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Other than planting native plants and eliminating the use of fertilizers and pesticides you can also install a rainwater harvesting system and plant a rain garden.  (more…)

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Compost in Hand - notillbed5

Composting is the easy way to add nutrients to soil, improve soil structure and increase the moisture-holding ability of soil. Composting recycles organic material through controlled decomposition. Organic materials are grass and yard clippings, kitchen scraps (no animal products), wood shavings, cardboard and paper. As organic materials decompose they turn into a rich, dark humus material that improves all soil types.

Compost helps sandy soil retain water and nutrients that would normally wash right through and it breaks up tight clay soils allowing roots to spread and oxygen to penetrate. Soils improved with compost contain beneficial microorganisms that protect plants from diseases and pests. Compost can reduce or eliminate the use of synthetic fertilizers in your lawn or garden. Better moisture retention means less watering and reduced runoff pollution – two key elements of WaterSmart gardening.

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The WaterSmart program has been working on five new informative videos over the last year and they are now ready to be watched, shared and enjoyed.
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Workshop flyer-final

Our bayous and bays are greatly impacted by the quality of the stormwater flowing into them, and now is a great time to start improving it with practices we can implement at home, work, or beyond.

Join us in a beautiful setting–the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory’s new LEED-certified building in Lake Jackson, TX.

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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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