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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Thursday - March 03, 2005

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens
Title: Returning empty landscape to native plants
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in a subdivision that backs up to a 40 +/- piece of land that is called Texas Safari, I think. Between TS and my fence is a piece of ground about 50-60' wide and 100-150 yards long. Some of this area, about 10' wide holds water for short periods during regular rain and more when it rains very hard. Some is never covered with water. New growth is just now starting and I have no idea what native plants will return. Can you help me determine which type of plants will return this property to its highest and best use? Barring any problem with the drainage pipe that was placed under this area I see no reason that it will not remain in whatever state we can put it in. I think that the county will take no part in the maintenance or upkeep. Is there a program that you provide that will help me with this.

ANSWER:

The first question that needs to be answered is "Who is legally responsible for the land in question?" If it is not you, then you will need to get permission from the landowner to do any sort of landscaping on it. The next question is "What sort of vegetation would you like to see on it--trees, shrubs, grasses, wildflowers?"

The Native Plant Library on the Wildflower Center web page has several articles in PDF format to download that you might find useful for landscaping your plot. Here are a few of the titles you will find there: "Landscaping with Native Plants", "Wildflower Meadow Gardening", and "Large Scale Wildflower Planting". Another article on our web page that might prove useful is "Restoration: The basics on how to repair your land" by Steve Windhager, Director of Landscape Restoration at the Wildflower Center.

Once you have decided what sort of plants you want to grow there, you can search our Native Plants Database for suggestions for plants. For instance, if you select Combination Search from the options, and then select "Shrub" from Growth Form, "Wet" under Growing Conditions and "Texas" under Select State you will get a list of shrubs (most with pictures) with growing conditions, growth form, distribution, etc., that will grow in wet areas in Texas.

Although there are none currently scheduled, the Wildflower Center periodically offers classes on native landscaping and restoration. Watch our web site for announcements.

 

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