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Garden Bloggers Fling Day 1 and Stop 1

A rainy view of the entrance to Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center.”My special cause, the one that alerts my interest and quickens the pace of my life, is to preserve the wildflowers and native plants that define the regions of our land — to encourage and promote their use in appropriate areas, and thus help pass on to generations in waiting the quiet joys and satisfactions I have known since my childhood.”

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was our first stop on Friday. As we gathered for the group picture, they mentioned that rain was headed our way.  Being a native Texan, I should have heeded the warning when I heard “squall line”, but I was intent on seeing the treasures that awaited us.

Even in the rain, the cholla in the demonstration garden beckoned. It’s magenta blooms caught my eye through the stone window.

Cholla cactus blooms

  It began to sprinkle -colorful ponchos dotted the gardens and then it started to rain, then it began to go sideways, so we scurried to find shelter. It didn’t take long to realize that the elements were winning, but so was the garden – the much needed rain was a welcome sight, even though it came torrentially.

A caterpillar sighting lured some of us out of the stone alcove, but the elements were getting the upper hand –everything was soaked-our pictures were blurred , cameras were malfunctioning…

We retreated to the main entrance where we sought refuge under the eaves and ultimately in the gift shop. A beautiful bouquet of wildflowers brightened our dampened spirits (pun intended) in the restroom.

As we left, the sound of the stone cistern filling up was music to the ears. Even though it was a wash in some ways, it wasn’t all for naught.  It’s not often you get to see Lady Bird Wildflower Center through the rain.

Starla Willis


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PLEASE READ THIS BOOK:   Bringing Nature Home-How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in our Gardens by Douglas Tallamy PhD

Do you feel pretty good about your understanding of the importance of native plants in your landscape?  Or—do you think “the native plant thing”  is yet another fad and  you know red roses and nandinas form the framework for all “good” gardens?  It doesn’t matter at all—either way—this is the book for you.

This is not the perfect book for us here in Texas.  The author lives in the Northeast and any of the plants profiled are specific to that region.  However, that in no way diminishes its value.  The basic ideas remain the same whatever the location.  Dr. Tallamy, whose doctorate is in entomology, presents the wonderful, terrible idea that what we, as caretakers of our land, no matter the size, are making life or death decisions for a host of creatures simply by our plant choices.

The book effectively makes it clear that  Nature is “here” in our gardens now.  We cannot assume that plants and animals are fine somewhere “out there in the wild”  because  there just is so little of the wild left.

That’s upsetting—it means taking responsibility for our actions.  But it’s also an incredible opportunity to make a difference for ourselves, our family, our community—and beyond.

The introduction presents the major concepts to be considered.  The wild creatures we want in our world simply will not be able to live without food and places to live.  Things look grim,  for creatures are gone or greatly reduced in numbers.  But hope is there  it’s not too late to save many plants and animals—but to do it we must change our ways.

Alien plants have replaced native ones  to an alarming extent.  Now all plants capture the energy from the sun but most alien plants are not able to  provide support to native insects they cannot eat them.  Insects are the major way that energy is transferred to other creatures.  This is not just the author’s opinion—there is research to prove it.

Increased use of native plants can produce at least a simplified version of the diverse ecosystem that used to exist.  The charts that show the insect populations supported by native plants as opposed to alien ones are truly eye-opening.

All the chapters on insects are educational—but the one on aphids—do not miss it.  Aphids are amazing creatures—you will never think of them as disgusting little pests ever again.

If you read even a part of this book you will gain insight into the complex web of interactions between plants insects and other animals.


Pictures by Starla


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