Archive for the 'Wildscaping' Category

Wildlife and the Law of Attraction

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

On which side of the fence do you imagine you will find more wildlife?

This is Passport to Texas

Habitat requirements vary between species, yet some critters make themselves at home anywhere.

Wildlife are really adaptable, and there’s going to be some wildlife that thrive in whatever type of habitat that’s provided.

Kelly Simon (SEE-mah) is an urban wildlife biologist. Even a perfectly manicured monochromatic monoculture known as lawn—will attract some wildlife.

In a typical urban area—where you’ve got really closely mowed Bermuda grass lawn, or St. Augustine lawn, and then just a few really tall mature trees and kind of nothing in the middle? That kind of habitat is really good for grackles, and pigeons, for possum and raccoon, and kind of the species that you see in a disturbed habitat.

Simon says most people don’t mind seeing those species sometimes, but not all the time.

And so what we try to do is to encourage people to create a more balanced habitat. And what I mean by that is to provide native plants that provide natural food sources—fruits, nuts, berries, leaves, etcetera—that provide a balanced source of nutrition for the animals.

This balanced habitat is called a wildscape. Find wildscape information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series.

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

Landscaping for the Birds

Thursday, September 14th, 2017
Working on a wildscape in San Antonio.

Working on a wildscape in San Antonio.

This is Passport to Texas

Putting out feeders is one way to attract wildlife to your yard. A better way is to create a wildscape.

What a wildscape is, is landscaping for wildlife.

Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says this includes native plants that provide food and shelter; most urban yards, however, traded native habitat for lawns.

So, any little help you can [give] by putting in a wildscape really helps. And even if you don’t have a yard, you can do a wildscape on your patio with pots. I have seen hummingbirds go up to the 6th floor balcony of condos where someone has showy plants that say, “hummingbird come up here.”

A variety of berry and nectar producing plants will draw wildlife to your yard—or balcony.

You want to always stick to natives because they’re acclimated to the soil and the weather and the rainfall that you’re going to give them. And then, you want to make sure that they have some value to wildlife: that they’re going to give you the nectar to attract butterflies; they’re going to have berries at the right time when the cedar waxwings come, and so forth.

Fall is the best time to plant native trees, woody shrubs and perennial flowering plants. Find a list of native species that do well in your area on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

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