Surviving a Continued Dry Spell.
The largest measure of land in the Arlington, Dallas area is black gumbo. Our black gumbo is sticky when wet and hard as a charcoal briquette when dry. Prepping beds and choosing the right plant for the right place are keys to water conservation and surviving. Diggin’ black gumbo just seems to make it worse, not mention the hard work. I take the “no dig, no till” approach. I follow mother nature’s example and mulch the heck out of the soil. On prepared beds, grass removed or smothered with card board and news papers, start by top dressing with 50lbs of greensand per 1000 sq. ft. and lava sand at 40 lbs per 1000 sq. ft.. Add 1 inch of compost and cover with 3 inches of shredded hardwood mulch. Although hardwood mulch is primo, you can use leaves, grass clippings, shredded newspaper and paper bags or some of all of these. Renew the mulch with 1 inch every 6 months and at the bottom you will soon find sweet smellin’ black earth.
Plants that thrive in black clay.
Aster, butterflyweed, blackeyed susan, bee balm, cannas, columbine, coneflower, coreopsis, coral bells, crinums, daylily, fire bush, golden rod, heliopsis, hibiscus, honeysuckle, hosta, knock out rose, liatris, moneywort, nandina, obedient plant, phlox, red hot poker, sedum, vitex, yarrow and yuccas.
Here’s to happy gardening and surviving another dry spell.
Sharon A. Martin
Growing a Butterfly Sanctuary
The easiest and most impactful way to help the diminishing butterfly population is to set aside a piece of your garden to plant a butterfly sanctuary. It also creates a beautiful space to sit and watch your new colorful visitors. To start, pick a spot that is somewhat sheltered from the wind. You want to plant both nectar plants, and host plants, with host plants beside or close to the nectar plants as butterflies like to lay their eggs beside a food source for their young. Have several nectar plants that have varying blooming stages. Plant the taller plants behind the shorter ones. Remember never to use pesticides around your butterfly sanctuary. More information on butterfly gardening can be found at www.dallasbutterflies.com.
Joshua T. Hamilton
Drought Tolerant Plants.
Texas is no stranger to drought. 2010 marked the beginning of a three year drought that we are just now escaping. Many of the effects of which are still being felt. many of you have thought about a drought tolerant landscape but picture some sand, stones and a few prickly cacti in between. Let me paint you another picture.
Begin with a lovely mutabalis rose of buttery yellow with water color splashes of rosy pink and peach. Add salvia greggii with rose colored blooms loved by hummingbirds, together with another hummingbird attractor with peachy pink flowers on graceful arching wands, the red yucca . The mellow yellow of irish eyes rudbeckia, lavender with silvery leaves and purple blossoms, a spark of white blackfoot daisy, along with the low growing pink skull cap, punctuate this lovely statement with indiangrass and you have achieved your goal. All of these are drought tolerant plants that will help you conserve water, save on the water bill, and a design landscape filled with beauty.
Sharon A. Martin
Take a Walk on the Wild Side.
Make your landscape ‘user friendly.’ Then, like Alice through the looking glass, you will enter a world filled with wonder and endless surprises.
Nature requires very little assistance, but a lot of cooperation. Observing nature you see self-sufficiency. Leaves are designed large and flat to gather more light. Some are hairy or silver to protect from the sun. Others are thick and succulent to conserve water. Roots are engineered to survive in rocky soil and in bogs. The intricate shape, the color, no matter how subtle, the fragrance of even the tiniest blossom serves to attract pollinators and provide food for many insects, even bats. There are good bugs to control bad bugs. Microbes destroy disease and process plant material to return to the soil. Plants, from turf grass to the mighty oak, release oxygen and filter the air, removing carbon dioxide, formaldehyde and many other pollutants.
Wildscape encompasses other garden disciplines:
Natural gardening – absence of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides
Xeriscape – low maintenance, pest tolerant, drought tolerant, energy conserving plants
Native – plants that flourish with the altitude, water and weather conditions in your little part of the world.
Wildscaping requires food, water and shelter. Trees and shrubs producing berries provide food and shelter. Flowers, herbs and grasses provide nectar and seeds. Many of these provide larval food, such as the tender dill which hosts the caterpillar of the beautiful swallowtail.
A wildscape can become a refuge, not just for wildlife, but for their human benefactors as well.