Newspaper Columns

Keith Hansen, Smith County Extension Agent, writes a column each week which is published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Keith HansenKeith Hansen’s blog

 The link above is to Keith’s blog which includes his column and other gardening news and tips.

Dee Bishop, Smith County Master Gardener, writes a weekly column which is published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph each week.

August 27th column

   Variegated foliage adds light to shady areas.  We learned that last week withDSCN5825 copy variegated hydrangeas.  Would you believe this plant is none other than St. Augustine Grass?  The very one you most likely have in your lawn only this one is variegated, not as hardy in winter, and very decorative.

Stenotaphrum secundatum variegate, variegated St. Augustine grass a much easier to pronounce name, finds a spot in our IDEA Garden down in the shady area under the tall pines.  St. Augustine grass needs lots of sun but will take more shade than nearly any other grass and this variegated type is no exception.  Some afternoon shade is needed to keep this grass from frying in summer’s heat.

I have seen this lovely grass in hanging baskets, spilling over the edges of mixed pots, and as a pretty groundcover in our shade area.  We always take some in a greenhouse just in case we have an extra cold winter.  It will freeze in a severe winter, but has made it through the past several winters.  This variegated variety does not grow nearly as fast as regular St. Augustine; keeping it from becoming a pest in our garden.  Does it need mowing?  Maybe if it were in a large yard setting.  Getting about eight inches tall ( if that ) ours provides a good height for an edging plant.

Decorative grasses are the rage right now.  There are all types: tall, short, fine textured and coarse textured.  We have many different grasses in our gardens where you can get some good ideas for your own yard.  While there, notice all the different kinds we have and how they are used.  Grasses give height where it is needed, color, and best of all motion and ‘music’ on a windy day.  They go dormant in winter but we like to leave the dried brown foliage to give sparkle on a frosty morning.  Our grasses also offer shelter to small garden critters like lizards, toads, and even small birds, plus the blooms are a lovely source of nectar to butterflies.


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