Texas weather can be very unpredictable. However the first weekend of March is typically the last chance for freezing temperatures and annual plants can be planted after that.

At the time of this writing we have not had a killing freeze in King William although officially the City has had a couple of below freezing nights. As I said in last month's newsletter, plants that would normally freeze back to ground level should be cut back to about 6 inches high. This may be hard to do especially if some still have blooms. If not cut back they can become too large for their space and can become unsightly as stems near the ground become bare with new growth only at the top.

Carolina jessamine vines are now blooming with their bright yellow trumpet shaped flowers. It is a trouble free, drought tolerant, evergreen, spring blooming vine that can grow to a length of 10 feet or more. They are not a "clinging" vine and have to be trained on the fence or trellis on which they are planted. This is now the time to find them in local nurseries. Because it a spring bloomer, Carolina jessamine can be planted in areas that may become shady as trees begin to leaf out later in the season.

We are about to start a new growing season. Hopefully we will have "typical" weather. That means no late frost and good rains at the right time. We can only hope.

If it has been more than three months since you fertilized your lawn and flower beds now is the time to do it. Select an organic fertilizer and not a chemical-based one. A good nurrery can suggest one of many good brands now available. Remember you do not have to water in an organic fertilizer immediately after spreading it if time does not allow. It will not burn like chemical products.

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.

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.

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.