May I Have A Break?Posted on : May 30, 2014
Hopefully May was the last of the busy spring months as I’m all tuckered out. The month started with my arrival from speaking at the Alabama state Master Gardener Conference and ended with me lecturing at the Arkansas state Master Gardener Conference. I really do have to cut back on speaking engagements as my student workers need constant supervision during the week; as do my farm, garden, chickens, and dogs on the weekends. My sleepy little head needs my own bed too. Back when I gave fifty talks a year for twenty years I’d play this game where I’d wake up during the middle of the night at different hotels and see how long it would take to figure out where I was. I don’t want to have to wonder (or wander) any more.
The first Saturday of the month found me at The Arbor Gate helping introduce the Greg Grant signature collection. I yucked it up in front of a nice crowd telling stories of each of my plant introductions that Beverly offers. I don’t develop and introduce plants for a living—it’s really just an ongoing hobby. My latest is a climbing form of Belinda’s Dream rose named ‘Farmer’s Dream.’
That same night I attended The Mercer Society’s Garden Party and Auction at the Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Humble. For some reason they made me the guest of honor and presented me with a beautiful crystal vase. In addition to the auctions they provided a wonderful meal and an outstanding band. I did work their twice which puts them in second place behind SFA Gardens. The San Antonio Botanic Garden and North Carolina State Arboretum tie for third place. One year at the Texas Association of Arboreta and Botanic Gardens meeting they considered printing a t-shirt that said “Greg Grant worked here.” I was never known for holding a job but sure loved all the people, plants, and places I got to meet and see. Thank goodness nobody ever told me about garden internships in England or I’d still be garden hopping there to this day!
Our SFA Gardens lecture series speaker for May was Hayes Jackson from Alabama. He entertained a crowd at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center with tales of unusual plants. Hayes works for the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service and is a plant collector in the truest sense of the word. Our speaker for June will be our own SFA horticulture graduate Peter Loos speaking on native plants. We have one every month and they are FREE so attend if you ever get the chance. We have them the second Thursdays of the month at 7:00 pm. You can visit sfagardens.sfasu.edu and click on Garden Events to see a list of the speakers each year.
Next I attended a planning session for the long term management of Boggy Slough which the T.L.L. Temple Foundation purchased. They plan set aside nearly 20 thousand acres as a conservation easement and manage it for wildlife, wildflowers, and wild habitat. I do dearly love ecosystem preservation and restoration. Buddy and Ellen Temple are an inspiration to all when it comes to conservation.
We also held our annual Powdrill Cemetery-Arcadia Homecoming in May which is always held on the picnic grounds next to my old house. This year the folks from the SFA Center for Regional Heritage Research came to conduct oral history interviews as part of our ongoing Voices from Small Places: Arcadia project. The interviews will be placed on the website along with the photo voice entries already completed. The next day I got to have supper at cousin Pam’s with my “Emanis” great-aunts Golda (98), Charlsie (94), and Marie (89). Aunt Charlsie cooks great pasta and meat balls and nobody has a better time visiting than my Emanis relatives.
Later in the month I spoke to the local Daughters of the American Revolution group. Unfortunately when I arrived at the country club there was no lap top to be found to show my Power Point presentation. Not only do I not own a lap top, I don’t even have internet, television, or a phone at my house! Luckily at the last second my co-workers Dave Creech and Barbara Stump saved me from embarrassing singing and dancing by bringing a working lap top computer from SFA.
On Memorial Day I gathered with the family at Lake Cherokee outside of Longview where my oldest brother Doice has a lake house. Not all of the family could make it but a big chunk did. I mostly lounged around and ate while the nephews had a good time on the water. We did toss the Frisbee and washers as well.
We managed to get several well timed rains in May that my garden certainly appreciated. My four rows of sweet corn looks good though I’m doing battle with corn ear worms already. We are also dining weekly on tender yellow squash, new potatoes, and fresh green beans. I usually plant only flat purple podded pole beans but this year I got cute with a mixture of green, purple and green striped, yellow, and purple beans mixed together. Unfortunately the yellow is a week disease prone plant and the green is choking out my beloved purple. The color combination is nice but next year I will go back to purple. My tomatoes look fantastic with lots of fruit the size of baseballs. Generally June is the month I start picking them. As usual I’m late getting my peas and burgundy okra planted but at least have the okra transplants ready. As soon as my soil dries I’ll till up a row for them plus get some more peas planted.
Although they’ll be finishing soon, my red sweet peas and poppies have been quite striking and, though they don’t last that long, are a special treat each spring. I always save seed to make sure I’ll have them again in the future. My assorted crinums are blooming, which means my warm season perennials will soon follow. Until next month, make sure and cut them back to make them more dense with even more flowers. -Greg
Written by Greg Grant
Greg Grant is an award-winning horticulturist, conservationist, and writer from Tyler, Texas. Each month he writes an article for the Arbor Gate Blog where he is given free range to write about any topic that interests him. During the week, he is the Smith County horticulturist in Tyler for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and on the weekends, he tends his grandparent’s restored dogtrot farmhouse, his Rebel Eloy Emanis Pine Savanna and Bird Sanctuary, and terriers Acer, Lizzie, Mollie, and Sonny Boy Desalvo Fontenot.