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Keeping Wildlife Outside!

encore date: November 10, 2016

original air date: November 12, 2016

As cold weather scoots in, so do the wild things to cozy up with you! Michael Shelley from A Wildlife Pro explains how to critter-proof your house against mice and raccoons.  On tour, Tait Moring doesn’t spend much time watering his garden.  Instead, he grounds style with conservation and preservation for all creatures, great and small. Daphne illustrates how the same type of plant responds in different lighting conditions. Her Plant of the Week, evergreen shrub ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia, handles part shade to bursts of sunlight.  John shows how to pick the right gloves to get a grip on garden chores.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Hillside Native Garden for Wildlife

Landscape Architect Tait Moring is into recycling. From native stones to ashe juniper branches, he frames his rocky hilltop home with respect for the earth.  He’s cycled native plants and wildlife back in since he first arrived to Bermuda grass and a chain link fence.  In his multi-layered garden, artistic expression defines each new encounter from the most intimate to the holistic relationship to the land.

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Question of the Week

Why do plants grow differently in different spots?

At our teaching garden at Travis County Extension, we planted artichokes in two different spots.

Artichokes need full sun, but since we’re not there at all hours of the day (as often you are not at home), things were a bit deceptive. This applies not just to our artichokes, but to every plant!

One location for our artichokes appeared to be really sunny, but in fact, it only receives light until about noon and again later in the day. That plant did develop its silvery color and stayed more compact, but it’s never become as healthy and robust as it could be.

Another bed against the building appears to get sun at various times, but it turns to shade very quickly. That plant is much darker and taller.

Here’s why plants that like sun perform differently when given too much shade:

Plants grown in more shade than they prefer tend to grow taller, because they’re stretching to find the light. Shade-grown plants also need more chlorophyll to perform photosynthesis and feed themselves in lower light levels, so they’re darker green, compared to the same species grown in more sun.

So before you plant, be sure to analyze the entire path of the sun, making sure that the level of light is appropriate for the species. And don’t forget, the path of the sun changes with the season, being higher in the sky during the summer, and at a lower angle in the winter.

And also be aware that some plants that are labeled “full sun” actually may benefit from a bit of afternoon shade, especially in Texas!  Experimentation is key, so don’t be afraid to move a plant, or replace it if it doesn’t do well after a season, which is what we plan to do with our artichokes.

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Plant of the Week

‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia

‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia

‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia is a lovely little evergreen shrub. Although it appears tropical, ‘Soft Caress’ is listed as hardy to zone 7, and should have no trouble at all with even the harshest Central Texas winter. This delicate-looking plant has attractive, wispy foliage, and will form bright yellow flowers from fall through spring, when temperatures are cool. According to the label, Soft Caress may be planted in “part-sun to shade,” which is complicated to interpret!  So:  morning sun would be great, but direct light in the afternoon should be avoided. ‘Soft Caress’ will do just fine in full shade (in other words, no direct light at all), as long as there’s a fair amount of light filtering through the canopy above. ‘Soft Caress’ stays relatively small, getting only 3 feet tall and about as wide at maturity, and doesn’t need as much water as you might think. Water well until established, then cut back irrigation, except during the hottest, driest times.

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