fort worth botanic garden in texas

last week, while visiting family, i got the pleasure to visit the fort worth botanic garden in texas. it was the final day of my tri.p i wasn’t at the top of my game. this time of year in texas, the air is humid and the temperature had been floating around 100 degrees. all the businesses in texas like to keep the temperature around a freezing 60 degrees (at least compared to weather outside!). the combination of switching from hot and humid to cold and dry finally gave me a sore throat and aches all over my body. my body was telling me no, don’t go! but i forged ahead.

the fort worth botanic garden is the oldest botanical garden in texas, originating in 1934. that’s make it about 80 years old this year. it’s open daily and most of the gardens here are open to the public for free. some of the gardens such as the conservatory (very cool!) cost two dollars (worth it!) and the japanese garden cost five dollars for adults.

i wasn’t thrilled by the cookie cutter annual plantings. i did enjoy the native forest walk and i felt the conservatory was the best part. if you have kids, the forest walk is great because there is plenty of educational signs and activities to interact with. one of my cousins favorites were the tubes that would relay the sound to a different part of the garden (think tin cans and a string). one thing i did not like about the gardens were that the signs for the plants were absent. the conservatory did the best job providing signs for each of the plants. they may forego putting labeled signs out because most people only want to admire the beauty and not know the name. being from california, it was not easy for me to identify all the native plants.  i would recommend going to fort worth botanic garden if you’re in the neighborhood. if you’re a plant lover or looking for some low cost fun, try the fort worth botanical gardens!

road trip to the russian wilderness

for the last five days, my partner and i spent our time in northern california in the russian wilderness. it’s a picturesque and not very crowded part of california. the company was great, the views were spectacular, the food was delicious and the air was intoxicating. we could have spent a month out there (and i plan to in the future) but we had to come back two days short of a week. we saw some beautiful wildflowers, skinny dipped in lakes at 8000′, and hiked along some of the rugged pacific crest trail.

i’ve spent the last six plus years working for different plant nurseries and just recently took a break. i find it ironic that during our busiest time of the year, the wildflowers were always in full bloom. we weren’t allowed to take vacation during this season. i always had some resentment about that. i would remember how much fun i would have taking native plant trips with my professor stew winchester. we would explore the corners of california and study every plant we came across. i felt so much joy getting connected with plants outside of the plastic containers at the nursery. sure, i’ve been creating my own gardens and landscaping yards but it’s not the same as getting out into the wild and creating an intimate relationship with them on their terms, being free from customers and having no containers to water. this trip was nothing short of incredible and it mind sound cliche, but it refreshed my whole mind, body and spirit. these are the trips i will remember for a lifetime and it’s part of why i’m enjoying living as a gypsy.

life is good…

here are some pictures from the trip…

Creating a wildflower garden

   

Habitat for native wildlife is diminishing across Sonoma County with development and conversion of wild lands into subdivisions, farms and vineyards. As wild areas continue to be fragmented, populations of wildflowers shrink, contributing to the loss of our native plants, pollinators, insects and birds. In urban areas, people can play a role in reducing the impact of development by planting and sowing wildflower strips.

Planting wildflowers alongside crops has become a renewed interest as a pest control method among organic and conventional farmers by attracting beneficial wildlife. Predatory insects (insects that eat other insects) feed off the nectar and pollen provided by the wildflowers.

This helps control outbreaks of certain pests such as aphids. Many farmers have explained that after planting these wildflower strips, also called “hedgerows,” they see a reduction in crop damage within the first few years. Hedgerows aren’t only valuable to farmers but urban dwellers as well.

By planting a diversity of native wildflowers, you can have continuous blooms through spring and into fall. This provides a constant nectar and seed source for bees, birds and insects. Additionally, the seeds of these wildflowers can spread throughout the county to start other local native wildflower populations. Hedgerows can also provide shelter for birds and create over-wintering sites (locations for beneficial insects to take cover from our winter climate).

You might be wondering how to plant your own wildflower garden. There are more than a few ways to grow wildflowers at home. Two common methods used to start a wildflower garden are by container planting or by using seeds, my favorite method.

Although plants may be the same species, wildflowers from outside your area may have different genetics than your local population. When possible, use plants and seeds that are local varieties.

These are often better adapted to your area and less likely to contaminate the local gene pool. Furthermore, never dig up wild plants for your own garden. Transplanting wild plants is against the law on most public land.

When preparing an area to be planted, it is important to make sure the area is free of weeds. If possible, pull weeds and water the area; allow another round of weeds to emerge again, pull and repeat if necessary. This will help diminish the weed seed bank that lies in the soil and allow for better success and weed control in the long run.

Most California wildflowers are best seeded in the fall. If you can’t wait for next fall, I have seen some people successfully sow seeds in winter and early spring.

By spring and summer, the flowers should be in full bloom. Certain wildflowers are sold in containers at nurseries, and those can generally be planted throughout the year.

Be mindful that some wildflowers do not flourish in pots and fare better by direct seeding (sown where they will permanently grow).

Planting native wildflowers has many benefits, including the enjoyment you’ll receive from watching the new visitors in your garden.

Whether you’re removing lawn or covering a bare spot in your yard, wildflowers are a great way to provide beauty while sustaining biodiversity, using less water and reducing pesticide use.

Helpful websites are California Native Plant Society (www.cnps.org) and

Xerces Society (www.xerces.org).

This article was orginally published in The Community Voice on April 5th, 2013.

Creating wildflower garden can help with pest control

 
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By Christopher Harrod  April 5, 2013 12:00 am

Habitat for native wildlife is diminishing across Sonoma County with development and conversion of wild lands into subdivisions, farms and vineyards. As wild areas continue to be fragmented, populations of wildflowers shrink, contributing to the loss of our native plants, pollinators, insects and birds. In urban areas, people can play a role in reducing the impact of development by planting and sowing wildflower strips.

Planting wildflowers alongside crops has become a renewed interest as a pest control method among organic and conventional farmers by attracting beneficial wildlife. Predatory insects (insects that eat other insects) feed off the nectar and pollen provided by the wildflowers.

This helps control outbreaks of certain pests such as aphids. Many farmers have explained that after planting these wildflower strips, also called “hedgerows,” they see a reduction in crop damage within the first few years. Hedgerows aren’t only valuable to farmers but urban dwellers as well.

By planting a diversity of native wildflowers, you can have continuous blooms through spring and into fall. This provides a constant nectar and seed source for bees, birds and insects. Additionally, the seeds of these wildflowers can spread throughout the county to start other local native wildflower populations. Hedgerows can also provide shelter for birds and create over-wintering sites (locations for beneficial insects to take cover from our winter climate).

You might be wondering how to plant your own wildflower garden. There are more than a few ways to grow wildflowers at home. Two common methods used to start a wildflower garden are by container planting or by using seeds, my favorite method.

Although plants may be the same species, wildflowers from outside your area may have different genetics than your local population. When possible, use plants and seeds that are local varieties.

These are often better adapted to your area and less likely to contaminate the local gene pool. Furthermore, never dig up wild plants for your own garden. Transplanting wild plants is against the law on most public land.

When preparing an area to be planted, it is important to make sure the area is free of weeds. If possible, pull weeds and water the area; allow another round of weeds to emerge again, pull and repeat if necessary. This will help diminish the weed seed bank that lies in the soil and allow for better success and weed control in the long run.

Most California wildflowers are best seeded in the fall. If you can’t wait for next fall, I have seen some people successfully sow seeds in winter and early spring.

By spring and summer, the flowers should be in full bloom. Certain wildflowers are sold in containers at nurseries, and those can generally be planted throughout the year.

Be mindful that some wildflowers do not flourish in pots and fare better by direct seeding (sown where they will permanently grow).

Planting native wildflowers has many benefits, including the enjoyment you’ll receive from watching new visitors in your garden.

Whether you’re removing lawn or covering a bare spot in your yard, wildflowers are a great way to provide beauty while sustaining biodiversity, using less water and reducing pesticide use.

Helpful websites are California Native Plant Society (www.cnps.org) and

Xerces Society (www.xerces.org).

This article was orginally published in The Community Voice on April 5th, 2013.

http://thecommunityvoice.com/article.php?id=6269