you ever had a landscape tree die, even though it was properly planted, fertilized and watered? If so, you would be in the company of many homeowners who were well-meaning in their actions but unknowingly played an adversarial role that would eventually result in the demise of a tree.

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At this intensely hot time of year, I like to remind people how important shade trees are in our landscapes. Even more, the hot summer months are the best time to determine where additional shade is needed.