NACOGDOCHES, Texas – SFA Gardens at Stephen F. Austin State University will host the monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 10, in the new Ina Brundrett Conservation Education Building at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet St. in Nacogdoches. Retired Texas A&M Extension Vegetable Specialist Dr. Jerry Parsons will present “Growing the Best Tomatoes in Texas.”

Jerry Parsons is a retired horticulture specialist with the Texas Cooperative Extension in San Antonio. He has been a popular Extension Service personality for more than three decades, becoming something of a cult figure in the agricultural world of South Texas. Parsons has been responsible for educating and entertaining the Alamo City and surrounding area with weekly horticultural information on TV, radio, and in newspaper for 34 years.

Although his specialty is vegetable production, Parsons has revolutionized the plant introduction arena and is the father of The Texas Superstar program at Texas A&M University. The plant introduction and promotion program is now copied by similar programs throughout the United States.

Since 1974 when Parsons came to San Antonio as a horticulturist for Texas Cooperative Extension, a system of cooperative testing and local marketing has introduced productive hybrid tomatoes (Spring Giant, Bonus, Big Set, Celebrity, Jack Pot, Bingo, Carnival, Whirlaway, Heatwave, SunMaster, Surefire, Merced, Amelia, Solar Fire, SunPride, BHN 968, BHN 444, Tycoon, and Tygress), peppers (Summer Sweet 860 Bell Pepper, Bell Tower Bell Pepper, Capistrano Bell Pepper, Hidalgo Serrano, TAM Mild Jalapeno, Grande Jalapeno and Rio Grande Gold Sweet Jalapeno), Brussels sprouts (Prince Marvel), cantaloupe (Magnum 45, TAM Uvalde), sweet corn (Funks Sweet-G 90, Honeycomb, Merit), onion (Texas Supersweet 1015Y, Grano 502, Granex/Vidalia), squash (Dixie, Multipik), broccoli (Green Comet, Baccus), spinach (Fall Green and Coho), and cauliflower (Snow Crown). Parsons has also introduced Satsuma mandarin oranges as container plants for colder climates to Texas gardeners.

In addition he has introduced such popular flowers as ‘Blue Shade’ and dwarf pink ruellias, Tex-Tuf verbenas, firebush, Texas Gold columbine, Indigo Spires salvia, Carpet petunias, mari-mum marigolds, Plum Parfait, Eclipse, and Burgundy Sun coleus, Belinda’s Dream rose, Blue Princess verbena, VIP and Laura Bush petunias, firespike, Stars and Stripes pentas, Moy Grande, Red River, and Flare hibiscus, Laura Bush petunia, firespike, Stars and Stripes pentas, Bunny Bloom larkspur, and dwarf bush morning glory.

Stirring up a little controversy, he also introduced a host of new Texas bluebonnet colors including Barbara Bush lavender, Abbott Pink, and Texas Maroon—his own creations, while developing the Texas state flower into a bedding plant and a multi-million dollar industry.

Parsons is often described as the most popular public gardening speaker in the Lone Star State, sometimes deriding but always delighting gardeners with his enthusiastic combination of irreverent and educational humor.

The Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series is normally held the second Thursday of each month at the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture’s SFA Pineywoods Native Plant Center. A rare plant raffle will be held after the program. The lecture is free and open to the public, but donations to the Theresa and Les Reeves lecture series fund always are appreciated. Parking is available at the nearby Raguet Elementary School, 2428 Raguet St.

For more information, call (936) 468-1832 or email [email protected]