August 10, 2011
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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:
Photo by: Joseph A. Marcus/WILDFLOWER CENTER COLLECTIONS MANAGER
February 4, 2011
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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.