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As summer has rolled around and temperatures have steadily increased, the activity levels of many organisms have also increased. Mammals, insects, birds and even plants are enjoying the warmer weather and plentiful resources.

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It’s about this time of the year when many spring vegetable gardens start fizzling out. Most of the crops have produced to the best of their ability and are now getting leggy and nonproductive. It’s time to pull most of these plants out and get ready for the fall garden. Nonproductive plants…

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Colorful, dramatic leaf and flower combinations. Easy to grow and maintain. It likes most South Texas soils. It will produce leaves year-round and flowers in spring and summer in our area of Texas. What are you waiting for?

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I realize that spending much time outdoors these days just isn’t very pleasant. It is hot, and the humidity just makes the outdoors so much more unpleasant. But those of us whow are passionate about our gardens and lawns know there are outdoor chores to be done almost every day of the year, …

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With high winds and currents occurring these past months, more and more Portuguese man-of-war have been observed washed ashore along the Texas Coast. These creatures should be avoided at all cost and beachgoers should take caution. Here are some interesting facts about them, tips on how to a…

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When I first heard the name “standing cypress,” I thought it was a tree. I have since learned that it is a beautiful, flowering biennial herb and wildflower.

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It’s that time of year again when it takes something pretty cool (pun intended) to get me outside on the weekend. Since I spend a good part of my work days outside, I’m pretty fond of sitting in the air conditioning on summer weekends. But there is one bird that’s worth looking for, and I’ve…

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What’s in a name? To quote William Shakespeare, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, Bill, I’m not so sure about that.

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The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory headquarters building in Lake Jackson is on 34 acres of Brazoria bottomland forest along the Camp Buffalo Bayou. Beautiful green forests are surrounded by water. Even though right off SH 332 and just outside town, it feels and looks like you are far into natur…

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In my gardens, I grow all kinds of plants plus a lot of other things. Things like birds, squirrels, raccoons, lizards, snakes, turtles and lots of assorted insects and butterflies. Someone commented the other day on all the lizards he had noticed as he was walking around. He seemed to find i…

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Have you ever wondered where the vegetables we eat came from? Well, I did – and decided to find out. To start with, I made a list of different vegetables. Then I started researching ones that were of interest to me.

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The coral bean is a deciduous, lanky, small tree with beautiful dark red blooms making it a striking garden accent. You can find it growing in the xeriscape area at the Master Gardener Victoria Educational Gardens at Victoria Regional Airport. You might know the coral bean as cardinal spear,…

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For several years, the end of May through the first of June has brought different varieties of unwanted worms and caterpillars to our landscapes. Recently, I have had a few reports of spring cankerworms being a problem. I usually don’t hear much about spring cankerworm problems, but periodic…

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If you have paid any attention to your flower beds or vegetable gardens in the past few weeks, chances are you have noticed lots of small garden snails. You might have also noticed damage to some of your plants caused by these garden snails.

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The Wilson’s plover is a type of shorebird that breeds along the Texas coast. It is not federally protected, but it is definitely a species we should be more concerned about due to its population decline. It is considered threatened and endangered in some parts of the U.S., but because the m…

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Have you ever longed for a plant that came up year after year, bloomed late spring to fall and was relatively trouble-free? Yarrow could be the plant for you.

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This is the time of year when birds are busy making babies and people start spending a lot more time outside. These two things combine to create a situation that’s played out again and again: Someone finds a baby bird and wants to help but doesn’t know what to do.

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Spring is here. Summer is right around the corner and before you know it, school will be out. Summer camps, swim teams, campouts and vacations will be on your list of things for you and your children to do. Among the camp selections for your children, consider the Victoria County Master Gard…

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There are invisible shackles hidden in all of our oceans, lakes and waterways. They imprison our wildlife in the very ecosystems they live in, leading to cuts, amputations, starvation and even death. Unfortunately, this is no natural circle-of-life situation. Humans are responsible for this …

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Herbs can be such a wonderful addition to all types of garden areas. The aromatherapy herbs can provide makes them a wonderful plant for any location. The wonderful herbal fragrances are not these plants only assets. Many herb plants attract hummingbirds and butterflies and, of course, herbs…

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Recently, I wrote a three-part series on nature experiences. And while I was reminiscing, I remembered a special moment that I feel compelled to share. It’s not on the Upper Texas Coast and is a completely different landscape. But nature is nature and will give you a sense of place no matter…

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Living in today’s world, it’s safe to say we can all benefit from a little extra support from our family and friends. In the world of nature, there are numerous climbing plants that need support as well. In our gardens, that support comes in the form of a structure known as the trellis.

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The last freeze of the season has come and gone. The rains have subsided, and the soil temperatures have risen. All the excuses for putting off preparing a garden are gone. For those who didn’t get a chance to prepare a garden, there is still time before the blistering temperatures occur.

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We’ve all heard the saying, “Two heads are better than one.” Well, it’s true. Even scientists agree, which explains why many of them now rely on volunteers to help them answer their most pressing questions. It’s called “public participation in scientific research (PPSR)” or more commonly, “c…

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Trees are usually planted either for their looks, because a homeowners association requires it, or to provide shade. Today, let’s look at several other important reasons we should all plant trees on our properties.

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Have you noticed that the “age of beige” has passed? We seem to be in a world of gray, which is the new fashion color for home furnishings, clothing and accessories. Perhaps now is the time to bring gray outside and into the landscape.

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Many spring vegetable gardens are beginning to produce their crops. Along with the fresh production of delicious veggies usually come the pests. Most seasoned gardeners realize that garden pests have a magic ability of knowing just the right time to visit our gardens. Pests usually show up w…

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Christmas cactus, Easter lily, Mayflower and autumn sage are just a few of the flowers and plants that are named after a season or are associated with a holiday. Another one, that is less common in this area, is the Lenten rose.

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We have visitors from above, descending on silken strands barely visible to the human eye. They’re small, they’re fuzzy and they’re numerous. What do they want? And should we be worried? Let’s talk facts about the forest tent caterpillar in today’s column.

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If you’ve spent anytime outdoors lately, you might have noticed monarch butterflies fluttering around. Throughout the past few years, the number of monarch butterflies has dropped. But this year, their numbers seem to be dramatically increasing.

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You could call me a Golden Girl. For the last several articles I have been asked to write, they have all been about yellow – in my garden, in my home, in decorating – in my world. I prefer to think of myself as a child of the ’60s with thoughts of Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” and Elton John’s “…

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The arrival of spring brings many wonderful things, but it can also bring the influx of insects. Of course, all these insects are hungry and seem to know right where the tastiest tender plants are located in our vegetable gardens, flowerbeds, trees and lawns.

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What is that called again? It has various names: ocean foam, beach foam and, sometimes, spume if you want to be scientific. However, most people know it as sea foam. It is a natural phenomenon and almost recognized by anyone who has visited a beach. Some people don’t know why it occurs or ho…

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Did you know orchids can be grown in the ground in our area?

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It’s time for the Spring Fling. Come join us at the Quintana Neotropical Sanctuary on Quintana Island to witness the spectacle of bird migration.

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We have all heard about all sorts of animals that are now extinct, but who has heard of food extinctions? I guess the extinction of certain types of grains, apples or beans is not yet really newsworthy.

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Spinach, kale, leaf lettuces: The leafy greens of spring salads that we are most familiar with tend to produce best in the Texas winter and the very early spring cooler weather.

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One of the biggest pests gardeners have recently been battling has got to be all the weeds. Weeds in our gardens, weeds in our lawns, weeds in our flower beds even weeds in container grown plants. Why are we having such an outbreak of these unwanted plants in our landscapes?

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All birds lay eggs, from the tiny ruby-throated hummingbird to the enormous brown pelican. These eggs vary in appearance as much as the birds they come from. Let’s explore that a little in today’s column, starting with the basic steps involved in the formation of a bird egg.

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With spring officially here this week, the Master Gardener Spring Plant Sale is scheduled for Saturday morning.

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The past few months have been very cloudy, with times of light rain. Temperatures have certainly stayed cooler than most of us care for.