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Gardening Q&A

Valentine's Day garden gift ideas

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Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

February 1, 2016 | 1,734 views | Post a comment

Q: What garden related present can I give my wife for Valentine’s Day?

A: A wonderful garden gift to me would be having someone else prune my rose bushes. I’m sure your wife will probably want to supervise (togetherness time) but having you do the manual labor will be welcome. If you do not feel confident in your pruning ability, how about buying her a lovely Texas Superstar rose such as Belinda’s Dream or Knock Out.

Q: Do I have to mulch, and when should I do it?

A: Mulching is really a good idea for many reasons. The main reason is water conservation, since mulched soil does not lose moisture as easily. Other reasons according to Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac are the reduction of soil erosion from wind and rain, moderation of soil temperatures in both winter and summer, reduction of weed populations, and production of organic matter when the mulch decomposes. Mulch can also be aesthetically pleasing. I took out the sprawling juniper by my front door (where the snake lived) and put down mulch decorated with large rocks. Not only is it pretty, it also opened up the area which had seemed a bit claustrophobic.

Now is a good time to mulch. I have always been fond of cedar chips because I like the smell. Other possibilities are shredded bark, pine straw, chipped granite, lava rock, recycled chipped tires, and even little pieces of rounded glass. Mulch can be gotten free from the city, but I like to buy it in bags because it is easier for me to handle. Remember, if you are using non-organic materials such as rocks for mulch, you won’t have the added benefit of decomposing organic matter. There are several down sides to organic mulch: a heavy rain can wash it away, and organic mulch does break down and will need to be replenished every year (which, of course, is also a good thing).

Q: Are there cool season annuals that can be planted now?

A: One of my favorite cool season annuals is the snapdragon. I have several pots out in front and am anxiously awaiting the first bloom. Other annuals for this season include larkspur, alyssum, calendula, dianthus, pansies (and the smaller version, violas), sweet peas and poppies. As an added bonus, many of these make good cut flowers, including the snapdragon, calendula and larkspur. Already blooming in my shade garden are violets. My grandchildren are thinking about making crystallized violets to decorate dessert plates. I don’t spray with insecticides so the blooms are quite edible.

Q: What should I prune in late winter?

A: Welsh lists several shrubs that need pruning now to promote vigorous growth in the spring (thus resulting in more blooms), including althea, hydrangea, most roses, and lavender vitex.

Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, at 210 East Live Oak Street in Seguin.
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