Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Anacua, Ehretia anacua, is a must have for any homeowner wanting to attract wildlife to their garden. We have planted two in the south-east corner of the Arboretum. A few of Anacua's many common names are Sugarberry, Knockaway, and Sandpaper Tree. The latter describes the rough texture of its leaves. Cold hardy to zone 8, Anacua can grow to 50 feet tall and its canopy will be almost as wide as it is tall. As an established tree, it is very drought tolerant.

A mature tree will have a highly textured, gnarled trunk, and will often be multi-trunked. The foliage is dark green and extremely dense.

Be sure to plant Anacua in a well-drained location. It requires little or no fertilizer. It is considered evergreen but will drop some or all of its leaves for a short period during the winter.

Anacua tends to have one big flush of blooms in the spring with the thick clusters of white fragrant blooms heavily covering the tree. After a summer rain, some trees will bloom again. You may have one tree in an area bloom and the others not. In our last house, we had a gorgeous multi-trunked Anacua. Inevitably only half of the tree bloomed - and then a few weeks later, the other half would decide it should put on a few blooms too. I imagine I am wrong when I describe it as multi-trunked. It must have been multiple trees that sprouted close to each other. Butterflies and bees love Anacua blooms as much as I do.

These immature fruits will ripen to a bright orange from April to June. The branches will droop with the weight of the fruit. The fruit drop can be messy, so don't plant Anacua where it will grow over paved areas. Birds feed on these berry's and nest in Anacua's dense foliage.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Raised Beds

Thanks to the 2008 MG class, the first of the Arboretum's demonstration beds have been built! Ned Lynn from Hidalgo County led them through the process.
The perimeter of the vegetable beds were marked, then re-measure for accuracy. The corners were marked with flags. All vegetation was removed from the beds before the first timber was put into place.

The ends of the first layer of landscape timbers should be secured with rebar that has been driven through the timber angling toward the center of the timber. Drive the rebar into the ground a foot or two. Lay each layer so that the corners overlap. Secure the second layer of timbers to the first layer with galvanized nails. Continue to the desired height.

The final step is to drive a piece of rebar through all layers and well into the ground. You will want to pre-drill the holes. Now, you should have a secure raised bed.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

And We Have Water!

To a gardener there is nothing more exasperating than a hose that just isn't long enough.- Cecil Roberts
The simple pleasures in life are the best, aren't they? When Colleen called to say she'd passed The Arboretum and the City of San Benito was there trenching for the water lines, I couldn't get there fast enough! (lucky for me, it was on my way to work) Although Cameron County was supportive and helpful, sending their water truck whenever asked, these new lines are essential for the next phases of The Arboretum. Many thanks to the City of San Benito - in particular City Manager Victor Trevino, Utility Director Jaime Rosas and Director of Community Affairs Martha McClain.