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They’re big, they’re a bit smelly and they eat dead stuff. Vultures might not the prettiest of birds – some might even say ugly. But they are some of the most important animals around you. Vultures are what clean up after the rest of nature. They can make an animal carcass disappear in no time.

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You do not have to leave the local area to enjoy autumn color.

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My affection for houseplants began the first time I lived alone. Plants were the only thing that changed while I was at work. Checking on them and observing their growth, needs and unique characteristics intrigued me.

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In American culture, owls are often seen as one of the wisest animals, and that might be due in part to their incredible hunting abilities. Owls are raptors, which means they spend a good deal of their days hunting. Raptors, also known as birds of prey, use talons and sharp, curved beaks to …

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“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. Ready or not, here I come.”

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Florida is a state known for thousands of sinkholes that dot the landscape. This is because the state lies on a giant slab of limestone that was formed over millions of years by the accumulation of dead shellfish. The Texas bedrock is the same limestone, and therefore, has the same karst top…

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Losing a plant or tree from causes unknown can be disheartening. After Hurricane Harvey, when many people lost trees, I heard many sad stories from homeowners. Of course, in that case, Harvey was to blame for all those damaged trees.

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Texas ebony (formerly classified as Pitecellobium flexicaule, now Ebenopsis ebano) is a slow-growing thorny, bushy shrub that can be trained into a single or multi-trunked, medium-sized patio tree. It is valued as a semi-evergreen shade tree with a dense canopy. Other common names include Eb…

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Most people realize how important it is to have the proper amount of iron in their bodies to be healthy. Many people don’t realize just how important it is for plants to have access to iron to keep them healthy and strong.

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In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d talk a little bit about birds that are black, some of which are blackbirds and some of which are not. The first one is the great-tailed grackle. If you’ve been to any shopping center along the Texas coast, you’ve seen a great-tailed grackle. The males are…

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Vermicomposting is the process of using vegetable kitchen waste from meal preparation and other organic materials to make a really fine soil amendment and letting red wiggler earthworms do all (most) of the work. Raising worms, producing rich compost that is very beneficial for plants and di…

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What is wrack? Wrack is basically the material that washes ashore on beaches and bays due to waves, wind and tide. It is often brown in color, contains stick like material, and depending on the level of decay, it may have a slight odor.

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Last week’s sudden cold front caught many of us off guard. That sudden cold temperature, along with lots of wind also caught many of our plants off guard. As the weather affects humans, it can also affect plants. The cold front had me wondering if many people realized just how much the weath…

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Until just a few years ago, I had never heard of or seen a Persian shield plant, known scientifically as Strobilanthes dyerianus. When I did, I became quite enamored with it. Derivation of name – not from Persia

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Here we are in October – what many gardeners call our second spring time. I realize it doesn’t actually feel like fall yet, but we are slowly getting there. Mornings and evenings are starting to feel cooler, and some of us have had some rain, albeit small amounts, but any amount is better th…

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Orchids are strikingly beautiful and make wonderful gifts, yet, all too many people enjoy them until they quit blooming and then throw them away.

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A sweet “zee-doo-zee-dee-ZEET” rings through the thick juniper forests as dawn breaks over the Hill Country of Texas. The golden-cheeked warbler is an endangered warbler species that migrates from eastern Mexico to Texas to breed. Their breeding range is located solely in Texas, roughly in t…

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1015 or 10/15? What does this mean to you? To many gardeners, or non-gardeners for that matter, these numbers mean onions. Not just any onions but the famous Texas Sweet 1015s. This onion variety was developed by a Texas A&M horticulture professor. After 10 years of researching and devel…

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By the time late August rolls around, I am so ready for that first cool front. I can almost smell the leaves on the ground. We used to create piles that we would jump into. I was nostalgic for my bedroom in Pennsylvania perched on a hill where I could view the splash of autumnal color in the…

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Each fall, unnoticed by most people, enormous numbers of raptors – hawks, falcons, eagles and vultures – travel along the Texas coast from all across the continent toward their wintering grounds in South America. This stream of raptors continues along the Gulf Coast narrowing to a thin strip…

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I have often been asked, usually by men, what is the hottest pepper you can grow? Some add the fact that it needs to be hot enough to cause their scalp to sweat and their tongue to feel like it’s on fire. Personally, I wouldn’t want to eat anything that could hurt me like that, but to each t…

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September through December are usually the best months to plant wildflower seeds. Planting now while the soil is warm should cause most varieties of seeds to quickly germinate. A fast germination allows seedlings enough time to establish a healthy root system, before shorter days and cold we…

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The end of our long, hot summer is in sight. Shorter days and cooler temperatures are coming. We promise.

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Figs are a classic southern treat that grow especially well in South Central Texas south of the line from Houston to San Antonio. The fruits are prized for their rich sweet taste and are high in natural sugars, minerals and soluble fiber.

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September is the peak of ruby-throated hummingbirds’ fall migration. They are passing through Brazoria County in throngs during their southbound journey to their wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America.

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It’s time again to release trichogramma wasps to prevent destructive fall worms from defoliating and stressing trees and plants. Depending on the current weather conditions, we could be seeing webworms and possibly a few other destructive worms any day now. I have already had a couple of gar…

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I often feel that dealing with nature can be so much like dealing with our bodies. When someone comes to me with a plant problem, it can sometimes take a lot of questioning and discussion to figure out exactly what’s going on with the plant. Just as your doctor would do for you if you were t…

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African hosta (Ledebouria petiolate) is a native of Southern and Eastern Africa that performs very well in the Victoria area. Also known as “false” hosta, it is not a hosta at all but shares many of the beautiful characteristics of a true hosta. This is welcome news for local gardeners who f…

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Black skimmers are water birds that are found along beaches, bays and inlets along the Texas Coast. They are identified by their black and white feathers, long wings and their very unique black and orange bills in which the top bill is shorter than the bottom bill. They get their namesake fr…

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Gardening has changed from yesterday to today, and tomorrow is our challenge in the lives of our children.

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They are starting to show up a few at a time. They are staking out their favorite flowers and feeders. Their buzzing wing beats can be heard in gardens up and down the Upper Texas Coast. They are fast and feisty. And they love sugar water. They are back.

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Althea (hibiscus syriacus) is an old-fashioned, deciduous shrub that blooms from spring through the summer.

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Have you ever seen a large, black bird with a forked tail that looks prehistoric soaring above the beach? Those are magnificent frigatebirds, and they are indeed magnificent.

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True gardeners obviously enjoy, to some degree or another, being in their gardens. Many are totally obsessed with being out in nature and growing all sorts of plants. But over the years, I have discovered these same people who enjoy and love all the aspects of gardening also love and enjoy h…

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Mention the word spider and many people freak out. I don’t know what it is about these little creatures, but I do know that many people hate them. The majority of spiders are actually very beneficial, especially to gardeners because they eat many bad bugs we battle in our gardens. Spiders ar…

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Are you looking to get in shape, burn calories, strengthen your muscles, become more flexible, make your step quota, find your Zen state, get your head on straight and absorb some vitamin D? Of course, you are. But wait, there’s more.

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It may be difficult to believe with the heat we’ve been subjected to lately, but fall is coming. At the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory in Lake Jackson, that means a switch in the research we’re focused on and the birds we’re paying attention to. As summer releases its grasp and the seasons chan…

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The yellow butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera) is the 2019 Texas Superstar selection. This designation is reserved for beautiful plants that have passed rigid statewide testing and are found to be relatively disease-free, easy to propagate and grow well all over Texas.

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The breeding season for most shorebirds such as the least tern and Wilson’s plover is slowing down for the season. The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory is beginning to monitor for non-breeding season. Migrating shorebirds are arriving for the winter. The non-breeding season usually begins in Sept…

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When asked to define organic gardening, sometimes referred to as natural gardening, I usually say it’s all about the soil. A rich, healthy soil full of biological life is the main ingredient in an organic garden. Today’s gardeners can have a variety of soil types to deal with – from loose an…

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The native section of Victoria Educational Gardens (VEG) is part of the original Phase I. For several years, I have been the chairperson of this area. Gardeners often ask for information about native plants, so I have created a list of six favorites to incorporate in Victoria and surrounding…

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Spend some time walking around in a forest and odds are good that you would see the root flares of most of the trees growing there. It is natural to find tree root flares in nature but not so much in landscapes. Nature knows how important the exposed root flares are for trees. Slowly, tree g…

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Events of recent weeks have renewed patriotic spirit in and for the citizens of this country. Observing the 75th anniversary commemoration of D-Day on the beaches and cliffs of Normandy, France, on June 6, parades and fireworks displays in our nation’s capital and across the country July 4, …

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Anyone who has been involved with gardening for a few years has probably heard some garden myths. Many garden tips can be scientifically proven facts, while others have been proven to be untrue.

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Living along the Upper Texas Coast, most of us see herons and egrets daily. They live and feed along our beaches, bayous, ponds and even city drainage canals. We see them out in agricultural fields and grassy areas. At times, even sitting high up in trees as well as pastures and the occasion…

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Recent Comments

  • Missy Albrecht said:

    Wonderful program...except they are not crocheting, they are using a knitting loom. I do love how they are teaching them to use the looms, a terrific skill!

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  • Glen or Janice Ullman said:

    Mrs. Tally,I also have a special place in my heart for diplomacy and those who practice it. It seems I have the same biases you presented in your piece, which are rare here in Gerrymanderville…

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  • Michael Gomez said:

    Anti-left letters obviously refers to letter writers,not those who respond to them. I would know since I wrote the rebuttal. But whatever...

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  • Steve Fiedler said:

    No, check again your Nov 15 post, clearly says "anti-left letters" and does not refer to orig writer. And I have no way to know what you read or when. Regardless your reply to orig author had …

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  • Ron Sandidge said:

    Sad... Dixie was Abraham Lincoln's favorite tune. In fact he ordered it played while overlooking the ruins of Richmond, Va. after the war.

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