Sunday, November 30, 2008

Soul Cultivation

Gardening is a popular hobby. It fulfills aesthetic needs, but also physical, mental and spiritual goals. I've often heard gardeners describe the experience as "therapeutic." And I can't help but agree. This morning I harvested basil seeds (both sweet green as well as purple) while David potted up some "rescued" plants he saved from a vacant lot slated for clearing. For a time, at least, we shifted our energy from grieving to planning our winter and even next spring's garden. Literally and metaphorically we are all part of the ongoing cycle of life and death. As one "specimen" reaches the end of its cycle, another seedling emerges. Fresh, new and optimistic. We have spent all morning pruning and watering and preparing for our garden's future. We've flexed our muscles, our minds and our souls.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Things to be Thankful For

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, yesterday I traced our hands to make Turkey Hand Decorations. I loved making them when I was a little girl; I've waited a long time to be able to make them with my own child. As my pencil skirted the edges of Sage's little fingers, I felt my eyes well up with tears of happiness. Happiness, because I have the opportunity to share this simple, yet meaningful tradition with my wise little wildflower. Today we will start a new tradition: a Thanksgiving tree! (

2008 has been a year of extremes for us, and likely to some of you. Sage's birth in January ushered in an era of joy I could never have imagined. Everything seems better with her in our life. Even the economic crisis(es, depending on your perspective) seem(s) palatable, because at the end of the day, I look into the innocent eyes of a child, full of wonder and hope about her world. One smile from her can erase any stress the market inflicts. Many people fear losing their job, their home, their credit rating, and in a 'normal' year, I suppose I would, too. But I have not worried, just keep plugging away. And smiling...and my positive outlook has attracted two new projects to us. (At least that's what I keep telling myself. ;-) We also lost a parent -- such grief I could never have imagined. Sage has kept us smiling through our tears.

So 2009, we feel hopeful, will bring about many positive changes. David plans to focus more on online services -- consultation as well as design. I will spend most of my time writing and preparing for speaking engagements. And some other services are being planned, as well. Official announcements should be ready just after the new year.

This has been an exhausting year, but overall I'm thankful for 2008. I'm healthy, have a dynamite family, a fulfilling career, and hope. Lots and lots of hope. Happy Thanksgiving; here's to hope!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Custom Furniture -- Local Craftsman!

Looking for a custom addition to your furniture collection? Consider an heirloom piece by Mike. He's in Plano and can be commissioned to create unique items, from cribs (see pic of the one he built for Sage) to headboards to shelves to planters, and more. He can also rework your existing pieces. Perfect for holiday gifts, or other special occasions. Email or call to see his portfolio. 972.491.1575 or Superior craftsmanship. Ask about his creations made from repurposed materials!

Fall Summary

Our online services are steadily gaining popularity. Don't forget: only 6 weeks left on our 20% discount offer! The discount applies to all online services. Contact us for more information...think about gifting your loved ones this holiday season with an online consultation or design with NativeDave!

Dallas/Ft Worth/Denton's economy, fortunately, is the strongest market in the nation. Whereas many small businesses in other parts of the country (and world, for that matter) have been squeezed out of business, our little mom-and-pop is still doing fine. To be sure, this is the slowest fall season we can remember. With a new baby and the loss of one of our parents, however, the slower pace has been a blessing. We are grateful to have been able to spend time with our family this year during times of joy as well as sorrow.

As always, we appreciate your business, friendship and camaraderie. Together, we are conserving, preserving, restoring and celebrating Texas' natural beauty.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Event cancellation

We will not be participating in this weekend's Bayfest (Corpus Christi) due to a family emergency. Please look for us next year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Services and Fees (Summary)

As we are updating our website and blogs, I thought I would post a summary of services and fees. Look for upcoming posts with more information about each service.

Consultation, Notes Only -- One hour meeting with Native Dave. No sketching, just suggestions. Ideal for clients pleased with the layout of their existing landscape but who want ideas for sustainable enhancements. Applicable to all types and sizes of properties. Onsite: $150. Online: $75.

Consultation, Notes and Sketch -- 1.5-2 hour meeting with Native Dave. Intended for front or back yard only, or very small spaces. Sketch (one rendition), list of plants and materials (including common and botanical names, sizes and quantities), and referrals to landscape installers. Applicable to suburban residential projects (less than 1/3 acre), front or back yard only; or to very small commons areas, e.g. subdivision entryways, pool areas, container gardens in front of commercial properties. Onsite: $225 (1.5 hour), $300 (2 hours). Online: $150 and $225, respectively.

Design -- One hour pre-design meeting, one hour follow-up meeting. Professional planting plan (24x36", to scale), laminated copy of planting plan (11x17", not to scale), list of plants and materials (including common and botanical names, sizes and quantities), care and maintenance instructions, referrals to landscape installers. Applicable to all types and sizes of properties. Onsite: Fee is determined by the size and complexity of your project, but most range $600-900. Online: $300 (front only), $400 (back only) and $600 (entire property).

Speakers' Fees -- 30 to 60-minute programs, driving time within Dallas/Ft. Worth/Denton. Fee: minimum of $150. Suggested topics: sustainable landscape, Texas native plants, waterwise landscape, living green, and related topics. Please call to discuss specifics.

Writers' Fees -- Articles, blog posts, etc. Fee: minimum of $150. Please call to discuss specifics.

Plant Brokering -- Let us help you locate those hard-to-find native plants. Fees and other details coming soon.

Photography Services -- Purchase one of our prints or commission a special order. Fees and other details coming soon.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Don't Mean to Confuse

We're changing formats here so we can (yes yes, FINALLY) upload our massive portfolio and make updates simpler. We're also streamlining information about us, our experiences, services and fees -- really, everything in the NativeDave universe. We want to make the site more informational and interactive. Clean lines. More logical organization (but first the office...grr.) Please check back often! Some exciting announcements to come, as well.

Design Package -- Residences on Acreage -- $900+

This service applies to all residential properties larger than 1/3-acre and commercial, educational and industrial properties.

  • One, one-hour pre-design meeting, onsite
  • 24x36" professional planting plan, to scale
  • 11x17" laminated copy of planting plan, not to scale
  • List of recommended plants and materials (common and botanical names, sizes and quantities)
  • Care and maintenance instructions
  • Recommended vendors and installers (if applicable)
  • One, one-hour post-design meeting, onsite

To begin your design we must have access to (a legible, current copy of) your survey or plat plan and completed new client questionnaire.

Design Package -- Suburban Residences -- $600+

Suburban residential properties, for our purposes, are defined as less than 1/3-acre. Design packages include:
  • One, one-hour pre-design meeting, onsite
  • 24x36" professional planting plan, to scale
  • 11x17" laminated copy of planting plan, not to scale
  • List of recommended plants and materials (common and botanical names, sizes and quantities)
  • Care and maintenance instructions
  • Recommended vendors and installers (if applicable)
  • One, one-hour post-design meeting, onsite

To begin your design we must have access to (a legible, current copy of) your survey or plat plan and completed new client questionnaire.

Notes and Sketch Consultation -- $225-300

Intended for just the front OR back yard of a suburban residential project (less than 1/3 acre), our sketch is useful enough to contractors and do-it-yourselfers, alike. NativeDave will meet with you onsite at your property for 1.5-2 hours. He will create a custom sketch and list of plants and materials for your project. Fees: $225 (1.5 hrs), $300 (2 hrs.)

Notes Only Consultation -- $150

Wanna pick NativeDave's brain? This one-hour consultation, onsite at your property, might be for you. No sketches, just walking-and-talking and sharing ideas. Fee: $150.

Watch us grow

We will be expanding our services and offering new ones soon. Meanwhile, our website and blogs might look a little funky at times. The end results will be worth the wait...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Evil Sunflowers

Poor sunflowers. They have been demonized by the lawn chemical industry. The public has been tricked into believing sunflowers are WEEDS. Some species, I agree, can look a little leggy. But there are plentiful varieties loaded with ornamental value. Oversized blooms. Silver-foliage. Compact. One of my favorites native to the Gulf Coast is Dune Sunflower, or Helianthus debilis. The town of Seaside, Florida, has used this low-growing perennial in median plantings as a companion to Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa.) Another terrific co-planting would be Dune Sunflower and Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris.)

On the Blackland Prairie, my favorite sunflower is Maximillian Sunflower, or Helianthus maximiliani. It sprawls, so be sure to contain it (if you live in a suburban residence.) This plant is best used in projects on acreage in restoration areas.

Check with for species of Helianthus native to your region. All are not only beautiful, but excellent plants for conserving water, preserving resources, providing food for wildlife, curbing maintenance tasks, and celebrating local natural beauty. Just ask the state of Kansas (it's their state flower) or the nation of France (their fields of sunflowers attract tourists.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Landscaping with pets

We love our dog, too! Never would we intentionally recommend a plant that would be harmful to any animals, especially domestic cats and dogs. But if you look up plant toxicity information you will find many landscape plants are considered "toxic." That does not mean all landscape plants will kill your pets (or you.) Toxic might refer to a rash or to vomiting, or, yes, even death. Do your research but also turn on your critical thinking cap.

One tree we often include in our designs is Eve's Necklace (Sophora affinis.) It's native to North Central Texas, stands about as tall and wide as Crape Myrtle, and is tough as steel. You might be familiar with the glorious Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) native to Central Texas. Many a spring morning I was guided by its intoxicating sweet fragrance as I walked through campus in San Marcos. (Pardon the digression.) Eve's Necklace represents the best of Texas' natural beauty. It's durable and versatile: Eve's Necklace grows well in sun or shade, and prefers little-on-the-dry-side soil along rocky creekside embankments. Plant any time of year but late fall or winter is best. Water it in, hand-water a couple of times per week, and gradually scale back to 1" per week. By year two Eve's Necklace should survive on ambient rainfall.

Eve's Necklace puts on a lovely display in early spring. Its pink blooms smell heavenly. Black seedpods that look very much like necklaces dangle from its limbs much of the year. These seedpods may cause digestive problems if ingested but we will continue to include them in our designs. It's unlikely that we or our pets could reach our mouths 6+ feet into the air to nibble on a black seedpod necklace.

If you have a dog that digs or likes to lie on the cool foliage, don't use tender plants. Instead of planting shrubs or perennials in planting beds, incorporate pottery into the beds and fill them with colorful annuals and perennials. If your pet is losing his eyesight, avoid prickly plants like yucca, agave or cactus. If your pet runs along the fence, integrate the pathway into your landscape. Believe me, it's easier to modify the landscape to accommodate your pet than the other way around.

Free Water-Wise Landscaping Classes

Quoted from City of Dallas email notification:

"What Is Water-Wise Landscaping?
Water-Wise landscaping is quality landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment. It has also been called Xeriscape or common-sense landscaping.

Learn all about it at our free seminars.
Plan now to attend one or both of our free seminars on Saturday, September 20 at Mountain View College, 4849 W. Illinois Ave., Dallas 75211. The seminars will be held in Room W171 in the West Building, first level. Please go to the Mountain View College website at http://www.mountainviewcollege.eduor call 214-860-8680 for directions. Local Water-Wise landscaping expert and author Bonnie Reese will be the speaker at both sessions.

Making a reservation
Register for the seminars online at in the comment/question section. Let us know which seminar you would like to attend, and how many will be attending in your group. You may also register by calling us at 214-670-3155. Seminars co-sponsored by City of Dallas Water Utilities and Mountain View College.

Seminars are presented in English

Water-Wise Landscape Design 101
Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008 • 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The common denominator in all beautiful landscapes is a good design. This informative program teaches the basics of good landscape design with an emphasis on how to create a beautiful landscape that requires little or no supplemental watering and helps prevent water pollution.

Fantastic Plants for North Texas
Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008 • 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Illustrated with colorful slides, this presentation focuses only on quality native and adapted plants that are recommended for and easily available in this area. Learn when, where and how to plant each of the recommended plants, their size and height at maturity, seasonal color, texture and more. This program includes perennials, turf grasses, shrubs, vines, ground covers, shade trees and ornamental trees."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Why Corpus Christi?

Austin is Texas' most progressive city. It is our state capitol and hotbed for greenbuilding. Austin is a liberal town straddling I-35, the veritable division between conservative, populist West Texans and conservative, Deep South-traditional East Texans. Many of the larger native plant growers are located in Austin. University of Texas recently acquired the Wildflower Center (aka Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, National Wildflower Research Center, etc.) The university has committed to continuing Lady Bird's mission to beautify the world using local native plants, but they have also enlarged their scope to promote sustainability in general. They have also added a sustainability institute, if you will, to add a sort-of green element to various degree programs, including landscape architecture. (Way to go!)

So, as we also broaden our scope to promote sustainability throughout Texas, why would we not choose Austin as our next market? In a way, we are already there. In 2005 we designed and installed a 1-acre project located in Lockhart, about 35 miles southeast of Austin. Schroeder Park represents various grasses and perennials native to the southern tip of the Blackland Prairie. We also incorporated native species into an existing landscape for Benchmark Insurance in San Marcos, just 28 miles south of Austin. For now, however, we will focus on online designs for prospective clients in the Austin area.

Corpus Christi might seem an out-of-left-field choice. I mean, certainly there are larger markets where our message might be more readily received. Houston, San Antonio, and especially chronically drought-stricken El Paso would seem more lucrative. To be sure, Corpus Christi is a smaller city. And historically speaking, Corpus has not been considered progressive or earth-friendly, exactly. But there are so many changes going on (all over the state, really), after much observation and analysis, it just makes sense to take the Native Dave message to the Coastal Bend.

Developments inspired by the new urbanism of Seaside, Florida, (where we lived and worked 2002-03) are springing up all along the coast. Cinnamon Shore and Newport Beach, just outside of Corpus Christi and near Port Aransas, strive to invite indoors the natural beauty outdoors. One of the architects of these communities, Mark Schnell (, consulted with us to propose a native plant palette. Although many non-native species eventually were chosen in lieu of the natives, we are encouraged that sustainable development is finally popping up on the Texas Coast. As in other parts of our state, lack of access to native plants and landscape professionals with knowledge of native plants, continue to keep sustainable development out of the mainstream. A good number of the homes in these Seaside-esque communities are being purchased by people in Austin, where native plants and sustainability are mainstream.

Padre Island National Seashore is located in Corpus Christi (and nowhere near the spring break haven of South Padre Island, by the way.) If you have the desire, and a four-wheel drive vehicle, you can drive up to 60 miles along this mostly wild and undeveloped barrier island. Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata), Woolly Stemodia (Stemodia tomentosa), and Native Purslane (Portulaca spp.) are just a few of the indigenous plant species found on The Island. There are also coyotes, deer and scores of bird species, too. Incidentally, this area of Texas ranks #1 in the US in terms of diversity of bird species -- some residents, some migrants. Ask any bird aficianado about Rockport or Bird Island Basin.

South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, formerly the Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens, has committed itself to "conserving, preserving, displaying, and interpreting native and adapted flora and fauna of South Texas for area residents and visitors alike." The Gardens have joined forces with Texas State Aquarium to promote conservation and environmental education. Michael Womack, executive director of the botanical gardens, summed it up best: "What we do on the land affects the sea."

Indeed, what we do in our landscapes affects all of our waterways, from White Rock Creek in Plano to the Trinity River Basin to the Gulf of Mexico, and beyond. Many green-minded folks are purchasing vacation homes near Corpus Christi. Tourism depends on conservation and preservation of Nature, including sources of food and shelter for native and migratory birds. Native plants and sustainable initiatives are beginning to emerge, not just in the centers for education, but among mainstream folks, like you and me. Only a couple of landscape professionals in Corpus Christi have knowledge of and experience with native plants, and locating the plants is still inconvenient. The time is right to conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate the Coastal Bend of Texas.

Updated Meeting Schedule

We have set meeting dates for the rest of the summer and into fall. We are available to meet:
Dallas/Ft Worth/Denton
Friday, August 22nd, at 3pm
Friday, September 12th, at noon or 3pm
Saturday, September 13th, at 9am or noon
Friday, October 10th, at 9am, noon or 3pm
Saturday, October 11th, at 9am, noon or 3pm
November and December dates are still pending.

Corpus Christi area
Monday, September 29th, at 9am, noon or 3pm
Tuesday, September 30th, at 9am, noon or 3pm
Friday, November 7th, at 9am, noon or 3pm
October and December dates are still pending.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Hot Enough For Ya

Today's temps might reach 109. What the heck? Hardly livable conditions, I tell ya. And it doesn't help matters when some wisecracker asks if it's "hot enough for ya." Anybody ever answer, "why no, it's not. I'm Satan, I need 130, 135, minimum"? Come on. We all know it's hot, we all know the heat is relentless. We don't need to be assaulted with silly questions.

What we need is a diversion. That's it, something to take our minds off the baking heat. Something that gives us the illusion that it's cooler than it really is. Let's talk about shade-loving natives.

Take a walk along creeks or shady natural areas (they are still around, I promise) and you'll find abundant waterwise, colorful, low-maintenance plant life. Golden Groundsel (Senecio obovatus) -- one of our favorites -- is a low-growing perennial with dark green foliage and delicate yellow blooms. It's a challenge to find in retail nurseries but a worthwhile treasure hunt. Petal Pusher's Garden Emporium in Cedar Hill grows it onsite. I think they have a 3-tray maximum limit on this plant.

Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohioensis) has a thin, strappy leaf and blue-to-purple bloom. Its foliage looks sort-of like a small iris. Sort of. Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum, formerly Eupatorium coelestinum) is another great blue-blooming plant for shade. One word of caution, however. If your planting areas already over-planted, or if you like a more structured look, you won't like the Mistflower. It tends to ramble -- which is great for me, but not for everyone. Lyre Leaf Sage (which I've mentioned in previous posts) also has a blue bloom, and some cultivars have maroon-to-dark purple foliage.

Scarlet Sage, or Tropical Sage (Salvia coccinea) is a terrific red-blooming plant. Technically it's categorized as an annual for our area. It will, however, readily re-seed itself. Simply gorgeous plant, Scarlet Sage works well in sun or shade. Magic Lily (Lycoris radiata) also has a red bloom, and like Golden Groundsel, is sometimes difficult to find in retail nurseries. On occasion I have found it in 1-gallon at a wholesale nursery, or just the bulb through a wholesale grower.

Of course, you can't go wrong with Crinum Lily (Crinum americanum) or Texas Spider Lily (Hymenocallis liriosme). Tropical-looking strappy leaves with lightly fragrant white blooms. Perfect for sun or shade.

There are many more species of native plants growing in our local natural areas. You just have to get out and take a look. Take inspiration from nature before you landscape your home. You will discover plants that really work in our area. Besides, you'll finally get that exercise you've been talking about.

New market!

Over the past year I've hinted about taking our rebellious by Nature message to other markets. A few of you guessed our first secondary market would be Austin, others thought it would be Destin, Florida, area. In a way, both are correct: we already offer online designs and consultations across Texas and along the Gulf Coast. But now, for the first time, we will be offering onsite meetings in the Corpus Christi area. That means, we will continue to meet with clients in Dallas-Ft. Worth one or two weekends per month. At least once per month -- or perhaps once per quarter, initially -- we will hold meetings in Corpus Christi/N. Padre Island/Mustang Island/Port Aransas. Our first Corpus area event will be Bayfest on Saturday and Sunday, September 27th and 28th. If you are in the area, drop by and visit with us in the Adventure Tent. More news soon!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

August availability

August date for onsite meetings in Dallas/Ft. Worth: Friday, August 22nd. If this date is inconvenient we would like to suggest our online design option. Please contact us for more information at

September dates will be announced soon. Most likely our Dallas/Ft. Worth meetings will be held on Friday, September 12th. Also in September we will kick off our first event in a new market: Bayfest in Corpus Christi!

Monday, July 21, 2008

What's Up: Crinum americanum

So many natives are blooming right now! Have you noticed Crinum Lily? It's bloom, white to reddish pink, emits a light, delicate fragrance. The strappy leaves look like those of Amaryllis. Crinum looks a little tropical, but it's actually native to the eastern half of Texas all the way to the Atlantic Coast. Successful in both sun and shade, and dry or moist soil, Crinum adapts well to existing conditions. In sun, it tends to grow more quickly and upright -- almost cylindrical. In shade, however, it stays closer to the ground, more round and squatty. Superb performing summer-blooming perennial.

All lilies are not made equally for our climatic conditions, so be sure you get the right plant when looking for Crinum Lily. Its botanical name is Crinum americanum, and you can find them in 1- or 3-gallon size at Shades of Green Nursery in Frisco. Other nurseries that carry natives are: Rohde's in Garland, North Haven in Dallas, Petal Pusher's in Cedar Hill and Green Mama's in North Richland Hills.

Interview for the Weather Channel's Forecast Earth

Taking the Lawn View article on Weather Channel's website, Forecast Earth section, includes an interview with us about waterwise landscaping:

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Good stewards

Have you seen the ongoing project at Prairie Creek Baptist Church in Plano? (Pics will be posted soon, I hope.) We completed several small sketches for The Susans (church volunteers, gardening goddesses.) They have implemented our suggestions admirably. Together with their volunteers, The Susans have transformed the grounds at Prairie Creek to consume less water, save money spent on maintenance, and reflect the natural beauty of the Blackland Prairie. Giant Coneflower and Henry Duelberg Sage ABOUND in the prairie restoration area (facing south along W 15th Street.) There are also several species of grasses, including Sideoats Grama, our state grass. On the north side of the building are Pale Leaf Yucca (endemic to North Central Texas) and Coralberry, and other plants native RIGHT HERE.

The folks at Prairie Creek Baptist have won my heart with their dedication to become better stewards of the planet. Impressive.

New month, new thoughts

Flip the calendar to July. Yes, we have a holiday this week. Happy Fourth of July, y'all. Already our schedule for onsite meetings is nearly full. (See post below.) Lots of interest for August, already. Amazing. Before 2006, these were two of our slowest months. Before 2006, we spent most of July wrapping up spring and preparing for fall, and vacationing in August. Since then, The Drought put our expertise (native plants) in the limelight, generating exponentially greater interest in our knowledge and experience. Now we're busy in July and August. Our vacations repeatedly get postponed. Spring seems to linger...

And this is good. More people wanting our help means a) they are becoming more enlightened about sustainable living (in this case, gardening), b) they have been referred by ecstatic clients, and c) they see the value in the services we offer. We are no longer a niche business. Everyone can benefit from smarter -- and more eco-friendly -- landscape choices.

Because sustainability is becoming more mainstream, more commonly understood, we can begin to raise the level of instruction of our presentations. We can get into more sophisticated, esoteric discussions. New topics, more in-depth analyses. More cross-disciplinary. We can teach a broader audience ways to apply sustainable practices to their everyday routines. Exciting.

Look for various 'green living' presentation topics in '09! Try to stay cool...

July Schedule Updates

We have one, maybe two, available appointments 7/23-7/24 for onsite services in Dallas-Ft. Worth. Our August schedule will be announced soon. If you are unable to coordinate your schedule with ours, however, we invite you to consider our online services. You will receive same product, same level of service as the onsite options, except we "meet" with you by email and phone instead of in-person. Further, you will save 30-50% by choosing the online option.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sage Says, Volume One: Lyre Leaf Sage

Lyre Leaf Sage
Salvia lyrata

Looking for something with colorful foliage, to bloom in shady areas? Lyre Leaf Sage has reddish to maroon leaves and pale blue blooms in early- to mid-spring. This low-growing perennial grows well in sun or shade, and often will reseed. Bargain! Multiple plants for the price of one! Lyre Leaf Sage is native to Texas, east to the Carolinas, north to New York. In our area it prefers drier conditions. Learn more at, and search for "scientific name", salvia lyrata.

Sustainable, the Allen Way

Last Saturday -- in case you missed it -- was part two of City of Allen's Sustainable Landscape series. David was their guest speaker. His topic? Sustainable Design! About 30 folks turned out, I was told. (I was home caring for Salvia ilfreyanii, aka Sage Ilfrey. ;-) Part three is coming up mid-July.

Part III – Choosing Plant Material for Sustainability (perennials, shrubs, and trees)
Saturday, July 19, 2008, 10 AM to Noon
Guest Speaker: Brice Creelman, Shades of Green

Hope you'll be there!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fed Up!

We have experienced NUMEROUS losses of connectivity to email and internet services recently. The problems do not lie within our computers or network configuration. Once again, our webhosting company is having troubles. De ja vu. So...we have set up a NEW email address. Please use for all correspondence. The info address is still active -- although it's been inaccessible for more than 24 hrs as of this moment. As soon as it's accessible again all messages to that address will be forwarded to the new gmail one.

If you have sent a message anytime in the past month and still have not received a reply, please resend to the gmail address. I will respond almost instantaneously...;-)

Sorry for the inconvenience, y'all. Plant on.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Whether drought or deluge, natives are best

Summer officially arrives next Saturday. What does that mean to Texans? In a normal year, not much. Usually at this time of year it's already been hot for a while. Last year, spring and summer were cooler than normal and we had near-record rainfall. The year before, it seems we had 12 months of heat without much rain (although I know I'm exaggerating...a little.) 2006 was the year of the drought; 2007, the year of the deluge. 2008 is shaping up to be the year of the downturn (as in, economic.) In all three cases, and more, native plants are the best choice for your garden/landscape. And why is that?

During The Drought, it suddenly became fashionable (and practical) to switch to low-water usage plants. Xeriscape and waterwise were the regional catch-words of The Drought. City officials were recommending we use Albuquerque's plant list. Many people (and contractors) began planting desert plants. Bad idea...unless you live in the desert. Sure, those plants worked well as long as there was no rain. But when 2007 rolled around, and The Deluge began, nearly all of those desert plants drowned and their roots rotted. Homeowners and contractors were left scratching their heads...

Here it is, 2008, and most of the country is suffering -- oh, what should we call it -- a recession? An economic contraction? Slowdown? I like "downturn" -- not as partisan or political. (I know, it's an election year, I can be political. ;-) Anyway...So those same people who planted desert plants because their "traditional" landscape died during The Drought, lost their desert landscape during The Deluge. They have lost two landscapes in two years and have to start on option #3, but they might be losing their job soon, or they are caught up in the housing credit crisis, or or or.

Go native, I say. First, when traditional (overused, non-native) landscape plants, like Indian Hawthorn and Nandina suffered because of The Drought, native species thrived. Native grasses (which make excellent substitutes for shrubs), such as Little Bluestem, Big Muhly, Gulf Muhly and Inland Seaoats performed spectacularly all year long. Whereas delicate perennials -- Gardenia, for example -- were intolerant of the sustained heat and lack of rainfall, hardy native perennials bloomed more profusely. Plants like Four Nerve Daisy, Giant Coneflower, Pitcher Sage and Lyre Leaf Sage proved that a natural, organic and native landscape can be colorful, low-maintenance and drought-tolerant. (And still look 'organized'.)

Many MANY clients called in 2006 just to say, "You were right!" Their native plant landscape had survived while their neighbors' plants had suffered -- or worse, died.

Then, when The Deluge of 2007 began, those same clients called again to say, "You were right!" Their plants had continued to thrive. To be sure, they prefer things to be a little on the hot-and-dry side. But, because they were established by 2007, they actually grew taller and wider, and bloomed longer, because of the additional rainfall.

This year so far isn't as hot and dry as 2006, or cool and wet as 2007. But the plants continue to grow happily, no matter what Mother Nature throws our way. Clients who plant the right plant, in the right place, lose fewer plants. And who can't use that cost savings, especially during an economic downturn.

Dallas WaterWise Tour Recap

Thank you to Caroline, Mathew, Sebastian and Lucas for allowing us to show off your award-winning landscape project. David walked-and-talked with visitors about our approach to this design, which was completed winter '06/spring '07. (Keith and his Appealing Gardens crew completed the installation in spring '07.) He met several new native plant enthusiasts and a few long-time customers who came out to support our ongoing effort to restore Texas. Sage and I stopped by for an hour or so. She met Betsy F. of NPSOT; Diane and Mike M. (design clients); Martha Ann and Charlie W. (design/install clients and last year's award-winners); and dozens of new faces. It was a big day for such a little girl.

The Dallas WaterWise Garden Tour was held on Saturday, June 7th, 9am to 3pm. Judging takes place in March or April (usually) and is open to residents of Dallas and cities that are customers of Dallas Water Utilities. Would you like to compete in 2009? Check this website -- -- for participating communities, submission requirements and deadlines. Please let us know if you enter, especially if you win!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Father's Day is Sunday, May 15th. Check your planting beds: they just might be ready for a fresh layer of mulch. Remember to maintain a blanket of 2-3" deep year-round, up to 6" deep during periods of extreme drought. Use a natural mulch comprised of shredded native tree matter. No need to scrape off previous applications of mulch. Next mulching should be done around Thanksgiving.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Native in the shade?

When we think of native plants, most residents of Dallas-Ft. Worth think of full-sun perennials. There are, in fact, multiple species of natives that will do well in sun or shade, or even mostly shade. One of our mostly-shade projects received an award from City of Dallas and will be on their Water-Wise Garden Tour tomorrow, Saturday, June 7th, 9am to 3pm. Our very own Native Dave will be on hand to conduct tours of and answer questions about the project. Dennis of Appealing Gardens Landscape -- one of our preferred installers -- will be there, too. Sage and I plan to help out briefly mid-day. For more information, visit We will be at the home on Tree Shadow Court, Dallas.

New photos, finally

I've added a few photos -- and there are many, many more to format and upload -- to our online portfolio. Check back early next week. More pics on the way.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Summer Hours

The end of June marks the end of our spring schedule. Throughout the month of June we will continue to meet on Fridays at 9am, noon and 3pm. We have events on the 7th and 21st, and have already filled our schedule for the 14th, so the only Saturday left is the 28th. On that date there are 9am, noon and 3pm appointments. Beginning July 1st, we will focus on our online services (see "ongoing greening of nativedave" post below) and limiting our availability for onsite visits. Following are dates and time we will be available for onsite services in July in Dallas-Ft. Worth:

Tuesday, July 1st: noon and 3pm
Wednesday, July 16th: 9am, noon and 3pm
August dates in Dallas-Ft. Worth and other markets will be added soon.

We will be closed for Independence Day and summer holiday Thursday, July 3rd, through Monday, July 14th.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ongoing Greening of NativeDave--Choose Online Design!

Fuel prices have forced American businesses, large and small, to increase prices for goods and services. Higher fuel prices have impacted us, as well. Instead of raising our fees, however, we have decided to actively promote our online design option in lieu of onsite meetings. Not only will we be able to keep our fees reasonable, we will be doing our part to reduce our consumption and contamination of natural resources. To encourage more new clients to choose the online option, we will be offering a 20% discount on online design fees beginning July 1st through the end of 2008.

How does it work? You gather the information and photos, we create your design. To get started we will need:
  • Completed new client questionnaire. You may download it from our "services and fees page", or request it by email (
  • Your survey or plat plan. We must have an accurate, legible survey or plat plan of your property. The document must have a scale (e.g., 1" = 20ft) and must be an exact-size copy of the original. You may send a hardcopy by mail, as a pdf file by email, or upload the pdf with your photos.
  • Photos of the project site. The number of photos required will depend on the size and complexity of your property and project, respectively. For most suburban residences (less than 1/3 acre), 15-20 photos of the front yard, and 25-30 of the back yard, should suffice. Upload your photos to a free online photo service, such as shutterfly, snapfish, etc. Then, send us the link (to
  • Payment. Fees are determined by the size and complexity of your project. Generally speaking, fees for most suburban residences (less than 1/3 acre) are $300 for the front yard, $400 for the back yard, or $600 for the entire property. Please contact us about fees for residences with more than 1/3 acre and all commercial, industrial, municipal or educational properties. Payment may be made by mail or via PayPal using your credit card, debit card or checking account (a 3% processing fee will be added to all PayPal transactions.)

After we have received these items, we will begin your design. Turnaround time will be 7-10 business days; we will mail your design package. David will present your design by phone while I email photos of plants included in your design; together we will bring your design to life.

The process is easy, affordable and good for the planet. One client, who implemented the design herself, received an award from the Florida Native Plant Society. Others solicit estimates for the installation from contractors in their area. Whatever your situation, the online design is a smart choice.

June 5th is World Environment Day

How will you celebrate? Here are some suggestions, "80 Ways to Celebrate World Environment Day":

Launching Planet Green

Tonight the Discovery Home network will become Planet Green, the "first and only 24-hour eco-lifestyle television network." A couple of nights ago (during Sage's late-night feeding) I watched an episode of the New Zealand version of "Wa$ted!" The American series is described as: "Wa$ted! attacks a spectrum of environmentally unfriendly households across the nation, auditing their waste, energy, water and transportation consumption. Not surprisingly, each episode unearths dozens of eco-horrors that are killing both the environment and the homeowner's bank account. Drafty windows, a television blasting around-the-clock to keep a pet company, spoiled food from over-purchasing -- you name the possible eco-crime, and these households have offended. But no matter how far gone the family, it's not as hard to change hazardous habits as one might think."

Other green programming includes "Supper Club", an on-air dinner party hosted by Tom Bergeron and attended by celebrities where the conversation has an environmental flavor. "Renovation Nation" explores green upgrades and improvements for your home.

Tune in this evening at 5pm CDT for the official "open house" of Planet Green!

The Green Interview

Co-op America, a not-for-profit organization encouraging goods and services good for people and planet, interviewed us recently for the June issue of their Faces of the Green Pages piece. You can read this online conversation on their website: Click on "Greening Texas, One Lot at a Time."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Recommended Reading

Check out Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond for green tips for your home and garden. This is my new favorite book -- I can make my own natural, non-toxic shampoos and other personal care products, as well as household cleaners, baby products, and so much more. The formulas are easy-to-follow and really work. Green, simple and much less expensive than many store-bought earth-friendly products.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Top 10 Problems Facing Humanity for the Next 50 Years

Jim Cramer mentioned this list on his show, Mad Money (an unlikely venue for greenspeak, eh?) After a little googling I found the list -- along with some further explanation -- on this site. Read through it, consider what YOU are doing to address at least one of the 10 problems. Pass it along...

Monday, May 12, 2008

From the mouth of our babe...

Hi Everybody!

Thank you for welcoming me to the world. I have learned a lot about native plants, sustainable design and green living. My favorite plants are Salvias -- no surprise! Soon I'll write a post about them under the heading "Sage Says." Hope you will check back soon!


Award in Southlake!

Congrats to Chris R. in Southlake for her Yard of the Month award. We created the design and Keith Pulliam of Appealing Gardens Landscape ( implemented it. Some of you have seen her project's before and after pics in our presentations this year. I'll upload them -- as well as current pics -- here and to the portfolio section of our website ASAP.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Allen Sustainable Landscape Series

Gail Donaldson, Water Conservation Manager for City of Allen and Secretary of Dallas Irrigators Association, will be hosting a three-part sustainability series this summer at the Ron Gentry Training Center, 310 Century Pkwy, in Allen.

Part I – Irrigation for Sustainability (maintenance, drip basics, and controller scheduling)
Saturday, May 31, 2008, 10 AM to Noon
Guest Speaker: Byron Beall, Ewing Irrigation Products, Inc.

Part II – Design Basics for Sustainability (needs assessment and creating a plan)
Saturday, June 21, 2008, 10 AM to Noon
Guest Speaker: Dave Ilfrey, Native Dave Landscapes

Part III – Choosing Plant Material for Sustainability (perennials, shrubs, and trees)
Saturday, July 19, 2008, 10 AM to Noon
Guest Speaker: Brice Creelman, Shades of Green

Please Call or Email to Reserve a Space – Seats are Limited!
(Andrea Smith, 214-509-4553, Cost is $5 per session or $10 for all three.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Another award!

One of our projects has received recognition from City of Dallas as a "water wise" landscape. Congrats to Mathew and Caroline! Frequently we are asked about landscaping with native plants in shade. This project demonstrates successful ways to conserve water, preserve quantity and quality of local natural resources, restore habitat for birds and other wildlife, and celebrate the beauty of North Central Texas. Wanna see? This project will be featured on City of Dallas Water Utilities Water-Wise Garden Tour on Saturday, June 7th, 9am to 3pm. Here's a link for more info:

We'll be there!

Allen Garden Club's Doing Great Things

Friday, May 02, 2008

I feel lucky

We meet a multitude of good and decent people everyday. Most read our blog, or know someone who does. Nearly all understand our mission and share at least some of our values. Every now and then someone calls who's just looking for a quote for any old landscape, but that's rare. Almost every caller is looking for a design or consultation focusing on native plants for the purpose of sustainability. Thank you all for allowing us to pursue our calling to help conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate Texas' natural resources.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

People- and Planet-Friendly Cooking

Ah, so many interests, so little time to pursue them all...

The Natural Epicurean (Austin) offers an 800-hour culinary program. Graduates earn a Natural Food Chef certificate and access to assistantships, internships, employment, etc. There are courses offered to community members, as well. Check out their weekend "retreats" for intensive instruction on a variety of topics.

Another quiz -- green vacationing? howgreen/getaway

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Living Green

Don't miss the Live Green in Plano Expo this Saturday, April 12th, 9am to 5pm at the Plano Centre located at Spring Creek Parkway and Jupiter Road. Last year was an enormous success, and we anticipate this year to be even better. One critical change: speakers will be inside the Centre and not competing with live entertainment outdoors. David will be at our booth, along with Keith Pulliam of Appealing Gardens (our preferred contractor.) I will present our program -- sustainable solutions for common landscape "emergencies" -- at 11am.

There will be plentiful vendors and educational programs to help you learn to live a greener, healthier, better life. See you there...

Thank you, Dallas Arboretum

Last Saturday David taught a class about sustainable landscape design at the Dallas Arboretum. (I stayed home with Sage.) There were some technical difficulties, so he did not have access to the PowerPoint presentation. Fortunately he brought our portfolio bursting with colorful photos. If you missed it, or if you attended that event and would still like to see some of the photos in the PowerPoint, we will present a similar program at North Haven Gardens on Saturday the 19th at 1:30pm. Unlike the 2-hour program at the Arboretum, the North Haven presentation will be 30-45 minutes.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Kicking Off

Spring may have sprung a couple of weeks ago, but April 1st marks the beginning of this year's Earth Day activities. With so many workshops and events, Dallas-Ft. Worth-Denton is the place to be this April. No fooling.

Despite near-record rainfall last spring and summer, Texas' water resources are insufficient to meet our growing population, especially at our current rate of consumption. Not only are we wasteful, many of our habits are contaminating our already scarce water supply. We manipulate Nature, thereby driving away beneficial insects, birds, butterflies and other wildlife. We humans have become so detached from Nature we have forgotten our role within the ecological process.

Today is the day we get reacquainted.

Learn about revamping your landscape with sustainable practices by attending our workshop this Saturday (4/5), 9-11am, at the Dallas Arboretum. Register at Next Saturday (4/12) from 9am to 5pm we will be at the Live Green in Plano Expo. Our presentation -- "treatments" for your landscape emergencies -- will be at 11am inside the Plano Centre. The following Saturday (4/19) check us out at North Haven Gardens for another educational program.

Overwhelmed? Don't be. You can't change everything in one day. Start small, making changes at home first. Then move on to making changes in your neighborhood, at work and in your places of worship. Conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate Texas...y'all.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sustainable Landscaping and Deep Ellum Arts Festival

Come learn about sustainable landscaping at Dallas Arboretum on Saturday, April 5th, 9-11am. We will discuss economic and ecological benefits of using native plants for conservation, preservation, restoration and celebration of natural resources. To register, go to

After class, drop by the Deep Ellum Arts Festival ( Our longtime friend April Samuels will be performing with two of her bands (yes, she IS an overachiever!) Saturday catch her with Bullitt at 3pm on the Deep Ellum Stage. Sunday she and Rocket Girl take the same stage at 2pm. Following Rocket Girl, also on the Deep Ellum Stage, will be Jones at 3pm. These guys are like family to us. In fact, my brother Mick Tinsley is a founding member! Come check out these and other musicians, as well as plentiful artists' exhibits.

Dallas Blooms!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Green Up Your Laundry

How green is your laundry? Take the quiz:

Recommended Books

All the Wasowski books are excellent for learning about native Texas plants -- we have always promoted them as the "bibles" for responsible gardening/landscaping. Recently, a reader in Cedar Hill recommended Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy because it explains "WHY native plants are so important." I haven't checked it out yet, but I trust her knowledgeable opinion. (Thanks, Meg!)

Our good friend Jason Singhurst co-authored a text about rare Texas plants that was recently published by Texas A&M Press. Rare Plants of Texas is a thorough guide, complete with photos, botanical drawings, and distribution maps. Jason will be speaking to a local chapter of the Native Plant Society this spring; please check back for date and time.

Learn More

Texas Discovery Gardens is hosting a Play in the Dirt workshop as part of their ongoing "Organic in the City" series on Tuesday, March 4th, 6-8pm.

"Organic in the City is an urban environmental education and entertainment series at Texas Discovery Gardens. For the first program, participants will learn tips and tricks to a healthy container garden. We will make our own pots with a trio of plants to take home.After the talk, enjoy music by Fran and Angela as the upbeat duo sings their favorite songs. If you liked Fran's beautiful voice at the volunteer potluck, you won't want to miss this! You can also enjoy hors d'oeuvres, wine, coffee and tea.

Don't miss the April 1 Organic in the City ... Take Thyme to Taste the Rosemary, Basil and Sage with Dallas County Master Gardener and cookbook author Barbara Gollman. She will serve up a delicious talk on growing and cooking with herbs. Learn how easy it is to grow your favorite herbs, even if you only have space for a few pots!"

Cost is $15 per person, $13 for members. For more information, please see

Smiling Sage

Here is our favorite species of Sage -- a very happy one, indeed. She's eager for spring!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Reminder about North Haven Gardens' Winter Fair

Don't forget to attend this Saturday's Winter Fair at North Haven Gardens in Dallas. David will staff our booth from 10am to 4pm -- please drop by and say 'hello'! For directions and other information, go to

Friday, January 25, 2008

NativeBabe has arrived!

Our bundle of joy, Sage, was born Wednesday, January 23rd, at 9:50am. She weighed 7lbs 14oz and was 19in long. We were convinced we were expecting a boy, although we didn't know for certain. Imagine our surprise when our doctor told us we had a baby girl!

All is well with baby and me, and David and I plan to set aside as much time as possible in the coming weeks (before spring!) to bond with our little girl. This is a magical time for us all...I can't wait to introduce Sage to Folsom the Dog.

We wish all our best to you -- our friends, family members, prospective clients and blog readers.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Heritage Ranch Expo, February 23rd

We just added another event to our calendar. David will man the booth while I give a presentation. Specific info related to our participation will follow in a day or two, but the event will be:
Heritage Ranch Home & Garden Expo 2008
Saturday, February 23
9:00AM – 3:00PM
Heritage Ranch Club House
465 Scenic Ranch Circle
Fairview, Texas 75069


Tired of your landscape looking dormant -- or worse, dead -- in winter? Looking around, you might not believe it, but landscapes are not supposed to look lovely only in spring, suffer in summer, whither in fall and finally give up in winter. No. Native plants evolve throughout the seasons, throughout the years, and continuously bring beauty to your landscape. A plant's "interest" may vary depending on the time of year; sometimes it's a bloom, but other times its beauty bursts from striking foliage color, luminescent berries, or interesting architectural features. Some plants -- such as Inland Seaoats (grass) or Eve's Necklace (tree, large shrub) -- are valued for the subtle aesthetic of their seeds. A successful landscape is one that delights year-round.

As one client recently wrote, "yes, in the dead of winter we have beautiful coral berries, wildflower rosettes..."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Eat Green, DFW!

Coming soon!

A home-delivery service specializing in locally grown, naturally grown and hard-to-find natural foods is coming to DFW. Their shopping cart will be ready this spring, but go ahead and start ordering directly from their producers. Find them at And if you take their survey, leave your email. They will send you a discount code when the shopping cart is up-and-running!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Join us for North Haven Gardens' Winter Fair

Just added! We will participate in Winter Fair at North Haven Gardens on Saturday, February 2nd, from 10am-4pm. For directions and other information, please visit

We Love McKinney Garden Club!

Tuesday, 1/8, we presented a program about butterfly gardening to the friendly ladies of McKinney Garden Club. They always turn out in droves for meetings and presentations, and we always walk away feeling we have just left a family reunion. If you are looking for a fun, upbeat group to join, we recommend their group. But reader be prepared: they have a waiting list!

This was our final program until April. Native Babe will be joining us here on the outside any day now...updates to follow.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Green Cleaning

I know I've probably mentioned them before, but now that I've begun a working relationship with Nature Maids, I can give a first-hand recommendation of their services. Today was our second appointment and I'm so pleased with the quality of their work, eco-consciousness of their products, and friendliness of their representatives. Our home smells clean and fresh, without all the bleachy, chemically and otherwise harsh vapors. I feel comfortable being here, working from my glider, while they clean around me. The non-toxic products they use will not harm David or me, Folsom the dog, or unborn NativeBabe. Working with Nature Maids is all plusses!

They have a variety of services available, and I find their prices quite reasonable. Please visit their website at Most likely you will speak with Beth or Olga -- both are down-to-earth and eager to help.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Office Hours 2008 (Amended)

Client meetings: Friday 9a-3:30p (other days and times as our schedule will allow)
Online and phone services: Monday - Friday 8a-5p
Events: Saturday (variable start and end times)

Welcome, 2008

2007 ended on such a high note, we can't wait for all the fabulous things awaiting us in 2008. Already our January schedule is filling up with new client meetings, design presentations, and even one speaking engagement on the 8th to McKinney Garden Club. Native Babe is expected to arrive sometime this month, but if he/she is anything like us, "it" will decide independently when is the right time to join the family. Could be tomorrow, could be Valentine's Day. ;-)

Last year our designs and community involvement garnered a flurry of awards and support. This year, we have plans in-progress that will help more folks do their part to conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate the bounteous beauty of Nature. Look for announcements coming soon.

Thanks for a wonderful year in 2007; here's to a great 2008!