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Texas Forest Service
News Release
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

TYLER – Dealing with drought, dead trees, water-use restrictions, wildfire concerns: Yes, there will be some “downer” topics at the East Texas Spring Landscape and Garden Conference, set Feb. 11 in Tyler, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service gardening expert.

But there will be a lot of fun topics too, said Keith Hansen, AgriLife Extension horticulture agent for Smith County and program planner.

“We’re having a variety of subjects that will help homeowners and gardeners cope with drought conditions and water restrictions, plus some fun and interesting topics,” Hansen said.

Held at the Tyler Rose Garden Center, 420 Rose Park Dr., registration for the program will be $35, payable at the door by cash or check only and will include a hot lunch. Registration will start at 7:30 a.m, with the program concluding at about 3:30 p.m.

The first presentation of the morning will be “Learn to Think Like a Plant, Then You can Talk to Them,” by Dr. David Reed, professor and associate dean at the Texas A&M University department of horticultural sciences, College Station.

“Reed talks about plants being ‘schizophrenic hermits,’” Hansen said. “They ‘live alone’ and ‘talk to themselves.’ But gardeners can learn the ‘language’ plants use to grow and function, and how that knowledge helps us grow and take care of them.”

Another fun topic will be  “Tillandsias: Easy-to-Grow Air Plants,” given by Carmen Wagner, bromeliad expert, Canton.

“Carmen will tell us about her favorite tillandsias,” Hansen said. “These are unique and easy-to-grow plants that can be used in a wide variety of ways as decorations because they don’t need soil to grow. She will discuss several types, and how they can be used around the home.”

Also in the morning will be “Composting – Good for Your Soil,” by Malcolm Beck, author of the “Secret Life of Compost.”

“Malcolm Beck has been called the ‘Father of Compost’ in Texas,” Hansen said. “He has been making and selling compost for decades in the San Antonio area and is highly regarded by gardeners and horticulturists.”

Afternoon topics will focus on dealing with drought, Hansen said.

“Firewise Landscaping – Give Your Home a Break,” will be jointly presented by Anne Brown and Dee Bishop, both Smith County Master Gardeners and Firewise Landscape Specialists.

In “Making Every Drop Count,” Hansen will discuss various water conservation techniques in light of projected water-use restrictions predicted for Tyler and other area communities this summer. He noted that despite recent rains, there are still projections for a drought or at least dryer than normal weather this summer.

Daniel Duncum, with the Texas Forest Service, will answer the question “Are My Trees Dead?”

This is an important question to ask before hiring a service to remove dead-looking trees, Hansen said.

The program will wind up with a question and answer panel.

For more information, contact Hansen at 903-590-2980,, or visit the event’s Facebook page at

Remembering Jim Guidry

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