Newspaper Columns

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

Maypops are good for beauty, fruit, juice — and butterflies

Our common native passion vine, (Passiflora incarnata) or maypop, is a relic stock_carpenter_bee_on_passion_vine_2018from our tropical days millions of years ago. It is a member of a tropical fruit family and serves as the host for the pretty, orange, gulf fritillary butterfly, a tropical holdover as well. Many other beautiful passion vines, including the edible passion fruit (Passiflora edulis), are cold tender and will freeze in all but the coastal parts of the South.

Passion vines got their name from early Spanish priests who weaved each part of the amazingly intricate flowers into the story of the passion of Christ. And intricate they are. At least in the South, I know of no other flower with such an array of floral parts.

Maypop vines occur in pastures and along the edge of woods and roadsides and will either climb trees, fences and other structures or sprawl about the ground as they do in open prairies. The maypop is virtually indestructible; but performs best in full sun with good drainage. Propagation is from seed or cuttings. Once you’ve located a plant, the real show starts.

Greg Grant is the Smith County horticulturist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. He is co-author of “Heirloom Gardening in the South.” You can read his “Greg’s Ramblings” blog at arborgate.comor read his “In Greg’s Garden” in each issue of Texas Gardener magazine ( More science-based gardening information from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service can be found at

Smith County hosts Texas A&M AgriLife Extension horticulturists for annual retreat and training

This past month, Tyler played host to 48 Extension horticulturists from aroundhorticulturists meet at blue moon the state for the 2018 Horticulture Retreat and Seminar. Representing 26 counties, the specialists gathered at the Rose Garden Center for this annual conference.

“It has been 11 years since Tyler hosted the symposium. We took this opportunity to show off East Texas,” said Greg Grant, Smith County horticulturist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, “and we blew them away.”

Field education events highlighted East Texas horticulture and viticulture, including tours of the Tyler Rose Garden featuring the Heritage, IDEA and Shade gardens; Blue Moon Gardens; Breedlove Nursery; David Claiborne’s Noonday onion and Jacksonville tomato production; Kiepersol Winery and Distillery; and Texas Superstar field trials at TAMU Research Center, Overton. Agents experienced the extent of the active, vibrant horticulture industry in East Texas.

Sponsors included Smith County Master Gardeners, Kiepersol Vineyard and Distillery, Kinney Bonded Warehouse, Trees USA, North Texas Nursery Growers Association, Breedlove Nursery, Irrigation Mart, Heritage Land Bank, Cavender’s, Smith County Soil and Water Conservation District, Tyler Candle Co., Dory’s Gardens, East Texas Brewing Co. and the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau.


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