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Fredericksburg Chapter

N.I.C.E.

Esperanza, also known as “yellow bells” and “yellow trumpet,” is a native shrub with a tropical feel.

This is a N.I.C.E. Spring plant for 2024 and a Texas Super Star.

  Natives Improve and Conserve Environments

That’s N.I.C.E!

The N.I.C.E program promotes the use of native vegetation in our landscaping to support a functioning ecosystem and to celebrate the unique character of the Texas landscape. A native is a plant that lives or grows naturally in a particular region without direct or indirect human intervention.

Have you noticed the  difference between a plant native to its region . . .and the non-native species imported from other regions of this country or other continents?  

When choosing a plant for my garden, my argument  (and maybe yours) was always –  

“Every plant flowers. (The blooms are frequently spectacular.)

   Every plant produces nectar. . .  and pollen. . .  and seeds.

Besides, I want my garden to look like the pictures in the magazines.”

   True?

However

we have to recognize the impact our decisions make on the lives of all the creatures around us.

Our homogenized landscape of introduced exotic and ornamental plants – created from the big box-store offerings –

grows faster, is susceptible to pests and diseases,

and often requires large amounts of water, fertilizer, weed killer, and maintenance.

The plants growing from seeds that are distributed by the wind, escape cultivation,

become aggressive, and engulf the functional native ecosystem

until native vegetation that has evolved to withstand our temperature, poor soil, and moisture extremes,

are crowded out or eaten to extinction.

The Harsh Truth:

Our native wildlife – the birds, butterflies, pollinators, and other organisms – require the plants that supply their food and shelter.

Introducing non-native plants and bushes to your yard actually makes it harder for the butterflies and birds in your neighborhood to survive.

Doug Tallamy, author, professor and chair of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, explains,

“For instance, if you want chickadees to breed in your yard, you need plants that can support the 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars the birds need during the 16 days they feed their young. “If you don’t have that, the plant-caterpillar-chickadee food web stops. If you plant something other than native [species], then right away you’re removing at least 75% of the food that is supporting the biodiversity that’s out there.”

If our gardens (yours and mine) lack plants that are indigenous to our region, they are ecological deserts for the birds and pollinating insects that are essential to our survival.

 

The Fredericksburg and Kerrville chapters of the Native Plant Society of Texas

encourage you to explore the way nature creates beauty and to  see color and texture as a palate that draws and enhances life to your environment.

At the turn of each season the chapters promote a native plant that thrives in our  thin, rocky soil and in our particular climate of extremes.

The area’s participating “NICE” nurseries team with us *to insure availability  

* and introduce you to the spectacular beauty of a native plant that may be unfamiliar.

 Help reestablish native plant communities in your yard and community. Choose to landscape with the exotic beauty of native plants. 

Local Nurseries supporting N.I.C.E.

  • Blue Oak Trading Company, 1834 Junction Highway, Kerrville, 830-315-2583
  • Natives of Texas, 4256 Medina Highway, Kerrville, 830-896-2169
  • Plant Haus 2, 604 Jefferson Street, Kerrville, 830-792-4444
  • The Gardens at The Ridge, 13439 S. Ranch Road 783 (Harper Rd.), Kerrville, 830-896-0430
  • Friendly Natives, 1107 N. Llano Street, Fredericksburg, 830-997-6288
  • Medina Garden Nursery, 13417 TX Highway 16, Medina, 830-589-2771

 

Look for the “NICE Plant of the Season” logo stake: (As you explore, you’ll find other beautiful Native plants also.)

Prior seasons of NICE plants for your landscape!

Spring, 2024     Esperanza (Tecoma stans), also known as “yellow bells” and “yellow trumpet,” is a native shrub with a tropical feel. Call it eye candy for your summer landscape – if you get it planted during the spring! Settled in place, it is known for its long bloom time, heat tolerance, and low water use.

Winter, 2023   Goldenball Lead Tree  ((Leucaena retusa).      A Texas native, it is found in the western part of the Edwards Plateau and the Trans Pecos area. With its decorative,  airy, “acacia-like” foliage that casts a lovely filtered shade, it is open enough that sun-loving species can bloom underneath.

Fall, 2023     Cenizo, Purple Sage, Texas Sage, Texas Barometer Bush, or Texas Silverleaf.  Whatever you choose to call it, this plant is one of the easiest to grow in the Hill Country. It uses very little water, loves poor dry soil, and is extremely deer resistant

Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) A summer Texas superstar

Summer, 2023    Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala),- definitely this is a rose by another name.  Are you looking for some bright pink flowers to add to your garden? Look no further than Rock Rose. This beauty, also known as rose mallow or rose pavonia, is actually native to our own Edwards Plateau and the Trans-Pecos region to our west.

Spring, 2023   Mealy Blue Sage, Salvia farinacea, has been evident in the fields since mid March providing pollinators with an early breakfast to start the season. Mealy blue describes the powdered, mottled white/blue flower color of this member of the mint family. Like all mints it sets deep roots to hold our soil and moisture during hot sun summers. Expect it to bloom until frost. Next spring cut out the deadwood and allow the new growth to revive from the roots.

Winter, 2022     This is the best time of the year to plant a tree on the Edwards Plateau. A temperate sun encourages the roots of young plants to become established, and spring rains are just around the corner. And the Texas Mountain Laurel  (Sophora secundiflora) beckons. It is drought-tolerant, prefers rocky limestone soil, and is native from central Texas west to New Mexico.

Green plant with broad leaves and small hibiscus shaped red flowers
Turk’s cap in bloom.

Summer, 2022   It is hard to miss a Turk’s Cap in the summer. Its multitude of bright red, uniquely-shaped flowers set against dark green foliage draw not just the human eye but also many butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators during its long bloom period. Its flowers are unique – bright red, with one- to two-inch long petals that stand erect and are folded into one another, making a tight bloom. A long red staminate column juts out from the center of the flower.  It prefers shade – full, partial, or dappled with sun, but is equipped to survive the heat of Texas summers.

Winter, 2021    “The Texas Redbud, (Cercis canadensis var. texensis), is a multi-trunked small tree or large shrub that thrives on the thin limestone soils of the Hill Country. It is popular as a landscape plant because of its profuse clusters of tiny rose-pink blooms.” Bill Ward

Summer, 2021  is intensified with the fiery spice of chili pequin (Capsicum annuum). Well behaved in the garden and easy to grow, this favorite  can be pruned to form a dense, compact bush. The abundance of small white flowers attract  bees and other pollinators. As the resulting green berries ripen to red, they become popular with the birds; but it is one of the plants that are highly resistant to deer.

Spring,2021 has arrived with Black-eyed Susan,   Standing atop slender stems, showy 2-3 inch wide golden-yellow rays frame the dramatic dark brown eyes dancing in the breeze. This is a true native prairie biennial perfectly at home both in our gardens and in our meadows. Its adaptable nature makes it a great choice for our poor soils and Gillespie County weather.

Winter, 2020Texas Kidneywood, (Eysenhardtia texana).  A small, airy, ornamental tree which blossoms generously attracting bees and butterflies. Kidneywood foliage has a pungent, citrusy smell. Bees flock to the ambrosial flowers, which bloom at intervals through the warm months

Summer, 2020 – Lindheimer Muhly grass , a true native of the Edwards Plateau, ranges from the northern edge of the plateau as far south as northern Mexico. It is an elegant, large-scale summer perennial clumpgrass that displays a fountain of silvery seedheads in the fall.  Use Lindheimer Muhly as a specimen plant or for screening behind shorter grasses and bushes in place of Pampas Grass

Spring, 2020 — Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).Even without the picture, you can see the Echinacea Purple Coneflower Echinacea Heirloom Seeds | Terroir Seeds in your mind: a purple rosette of  long petals lifting the tall prickly cone of reddish-brown seeds to the world. En masse, dramatic.

Winter, 2019 Cedar Elm tree (Ulmus crassifolia) is one of the most common and widespread native trees in Texas. Several native birds  use Cedar Elm seeds as a food and nesting source.

 
Fall, 2019  ~ Nolina. Basket Grass (Bear Grass) (Nolina texana / Texas Sacahuista) is one of the beautiful mounding “grasses” that are part of the agava family. 
 
 

Summer, 2019 ~ Pigeonberry (Rivina humilis)is a low growing plant for the front of a shady garden.About 1 foot  tall,  It flowers all summer, and is moderately deer resistant. It is well named. The birds love it and will fill your garden.  Photo by Alan Cressler

Spring, 2019  ~  Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha)     This popular native columbine brightens dark corners of Hill Country shade gardens with its colors and with the moths, butterflies and bees that pollinate it.  Good drainage is required in any standard garden soil;  Photo by Denise Coulter

 

 

 

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About the Region

New Braunfels, the location of our Fall 2024 Symposium, straddles both the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion and the Blackland Prairie ecoregion. Interstate 35 divides the city of New Braunfels; its path through the city closely parallels the boundary of these two ecoregions, with the Edwards Plateau on the west side and the Blackland Prairies region to the east. The Edwards Plateau area is also called the Hill Country; however, this general term covers a much larger area extending farther north. Spring-fed creeks are found throughout the region; deep limestone canyons, rivers, and lakes (reservoirs) are common. Ashe juniper is perhaps the most common woody species found throughout the region. Additional woody species include various species of oak, with live oak (Quercus fusiformis) being the most common. Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) border waterways. This area is well known for its spring wildflower displays, though they may be viewed in spring, late summer, and fall, as well. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, average annual rainfall in the Edwards Plateau ranges from 15 to 34 inches.

The Blackland Prairie extends from the Red River south to San Antonio, bordered on the west by the Edwards Plateau and the Cross Timbers, and on the east by the Post Oak Savannah. Annual rainfall averages 30 to 40 inches, with higher averages to the east. This region is dominated by prairie species. The most common grass species include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) in the uplands and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the riparian areas and drainages. Common herbaceous flowering plants include salvias, penstemons, and silphiums. This area has suffered greatly from overgrazing and agricultural use. Few intact areas remain, though many of the plants can be found along county roadsides throughout the region.

Our four host chapters (New Braunfels, Lindheimer, Guadalupe, and the Hill Country chapters) are located in one or both of the ecoregions above. However, the eastern portion of Guadalupe County also falls within the Post Oak Savanna ecoregion. Annual rainfall averages 35 to 45 inches, with higher averages to the east. A wide variety of hardwood trees are found, including several species of oaks, elms, and in the Bastrop area, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Grasses and forbs dominate in the open savannas, with most common grass being little bluestem. Ranching, agriculture, and fire suppression have allowed woody species to encroach on the once-open savannas.

Source: Wildflowers of Texas by Michael Eason