TPWD News Release — Sept. 8, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas — Sprawling fields of Texas bluebonnets and vibrant orange Texas paintbrushes highlight fields and highways across the state. Travelers stop to take pictures or simply admire these native wildflowers, though many may not realize the many economic, environmental and aesthetic benefits of Texas native plants.
That could change this October, when native plants and flowers will receive the homage they deserve.
Starting this fall, the first ever, official Texas Native Plant Week will be celebrated annually the third week in October. The new designation comes at the best time of year to start a native plant garden, and this year there’s a new Texas Wildscapes DVD to help Texans realize their dream gardens.
State Rep. Donna Howard of Austin and Sen. Glenn Hegar of Katy, authored a bill recognizing the state’s native plants during this year’s legislative session. Gov. Rick Perry signed the bill into law June 16. The week-long event that focuses on native plants is new, although Texas has had an annual Wildflower Day each April 26 since 1980.
Faye Tessnow of the Native Plant Society of Texas urged Howard to author the legislation because she felt the official state recognition could serve to emphasize the role of native plants in conservation efforts, support efforts to teach school children about native plants, and make the public aware that native-plant species are threatened by loss of habitat and invasive, exotic species.
The week seems appropriate in October because fall is the best time to start a garden using native plants. Natives are more economical, hardy and drought resistant than exotic species, which are not adapted to Texas weather extremes and pests. Additionally, native Texas plants are better able to provide food and shelter to beneficial wildlife, such as songbirds and butterflies.
To help gardeners plan their native landscapes, the new DVD "Texas Wildscapes, Gardening for Wildlife: An Interactive Guide to Creating Vibrant and Beautiful Wildlife Habitat" offers a new multi-media resource for small-acreage landowners. This DVD combines short videos and color photos with a searchable plant database, virtual tours of demonstration gardens, customized plant shopping lists and more.
"Now is a great time to use the Texas Wildscapes DVD, since fall is the best time to plant a wildlife-friendly garden," said Kelly Conrad Bender, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department urban wildlife biologist for Central Texas.
"Fall is the best time to plant your perennials, since it will give them plenty of time to dig their roots in and take advantage of fall, winter and spring rains before the harsh heat of summer hits," Bender said. "Deep roots make plants more drought-tolerant and give them the energy they need to bloom beautifully in the spring and better survive the summer."
With the new DVD, small-acreage property owners can:
The DVD project was funded in part through the federal State Wildlife Grants Program. It was created by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in partnership with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the Texas Master Naturalists (Capital Area Chapter).
For a free DVD, anyone can visit the Texas Wildscapes pages on the TPWD Web site and follow the instructions to order a DVD.
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