Archive for the ‘native plants’ Category

Armand Bayou Nature Center (3)From sprinkler to storm drain, from bayou to bay, the water used to maintain your yard remains untreated. What you do to your lawn and what runs off it determines the health of your local bayou and Galveston Bay. Runoff from residential areas in the Galveston Bay watershed is the No. 1 source of water pollution in most of our bayous. However, you can take steps to reduce the pollution that flows off your yard by adopting WaterSmart practices.

WaterSmart landscapes

A WaterSmart yard uses plants and practices that require little or no fertilizers or pesticides and less water than conventional lawns. With minimal grass cover and maximum use of native and adapted plants, the WaterSmart landscape can be beautiful, easy to maintain, and environmentally friendly.

WaterSmart landscapes can reduce the amount of polluted runoff entering the storm drain system by 90 percent. They can also cut the amount of water you use for irrigation by 90 percent. By converting your lawn one section at a time, you can create a landscape that helps preserve the bay area and gradually reduces your maintenance time. (more…)

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monet iris

From the name of a greek goddess, to its use by Claude Monet within his famous garden and paintings, and further to its popular status as a diverse horticultural variety or cultivar, the Iris has widespread play within our culture and (more importantly) our natural world.

According to Correll and Correll (the authority on the aquatic and wetland plants of Southwestern US), there are “more than 200 species in the Northern Hemisphere.”  We are lucky enough to have several native Iris species within our region, including Iris virginica, Iris brevicaulis, and Iris fulva.  Both Iris virginica and Iris brevicaulis have the typical blue-purple and gold color pattern, whereas Iris fulva is distinctively coppery red in color and equally attractive.  It is worth noting that our one unfortunate invasive Iris (Iris pseudacorus, which is native to Europe, western Asia and northwest Africa)  has a large bright yellow flower, and reproduces rapidly via rhizomes and seeds, and we must be aware of this noxious invader.  Slide1

My first encounter with Irises came as a SCA/Americorps intern at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.  Driving around Moccasin pond, I marveled at the pretty Iris blooms along the pond edge, intermingled with the native Canna (Canna glauca).  The pond was teeming with life and flowers.  Later, I took my godmother and my mom on a similar tour around the pond, and they also enjoyed the floral display (as well as the sunbathing gators strewn over the road edges).

As part of my restoration work at Sheldon Lake State Park and other sites around Galveston Bay, I have used only the two “blue” species–Iris virginica and Iris brevicaulis.  Each species is specific to a region and habitat….where I. virginica can handle some salinity (fresh to brackish tidal conditions) and the coastal soils, I. brevicaulis finds its niche within the partial shady edges of forests.   These showy natives bloom late spring to early summer, but their bright green to silvery green foliage can remain year-round.  They are both considered obligate wetland plants making them ideal for wetland restoration in their appropriate place within the natural landscape.

When spring returns to our area early next year, be sure to seek out and admire these classic flowering wetland natives.  panoramic photo iris




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A WaterSmart yard utilizes plants and practices that require less water plus little or no fertilizers and pesticides. With minimal grass cover and maximum use of native and adapted plants, the WaterSmart landscape is beautiful and easy to maintain and environmentally friendly. WaterSmart practices are also a great way to attract butterflies, pollinators and other organisms to your yard.

Butterflies are not only beautiful to look at but they also pollinate your flowers. Attracting butterflies requires providing the right plants for all life stages of the butterfly, from a place to lay their eggs, to food for the caterpillar, a place to form the chrysalides and a food source for the adult butterfly. A great plant choice is milkweed, which can sustain the entire life cycle of Monarch butterflies.

Adding watersmart native plants to your yard is a great place to start. Plant butterfly attracting plants such as milkweed, butterfly bush and purple coneflower. Make sure the plants are located in a sunny spot. Plan for continuous blooms through the growing season and you will be rewarded with butterflies from early spring till late fall.

Remember, don’t use pesticides around your butterfly garden. Most traditional pesticides are toxic to butterflies. Pesticides can also kill off food sources for wildlife. Having native plants in your yard helps take care of any potential insect problem since it promotes habitat for the beneficial insects.

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Photo Marissa Sipocz

Families enjoy planting the floating wetlands. Photo by Marissa Sipocz

The Pearland Wetland Awareness event was a success!  We planted 1200 plants on the 20 floating wetlands, and made about 400 plant balls to set in the deeper water around the islands. We also made thousands of seedballs for future use on the slopes of the site. There were 17 species of native coastal prairie wildflowers and grasses in the seedball mix. Over ninety people joined us on Saturday.

Those were the numbers. Now if you take a look at the photos from the Pearland Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page, you will see how enjoyable it was to take part! See Planting the wetlands on Saturday and launching the floating wetlands on the following Tuesday.

These wetlands set the stage for improved wildlife habitat on the site of the future Pearland Nature Center, and demonstrate water quality improvement techniques for stormwater runoff. Stay tuned for Phase 2 of the wetland planting!

plant balls_SM

Volunteers make “plant balls” to weigh down and protect wetland plants that tolerate deeperconditions. Photos by Marissa Sipocz


These seedballs containing a mix of locally collected prairie species will be scattered on the banks of the pond at a future date. Photo by Marissa Sipocz

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Two of the many stormwater wetland program events in September and October involved our partners at Clear Creek ISD and the University of Houston Clear Lake’s EIH. I can tell you a little about each one, but photos say it best! Check them out at the Flickr links below.


Replanting the Floating Wetlands

To make up for the damage caused by the nutria invasion last year, we replanted the floating wetlands as an experiment to see which species nutria would avoid. We also planted test plots of these species along the shore, including some species we know they do eat, as experimental controls. Sixty nine students and community members came out to work on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, October 12.

See all the photos and upload your own to the Flickr photo pool.



Habitat Garden Day at Ed White Elementary

Much pruning, planting and raking was done to spruce up the garden after a long summer, and best of all for the stormwater wetland program,  plants were collected from the overgrown ponds. The plants are being propagated in the wetland nursery at Exploration Green, and can be reused on school and community wetland projects.

See all the photos and upload your own to the Flickr photo pool.

Thanks to all who showed up to help and made these events fun!

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