How to Make a Wildflower Bomb

“You can throw them out of a moving car, from a bicycle, on a hike,” says Daniel Cunningham, a horticulturist at Texas A&M, who has conducted preliminary trials on bomb-making techniques that lead to higher rates of seed germination. Before you go launching wildflower seed projectiles, start with a solid recipe. You’ll need a mixing bowl and baking sheets. Add one part native wildflower seed mix — Cunningham’s include bluebonnets, blanket flowers and native grasses, but yours should reflect what grows endemic to your region — to four parts powdered clay and five parts fine-grained compost. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly and stir in water slowly until you have a thick, bread-dough-like consistency.


The Resilient Garden(er)

Growing food in North Texas can be challenging, if not downright difficult, even for the most experienced green thumb. Our gumbo clay soil is sticky and heavy. Our weather runs the gamut of extremes.

In 2018, the growing season between March 1st to July 25th was the driest on record. The summer, while not the hottest, was right up there, with 23 days over 100 degrees. And then last fall, it rained—and rained—and rained. The wettest fall in history brought fungal diseases and other challenges to the garden.

While almanacs, meteorologists and climate scientists all have their predictions, no one truly knows what 2019 will bring. What we do know is that our climate is destined for good years and bad, and along with that comes successes and failures in the garden.



Texas could have its best wildflower season in almost a decade

For Dallas-Fort Worth, last fall was the wettest on record with 29.21 inches of rain from September to November, according to the National Weather Service. In October alone, Dallas-Fort Worth picked up 15.66 inches, nearly four times the area’s 4.21-inch average for the month.

Daniel Cunningham, a horticulturist and project manager with Texas A&M AgriLife Research, said North Texas is beginning to see promising signs of this year’s wildflower season, with basal rosettes already growing in dense patches across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 

“Higher-than-average rainfall in most of North and Central Texas definitely bodes well for our bluebonnet forecast,” Cunningham said. “We’ve had ample rainfall this winter as well, assuring that moisture is not likely to limit their growth.” 

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More than 800 slated to attend beginner’s gardening course in North Texas

Writer: Gabe Saldana, 956-408-5040, [email protected]
Contacts: Daniel Cunningham, 972-952-9223, [email protected]
Martha Cavazos Fipps, 972-547-7335, [email protected]

DALLAS — A regional gardening course for beginners, to be held Jan. 12, has already garnered more than 800 registrants from around the world, organizers said.

The Newcomer’s Guide to Gardening takes place at the Collin College Conference Center, 2400 Community Ave., McKinney. The free learning event, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., will cover the fundamentals of successful, sustainable gardening, organizers said.

Presentations by Texas A&M AgriLife experts and others include an overview of North Texas soils, vegetable gardening, butterfly gardening, watering wisely, the Earth-Kind gardening method and a lecture on the “Top 100”plants for the region, said Martha Cavazos Fipps, an organizer of the event and environmental education coordinator with the City of McKinney.

The Newcomer’s Guide to Gardening is hosted by the City of McKinney with 15 public and private partners including Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.  

“We have really assembled the most relevant topics, the best speakers, expanded marketing and a great venue for this class over the last three years,” Fipps said about the annual event.

She said registrant numbers have jumped from about 130 to more than 800 since 2016. Attendees originate from 40 states and 24 countries, including Argentina, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, India, Kenya, Philippines, Nigeria, Spain and Japan among others. 

AgriLife speakers from Dallas and Collin County will provide instruction alongside public and private sector experts of horticulture and water resources at the event.

“It’s one of the most comprehensive beginner gardening courses out there,” said Daniel Cunningham, horticulturist with AgriLife’s Water University public outreach program in Dallas. 

“You will get knowledge you can put into practice at home right away no matter where you come from in the world.”

Go to for a list of all speakers and topics and to register for the free morning course.

Want to plant fruit trees? Here’s your explainer on chill hours and pollenizers

With January’s colder weather, fruit trees may not get much of gardener’s attention. But a little thought now should produce fruitful results down the road.

While many D-FW nurseries offer a great selection of fruit trees in containers, some specialty crops are more readily available as mail order or through reputable online sources. Most commonly these trees are shipped bare rooted — completely dormant young plants without soil surrounding the root zone. Without the added weight of the soil, these specimens (just as vigorous as their containerized counterparts) are easier and cheaper to ship. The one caveat, though, is that the window for shipping and planting bare root fruit trees is limited.

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Crash course in craft cocktails: How to infuse liquor with local, sustainable ingredients

One way to get into the holiday spirit is to warm up with liquors infused with locally sourced flavors from the garden.  

Infusing alcohol with fruits, herbs and other botanicals is certainly not something new and has been done for centuries. In fact, your local store is probably filled with flavored vodkas, whiskeys and other liquors containing the essence of various plant-based compounds. 

Going local and sustainable

The craft kitchen movement is helping bring back seasonal, wild-crafted spirits. Several local restaurants strive to elevate ingredients, support local producers and reduce waste in the kitchen, with these principals spilling over behind the bar itself, delivering more intense, higher quality botanicals to the glass.

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5 types of living Christmas trees that actually grow well in North Texas

Full disclosure: I hate artificial plants. Last week I jokingly told a co-worker that if anyone put artificial plants on my grave, I would come back and haunt them. But Halloween is long over, and Christmas music is playing almost everywhere you go. So let’s talk Christmas trees.

As a horticulturist whose sole purpose is growing (and teaching folks how to grow) plants more sustainably, many of the people I run into still believe that artificial turf, plastic interior plants and even artificial Christmas trees are more sustainable because they use less water and fewer fossil fuels or that they save a tree from being cut down. But most of the time, that really isn’t the case. In fact, there are a number of environmentally friendly reasons to buy a real Texas-grown Christmas tree from a local tree farmer or cut down the tree yourself as a family outing to make lasting memories.   

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