Pat Dockins

Master GardenerS

Come on sunshine…shine on.  We’ve got our baby plants at the greenhouse and they love sunshine and warmer temperatures. And we need lots of plants so we’ll be ready for the Ellis County Master Gardeners’ Lawn and Garden Expo held at the Waxahachie Convention Center from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. the last Saturday in March.

This year in our plant sales department we will focus on butterfly attracting plants – some you just don’t find easily like butterfly weed, frostweed, butterfly bush and asters that are an important source for late-season nectar.

We always try to have some drought tolerant plants like blackfoot daisy, verbena, Turk’s cap – Big Mama, Mexican oregano and Rock Rose.

We’ll have cedar sage, a Texas native plant that blooms from April to October with red flowers. Texas native, callirhoe aka winecup is a low growing early spring bloomer with blooms that are wine-red. This would look good at the front of a border or cascading over a wall. Calylophus primrose is another Texas native that blooms spring into summer with yellow flowers. We’ll have plenty of Coleus, some Gregg’s blue mistflower, red lantana and many others.

Roses, we always have. Again this year we’ll have many Peggy Martin roses. This is the rose that survived the Katrina hurricane. They are such easy roses to grow. We’ll have some New Dawn, a beautiful climber that blooms from spring till fall. Iceberg is an old shrub rose with beautiful white blooms. We have other old favorites like Belinda’s Dream, Lady Banks and Marie Pavie plus many other varieties.

Naturally we’ll have lots of tomato plants and lots of pepper plants. We’ll offer the usual better boy, celebrity, early girl and porter, plus sunny Goliath, a hybrid that produces a large yellow-gold fruit. It is mild and sweet and bound to be appreciated by those who don’t like the highly acidic bite of most red tomatoes. Cherokee purple is new to me. The catalog says it is pink-purple and is tolerant to mild drought as well as to common diseases. We’re offering some heirlooms this year, too.  Soldacki is from Poland and is low in acid and intensely sweet with thin skin.  Homestead is a highly adaptable tomato especially in hot conditions; fruits are medium-large.

Peppers will be the old standards: California wonder and Golden calwonder are our bells. For those that want hot, we’ll offer habanero and jalapeno Goliath.  Pimiento and Sweet Bananas round out our list of peppers.

You know, when we get our little plants we’ve either propagated them ourselves or bought them from a commercial greenhouse, they are like little babies to us. We hover over them just like a new mother and woe to the poor little aphid that dares to touch one of our little darlings. But come the last Saturday of March when our little ones have grown and are ready to go out into the big world –it’s like when that last kid leaves home. It sure was wonderful having them but boy it’s great when they are out on their own.

Pat Dockins is an Ellis County Master Gardener and guest columnist in the Daily Light. For further information, contact the Ellis County Master Gardeners at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, 701 South Interstate 35E, Suite 3, Waxahachie, or call 972-825-5175 or e-mail: ellis-tx@tamu.edu.