It has been a good season for gardening. In the month of September, King William received 8 3/4 inches of rain, a bit more than the City as a whole at just over 7 inches.

Be careful about parking your car under a pecan tree. The picture shows what happened to Nora Peterson and Richard Green's car at 227 Adams St. on Sunday afternoon, September 30. A large pecan tree beside their driveway toppled over, crushing their car and damaging the front porch of their home. The tree appeared to be healthy and why it fell is not known. Losing such a tree is a real tragedy. What is lost when a tree dies or is needlessly cut down? The first thing that comes to mind is the loss of shade which keeps utility bills down in summer. But more important is the moisture in the atmosphere. Through fine roots, trees draw water from underground, some from depths of over 200 feet. A single large tree may pump over a ton of water into the sky in a day. This amazing bit of information comes from a book titled Trees by Gretchen C. Daily, printed locally by Trinity University Press, a recent gift from a good neighbor and friend who shares an interest in gardening.

With over five inches of rain overnight on August 19th and more in mid-September, plants have had a growth spurt not usually seen this time of year. Check to see if you have trees and shrubs that need trimming because they now block traffic signs or walkways. Weeds have also come up in abundance. Treat them with a mix of one gallon of 9 % vinegar and 2 ounces of Orange Oil. The vinegar is in the grocery and the Orange Oil at most nurseries. This is an organic mixture and will kill whatever it touches, so be careful.

If one plant could be called the Christmas Flower it would be the poinsettia. They are great for home decoration and make perfect gifts to be enjoyed for years to come.

Which brings me to a story of one plant in particular. In the garden along the drive at my newly restored home on Mission Street was a double red poinsettia. The house had been vacant for more than 10 years and the winter had apparently been too mild to freeze the plant back. In the spring of 2003 when I was getting ready to paint the house the plant was over 10 feet tall and had grown out over the drive. With great reluctance I found I had to cut it down in order to paint.

It was only afterwards that my next door neighbor told me the poinsettia had been given to his brother-inlaw and new bride who happened to be living with them at the time - 36 years ago! They didn't have enough of a garden to plant the gift, so their next door neighbor kindly offered to let them plant it along his drive where they could see it.

We both thought that 36-year-old poinsettia was gone for good. But it is back and beautiful! It has about 100 bracks that are just starting to turn red in this cooler weather and should be in full bloom by the middle of the month.

If you get a poinsettia over the holidays it can be kept indoors until spring. Keep it in a bright window with moist but not wet soil. And if you have an unusual story about something in your garden that you would like to share with other NL readers, let us know…

Alan Cash

Consider removing non-native plants from your property

A variety of habitat restoration projects are underway in San Antonio, including the Eagleland Reach of the San Antonio River Improvement Project. At Eagleland and elsewhere, efforts have been made to install a variety of native plants as part of habitat restoration. Native plantings are a way we can reverse the negative impacts we have on our environment, including habitat destruction and fragmentation, which has occurred over large parts of our landscape. In other words, it is one of the positive impacts humans can have on the environment. By restoring native plant communities we can reintroduce various native species that have been absent from an area for decades if not centuries, we can conserve biodiversity of native species, and we can benefit in numerous direct and indirect ways from the plentiful ecosystem services that native plant communities provide. Humans require healthy, functioning ecosystems to live, and it is this fundamental reason that compels many of us to participate in projects that aim to restore the native plant communities, which are an important part of any ecosystem.

It is that time of year when the flowers begin to bloom, the leaves spring forth and the webworms begin to get hungry.

Webworms are a serious problem in King William. Last year I tried a tree medicine which I bought at Home Depot. The solution stated that if you poured the contents on the base of the pecan trees, the tree would absorb the solution and the webworms would leave the tree. The solution cost about $18.00 per bottle and it didn't work. My neighbor hired a company to spray her pecan trees and they charged her a fortune and she still has the dreaded worms.