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WaterSaver newsletter
Monday, November 23, 2009 Back to Issue Archive
Keep on Gardening
By Erin Conant
For gardening books galore, including those mentioned in this article, visit the San Antonio Public Library.

I feel a sense of relief and excitement now that fall has graced us with pleasant temperatures and increased rainfall. Before we know it the first freeze will arrive, perhaps closing the chapter on gardening for the year. Or so I thought.

Recently, as I was flipping through my favorite gardening books, I realized two things: there's more to San Antonio gardening than esperanzas and lantanas; and gardening here doesn't end with the season's first frost.

In "Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region" by Sally Wasowski, I came across some Texas natives – best planted in this current season – that we should all be more familiar with. Flameleaf sumac and evergreen sumac dislike soggy soils and they provide abundant food supplies for birds and bees. Evergreen sumac blooms in August, provides excellent screening and remains green throughout the change of seasons, while flameleaf sumac puts maple trees to shame with fiery red leaves in fall. You'll see quite a few of them along most any route through the Hill Country.

In Scott Ogden's book "Gardening Success with Difficult Soils," hellebores and winter honeysuckle are hailed for their tolerance of calcareous soils. Neither is native, but both are well-adapted and can be planted in cool or cold temperatures, with a generous covering of mulch. And, they each boast blooms that stand out in winter landscapes. Also known as Lenten rose, hellebores tolerate moist shade and single digit temperatures. Winter honeysuckle blooms December through April, emitting a sweet, far-reaching fragrance.

Erin Conant is a conservation consultant for San Antonio Water System.

Friday, May 23, 2014
0 in. Bermuda (Full Sun)
0 in. Buffalo (Full Sun)
0 in. St. Augustine (Full Sun)
0 in. St. Augustine (Shade)
0 in. Zoysia (Full Sun)
0 in. Zoysia (Shade)
Use these amounts to water this evening after 8 p.m. or tomorrow morning before 10 a.m. For a healthy lawn, water no more than twice a month, or less if you have drought tolerant grass.
Rain benefits continue this week with established plants. No water necessary. Hand water newly planted plants. Donna Fossum, SAWS Conservation Planner.

Ask A Garden Geek
What can I grow that is colorful in the winter?
More than just flowers. Think bright-colored berries that are both pleasing to the eye and wildlife. American beautyberry, hollies and Barbados cherries are great choices.
E-mail your question to

Time to rethink your landscape.
Replace your stressed turf with hardscape or mulched beds and get hundreds of dollars in rebates. For a limited time only.
Seasonal Star
Soap Aloe
(Aloe saponaria)
Native to arid regions of Africa, soap aloe is known for its high drought tolerance. The 2-foot stalk displays red-yellow flowers during spring, summer and early fall. It's very easy to grow in rock gardens or places with high salinity. Soap aloe will also produce a soap substitute when mixed with water.
Past Peak
(Hibiscus syriacus)
Also known as Rose of Sharon, this long-blooming deciduous shrub grows 6 to 10 feet tall and about 4 feet wide. The flowers can be single or double, and come in white or blue. Plant this flowering shrub in a shifting shade area, close to an evergreen, since it loses all of its leaves in the winter.
Event Calendar
Pearl Farmers Market
Nov. 29, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Pearl Brewery, 300 Pearl Parkway
Come meet local food producers. All Pearl Farmers Market vendors are located within 150 mile radius of San Antonio, and provide fresh, local, and seasonal products that they themselves planted, raised, and harvested. Click here for more information.
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