Sunflowers: The garden’s late-summer stars

At the start of summer, I thought I would put aside my disdain for amaranth — so coarse, so Victorian — and grow whole stands of it so that I might condescend to change my view of this seedy annual.

Instead, the amaranth spurned me. No wonder people also call it love-lies-bleeding. The tiny black grains of amaranth seed germinated in their pots, but they never seemed to develop beyond a nascent stage, to a point where I could transplant them. I had started them too late, and the dry summer didn’t help.

I consoled myself by planting other heat-loving annuals: tithonias, zinnias and good old sunflowers. All three are doing quite nicely, which may have something to do with their natural kinship.

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gardencal0818.hou

TUESDAYS-

SUNDAYS

The Mercer Society Gift and Plant Shoppe

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays at 400 Main, Old Town Spring; 281-651-5475, themercersociety.org. Sales proceeds benefit flood-damaged Mercer Botanic Gardens.

SATURDAY

Bonsai

With Galveston County Master Gardener Clyde Holt. 9-11 a.m. at Galveston County AgriLife Extension, 4102-B Main, La Marque; register at 281-309-5065 or aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.html. $25 fee to cover materials.

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Farmers find a way to turn a profit off milkweed, for the sake of the monarchs

Milkweed has long been considered a nuisance on North American farmlands but now, more than 100 farmers in Quebec and Vermont are planting it in their fields to help restore the declining population of monarchs, which use that plant exclusively for their eggs and to feed the caterpillars. The farmers are also tapping a new market for the milkweed fibers. After the caterpillars have their fill of the milky sap and find their wings in the fall, the plant’s pods will be harvested for fine winter clothing and other commercial uses.

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GARDEN CAL 0804

TUESDAYS-

SUNDAYS

The Mercer Society Gift and Plant Shoppe

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays at 400 Main, Old Town Spring; 281-651-5475, themercersociety.org
. Sales proceeds benefit flood-damaged Mercer Botanic Gardens.

SATURDAY

Planting for Pollinators

9-10 a.m. at Brookwood Community Center Café, 1752 FM 1489, Brookshire; register at katyprairie.org/kpcevents
. Free.

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