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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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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Friday - March 30, 2012

From: Lockhart, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Managing Roadsides, Non-Natives
Title: Mowing wildflower concerns from Lockhart TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I went to the Texas Highway Department (Texas Department of Transportation) web site and sent them a concern or complaint about them or independent contractors shredding the roadsides before the bluebonnets and other wild flowers have ‘gone to seed’. They have been doing this for a number of years….I finally got around to trying to do something about it! I pointed out that this is obviously the case because now all that we see in many, many, many places are small strips of bluebonnets where they were missed or places where they couldn’t shred. At the same time we will see bluebonnets across the fence lines, more proof that they are causing the wildflower decline. When I look around in our general area (Central Texas) there are very few wildflowers where they had been abundant before they started this illogical practice. Maybe if more folks would elevate this as a concern, they would change the practice! I also asked whether they had plans for re-seeding the wildflowers. I'd like a good email address so that we can set up lines of communication whereby I can forward their response as well as mine to them. I tried wildflowers.org but it doesn't work. This is the only way I could communicate with your organization. Thanks!

ANSWER:

We appreciate your concern, but the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, focuses on the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which they grow naturally. Please read this related recent Mr. Smarty Plants answer. TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) is the responsible party concerned with these matters. We cannot function as a go-between or a forum in this discussion. You will note that some of the people we hear from are opposed (as you seem to be) to the mowing and others, perhaps because of the infection of non-native invasive Bastard Cabbage, want much more mowing. It would appear that interceding on this matter is unwelcome, out of our jurisdiction and none of our business.

We are, however, constantly interested in the control of invasives like Bastard Cabbage. Please read our Invasives webpage for some of the ongoing effort. Please also read this website from Texas Invasives.org, in which we are an active partner, for more facets of the effort. And see this film clip from KXAN news, which includes the advice to get a shovel that is sturdier than the root of the invasive.

However, insofar as interceding on this matter, or trying to get a dialog going with TxDot, this is not something Mr. Smarty Plants can do. We do understand and share your concern.

 

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