Zilker Neighborhood Gardens

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

Category Archives: Wildflowers

TX Bluebonnet wildflower ‘hell’ strip beauty

Remember that we removed 5 agaves along the street and replaced it with a wildflower seed mix? See it here: https://zilkergardens.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/plant-some-wildflowers-theres-still-time/

This year, it’s bluebonnet heaven. Take a look!


Fall Native Plant Sale at Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center – this weekend

Choose from nearly 300 species of hardy Texas native plants that thrive in our Central Texas climate, provide habitat for wildlife and can help make your garden look like Texas.


Friday, October 10, 1 p.m. – 7 p.m.

11:30 a.m.: Presentation by renowned Texas architect Ted Flato about his book “Lake-Flato Houses: Embracing the Landscape.” A signing will follow in the store until 2:00 p.m. Reserve your copy in advance by calling 512.232.0130.

11 a.m. – 3 p.m.: Travis County Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions.

Become a member today to take advantage of the Members-Only Sale!


Saturday, October 11, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

All Day: Make Ecopots in the Courtyard.

11 a.m. – Noon: Drought-tolerant plants garden tour with Jackie O’Keefe, NPSOT.

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Book signing for “On the Road with Texas Highways” with J. Griffis Smith.

Noon: Presentation by James Truchard, author of “Memories from a Hill Country Garden.” Signing follows until 2 p.m.

Noon – 4 p.m.: Texas Yaupon Tea sampling in the store with Maridel Martinez.

1 – 2 p.m.: Hill Country Ecology garden tour with the center’s Michelle Bertelsen.

2 – 3 p.m.: Deer-resistant plants garden tour with Patricia McGee, Capital Area Master Naturalists.

Sunday, October 12, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

All Day: Make Ecopots in the Courtyard.

11 a.m. – Noon: Hill Country Ecology garden tour with Michelle Bertelsen.

Noon – 4 p.m.: Yaupon tea sampling with Maridel Martinez.

1 – 2 p.m.: Drought-tolerant plants garden tour with Jackie O’Keefe, NPSOT.

1 – 3 p.m.: Learn about seedballs from David Werth and Jolyn Piercy.

1 – 4 p.m.: Thomas Koschmieder in the store signs his “Common Tree & Shrub Leaves of Central Texas” guide.

The Fall Garden in Texas

There’s been a lot of action in my garden lately. I’ve seen hummingbirds visiting the firebush. A squirrel(s) has been eating the flowers of my tall rosinweed, must the dismay of my dog! The birds have been bathing in the bath (and drinking). I caught a squirrel there the other evening, too, getting a quick drink. The bees and bumblebees are hard at work dawn through dusk. They seem to love my native poinsettia (despite it not seeming to have flowers), the salvia, the globe mallow, and others. Butterflies have also been flitting around. I caught a few of a Gray Hairstreak in the pictures below.

Lest you think the fall garden is moving towards “winter” and the plants dying back. Yes that will happen some. But the wildflowers have already started to grow. See a picture of a bluebonnet below. These wildflowers will start to grown now, but barely make it a few inches above the ground. They will spend the winter growing DOWN into the soil, their roots going quite deep. Then in the spring, they’ll start growing UP. So lest you think a mulched area has nothing there, take a closer look;  you might see some wildflowers.

Picture of Grandma's Rose, with a Gray Hairstreak butterfly

Grandma’s Rose, with a Gray Hairstreak butterfly

Picture of Grandma's Rose, with a Gray Hairstreak butterfly

Grandma’s Rose, with a Gray Hairstreak butterfly

Texas Bluebonnet, budding

Texas Bluebonnet, budding

Texas Hibiscus, blooming

Texas Hibiscus, flower blooms for one day



View of one side of the garden

View of one side of the garden

Salvia in bloom, abuzz with bees

Salvia in bloom, abuzz with bees

Salvia, with Gray Hairstreak butterfly

Salvia, with Gray Hairstreak butterfly

Tending the Fall Habitat Garden (free workshop on 10/11)

OCTOBER 11 – Tending the Fall Habitat Garden

(9:30-11am) The class will cover fall maintenance, seed collection, and suggested plantings. After discussion, participants will be able to practice what they have learned in the garden and help with seed collecting.
Instructor: Judy Walther, Environmental Survey Consulting

Hope to see you there.

You must:

For a description of the full series (October-May) please click on the following link. http://www.nwf.org/South-Central-Region/temp_event_AUS_HabitatTalks.aspx

Adding a Pocket Prairie to the Urban Landscape

There’s no doubt we live in an urban area. Lots ‘o concrete – which is so hot in the summer! I love the cooling effect plants have on the ecosystem and the human body (and wildlife bodies). Our house had lots of rock landscaping and grass when we bought it in 2009. A few years ago, we unfortunately had to remove 5 agaves from the hell zone strip near the street. In doing that, I added wildflower seed that love the harsh climate in that area. The wildflowers bloom from February – July and then dry out. I usually cut them back in September, and they soon start growing again and present as small green plants for most of the winter. In any case, let’s move on to my last “rock zone” that I replaced in the last year.

This rock zone had an agave on it near the street (which we removed) and added, in replacement, a Texas Red Bud. We added a vegetable garden, but I found that I was not a great vege gardener or that the creatures got everything first. As the years went by, the area became a bermuda grass rock haven that we had to weed whack since there were so many rocks. I decided to kill the grass with my solarization method (I used black plastic) between December 2012 – March 2013. When we removed the plastic, we had dead bermuda grass and still a lot of rock.

Picture of yard area with dead Bermuda Grass

Side of yard with dead Bermuda grass after solarization for 3-4 months

We put out a call to neighbors who wanted rock. People came and shoveled it into their trucks, and we got rid of it. I hired some guys to dig up the dead Bermuda (you think it’s dead but it seems to come back to live with the least water and a tad of a root). I made them dig deep to pull out all the dead grass. After they left, I went through it AGAIN myself and got more of the dead clippings and roots. At that point, the area looked like this:

PIcture of area with no grass.

Grass removed by hand, ready for seed.

There was still a bit of rock in the soil, but that’s certainly OK for native plants and grasses. I bought a Pocket Prairie seed mix from Native American Seed for this area. This has so many different types of seeds, you’ll have great plants in your garden year-round. I spread these seeds in March 2013 which is not optimal. It would have been better to do it in the Fall but alas, that is not when I was ready. So I did it anyway. And it worked just fine! When you spread the seeds, I just threw the seeds around on the ground, then hoed very, very lightly so about 1/4″ of dirt gets moved on top of seeds. Then I watered it for about 15 days until I saw sprouts. Then I just left it. I’m not sure I even watered it. First, the grasses grew, so I had nice grasses this past fall. Now, the flowers are growing. The best part: I haven’t seen any bermuda grass (I hate to even write that down but it’s true for the moment, anyway). I had a few weeds this spring but dug them out easily. In addition to the Texas Red Bud, there’s a Mexican Plum (provided by the City of Austin) and a non-native Loquat tree that was here when we bought the house. View the slideshow the current show that’s happening.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Native Plant Swap 5/3/14

Another great event is coming in about a month: PLANT SWAP! This is hosted up in the Hyde Park neighborhood but all are welcome. Start potting up some of your natives to exchange for others. See you there!

CONFIRMED DATE for 2014 Spring swap: Saturday, May 3rd
Location: Mother’s Cafe and Garden Parking Lot; 4215 Duval St, Austin, TX 78751
Time: Around dawn until 9:30am

Attached is a picture of a small sampling of plants that I have so far for the swap: Fall Aster, American Elderberry, Mexican Feathergrass, Skullcap, Cowpen Daisy, LOTS of milkweed to be given away to swap participants (will send pics of milkweed seedlings later).

Spread the word…the more people that know about it, the more great plants to choose from!
Hancock resident
NWF Habitat Steward
Picture of native plants in pots on rack

Natives potted up

Hummingbirds have arrived!

In a recent post on wildlife, I indicated we had only recently seen birds, bees, and butterflies. I was hoping to see hummingbirds.
Guess what? On Sunday evening while sitting on our upper deck, I spotted a hummingbird and he flitted around near the birdbath and then headed to the Firebush plant, which was planted with hummingbirds in mind. SUCCESS!

Firebush flowers year-long (unless it goes dormant due to cold weather here).

Firebush plant

Photographer: Cywinski, Rachel
City: Round Rock
County: Williamson
State: TX
Location Notes: Robb Lane
Filename: RC1_IMG0012.JPG
Slide Index: photos 2009 fall 2010 summer 1363.jpg
Restrictions: Unrestricted
Collection: Wildflower Center Digital Library
Original Format: Digital
Orientation: Landscape
Shot: Early fall flowers. Plant regrows from roots each year due to winter cold in this area.
Date Taken: 2010/10/06
NPIN Image Id: 28464

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