Newspaper Columns

Columns written by Greg Grant and a Smith Co. Master Gardener which have appeared in the Tyler Morning Telegraph, are posted here.

Crinums are tough beauties that can take the heat

Published on Wednesday, 12 July 2017 15:51 – Written by GREG GRANT, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Grant Milk and wine lilies (Crinum x herbertii)

Traipse through any old Texas cemetery or yard and you are almost assured of running across one of the most enduring and cherished of Southern bulbs, the crinum lily. Though they somewhat resemble them, crinums aren’t true lilies or even related to them. Like oxblood lilies, rain lilies and spider lilies, crinums are in the amaryllis family instead.

The genus Crinum includes about 130 species occurring in warm tropical regions of the world, especially Africa and Asia. This genetic heritage makes widespread cultivation only possible in zones 7-10, as they aren’t cold-hardy in northern climates. This also makes them supremely adapted to hot, muggy Southern conditions. Crinums (pronounced “CRY-nums”) are to the South what peonies are to the North, big bold perennials with wonderful flowers for cutting. The often-fragrant, lily-like flowers occur in clusters on stalks around 3 feet tall and can be white, pink, or striped (milk and wine lilies).

Crinums have big bold foliage that often cascades to the ground in lush mounds. Haughty gardeners often complain about the mounds of rotund leaves. But crinums are what they are, and they don’t really care whether you like their foliage or not. They are very much like Texas – big and brash. If their foliage gets marred by insects, it is acceptable to occasionally cut it all off so that it may be replaced with new healthy foliage. It’s also a good time to toss a bit of fertilizer around them. This “crew cutting” is a rare acceptance for bulbs, so don’t over practice it if the foliage is generally healthy.

To be quite honest, I’ve never met a crinum I didn’t like. They range in size from small to large, with foliage from upright to cascading. Flowers can be trumpet or spider-like, and can smell like vanilla or perfume. Dr. Welch likes the more subdued colors, while I’ve always preferred the gaudily striped milk-and-wine types. Where I was raised, gaudy is a compliment.

A garden journal can come in handy

Published on Wednesday, 12 July 2017 16:38 – Written by ANNE PATULLO, Smith County Master Gardeners

SCMG art web only

What was that beautiful yellow flower that bloomed in my garden all summer long, requiring minimal care and adored by bees? What variety of tomato did I like best that resisted disease and had big leaves to protect the fruit from sun scald?

Who can remember every detail in the garden?

A great way to enjoy your garden and remember the details is to combine photos in a journal. This can be a great project for those hot, humid summer afternoons when no one wants to be out in the heat. If you take pictures of your garden each month throughout the year, you can watch it grow and change with the seasons. By putting your pictures into a scrapbook and recording pertinent information, you will have a great record to refer to for several seasons to come.

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