Horticulture Happenings Today and Next Saturday

San Antonio Express News
Gardening, Etc.
Sunday, May 22, 2005

By Dr. Jerry Parsons

The horticulture events of the year are happening today and again next Saturday. Today, Sunday (May 22), from 9 a.m. 5 p.m., the San Antonio Botanical Garden will celebrate its 25th birthday with its annual Viva Botanica event. This is a wonderful opportunity to listen to live music, sample delicious food, enjoy children’s activities and, most importantly take advantage of specialty plant sales with plants from the Botanical Garden and other San Antonio horticultural groups. The Botanical Garden is located at 555 Funston and North New Braunfels Ave.

Next Saturday, May 28, there will be an event that is not 25 years old but has quickly become the premiere horticulture event of San Antonio the Festival of Flowers. This year, it will be back at the Alzafar Shrine Temple, located at 901 N. Loop 1604 West, between Stone Oak Parkway and Blanco Road. There is lots of free parking and admission is only $4, and children under 10 are free. A coupon for $1 off the adult admission price can be downloaded from the website at http://www.safestivalofflowers.com/.

I will be at the Festival of Flowers all day working 9 to 5 to answer gardening questions in the “Ask the Expert” booth. The real reason to come to this function is the choice of unusual plant material available for purchase at or below market prices. You can participate in the city wide plant exchange. Bring a plant that you have grown and trade it for a different plant that you can enjoy in your garden. For some reason, they don’t allow Aloe Vera, Prickly Pear or Kalanchoes it has to be something less common and not as easy to propagate. The plant exchange is sponsored by Gardening Volunteers of South Texas and you can find complete guidelines for the plant exchange on this website: www.GardeningVolunteers.org.

So what plants might you find at these two events that will enhance your landscape? The Gardening Volunteers of South Texas and I always try to have something special for both events. I have chosen and propagated these plants especially for these events. There is a reason for each choice, as you will see in the description of each plant.

This year our volume offerings will include:

Insignia Pink Angel Trumpet. I select the varieties that will bloom the most for some strange reasons that is what most gardeners are interested in. The first year we offered Angel Trumpet, it was because it is deer resistant and can grow best in semi shaded areas. I chose the yellow “Charles Grimaldi” because of its prolific blooming habit. The second year, people wanted a different color, preferably pink, so this year we have the “Insignia Pink”. We also have a limited number of whites. http://www.plantanswers.com/angel_trumpet.htm.

Dwarf Daily Bush Morning Glory. This plant was destined to be a Texas Superstar but as a young start up transplant, it does not have the kind of eye appeal that is necessary for container display in retail nurseries and garden centers. This new dwarf beauty will now be offered ONLY to our San Antonio area gardeners. http://www.plantanswers.com/bush_morning_glory.htm.

Calamondins. This is a seedling citrus which can be used as an ornamental plant or used as rootstock on which to approach graft other citrus and increase the number of trees you have. You can see how this technique is performed at: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/propagation/approachgraft/approach.html

Parsons Potent Chili Penguins. This was put on the market to compete with the hotter than Hell Habanero peppers but unlike other hot peppers, these plants are perennial like the chili petin peppers. http://www.plantanswers.com/parsons_pequins.htm.

Henry Duelberg Salvia. This plant is destined for Texas “Superstardom” in April, 2006, but you can get a jump on the market by trying some now. http://plantanswers.com/salvia.htm

Variegated Turk’s Cap. This is not a stable variegated selection but if the green shoots are removed several times a year, it will be a wonderful deer resistant (in some neighborhoods!) hummingbird plant for the shade. http://www.plantanswers.com/turkscap.htm.

Russilea (Firecracker plant). This is a never before available hummingbird, butterfly, drought tolerant hybrid made by James Spivey who formerly worked for the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

Double Pink Altheas and Double Pink Confederate Roses. These are classic San Antonio plants which are stop traffic beautiful and unusual when they bloom.

These offerings will be available at the GVST booth at both Viva Botanica in the SAWS Water-Saver Garden (on top of the Conservatory) and at the Festival of Flowers. They will also be available at the Festival of Flowers’ plant exchange booth, but be forewarned that they will very likely be snapped up early in the day by eager and early plant swappers.

Dr. Jerry Parsons is a Professor for Texas A&M University and a Texas Cooperative Extension Horticulturist. For more information on this or other horticulture topics, go to PLANTanswers .com. and our County Extension website at http:// bexar-tx.tamu.edu.

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