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Neat-o Natives

Let’s get planting! Add columbines now to enliven your semi-shady garden next spring with lots of hungry bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Columbine native plant for shade Central Texas Gardener
Texas Native Plant Week, the third week of October, celebrates how natives agreeably go along with tough conditions to nurture wildlife all year. Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) flowers for months, without big doses of water.
Red yucca Hesperaloe parviflora Central Texas Gardener
Drought-tough, shrubby Hamelia patens hits high gear in late summer to frost, along with velvety purple-spiked Salvia leucantha. Between them, red-blooming Salvia greggii encores its spring performance, especially when lightly pruned in May and September.
hamelia patens and salvias xeric wildlife garden Central Texas Gardener
Butterflies head right on over, as do the bees—like this carpenter bee—seemingly out of nowhere.
carpenter bee Hamelia patens Central Texas Gardener
Native plants aren’t immune to problems, though. What happened to Scott Stoker’s mountain laurel that he’s carefully nurtured? It hasn’t grown much and the leaves are yellowing.
mountain laurel yellowing leaves Central Texas Gardener
Daphne explains that very likely the problem started at the nursery when it was kept in a pot too long. It could also be that Scott’s been improving its soil just a little too much in his lovely pollinator garden! Get Daphne’s complete answer.
mountain laurel yellowing leaves Central Texas Gardener
Dahlea, Daphne’s Plant of the Week, doesn’t want rich soils, either. This sprawling, semi-evergreen, drought-tough groundcover is one I would simply love to have!
dalea flower Central Texas Gardener
Sadly, it’s simply not to be in my heavy soil. Just because a plant is “native” doesn’t mean that it wants to live on your side of the track (or I-35). Silvery Gregg dahlia works quite well to spill over this limestone-substrate garden in San Antonio. By the way, we taped this one in May to premiere on Nov. 21, so stay tuned!
Gregg dahlea rosemary xeric curb garden Central Texas Gardener
Daleas want rocky soils or perfect drainage in heavier soils, especially in wet winters. Heather Ginsburg went for a dynamic trio in her water-thrifty San Antonio garden: silver ponyfoot, Gregg dalea and upright rosemary.
gregg dalea silver ponyfoot and rosemary xeric garden Central Texas Gardener
For a quick look at the four diverse ecoregions in Central Texas, Tom meets with Kathy Trizna from the Native Plant Society of Texas.
Tom Spencer and Kathy Trizna Native Plant Society CTG
KLRU’s Arts and Culture Videographer/Editor Joe Rocha designed this geologic map to illustrate how our regions intersect. Although some plants, like American beautyberry, can traverse the divide, many cannot.
Texas ecoregion map Central Texas Gardener
“Capit-O-lize on Natives: Contributions, Challenges, Conservation” is this year’s theme for NPSOT’s annual symposium, this time in Austin on October 15 – 18. Find out more about speakers, tours, and registration.

Local nurseries have jumped in to prime our native plant gardens, but mark your calendar for October 10-11 to pick up great deals at the Wildflower Center’s fall plant sales and talks (Oct. 9 members day).
Yucca pallida and blackfoot daisy Central Texas Gardener
And meet Kathy at the Native Plant Society of Texas booth for plants and info on how to grow them!
bee on native coneflower Central Texas Gardener
Since we can feed ourselves along with our pollinators (who assist our endeavors) Viewer Picture goes to to Sherry Robitson of the Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association for sharing these photos of their valuable work at the Helping Center in Marble Falls!
Highland Lakes Master Gardener Helping Center garden Marble Falls
And we thank Jessica Buchoz of the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas for her photos!
Highland Lakes Master Gardener food bank
On tour, let’s head to Weir, northeast of Georgetown, where Kasie and Andrew Brazell restored their Blackland Prairie front yard with native wildflowers and grasses.
Kasie and Andrew Brazell restored prairie Central Texas Gardener
“We decided that we it was time to follow some of our dreams and get out in the country. The main thing is we wanted to give back to nature,” he says.
native wildflower prairie house Central Texas Gardener
In spring 2014, on the way home from another taping, we jolted down a dusty road and rounded a corner to an Oz-like scene. We actually gasped and slammed on the brakes.
bluebonnets indian paintbrush Central Texas Gardener
But this field of wonder is all native Texan, including Texas star tucked in among bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush.
Texas star native wildflower Central Texas Gardener
With over 35 different species, the scene is never static. In later spring, Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) vividly paints the prairie in orange and yellow
Indian blanket wildflowers Central Texas Gardener
When we returned that fall, goldenrod was in full force.
road to wildflower prairie Central Texas Gardener
bee on native goldenrod wildflower Central Texas Gardener
Wands of purple Liatris time their blooming to fuel migrating Monarch butterflies.
Monarch butterfly on liatris Central Texas Gardener
It’s taken a lot of work to remove invasives on former cattle grazing land, though already the kids can recognize valued seedlings and the ones they need to pull up. Often, Kasie and Andrew strap on headlamps after the kids are in bed to carry on the work.
kids in bluebonnets Central Texas Gardener
Andrew periodically mows down hiking swaths to watch the wildlife without interrupting.
mowed path through wildflower prairie Central Texas Gardener
He and Kasie also nurture fruit trees to feed the family, with enough to share with the birds.
greenhouse and fruit tree fence Central Texas Gardener
Part of Andrew’s growing experience is learning how to propagate for more garden inventory. He collects rainwater in recycle bins from a home improvement center. With a sump pump, it’s easy to suck up every drop.
greenhouse recycle bins water collection Central Texas Gardener
Near the house, they tend extensive vegetable gardens. When summer’s crops are done, they solarize to keep Bermuda at bay, and then plant again in early fall.
solarize to kill Bermuda grass Central Texas Gardener
Coming home to wild open spaces makes Andrew’s daily Austin commute well worth the drive. Since Kasie works online from home, her break room is outdoors.
Front yard prairie bluebonnets Indian paintbrush Central Texas Gardener
Andrew explains their energetic motivation: “Too many times when you’ve got a small piece of land or you get a big piece of land you treat it like a lawn and my whole goal is to be a good steward of the land to give back to nature. I wanted this to exist for generations.”

Andrew tells us how they restored the prairie through carefully timed mowing and seeding. Watch now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda