Zilker Neighborhood Gardens

Commentary by a National Wildlife Steward who helps Zilker neighbors establish native plant gardens

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Mueller Prairie (free) tour & native grasses identification walk

Brian Loflin, co-author with Shirley Loflin, of Grasses of the Texas Hill Country will lead an in-depth identification walk of the Mueller Prairie.
October is the ideal time for identifying native grasses because many of them are in bloom and producing distinctive seed heads.
Participants will also learn how to identify exotic invasive grasses that can out-compete our native grasses and wildflowers.  This will help the Friends of the Mueller Prairie to better understand the scale of this threat to the health of our prairie.
Brian Loflin is a professional photographer and dedicated naturalist.  He and Shirley have written and photographed two field guides to native Texas plants, Grasses of the Texas Hill Country and Texas Cacti: A Field Guide.  If you own the Grasses book, bring it along.  Brian will gladly autograph your copy, plus the book will be very helpful on the walk.
This workshop is especially-designed for folks who want to accurately identify the native grasses in our Mueller Prairie. A notebook and a camera would be helpful.  Study footwear and clothing suitable for walking into the grasses is advisable.  This is going to be a Mueller Prairie Safari!
WHERE:  Meet at Demonstration Garden in the Mueller Prairie (Southwest Greenway) (near Tom Miller and Sahm)
WHEN:    2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27
WHO:      Friends of the Mueller Prairie and others interested in prairie grasses
SPONSORS:   Friends of the Mueller Prairie and the Mueller POA Landscape Committee

My garden was certified!

It took me a while, but I applied, and my garden was certified as a National Wildlife Habitat. The certification was FREE through the City of Austin. You can see my certificate below. The process involves emailing Erin Cord, Wildlife Austin Park Ranger, who will send you a pre-paid application form. It is a one-page application in which you answer questions regarding the garden / patio / space that you want certified. Essentially, your answers will show that you are meeting the four expectations of a wildlife habitat:

  • food
  • water
  • cover
  • places to raise young

I certified my front garden. Here are some examples of the ways my garden meets the expectations.

  • Food: berries (chile piquin), nectar (butterfly weed, sage, lavender, firebush, Gregg’s mistflower, wildflowers)
  • Water: birdbath refilled every day in summer; 2-3 days in winter
  • Cover: Chile piquin bush, Big Muhly
  • Places to raise young: Big Muhly, Gulf Muhly, Butterfly weed

The wildlife I see in the garden include: bees, birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds. It’s a much better place than the former flat grassy area. I want to hang out there as much as possible.

If you want a tour or help in making a space at your house into a wildlife habitat, I’m available free to help you out. Just let me know!


Pictures of Certificate of Certified Wildlife Habitat

Native Profile: Texas Hibiscus

Wow, I just love this plant! Texas Star Hibiscus loves sun and needs moisture. I planted this mid-June – it was a 4″ plant and now on October 18th (4 months later) it’s about 4′ high and producing lots of flowers. They are brilliant red. Typically, the flowers only last about 1 day as they are pretty fragile. But they open up and are quite impressive, as you can see below. I love this plant so much, I planted another in my backyard. During the summer, this area was watered 1-2 times a week with automatic sprinklers but now I am not watering unless things look droopy. It seems to be doing quite well.

picture of Texas hibiscus flower

Grow Green Homeowner’s Landscape Training (Free)


Want to attend a free garden tour, learn about native plants from experts, and get to swap plants? Here’s the event for you, and it’s free. It’s the 2012 Grow Green Homeowner’s Landscape Training. Grow Green is a City of Austin group that helps homeowners make good choices for landscaping.

Here are all the details – be sure to pre-register.

Thursday, October 18, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Join the City of Austin Grow Green team for our FREE homeowner’s landscape training. In celebration of Texas Native Plant Week this event will also include a native plant swap and tours of the One Texas Center (OTC) demonstration gardens led by landscape architects.The event is free, but attendees must pre-register here

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6:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m – Drop off plants for plant swap

6:15 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Gardens of One Texas Center Tour – meet in front of OTC (Tours will be led by John Gleason and Darcy Nuffer – both are landscape architects who designed gardens at OTC)

7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Growing Green: Earth-wise Maintenance Strategies – Denise Delaney, Watershed Protection Department, Grow Green

Learn the most important things to do to make your landscape earth-wise, low maintenance, healthy and water-conserving. Plus pick up free landscape design, installation and maintenance resource materials designed to help you be successful with your gardening endeavors.

7:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. – Gardening for Wildlife Habitat – Erin Cord, Parks & Recreation Department, Wildlife Austin

As our city grows wildlife habitats are being altered. Wildlife Austin can help you create a vibrant landscape habitat haven where butterflies, songbirds and other wildlife can find what they need to keep calling Austin home. Learn how you can turn your backyard into a National Wildlife Federation habitat and join the nearly 2000 Austin homes, schools and public areas that are already certified.

8:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – WaterWise Landscape Rebate Program – Christopher Charles, Austin Water, Water Conservation

WaterWise Landscape refers to landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation. Major water savings can be made by converting your healthy turf grass to native plant beds and permeable hardscape. Residential properties may receive $25 for every 100 sq. ft. converted. Get details on program eligibility, the process and requirements.

8:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – Plant Swap

Plant Swap Details:

*All Texas native plants and also adapted plants that are listed in the Grow Green Native & Adapted Plant Guide will be accepted

*Seedlings only, no seeds

*Plants should be labeled (both common and Latin name is preferable but plants will be accepted with just one name)

*Plants should be dropped off between 6:00 p.m.- 6:15 p.m. at a table in front of the OTC. Look for Grow Green staff and tables with lots of plants.

*Homeowners who drop off a plant(s) will be given a numbered raffle ticket. If you are attending the plant swap but did not bring a plant to share then you will get a numbered ticket after all of the plants have been dropped off.

*After the garden tours and talks by landscape experts, homeowners will re-group in front of OTC at 8:30 p.m. for the plant swap. Plants will be selected based on individuals raffle ticket number. Once everyone has one plant then the rest of the plants will be freely distributed between the group.

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One Texas Center (OTC) – 505 Barton Springs Road, see map.


Free parking is available in the OTC Parking garage on the East side of the building.


Denise Delaney, 974-2581, denise.delaney@austintexas.gov


Plant Sale at Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Oh my! I almost missed this!

If you are not attending ACL, this is a great sale to get plants or seeds (Native American Seed usually has a set up there).

Fall Plant Sale & Gardening Festival
Members Preview, October 12
Public Sale, October 13 and 14

With good recent rains, fall is a great time to add trees and other native plants to your garden. Come to “For the Love of Trees,” the Wildflower Center’s Fall Plant Sale & Gardening Festival and talk with experts about hundreds of species for sale and native grass alternatives for your lawn. Among the beautiful plant options available will be Texas ebony, Mexican silktassel and Alamo vine. Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. enjoy guided walks in our Arboretum, the Butterfly Garden and other gardens. The Store features author signings, food sampling and more. The Little House has children’s story time at 1 p.m. both days, and kids can create eco-pots for the garden.

Friday’s Members Preview from 1 to 7 p.m. is for members and those who join or renew Center membership. Before Members Preview opens, get plant advice from Mr. Smarty Plants in the courtyard from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors can also hear Ralph Yznaga talk about historic Texas trees in the Auditorium from 11 a.m. to noon. Yznaga will sign his book on this subject afterward in The Store from noon until 2 p.m. Bring your own wagon to the sale, if possible.

See Plant Sale details
View the developing list of native plant offerings

Free Walk & Talk at LBJ Wildflower Center

Wish I could go to this free talk, but I work until 7:30 pm on Wednesdays! Hope y’all can make it!

Native Plants of Central Texas Walk & Talk at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Discover the beauty and benefits of Central Texas native plants with the Wildflower Center’s Director of Horticulture, Andrea DeLong-Amaya. This FREE program begins at 5:30 p.m. with an informative tour of the gardens to see colorful natives first hand. Then at 6:30 p.m.  hear a talk that covers the wide variety of native plants and why they are the best choice for Central Texas gardens.

When: October 17, 2012, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (FREE EVENT)
Where: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, TX,     78739, Map- http://www.wildflower.org/visit/
What: Native Plants of Central Texas Walk & Talk with Andrea DeLong-Amaya
5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. – Garden Walk (Meet in Courtyard)
6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Native Plants of Central Texas Talk (Auditorium)
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