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.