Volume 9, Issue 2

February, 2013

Christmas. New Year's. Gardening Season 2013. It seems like they're all that close together. As I begin to type my parts of this month's e-gardens, my mind runs wild with the things I want to share. You're going to find plenty, both out of my fingertips and, more importantly, from the minds of many other outstanding horticulturists. Let's raise the curtain. We hope you enjoy what we've brought to your virtual stage.

From the Sperry Gardens

This is the way an east part of our gardens looks this week. Leatherleaf mahonias are some of my favorite "go-to" shrubs for very shady, somewhat dry locations. I have lots of reasons to choose them. Click to see why.

Ask Neil

Have a question? Want Neil's help? You can do it in just three easy steps. (1) Take a photo of the plant or area in question. (2) Drop him a note here at e-gardens and attach the photo with your question. (3) Watch here next issue for his reply. Each month Neil answers those questions of greatest general reader interest. Click to see this month's answers. Or, if you'd like to send your question and photo, this is your place.

Timely Tips February

I've already admitted that ideas of things we need to do were swelling through my head as I sat down to write for e-gardens this week. Of course, our calendar has the most complete collection, and we still have a handful of boxes available if you order yours today. However, in short-form, here are this month's goals and objectives.

Native Son

Catching his breath from teaching at Neil's recent Landscape School, our native son goes looking for a place to recharge. Read Steven Chamblee's account of his road trip to Luckenbach and his visit with unlikely brothers.

You May Get the Last Remaining 2013 Calendar!

Yep! We're that close! Just a couple of hundred remained when we counted a couple of days ago. This is absolutely, positively, guaranteed to be your last call. Remember, more than 10,000 words detailing when you need to plant, prune, fertilize and protect all the plants at your place. Plus, it's on sale when you buy it with our magazine. Click quickly for the details.

It's All Fruits and Nuts on Neil's Program Sunday

Join Neil and his annual guest, Dr. George Ray McEachern, Fruit and Nut Specialist with Texas A&M University, as all of these crops take the spotlight for this one program each year. It's always one of the most tuned-to programs of the year. So, whether you're a backyard orchardist or someone wanting to plant 1,000 acres, this Sunday, 8-11, WBAP 820AM and 96.7FM (streams at wbap.com) is the place to be. We'll have podcasts of all three hours on our website by Monday evening.

Where's Neil this Month?

Still busily typing. Out in his garden. Getting ready to start turning pens again. With three of his grandkids who are having birthdays in February. But, publicly? On Facebook. On the radio. In our magazine. And, at the remaining Dallas Sidekicks game, as I was with grandson Sam, 15 this month. Happy Birthday, too, to Ella and Audrey.

Texas Tree Tips

In the second of his series of articles on top-rated shade trees, Steve Houser of Arborilogical Services tells us about a true Texas native. Click to read his article on drought-tolerant post oaks.

Plant of the Month

If you think primroses won't survive in Texas, the Dallas Arboretum folks have news for you. Two new series of Primula vulgaris have put on prize-winning performances in their trials. Read the details.

From the Magazine

The January/February issue of Neil Sperry's GARDENS Magazine features articles on gardening do's and don'ts, berries for the birds and much more. Here's a recent article on garden facelifts by one of our favorite writers, Sharon Lee Smith of Blue Moon Gardens.

Rose Cuttings

Always a rose historian as well as a rose breeder, Mike Shoup of the Antique Rose Emporium tells the story this month of a rose that has long been used as a "living fence" across the South. Click to read his story of the Cherokee rose.

Is This the Right Time Apply Pre-emergents?

Not for this weed! I'd guess it's six times a day that I'm being asked right now, "Is it time for pre-emergent weedkillers yet, what with all this warm weather? I'm already seeing the weeds popping up." I'll show you what I'm telling them.

Repeat of Fire Blight in 2013???

2012 was a horrible year for the bacterial disease known as fire blight. It attacked types of plants that we'd never seen bothered, and now we're wondering if it will be back this year. If you had apples or pears that were blasted by blight, you'll want to read just a bit more. You may have a call-to-action that comes due this month.

Is Corn Gluten Meal a Good Pre-emergent?

No! I guess people must confuse me with other gardening broadcasters. This question is the best evidence. I DO NOT recommend the use of corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent weedkiller, nor do I recommend corn meal as a fungicide. In fact, I've turned down business to avoid having to talk about them. Click here if you'd like to read more on my thoughts.

Our "What Were They Thinking?" Department

I posted this photo on Facebook Tuesday evening, and it has become one of the most-read pieces that I've put there in 156 weeks. That's good, because what was done to the crape myrtles in the top photo was barbaric. "Topping" is always bad business! The Crape Myrtle Allee at the Dallas Arboretum (bottom) is my favorite all-time crape myrtle photo that I've taken. That's how real gardeners treat their plants. Click to see my entire Facebook post and a link to that page.


This month we introduce you to Jax, Babs, Sonia and Mavis, all deserving animals waiting at Metroplex SPCAs for caring new families. Learn about them here, and read some great tips for keeping your pets healthy and happy this year.

February Events

Botanical gardens and organizations around the state are preparing for spring with beautiful plantings and many seminars and classes. Consult our list of February events of interest to find an opportunity near you.

Refer Us to a Friend

Neil began his 4th year on Facebook this week (14,500 friends), and he's been doing this electronic newsletter for more than a decade (more than 35,000 subscribers to the free newsletter). Word-of-mouth is our best means of growing our numbers, but we need to borrow your mouth (and your fingertips). Please tell others about Neil's Facebook page. Please share e-gardens with other gardeners. We thank you!

In Closing ...

Now that you've taken a stroll through our first e-gardens of the new growing season, we hope you've enjoyed it. All I ask is that you share it with others; please click forward at the bottom of this e-mail.

Until next e-gardens on the last Thursday of the month (Feb. 28) at 6 p.m., join us on Facebook, and tune me in on the radio. Wherever and whenever, I'll look forward to our next visit.

Happy gardening!

Neil Sperry

Neil Sperry's e-gardens newsletter
400 W Louisiana St
McKinney, TX 75069
Neil Sperry - Publisher
Carolyn Skei - Editor
Gretchen Drew - Administrator