Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Check out the portfolio section!

Two of about a gazillion projects have been uploaded to the portfolio section. We have some trouble-shooting to do, and some tweaking -- not to mention update with LOADS of new pics -- but at least there are some colorful beauties to feast your eyes on.

Please do send us your own pics, too, to be used in the Your Turn section. We want to showcase your ability to implement our suggestions!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Need your input!!!!!

We are putting finishing touches on the portfolio section of our new website and have decided to give our readers/clients an opportunity to show off their handiwork. If we have consulted with you or designed your landscape, we would like to see pics of your project. They can be before, during, after or years-later pics. Just send us a jpeg and brief description of its content to info@nativedave.com. We will upload them to our "Your Turn" page, which will be located within the portfolio section. The theme of this section is "your project, your perspective."

Looking forward to seeing your garden through your eyes!


Tonight all the CNN network stations will broadcast an all-star gala, CNN Heroes. Celebrities and other public figures will be present to honor ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things. Eighteen finalists were selected from thousands of nominees; six winners will be awarded tens of thousands of dollars to go toward their chosen cause. Tune in and get inspired.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

2007 is almost a wrap!

We are winding down 2007. Only a few designs left to do. Holiday cards to mail, too. So much to prepare for in 2008, especially the arrival of NativeBabe. To be sure we are ready for all the changes coming our way, we will be scaling back our hours for the rest of December and January. I'm working on the schedule today and should have new days and hours posted soon.

This week we will be available as follows:
Wednesday (12/5) 8am-5pm
Thursday (12/6) 8am-5pm
Friday (12/7) 8am-5pm

Please check back at the end of the week for our complete winter schedule!

Homecoming, of sorts

Friday (11/30) we were at Texas State University in San Marcos for a symposium on water. I was the keynote speaker. My speech -- River Memories, Native Plants and the Nature of Texas -- connected our experiences as students to the mission of our business. Slide after slide illustrated ways we are making positive changes in our community through teaching others to conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate Texas' natural beauty.

We always appreciate the opportunity to share our knowledge and enthusiasm with others. This event was particularly meaningful; it is a great honor to be invited back to one's alma mater. Thanks to Gene Bourgeois, Ellen Ermis, and Ron Brown for joining Diann McCabe, and the rest of the University Honors staff and students, to welcome us "home".

Saturday we checked on Schroeder Park at Golden Age Home in Lockhart. Of course we picked up lunch from Smitty's BBQ and had a picnic under the gazebo at the center of the garden. The project looks amazing, though it needs a bit of grooming. It's just that time of year when perennials reach the end of their bloom cycle and grasses change from greens and blues to tans and coppers. We took some pics for our portfolio -- stay tuned!

After lunch we dropped by their Dickens' Christmas festival on the square. Local student choirs performed. Funnel cakes and other holiday food were available for purchase. Vendors peddled handmade jewelry, blankets, honey and other wares. A snow machine at the entrance to the event sputtered and spit white into the air. The sky was overcast -- it looked like a chilly winter day. In reality, however, it was HOT outside. Clad in shorts and sandals, everyone still maintained happy holiday spirits.

Sunday the temperatures were even higher. It was my birthday and I never complain about the weather being too hot on my special day. Making matters worse, I can no longer fit into my summer wardrobe. So I roughed it in maternity jeans and a long-sleeve shirt. I walked around on South Congress in Austin for as long as I could stand the heat...Monday we picked up plants for a couple landscape contractors.

Folsom is exhausted. Saturday he played at the San Marcos Dog Park, Sunday at the Austin park and Monday at the nurseries. Whew, we will back in the office tomorrow.

Grapevine Garden Club

Our program for Grapevine Garden Club was a tremendous success last Tuesday (11/27). Approximately 85 attended our presentation about water-wise landscaping practices; we discussed bed preparation, irrigation and plant selection that conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate Texas' natural beauty. The club has a large, very active membership involved in numerous community projects. Often we meet community-oriented groups, but this organization just seems to take volunteerism through gardening to a higher level.

We hope to be invited back again!

Belated Thanks

David, Folsom the Dog and I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving full of gratitude, food and laughter with your brood! A few of our loved ones were visiting from out-of-town, so we had several days of family events in addition to turkey dinner. We even found time to squeeze in a baby shower.

Green Is Universal


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

City of Plano's Ornament-Making Workshop this Saturday

To commemorate Texas Recycles Day, the City of Plano is sponsoring a holiday-themed workshop. This Saturday plan to bring the entire family to make ornaments -- great for holiday decor or gifts! Here are the particulars:

  • Saturday, November 17
  • 10am to 1pm
  • Building Inspections Training Room located at the Municipal Center (Avenue K and 15th Street)
  • For more information, contact Kim Soto at kims@plano.gov or 972-769-4343

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Red Flags

Yesterday's creek waddle -- er, walk -- took us in and around lovely fall foliage. Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) berries have turned from rose to crimson; the leaves have not yet fallen. Carolina Buckthorn (Rhamnus caroliniana) berries vary from yellow to red to black. Its leaves are still green rimmed with golden yellow edges and patches. The most spectacular fall color we observed is Prairie Flameleaf Sumac (Rhus lanceolata.) Among the persisting green of Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and Eve's Necklace (Sophora affinis) are flashes of fiery Flameleaf Sumac waving like cheery banners welcoming back our old friend -- autumn. Summer and fall colors overlap in our area, but the turning of the Sumac indicates cooler weather is almost here.

Soon, Possumhaw and Eve's Necklace will drop their foliage, making their berries the focus of late-fall to winter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What's new with our website?

Thanks to everyone who emailed us with your feedback! We appreciate your taking a look and sharing your opinions.

We have a few pages left to finalize and upload. Later today I should be able to upload the more detailed bio pages. Tomorrow, look for the publications and news pages. By next Monday the portfolio pages -- perhaps the largest section of our site -- should be finalized. With so many photos to choose from, we really have our work cut out for us.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gardening tips NOW

Often we are asked about fall gardening tips. So with cooler temps on the way, we thought this a good time to share a few of our favorite ideas.
  • Seed Racer Now through the end of the month is a good time to disperse grass and wildflower seed. They will germinate in the coming months, forming a rosette of foliage. Be absolutely certain you have removed existing vegetation (i.e. Bermuda, St. Augustine or other turfgrass, or any "undesirable weeds") before you seed. Otherwise, you will have a mix of desirable and undesirable plants -- a maintenance nighmare. Removing the weeds later without killing off the good plants will be next to impossible. You will likely lose part of your investment if you do not completely eradicate the undesirables first. Good sources for seeds: Native American Seed (www.seedsource.com) or Wildseed Farms (www.wildseedfarms.com). Both are companies based in Texas.
  • Mulch ado... November is a good time to replenish your mulch if you planted before June 2007. If your landscape is younger than June 2007, postpone mulching duties until Valentine's Day. Maintain a blanket of mulch 2-3" thick year-round by mulching 2-3 times per year: Valentine's Day, Fathers' Day and Thanksgiving. Although a post a year or two ago about mulch sparked ongoing heated debate, we would like to reiterate the best mulch for North Central Texas is fine-shredded hardwood mulch. Some experts prefer cedar, some cypress, others like recycled rubber or glass. Each serves a very different purpose, but for restoration projects (what we do versus just creating a pretty landscape), it is imperative to replicate natural functions. In our area, natural mulch is created from hardwood trees. We prefer it to all other mulches for its role in natural systems, but also because it decomposes quickly, continuously 'feeding the soil.' Good sources of hardwood mulch: Living Earth Technologies (Dallas and Plano locations) and City of Plano (also an excellent source for compost.)
  • Bulb (non)fiction Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, consider planting spring-blooming bulbs. We recommend using native or naturalizing bulbs (e.g. perennials) that you do not dig up and store in a cool place, as that would go against sustainable design principles. One of our favorite early spring bloomers is Crow Poison -- a lovely white flower with an unfortunate name. Death Camas is another gorgeous native bulb with a misleading name. Good sources for native bulbs: Tejas Native Bulbs (www.tejasnativebulbs.com.) For naturalizing bulbs: The Southern Bulb Co. (www.southernbulbs.com) and Brent & Becky's Bulbs (www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com.)
  • Tree, myself & Irene Cooler weather makes for the best planting environment for trees and large shrubs. Nurseries across the area will be clearing inventory in fall, so you will likely get a bargain. For native trees, we recommend visiting Shades of Green at 8801 Coit Road in Frisco; North Haven Gardens at 7700 Northaven Road in Dallas; Petal Pusher's Garden Emporium at 813 Strauss Road in Cedar Hill; or Green Mama's at 5324 Davis Boulevard in North Richland Hills.

What are your favorite fall gardening tips? Submit them to us at info@nativedave.com and maybe we will post them in the comments section!

New website (or at least parts of it)

The framework of our new website has been uploaded. A few minor changes still need to be made to the accessible pages, and a few additional pages will be updated then uploaded. It should be a few more days, only. We hope you like the new vibe of our website and would appreciate your feedback.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Great news!

Our new website will be up in a few days. We have some final edits, and a bit more testing...and then we're off!

Rebellious by Nature!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Life

Yesterday we went on a creek walk. The vegetation on the banks had been mown, so Folsom could scamper along without sweeping up too many burrs. Excessive rain this year has not exactly kept the slopes moist, but at least they are not cracking, bone dry like last summer. Nevertheless, David held my hand as I cautiously tip-toed toward the limestone-lined creekbed. At almost six-months pregnant, I'm somewhat agility-challenged.

The creek was green and stagnant. Something was obstructing its flow. David located a small rise of silt deposition stretching from one side of the creek to the other. It was only an inch, maybe an inch-and-a-half in height -- just enough to dam up the water. He grabbed a limb and began scraping the ground from side-to-side. Soon the water began to flow again. There was movement again.

On the opposite bank he noticed Frostweed (Verbesina virginica.) If you don't know it, Frostweed's white blooms emit a heavenly fragrance. It will do well in sun or partial shade, almost too well. In suburban residences, one plant will suffice, as it easily reseeds. Frostweed is a versatile native that helps to restore habitat.

We also found a species of Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan also belongs to this genus.) I know we have the complete common and botanical names stored around here somewhere, and I'm sure I'll find it as I continue working on the new website. On our next walk, I will make sure to get pics and will confirm the Rudbeckia info.

Speaking of the new website...

The new layout and overall vibe have inspired me. We are distancing ourselves from the boxy look -- previous versions of our site have been too angular for my taste. The new 'site has more dimensions, more pics, and, well, more logical organization. It represents who we are as people, business owners and artists. Because, after all, we are in the business of knowledge and creativity, not landscape. The new 'site will help to identify us as designers, writers and public speakers, rather than landscapers or contractors.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Leaves are falling all around...

Maybe not in North Central Texas, but it is officially autumn. On our walk yesterday Folsom and I found Purple Prairie Verbena (the native one) blooming abundantly along the perimeter of a construction site. It is growing naturally in a very dry, rocky area, without irrigation and in full sun. Tough as nails, this is my kind of plant.

We also spotted the luminescent deep purple hues of Eryngo (Eryngium). Usually its subtle fragrance is intoxicating, but two extreme and opposing summers in a row might have taken their toll on this native annual. The stands of Indian Blanket (Gaillardia) along the same site must have been sacrificed for the new park; not even the rosettes survived. Surely the disturbed seeds will germinate and bring back the smiling maroon-and-yellow flowers next year. One can only hope...

Our website is undergoing multiple changes in honor of the new season. Our goal is to streamline information -- especially details about our services and fees -- and to delight you with more lovely photographs. We are toying with some interactive features, so please do stay tuned. NativeDave.com should become your one-stop 'site for information related to native plants and sustainable landscape.

Thanks for all your support along the way...our journey brings us to such interesting people and places.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Email problems should be in the past. We've made the switch to serverfly! All files related to the website -- except the portfolio files -- are up and running as well.

Portfolio files should be accessible tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!

Serious about doing your part?

Check out this article, "Living Small." It's about the antithesis to traditional American housing trends, especially here in N Central Texas: the tiny house movement.


A Few More Days

Sadly, we will be cancelling our hosting and email services with thinkhost. Their mission is congruent with ours. However, too many emails (incoming as well as outgoing) have been lost and we can't continue to support their business at the expense of ours. Within 72 hours all email services should be more reliable. In the meantime, if you have emailed and not received a response, please call us at 972.596.3889.

Many thanks!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Good Eatin'!!!


New article available! Click the link above...I'll also be guestblogging for a while. Check out my first post, Confessions of a Dolt. Should be posted by Tuesday the 28th.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Email Troubles On the Mend

Our webhosting service -- thinkhost -- has assured me they have identified the 'glitch' that has been affecting our email capabilities. It's something related to SQL on their end, nothing to do with our website or computers. They are working on a repair and should have the situation remedied ASAP. Thank you to those of you who submitted the error messages you received; your cooperation helped tremendously in the troubleshooting process. Let's hope for no more issues!

Thank you for your patience.


Would love to know your responses...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dangerous Toys


Too many of China's products, from toys to toothpaste, have been recalled within the past year. Click the link above to read about the NINE MILLION toys sold under the Mattel name that contain lead paint. Yes, LEAD PAINT. Other Chinese-manufactured toys were recalled earlier this month, leading one disgraced toy executive to commit suicide.

The part that scares me is, most Americans have come to trust Mattel and Fisher Price brands and might erroneously deem the toys 'safe'. To truly be safe, check all boxes for "MADE IN CHINA" before you make your purchasing decision. Besides, there are plenty of affordable non-toxic toys (and some that are organic!) that will soothe your conscience. For a few suggestions, check out my article "Earth Mama Goes Shopping": http://www.aswearemagazine.com/content/view/189/94/

Safe shopping!

Hope to see you this evening!

We will be speaking to the Dallas Sierra Club tonight at 7pm. For directions and details, follow this link: http://texas.sierraclub.org/dallas/meeting.asp Our presentation will address Texas' environmental issues that can be directly improved by landscaping responsibly. Did you know what you do in your landscape here in North Central Texas affects about HALF of all Texans?

Ongoing Email Woes

I've been in constant communication with our webhosting service about bouncing emails from us as well as to us. We have reset our filters to allow manual 'spam filtering', so your emails should reach us successfully. However, according to the error messages analyzed by our service, most of the bouncing is a result of your filter settings. Most companies offer a 'whitelist' capability -- check with your employer's network administrator for instructions. Usually it's just a simple step: you send us an email and we are automatically added to your whitelist, or list of acceptable contacts.

I understand the frustration with abundant spam mails, believe me. Because we are a business and have a high volume of messages, we are sometimes unfairly slapped with the spam label. Technology, especially email, can be a wonderful convenience.

If you have changed your email filter settings and your messages still are not being delivered to us, please give us a call. We will work together to resolve these little electronic issues. Many thanks!

We Will Be Closed

It's time for fall planning again! We will close at the end of the day Friday, August 24th, and will reopen on Wednesday, September 5th, at 8am. During our planning period we will finalize our fall schedule, presentations for the coming year, and tweak our website a bit. So many great things are happening, we can't wait to share them with you!

Try to stay cool and hydrated...

Friday, August 10, 2007

12 Steps to Shop Fair Trade


Follow the link above then click on the 'download now' to get your very own FREE copy of this 24-page booklet produced by Co-Op America. Feel free to share the link with others!

Music to My Eyes

Folsom and I had to suspend our morning walks for a couple of weeks during the most intense part of our move. Finally, everything is set up--just a few boxes left to unpack, framed pieces to hang. So this week, we started again working on trimming a few pounds off Folsom, and keeping me fit while my belly continues to grow.

The first day we set out in the afternoon--big mistake. About one mile in, Folsom starting cutting his eyes at me as if to say, "are you sure this is a good idea?" He was panting heavily. We turned around and headed home, stopping for a few moments to swim in the creek. He loved it: the cool current whooshed past him. I held tightly onto the leash but found myself looking around at the plants. Despite years of foot ruts (carved by humans, pets and wildife), native vegetation is beginning to return to restore the creek bank. Ironweed, Prairie Verbena, Indian Blanket and multiple species of grasses have been allowed to propagate. I was amazed to find vast swaths of Coralberry and evolving thickets of Eve's Necklace volunteering themselves in mostly sedimentary limestone mixed with a little blackland soil. Spring '08 will be magical along that creek. Mother Nature has finally been allowed to garden as she wishes.

Yesterday we took advantage of the relatively cooler morning temps. Fortunately, we completed our full 3-miler. I was delighted. We saw some nightshade plants and evening primroses. Folsom thinks all plants are for HIM to enjoy, in whatever manner he pleases. He tends to show his displeasure with annual bedding plants, like petunia, pansy and begonia -- I'll leave it up to your imagination how expresses himself.

This morning we left a little later in the morning. What a difference 30 minutes can make! It was H.O.T., but we survived the trek. I learned something new: the best music for this occasion is disco. Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" helped me pick up the pace as we rounded the last bend. Singing along to "Dancing Queen" took my mind off all the dripping sweat. And who knew Donna Summer could belt out "Hot Stuff" at the exact tempo at which I walk? I turned up the music and sang along. Folsom paid no attention to my off-key wailing. Construction workers along our route looked around for a sick cat--what else could make that horrific noise???

I didn't care, I needed to get through this walk and out of the heat ASAP. I glanced around for plants I hadn't seen previously. Nothing new, only 6-foot sunflowers trying to bend forward and away from the sun. Blistering heat -- strange, isn't it? I know, that's normal for this time of year. In a normal year, that is. Temps have been cooler and rainfall is much greater than normal; spring has persisted well into July. And suddenly, SUMMER. Protect yourselves by staying indoors as much as possible between 10am and 4pm. Stay hydrated and in shady areas.

Don't forget about your plants. Use fine-shredded hardwood mulch around the base of each plant (about 2-4 inches), and then deep-root water. This type of mulch will retain enough moisture to give your plants a drink, and will decompose readily to continue feeding the soil. Now *that's* organic!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Evolving Style

Check out this week's piece on As We Are -- http://www.aswearemagazine.com/content/view/189/94/

Beginning with this article, the tone and style of my writing will begin to match those of my blog writing. Although I rather enjoy straight reporting of environmental issues (and potential solutions), I find that I'm becoming more comfortable sharing my own insights alongside research data. Stay tuned for the evolution of Earth Mother!

Don't Miss This!

This Saturday, July 28th, at 1pm we will be speaking about "The Best of Texas" at North Haven Gardens in Dallas. Our presentation will explain why native plants are the best choice for your landscape. From drought to deluge, they continue to perform without harming our local ecoregion. For directions and other information about the nursery, please visit their website at www.nhg.com. Hope to see you there!

Library Speakers Series

As part of Live Green in Plano, the City is sponsoring a speakers series Monday evenings at 7pm at W.O. Haggard Jr Library, 2501 Coit Rd., Plano 75075. FREE ADMISSION.

Monday, July 30th, Lynda Strain of LKS Garden Designs will present "Colorful Texas Natives for Your Landscape." Her presentation will highlight the beauty and diversity of native Texas plants, along with adapted and drought tolerant plants.

Come out and enjoy these great programs sponsored by the City of Plano!

Our Move--Grr

I think we all can agree that moving ranks pretty high on the universal icky list. Fortunately, our transition has gone rather smoothly, except for a few glitches with communications providers. Phones were transferred yesterday and online service will follow soon. Our mailing address will remain the same, but some changes have been made. Here is the correct information:

David & Christy Ilfrey
NativeDave, Inc.
PO Box 261845
Plano TX 75026-1845
972.596.3889 Phone
972.599.7834 Fax
info@nativedave.com -- for general information
nativedave@nativedave.com -- contact David
christy@nativedave.com -- contact Christy
folsom@nativedave.com -- ruff ruff
nativebabe@nativedave.com -- to be updated to nativebabe's birth name in January 2006!

Lesson Learned

Don't announce a website overhaul, and certainly don't launch it, unless all updates are complete. We have ditched the 'site we were working on -- it just wasn't working out as we had planned. Instead, we've opted to tweak an earlier version until further notice.

Next time, we won't make any changes until we have made all the changes. Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Upon the Passing of Lady Bird Johnson

During his undergraduate studies, David wrote a research paper about Mrs. Johnson and the Wildflower Center she founded. Today, she passed away at age 94. The Center sent out this beautiful email notification:

"With the nation, we mourn the passing of our beloved founder, Lady Bird Johnson, who died at her home in Austin on Wednesday July 11, surrounded by her loving family.

Mrs. Johnson created the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in 1982 as a place where people could visit beautiful native wildflower gardens, and learn about the role served by native plants and native landscapes in maintaining a healthy environment and defining our sense of place.

Even before this wonderful place existed, Mrs. Johnson was a champion of our natural heritage. As First Lady, Mrs. Johnson traveled all over the country to draw public attention to the need to protect our natural treasures and to address growing environmental problems. She was the driving vision behind the Highway Beautification Act, and a public force for expansion of the National Parks System, the preservation of wilderness, and other initiatives. Her example and her accomplishments laid the groundwork for the later emergence of a national environmental movement.

As Mrs. Johnson said: 'The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.'

Mrs. Johnson's extraordinary vision and commitment will live on at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. We urge you to visit the Center and enjoy the place she loved so much."

TOMS Shoes for Tomorrow

It's time for a long-overdue rave...

Have you read about TOMS? I love this company. So I don't leave out pertinent info, I'll copy content from a letter I received with my pair of TOMS:

"Congratulations! You are one of the first people to own a pair of TOMS, but more importantly you made a difference in the life of a child. Not only will a child in South America receive great health benefits from having a new pair of shoes, but they will also experience the joy of receiving a gift, which for many will be their first."

I'm so pleased with my new TOMS shoes -- they are definitely comfortable and Flower Power-y -- but I feel good knowing I've helped them fulfill their mission to bring shoes to children-in-need. Check out their website for more information about Blake Mycoskie (designer/chief shoe giver), his vision, and read their blog. Definitely. He and Zach (assistant shoe giver, I presume?) have been traveling around the country in an RV. They meet people, deliver shoes. Funny posts, too.

Customer service is SPOT ON. Styles change occasionally, but a feel-good purchase for $40 is timeless. Visit www.TomsShoes.com -- you won't be disappointed! For a special deal, enter promo code emmap...what's better than free shipping?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Don't Be Fooled

Mandatory watering restrictions are being lifted around the metroplex as a result of near-record rainfall. Lakes are at full- or near-full capacity. Already I've heard murmurs of "oh good, we can go back to watering like we used to." WRONG. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. The thing is, we have plentiful water today, but give it another week or so. The rain will stop, the ground will dry up, and if we all resume pre-drought watering regimen, we will waste away our "savings." Remember that we have many more residents in our area than just 2 years ago, and our population will continue to grow at an average rate of 400 people per day. We must preserve our water sources to allow everyone access to clean water for drinking and showering. A golf course-like lawn is simply just not a responsible investment.

Celebrate our water surplus by continuing to conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate it and all of our natural resources. Water-wise behaviors are necessary now and forever, not just during times of drought or watering restrictions.

Keep up the good work!

Live Earth Intends to "Urge Earth Awareness"


Thursday, July 05, 2007

City of Plano Moves to Water Conservation Plans

City of Plano Press Release
Watering Restrictions Terminated - NTMWD and the City Move to Water Conservation Plans

PLANO, Texas (July 3, 2007) – The City of Plano today terminated the enforcement of its Drought Contingency Plan, which has been in Stage 3 since June 19, 2006. This action is taken in response to the NTMWD’s decision to move from Stage 3 of its Drought Contingency Plan to its Water Conservation Plan.

Citizens are encouraged to continue the practice of good water conservation measures:
  • No watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • No excessive watering such that a constant stream of water overflows from the lawn onto driveways, sidewalks or streets.
  • Remember, only one inch of water is needed weekly for your lawns and shrubs.
  • No watering during rain or any precipitation events.

“Much has been learned during the past year of drought. We must continue to be good stewards of this natural resource” said Jim Foster, Director of Public Works. “We’ve been praying for rain, and it has been received. I applaud the citizens, businesses, and institutions in Plano for helping the City save almost 6.5 billion gallons of water during the past twelve months. This represents a reduction of 27.5% when compared to our average annual use in the past four years. We have shown that water conservation can become a part of our lives.”

The recent and continued rain events have provided the much needed relief to the drought conditions that have affected the NTMWD reservoir system. Since the beginning of 2007, Lake Lavon has returned to full capacity and Lake Jim Chapman/Cooper has gained 16+ feet and is currently at 89 percent of its capacity. As a result, NTMWD recommended moving from Stage 3 of the Drought Contingency Plan to the Water Conservation Plan based on the following recent changes:

  • The three reservoirs utilized by NTMWD have all had significant gains in capacity - Lavon and Texoma are full and Chapman is only 1.5' low;
  • With the low water demands in recent months, NTMWD can stay within the State-approved water rights for the remainder of 2007;
  • NTMWD has received correspondence from the TCEQ that the East Fork Raw Water Supply Project water rights permit is within days of being finalized and issued.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Status of Website Updates

We uploaded the first round of updates, and the others have been put on hold temporarily. A lot has happened since the Dallas WaterWise Tour on June 2nd. I'll share what I can...

Our project that was on the WaterWise Tour might be getting more statewide exposure. Stay tuned about this--it will be a great honor for us if it all comes together. This project and another of ours will be featured on a private tour this Saturday. Walk-and-talks (especially the 'talk' part) are our specialty!

Since June 2nd we have also agreed to a number of speaking engagements, some are returning gigs, some are brand new venues. See a couple of posts below for more information; as details are available I will update that post. We will not book additional dates after January...read below to learn why...Our alma mater -- formerly Southwest Texas State University, currently Texas State University at San Marcos -- has invited us to speak about our business to current students. Few alumni have the opportunity to return to their alma mater and share their post-graduation experiences with soon-to-be graduates. Truly, this will be a special moment for us.

If you have not already, I hope you will read my bi-monthly piece at http://aswearemagazine.com. My column is titled Earth Mother. Recent articles have been about organic clothing, safe cosmetics, eating from your garden, and all are directly related to sustainability. Upcoming topics are landfills and community gardens.

Perhaps this a good spot to make another announcement. I've been hesitant to post it here, because it's more personal than professional. But, I suppose it's not any more personal than photos of us hiking with Folsom, eh? Here goes...Sometime in January we expect the arrival of our first 'NativeBabe.' We found out around the time of the Dallas WaterWise Tour, and suddenly all the website updates, new pics -- everything -- came to a screeching halt. All is well for both Earth Mother and NativeBabe. This is all new to us, so these first weeks we have been adjusting, shifting duties and cross-training and preparing well-in-advance for the little one. It has been a joyous adjustment. We look forward to the start of the new year for entirely different reasons now.

Our Office and Meeting Hours *new*

Beginning July 1st, our office hours are:
Monday - Wednesday: 8am - 5pm (limited availability for appts)
Thursday: 11am - 7pm (first appt at 11am, last at 6pm)
Friday: 8am - 5pm (first appt at 8:30am, last at 3:30pm)
Saturday: reserved for events and presentations
Sunday: closed

Upcoming Events

  • Saturday, July 28th, 1:30pm at North Haven Gardens in Dallas. "The Best of Texas: Native Plants and Responsible Resource Management" Free!
  • Monday, July 16th, 7pm at Haggard Public Library in Plano. "Landscape Makeover: Easy Steps Toward Sustainability" Free!
  • Saturday, August 4th, 9am-1pm at Frisco Green Home/Safety Fair. Free!
  • Tuesday, August 14th, 7pm to Dallas Sierra Club. Title TBA. Free!
  • Saturday, October 20th, 9-11am at Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden. "Where the Wild Things Are: Inviting Nature Into Your Garden" www.dallasarboretum.org to register
  • Tuesday, November 27th, 10am at monthly meeting of Grapevine Garden Club. Title TBA.
  • Thursday and Friday, November 29th and 30th, time TBA at Texas State University at San Marcos. Details TBA soon.
  • Tuesday, January 8th, 11:30am at monthly meeting of McKinney Garden Club. Title TBA.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Recommended Reading

I was born with a black thumb. The only gardening I ever did growing up was pulling weeds one time when I was 15. My back and arms ached, I whined. And why would anyone do this to themselves, anyway? That summer I helped my grandmother in Kentucky harvest beans; it was a painless endeavor.

When David and I were first dating, he gave me an indoor yucca tree--I killed it. I had a cactus...and killed it. Get my point?

After a short while, however, I began to see plants and nature from David's perspective. My black thumb turned slightly brown-green at first. My slate of gardening info was clean, so as I began to learn about native plants and sustainable design, I had plenty of room to fit the info. I didn't have old habits to break.

All I have known is designing as nature intended. It's funny when we meet new clients who want their 'old' landscape plants identified--I'm very little help, really. The names are familiar to me: cleyera, ligustrum, carissa holly. But I couldn't identify them if my life depended on it. I only know natives and the few adaptables that we recommend. My thumb is verdant green now.

Recently I began reading Wasowski's Requiem for a Lawnmower, published in 1992. If you have not, I recommend reading this collection of essays about landscaping with not against nature. She writes about many of the same topics we do, but I have never read any of her books. We have most of them, and I've used her photos on occasion as references. I've never sat down and read anything she's written, though. Hate to admit that, but it's true. (By the way, David has read her work.)

Her work has not taught me new info, nor has it confirmed facts I already know. It has been a rather curious experience to read my own thoughts and ideas in someone else's work. Her work predates my knowledge of plants!

Another great read is Roy Bedichek's Adventures with a Texas Naturalist. His work predates most of our LIVES. Old school but still applicable after all these years.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I've not posted a follow-up to the blurb about Sierra Club's Green Home Tour. A few other things should be mentioned, as well. Here goes, take a deep breath:

Green Home Tour was held Saturday, May 26th. Started out slow, a little chilly. Around lunchtime numbers of attendees increased with the temperatures. My heart was warmed by the growing population of local residents interested in conserving, preserving and restoring natural resources. Encouraging.

Last Friday an article appeared in the Home/Garden section of Dallas Morning News promoting City of Dallas' WaterWise Tour. One of our Plano projects won an award and was featured on the tour. Pics and our names were included in the DMN article. The tour was held the following day, Saturday, June 2nd. More than 200 people toured our project that day. We were thrilled to meet so many enthusiastic, supportive people. It felt like a huge birthday party brimming with eager well-wishers. Toward the end of the day, when most of us were hot, thirsty and a bit worn down, a tour bus stopped in front of the house and 45+ garden tourists spilled out onto the lawn like seeds dispersed in the wind. Good seeds, not Nut Sedge seeds. ;-)

Anyway, our intrepid newfound friends were led by local native plant hero, Bonnie Reese. She complimented our work, then joined her group as they followed David into the backyard. David had only 20 minutes to identify and describe some of the elements of the project. And he masterfully gave a succinct overview of his approach to that design. Our audience emptied out of the gate and back onto the bus. As quickly as they had arrived, the tour bus was gone.

The homeowners generously shared bottled water and information with many tour-goers. They were certainly troupers--we are forever grateful for all the work they poured into this tour. We do these events all the time, and we were wiped out. I'll bet our clients and the volunteers slept quite well Saturday night.

Parts of the new website are up, sort of in test mode. A lot of other things are going on behind the scenes, but I hope to upload the complete new NativeDave.com by Friday or Saturday. Please check back often!

Monday, May 28, 2007

New Website!

We're working behind-the-scenes to revamp the look of things around here. Here's a sneak peek of changes to come:

* More photos, FINALLY. Some before and after pics, projects in-progress, and many more taken seasonally or annually after completion. More illustrative.
* Comprehensive info about our background, individually and collectively.
* Separate sections for 'upcoming events', as well as past events.
* More articles written by us and about us.
* Better organization, in general, of pertinent info.

Our goal is to launch the next incarnation of NativeDave.com by June 1st. Please check back and take a tour of the new place. And please do offer your feedback. Thanks!

Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Green Living

I've posted many times about my affinity for Green Living, the environmental general store located in Lakewood Shopping Center in Dallas. Recently a friend sent a link to a newsletter by the same name. Interested? Check out the "green living" tab on www.care2.com, or go directly there: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/

Some Recommendations for Greening Up

Green Fever seems to be spreading around the world, as more people are becoming aware of the impact of their actions on the planet. We have not changed our consumption habits -- much -- but we have at least begun to shift to more planet-friendly products and services. People ask me all the time for tips to 'green up' their lives. Here are a few of my favorites. They are easy, cost-conscious and still related to sustainable landscaping (if only indirectly.)

  1. Take your own bags when you shop. Both plastic and paper retail bags (aka 'single use bags') expend abundant resources during the manufacturing, distribution and even recycling process. Besides, have you ever walked around your neighborhood creek, especially after it's rained? Blue or white plastic bags litter the banks, float in the water or hang in trees; use reusable bags made from natural fibers to do your part to minimize contamination of our local waterways.
  2. Use empty glass jars, not plastic containers, to store leftovers. (Of course, glass is not a good option when freezing leftovers.) Plastic releases toxins into your food; glass does not. Besides, finding other uses for your empty pickle, salsa or other jars keeps them from ending up in the landfill. They are recyclable, but even that process is highly energy-consumptive.
  3. Open windows when outdoor temperatures are below 85 degrees. OK, so maybe this one is not so easy for most of us. Your body will quickly adapt--trust me. Pros: cost savings on energy bill and fresh air blowing through your home. Low-effort method of dusting, too. ;-) Cons: HOT until your body adjusts to life with limited air-conditioning.
  4. Add more plant-based meals into your daily regimen. I'm not suggesting everyone go vegan or vegetarian, but regardless of our lifestyle, we ALL could use more greens, in particular. To learn why, pick up Green For Life by Victoria Boutenko. Another great book I've just completed is The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose. Adding more greens and other raw fruits and vegetables increases your health, but also the planet's. Grow your own--less impact on resources than The Lawn and actually provides health benefits (organic foods!)
  5. Read Po Bronson's What Should I Do With My Life? Not related to plants, environmental issues, or anything green. It's just a great read. (Note: After reading it last fall I was able to focus on my priorities and have been a much happier person as a result. One thing I discovered was that I missed the outdoors. Last year I was cooped up in the office all day, everyday, without any physical activity. This year I've set aside time to hike and play. Still not enough but I'm getting there...)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Cool Upcoming Events

Don't miss the Sierra Club's Green Home Tour next Saturday, May 26th, 10a-5p. There are two stops--the Olp Residence and Buzz Condos. Watch local papers for detailed info, or you may visit www.dallassierraclub.org. Their tour brochure is located here: http://texas.sierraclub.org/dallas/pdf/green-tour-2007.pdf We will have a vendor booth at the Olp house.

The following Saturday, June 2nd, is City of Dallas WaterWise Tour, 9a-3p. If you are interested in seeing one of our projects (now 2yrs old), please plan to visit the Whitehead Residence on Mapleridge in Plano. Check out the brochure here: http://savedallaswater.com/pdf/WaterwiseTourMap2007.pdf

Also, soon "Supercharge Me: 30 Days Raw" will be coming to our area. I've read tremendous, positive reviews about this 'rawcumentary'. Visit the website at www.SuperchargeMe.com and sign-up for updates. This film has been quite popular at various film festivals. I know I'm interested in seeing it!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Plants Play Many Roles

We all know plants can be pleasing, if only interesting, to the eye. Sometimes they appeal to our sense of smell, touch or taste. Wildlife depend on plants for food and shelter, too. Did you know they may help to repel mosquitoes, as well? According to Beyond Pesticides, an online resource for non-toxic alternatives to synthetic pesticides, certain citrusy-based plants help to do just that. Scented Geranium, Lemon Grass, and "herbs like Oregano, Catnip, or sweet and holy basil" may be used to create "barriers" around your property. Of course, the 'site also suggests removing old tires and other objects that may collect water. For more tips for enhancing your backyard and barbecue experiences this summer, visit www.beyondpesticides.org/mosquito, and click on "Tools for Change" in the left margin.

Green, leafy plants -- like Dandelion greens and kale -- are packed with protein, calcium, magnesium and a host of off-the-chart levels of other vitamins and minerals. Grow them organically, and you save yourself from the carcinogens inherent in synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals. Imagine: gardening with greens would benefit your body and the planet. And you don't need a lot of land (or any) to do it. Look for my upcoming article in As We Are Magazine (www.aswearemagazine.com) to be published online May 29th. In it I will address organic gardening with greens and herbs, and how to get the most of their myriad nutritional benefits.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Email's Back!

The transition to thinkhost.com went off with only a couple of minor hitches. Our website was completely down for about 12 hours from Friday afternoon to mid-Saturday morning. If you look at the time and date stamp on the previous post, you will notice I made the final changes at about 3am. I hate it when I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about technological things...The other issue, far more inconvenient, was that emails were not being delivered. Thinkhost.com changed settings on their end, but it wasn't until yesterday that we figured out what I needed to do on my end. Blah blah blah, doesn't matter, right? Everything is in proper working order now. So, again, if I have not responded to your emails, please resend or call. We're up-and-running! Thanks everyone for your patience--switching to thinkhost.com was another important step toward reducing our impact on the planet.

And I must give thinkhost.com huge THANKS for all their help!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Please be advised...

Friday, May 11th, we changed hosting companies to thinkhost.com, because they are a green business powered by wind and sun. They plant a tree to honor each of their clients! We believe in this company and look forward to building our relationship with them. Consequently, our website was down for several hours until some settings had been changed (on our end, not thinkhost's.) But email is down, so until it's up-and-running again, I'll not receive your messages. I haven't received any messages since about 4:30pm on Friday...please bear with us while we upgrade! Many, many thanks.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Best Flower Power

D Home Magazine has included us in their annual “Best of Everything” issue! We are listed on pg. 98 as “Best Flower Power.”

This is an enormous honor for us. 2007 has been an interesting year: we have completely phased out installations and maintenance due to increased interest in our design and consultation services. After much soul-searching and business planning, we determined our mission was to effect change, not build a mammoth landscape company. So, beginning November 2006, we began referring out all the labor tasks. This was a huge (understatement) risk. It’s starting to pay off…

Several of our designs have won awards this year—please visit our website for the (growing) list. I’ve been able to devote time to writing, too. I contribute regularly to HOME Your Guide to Exclusive Living and aswearemagazine.com, in addition to blogging at nativerave.blogspot.com. Soon I will have a regular piece in a start-up magazine; details will be posted to our website soon. We are involved in a number of volunteer projects, speaking engagements, and other neat stuff.

Thank you for your support, whether you’ve shared this journey with us for decades or just recently joined the parade.

EDIT: Check out David's manly off-white hemp button-down shirt and my (cough) elegant organic cotton blouse with hemp/organic cotton denim mini-skirt.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Week of Green

In case you missed it, last Saturday's Live Green in Plano Expo was a tremendous success. Kudos to all the organizers, especially Heather Merchant, who invested innumerable, exhaustive hours in the planning and execution of this event. I was bowled over by the availability of green technologies, from solar panels to rainwater catchment systems to my new favorite business, Nature Maids (www.nature-maids.com), a 'green cleaning service.' Heard Museum and Discovery Gardens were there, as were Master Gardeners and Native Plant Society of Collin County. Around our booth, there was a party going on. Scores of people -- some former clients, some brand-spanking-new folks, some old friends we've lost touch with -- dropped by to say 'hello' and encouraged us to keep on, keeping on. We had a terrific time meeting with a slew of new folks. Thanks to all of you for stopping by!

Sunday we went to the dog park. Folsom desperately needed an outlet for energy accumulated while we were at the Expo.

Tonight (Tuesday the 8th) we attended City of Plano's Environmental Community Awards (I was the keynote speaker at last year's event.) We carpooled with our buddy Michele Dave. Although we missed the dinner portion of the banquet, we arrived in time to see all of the award presentations. I always enjoy watching PISD students being recognized for their contribution to Tshirt contests, environmental club activities, or their neighborhood's residential recycling program. Their delighted faces when they receive an award or certificate warm my heart. Keep it up, kiddos; you are the future of our planet. We are depending on YOU to heal our planet's environmental wounds.

We created landscape designs for two of the three nominees for the Keep Plano Beautiful Campus Beautification Award. Shepard Elementary took home the trophy -- way to go Patriots! Their Becky's Memorial Garden, herb garden and Patriot Garden are worth a visit. Students and student/buddy teams installed all of the plants, along with guidance from parents and staff. They truly deserve this award.

Plano Senior High and Hickey Elementary's Environmental Clubs received the Outstanding Environmental Club Awards. I'm impressed by what the high school students and their sponsor have organized, but I'm personally proud of my old friend, Jennifer Barnaby, Environmental Coordinator for Hickey Elementary. Good going, Golden Girl!

The awards continued...we were presented with the 2007 Environmental Community Partnership Award. WOW! This is a great honor for us, and the award itself is LOVELY. (Congratulations to Deb Bliss for its design!) It was our pleasure to be included in the list of nominees, along with Elliot's Hardware and REI. Congratulations to the other nominees for their efforts to combine environmentalism with volunteerism to benefit our community.

Michele was recognized for Environmental Community Outreach for the environmental initiatives she has facilitated with Kids Saving the Earth at Daffron Elementary. Her student members, as well as her own children, understand their impact on the planet on a much deeper level than most adults I know. And that's a good thing, since they will be in charge of cleaning up our oopsies. Overall, I'm encouraged by the dedication these students have to doing what's right for the planet.

Let's all give a round of applause to all the award recipients! In addition to our committed city employees, we are fortunate to have an army of devoted volunteers who do whatever it takes to make this a better place for all of us. Thank you, especially to the volunteers who work behind the scenes and seldom garner recognition.

Friday, May 04, 2007

If We Have Not Responded to Your Emails...

Twice today I've spoken with new clients who returned their questionnaire to us via email, and in both cases we have never received them. This happened a few weeks ago. Actually, it's been going on periodically for a few months. I've checked spam folders and filters and services with our webhosting company, and there seems to be no reason for the elusive email messages. Weird.

So if you have attempted to contact us and have received no response, David and I send our sincerest apologies. We are working with technical powers-that-be to discover the reason. Until that oddball issue is resolved, please call us to follow-up if we have not responded to your email. I promise we're not ignoring you; we don't even know you're there. Yet. ;-)

Gotta love technology...


Now that I have your attention...;-)

Tomorrow is the first-annual Live Green in Plano Expo, 9am to 5pm, at the Plano Centre on Spring Creek Pkwy and Jupiter Road, just east of 75/Central Expwy. The list of vendors is impressive, as is the roster of speakers. Howard Garrett the Dirt Doctor will deliver the keynote address, and there will be multiple how-to demonstrations going on in the tents outdoors. Visit the event website for detailed info: www.livegreeninplano.com

FYI, our presentation titled "Landscape Makeover: Easy Steps Toward Sustainability" begins at 11:15am in the Redbud Tent.

Throughout the event we will have a vendor booth bursting with plants native HERE, to the Blackland Prairie, as well as a few other green-living items for sale. Here is a teaser:

Free at the NativeDave.com booth:
organic cat nip from Purrfectplay.com
other goodies

For sale at the NativeDave.com booth:
100% organic cotton tshirts ($20ea)--have 2 L, 1 XL
Bag-E-Wash ($10ea)
Prairie Flame Leaf Sumac (not to be confused with Poison Sumac)
Spineless Cactus (yes, it really has no prickly things)
hard-to-find plants (will post the complete list just before the event...trying to build suspense here! ;-)

Each plant will be labeled with common and botanical names, as well as care and maintenance instructions and fun facts. Some of the plants require full sun or shade, and others adapt well to a variety of lighting and soil conditions. Each plant will be clearly labeled accordingly. We will also have our portfolio on-hand.

Hope to see you all there!

Also tomorrow is the native plant sale hosted by Native Plant Society of Texas, Garland Chapter. I love that group! Spunky, fun and committed to community outreach. Please support their efforts by visiting the sale! After you attend the Expo, of course. ;-)

From their poster:
"The Native Plant Society of Texas Garland Chapter
"Last Chance Plant Sale"
Saturday, May 5th.
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
312 Carissa Dr. Mesquite, 75150
(Near the Intersection Belt Line and Northwest Dr.)
Call either 972-226-6825 for more information.
4 inch $2 & 1 gallon $4

The sale includes both Heirloom and Native plants. Some of the plants include: Blue and Pink Petunias, Winecups, Cutleaf Daisies, Mexican Buckeyes, Casterbean, Red Salvia, Turks Cap, Inland Sea Oats, Cashmere Bouquet, Monarch Vine, Bog Sage, Violets, Tropicanna Cannas, Salvia Garantica, Yarrow, Cowpen Daisies, Datura and Lyre Leaf sage. These are just a few of the many plants in the sale. For a more complete listing and a few photos of the sale plants see our web page: www.npsot.org/garland Please come out and buy some native and adapted plants for your yard.

The money is used to support bluebird houses, maintaining the demonstration gardens, local school gardens, honorariums for the volunteer native plant speakers and other native plant community projects. Last year, we bought a beautiful sign for the Texas Discovery Gardens – Native Plant Garden. We also donated to our State office library which is open to the public.
If you have any plants to donate, please call the number above or bring them by the plant sale between 9-10am. Please invite any friends or neighbors. We welcome everyone.

See you on Saturday May 5th!"

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Weep for the Wildflowers

This afternoon we were driving home from meeting with a new client in SE Denton County and decided to stop at one of our favorite fields. I couldn't believe my eyes: there were Mealy Cup Sage, Purple Shrubby Skullcap, Four Nerve Daisy, Gayfeather, Winecup, and many, many other in-full-bloom native species. No irrigation, no fertilizers, no intervention by human hands. The colors are lovely, but I couldn't help but feel a spark of sadness. This field will soon be plowed over to build an office building or a small hamlet of enormous homes, and the gorgeous blooms of the Blackland Prairie will once again be sacrificed. Less than .004% of this region exists today, due to overgrazing, single crop rotation, and irresponsible housing and commercial developments. Truly, it doesn't have to be this way. Build the shopping mall, fine. I appreciate conveniences as much as the next person. But require ALL NATIVE PLANTINGS in medians, commercial projects, HOA commons areas, and at least front yards of residential properties. Texas has more than 6,300 native plant species; there is absolutely no reason to plant Red-Tipped Photinia, Nandina, Japanese Boxwood, or Japanese Honeysuckle. We have plenty of colorful, drought-hardy native species that will provide year-round interest.

Momentum for restoring our ecosystem is on our side, as exponentially more property owners are demanding NATIVES over traditional landscape plants. However, we have a very long road to travel. There are innumerable opportunities to help restore Texas. We embrace the few companies who are familiar/interested in working with natives and sustainable design techniques, and hope that we can work cooperatively to take back Texas from the exotic-invasive species steamrolling our natural areas. If you can't find a contractor or nursery in your area to provide the plants we recommend, please be patient. Change is happening, in real time, before our eyes. Our goal is to bring into the fold as many designers, contractors, maintenance professionals and nurseries who promote NATIVES and sustainable design. Our approach can only then become mainstream and, ultimately, return Texas to Texans.

But beware of "greenwashing." Any company that purports itself to be "native" or "sustainable", and recommends Crepe Myrtle, Burford Holly, or Red-Tipped Photinia and any plants mentioned in the same sentence in Paragraph #1, is just "greenwashing." None of these plants, like many traditional landscape plants, is native. In many cases, these plants become exotic-invasive, which means they take over native vegetation. They choke out the sources of food and shelter that native wildlife depend on. If any of us truly love Texas, we should not only STOP landscaping with these nuisance plants, we should initiate legislation that abolishes the growing, selling or planting of them.

Communities that require high percentages of native plantings have observed jaw-dropping appreciation values of their property. Check out "Sustainable Communities" such as Seaside, Florida. The market is leveling out now, but home values are still remarkably high.

Together, we can guide Texas to restore its natural beauty AND drive up property values, which will only improve our appearance and economy. We have a beautiful state, and opportunities to retain its biodiversity, but we all must do our part.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

It's the Little Things

Native Verbena blooming in neglected fields makes me smile. Butterflies resting on my Four Nerve Daisy remind me the interconnectedness of me to my garden, to wildlife, to nature's processes. Each time I see new growth on my basil or rosemary or mixed greens I feel I'm reconnecting with my farming roots. (Pun intended, :-) These simple pleasures pick me up when I'm feeling tired or stressed out or downright confused.

Recently our projects and we have received accolades and recognition. I appreciate the folks who nominated us as much as the awards themselves. We love what we do, but it's also nice to get a pat on the back once in a while.

Last night one of our clients in Richardson emailed that his landscape has won "Yard of the Month" in his neighborhood. Wow! We had discussed recently photographing his project for our portfolio, and he wanted to let us know the YOTM sign will be installed this week. Thinking about it, I find I'm smiling at my computer. To some this might be a small accomplishment but to me it's part of something huge--it's one piece of the Blackland Prairie that has been partially restored. It's one project of many that represents our local natural beauty in a residential context; it demonstrates that a native plant landscape CAN be natural yet conform to community standards. It's colorful and vibrant, and survives on significantly less water than the neighbors' landscapes. It's organic and low-maintenance.

A cultural shift has begun...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Learn to Live Green this Saturday

Mark your calendars for Live Green in Plano Expo, scheduled for this Saturday, May 5th, from 9am to 5pm. We will be speaking in the Redbud Tent at 11:15am. Our topic is "Landscape Makeover: Easy Steps Toward Sustainability." We have a lot of info to share! Check the event site for specific info: www.livegreeninplano.com. Hope to see you there!

We will also have plants for sale -- nothing but natives. Even some hard-to-find ones! I'll post a complete list on Friday.

Attendees will receive something special, too!

Some of our work published

Today the inaugural issue of www.aswearemagazine.com launched! My bi-monthly column appears under the tab "Air, Earth, Fire, Water"--perfect place for this ecogeek. The first topic relates to water conservation; next one will be titled "Death By Lawn." I will describe our fascination with the most wasteful, laborious element in our landscape (The Lawn) and offer suggestions for breaking this habit. I hope you will tune in periodically. Articles and other interesting stuff will be uploaded several times per week, eventually updated daily.

Home Your Guide to Exclusive Living is moving to publishing every other month beginning in June. If you would like to subscribe, please visit their website at www.homemagazinedfw.com and click on 'subscribe.' My column deals with landscape and environmental issues related to Dallas-Ft. Worth-Denton.

A few other projects are in the works. I'll make announcements as details are available. Thank you for your continued support. Together we CAN get out the message to conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate.

Dogwoods Are Blooming

Rough-Leaf Dogwood are everywhere along 'our creek.' Lovely white blooms brighten the shady limestone banks--lovely. I'll post pics later.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Little Else Matters

I'm often asked why:

  • we focus on native plants
  • we promote water conservation as but one part of overall sustainable landscaping
  • we challenge homeowners to identify and remove exotic-invasive plants
  • we will not recommend planting Crepe Myrtle, Privet or Wax Leaf Ligustrum, and several other traditional landscape plants
  • we recommend holding accountable developers, builders, municipalities, plant growers, landscapers and homeowners for misuse of water and other natural resources and for destroying habitat with exotic-invasive plants

    To fully answer these questions, I would need to write a book (and I will.) I think this blurb I wrote for a recent presentation summarizes our philosophy best:

    Without clean water to drink, soil to grow food for people and wildlife, air to breathe, or nature to enjoy; little else matters. Protecting our planet is the responsibility of everyone who inhabits it —not just the politically active. Texas faces enormous challenges to healing its environmental wounds. However, each of us can make a significant impact by making small changes at home. Someone once said, “Leave the world a little better than you found it.” Gandhi wrote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Go ahead, take the pledge to do your part. And inspire others to follow your lead. Together, we can leave the planet a little cleaner, a little healthier, a little better for future generations.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another Award!

One of our projects in Plano has received a City of Dallas Water Wise Landscape Recognition Award! Plan to attend the self-guided tour on Saturday, June 2nd, 9am to 3pm. Here is the link to the flyer:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A tree-climbing dog?

Folsom surprised us last summer by climbing David's mom's Magnolia tree. Since then, he has climbed many trees in search of squirrels. We took this pic Saturday in Gainesville; Folsom is nearly 12 feet in this Live Oak. Crazy dog!

Whoa, intimidating

While we were at the FNPS conference Saturday, Folsom played at Miss Kathleen's Pamper Camp in Gainesville, FL. This was the first time we left him with someone. Look how sad he looks!

Photo of our award

Eastern Lake Nursery, Seagrove, FL

David and Folsom posing in front of the nursery on 30-A. This is the nursery where David and I worked for one year (Sept 2002-Sept 2003) before coming home to Plano to resume NativeDave.com biz.

What's Mommy Doing???

Folsom, Be Careful!

Topsail Hill Nature Preserve

Look at this lovely dune lake lined with Pines:


This guy was slithering across the sandy road as we drove into Topsail Hill Preserve. David slammed on the brakes, nearly throwing Folsom and me into the dash. The snake was under Daisy but had not been hit. David attempted to relocate him to the brush and this is the snake's reaction:

Somewhere in Louisiana

The Florida Native Plant Society conference in Gainesville was well-planned and -executed. We met a few native plant growers/nursery people. There were a few designers and architects, and some researchers. But mostly we met native plant enthusiasts who promote them for the same reasons we do: when used properly native plants conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate natural resources.

Karina Veaudry, executive director of FNPS and landscape architect, gave us a glorious introduction. Photos of our project in Santa Rosa Beach (Walton County) flashed on the screen as she read excerpts from the narrative about the project. We approached the podium to accept our award and congratulations from one of the judges. I looked out into the audience, believed to be one of the best-attended FNPS conferences, and found a sea of beaming smiles. Cameras clicked and flash-bulbs illuminated us holding our award. After the ceremony several members greeted us and invited us to "come back and do more projects in Florida." We appreciate their hospitality.

If you have never visited Gainesville, I recommend planning a trip soon. It's home to University of Florida, so arts, sports and college-mentality permeates the community. Joggers and cyclists enjoy the extensive trail system. Live Oaks with Spanish Moss dangling like necklaces from their branches define this as a Deep South city. People were friendly and intelligent, seemingly very earth-focused. I really enjoyed this adventure; I discovered there is more to Florida than lovely beaches.

The next day, Earth Day, we spent hiking Topsail Hill Nature Preserve in Walton County. I'll post pics later. What a gorgeous place! We also found our friend, Kendall, in Grayton Beach and visited with her and her friends before joining them for a WaCo Ramblers concert in Gulf Place. Home by 8pm, we enjoyed dinner with friends and hosts, Angie and Steve. All in all, I think this was the best Earth Day weekend. Ever.

David has packed the truck and is waiting for me to finish this post. I have a boatload of plant pics and other stuff to download this evening when we return home. Stay tuned! And Happy Belated Earth Day!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Folsom Moved

Here's the Angel's Trumpet:


(Pardon me if this post rambles a bit. David has turned up the music far too loud and I'm distracted. I'm pretty sure that's the Allman Brothers.)

Posting from the NativeDave Mobile Office -- Daisy. We're traveling to Gainesville, Florida, to receive our 1st place award from the Native Plant Society during their conference. The view is lovely. So far, I've counted Texas Bluebonnet, pink Evening Primrose, Red Clover, Lyre Leaf Sage and White Delphinium. Everything looks freshly sprinkled (by nature, not humans.)

(Is that really Krokus 'Ballroom Blitz'?)

Anyway, back to our drive. Rolling green plains peppered with wildflowers; I'm truly enjoying the scenery. Folsom is a great traveling buddy. For a while he sat on my lap and watched farm animals. He seemed puzzled by their size and grazing habits -- oh look, Giant Coneflower! Awesome. I guess Folsom never figured out why those 'big doggies' were moving slowly and not chasing each other. He's lying on the seat between us, snoozing.

(Oh good, he changed the channel. Dio's 'Rainbow in the Dark'. Is it still 1980-something?)

This morning as we were leaving, we noticed our Angel's Trumpet (Datura wrightii) is blooming. I'll upload the pics later. I would do it now but Folsom is sleeping on the camera-to-computer cord. Yes I know my dog leads a charmed life...;-)

More posts from the road soon...I hear 'Copacabana'...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Don't Miss Collin College's Earth Day TOMORROW in Frisco

Preston Ridge Campus in Frisco (just east of Preston on Wade Blvd.) -- IN THE QUAD
Fun Run and Bike Cruise begin at 9am
Earth Day Proclamation will be read at 11am
Vendor booths open immediately following the reading of the Proclamation
Lectures begin immediately following the reading of the Proclamation, in the Event Center
11ish: Journey of a Water Molecule: Drought, Native Landscaping, and the Trinity River Basin with David and Christy Ilfrey, Nativedave.com
Noon: Peace Corps Experience with Jeremy Starritt, Environmental Education Coordinator for the City of Frisco
1pm: Changing Our Attitudes: How to Sustain Our Earth, student/faculty panel discussion

All events are free and open to the public!

Greening Up: Part One, Online Design

A couple of months ago we pledged to do more for the planet. We attended City of Plano's kickoff event declaring 2007 the Year of Living Green. Through their website -- www.livegreeninplano.com -- we vowed to shave minutes off our shower time (to conserve water), to replace at least one light bulb with a CFL (to conserve energy) and to buy more local food (to promote our own health, organic gardening and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other benefits.) Our home is greener than most in our neighborhood, but like everyone, there is much room for improvement. Since we office out of our home, we thought it would be a good idea to evaluate our processes as well as our services.

Currently, most of our office supplies, including our printing paper, is manufactured with 100% recycled materials. I'm still looking for 100% recycled paper on 24 x 36" rolls and 11 x 17" laminating pouches made from recycled plastic. Instead of printing and mailing invoices we email them in pdf format; this reduces paper consumption and greenhouse gas emissions transporting mail from our office to your home. Our home/office is powered by 100% renewable energy from Green Mountain. Two of our three websites are hosted by ThinkHost, which is powered 100% by renewable resources (e.g. solar and wind.) We find second and third uses for every consumable item and/or its packaging; we recycle the rest. Our trash -- both business and personal -- amounts to two plastic grocery bags per week. Through our home and office, we already employ the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle, rebuy and replace, with one exception...

The largest part of our carbon footprint relates to driving. We travel a lot of miles to visit with clients, participate in events and present educational programs. Last year we spread our fuel usage over three vehicles: Daisy, Bluebonnet and Sabal (as in 'minor', or Dwarf Palmetto.) Daisy is our white diesel workhorse. Last year she hauled many tons (literally) of plants and landscape materials. She is no longer a work truck, since we are not doing the installations in-house this year, but we still need her. Her job now is to carry all our equipment and plants for display to meetings, events and presentations. Bluebonnet is our old worker that was retired from heavy duty when we adopted Daisy. Bluebonnet gets better gas mileage than diesel Daisy but really isn't suited to hauling equipment and plants anymore. But she starts up every time and asks for nothing; we can't seem to part with her. Sabal is our passenger car that saw very little action after Daisy came on board. We sold her earlier this year. Our plan was to sell all the vehicles and buy one super fuel-efficient vehicle.

But, as it is with most of us, practicality supercedes idealism and we find we must keep both trucks for now. So now we have a dilemma: how do we continue to conduct our business yet reduce our fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions? Our answer -- online design! Initially online design was intended to serve clients in areas beyond our service area. However, we have realized increased interest within our local clientele, too. We hope more of our new clients will opt for this service because by moving our workload online we: a) reduce our impact on resources such as oil and air quality; b) spend less time driving and more designing; c) turn around designs more quickly; and d) pass along these savings to you. Our online design fees range $400-500, compared to a minimum of $1,200 for "in-person" design services, and you will still receive one 24 x 36" customized design, to scale; 11 x 17" laminated copy of your design (not to scale); detailed list of plants and materials; care and maintenance instructions; and referrals to vendors and installers to help you implement your plan. The only difference between the design packages is one is online, the other onsite at your home.

Part Two of this Greening Up initiative will be announced soon. Stay tuned, and thank you for your continued support of our mission to make positive changes in our community!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Warmth of Denton

Saturday Denton's Redbud Festival went on as scheduled, 10am to 4pm. Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was windy. And grey. And, as the day progressed, temperatures fell and winds picked up. The sun peeked out from behind the clouds for a few seconds -- what a teaser. I would not attempt to convince you this was the optimal day for talking about plants. But what a terrific day it was!

The friendly folks at Keep Denton Beautiful (www.kdb.org) are troopers. They dressed in layers for the day, and inspired all the vendors and attendees with their smiling faces and upbeat personalities. Our booth was situated on an exceptionally windy corner of the Denton County Courthouse, so they suggested we move closer to Native Plant Society, Trinity Forks Chapter, and some other related vendor booths. I still don't know exactly why we decided to stick it out next to the War Memorial. By 11am I think my brain was frozen -- my speech, as well as my judgment, might have been impaired the rest of the day.

The vendors were incredibly supportive, as well. In fact, even the attendees shivering in their shoes offered assistance as a gust blew away our sign. Everybody we met smiled, joked about this 'lovely spring weather', and made us feel warmly welcome in Denton. Some even bought plants!

David already committed us to next year's event. We hope you will join us, rain or shine or wind or hail or...

Friday, April 13, 2007

To Help Along Your Journey

Here are some cool planet-friendly events to look into this weekend:

Come to the Redbud Festival in Denton. (We'll be there, rain or shine!) Check www.kdb.org for details.

Plant sale at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. Check www.wildflower.org for more info.

Free recycling and e-cycling collections at Green Living in Dallas. Check www.green-living.com for specifics, e.g. what to drop and when. While you are there, spend some time perusing their products. Great people, great stuff.

Join the parade of people around the US promoting initiatives to slow global warming! Check http://events.stepitup2007.org/ally/moveon for an event near you. Tell your family and friends!

And don't forget about Earth Day at Collin College's Preston Ridge Campus in Frisco. Wednesday, April 18th, 11am to 2pm. Here's the news release: http://www.ccccd.edu/whatsnew/20070404EarthDay.html

Discussion about 'Being Green' in honor of Earth Day

As a member of Co-Op America's Green Business Network, I actively participate in online forums and email threads. This network has proven to be far superior in terms of support, business interchange, information exchange, and even leads, to any chamber of commerce or other trade group we joined in the past. (Sorry, not knocking chambers or trade groups, it's just that none we have attempted to participate in had an interest in green business practices or products/services. Eventually we stopped renewing those memberships because we get more out of the aforementioned CABN.) Recently there has been much discussion within our network about the chain email circulating which compares George W. Bush's "eco-ranch" in Crawford to Al Gore's home in Tennessee. (Check with snopes.com to read the full message.) Apparently all the information contained in the 'assessment' is correct, but incomplete, i.e. Bush 'heats' his home with geothermal power but there is no mention of how he powers or cools it. My problem with this email is that without complete information the arguement is misleading. Furthermore, the great green debate has now been elevated above political discourse: protecting the planet is no longer about liberals vs. conservatives, Democrats vs. Republicans. The state of our planet pertains to all of us inhabiting it, period.

The great thing about CABN, I have discovered, is that its members are traveling this green path at various paces and distances. Some have been earth-conscious since the 60s, some just became enlightened recently. Like yesterday. LOL. Seriously, each has some area of expertise but also has a broad understanding of environmental issues facing our planet. It's a remarkable group of motivated, intelligent, mutually supportive business people who understand planet-friendly values can also be profitable and stimulating to our economy.

Our discussion has been lively about Bush vs. Gore, and many of the posts fill in the gap-riddled arguement or direct readers to research-based information. (I love their perpetual interest in education, by the way.) However, I decided to pull three posts that addressed the green issue without political boundaries or ideologies; these people focus more on the collectiveness of being green, rather than the individuals who promote it. All three, in my opinion, illustrate the current state of greenness in an eloquently philosophical way (but not preachy.)

Hope you enjoy reading their comments as much I have. And if you would like to join Co-Op America, as an individual or business member, please visit their website: www.coopamerica.org. You will receive the Green Pages, an invaluable guide to green products and services...and the membership is growing...

It's About the Message, Not the Messenger

"...this [debate about what it means to be green] is not about who's right, better, smarter, more authentic, or setting an example of the truth they espouse, although that is what I believe we all desire as a basic standard for anyone who has the courage to take a stand in the world, regardless of their message.

For me, it's about the message, not the messenger. If it fits, wear it. But it's not about killing off the messenger. The guy's got guts, he's reached a lot of people and made progress, and he's put his money into educating middle America. Enough said.

I come from a rather infamous macrobiotic sub-culture family background that has often been unsavory public fodder due to family scandals, family cancer deaths, stuff that would likely make your toenails curls, but is like oil on water for me. People around the world have haunted me with questions, judgements, complaints, biased assessments, and my response is usually similar. It's about the message, not the messenger. No one is making claims about being a saint, walking on water. Everyone has their own path to fulfill, and the ones that find it usually end up getting the flogging. We are human, learning, growing, transforming, evolving.

Nonetheless, macrobiotics has changed millions of peoples' lives for the better, pioneered the natural foods movement, and the message still exists separate from the messenger. I would hope and expect even more from the force, power and money that Gore has put out to the people.

We are all doing our part, to whatever degree we are capable, have the resources, courage, passion and conviction. It's about the message folks."

--Melissa Kushi, www.himalasalt.com

Form, Join or Lead the Parade

"What we're doing together isn't about Al Gore or George Bush.

Or in my country (Canada) it's not about Stephen Harper or Stephan Dion.

Mr. Gore happens to be the self-appointed spokesperson at the present time for a 'parade' on global warming.

Mr. Bush seems to be the elected spokesperson at the present time for those who have different views.

Several years ago I used to use one of Mr. Gore's quotes in speeches I was asked to give. He apparently was asked by someone interested in some cause about how to get political support. What he replied essentially is that 'a politician is someone who sees a parade forming, and decides to lead it'.

I think this is wisdom. Most politicians don't form parades. They see a parade forming, and run to get in front of it.

This parade is bigger than Al Gore, or George Bush, or Stephen Harper or Stephan Dion or Tony Blair or Vladimir Putin or......

This parade is about how we each can live more sustainably and do so with a high quality of life, and lots of happiness. Not living in a cave and not foraging for berries, because that's 'not on'.

I suggest that when we make someone a hero, there will always be someone ready to cut the hero down to size.

So...it's not about Al Gore. Or about Dick Cheney. Or any of those guys.

It's about us.

We're the ones who form the parades in our own communities.

We're the ones who understand that to care for the earth isn't a Liberal or a Conservative or a Republican or a Democrat idea. It's what we all need to do because we 'ARE' of the earth. We're made of stardust; we breathe air; we excrete CO2 and some other stuff; we drink water. We're one of the millions of species that live on this thin layer of Biosphere on this piece of rock hurtling through space.

What we do to the earth, we do to ourselves."

--Norm Ruttan, iwastenot.com

Recognize Green Is In Transition

"Over the past weeks there have been discussions about
* What is green
* How green is green
* Al Gore's house

Recognize that Green is in transition. A few years ago it was sort of a lifestyle at the edge. Some practiced it, few talked about it.

That is changing now.

We are moving into an explosion of awareness and acceptance. This will lead to some contradictions and turbulence, such as:

1) People who have opposed everything green will suddenly become converts. For example, the CEO of ConocoPhillips just announced that he changed his mind about global warming. As a result the news reports:

April 11, 2007 – ConocoPhillips today announced its support for a mandatory national framework to address greenhouse gas emissions and has joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a business-environmental leadership group dedicated to the quick enactment of strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

This, by the way, is a huge victory for green. As the first oil company to do this, the rest are now on the spot.

2) People will evolve through shades of being green. For example, Al Gore had devoted his life over the past six years to saving the planet. And yet, he still lives in a large home -- which some are criticizing.

Recognize that no one is 100% green - unless you live in a cave and eat raw berries that you find by walking about in the forest while you plant new trees.

We are all learning our way into the process. And most of us are stuck with where we are or what we have. It will take time to change.

I fully expect that Al Gore's home will be more green within a year or so. (Actually, since Al is a major celebrity, his home is really more a business center than a traditional home.)

3) The people who started the green movement will be replaced by the people who have opposed them. (For example, check this week's issue of Newsweek to read about how Arnold is leading the way. And you will notice that Al Gore receives sort of a cameo mention.)
While this may be a very disturbing thought, it is a natural step in making green a world-wide lifestyle.

In fact, green can only succeed if the really Big People support it. Then major changes will occur.

Once CEOs realize the economic potential in this, it will look like a stampede. For example, imagine what would happen to the auto industry if gas powered vehicles were declared obsolete with the requirement that everyone must use public transportation or a small electric cart within ten years. The auto industry has been trying to make current models obsolete since it started - this would be a dream come true because everyone would have to buy a new vehicle.

The point is, we need to focus on moving forward instead of worrying about being green enough.

That means we must find ways to include everyone who wants to help. This is important because by including others, regardless how green they may appear or how much they know about being green, we are then in a position to influence their participation.

And at the same time, we benefit from their participation.

After all, we're trying to save the planet -- not run an exclusive club.

Hey, based on their houses it's possible that Al Gore would be rejected and George Bush accepted into the Green Pages. [located at www.coopamerica.org] "

--Steve Kaye, One Great Meeting, www.stevekaye.com

Friday, April 06, 2007

Hiking Lake Tawakoni State Park

This time of year, we honestly have no personal life. My dad lives approximately one mile away and yesterday marked only the second or third time I've seen him in 2007. David's mom lives a couple miles away, in another direction, and I could count the number of times we've visited her this year on one hand. Six long days per week we meet with clients, work on designs, prepare for speaking engagements, address various admin duties, and talk to many many people by phone and email. Often Sunday becomes cleaning/laundry/dishes day. But this year we are making a focused effort to spend one or two Sundays per month outside our home/office doing what we love best: playing outdoors.

A few weeks ago we hiked Cedar Hill State Park. April Fools' Day we made the hour-and-a-half trek to Lake Tawakoni State Park. The deluge the previous day flooded out many low-lying areas throughout the trail system. Mosquitoes were everywhere, making our hike a fast-paced clip to the end of the trailhead. Keep moving, keep moving. We had the trails to ourselves -- only we fools set out on a humid, hot, soggy, mosquito-infested excursion through this East Texas park. And it was an incredibly rewarding experience, surprisingly.

We found May Pop foliage standing all around us about 18-24" tall. The tropical-looking leaves are the size of dinner plates. David recalled seeing them 'in the wild' when he was in school in Pennsylvania, but confessed he had never seen them in their natural habitat in Texas. What a find. Wood Sorrel (a type of Oxalis) are blooming in small pockets at the base of trees. Vibrant, sapphire Spiderwort line the front where wooded areas converge with open prairies. Texas Toadflax, too. I fell in love with this little guy. There was also a yellow dandelion-looking plant (see pic below); I need to identify it ASAP. So cute. All of these plants grow without fertilizers, irrigation and human interference, and most are found naturally in shady areas.

David, Folsom and I finished our 5-mile loop completely sandy and muddy and with sopping wet feet. And despite all this, we had so much fun we talked all the way home about our experiences. Definitely, we recommend you check out Texas' most recently integrated park.

Oh, I forgot what this is. Will ask David when he returns this evening.

Wood Sorrel in Lake Tawakoni State Park, April 1 2007

May Pops in Lake Tawakoni State Park, April 1 2007