Working with nature is theme of environmental seminar

Cox is founder of the Grow Company, which specializes in organic vegetable gardens and fruit orchards, and conservation and agricultural property studies.

In conjunction with controlled burns, native wildflower meadows offer food and habitat for songbirds, honeybees, butterflies and other wildlife.

City dwellers might consider planting a vegetable garden or masses of ground cover in lieu of a manicured lawn.

Check for earthworms in the fertile soil beneath a porous compost bin or pile and add them to your garden beds.

Vegetated catch basins can be designed to reduce water consumption and create visual interest.

Invasive plants in Texas include bastard cabbage, Chinese tallow tree, old-fashioned elephant ears and privet.

For best results, dip the cut end into a rooting hormone (available at most garden centers), insert the cutting in a sterile potting mix, and monitor soil moisture and light conditions.

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Theory about mulch being harmful to plants doesn’t ring true

Rumor has it that mulching garden beds or trees and shrubs could starve plants.

[…] it becomes available to plants once those microorganisms have used up enough soil carbon, “breathing” it out of the ground as carbon dioxide.

[…] this scenario – plants being starved of nitrogen – holds true when you mix a load of high-carbon, organic material into the soil.

[…] that rumor that plants will suffer from high-carbon mulches keeps going around, despite the field experience of agricultural researchers and many gardeners.

A garden, like any biological system, represents a complex interaction of energies, so sweeping generalizations don’t always hold.

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Make holiday memories at a Christmas-tree farm

Hayride or Dewville Express Train to tree fields, kids activities, country store, sweet shop.

Jingle Bell Express children’s train and wreaths on weekends, The North Pole Gift and Gourmet open daily.

Virginia pines, ‘Leyland’ cypresses, Hayride, haystack, log-cabin playhouse, nature trails, free hot dogs while supplies last.

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See nature at its best at Mercer

Visitors can fill a few hours or an entire fall day hiking trails and picnicking in scenic, native woodlands on the west side.

The colorful botanic displays on the east side include extensive collections of camellias, which are beginning to show cool-season color; numerous ginger species and other tropicals; bamboo; ornamental grasses; ferns; crinums; and irises.

Mercer’s 20-person staff, supportive Mercer Society members and 300 regular volunteers help maintain the picturesque Renaissance Garden with columned fountains, the “prehistoric garden” that traces the evolution from mosses to magnolias, as well as the herb garden, rock garden, bog garden and curving beds of seasonal color for sun and shade.

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Build your daylily collection at society’s plant sale

Daylily and Companion Plant Sale: sponsored by Lone Star Daylily Society. 8 a.m.-noon at the Pearland Farmer’s Market, Zychlinski Park, 2243 Grand Blvd., Pearland; 713-882-9958.

Christmas Collections Open House: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Wreath and bow demonstrations at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at Cornelius Nursery, 2233 S. Voss and 1200 N. Dairy Ashford;

14th annual ReForest the Forest Tree Sale: sponsored by the Kingwood Garden Club. 8 a.m.-until sold out at the Kingwood Library, 4102 Rustic Woods;

Landscapes, Houses, Interiors, 1824–1914 at 2 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonset;

Wallace Lecture sponsored by the Garden Club of Houston. 10 a.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet; 713-639-7300.

Holiday Potluck, Prairie Plant Swap and Learn Your Prairie Plants: sponsored by Houston Chapter Native Prairies Association of Texas. 6:30 p.m. at 3015 Richmond; 713-771-1415,, or

Free; bring a covered dish.

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Yellow-flowering cassia is a fall spectacle

The fast-growing, mounding shrubs swell to 10 to 12 feet in height and width.

The golden-yellow blooms are set against glossy green leaves arranged opposite one another along weeping stems.

While it’s evergreen in a mild winter, this 6- to 8-foot-tall species dies in a hard freeze, so save the seeds to plant in spring.

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November brings ideal gardening weather

Plant cool-season annuals such as alyssum, calendula, cyclamen, Drummond phlox, English daisy, lobelia, ornamental kale and cabbage, pansy, petunia, primrose, snapdragon, stock and viola.

Don’t forget to add veggies and herbs, including artichokes, bok choy, cilantro, dill, fennel, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, rosemary, spinach, green onions, garlic cloves and turnips.

If you don’t compost, it’s easy to build a pile in the back corner of the yard garden, and add kitchen scraps (excluding meat) along with the leaves.

Mulch to conserve soil moisture and discourage weeds.

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Learn more about bromeliads at society’s two-day show and sale

Historical Plants for Today’s Gardens: 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center, 6003 Memorial; reservations, 713-639-7750, $45 members, $50 nonmembers.

Noon-6 p.m. Ten-garden tour sponsored by Blackwood Educational Land Institute. $15 per garden, $50 all sites.

Southwest Bromeliad Guild Show and Sale: sponsored by the Bromeliad Society Houston. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (show 2-5 p.m.) Saturday; sale and show 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Houston Intercontinental Airport, 15747 JFK Blvd.; 281-848-4000, 713-858-3047.

Coastal Prairie Partnership and Houston Chapter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas’ tour of pocket prairies in the Texas Medical Center and Hermann Park. 4:30-7 p.m. Meet at the Smith Lands Metrorail station; or email

Fall Vegetable Gardening: with Fort Bend Master Gardeners specialists. 10 a.m. in the Demonstration Vegetable Garden, Agricultural Center, 1402 Band, Rosenberg; 281-341-7068,

Fall Fairy Garden Day – Make ‘n’ Take: 10 a.m. at Enchanted Forest, 10611 FM 2759, Richmond 281-937-9449; 2 p.m. at Enchanted Gardens, 6420 FM 359, Richmond; reservations required at 281-341-1206,

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Find new treasures at River Oaks Garden Club’s Pink Elephant Sale

River Oaks Garden Club’s Pink Elephant Sale: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Bayou City Event Center, 9401 Knight; $1, cash or check.
Fall Gardening Day: 9 a.m.-noon at Harris County AgriLife Extension Service, 3033 Bear Creek; register at 281-855-5600, $20.
Fruit Tree Basics: sponsored by Urban Harvest. 9-11:30 a.m. at Charles McElhinney Hall, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun; 713-880-5540, $30 members, $50 nonmembers.
Gunter’s Heirloom Vegetables: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-351-8851, Free.
Fall Bulbs: with Margaret Cherry of Abbott Ipco. 10 a.m. at Buchanan’s Native Plants, 611 E. 11th; 713-861-5702, buchanansplants.

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Visit the Cockrell sale for butterfly plants

Cockrell Butterfly Center fall plant sale: 9 a.m.-noon (or until plants are gone) on the seventh level of the Houston Museum of Natural Science parking garage, 5555 Hermann Park;

Establishing Woody Ornamentals: with Skip Richter, Texas AgriLife horticulture agent. 10 a.m. at the Arbor Gate, 5635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-351-8851,

Long Lasting Fall and Winter Color for Texas Landscapes:10:15 a.m. at Cornelius Nursery, 1200 N. Dairy Ashford and 2233 S. Voss;

Fall Fertilization for the Landscape, Ornamentals and Grasses:with Texas AgriLife horticulture agent Skip Richter. 10 a.m. at Clear Lake Park, 5001 NASA Parkway, Seabrook;

Herbs for Shade: with Ann Wheeler, Log House Herbs. 10 a.m. at the Arbor Gate, 5635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-351-8851,

River Oaks Garden Club’s Pink Elephant Sale: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Bayou City Event Center, 9401 Knight; $1, cash or check.

Fruit Tree Basics: sponsored by Urban Harvest. 9-11:30 a.m. at Charles McElhinney Hall, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun; 713-880-5540, $30 members, $50 nonmembers.

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