Archive for the 'Wildscaping' Category

Landscaping to Save Water

Monday, August 14th, 2017
Cottage Garden, WaterSavers Lane. Photo: Pam Penick.

Cottage Garden, WaterSavers Lane. Photo: Pam Penick, from her blog: Digging — Cool Gardens in a Hot Climate.

This is Passport to Texas

It’s possible to conserve water and have a lush landscape. And they prove that point every day in San Antonio.

The San Antonio Botanical Gardens is home to six miniature houses on Water Savers Lane, which showcase unique landscapes that feature water-saving designs. Sir Oliver Smith, a master naturalist, describes the typical landscape, complete with a water thirsty lawn.

This is what most people have. They have the traditional hedges at the door and all that manicuring you have to do every week. So this is probably what we don’t want if you want to save on money and save on grass and save on water.

For comparison, he points out an attractive landscape that replaces turf with groundcover.

People like this look; it’s a little less maintenance. And you’re replacing some of the lawn with Asiatic jasmine, which takes no water.

While the jasmine isn’t native, the others are. Native plants generally require less water to survive.

Everyone thinks native plants are just a sticky agarita and the yuccas and the sotals. But all the other things in this garden are native. Vitex and desert willow and redbud and there are a lot of other things that do very well with almost no water.

Check out the Wildscapes plant guide on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website and discover which plants thrive in your area.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Wildflowers for Truth and Beauty

Friday, March 24th, 2017
Spring bluebonnets as far as the eye can see.

Spring bluebonnets as far as the eye can see.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas roadsides will soon  be awash in colorful wildflowers. Dr. Damon Waitt, director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, formerly of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, says these and other native plants have a place in the natural and built landscapes.

Natives provide really important ecosystem services for local wildlife, pollinators.

They filter storm water and rainwater, so they provide all these services to the ecosystem, and they can provide similar services in the built landscape, and reduce things like water use, pesticide use and fertilizer use.

In addition, they have the aesthetic qualities that we want people to learn to appreciate, so they’re not looking for that next exotic ornamental—that they ‘re more interested in finding that next native plant that looks great and functions perfectly in their environment.

There are a lot of people who might look at wildflowers and native plants and say, gosh, how do those fit into my idea of a formal landscape.

That’s something we’re really trying to fight—that concept that if you’re a native plant enthusiast, then your yard must look wild and unkempt. At the wildflower center, we model different design styles using native plants, and you can use native plants in very high designs and very formal designs if that’s the look you’re going for.

Find plants that are right for you at wildflower.org.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

NOTE: Due to the rain and warm weather, spring wildflowers started popping out about a month earlier than usual. So get out there soon to enjoy them before they’re gone.

Plants for Pollinators

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
Prairie Clover. Image: Russell Graves

Prairie Clover. Image: Russell Graves

This is Passport to Texas

It’s springtime, and a perfect time for planting a garden for pollinators like bees, butterflies and birds.

Even a few native flowering plants will draw a multitude of winged wildlife to your yard. Monarchs and other butterflies, bees, and even hummingbirds swarmed the few flowering plants I installed in my side yard last year.

What a thrill it was to come up the driveway each evening after work to a battalion of butterflies flitting through my garden.

This month I’m going install plants that will bloom from spring to fall, and thrive in the dry clay soil and sunny location I have in mind. These plants include: the Pasque flower, which is a perennial that gets about a foot tall, forms clumps, and blooms in April.

The Pale purple coneflower, which is a 2 to 3 foot tall perennial, and one of the earliest-blooming coneflower species.

Purple prairie clover is a care-free perennial I’m considering. A midsummer-bloomer, it attracts insects like mad. And it’s one to 2 feet tall and just as wide.

A species of Liatris, Tall Blazing Star, is a late-summer to early-fall bloomer that grows 1 foot wide and 3 to 4 feet tall. And, finally, the aromatic aster, a small shrub that blooms in September and October, will provide fuel for a few late season pollinators just passing through.

Pollinator gardens are fun and rewarding. Plant one.

That’s our show…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

Call Before Starting Your Wildscape

Monday, September 5th, 2016
Know what's below before you start planting your wildscape. Image: Texas811 blog.

Know what’s below before you start planting your wildscape. Image: Texas811 blog.

This is Passport to Texas

As the weather cools, a wildlife loving homeowner’s thoughts turn to creating a wildscape. But before picking up a shovel, pick up the phone, and call Texas 811.

Texas 811 is the statewide “call before you dig” service.

Mike Losawyer is President and CEO of Texas 811, a nonprofit organization based in Dallas. He says many gas lines—as well as utility lines—lie just below the soil’s surface.

Anytime you’re going to be digging in the state of Texas, call 811 from anywhere in Texas, and you’ll get our call center. We’ll take a little bit of background information from you, and we’ll send the utilities out in your area, and they’ll come out and mark their underground facilities for free, so you don’t damage them when you’re excavating.

Calling Texas 811before you begin work on any outdoor digging isn’t a suggestion—it’s the law.

There is a law regarding this that says you actually need to call two working days prior to beginning excavation; we’ll send somebody out to mark those lines. The service is free. It just takes a little bit of planning ahead. So, really the gardens, trees, fence post, a mailbox post—any of those things would require that you give us a call.

Homeowners who call 811before digging to have underground utility lines marked on their property can plant a wildscape with confidence. Find details at Texas811.org.

That’s our show… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Milkweed for Monarchs

Thursday, August 25th, 2016
Milkweed for monarchs

Milkweed for monarchs

This is Passport to Texas

More than seventy species of milkweed have been recorded nationwide; over half of those are native to Texas. Including two that are endemic.

These are species that are found nowhere else but within the Texas border. One of them is called Texas Milkweed, which is found in canyons in Central Texas. And then we have a species called Coastal Milkweed that occurs roughly from the Houston area to just north of Brownsville.

Jason Singhurst, a botanist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says milkweeds provide sustenance to the iconic monarch butterfly during its migration.

So, here in Texas, we know certain species like green milkweed, antelope horns, broadleaf milkweed, and zizotes are some of our most abundant species that we’re seeing monarch larvae and adults visit.

Because milkweed species vary, do monarchs use each species in the same or different ways?

That’s a really good question. That’s something we’re trying to figure out in Texas. And that’s why we started this mapping project called Texas Milkweeds and Monarchs project—using iNaturalist. It’s an app that you can download on your smartphone. We’re using that project to help us identify different species of milkweeds across the state, and then also which species that larvae, or adult monarch butterflies are visiting.

Find a link to the Milkweeds and Monarchs project on iNaturalist at passporttotexas.org.

Find an article about milkweeds by Jason Singhurst in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.