If the world of native landscaping has deities, surely Sally and Andy Wasowski of Taos, NM, are among them. The Wasowski team has been described as botanical missionaries for native plants. Andy, a freelance writer and photographer, and Sally, a landscape designer, have written nine books , including Native Texas Plants and Native Texas Gardens, excellent guides to native plant gardening. Two of their most recent books are Requiem for a Lawnmower and Gardening for a Hotter, Drier Climate.
The Wasowskis have contributed an extensive collection of fine native plant and landscape photos to the Wildflower Center. Recently, that collection of 3939 photos has been integrated into the Native Plant Information Network, adding a stunning array of images to what is now the most comprehensive source of native plant information in North America.
The Wasowskis are dedicated environmental advocates, giving the reasons why native plants are easier on the land than the traditional water-hungry lawn and exotic plants that can turn invasive.
"For close to 25 years, we traveled the U.S., visiting all 50 states and virtually every vegetational zone to gather data on and photograph native plants for our books," Sally said. "During that time, we met and became friends with hundreds of people - botanists, nursery owners and home gardeners - who gladly shared with us their knowledge, insights, and experiences. Our books would not have been possible without their invaluable help."
Making the photographs available to the Wildflower Center was one way of making them available to the thousands of gardeners, researchers and professional landscape designers who use the Native Plant Information Network. The photographs are now available free online at www.wildflower/explore/ and assist researchers in identifying native plants, and gardeners in selecting the right natives for their landscape.
The Wasowski collection may have inspired others, such as Bill Carr, a botanist for the Nature Conservancy, who contributed 266 photos of Texas endemics -- native plants unique to specific Texas geographic regions.
Henry T. Cliffe of San Antonio, an amateur naturalist who documented plant species in Bexar County and collected them for the Bexar County herbarium, has also contributed his photographs to the Wildflower Center. About half of nearly 1,000 Cliffe photos have been added to the Native Plant Information Network.