The Buzz - December 2007
Message from the Editor

I'd like to Welcome Paul Phillips to the The Buzz. Paul has now taken on the role of Assistant Editor for this quarterly publication. I can't thank him enough. I think my crying on his shoulder every issue had finally gotten to him! LOL! He realized how much time goes into this publication and how much I wanted to work upon improving it. It just couldn't be done with one individual. With the help of Paul and our contributors I look forward to a larger and more informative Buzz during the upcoming year.

A big thanks also goes out to Tom for putting together our 4 issues of the year. It couldn't be done without his time and knowledge of putting it all together on one page. As the issues get larger Tom's mailbox gets fuller and fuller. I'm sure he was in shock as he was opening all of the submissions for this issue.

You will notice as time goes by we have been fortunate to get a steady supply of new writers for The Buzz. We now have Elva Hernandez, Joelle Dewhurst, Teresa Peters, Michael Loos and Diane Krny who will be submitting a new article each issue. And we cannot forget our seed banker, pollen banker and registry updates also. I applaud all of you.

The Buzz would not be available if it were not for our members and contributors. I look forward to meeting many more of you in the next coming year. I welcome your profiles, your garden pictures, your suggestions, and your articles of interest to our BGI members. It has been a wonderful year. I have learned so much from all of you with your submissions to The Buzz, and I am sure I am going to be learning a lot more in the coming year. There are some great articles being composed right now for future issues.

May all of you have a happy holiday season and wishing everyone a Happy New Year. And don't forget, it's almost time to start your 2008 seedlings if you haven't already.

 
Message from the Officers
Most of us are now in that period where we are now starting to plan for the next growing season. We have cuttings all over the house, dormant brugs stored in the garage, basement or spare room, and seedlings growing under lights. This past summer was a really tough one for many of us – either dealing with brutal drought or never-ending monsoons. And yet, in looking at the photos submitted for this year's calendar contest, I am amazed at how gorgeous the photos are. I can't imagine what next year will bring if Mother Nature is kinder to us. I don't know about you, but I am already counting the days until spring planting!

The month of December will be an exciting time for BGI. The election of new officers gives us a chance to regroup and recharge our ideas and energy level. All of our candidates are qualified to hold an office and I encourage all of you to give each of them careful consideration by reading their responses to the election questionnaires. While we do not allow open campaigning, please feel free to contact any of the candidates if you have questions concerning a stated position that they take on the questionnaires or if you have a general question about their vision for BGI. And most of all, please vote!

It has been an honor to be an officer for the past few years and I look forward to the direction that our new officers will take our organization. But let's not forget that BGI is a volunteer-based organization. There are many ways in which our membership can serve and I know you will continue to help when the new officers have requests. And remember, most of the best ideas come from the membership. And lastly, thank you thank you thank you for the support and help from all of the officers, advisors and membership during my tenure as an officer.

 
Seed Bank Update

This is an exciting time of year, for many reasons. The Christmas season is upon us, as well as prime Brugmansia seed starting time. I hope everyone has the best of luck with their seed starting efforts this winter. If you have not started Brugmansia from seed before, you do not know what you are missing. Take a few minutes and read over our seed starting tutorials here

This is also a very exciting time for the seed bank. Since taking over the seed bank duties from Delisa in September, I have sent out approximately 2200 seeds to members. If you haven't visited lately, please take the time to check out the newly revamped seed bank. The ordering process has been streamlined, and also improved with the addition of photos of the pod and pollen parents to give you a better idea of what you may expect from the crosses you request.

Delisa made a very nice donation of seed in November with some great crosses, and some of those are still left. And there are plenty of great crosses that remain from some of our most prolific hybridizers. Don't forgot about the seed bank when you are harvesting your own seed pods, as we can always use donations, even unknown crosses and non-Brugmansia seeds which can be used for bonus selections.

 
Pollen Bank Update
US Pollen BankUS Pollen BankMembers who I would like to thank for donations to the Pollen Bank are:
  • Mary our busy web mistress
  • Joyce (zzsBabiez)
  • Wendy Johnson (wjnsn)
  • Sunnie (Sunniesbloomers)
  • Patricia Watson (multiple donations)
  • Dawna
  • Kay White (Gaylams)

This is a slower time of year for the pollen bank, but it is a perfect time for getting in new pollen for next year. I have been getting rid of the 2006 pollen and members have been sending in some great pollen for the 2008 season. I have been offering some of my own seed to grow out as an incentive for donating pollen to the bank. The better the pollen, the better the cross I will send to you. I haven't really had good luck with this because the people that have sent in pollen would have done it anyway, but they are glad for the seed. Please keep the pollen bank in mind if you have some pollen you could save. If anyone needs help on how to collect, dry, and send just PM me and I will be happy to help.

We have an Australian member named Steve Shore that many of you haven't met yet, but you will because he is the author of one of the articles in this month's issue of The Buzz. Steve lives in an area that is very strict about importing of Brugmansia plants and pollen and every package is opened in customs. Steve applied for and received an import license for Brugmansia pollen. If you have any special pollen you would like to send to Steve you may send it to me and I will forward on with the customs papers. I hope some of you consider this opportunity to send some pollen to Steve in Australia. He is working hard to get some genes in that he needs for hybridizing. I hope to see some great brugmansia hybrids from Steve in a couple of years!

 
Pinecone Fire Starters
The Crafty GardenerThe Crafty Gardener

Items required:

  • Assorted Pinecones
  • Wax, you can use scented coloured candles or paraffin
  • Candle wicks, available at craft stores
  • Scented oils (can be added to wax, balsam or pine scent)
  • Soup can, to melt the wax on stove
  • Small muffin tray
  • Non-stick cooking spray

 

Materials - beforeMaterials - before

Prepare muffin trays by coating with non-stick spray, set aside. Cut lengths of wick about three inches long and lay in bottom of muffin pan, leaving a "tail" out the side of the cup. Melt your wax and add scented oil if required, in the soup can on the stove.

 

Using an oven mitt, pour the melted wax into the muffin pan cups about ½ inch deep. Ensure that the wick remains visible on the side of the cups. There should be at least an inch of wick available to trim slightly later. Place the pinecones in the cups flat side down, allow to cool fully. Remove waxed cones from pan and trim wicks to ½-¾ inches long.

Pinecone fire startersPinecone fire starters

These pinecone fire starters make great gifts at Christmas time, and are an easy way to light the fireplace.

 
Slug 'Em
Those Pesky BugsThose Pesky BugsRegardless of our climate, days of rain and warmer temperatures can bring out the slugs in the garden. These spineless, salad lovers, our insatiable enemies, can ruin a garden overnight. Whether feeding on our largest specimens or the smallest baby brugs, I think we would all agree, the best slug is a dead slug. The following is bits of material from Dr. Raymond A. Cloyd, University of Illinois and personal experience. It is edited for this newsletter and prepared with a few obvious additions to keep us awake.

Managing slugs involves a combination of strategies such as hand picking, habitat modification, barriers, traps, baits, and commercial molluscicides (slug and snail killers). Monitoring is important to determine the effectiveness of slug-management strategies. This involves going out in the evening with a flashlight and looking for the presence of slugs. During this time, visible slugs can be hand picked and placed into a container with soapy water. Larger more succulent slitherers may be skewered for consumption later -prepared with fresh chopped garlic, sautéed with drawn butter, and served as escargot. Salt to taste.

Proper watering practices can reduce slug populations. Avoid watering late in the day as this creates moist nocturnal conditions conducive for sluggular activity. Consider watering plants early in the morning. The use of drip irrigation systems, where water is directed toward individual plants, may lead to fewer slugs.

Baits are available that attract slugs into traps wherein they then drown. One popular type of bait, although this may have limited application, is the use of beer. [Beer does not have an EPA registration number, so the use of beer as a pesticide is not "technically" legal.] Sink a shallow pan into the ground with the lip just above soil level and pour beer into the pan (or accidentally into the slug hunters' handy frosted mug.) Slugs are attracted to the yeasty smell of beer, they fall into the pan and drown, or black out. (We're not sure on this one. Have you ever tried to wake up a drunken slug?) Other traps include wooden boards, rolled-up newspapers, and old tuna cans. All of these are cozy little slug hostiles; very inviting. Place them where slugs are feeding. Check them early in the morning and at least twice a week. Dispose of slugs as necessary. (See escargot recipe above.)

Commercial slug killers include metaldehyde (Deadline) and methiocarb (Mesurol). Metaldehyde is very sensitive to environmental conditions; it breaks down quickly in direct sunlight and moist conditions. Metaldehyde is toxic to dogs and cats. Methiocarb is a true nerve poison as it interferes with nerve-impulse transmission. While great for slugs, it may be toxic to dogs and cats. Irrigate before application of these materials is recommended. Spot applications should be made as opposed to broad-scale applications. Always follow the instructions listed on the label.

Another molluscicide called Sluggo has recently become available. The active ingredient is iron phosphate. Sluggo is a bait that attracts and kills slugs. Once slugs consume the chemical, they crawl away and die. It will kill slugs within three to six days. Iron phosphate is not toxic to dogs or cats and it remains effective in the landscape for a longer time than metaldehyde. This is my personal favorite.

Recent research from USDA's Agricultural Research Service has shown that caffeine kills snails. (Are we breeding for faster slugs?) In one experiment, caffeine treated coir had fewer snails than coir treated with a standard molluscicide. Additional research has demonstrated that the presence of the parasitic nematode Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita when applied to soil actually repels slugs. This nematode has been sold in the UK under the trade name Nemaslug. It is not available commercially in the USA.

I have found that a sharp stick will effectively rid small numbers of the pest from the garden. After coming across our slimy foes seven feet up the stem of a Brugmansia this season, the best and most effective action was immediate – a quick flick of the finger and stomp of the foot. Good slug hunting.

 
Holiday Recipes

Home is Where the Heart IsHome is Where the Heart IsHappy Holidays everyone from my home to yours. I spend much of my time during the holidays cooking and baking. Everything from mini cheese cakes to tamales. And don't forget the Mexican wedding cookies... Here are some of my favorite recipes to share with you.

Happy Baking and Enjoy!

– Elva

Spiced Apple Drop Cookies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or apple cider
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped apple, peeled if desired
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
  • Apple frosting (below)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Use non stick spray or use parchment paper or non stick liner on cookie sheets. In a bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves. Beat until combined. Beat in the egg and apple juice until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in the remaining flour, chopped apple and nuts. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool. Drizzle or swirl frosting onto cookies. Makes approximately 40 small cookies or 20 large cookies.

Apple Frosting: In a medium mixing bowl, beat 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1/4 cup softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 4 to 5 tablespoons of apple juice to make the frosting. When cookies have completely cooled you can drizzle this on or frost.

Candy Bar Bars

  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats, quick cooking type
  • 1 egg
  • 1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (not evaporated milk)
  • 4 cups chopped candy bars – a mixture of Reese?s and Snickers works well

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 15x10 inch ridged metal pan (jelly roll) with parchment paper or non-stick foil. In large bowl, combine butter and peanut butter; add brown sugar, vanilla and baking soda and beat well. Stir in flour and oats. Set aside about 1 1/3 cups of the peanut butter mixture. Stir egg into remaining peanut butter mixture in bowl. Using wet hands, pat into a baking pan – the layer will seem pretty thin and you'll probably worry that you don't have enough cookie batter to cover the bottom and use for topping. But don't worry. Bake for 15 minutes. Pour condensed milk over the crust. Stir together reserved peanut butter mixture and chopped candy bars; sprinkle over all and don't get too tied up in using exactly 4 cups of candy. Use more, use less. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Set on a cooling rack and cool completely. When bars are absolutely, completely cool, go ahead and cut. Store leftovers loosely covered at room temperature. Makes 4 dozen bars. A 13x9 inch pan can be used instead, but unless you don't mind thick bars, you might want to use a little less of everything.

Cuernitos (Mexican Wedding Cookies)

  • 1/2 C. powdered sugar
  • 1 C. butter, softened
  • 2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 C. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • optional: 1 C. finely chopped or ground almonds or pecans

Preheat oven to 325F. In large bowl, beat 1/2 cup powdered sugar, butter, and extracts until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, salt, and almonds or pecans (if desired). Mix until dough forms. Shape into 1 inch balls, or crescents. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes. Watch closely until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet, cool slightly and roll in powdered sugar. Let cool completely and roll again.

 
Member Profile

Let's see, where do I begin? I was asked to write a short little bit on what got me started hybridizing Brugmansia.

My dad, Henry Knight, taught mechanics at Apex High where he took me every summer ever since I can remember. I however hung out with our horticulture teacher Mr. Frank Bridges every summer as mechanics was just not my thing. Mr. Bridges was always propagating some flower or another and sharing his time and knowledge with me. Oh how I feel for him as I know I was a pesky kid.

My grandfather of course played a part in my love of plants as well. He was a tobacco farmer and told me stories of how they used to burn sulfur in the fields to make the tobacco leaves turn a better shade or hang snakes in the tree to bring rain. He would put fish under his plants and watch patiently with his gun when he discovered a fox was digging up his precious fertilizer.

Eric on a vision questEric on a vision quest

Some years later, I moved in with my cousin who was married to a Lakota yuwipi medicine man. He taught me a different way of relating to plants as the Lakota looked at all life as being related in a spiritual way. I worked many hours and generally several jobs at once so that I could afford to take most if not all of the summer off to go to ceremonies during the summer. I went on my first vision quest... standing without food in water... simply praying in isolation on top of a hill in the forest as was the Lakota way. You know, I never have experienced anything as hard as that vision quest... but I did learn that in nature... simply being and enjoying what was and not worrying about what might be... that nature had a way of dissolving one's anxiety and worries. I was able to meet medicine men from many tribes and walks of life and I only bring this up as it was and is an important reason as to why I feel so drawn to work with plants. Simply put, flowers and plants in general help to put me into a relaxed mood.

I eventually joined the service as an Abrams mechanic, go figure, as I was told this was a good way to pay for college and get college while active duty at the same time. The first part of that story was true at the time... the later part was open to interpretation so I got out of the active Army in '99 and pursued a college degree.

I started up a hummingbird and butterfly garden to allow myself a bit of relaxation. I was introduced to Lee and Allan of Native Habitat and was allowed to see their beautiful garden full of Brugmansia at the time. I thought they were beautiful, but I had no interest in trying my hand at them as they seemed to exotic and too hard to care for. I had dismissed Brugmansia without really knowing them. They gifted me with a Jamaican yellow and I was off. That little twig of a plant was left indoors as I wanted to catch the first bloom. Late one night I awoke to an intensely sweet fragrance and I bolted out of my room and followed the scent into the living room where a lone yellow flower stood in all its glory. I was hooked.

I started hybridizing Brugmansia after I collected a few and before I knew it I found Dave's Garden where I met my new friends, Bonnie, Arlene, JT, Tonny, and many others. I will note here that Tonny and I had actually crossed paths much earlier in a German discussion thread on Brugmansia. I think my crazy zest for Brugmansia helped fuel those gals and guys to gather a few themselves and to be sure I sent many out myself. Whether that is true or not in entirety is irrelevant as they definitely helped to spur me to ask more questions and to dab more pollen in my quest for answers.


Eric's brug bedEric's brug bedSoon thereafter I met Kyle Courtney and Monika online... my idols if ever I had any as I had long admired the work of these hybridizers. I continued to share seeds and cuttings and before I knew it I met Houston, a Daylily hybridizer and he was bitten by the Brugmansia fever as well for a time. He shared some of his knowledge with me as we sat and walked for hours around the garden. I planted many of my seeds at his place and purchased a tiller for planting seedlings at my own place and my girlfriend's. A short while later and I was married. A bit later Amber was born premature and I dropped out of the Brugmansia race for a time.

I then received the first of a series of letters from the Army... 9/11 had just kicked off. Needless to say, I was intent on rejoining on my own terms and not as a mechanic as I had agreed to be a mechanic solely because they said I could get my bachelor's while serving if I chose that mos. I went to the recruiter and asked to be a Medical Laboratory Technician... and here I am.

I don't consider my best successes in Brugmansia to be hybridizing. I do consider my best successes to be the fact that I have always shared what little bit I know with others and in this manner I have helped spur some of those more gifted than I am into creating some truly wonderful masterpieces. With that said, I am very happy to have met so many caring and sharing people. As long as we continue to share what we know openly then I see a future where Brugmansia hybrids will flourish. It's when we keep what we know to ourselves that new comers to the Brugmansia world will get frustrated. I know as I knew just a bit and had more whites than I hope anyone will ever see in a lifetime. In my mind, we need to share the percentages of whites, pinks, oranges, etc. from our crosses and take good notes as to such to share with newbies so to speak. We need not fear that they will take this information and surpass us. If we begin to do hoard our information or fail to take good notes then we are only hurting ourselves as those who are new to Brugmansia will lose interest in hybridizing.

The one truth I know to be certain, when more than one work towards a goal the goal is reached much faster than otherwise. When you can care enough to share what you know then you're not so caught up in things as to lose the spirit of what it is we are all about. When Brugmansia hybridizing ceases to be fun and relaxing then I will hang it up publicly.

The funny thing about this little article is that it started off as 3 pages on how to hybridize...then I realized that this would be too dry and anyone wanting to know technical terms, etc...well they were already hooked enough to look it up on the web and didn't need the article in the first place.

With that said, my only piece of advice in hybridizing is to find the two Brugmansia shapes you like the best and dream of the two together. If you don't like what you dream then select another two or breed the two best seedlings from that cross together as well as back to their respective parents. If you want to be exceptional... throw in an additional cross to something not so closely related, but that has the same basic shape or trait you were going after in the first place. In short, don't give up as a seedling has genes from both parents. It's only common sense that one set of genes may predominate in the seedlings and hence this is why you cross the best of your seedlings together and back to each parent respectively. You can get creative later.

One more quick tidbit... have fun and don't worry about the results or what others think of the trait you are going after. It's your dream and your hybrid so make your dream come true. Just because someone said it couldn't be done... doesn't make it so.... We are all intelligent enough to grasp that concept, just look at the Wright Brothers.

I would be remiss though if I didn't regress just a bit here though and mention my first two children, Kyle and Damian whom I love very much. I named Kyle's Pink and Dr. D for them respectively just as I named Amber Rose for Amber. The flowers were not what I had expected to be completely honest, but they made me happy as they came from what seemed to me to be a sea of endless whites and were fast growing first year blooming versicolors which was one of many of my goals that I wanted to work towards. I made the crosses that came after them in hopes of crossing back to these hybrids as I wanted more suaveolens and aurea influence in them as I always held that a mixed hybrid should ideally show the traits we most love from each species and if these phenotypes are lacking we must delve back into their genotype to get them to express themselves in some manner. My favorite creation, 'Georgia Peach', came much later and was grown from seed by Bonnie Vaughn.

 
2nd Annual N. California Roundup
The second annual 2007 N. California roundup was held on Oct. 13th at the lovely home of Choke and Melissa Huckuntod. Again as last year, we were a small group consisting of Choke and myself from BGI (we only have, I think, 4 BGI members in N. California), George and Linda from Dave's Gardens and about 8 people from Choke's Clivia group.
Patricia in her greenhousePatricia in her greenhouse
Patricia in her greenhouse

Choke has a wonderful yard and lots of brugs. It is always a delight to go to his home and you couldn't ask for more gracious hosts than Choke and Melissa. We had a special treat this year in that Choke's mom and sister were visiting and we had a delightful time chatting with them. His mom is also an avid gardener so we found a lot of talk about. I brought my usual truck load of plants, and with all the plants bought to trade, everyone went home with their arms loaded with plants.

Choke Hukuntod with MaryChoke Hukuntod with Mary
Choke Hukuntod with Mary

The only negative of the day was when I went to leave. Instead of watching where I was going as I backed down the steep driveway, I was watching the people walking behind the truck walking down with their arms full and I ended up in Choke's shrubs and boulders off to the side of the driveway. Fortunately Choke was able to dig me out and everyone went on their merry way dreaming about what all these brugs, and plants were going to look like next Spring.

It truly was a wonderful day fill with lots of trading and wonderful conversation. I am already looking forward to next year's roundup.

 
BGI's New Photography Forum
Imagine our forums without photographs.

There was a time when breeders depended on the collection and drying of specimen plants and copious notes in order to inform their colleagues of new finds or horticultural innovations. There are hundreds of thousands of collections of those plants and notes scattered around the world among various museums and horticultural societies. Usually, botanists made semiannual treks to their respective societies and offered their findings to fellow members at symposiums created for the purpose of sharing information. During the late Victorian era, the dilemma of compromised opportunity was somewhat assuaged by constructing conservatories where plants hustled from their native environments could be studied and propagated. If you start digging around for information horticultural, you'll inevitably stumble upon photos of crushed and crusty specimens pressed between the pages of equally crusty books along with field notes and the occasional bug. I imagine the silverfish and microscopic, paper devouring insects of this world are having a feast on the things.

With the advent of photography, things changed...but not much. Cameras were cumbersome, stationary, and made lovely, black and white or sepia toned prints. Botanists were still compelled to bring their vegetative wonders to the camera. If you plucked your plant in New Zealand, it certainly looked like garbage by the time you arrived in London for the photo shoot. I remember stalking the web looking for information regarding crossing Brugmansia and Datura and finding a scratchy photo (circa 1914) of a rather scraggly looking weed depicting the sorry result. So, back in our horticultural history, it was tried. Believe me, you don't want to give it a go again

Thanks to George Eastman, cameras shrank and were manufactured like rabbits...more black and white shots from the jungles and misty mountains of Brazil...natives holding pots of black and white orchids...spear in one hand...specimen in the other. By the time Ansel Adams had squeezed every molecule of white from black, color photography was the standard. You shot, collected up piles of film and toted the whole shebang back to your darkroom for developing. The photos were subsequently mailed and compiled into horticultural publications. If you've ever known someone who collected National Geographic magazines, you have seen what an old botanist had to wade through after a few years. So, in addition to your botanical labors, you had to develop your own photos (or hire someone to do it), and learn to live like one of the Collier Brothers (Google them if you're not at least 50 years old).

That little camera you keep in your pocket is a revolution. With it, you are able to accomplish what your horticultural predecessors could not imagine. You shoot at noon, and by 12:01 your discovery is uploaded and available worldwide. Your roses are unlikely to blush unseen, and that in itself constitutes a significant revolution in the field of botany. Your international colleagues see your contribution to the field in mere seconds, not every six or twelve months.

 

Stictocardia maculosoiStictocardia maculosoi

The only remaining problem is overcoming common mistakes that compromise the quality of your photos. If your close ups are blurry, or your subject's coloration is devoured by overexposure, you might as well be squashing blooms between the pages of crusty, old books. You're frustrated. We don't get it. Your effort is in vain. It's time to stop and re-examine your photographic skills, study up a bit and start making those shots you see in oversized, coffee table books. You can do it, and your BGI buds can help. Fortunately, we are doubly blessed with some fine photographers ready to offer advice (or sympathy).

The new forum is a place to vent your photog fury or get tips on how to use the various photo manipulation programs to achieve accurate depictions of your subjects. At the least, you're looking for botanical accuracy. Even further...a beautifully composed photo achieves both botanical accuracy and is esthetically pleasing. If we can totally eliminate photos with hands holding flowers in various positions, we will all go to Photography Heaven and receive our merit badges. If we eliminate blurry photos and think of them as a sin against the 11th commandment (Thou shalt not blur the goods), we will also receive resounding applause when the merit badges are pinned.

There is also a thread where you can post photos you think are fakes and receive votes as to whether our resident egg heads agree with you. If you find photos of purple or striped aurea hybrids, quintuply skirted versicolors, polka dotted suaveolens, post them. They are not only hilarious, but they'll help members avoid purchasing plants from dubious sources. If they're not fakes...please email me directly (I'm prepared to make outrageous business deals). LOL!!! We've posted some links to free software that can help you tune up your photos, organize them, resize them easily for uploading. More will be added as we find them.

Creating great photos is a skill that comes with serious study, the application of what is learned and development of a trained appreciation for quality. If we are as acutely aware of our photographs as we are of hybridizing etiquette, we will contribute to a more accurate record of our efforts and leave a reliable body of work for our successors.

 
Brugmansia Education and Research Committee
Hello all... I just wanted to say a few words this issue to introduce myself as the newly appointed Chairperson of this Committee. I follow in the footsteps of some really knowledgeable and beloved people on BGI like Delisa and Mary and hope to expand on some of the ideas and topics they had already begun last year such as the Delisa's wonderful work with consolidating everyone's ideas for various seed starting methods. We are currently working on reviewing a few more methods for that such as a product by the makers of Mega Grow called "Seed Sprout" as well as pre-soaking in "MegaGrow" itself, which contains Gibberellic Acid. I hope to re-open that discussion to the general membership too see what new ideas you might be using this year – right after the holidays in time for the next Buzz edition. We also hope to expand the discussion to include everyone's ideas for "best care" practices for seedlings once they have sprouted.

Other projects we are working on include research into the effectiveness of spraying our brugs with an anti-transpirant such as Wiltpruf or Anti-Stress 2000 for whole range of issues such as insect control, frost/heat protection, and even as an aide to rooting cuttings! I'll report back with some of findings as the research progresses.

Also... there is a whole thread going in the "Other Research" forum on the use of LED grow lights for our seedlings and overwintering brugs. Check it out – fascinating stuff!

I would also like to invite any of the membership of BGI to PM me with ideas, suggestions or questions for products or practices you would like to see us investigate.

 

 
The 12 Days of Christmas
On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, A triple Purple Brug tree.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Two Red Daturas, And A triple Purple Brug tree.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Three Fancy pots, Two Red Daturas, And A triple Purple Brug tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Four bags of soil, Three Fancy pots, Two Red Daturas, And A triple Purple Brug tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Five variegated cuttings, Four bags of soil, Three Fancy pots, Two Red Daturas. And A triple Purple Brug tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Six ounces of Avid, Five variegated cuttings, Four bags of soil, Three Fancy pots, Two Red Daturas. And A triple Purple Brug tree.

Chritmas BrugsChritmas Brugs

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Seven brands of fertilizer, Six ounces of Avid, Five variegated cuttings, Four bags of soil, Three Fancy pots, Two Red Daturas. And A triple Purple Brug tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Eight hundred Ebay dollars, Seven brands of fertilizer, Six ounces of Avid, Five variegated cuttings, Four bags of soil, Three Fancy pots, Two Red Daturas. And A triple Purple Brug tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Nine Brug addicted friends, Eight hundred Ebay dollars, Seven brands of fertilizer, Six ounces of Avid, Five variegated cuttings, Four bags of soil, Three Fancy pots, Two Red Daturas. And A triple Purple Brug tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, A Ten pointed bloom, Nine Brug addicted friends, Eight hundred Ebay dollars, Seven brands of fertilizer, Six ounces of Avid, Five variegated cuttings, Four bags of soil, Three Fancy pots, Two Red Daturas, And A triple Purple Brug tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Eleven fluffy pollens, A Ten pointed bloom, Nine Brug addicted friends, Eight hundred Ebay dollars, Seven brands of fertilizer, Six ounces of Avid, Five variegated cuttings, Four bags of soil, Three Fancy pots, Two Red Daturas, And A triple Purple Brug tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Twelve Euro Brug seeds. Eleven fluffy pollens, A Ten pointed bloom, Nine Brug addicted friends, Eight hundred Ebay dollars, Seven brands of fertilizer, Six ounces of Avid, Five variegated cuttings, Four bags of soil, Three Fancy pots, Two Red Daturas, And A triple Purple Brug tree.

 
Adventure In Tissue Culture
The first recorded artificial pollination is from the palace of Syrian King Ashuirnasir-Pal the second, about 870 BC, on his palace wall, showing a winged man pollinating a palm tree. After that, for thousands of years, we have been artificially selecting for better crop yields and we are still at it at BGI, although for pleasure.

The only reason tissue culture is possible is because the plant cell has the ability to change its current duties (as a leaf cell for instance) and revert to other duties, such as growing roots and shoots. Human and animal cells can?t do this, for once a brain cell always a brain cell. This cellular ability to change purpose is used to grow plant tissues under controlled conditions, and this is called tissue culture.

It is being used to get rid of virus contamination, to produce clones in the millions (generally for commercial purposes), enable increased production of drugs and chemicals from plants, conserve species that are in danger of extinction and allow plant breeding in all kinds of ways. As an amateur gardener and brug grower, the first and last are the most interesting to me.

The method used in all these cases is similar. First the tissue is selected. In the case of virus elimination, the growing tips of the buds are virus free, since the tip outgrows the virus, but only by about 0.004 of an inch. Further down the bud has increasing virus concentrations. So the bud tip is cut off, cleaned and placed in a growth gel. After it has grown, it may be subdivided and so on, giving many virus free plants. Many plant families have been made virus-free by this technique, Caladiums, Calocasias, Bananas, Cabbages, Geraniums, Roses, Lilies and dearer to our hearts, Solanaceae (tobacco, petunias, potatoes).

This work was started in the 1950s and applies mostly to the mosaic virus, but also fungi and bacteria.

EP OvaEP Ova
Figure 1, EP OVA

The actual technique in the TC process is critical, because we live in a sea of bugs and they outgrow the plant tissue, killing it in the growth gel. To get rid of these bugs is not so easy. I lose about 40% of the plants I culture even though great care is taken and good equipment used. It does improve with time though.

Most of the bugs come on the plant tissue itself, so the tissue is washed and put in bleach for various lengths of time. It is then washed in alcohol and finally water. The bleach may kill the bugs, but it also kills the plant cells, so a balance is needed where the time in the bleach leaves some tissue alive. The gel medium that the plant is deposited in is made up of a variety of chemicals, mostly sugar. It consists of chemicals that all plants need, such as nitrogen, some metals and non-metals, (such as phosphorus), and generally some hormones, held in a 0.7% seaweed gel, which is quite soft to the touch (not that I touch it, too many bugs!). Generally, I think, the problems I have with plant growth are because the hormone type and levels are wrong. Some hormones promote root growth, some shoot growth and others serve purposes that change with the plant age. It is difficult to get the right balance of hormones through the different stages of plant growth, so often the plant is transferred to a different gel medium that has a change of hormones, so growth can continue. This occurs naturally in garden plants, of course. Each plant type seems to need different loadings and different ratios of hormones and the correct levels for Brugs are as yet unknown, at least to me. Much more work has been done with Datura, perhaps because they flower more readily, so the results of the work can be seen more quickly.

The whole transfer process needs to be done in an environment where bugs (mostly yeast types) are absent, so that means in a box or cabinet with a forced air draught, not allowing bugs into the work area. The air entering the cabinet goes through a very fine filter that stops bacteria coming in. So, if the equipment in the cabinet is kept sterile, and the gel medium is bug free (by heating to 121° C) to start with, and the gel medium is acceptable to the plant, growth is possible.

My main interest is in plant breeding and in tissue culture it is possible to grow plants from pollen (just pollen!), from ova (just ova!), from fertilized seeds, and from ova that is pollinated directly on the gel medium. I prefer the ova on their base (the placenta) because it is generally already sterile, since it is covered with the plant tissue at the base of the flower. I carefully expose the eggs (see photo of EP eggs), all in the air cabinet, of course, put them in gel, and put the pollen on them. If this is successful then there is a plant much more quickly than the years needed with the natural garden plants approach. And most interestingly, it is possible to obtain plants that are impossible to obtain by any other means.

Most people ask at this point, why do you want to do that? After some soul searching, I think it is because the pollination process in flowers is fascinating and learning about it increases the awe of the processes involved. Most brugs are self-incompatible, that is they cannot pollinate themselves, and also the two groups of brugs (one being the vulcanicola, sanguinea, arborea group, the other being the remainder) cannot cross pollinate either. When the pollen germinates on the stigma, the pollen tube that carries the male genetic parts are chemically guided down inside the style towards the eggs at the base of the plant, often 7 inches away, in brugs. The pollen tube is the fastest growing plant tissue known, about 3/8ths of an inch per hour. As they approach the eggs, they are guided by the eggs themselves, by chemical messaging. In the incompatible groups mentioned above, these guiding processes are not just non-operational, but initiate a downright offensive attack. In the case of some Solanaceae that exhibit this incompatibility, there is a triggered release of enzyme from the stigma onto the deposited pollen, if the pollen is unacceptable to the stigma. In tissue cultured plants at least, the enzyme kills both the self-pollen and also any other pollen on the stigma. If this applies to garden plants, then if any pollen from the same flower is on the stigma, then dusting with foreign pollen will not work. So the best way to cross hybridize would logically be to get to the flower before the pollen ripens, and remove the anthers. This may well be why it has become effective practice to pollinate flowers before they open, as in advice given in our forums. The chemistry (what is known of it) is extremely beautiful, as beautiful as the flowers. The best way around these elaborate barriers is the direct pollination tissue culture method. Crosses have been made on a whole variety of plant families. With self pollination as an example, the species that have given germinable seeds are tobacco, poppy, petunia and primula. Not all species cooperate, (unless the medium was wrong) such as antirrhinum, clivia, narcissus. With cross pollination by tissue culture, as an example success has been achieved with datura stramonium, tobacco, datura innoxia, all with melandrum album, and atropa belladonna, tobacco and petunia with spathyphyllum grandifolium.

I don't believe anybody has crossed the two brug groups artificially yet, probably because there is little financial incentive to go to all the trouble of doing so. But imagine a yellow/red/green sanguinea crossed with one of the doubles that have already been produced! Or a datura metel crossed with a brug double white!

Although I haven't been able to progress in my own experiments successfully with this enterprise, yet, it is a lot of fun trying!

 
Holiday Traditions
The holidays are almost here. I just thought it would be fun to hear some of our members' Holiday Traditions. I have compiled several, and here they are! They all sound warm and wonderful!

Cinnamon Art by Kylie

Each year we do this for gift tags. The kids always have a ball. 10T of ground Cinnamon. 4-6T plain applesauce. Some extra ground Cinnamon (approx. 4T). Place the ground Cinnamon in a small bowl and add the applesauce, one Tbl. at a time, until it forms a dough. Sprinkle the bread board with cinnamon and roll out the cinnamon dough with a rolling pin until it is approximately 1/4 in. thick. Use the cinnamon to prevent the dough from sticking to the board. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the dough into Holiday shapes. Use a straw or toothpick to make holes in the top of the decorations. Place on a cookie sheet in a warm oven 2-4 hrs. or until dry. String them up and use a sharpie or paint pen for the names. It will keep your home smelling great for the entire season.

Dollie's (luv2plant) Dear Heart

Every year the first week of December, I go to the local nursing home, request names of the patients who have no family. My family and I draw names of these patients, purchase gifts for them, and bring gifts on Christmas Eve. This is truly what Christmas is all about, making someone else feel special. It has never failed to warm my heart seeing those dear faces light up in surprise.

Joyce (zzbabies) Is a Gem

Well, this is my story. I'm a single mom of 2. Our family consists of my brother, his kids and my Mom. I have always longed for those huge Christmas dinners we had as a child. So every year, I get the biggest turkey I can find. Cook enough for an army, including pies and all the trimmings. Then the kids distribute plates to all the elderly folks in our mobile home park. Then we make plates up until all the food is used up and pile in the car and look for homeless people to pass plates out to. We have done this for 10 years. Anyone can have a huge family if they want to!

Carter's Cavortings

When I was a kid, Santa always came to our house Christmas Eve because he knew we got up first thing in the morning and hit the road traveling to various relatives' houses for Christmas Day. Each Christmas Eve, we went to dinner. On the way out, we'd get in the car, start down the driveway and, darnit, Mom "forgot" her purse! Every single year. Well, that ended after when one year (my sister and I were both teenagers by this point) after my sister snuck Mom's purse into the car ahead of time. When we got in the car and Mom claimed to have forgotten her purse, my sister pops up, "Here it is!" Mom hastily remembered she needed to run to the restroom. Now that we are all grown up and have little ones in the family again, the tradition is similar, but a little different. On Christmas Eve, we still go to dinner, but we have to take two cars. After dinner, most of us decide to go look at Christmas lights (the little ones are always up for that) while Gamma and PaPa (my parents) decide to go home. After "Christmas Lighting", we get home to see that – low and behold – Santa has come! The little ones are always amazed that Gamma and PaPa didn't see a thing because they were taking a nap!

The Big Day is almost here. Let us also reflect on what Christmas Day is actually all about. Jesus' Birthday, Friends and, Family, Wishing us all a Blessed, Healthy, Happy Christmas, and New Year!

 
Welcome Mat
Welcome MatWelcome Mat

Well, Winter is finally here. It is supposed to snow here tomorrow. I am not liking that at all, but at least I have blooming brugs in the house! I have seedpods that just seem to be bursting, but they are not quite ready yet, I have been pollenating every new flower, hoping for something special. On that note, I just want to remind new members that you are invited to check out the seed and pollen bank. You are entitled to 3 choices of seed, and 4 choices of pollen every 3 months. Just give the bankers a few weeks before selecting your choices on the forums, as we are updating the forums, and we don't want to miss your choices. If you are chomping at the bit to plant or pollinate, you can e-mail Mary for seeds at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and Delisa for pollen at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

I hope Brandy (jumpin4joy) does not mind me quoting her here. I just loved her post about joining.

"I had no clue what I was joining when I signed on here. I have to say the word that comes to mind is Awesome. I only wish you were all my neighbors. Could you imagine everyone who shared the same passion living side by side? Everyone here has been overly generous. Just when you think no one in the world is still sane you meet a group of people who actually know why living and helping is still fun. Those of you who have shared thanks so much...."

It has been a busy fall season with 23 new members! Pensacola gardener, Alicewho, mole, Jumpin4Joy, Gardenpaw, calypso, Kylie 2x, Happy, Tirol, bluedancer18, Planter56, ladybug825, aubrey1957, Belledonna, melyn, Hurstwood, napdognewfie, Exotica, Our George, Just Jen1, Hansen, BGwannabe, Edna. I hope I didn't miss anyone!

Merry Christmas! Blessings to All!

– Paul

 
2007 Texas Fall Roundup

Tirol and monster AlocosiaTirol and monster AlocosiaOur Fall TxRU was held on Saturday September 22, at Joan's (joco) in Tyler Tx, and continued on Sunday, the 23rd at Maggidew and Kenboy's farm north of there, in Big Sandy. It was quite a small group this time around, but I believe that was helpful for dear Joan, who'd only recently suffered some drastic reactions to some new medications! This quiet and rather relaxed gathering did not seem to overly tax her, so for that we're all very grateful.

We really missed many of the "regulars" but those of us who were there were blessed to get to know everyone in a deeper way. A great friend, and brand new BGI-er, Tirol, was able to come with me for the entire event, and she was completely blown away by all of Joan's botanical beauties. Of course, Joan-the-mad-clipper sent us home with a kajillion brug cuttings! It was tricky keeping up with her! We were treated with meeting some new friends, too.

Carol and Gary, who brought a bunch of plants to share with us total strangers. I admit we all swarmed all over the vehicle... hehe. Nadine not only brought a bunch of plants, but gifted many of us with her latest artist endeavors... concrete leaves, formed from leaves on her own property! Those are cool! She and Tirol even discovered some amazingly coincidental family connections, as did Louise and I. Truly a small world!

Another fun deal was that Uschi, Dave, and the kiddos stopped in, on their way to the Tx coast! They all look so great!

Tirol, Louise and I slept at Joan's Saturday night, and we gals stayed up a bit late taking bruggie pictures, and enjoying the fragrance all over the property... what a great time! Louise is such a wonderful lady! As always, Bill and Joan were delightful Ken, Nadine, Tirol, Maggi, Uschi and DaveKen, Nadine, Tirol, Maggi, Uschi and Davehosts, and the brisket was as wonderful as ever. Thank you, dear friends.

Sunday morning, we gals headed over to Maggi and Ken's farm for some more botanical overload... hehe. Wow! They've got a blossoming nursery business underway, veggies growing in many raised beds, and some of the EE's and banana plants were frankly surprising!

By the time we headed for home, our vehicles were loaded to the gills, as always. This was another super gathering, and we're looking forward to a trip up to Uschi and Dave's in Arkansas, Spring '08


 
How about trying some Duranta?
The genus Duranta L. contains 17 to 30 species of tropical trees and shrubs; some are regionally cultivated as ornamentals.

Duranta repensDuranta repensDuranta erecta commonly called Lilac-Flowered Golden Dewdrop, Brazilian Sky Flower, Duranta, Pigeon Berry, or Sky Flower. It is a rapidly growing type having dense, somewhat evergreen, foliage and lilac colored flowers. Renewal pruning is needed occasionally to maintain a dense manageable form. Most cultivars of this species have a dark blue stripe in the center of each flower petal, but different selections may have darker or lighter flowers. Cutting-grown selections of this species include 'Sky Blue', which has light blue flowers and a dense, compact habit; and 'Royal Blue', which has dark blue flowers and is also very compact. This species is by far the heaviest berry producer, which enhances its value as an ornamental and bird attraction.

A yellow foliage variegated form named 'Gold Edge' is available. Its brightly glowing gold and green variegated foliage provides a strong contrast, especially with red tones. This variety rarely blooms or sets fruit. Blooming Durantas perform best with more light but the variegated ones such as 'Gold Edge' actually look best in partial shade. Since 'Gold Edge' is used for its foliage display, Duranta repens Alba, or White Duranta repensDuranta repens Alba, or White Duranta repensblooming is not important.

Duranta can be a large, evergreen shrub or small tree, 15 to 20 feet tall in USDA zones 10 and 11, that produces graceful, drooping branches, a few thorns, bright green ovate leaves and numerous small flowers throughout the year. Flowering is continuous in the tropics, but begins in late summer and continues through autumn in less tropical regions and is followed by numerous, small, golden "balls." The fruit is elongated spherical to teardrop shaped drupes; three-eights to one-half inch long. The fruits are initially green and then mature to a golden yellow to yellow-orange color. It can be commonly used as a summer annual for late season color or perhaps in patio containers. It will be a perennial planting in zone 9, or as a summer annual in zones 8 and colder. They should be hardy down to 20° F. Durantas have the ability to tolerate sun or shade.

Duranta attracts birds which feed on the fruits and it is one of the few flowers that attract both hummingbirds and butterflies. Durantas have a mature natural height of 12-15 feet; a growth rate of medium; a wide soil pH range (does well in acid or alkaline); a hardiness zone from subtropical to tropical; require medium to high light exposure; have medium salt tolerance and drought tolerance; nutritional levels are low but needs a well drained soil; plants can become chlorotic in poor fertility sites.

Duranta erecta 'Variegata'Duranta erecta 'Variegata'An added bonus is for it to be a deer non-preference plant. They are somewhat resistant to disease and insect attack but scale insects, caterpillars, and nematodes can be occasional pests.

Duranta is described as having poisonous fruit containing hydrocyanic acid. When put in an area densely populated with deer, all plants were eaten within three days with the berries being eaten first. No animals were killed, the meat presumably was not tainted, and the deer supposedly were worm-free for several months thereafter.

It can be propagated by sowing the seed in the spring or from greenwood cuttings. It also can be propagated by layering in spring.

Why not try some Durantas in your garden?

 


 
Newly Introduced Brugs
Newly Introduced Brugs
function viewBrug(n) { if ( n > 0 ) { document.cultivars.SelectedID.value = n; document.cultivars.submit(); } else window.alert( "No BCRA information is available." ); } <p> Note: Links to display brugs will not work unless you have JavaScript enabled in your browser for domain "brugmansia.us".</p>

The following cultivars have been registered from August 1st to November 30th 2007:

  • 'Shady Lady' - 8/7/07, H - Terry McLeod, SP - Paul Phillips
  • 'Tinker Bell' - 8/8/07, H - Mary Usina, SP - Mike Usina
  • 'Bumblebee' - 8/8/07, H - Mary Usina, SP - Mike Usina
  • 'Madeline' - 8/8/07, H - Mary Usina, SP - Mike Usina
  • 'Kelly Ann' - 8/8/07, H - Mike Usina, SP - Mike Usina
  • 'Chesa' - 8/10/07, H - unknown, SP - Patricia Watson
  • 'Casacolacreek' - 8/10/07, H - Mary Usina, SP - Mike Usina
  • 'Candy Cane' - 8/22/07, H - Mary Usina, SP - Mike Usina
  • 'Chantilly Lace' - 8/22/07, H - Mike Usina, SP - Mike Usina
  • 'Cranberry Juice' - 8/22/07, H - Mary Usina, SP - Mike Usina
  • 'Brandy' - 8/22/07, H - Mary Usina, SP - Mike Usina
  • 'Prince Charming' - 9/7/07, H - Mary Usina, SP - Mike Usina
  • 'Mandarin Twist' - 10/22/07, H - Ludger Schneider, SP - Paul Phillips
  • 'Flame' - 11/7/07, H - Larry Locklin, SP - Gloria Thaman
  • 'The Chief' - 11/23/2007, H - Volker Sanders, SP - Liz Fichtl

Please refer to the BCRA for all currently registered cultivars.

 
Master Gardening Programs
The Master Gardening Program provides the Cooperative Extension staff with trained volunteers to assist with their workload. Master Gardeners may be in a large variety of projects approved by their Cooperative Extension. These tasks may include answering gardening questions, assisting at the Cooperative Extension office, conducting school gardening programs, coordinating Master Gardener programs, designing demonstration gardens and community school landscapes, creating community gardens, developing visual aids for presenting Cooperative Extension programs, diagnosing plants problems, conducting gardening seminars and classes, presenting lectures or demonstrations to interested groups, producing newsletters, creating demonstration gardens, and assisting in research projects at Experimental Station.

Both the Cooperative Extension service and the Master Gardener meet the demands of the general public in a win-win atmosphere that enhances both organizations. Both organizations must remain flexible to meet the demands of the public as horticulture needs change either by time or by location. Horticulture needs differ slowly from county to county but differ more from state to state.

The Master Gardener program was originally initiated by David Gibby, King County Extension Agent, of Washington State in 1972. The workload was so great on gardening questions that the agent was not able to keep up with demands. The solution was to have a group of trained volunteers to help handle the workload. David Gibby and Arlen Davison came up with plans for the initial season of the Master Gardener program. Now the program is active in every state of the US and five Canadian provinces.

As stated earlier, the Master Gardener program varies a lot from one area to another, also the training areas and the schedule of the classes vary greatly. Contact your local Cooperative Extension service to find out the details for your area, if your county does not have a Cooperative Extension service then go to an adjacent county.

For my area our class met once each week from January through Mid-May. Each student that graduates gets a certificate that their school portion has been completed. To complete training and graduate as a Master Gardener, 40 hours of volunteer service time is required. Normally the Cooperative Extension requires 30 hours under their protocol and the remaining 10 hours is usually individual preference of what that an individual wants to be associated with such as, Cooperative Extension assistance, plant propagation, turf grasses and weed control, giving classes, etc. This is a list of the training criteria that are presently being taught here, your area would probably be similar: (1) Soils & Nutrition, (2) Composting, (3) Basic Botany, (4) Basic Plant Physiology, (5) Plant Propagation, (6) Basic Entomology, (7) Basic Plant Pathology, (8) Basic Weed Ecology & Management, (9) Integrated Pest Control, (10) Landscape Design, (11) Residential Irrigation, (12) Selecting, Planting, & Managing Woody Landscape Plants, (13) Woody Plants for South Carolina, (14) Herbaceous Ornamental Plants, (15) Turfgrass Establishment, (16) Home Vegetable Gardening, (17) Fruit Gardening, (18) Indoor Plants, (19) Diagnosing Landscape Plant Problems, and (20) Communication & Teaching Methods.

Our Master Gardener Training Manuals were issued the first class, and our first lesson was the following week. So we had a fabulous class that day on Butterfly Gardening (no test on it!) given by a local Master Gardener and his wife (who is also a Master Gardener).

Whether this course would help you is something that only you can decide. If you already have an advanced education or experience dealing in horticulture, it probably wouldn't do you much good, however, at that point maybe you should consider taking it to teach future MG classes.

If your class is like mine was you will have a mixture of all kind of people with many different backgrounds, education levels, occupations, and age difference with one common bond – gardening. This class like anything else will only benefit you if you apply yourself to it.

My background was electrical and instrumentation (electrical/electronics/pneumatic using applied sciences) so the class was great for me. We had students that were full time nursery workers, retirees, chemical engineers, housewives, teachers, dentist, teachers, and one or two with horticulture degrees.

Happy Gardening!

– Pete

(The South Carolina Master Gardener Training Manual, October 2007, ISBN 978-09798777-0-4 was used for reference)