Zilker Neighborhood Gardens

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

Tag Archives: grasses

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
COST:    FREE!
SPONSORS:   Friends of the Mueller Prairie and the Mueller POA Landscape Committee

Local preserve attracts an escaped buffalo (for real)

In a recent Statesman article, Buffalo roams in wildflower center’s preserve, the author describes how an escaped buffalo from a nearby ranch decided to hang out at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center’s property. This is one smart buffalo! Grass is precious these days with no rainfall and temperatures in the 100s everyday – cattle are even dying out on ranches.

Yet, at LBJ Wildflower Center, they’ve created areas that mimic what the land used to be like here – savannah. In the article, they are pretty happy to have the buffalo visit (perhaps it is a real-time “pat on the back” that their preserve has indeed created a natural habitat), despite the fact that they had to close the hiking trails there.

Workers at the center said they like to think their savannahlike restoration project is what attracted the bison to graze in the nature preserve this weekend.

The area where the animal is grazing is in the Mollie Steves Zachary Texas Arboretum , a 16-acre restoration project that will display different kinds of native grasses and trees in Central Texas, said Damon Waitt, senior director and botanist at the center.

“We just think it’s the coolest thing in the world that she’s choosing that part to hang out,” Waitt said. “The project is much like what Central Texas would have looked like when buffalo actually roamed 200 years ago.”

So imagine that: a buffalo, happy, hanging out in her circa-1811 turf in South Austin. Wouldn’t we be so lucky to build native landscapes where animals would take refuge? [OK, ok, our small city yards are not going to exactly contain a buffalo, but it’s fun to think of it!] Here she is:

Buffalo roams Wildflower Center Preserve

Photo by: Joseph A. Marcus/WILDFLOWER CENTER COLLECTIONS MANAGER

Ready-made Garden Designs

Several City of Austin agencies collaborated on a series of native and xeric landscape designs. They have just released a new one, the creekside design (PDF download).

These designs are listed in my Garden Resources page on this website, but since they released a new design, I felt it was worth advertising them directly. I love to look at these because they provide ideas for plants that are specific to the specific land-type, such as the creekside. The creekside assembles plants and trees for a sun/part-shade land area that has some slope down to a creekbed. They suggest some native oaks like the chinquapin and live oak. Shrubs like Eve’s Necklace and Chili Penquin (edible, too) and some ornamental grasses like Inland Sea Oats and Eastern Gama Grass.

There are 10 landscape designs currently available. These include:

If you live in Austin (as most of you do if you are reading this), you can also order printed landscape design booklets at this website. Don’t be overwhelmed by these – look at them and find what you like and just emulate those parts in your landscape. Do a little bit at a time.

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