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Wild about Wildlife Native Plants All Year

When I started gardening, “wildflowers” to the average person meant spring bluebonnets, Indian blanket and confederates like Thelesperma filifolium.
Indian blanket and Thelesperma wildflowers Central Texas Gardener
Today, we grow for native plants in every season to support all things “wild.”
Turk's cap stamen Central Texas Gardener
For months, my various Turk’s caps, including Pam’s Pink, never relax their appointed task: to feed hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.
bee Pam's Pink turk's cap Central Texas Gardener
I love my neighbors who support our unspoken “wildlife neighborhood watch” with their native plants. Hamelia patens, Salvia greggii, and Salvia leucantha that stop traffic until the first frost.
hamelia patens salvia leucantha Central Texas Gardener
I know that bees were all over the salvias, too, but I just snapped these guys on the Hamelia. No doubt the hummingbirds zoomed in when I got out of their way.
bee on Hamelia patens Central Texas Gardener
A few years ago, it was all lawn. One winter, they smothered it with heavy black plastic or tarp for months. After renewing the soil, they installed small plants that quickly filled in.
solarize lawn with black tarp Central Texas Gardener
At the Travis County Extension demonstration garden, I lucked into this bee heading to early lunch on Salvia farinacea.
bee salvia farinacea Central Texas Gardener
Stop by any time to see water thrifty gardens that illustrate how adapted and native plants, along with vegetables and herbs, beautifully work together. One native that’s blooming right now is four-nerve daisy, Tetraneuris acaulis, though I still call it by its former name, Hymenoxys. No doubt that birds go for the seeds.
four-nerve daisy native plant Central Texas Gardener
Daphne makes this very drought tolerant native perennial Plant of the Week. Blooming from spring through late fall, four-nerve daisy stays low to the ground. You can tell that it prefers well-drained soil, since it’s happily residing with blackfoot daisy and Yucca rostrata in this no-lawn front yard in full sun.
no lawn front yard four-nerve daisy, silver ponyfoot, yucca, blackfoot daisy Central Texas Gardener
Since precious wildlife eat all year, just like us, Tom joins Andrea DeLong-Amaya from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to extend the menu across the months with nectar and seeds.
Tom Spencer and Andrea DeLong-Amaya Central Texas Gardener
Migrating Monarchs (along other butterflies and bees) love frostweed (Verbesina virginica), blooming right now in the back of a shady strip in my garden. It’s tall, so plant it in back.
frostweed flowers native Central Texas Gardener
American beautyberry and my Mexican beautyberry (Callicarpa acuminata) brighten up understory shade with late summer/early fall berries.
Mexican beautyberry Central Texas Gardener
With all my shade these days, I’m so lucky to have chile pequin for the birds, who snack on them in winter, even when the foliage is dried brown.
Chile pequin Central Texas Gardener
As Andrea tells us: that’s one of the many reasons not to clean up too fast after the first hard frost. Butterflies like this Red Admiral, go for the nectar (as do bees) on coneflowers. Later, little birds land to snag the seeds.
Red Admiral butterfly native coneflower Central Texas Gardener
White mistflower (Ageratina havanensis), another for part shade, attracts many pollinators to its white fluffy flowers in fall. Your small birds will thank you if you leave the seeds on until mid-February or so. Then, cut it back severely or to the ground, depending on what winter dealt us.
white mistflower Central Texas Gardener
Small birds, including goldfinches, devour aster seeds.
aster seed heads Central Texas Gardener
Butterflies and other small creatures take cover in grasses, like Lindheimer muhly, here with fall-blooming Salvia leucantha.
Salvia leucantha and Lindheimer muhly Central Texas Gardener
I love Andrea’s concept of “time-sharing.” When lantana browns up in a “normal” winter, pink evening primrose will fend off the weeds as it brings on the hungry bees. Watch now!
bee on pink evening primrose
You can add to your 12-month smorgasbord at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Fall Native Plant sale on Friday, October 14 (members only—but easy to join that day) and October 15.
Partridge pea Central Texas Gardener
Note: this fall, there is no Sunday sale!

Trisha heads to the garden and the kitchen to egg us on with incredible edible eggplant, including Black Beauty, Nadia, and Grafitti.
Black Beauty, Nadia, Grafitti eggplant Central Texas Gardener
Get her growing and harvesting tips, along with recipes for Baba Ghanoush, grilled eggplant, appetizer, and vegetarian entrée.
Eggplants and recipes Central Texas Gardener
Her latest book, Vegetable Gardening in the Southwest, answers ALL your questions for growing your best.
Vegetable Gardening for the Southwest Central Texas Gardener
On tour, Jackie Davis is always throwing a garden party for wildlife. It’s a far different scene than when she bought her small-lot house, complete with dying trees and dog-trampled yard. Now her Certified Backyard Habitat is always full of life, including over 110 species of birds. She’s a member of Travis Audubon, the Native Plant Society and the Austin Butterfly Forum.

Watch now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week when we visit the Arnosky Family Farms, Linda

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