Sunday, December 17, 2006

Holiday Schedule 2006

We have closed for the holidays and will resume appointments Monday, January 15th, 2007. During our break we plan to catch up with family and friends -- we haven't seen them much this year! -- and prepare for 2007. A lot will be happening, I assure you.

Best wishes to you all (y'all) and your loved ones. May the magic of the holiday season touch your heart and soul.
David, Christy & Folsom

Final Raves of 2006

Discount Tire on Spring Creek Pkwy near I-75 in Plano -- friendly, fast service, and digestible prices.
Crescent City Beixnets located at Parker Road and Dallas North Tollway in Plano -- yummy.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New in '07

This fall we began recommending contractors to implement our designs, and they have wowed us. It's as if they can read our minds -- and our clients' minds will be at ease knowing our preferred contractors follow our plans accordingly. Several clients have asked that we sort-of oversee the installations, and we will be offering this service beginning in 2007. Of course, we will continue to offer consultation and design services, and will be available for speaking engagements. The more opportunities we have to share our knowledge and expertise, the better. Our primary goal is to make positive changes in our community.

Also new in 2007 will be our online design and online consultation services. We can reach more people with our message about restoring natural Texas beauty! This winter we will update our website with all the new services and fees; please keep checking back.

Having trouble finding a native plant? Let us know; we might be able to help you track it down.

Water Shortages in CA, Too

Since summer many Texans have been under mandatory watering restrictions, which will likely persist at least through summer 2007. Unfortunately, not everyone understands that drought is only part of our water woes. The real issue is our rate of consumption: North Texans rank among the highest water wasters in the US. Our area will continue to develop, but if we do not permanently alter our water usage habits, we could run out of water before the new reservoirs become accessible in 2008. And these new resources might not even keep up with our current rate of consumption. If we do not start using our water more wisely, and our supplies continue to dwindle, it's reasonable to expect water prices to skyrocket. Water will be the next oil.

We are not alone, fellow Texans. Residents of San Diego have demanded greater access to a certain canal that irrigates farmlands on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Follow this link to read more about it:

Any comments about water issues confronting Texans, Californians, Mexicans, or anyone in North America?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Schedule for Remainder of 2006

Holiday season is upon us and we like to visit with our families as much as you do. Therefore, we are publishing the following schedule for the rest of the year. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, 11/23, through Sunday, 11/26: Closed for Thanksgiving
Monday, 11/27, through Friday, 12/1: Open, but in meetings all day; please leave a message
Saturday, 12/2, and Sunday, 12/3: Closed
Monday, 12/4, through Friday, 12/8: Open, available most of the week
Saturday, 12/9, and Sunday, 12/10: Closed
Monday, 12/11, through Friday, 12/15: Open, available most of the week; turning in final designs for the year
Saturday, 12/16, through Monday, 1/1: Closed for winter holidays

Expressing Gratitude

This holiday season started early for me. Finally, after four years, I was able to visit my mom out-of-state. Fortunately we have remained in almost-constant contact via phone and email, so we didn't have a lot of catching up to do. However, technology can't compete with face-time, and I'm immensely grateful we had five days to talk and just enjoy. In that brief visit I was reminded what unconditional love truly means -- I might be biased but I promise I have the Best Mom In the World.

David kept the office and everything else in running order while I was away. He took care of my responsibilities as well as his, and I thank him for taking over so I could visit my mom. Folsom is not very happy with me for going away -- especially since he smells Mom's dogs, Rocky and Sushi, all over my clothes and luggage. David said he moped around while I was away; he really must have missed me. Today he seems to be pouting but is quick to forgive me for 'abandoning' him. Thankfully!

Tomorrow we have the pleasure of spending time with my family in the early afternoon, David's family in the later afternoon. All our siblings and parents (except my mom) will be present; I'm looking forward to giving thanks for each and every member of our families. We are a large but tight-knit group.

This is my favorite time of year because I have a smidge of time to reflect on the year's accomplishments. I'm able to close up projects and tie up loose ends, and next month we'll spend most of our time planning for 2007. Many great things have happened this year, and for all of them and all of you -- our readers and clients -- we are humbly grateful. 2007 will be terrific; we look forward to sharing our great news and happenings with you as they occur.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. All our best...Christy, David & Folsom

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What Matters

Friday we turned in a design for an elementary school in Dallas ISD. The goal of the project was to create an outdoor learning environment that would be low-maintenance, low-water consuming. What evolved is truly a restoration project: plants native to our area will be the backbone of the garden, and adaptable vegetable/fruit/herb specimens will be incorporated to represent our economic and agricultural history here on the Blackland Prairie. There will be plentiful opportunities for learning about organic gardening, natural history, even sitting areas for contemplation and reflection. We invested our souls in this project. But instead of feeling spent when it was done, we felt rejuvenated. A few days have passed and still we are floating on fulfillment.

Yesterday I spoke to Collin College's advertising class about branding a green business. Starting a green business would be another great topic to explore, but given the timeframe (50 minutes) I focused on advertising outlets, logos and marketing techniques specific to green businesses. I don't think I inspired an entire class to take a leap into green entrepreneurialship. But I think I presented them with other ideas about business, and I hope intrigued them enough to seek more information about this topic. Whatever the result, it felt terrific to talk about the business side of Nativedave. I've never done that before; until now all our presentations have been about native plants, sustainability, or environmental issues. Talking shop with advertising students was good, though. The experience challenged me, and encouraged me to accept speaking engagements on a variety of topics.

My point is, closing a huge landscaping deal isn't what motivates us. Sure, we have to eat and keep bringing in revenue so we can continue to get out our message. But these opportunities to share our knowledge and expertise -- and many years of experience -- remind us what truly matters to us.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Rate It Green

Beginning November 1st you will be able to shop green businesses with confidence. will allow green businesses to showcase their products and services, and customers may assign ratings to them. Great idea. Registration is free to businesses and customers alike. A beta version of the site is live now, so go ahead and sign up!

We registered Nativedave today and will sign up as customers later. We are green consumers, too!

Transcript from State Fair of Texas Program

Thank you for attending the 2006 State Fair of Texas. David and I are honored to return on behalf of Texas Dept of Agriculture’s GO TEXAN program. There are plentiful remarkable people and businesses in our state who strive to preserve the myth, the legend, and the stature of Texas.

Our role in this program is to advocate Texas-grown, Texas-made products. We do this through the marketplace, via our business – NATIVEDAVE.COM. Our mission is to create positive changes in our community (which includes ALL of Texas and the planet) by way of nature-focused & sustainable design and consultation services and public speaking engagements, like this one. More specifically, we are your native plant experts; it is our duty – and humblest pleasure – to help you restore the natural beauty of Texas. When so many companies are growing exponentially planting non-native species, why would we choose to work exclusively with natives and a few adaptable species? Why would we NOT offer ‘seasonal color change-outs’ or chemical applications or shrub-trimming services?

Plenty of reasons. But let me start by saying that David is a 7th-generation Texan – and you know how proud Texans are of their heritage! I am of course a ‘transplant’, but I think after living in Texas for 25 years I’ve earned ‘naturalized’ status. After exploring creeks and prairies of North Central Texas during his childhood, David was accepted into Longwood Gardens professional gardener training program. Located in Kennett Square, PA, Longwood Gardens is America’s premier institution of fine gardening. He completed that program and later earned the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. All his life he has understood the importance of planting native plants, and now our job (and hobby) is teaching others about their benefits. First let’s identify what a native is, then we’ll talk about why we all should use them. Exclusively.

What is a ‘native’? Officially, a native plant is one that grew or has continued to grow naturally in a specific place since pre-Colombian times. That means, ‘before Christopher Columbus.’ A native plant isn’t necessarily one that you find growing ‘like a weed’ in your yard or your neighbor’s landscape. In many parts of the country native plant landscapes have been a routine part of life for a decade or more, but in most of Texas you find the same 10 or 12 plants repeated lot by lot, block by block, town by town. They are everywhere because they are cheap and easy to find. Plants like, Red Tip Photinia or Wax Leaf Ligustrum or Crape Myrtle. You might be amazed to learn that none of these plants is native. Yes, they grow quite well in much of Texas, especially here in North Central Texas. Too well, in some cases. Privet (a type of Ligustrum), for example, produces lovely berries that attract birds. The birds eat the berries, disperse them after they have been ‘processed’, and from these scarified seeds emerge little evergreen Privet seedlings. In this part of the state at least we are short on native evergreens, so Privet would seem like a great plant. Right? Wrong. Because it is non-native Privet has no natural processes to keep its population in balance. Further, it is dispersed by birds haphazardly and is evergreen, so as it matures Privet prevents sunlight from reaching the native deciduous vegetation. The result is, populations of native plants dwindle, further diminishing the natural food source of native birds. If the food isn’t there, or if ‘exotic’ food is all that’s available, the native birds will eventually go to where the food source still exists. The native species gone, the door is left open for the grackles to take over…

There is a native plant that isn’t a Ligustrum at all but is sometimes called Privet. It looks similar to the exotic invasive Ligustrum Privets; its botanical name is Forestiera pubescens and is commonly called Elbow Bush, Desert Olive or Swamp Privet. This is a fabulous bird-attractor, tolerates dry or moist soil, sunny or shady conditions. Because common names vary region by region be sure to look for this plant by its botanical name. Don’t plant Ligustrums!

Often a non-native plant that seems to grow well in our neighborhood will succumb to extreme weather. This summer, for example, mature specimens of Indian Hawthorne literally were fried by intense heat and severe lack of water. Annuals seemed to spontaneously combust and turfgrasses looked dormant, as if it were winter. Actually, just about every tried-and-true landscape tree, shrub, flowering plant or turfgrass lost their battle against the drought…except natives. Our projects showed signs of stress but they survived. The only plants we lost this summer were those that were overwatered or eaten by wildlife desperate for any foodsource.

Much of this part of Texas, stretching from the Red River south to the Texas Coast is the Blackland Prairie, the southernmost extension of the Great Plains. Our ecoregion is in danger of extinction due to single crop rotation, overgrazing, neglect and, more recently, development. Less than 1% of our native vegetation survives today. This situation is dire but not hopeless. By gradually incorporating native plants into our landscape, we all can restore our slice of the Blackland Prairie. If we do not, we are likely the last generation to observe this beautiful, necessary region of Texas. Restoration projects like these benefit us all, regardless of how we vote or allocate our finances or perceive ‘beauty’. Just ask residents of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina wrecked much of their city (and decimated miles of the Mississippi Gulf Coast), one recurring conclusion has been the need to restore the vital wetlands along Louisiana’s coast. The city of New Orleans has discovered that disposing of treated sewage into the marshy wetlands injects nutrients and promotes natural restoration processes.

In this area, however, restoration is a much simpler endeavor. Plant natives. It’s almost that simple.

There are numerous reasons to use natives. When used properly, native plants thrive with very little water and maintenance. The current drought situation has brought to the forefront the urgency to reduce our water consumption. Considering 60% of a city’s water usage is attributed to irrigating residential lawns and landscapes, the number one way to conserve our water resources is to plant low-water consuming plants. Our state’s population continues to grow but our water sources do not. So that we don’t find ourselves without water altogether or unable to continue developing, it is imperative that all us good Texans find ways to reduce our water consumption. And these changes must be forever, not just through the end of the drought. Even if it rains tomorrow and for the next forty-five days and all the lakes spill over their banks into floodplains, we still can’t afford to waste water ever again. And why would we want to?

Natives prefer a little neglect after they are well-established, and they really don’t want you to drown them in chemicals. Geometric shapes have no place in your shrubbery; forego the gas-powered maintenance equipment and you curtail pollutants being released into the air we breathe. You also cut down on the annoying whir of machinery interrupting your peaceful weekend!

Native plantings increase property values. Example: Seaside, Florida. Architects coined ‘New Urbanism’, now the concept is beginning to catch on in Texas. See Beachtown Galveston. Municipalities like Frisco are considering new landscape recommendations in the form of incentives, maybe ordinances. Historically we Texans don’t like to be told what to do, but landscaping and gardening with natives isn’t a liberal thing or a tree-hugger thing or a fad. We should not resent development, but we should continue to seek smarter and healthier ways to create communities.

Plant natives and native wildlife will return. Plant natives and bring back the Blackland Prairie.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Gift Certificates Available On eBay

Not sure what to give this holiday season? The Native Dave Garden Certificate makes a perfect gift for just about anyone. Check out our eBay listing for item no. 160043907977. Happy Holiday Shopping!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New "Locations"

With all the tweaking and refining around here, we've started showing up in new places. Our banner ad is now live on and we're listed in their business directory. If you have not visited this site before, it is the online mouthpiece for Howard Garrett, Dallas-Ft Worth's longtime expert on organic gardening techniques and products. Their site is loaded with helpful how-to info, as well as a forums area where members may swap hands-on advice. We are delighted to be part of this growing gardening community.

City of Plano recently published on their website a list of local native plant landscape designers. Yep, we're included!

Of course, we will continue our affiliations with Lady Bird Johnson's Wildflower Center (, Co-Op America's Green Business Program (, (aka, and Texas Dept of Ag's GO TEXAN program ( We plan to become involved in other organizations, as well; please check back for announcements.

As part of our reorganization, we will be writing and publishing more pieces soon. Details to come!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Missed the Rain

We were in Florida over the weekend for our friends' wedding reception, so we missed the all-day rain showers. Did we need the rain, or what? I checked our ten-day forecast this morning and we aren't expected to receive another drop for at least a week. But we all know this could change in an instant...

Today we have clear, sunny skies and a high of 80-something. I love autumn gifts: cooler nights and warm days; pumpkin patches; and State Fair of Texas. Our presentation on behalf of Texas Department of Agriculture's GO TEXAN program is this afternoon 4-6pm. We will be in the Food and Fiber Pavillion on-stage in front of the GO TEXAN General Store. In case you are unfamiliar with GO TEXAN, it's a marketing program designed to promote Texas-made, Texas-grown products. Many members display their wares in the General Store. From jellies and hot sauces to organic cotton tshirts to Texas-grown plants, GO TEXAN members contribute significantly to our state's economy.

If you are unable to attend our presentation this evening we hope you will stop by the GO TEXAN area before the State Fair wraps up this Sunday, October 22nd.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Miles Davis Weather

My Grandma Millie was a talented musician and poet, and one of the coolest grandmothers around. (Actually, I was blessed with two amazing grandmothers who have been great role models for me.) She had a beautiful smile and striking features that revealed her Cherokee heritage. We lived many miles apart, but whenever I visited her, we laughed and talked as if we were the closest of friends. (She often played "Margaritaville" for David!)

Grandma introduced me to the music of Billie Holliday and Frank Sinatra when I was very young. She had old 78s and 16s (vinyl records) stored upstairs in the attic and a turntable that actually played them at the proper speed. The records were scratchy, and combined with Holliday's eerie vocals, the music both frightened and intrigued me. Gritty yet melodic, haunting and hopeful, my grandma's music made me a lifelong fan.

My brother is a musician and often you can catch him playing at Poppy's Garden Cafe in McKinney. Our family is full of great singers, guitarists, pianists and percussionists, but Mick is truly gifted. (I promise I'm not biased. ;-) Our Papaw Dennis (all good Southern kids have at least one 'Papaw') sings gospel and plays guitar. Our dad played hard rock when we were kids and now prefers Nashville-style country. Mom was and still is a fan of Motown. I was influenced by the music of my childhood--punk and disco--and my teens--new wave, 'hair bands', metal, and hip-hop/rap. Later, I actually moved to Seattle during the grunge years, but that's a post for another time...My point is, my taste in music is certainly eclectic.

Like many things that affect our senses, music evokes nostalgia and carries significant meaning for me. I still listen to Holliday and Sinatra, and my Grandma Millie's face appears in my memory. "Strange Fruit" is one my favorites but "My Way" is my mantra. I remember so many moments Grandma and I shared: harvesting vegetables from her garden, climbing the big tree in her back yard, spending several days with her when Mick was born. Elvis' version of "Peace in the Valley" epitomizes Papaw's style. Grand Funk Railroad (specifically "I'm Your Captain") reminds me of those late nights when my long-haired Dad and uncles would "jam" in our basement. Anything by Foreigner or the Eagles takes me back to those days, too. But more recently, I think about Dad when I hear George Strait (who could be my dad's long-lost twin.) The soundtrack from "Dirty Dancing" always inspires me to tell my mom I miss her.

Rainy days like today deserve at least one play-through of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue." When I hear the opening notes of "Freddie the Freeloader" I'm once again 20-something and writing under pressure, mere months away from receiving my college degree. I would listen and Davis' arrangements would somehow plow through my writer's block. Somehow, I finished that final project before graduation. Somehow, today, I must make time to give it another listen.

Question for discussion: what music is important to you and why?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

More web updates

We are working each day on updates to the new website; your patience is greatly appreciated. At this point, most of the formatting and color palette have been finalized. A whopping ONE new image has been added -- more will "appear" later this week. Look for more information and new announcements to be posted in the coming days and weeks. Like your garden, our business continues to grow and change...

Monday, October 02, 2006


Drive around North Texas after the scorching summer we have experienced and you might think you have died and gone to the surface of the sun. Long-time traditional landscape staples like Indian Hawthorne (which we don't advocate because they are non-native) literally became crispy in the hottest, driest summer in 50 years. Holly bushes blanched, many traditional landscapes look deep-fried. Many of these homeowners are now interested in trading in their dead or dying plants for thriving native ones.

One of our most supportive clients lives on acreage in Lucas. His project has been on the NPSOT tour of homes 2004-2006. He calls it his "dummyproof" landscape, because he does nothing to it except bring us out a couple of times per year to trim perennials and apply mulch. Easy. The reason his garden is low-maintenance is, we used plants native to his area that will thrive in full sun, well-draining soil, and bone-chilling wind rolling off the prairie in winter. Of course, we used a few adaptable plants like Knockout Rose and Copper Canyon Daisy. But like all our projects, approximately 85% of the plants in his garden are native to his slice of the Blackland Prairie.

Plants like Blackfoot Daisy and Four Nerve Daisy provide interesting foliage, colorful blooms and/or sweet fragrance. Little Bluestem Grass is a four-season plant. Its silvery-blue foliage during warmer months is striking, especially when planted in a large swath. In the cooler months, its bronze color livens up the garden. Neglect this plant and it will thank you. Sometimes, if you 'baby' it, it will flop over.

A great plant for sun or shade that is endemic to North Central Texas (meaning it's only found here naturally) is Pale Leaf Yucca, or Yucca pallida. It's similar to its Central Texas cousin, Twist Leaf Yucca. Pale Leaf Yucca's leaves are a bluish hue with yellow margins (edge of the leaf.) It's evergreen, so when many of your perennials are dormant in winter, this small shrub would make a great focal point. It sends up a cluster of white blooms and -- perhaps the best characteristic according to parents or grandparents of small children -- its leaves will not impale you. The tips are a bit pointy but the leaves are malleable. The blooms attract hawk-bill moths; native plants offer food and/or shelter to native species of birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other wildlife.

This summer we planted 500+ Pale Leaf Yucca in commercial projects in Fort Worth. Full sun, sandy soil, bellowing hot wind, no consistent maintenance. Hottest, driest summer get the picture. The only lost souls were those that were OVERwatered. After adjusting and readjusting their irrigation system, we have only replaced a few plants. Now that's dummyproof.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

And I Worry

Sometimes I talk too much,
I think too much,
And I worry.

But when I listen,
I hear the cries of the mockingbird,
Leary of human hands
Close to her nest.

I hear beeping earthmovers
Backing up,
Burying the coyote tracks.

I hear rabbits
Scurrying into brush,
The last remaining green life along the creek.

The limestone bank
Is scraped and
The creek filled
So the retirement community won’t sink.

When I listen to the sounds of dying Nature, I think
What can I do?
Who can I tell?
And I worry.

...christy tinsley-ilfrey, sept 2006

Finally, New Pics This Week

You've heard this before, yes. Tomorrow we will be taking new photos and uploading them by the end of the week. Until then, enjoy the same-old, same-old.

Be Hap E

A lot of good things have been happening lately. We met more than 100 avid nature-lovers at the Wildscaping Workshop on September 16th (refer back a few posts for more info.) Several new designs have come our way -- some residential, some commercial, some educational sites. A fabulous company we have known for a while is taking over our installations so that we may focus on design, consultation and speaking engagements. (More info about them coming soon.) All in all, this transitional period is going well.

More changes will be announced in the coming months, probably around the first of the year. Sometimes, even when changes are good, new situations can create stress. Recently my shoulder and back have been reminding me of this fact. So I've been getting more sleep, eating better and moving my body a bit more. I won't claim to have resumed my exercise regimen. Actually, I doubt I could run very far right now. But I'm trying, like most of us do. I walk Folsom farther and more frequently than I did during spring. One day I even squeezed in a few abdominal crunches.

This morning I was awake early-early, so I did the grocery shopping before the sun came up. The current edition of Runner's World includes "the perfect shopping list" and in this regard I need that type of hand-holding. Who knew almonds, salmon and lowfat yogurt contained so many beneficial vitamins and minerals AND taste delicious. Who knew I was still eating like runner, without running???

Feeling like I had completed a 5K, I drove home smiling, my healthy food purchases by my side. I felt good about the way my day had begun...and there it was. Like an omen, a message from my secret invisible guardian was written on the license plate of the mini-van driving along in front of me. A soccer mom's vanity plate greeted me: "BE HAP E." Thanks, I think I will.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chickory and Minty Paws

This morning we started our day in the garden. Illuminated by early morning light, the plants were verdant and turgid -- guess that measly one-inch-of-rain actually did more good than we thought! We sipped our special Cafe du Monde coffee and picked at the potted mint plant that suffered and struggled all summer. Poor thing, rebounding is kind-of hard because Folsom has chosen it as his garden perch. On the other hand, his paws always smell minty fresh!

Cooler temperatures arrived so suddenly, I can't believe just a few weeks ago we were melting. I know, the seasons never seem to change gradually here, even in 'normal' years. Our seasons are either nine months of hot, dry and breezy, or three months of cold, damp and breezy. It is unusual for the seasons to arrive gracefully -- our weather here is brutal, sometimes. This morning, though, I felt as if I were enjoying a genuine early-fall or early-spring morning; it was marvelous. And it reminded me to take a bit of time each day to be grateful for simple pleasures. Pleasures like rich chickory and minty paws...and rain.

Speaking of rain...although recent rainfall helped, lake levels are still low. Watering restrictions in most communities will continue until further notice; check your city/town's website for the most accurate and current information. City of Plano ( plans to continue watering restrictions through winter, and through summer of 2007 if drought conditions persist.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Website Updates

Beginning today we are making changes to our website. For the next few days you might find links that lead to nowhere or missing images, etc. No worries, we're just shaking things up around here. If you can't find info you're looking for, feel free to send a request to me directly at I'll gladly zap you a document that lists all our services and fees. Soon all this will be clearly posted to our website. Hurrah for technology!

UPDATE to the "updates"
9/19/2006 at 2:53pm:
The site is working but we have not uploaded the portfolio...yet. It's a little more complex than changing colors and content, so we need a few more days to complete this task. Please check back soon for new, yes finally NEW, photos. We're very excited about the changes to our site and services, and hope you will bear with us as we adjust to the new 'systems.'

RECAP: Wildscaping for Wildlife Workshop

Saturday, September 16th, was a treat. Bobette Brashear, North Texas Master Naturalist, gave a wonderful presentation titled "What is a Wildscape?" We were up next, and I think our program about "Wildscape Design" was well-received. Next, Donna Simon, president-elect of Native Plant Society of Texas--Garland Chapter, spoke about "Using Native Plants". I really enjoyed her program, because it was an intimate look at ways homeowners can incorporate natives into their existing landscape. Well-done! Deb Bliss of City of Plano's Sustainability and Environmental Services discussed "Composting" -- so very interesting and informative. Deb is a terrific speaker, too. Unfortunately, we were unable to stay for the final program on "Ponds & Water Features" with Steve Moeller of Water Gardens.

The programs were superb, but I think we enjoyed most meeting the 100-or-so attendees. It's always fun to spend a Saturday with folks who are interested in nature-focused topics.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Tree Maintenance Class with the TREE EXPERT Bill Seaman

Tree Maintenance Class
This class is an opportunity for you to learn how to maintain your beautiful trees during the current North Texas drought.

Who & What
Mr. William H. Seaman, Speaker
Certified Arborist through International Society of Arboriculture
Texas Certified Arborist #1153
Attended Masters Program in Landscape Architecture – UT Arlington
B.S. Ornamental Horticulture – Texas Tech University
Currently employed with Arborilogical Services Inc, The Tree Care Experts, Mr. Seaman will discuss how to recognize the signs of tree stress, dormancy, nutrition needs, water needs, fertilization, etc.

Saturday, September 16th, 10:00 a.m. to Noon
Wednesday, September 20th, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Plano Municipal Center
1520 Avenue “K”, Plano, Texas 75074
Municipal Center is located between 15th St. and 18th St. on Avenue K

Feel free to invite your friends and neighbors but we cordially ask that you limit invitees to Plano community members ONLY at this time.

We will seat on a first come, first served basis. This class is being offered twice so that we can accommodate as many people as possible. This is an excellent opportunity to learn proper care for your precious trees.

For more information on the current drought situation, please visit our web page at:

Vote For Us!

Green Business of the Year
From September 12 to October 5, Co-op America members around the country will submit their nominations for Green Business of the Year. Three weeks later, the top ten businesses with the most nominations will compete in an online run-off vote for this year's award." To cast your vote for us and other green businesses, please click on the link below. Thanks for your vote and for helping to grow the green economy!

Immediate Changes

Due to drought and watering restrictions, demand for our consultation, design and public speaking services has sprouted. More people are beginning to recognize the myriad benefits of landscaping with native plants, and we will be focusing our time educating homeowners, builders and developers, businesses, schools, civic groups and other landscape companies about native plants and sustainable landscaping. Our goal is to prepare you and your landscape contractor for a successful and rewarding landscaping experience. Therefore, we are suspending until further notice our installation and maintenance services. Following is a more complete explanation of our services effective immediately:
  • Consultation Only -- This is a one time, one-hour session. You will receive a list of recommended plants and materials, including common and botanical names, quantities and sizes, and product vendors. For smaller projects and time permitting, we will also create a "quick sketch", a hand-drawn design to illustrate our suggestions with regard to plant placement and bed layout. Fee is $150.
  • Consultation and Design -- Two-part service. During our first meeting (which usually lasts 20-30 minutes) we will assess your goals for the project area and take photographs. We must have a current, original (no copies, please) survey or plat plan of your property to start your design; we will return your survey during our second meeting. Meeting #2 usually lasts one hour. We will explain the elements of your design, present photos, etc. You will receive a 24x36" professional design (to scale), 11x17" laminated copy (not to scale) and a list of recommended plants and materials. Fees start at $500 and generally range $500-750, depending on the size and scope of your project. A deposit of 1/2 the design fee is due at the end of the first meeting, the balance at the end of the second.
  • Consultation, Design and Project Management -- In addition to the Consultation and Design above, we will visit your project site periodically throughout the installation process to assist you and your landscape contractor. Fee will be determined by the size and scope of your project.
  • Additional Information -- We are based in Plano and fees described above apply to projects in Collin County, southeastern Denton County and most of Dallas County, Texas. We will work with clients outside this service area, especially communities along the Gulf Coast interested in restoring native vegetation. Please contact us for pricing information.
  • Other changes will be announced soon!

Our fall office hours are:

M-F 8a-5p
We will meet one evening per week and one Saturday per month by appointment only.
No meetings on Sundays.


A little rain, somewhat cooler temperatures -- so much has happened while we were away. Today we're returning emails and phone calls, but please check back in a few days for news, updates and information about some neat nurseries we visited recently. New pics on the way, too!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

It's Official!

Our doors are closed, phones forwarded to voicemail and email autoresponders turned on. We will not be checking messages or emails until September 10th. However, we are very interested in working with you this fall, and beyond, to create your native plant garden. Although our installation schedule is full already, we have plenty of appointments for design and/or consultation services. In fact, we have begun scheduling meetings for the week of September 11-15th, and most days are booked-up. Thursday the 14th (all day) and Friday the 15th (early afternoon) we have many open timeslots.

We might not be returning your calls or emails for a couple of weeks, but go ahead and leave a detailed message, including preferred dates and times you would like to meet. We'll confirm everything upon our return!

September will be an exciting month full of change and (we hope) cooler temperatures, maybe a drop or two of rain. Don't let the drought distress you, though. We have been checking up on several of our projects within the past couple of weeks, and we're proud to report that all are bursting with color and texture. These clients strictly follow the watering guidelines, and at least one has said she only hand-waters every other week. Yes, week, not day. Her neighbors find the success of her garden almost too good to be true. They suspect she's 'cheating' on the restrictions and frequently she spies them lurking around her yard, hoping to catch her in the act! No soaker hoses laced throughout the beds, infrequent supplemental watering. Hers is just one of our many success stories...yours could be next!

But the durability of native plants despite this historic drought isn't magic or trickery -- it's nature. We took Folsom for a jog around Big Lake Park (Plano) last weekend. Sure, the turfgrasses are all but dead and the ground has cracked, as if the soil is gasping for air. Some cracks are so wide we have to steer Folsom from falling in. It's hot, it's dry, it's oppressive. Still, we saw Clasping Coneflower and Goldenrod blooming vibrantly along the creek. Purple Verbena, too. And many other native plants.

All gardens native or non-native require water to become established. Once established, native plants will continue to grow and develop naturally, even during times of drought. This fall we hope you will consider converting your landscape to one that requires less water, less maintenance, and will continue to feed and house birds and butterflies. We can help.

Looking forward to helping you restore your slice of the Blackland Prairie...Until then, stay cool and hydrated! /Christy

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fall Schedule Announcements

A wise person (I'm looking at you, Dusty) once said that someday our Springs would meld into our Summers, Falls into Winters. Truer words were never spoken...but we never imagined it would happen this year. Summer had been set aside to work out some details for those changes I keep mentioning. However, never-ending Spring just finally came to a close so we'll have to postpone making announcements until late-September. That brings me to our Fall Schedule -- we're already setting appointments and this would be a perfect time to list our availability.

We will be available for new designs and consultations beginning Monday, September 18th.

Installations only -- no new clients.

November and December:
New designs and consultations; no installations.
Emergency Mulching Services available 1st through 15th.

Learn About Native Plants; Upcoming Events

Sunday, August 20th, 2pm at Rohde's Nursery in Garland we will be speaking to the Native Plant Society, Garland Chapter. Our topic is "Fall Planting" but we will also discuss water issues. Meet in the store where it's cool.

Saturday, September 16th, 9am to 2pm at Texas A&M Univ. Research Extension Center at Dallas (17360 Coit Road, Dallas 75252). Wildscaping for Wildlife Workshop sponsored by North Texas Master Naturalists. Our session on "Wildscape Design" will begin around 9:30am. For registration or more information, please call Natha Taylor at 214-503-6052, or Linda Hannigan at 214-350-5811.

Tuesday, October 17th, 4-6pm at State Fair of Texas in the Food and Fiber Pavillion. Sponsored by Texas Dept of Agriculture and Go Texan! Program. Our program will discuss "Native Plants for Texas".

More event details to follow soon!

Friday, August 11, 2006

City of Plano Offers Free Foundation Maintenance Classes

We're not affiliated in any way with this program, but are posting this announcement to inform our readers of free educational opportunities. Please contact the City of Plano should you have questions.

Foundation Maintenance Classes

This is an opportunity for you to learn how to maintain your home’s foundation during the current North Texas Drought.

Who & What
Mr. Leonard Fowler, Geologist & Consultant will be the present to discuss how to recognize and eliminate home foundation problems. Learn about disproportionate soil swelling, standing water, foundation watering, and much more.

Saturday, August 12th, 2006 – 9:00am to 12:00pm
Wednesday, August 16th, 2006 – 6:00pm to 9:00pm

Plano Municipal Center
1520 Avenue “K”, Plano, Texas 75086
Municipal Center is located between 15th Street and 18th Street on Avenue K

Feel free to invite your friends and neighbors but we cordially ask that you limit invitees to the Plano community members ONLY at this time.


We will seat on a first come, first served basis. This class is being offered twice so that we can accommodate as many people as possible. It is projected that the City of Plano and all other surrounding communities may have to endure Stage 3 watering restrictions until the summer of 2007 has passed. So take this opportunity to come and learn how to maintain your foundation and protect your investment.

For more information on what the city of Plano is doing to help combat the effects of our current drought situation, please visit our web page at: for more details and information.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Summer Schedule

Now through close of business Friday, August 18th, we are allowing most calls to go to voicemail. During this period we are focusing our attention on preparations for fall. Please leave a detailed message, or send a detailed email, and we will respond ASAP. Beginning 5pm on the 18th we will be closing our office until Monday, September 11th. Phone and email messages will not be returned until then.

Hope you're having a terrific summer. Stay cool and hydrated...more updates soon!

Kudos to Plano residents

It seems that Plano residents have something to be proud of...they are adhering to Stage 3 restrictions and currently there is no plan to move into Stage 4. Way to go! Keep reducing your water consumption; we're not out of the 'desert' yet.

Kiwanis Garland: Introduction to today's presentation

(Ad-libbed comments are not included.)

"Thank you for inviting David and me to speak to your organization. We have a lot of information and enthusiasm to share with you, and if you were to allow us free reign we could, and would, go on for hours. But in the interest of time, we will direct you to the handout for background information about who we are, what we do, and why we promote native plants. Therefore, we will jump right in discussing native plants, identifying them and demonstrating ways to use them.

We live on the Blackland Prairie, part of the Great Plains extending from Manitoba south to central Texas. Due to single crop farming, overgrazing, neglect and -- most recently -- development, less than 1% of the Blackland Prairie exists today. We should not resent our agricultural heritage, or the boom of the 1970s that lingers today. But there are ways to reverse the damage we humans have inflicted upon our once-fertile land, and develop in harmony with nature, not against her. We must restore the native vegetation if we are to preserve the Blackland Prairie. If we do not, we are likely the last generation to observe this natural ecoregion. Our mission is to promote native plants because we recognize their intrinsic values. Currently, the most important benefit to us in north central Texas relates to water issues -- conservation and preservation of water resources. Despite the drought and water restrictions imposed by many north Texas municipalities, our projects are thriving on once-per-week, or one-inch-of-water-per-week. Each of us living on the Blackland Prairie has been drawn to this ecoregion by business opportunities or that we are native Texans, and within each of us is the power to reclaim the glory, to take back our state and region's natural beauty, and preserve it for future generations. You have the ability to restore native vegetation to your own little slice of the Blackland Prairie, to micro-restore, if you will.

There are approximately 6,300 species native to Texas, several naturally found right here in the "gumbo."

Natives work well in suburban landscapes, as well as acreage, commercial properties and educational campuses. It's important to remember, however, that just because a plant is native doesn't mean it will work anywhere in your garden. The key to successful gardening is choreography, to create a long-term plan that will allow you to plant deliberately with the right plant in the right place."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Current Availability

Our summer schedule has filled up with designs and consultations, and a few speaking engagements. Look for us Sunday, August 20th, at Rohde's Nursery in Garland. We'll be speaking to the monthly meeting of Native Plant Society, Garland Chapter, about gardening in autumn with native plants. September 16th we'll be speaking about landscaping with native plants at the annual wildscape workshop; details to follow. Other requests for our speaking services have come in recently and we'll be sure to post that info as soon as it's finalized.

With all the flurry of activity, we thought this might be a good time to update our availability for the remainder of 2006. We are unable to meet with any new clients, regardless of the type of desired services, until September. You will notice specific dates of availability listed below, but generally speaking, we have filled our installation schedule for 2006. We will begin meeting again with new clients interested in installation in mid-February 2007.
  • Consultation Only services: next available appointment is September 11th.
  • Design services: next available appointment is September 11th.
  • Installation services: next available meeting is February 14th, 2007; planting will occur March - May 2007, and September - October 2007.
  • Speakers' services: available after September 11th.
  • Fall Maintenance: November 1st until Thanksgiving.
  • Winter Maintenance: mid-January through February (specific dates depend on severity of winter)
  • Summer Maintenance: June 2007.

This week and next we are finishing another batch of designs. We're also refining those changes I keep hinting about. Sneak peek -- we will expand some services and scale back others; we'll roll out a few new services specially designed for busy people who want our creative input, but haven't the time for face-to-face meetings. (Think 'online design!') There are many exciting opportunities ahead of us and we are eager to share our joy with you!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Looking Ahead

Drought conditions persist, and it looks like many communities in our area will soon be under Stage 4 watering restrictions. NO OUTDOOR WATERING. Period. I've heard many people complaining about government dictating their water consumption behaviors. Obviously, not everyone understands the seriousness of our water crisis. Lake levels are plummetting, rainfall is well below normal, yet we continue to consume, consume, consume. Something must change.

Since we can't exactly force nature to deliver buckets of rain (unless someone out there is quite skilled at rain dancing), the only possibility is to mandate residents use less water. If we could all eliminate waste -- in the form of runoff or unnecessary, excessive watering -- we could slow the rapid depletion of our water sources. The target set by North Texas Municipal Water District is a 5% reduction in consumption -- easy. That equates to approximately one less load of laundry per week or one minute less per zone on your irrigation system.

But David and I would like to challenge our readers to do more. Drastic times call for drastic measures, as the saying goes, so we are asking you to aim for 10% (or more) in your reduction. Let's make it fun. Try water-conserving techniques for one month and then let us know the percentage by which you reduced your consumption and measures that were successful. We'll post your comments to this blog. Here are some water-wise suggestions:

  1. Run your irrigation system only 10 minutes per zone, once per week.
  2. Hand-water 20-30 seconds per plant, twice per week, or as-needed.
  3. Wash one less load of laundry per week -- maybe two!
  4. Run one less load of dishes per week; try hand-washing a few times per week. Wash in a bucket, then use the 'grey water' to water your landscape.
  5. When showering, turn off the faucet while lathering up your body with soap, rinse. Turn off water while lathering shampoo, rinse. Repeat when applying conditioner, as well.
  6. Share these suggestions with your neighbors.
  7. Nobody likes a tattle-tail, but report water-wasters. We are in crisis mode and all must work together!

Server Down

We're not able to receive emails today because our webhosting provider's server is down. If you have sent a message, not to worry. Our email should be up and running later today -- we'll respond as soon as possible!

UPDATE as of 1:11pm Central Time: The server should start delivering our email messages within the next 2-3 hours. The webhosting company apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused you or us. Hope to speak with you soon!

GRR, Update as of 7:21pm Central Time: Allegedly, the webhost's email server is fully functional again and we are to begin receiving emails this evening and throughout tomorrow. I don't know. If you have sent a message Thursday afternoon through now, I haven't received it and most likely won't until Monday (not sure what time.) If your message is urgent, please give us a call at the office: 972-596-3889. We don't keep regular office hours on weekends, but if you'll leave us a message, we will get back to you as soon as we receive it. Again, sorry for the inconvenience that is out of our control.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Natives in the 'desert'

Yesterday David checked up on the project at Innisbrook in Fort Worth. Electricity and water were finally available, and the plants needed a drink post haste. The installation was completed about 2 weeks ago, there has been little to no rain, it's been hot and dry as the Mojave, and the irrigation system was inoperable until electricity had been connected. We expected to find a wasteland where our beautiful landscape once stood.

Amazingly, not one plant was lost. All are still alive, though some are struggling. He programmed the irrigation system, so now these hardy natives will get the consistent watering they need to become established.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Natives vs. Water-Wise

Water restrictions and drought conditions have compelled many of us to rethink our approach to gardening. Residential customers are losing plants, or they fear their plants will die. Landscapers, irrigators, lawn maintenance techs -- many others in this industry are promoting drought-resistant plants or 'water-wise' methods. Municipalities and other governmental entities are doing their best to educate all these people. Growers and nurseries are shifting to meet the changing needs of the public. Hats off to everyone for their urgency during these record-breaking times.

One question that continues to pop up is why natives? There are plenty of suitable water-wise plants, like Nandina and Crepe (or Crape) Myrtle -- why do we limit ourselves to native plants and a few 'unusual' adaptable species? I guess the clearest explanation is that our mission isn't limited to just conserving water. Water is only one of our natural resources, and our approach is more of a 'big picture' perspective. Water-wise plants, certainly, will help us slow our consumption and reduce our water waste. But that's just a band-aid cure for a cultural 'ailment.'

Take Privet (or Ligustrum), for example. Drought-hardy, evergreen, grows well in our climatic conditions. Easy to grow, too easy, in fact. If allowed to grow naturally (though most in this area are sheared and clipped into geometric shapes) it will produce plentiful berries that attract birds. Another plus, right? Before you answer, consider this oversimplified scenario: the birds who eat the berries must digest and expel them somewhere. This process scarifies the seeds and promotes their germination. Often these 'volunteer plants' are started in natural areas, therefore the Privet is allowed to grow naturally, produce berries, attract birds, and, eventually, more volunteer Privet. Wow, a forest of free shrubs. Sounds wonderful, right? Wait. If this quick-growing, easy-to-volunteer evergreen shrub is not maintained, it must be enormous. What happens to the native, low-growing vegetation? This diverse food source for native birds and other wildlife? What happens to those species of animals that depend on native vegetation for their habitat, as well? Sadly, all succumb to the invasive Privet.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept includes Privet on their 'do not plant' list, yet it is still being grown, sold, planted and recommended by others within our industry. It's a beautiful plant, but in our climate it becomes exotic invasive and chokes out our natural beauty, altering our ecosystem. We do not plant it, and frankly, take great joy in making mulch of it at every opportunity.

Being water-wise is important but is only one facet of resource management. Native plantings help to achieve this larger goal. Following are just a few of the benefits, and the reasons we do what we do:
  • Not only do native plants help to reduce water consumption, they help to keep our local resources clean. Natives thrive without synthetic chemicals, most of which linger in your lawn and planting beds and are leached into our local creeks and streams by way of runoff. Polluted waterways = contaminated water source for local wildlife.
  • No chemicals means healthier soil.
  • When natives are used properly, e.g. the right plant for the right place, they require very little maintenance. Several resources are affected:
  • Air -- no geometric shapes, so a reduction in gas-powered equipment. Less frequent use of this equipment means fewer unregulated contaminants are released into the air we breathe.
  • Gas -- Also, less frequent use of this equipment means less dependence on natural gas/oil.
  • Money -- Fewer plants must be replaced each year (because the natives will either return as perennials or reseed as annuals); none will be spent on synthetic chemicals (unless you have a nut sedge grass problem, which is a post for another time) or trimming shrubs; and much less will be spent on gas and oil to operate your maintenance equipment.
  • Time -- Less time spent struggling with high-maintenance plants means more time spent picking flowers, engaging in hobbies or enjoying family and friends.
  • Natives provide food and shelter for many native species of birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Without natives, these species must adapt, move along to other communities who have embraced natives, or die. And without them, our ecosystem will be out of balance.
  • Natives establish a regional identity. Californians boast of Redwood Sequoia forests; Iowans are proud of their Buckeyes; Floridians champion their palms. Which plant screams 'Blackland Prairie'?

The Final Project

Today we're 'emergency mulching' for several clients and getting ready for our final installation for a while. Later this week we will be planting another native plant display for Sandlin Homes at their Lake Vista development in Fort Worth. To date, we have completed projects at Bedinger Place, Boling Ranch, and Innisbrook. David checked on them recently and, despite the drought, all were doing quite well. They are still young plantings, but they look beautiful. We feel confident they will survive even the hottest and driest of conditions.

Next week we will check on a few residential projects and meet with new clients. The rest of the month will be spent planning for fall and discussing those changes I keep mentioning.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Wet Stuff?

This strange liquidy stuff fell from some white, puffy things -- I think they're called 'clouds' -- yesterday and all our plants look grateful. Was that...rain? There were reports of up to 2" in Frisco. No, water restrictions haven't been lifted, but every little drop helps.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Emergency Mulch Services Available Now

To help our clients protect their landscape investment during this drought, we are offering Emergency Mulch Services (EMS) the week of July 3-7th. We will offer EMS again in the fall to be completed mid-November, and again mid-February during our regular winter maintenance. If the drought persists we will continue to offer EMS 3-4 times per year; when it ends, we will resume our regular 1-2 times per year schedule. Please contact me ASAP if you would like EMS this July and I will begin putting together a schedule. I can't confirm an exact date or time until I have compiled all the RSVPs and addresses.

For 1-5 cubic yards:
  • $34 per cubic yard
  • $50 delivery
  • $150 labor
  • Example: 4 cu yds x $34 = $136 + 50 + 150 = $336 + tax
  • For 'delivery only' of 1-5 cubic yards, $34/cu yd plus $75 delivery fee. We will shovel into a pile on your driveway.

For 6-12 cubic yards:

  • $34 per cubic yard
  • $75 delivery
  • $250 labor

For 13+ cubic yards:

  • $34 per cubic yard
  • $75 delivery (per truckload)
  • $350-600 labor (approximately 1/2 day to full day)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

News about watering

This morning I attended a breakfast hosted by North Texas Municipal Water District and partners Dallas Irrigators Association and Texas Nursery & Landscape Association. Representatives from local municipalities were present, as were landscape contractors and irrigators, among others. The focus of this meeting was to educate our industry reps about watering restrictions outlined in various 'stages' of drought contingency plans. Our job, then, is to educate you, the homeowners and businesses -- we're all in this together.

Currently North Texas is in Stage 3. Lake Lavon -- our water source -- has receded more than 10 feet. TEN FEET. Cooper and Texoma are low, as well. MOST of our water consumption occurs in lawn and landscape areas. The good thing is, if each of us were to make 'water-wise' choices in those areas we CAN affect change. Empowered, each of us has the ability -- some might say the obiligation -- to protect our natural resources and the overall health of our communities. And if you are reading this, you are already on board. Whether you're here because you want a low-maintenance landscape, to save money spent watering and maintaining a 'traditional' landscape, or you're an eco-minded person interested in leaving only a light footprint, you've come to our 'site with a bit of knowledge about these issues.

However, if you're new to this approach, here are a few suggestions to help you help your lawn and landscape survive the drought:
  1. Visit Take the quiz!
  2. Apply 4-6 inches of mulch (previously we recommended 2-3" but the rules of the game have changed, therefore so should our recommendations.) We recommend fine shredded hardwood mulch because it feeds the soil, retains enough moisture for the plants, but not enough to become a termite buffet.
  3. Hand-water all plants that are less than 1-year-old, especially trees, shrubs and other large plants. Check the soil first by inserting your index and middle fingers 3" deep. Dry? Hand-water 20-30 seconds at the base of the plant. Wet? Skip a day (or more). Only water when it's dry.
  4. Manually run your irrigation system once-per-week, approximately 20 minutes (or 1"). Ideally, you would run it only 10 minutes-per-day, twice-per-week, but this might violate your community's watering guidelines.
  5. Consult your community's website for detailed information about the watering restrictions. A list of websites is available on the WaterIQ 'site.
  6. Wait until fall to resume plantings. Not all communities have banned new landscape installations -- again, check your community's 'site -- but unless you have time to hand-water, it just makes sense to wait until our reservoirs have been restored and temperatures have begun to cool (a bit.)
  7. Make a plan to convert your lawn and landscape to something beautiful AND water-wise. (August is a FABULOUS time for designs, hint-hint. ;-)
  8. Begin implementing drought-resistant plants and grasses in fall.
  9. Cut back perennials and some grasses in winter (usually around Valentine's Day) 2-4" above ground. Add another layer of mulch -- 2-3" should suffice. Check back in January for updates.
  10. Incorporate water-wise principles into your long-term plans, not just to survive this drought.

Monday, June 19, 2006

New Clients--Please Read

This year we've met with countless friendly new clients and had the privilege of working with several long-time supportive ones. We're working on several designs that will be implemented in fall, as well as subsequent installation phases of previously completed designs. Looks like our fall schedule is filling up already. So another update to our schedule seems in order.

June -- no appointments available.
July -- no appointments available.
August -- no installations; beginning August 14th we will be available for designs and consultations.
September -- limited availability for installations; available for designs and consultations. Time to think about holiday gift certificates!
October -- available for installations, designs and consultations. Gift certificates!
November -- no installations; available for designs and consultations. Gift certificates!
December -- no installations; 1st through 15th only available for designs and consultations. Gift certificates!

We are infinitely grateful for the multitude of referrals and tremendous support of our long-time and recent clients. It has been our pleasure to help so many people synthesize their landscape goals into a cohesive plan.

A Sip, Not Quite a Drink

Rain, finally. We might not have received enough rainfall to restore the lakes or cancel watering restrictions, but thunderstorms last weekend were welcomed by gardeners all over North Texas. The air cleared, we had bluer skies than we've had in a while. It almost looked like early spring ;-)

Our gardens needed the rain -- and we could use a lot more. Watering restrictions are still in place in many local communities, so please continue to supplement your irrigation schedule with hand-watering, as necessary. Don't forget to hydrate yourself, as well.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Simple pleasures

As our season winds down, the knots in my stomach and muscles are beginning to relax. Sometimes spring consumes every aspect of our life, and we do not make time for exercise, relaxation, or personal interests. Gardening professionally, I assure you, is entirely different from gardening as a hobby. It's not always zen-like and therapeutic; there are more details to coordinate than meets the eye. Fortunately we love what we do...

So as we're preparing for our summer winding down I've begun to take time to look around. Literally. During the height of spring I'm focused on the road ahead of me but my mind is making to-do lists and checking off completed items. My mind races all day, into the night, and only now have I noticed changes around me. Things like, the new building being erected at Custer and Parker -- is that a Home Depot? I remember when I was a kid there was a grocery store where the World Gymnastics headquarters is located now. Hirsch's meats was just to the east of the Safeway store, then a drug store, Sassafras (women's clothing store), and the studio where I took dance lessons was upstairs and to the right. Upstairs and to the left was the chiropractor's office where my mom went for adjustments occasionally. Years later I worked for a company that set up office a few doors down from the dance studio which had changed ownership multiple times. Downstairs, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings went on all day and into the evening. Over 25 years I have been connected to products and services offered by various companies located in that shopping center.

Most of the center was demolished earlier this year -- in winter, maybe? I remember driving past that intersection at various stages of the tear-down. The old Woolco building, which eventually became Payless Cashways, Super 1 Foods and Rainbow Foods over the years, was gone. I felt a bit nostalgic, odd that a building I never really paid much attention would evoke such a feeling. So many changes have occurred over the years in our community and I guess part of me wondered where the time had gone. (I sound like an oldtimer.)

Anyway, another change I've noticed has brought me great satisfaction. Entrances and commons areas in many local subdivisions are rapidly transitioning to native and adaptable plantings. A popular plant this year seems to be Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea), which is native right here to the Blackland Prairie. Everywhere, I see spikes of blue. Gregg's Sage (Salvia greggii) has become popular among landscapers, especially as the availability of colors expands. Grasses -- the backbone of any landscape on the Blackland Prairie -- are popping up in these gardens, as well. Mostly there are several species of Miscanthus, a non-native but very adaptable. We'd like to see more Little Bluestem, Big Muhly and Gulf Muhly, to name a few, incorporated into these areas.

The deconstruction of the shopping center brought back memories of my childhood and its rebirth represents our community's ideas about 'progress.' Just as that intersection is getting a facelift, so are the HOA areas. They are progressing, they are using more and more native plants. In the midst of a drought and mandatory watering restrictions, it is imperative that we convert our landscapes to plants that will survive whatever nature throws at us. More people are beginning to understand this, and this, quite simply, pleases me.

Friday, June 09, 2006

URGENT: Mandatory watering restrictions

No rain. Lakes are dropping rapidly. Municipalities all over North Texas have implemented mandatory watering restrictions this summer. Some went into effect June 1st; Plano's policy kicks in June 19th. Check with your city's utilities department for your community's specific policy.

So what does this mean for you? A little extra effort. Frisco residents, for example, are permitted to water 1-inch-per-week via their in-ground irrigation system beginning June 1st. This means residents must hand-water to supplement their irrigation system.

In an effort to assist our customers and prospective clients, we will list tips here that will help to keep your plants hydrated this summer. Follow this plan whether your garden is well-established or brand-spanking-new. This plan should be followed until Labor Day, when restrictions are likely to be lifted.
  • Add mulch. Not just any mulch, mind you. We use exclusively Fine Shredded Hardwood Mulch from Living Earth Technologies. There are other good brands: one sold through Home Depot and Lowe's called "Black Diamond" and Plano Pure's hardwood mulch. Whatever the brand, just be sure it's not cedar or cypress mulch, or pine bark nuggets. The Living Earth product retains moisture which will help your plants stay hydrated in summer, insulated in winter. However, we prefer it because it also feeds the soil as it decomposes.
  • Test soil surrounding your plants. Insert your index finger approximately 2-3" into the soil. Is it wet or dry? If wet, don't water. Test each day until the soil is dry, then proceed to the next step.
  • Deep-root water each plant individually. Lay a garden hose at the base of the first plant and turn the faucet until water streams lightly from the hose. Allow the water to permeate the soil and root ball for 20-30 seconds, then move your hose to the next plant. Repeat this step for every plant in your garden, young or mature. Even well-established plants will be affected by lack of rain and irrigation, so it's important to protect your investment. Deep-root watering will encourage roots to grow downward in their search for moisture. If you water on the surface only you are training the roots to grow outward, creating a shallow root system which is weaker than a deep-root system.
  • Operate your irrigation system once-per-week. Ideally you will do this manually, but if you must, set your system to automatically spray one time, up to 1-inch-per-week. Check with your lawn maintenance company, irrigation installer, or irrigation box manufacturer for instructions on managing your system.
  • Cross your fingers! Perhaps we will have rain again someday, returning lakes to their normal levels and eliminating water restrictions. When that happens, test the soil before you resume your watering regimen.

Remember, even low-maintenance gardens and landscapes need extra attention this summer. It might seem at times you are working too hard to keep plants hydrated but if you help them during this unusual season, they will be stronger and more likely to survive future exceptional weather. And you will be protecting your investment!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sneak Peek at a Few Upcoming Changes

Several readers have asked about these impending changes I've mentioned in previous posts. Most I can't speak about yet, not for legal reasons (LOL). It's a time issue, really. David is out on jobsites all day, I'm split between office, meetings, plant pickups and dropoffs -- we're not in the same place at the same time. So, frankly, we won't finalize these changes until July. However...

One big change you will see is the layout of our website. Over the past three years it has morphed and evolved, sometimes reverted in terms of complexity. As the other changes fall into place our website will reflect them. And finally we will upload new photos. Several of them. We'll also have an online store via eBay to tempt you native plant aficionados. Information related to us, our services, and our projects will be easy to find -- not buried under a bunch of greenspeak in our blog. The blog will remain, as it has become an essential element of our 'site. I'm always impressed and awed by its popularity, though I don't know exactly who is reading. Whoever you are, David and I appreciate your continued interest in and support of us and our mission.

Another change relates to scheduling. We will be scaling back some of our services to focus on others that support our mission more directly. Of course, we wish we could be all things to all people, but that would be impossible. The great thing is, we have cultivated (nice gardening reference, eh?) relationships with other companies who will supplement our efforts. You will still receive superior products and services that you have come to appreciate.

In July we will make final tweaks and changes and post them here. Actually, to the new website. Stay tuned...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Back to Work

So we're back, y'all.

While we were away, we tried to focus more on kayaking than plants, but if you know us, that was short-lived. After a family event in Houston we made the trek to Corpus Christi for a quick 3-day camping/kayaking trip. Usually we set up directly on the Gulf-side beach, but the sand was too powdery, too soft for others in our party to drive on without 4-wheel drive. The wind was brutally strong, too. Instead, we explored the bayside at Bird Island Basin, arguably the best windsurfing spot on the continent (or so we were told.)

Weather conditions were perfect: sunny, warm, slightly breezy, calm waters. Of course, the windsurfers were a bit disappointed but we kayakers were stoked. Camping accommodations are primitive and, being part of the Padre Island National Seashore, the natural beauty is almost pristine. As far as the eye can see there are only native vegetation, dunes and the Laguna Madre.

What are some of the native plants, you might ask? One of my favorites is Sea Oxe Eye, or Borrichia frutescens. It looks like a mini-sunflower with silver foliage. So cute. Like our ecoregion, the Texas Gulf Coast is home to Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella.) Grasses, too, line the coastal areas and sway gently in the breeze (or lay flat in the brutal wind!) Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata) are indicator species of coastal areas, and look very similar to Inland Seaoats (Chasmanthium latifolium) which find their natural distribution right here on the Blackland Prairie, among other places.

Our vacation over, today we're returning calls, emails and working on a few designs. Beginning tomorrow through the next few weeks we will be finishing up a few large installation projects (and one small one) before we transition into 'design season' which kicks off officially the last week in June. Already we're meeting with several new design clients next week...I'll post updates to our availability as things change. Until then...stay cool and be well.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Schedule Snapshot

Thanks to everyone who made it out this morning to our last-minute, makeshift Plant Stand at Faith Lutheran Church. We especially appreciate Ben & Amy, and all the fine people of FLC in East Plano, for allowing us to use their parking lot. Everything was sold -- great way to officially end residential installations for spring.

This will be my last post for a short while. Our office will be closed starting now (actually, as soon as I 'publish post') until Monday, June 5th. We will not be checking messages or emails, but will respond ASAP after the 5th. Speaking of the 5th...we start another project for Sandlin Homes that week, and will complete 2-3 more in following weeks. As those conclude, so will our commercial installations for spring.

What about summer?

June is booked solid with these final installations, as well as several designs and consultations. The only new clients we could take on in June are consultation only meetings, and they would need to be scheduled for late June.

July is full, as well. No appointments available for any services.

In August we could take on 5 new client designs, 10-12 new client consultation only appointments. September marks the return of installation season, and we're making changes to our availability for those projects. Actually, we will be making a lot of changes around the Nativedave camp and will make announcements regarding those changes sometime in July. Believe me, there are a lot of exciting things going on in the background.

So, as the Germans say, 'Bis bald.' En Mexico se dice, 'Hasta luego.' But around here, it's just 'see ya soon.' Have a safe and happy Memorial Day, everybody. We'll be back in a jiffy.

On our way...

We're leaving in a few moments for Faith Lutheran Church in East Plano. We'll be set up and ready for you by 8:30 -- hope to see you there. Prices are as follows:

1in plant = $1
4in = $3
1g = $5 (except Yellow Bells ($3) and Dwarf Palmetto ($10))
3/5g = $15

Please pay with cash only -- thanks!

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Come adopt our little orphaned plants this Saturday, May 27th, 8:30am until we sell out. First come, first served. We will set up in the parking lot at:
Faith Lutheran Church
1701 E. Park Blvd
Plano, 75074
Several sizes will be available, from 1" plants to 3g. Some species include Texas Betony, Rock Rose, Nearly Wild Rose, Orange Zexmenia, Blackfoot Daisy, and several others. We have a variety of plants, some need full sun, some part shade; we can help you choose the best plant for your garden. Remember, these are leftovers from installation projects so we might only have 1 of a particular species. Then again, we might have 15 or more! Consider it more of a swap meet than a nursery...Hope to see you there. Folsom the puppy will be there, too.
UPDATE: We have Texas Sundrops (Calylophus)!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Keeping One's Cool in the Heat

The horticulture industry operates on a feast-or-famine schedule. During certain months life speeds past at lightning speed, and we wake up one day to the realization that three months have morphed into one long day. Other times, our industry is in its down-time. In this part of the country our down-time -- our 'famine' -- doesn't last very long, our 'feast' seems to last an eternity. In times of feasting, it's not uncommon for even the nicest person in our industry to become a bit cranky. Come on, spring and fall especially, we don't sleep much, we definitely don't eat regularly, and sleep? What's that? So this spring I have been on a mission to discover a way to survive the unending days and the heat, to inspire others to raise the bar and imbue our industry with respect and integrity.

As hard as I've tried, I haven't mastered the art of maintaining a personal life while operating a small business. I don't make time, I don't get the privilege of spending time with loved ones, or exercising, or reading something just for pleasure. Certain times of the year all of our energy is focused on project after project. We are thrilled to get to do what we love, but even the most enthusiastic person needs to wind down now and then...

So as we strive to learn to 'balance' our personal with our professional life, I found that specific music helps tremendously. Don't laugh (Dusty, I'm talking to you) but Jimmy Buffett music is the key to reducing stress in one's life. Whether online at or on Sirius Ch. 31, one can never feel sad or stressed or angry when listening to Buffett and other island-style music. In fact, I'm listening online as I write this...Regardless of your musical preferences, Buffett's ability to tap into your inner dreamer will bring a smile to your face.

The other discovery I've made is...pets bring us back to Earth. Since Folsom has become part of our family I've found I don't worry about things as much. I seem to be much less, I don't know, anal retentive? I'm more interested in getting home to see my dog than going out to dinner. Problem? Not in my opinion...

Lastly, allow yourself at least one day (more if you can stomach it) per week to deviate from any 'routine' you might follow (e.g. diet, etc.) Allow yourself to splurge once in a while on comfort foods. The past week, for some oddball reason, I've been addicted to french fries. And next week, I'll get the chance to dine on my all-time favorite Sweet Potato Fries dipped in Blue Cheese dressing. Sinful. But very very necessary to keeping one's cool in the heat.

'Plant stand' might be a reality

I'm working on having a place to sell off our excess native plants at a fraction of retail -- your gain! As soon as I have the info confirmed I'll post it here, so please keep checking back. Meanwhile, we still have loads of Mexican Hat available on eBay, as well as Zexmenia and Turk's Cap (both red and white blooms.) For our local customers I'll do something special...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lots of plants, and a question

We have several plants that were unused in recent projects. Some Texas Betony, a Texas Star Hibiscus, Frogfruit, Turk's Cap, several others. They need a good home. I would upload them to eBay but I already have enough inventory to manage there for the moment. So...if you're interested in adopting any of these plants, we're interested in making you a deal. Currently we don't have a physical storefront, which leads me to my question: anybody have a suggestion about setting up a temporary plant stand on short notice? I need to set up someplace and allow people to come to me to buy these plants...and I need to do this by Saturday! If your garden club is meeting this week and would like to pick up some beautiful native plants for a fraction of retail prices, or if you're having a garden party or have other ideas, please contact me ASAP. I'm not opposed to parking our truck and trailer on a street corner...

Get Your Blackfoot Daisy!

Looking for a low-growing perennial that prefers heat, drought, and a lot of neglect? Blackfoot Daisy fits the bill. Its bright white blooms emit a honey fragrance. This is a do-nothing-to-me plant, and is perfect for planting beds, especially in light of impending water restrictions. A great performer year after year, Blackfoot Daisy is native to midwestern prairies of the US, including Texas' Blackland Prairie. Not sure you want to spend the usual $6-9 per plant? Try a $1.75 seedling! We have 20 available on ebay and the auction is ending early this morning. Seller ID is nativedave2001!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Welcome to our new blog!

The other blog has limited capabilities. We want to share pics and other cool stuff here, so we're launching this 'new blog.' Would love your feedback...enjoy!