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Boerne Chapter

SUN shines on Chuck Janzow

Author: Bill Ward

From time to time, the Boerne Chapter of the Native Plant Society presents its SUN Award (Standing Up for Natives Award) to someone who has made special contributions to the native-plant movement. This recognition is reserved for those whose efforts involving native plants have made a lasting impact on our community. Chuck Janzow received the SUN Award at the last meeting of the Boerne Chapter NPSOT.

Chuck Janzow was a pioneer in promoting native plants in the Boerne community. Chuck was propagating native plants and encouraging their use in landscaping long before there was a NPSOT chapter in Boerne.

A person standing outside, looking at a stand of green plants
Chuck Janzow examining acacia he spotted on IH-10.

Janzow was a science teacher at BHS for over 30 years and was Chairman of the Science Department for many years. Almost 20 years ago, Janzow’s wife Martha Barker said she wanted to purchase some bushes of evergreen sumac for their yard. His response was, “I can grow those.”

That started Janzow’s experimentation with propagating many of the local native shrubs and trees. He was quite successful at this and eventually became a wholesale supplier of several native plants. His backyard nursery commonly grows native plants that few other nursery people attempt to propagate. Many of the bigtooth maples and Texas madrones in various nurseries around the Hill Country were supplied to the retailers by Janzow and Barker’s Green Cloud Nursery.

Chuck, a self-taught horticulturist, has gained the admiration of his peers with his success in propagating native plants, especially from seeds. In her second edition of “How to Grow Native Plants,” Jill Nokes lists Chuck Janzow among her “collaborators” and cites his advice many times in her text.

Chuck and Martha are intimately familiar with the native vegetation along almost every road in this part of the Hill Country. Gathering seed from special plants they have encountered around this area has allowed them to grow some interesting natives virtually impossible to find at other wholesale nurseries. For example, they recently raised some healthy shrubs of redroot or Jersey tea (Ceanothus herbaceus). For a long time, I’ve hoped to get a redroot for our yard, but haven’t found one at a nursery. Thanks to Chuck, redroot now is a pride and joy of our backyard!

Janzow-propagated plants have long been major attractions at the Cibolo Nature Center’s Mostly-Native Plant Sale every spring. Chuck was an advisor and volunteer laborer from the very beginning of the Cibolo Wilderness Trail. Over many years Janzow and his BHS students contributed thousands of volunteer hours to helping develop and maintain the Cibolo Nature Center.

Chuck was a charter member of the Boerne Chapter of NPSOT, and he generously continues to contribute both native plants and guiding advice to our chapter. His SUN Award is well deserved.

As an aside, the first native plants we introduced into our yard a dozen years ago were propagated by Janzow and, interestingly enough, another former Boerne High School teacher. The late Betty Winningham, who was a math teacher at BHS for ten years or so, also played a major role in making Hill Country natives available for home gardens.

After Betty retired from BHS in the mid 1990s, she set out to learn about propagation of native plants. With the help of her husband and father she opened a nursery specializing in native plants. The Natives of Texas Nursery on the Winningham ranch between Kerrville and Medina is among the best known growers of native plants in the Hill Country.

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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