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Member Success Story: Be the Change

By Dell J. Hood, Hill Country Chapter

For the past 18 years I have had the privilege of serving as a trustee of the Wimberley Village Library. By the end of this year, we will have finished our second expansion and added an 8,200 square foot wing to the existing building.

The design was done by a San Antonio architectural firm and includes provision for landscaping of approximately one acre. The firm’s landscape designer provided a plan which included native and non-native species of trees, shrubs, and forbs. In a meeting to review the plan, I noted that native plants could readily replace the non-native species and that given our local water restrictions, natives would more likely survive the extended dry period in our area.

My concern in this issue is not only the need to reduce water use, but also that as a public library, the building and its landscaping inevitably create an image that becomes part of an identity. That identity should meld seamlessly with the identity of Wimberley, which is that of a rural Texas town that grew up along two streams and is nestled among the wooded hills surrounding it.
Native plants and their communities are essential to a region’s identity. A landscape of plants native to the area says, “I belong here, I’m part of this land, I am rooted in this land.” When public spaces are landscaped using a variety of species from all over the globe without thoughtful use of native plants, the result is often a failure to create a true sense of identity, place, or being part of the larger ecological community around them.

Two years ago, I suggested that the Society work to advance adoption by state and local governments of a policy that public funds be used only for native plant species in any public landscaping project.

I am pleased to report that my concerns were acknowledged and accepted by the landscape designer and answered by the full board of trustees with unanimous adoption of a resolution affirming the exclusive use of native plants for our landscaping!

If you are involved with any local government body anywhere in the state, you can be the critical voice that ensures native plants are used in any landscaping of public spaces. The Society has many resources to provide species appropriate for any planting situation.

Dell Hood can be reached at Hood@ut.texas.edu

Did you like this article? It’s from our Fall 2023 Texas Native Plants magazine. Read more here

Volume 41 | No. 4 | Fall 2023