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As I look outside, or as I drive my car around, I am noticing so many birds, of so many varieties — they are here and appear to be ravenous. Almost every neighborhood, highway median and open field seems to be attracting birds. I love looking in my backyard to count the varieties I see.

To burn or not to burn. If this is your question, allow me to try to answer it by going through the laws on public and private burning and the exceptions that are allowed. With the winds that have already been quite prevalent this week, and the upcoming springtime and summer heat, we should …

I’m sure you’ve heard about the problem with feral hogs in Texas. The population has exploded, and with it comes an increase in the damage done by their rooting and feeding habits. Lands affected by feral hogs include parks, nature reserves, ranch land, golf courses, and even rural neighborh…

Hasn’t it been gorgeous weather? I love when it warms up in February.

It is important to ask ourselves “why” from time to time, since it’s essential to have a rational for what we choose to do. The interesting part of asking ourselves “why” is there may not be one motive, but several. I stumbled across a quote about growing plants that fits me rather perfectly:

All roots are not created equal, but they all serve at least one if not two of the most essential of purposes — providing a plant with the needed water and nutrients, and holding the plant firmly in place in its growing medium. Today, I wanted to discuss how you can start rooting plants righ…

The more I study flowers, seek out new species for my yard or for writing about in this column, and the more kinds I see as I travel around the world — the more amazing flowers become to me.

As January comes to a close, I wanted to share a quote I found that is reasonably profound. Since we have had such cold temperatures, and although they tend to warm right back up, most of the flowers, plants and perennials are looking pretty toasted. Only the evergreens look unaffected. The …

I know not all of my readers have issues with deer feeding on their landscaping, but I bet all of you know someone who does.

This time of year always makes me smile, watching all the commercials about shaping up and getting fit, joining a gym, or trying the latest “eating healthy” plan. I’ve heard it is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, but a month later, the excitement and/or momentum is all but gone.

Happy new year! This is the eighth time I’ve gotten to tell readers this. It hardly seems possible, another year went by so quickly. Let’s commit to making it 2017 a great one, by getting outside and enjoying the beauty of Central Texas.

The wind was really impressive as the cold front blew in. I went out to watch it and got some awesome pictures of the cloud bank.

I love that scene in “Mary Poppins” where Dick Van Dyke sings “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” Other than this memory, many folks don’t think much about their chimneys. For those of us who have them, we see and care for the looks and function of our fireplaces, but the chimneys are out of sight, out of …

Some of the folks in my neighborhood got together recently and strolled around to homes open for visiting and snacking. We finished an enjoyable evening by stepping outside one home to sing Christmas carols. I had a lot of fun. It has been so long since I have caroled outside. I miss it, and…

Well, the temperatures are finally falling low enough for it to feel cold. It’s about time — it is December, after all.

When I was a kid, my mother always seemed mad, or extremely frustrated, with this one plant she had that would not bloom. It was a wisteria and she wanted so badly for it to cover her fence and bloom those beautiful purple flowers. But as I recall, it never did, and eventually she dug it up.

I met a person recently who asked me, “How do you get your ideas to write your column each week?” That’s a good question. After seven and a half years, it is getting to be more of a challenge. But as you can see, I’m still going strong and haven’t had to repeat anything.

Time has flown by this year, and the Thanksgiving holiday is just days away. Our country has been through a great deal of discord, frustration and uncertainty. We heard talk of folks threatening to leave the U.S., we saw our flag burned, and we heard “this is NOT my country” after a contenti…

Have you noticed? There are so many butterflies this year. I thought maybe I was just imagining things, but it really is true. There are more butterflies this fall than usual. So I thought I would look into why.

I recently experienced an unusually baffling situation with a lacey bark elm tree. It is 5 years old and was gorgeous two months ago. Now, it is totally brown. It literally went from a full canopy of green to a thin canopy of brown, shriveled leaves. It was painful to see.

Since Halloween is coming up in a few days, and kiddos will be roaming around the streets and maybe even on your property, I thought outdoor safety might be a timely topic.

I have been talking about different weeding options in this column for years now. I’ve always held that pulling them out by the roots is the best way to immediately rid your yard of weeds. I’ve also discussed using a pre-emergent twice annually as well as a post-emergent when necessary. Then…

I was emailing a fellow Master Gardener this week, and she mentioned the difficulty some folks have identifying particular species due to mediocre blooms. Her comments were the inspiration for this column.

The city of Killeen just ended its curbside pick-up of recycling, for financial reasons, I’ve heard. They took the recycling bins, and now, how many of us have stopped collecting the recyclable materials? What are we supposed to do? I guess it depends upon how important we think it is to recycle.

I thought I would play off of some recently popularized “buzz words,” but instead apply them to plants, not people. How I came to this was, lately, I have found myself, while working in my landscaping, saying over and over, “Man, I hate this plant!” I don’t say that about many things, as I k…

Many of our daily conversations begin by discussing the weather, since it affects us all and so much of our schedule and activities depend upon it. Nowadays, we usually feel fairly confident that we know the upcoming weather based on the forecasts provided by local TV stations and internet s…

I was heading into a business a couple of weeks ago and noticed a fun sight — a bunch of bananas. While I grew up seeing bananas growing quite often, I don’t see it much here. But it makes sense that these particular trees are fruiting this year, and for a couple of reasons.

I hope you heeded my advice in last week’s column about taking precautions for stinging insects, because I didn’t. And boy, did I pay.

As I look over my summer landscaping, it’s amazing how much it has grown. We got quite a bit of timely rainfall, followed by significant heat and humidity. This combination has allowed the turf grasses, shrubs, perennials and annuals to grow like crazy. Mine have extended beyond their boundaries.

Have you noticed any downed trees? I have, along with cracked and even broken branches in yards and on rooftops. Some, if not most, can be blamed on the massive amounts of rain we’ve had over the past couple of weeks.

Pride and patriotism are always at an all-time high during the Olympic Games. We love to see our U.S. athletes not only compete and win, but also to hear our national anthem played as they stand on the podium, humbly displaying their gold medals.

I was asked a question this week by a concerned homeowner whose ash trees are losing many of their leaves. Since there are so many homes with ash trees, I thought I would share with everyone why this may be happening all around this area, though I highly recommend you consult a professional …

I found so much useful information about flag etiquette last week, that I thought I would continue sharing. There are so many interesting and seldom known codes of conduct to ensure the flag is flown correctly and honorably, so I’ll try to put in as many as I can.

What can I say but “how heart-breaking!” Our U.S. flags have been flying at “half-staff” for way too many days and months. There has been so much killing recently, and our country is reeling from the shock, the disgust and the grief we feel when human beings take the lives of others, whether…

I heard a weather forecast mention that we would be in the 100 degree temperatures this week. It also emphasized we were actually a couple of weeks later than normal in reaching the triple-digit mark for the year. It’s always somewhat startling to hear that it’s 100 degrees or higher. Even n…

July 16 is set aside each year as an official holiday recognizing snakes, believe it or not.

With all of the rain we’ve had, I’m sure your grass is growing as quickly as mine. I’m mowing every four days.

Sometimes we get so used to seeing the same things around us that we forget to appreciate them.

Summer is the time for relaxation for many families. Some will hang around the house while others will want to get outside and play. There may be trips to the neighborhood park, a day trip to one of our local state parks, and even vacation time away from home and travel to unfamiliar areas.

Temperatures are rising, as they should. Summer is here, and early morning is probably the most comfortable time to spend outside.

I was doing some research and learned that June 12 is “Red Rose Day.”

I’ve always been intrigued with textures, especially those found in nature.

As it warms up, most of the nurseries and “big-box stores” are getting huge shipments of plants and flowers to perk up the looks of our homes, inside and out.

Spring weeds are out, and they seem to be growing at an incredible rate.

Bluebonnets are out and blooming. As I am writing this column, I notice the blooms are still rather immature. But very soon we’ll notice fuller, more vibrant flowers on the popular Texas symbol. You’ll want to wait until they are mature before taking everyone out for family photos.

As I write this column, today’s high is in the 80s. When you read this column, the high may be 60.

We’ve all heard the saying “15 minutes of fame," and although those words are not the exact quote and it’s disputed that it was ever said by artist Andy Warhol, we all still use it to describe someone or something that gets attention for a short period of time and then fades into the background.

Did you vote Tuesday? This year’s primary was probably the most difficult ballot I’ve ever had to cast. So many candidates, so many platforms, and so much at stake. This election’s results will have a tremendous effect on the future of this country, in more ways than we can count.

If you haven’t pruned back overgrown summer-blooming plants and perennials from last fall, do it now. This includes ornamental grasses, brown seed heads and plants that have gotten too large for their space. The warm weather will be triggering new growth. You need to get the dead branches of…

I love driving around and looking at items folks use as planters. Some are quite creative while a few, well, should NEVER be used as planters. While everything is subjective in landscaping, there should be some universal (un)written rules about what can and cannot be used as yard art, as a p…

I don’t know if I missed the memo or just wasn’t paying attention, but I have been doing some research on a product additive that was supposed to be a great thing, but ended up disastrous for the environment. I am referring to the microbead. You know, the teeny-tiny plastic particles that ar…

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