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Posts Tagged ‘native plants’

smFloating Wetlands-HBrown (40)
Students and volunteers launch a floating wetland island into the stormwater detention basin. Photo: Helle Brown

Our first installation of floating wetland islands went into the campus stormwater detention pond at Clear Creek Independent School District’s Education Village in League City. TCWP and the school community launched three islands on November 10

When 72 volunteers, 2 camera crews, and the school superintendent show up to help us undertake something new, it sure is wonderful when it is accomplished with hardly a hitch!

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Lawns are boring. There, I said it. A look out the window at an expanse of emerald green has no allure for me. There are no attractions there for butterflies, songbirds, or honeybees, either—they would starve or not even bother to make a fly over. To say a person dislikes a lawn borders on heresy to many. After all, when we say the word landscape, most of us conjure up that big swath of a perfectly mowed, managed, monoculture. Yes, monoculture, as in one plant species. In fact, more than forty million acres, roughly the size of New York State, are covered in it, making lawns, or turf grass, our largest irrigated crop. (more…)

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A Yellow-crowned Night Heron stalks the new wetland on the grounds of the Johnson Space Center.

Visiting the Johnson Space Center (JSC), you probably anticipate a vision of a high tech future in space.  But to address a more down-to-earth aspect of the space center’s operation, Chris LaChance and I were invited to NASA by Sandy Parker of the JSC Environmental Office to consult on transforming a landscape problem area from boggy lawn to JSC’s first created wetland.

The JSC landscape maintenance contractor, Prodyn EPES, needed a way to deal with the water that pooled in a low spot between a weather station building, parking lots, and a jogging trail. It tended to be too wet to mow, so something else had to be done—and done on a tight budget. At about 2200 square feet, it was too large to be economically practical as a rain garden, which can sometimes require considerable excavation, an underdrain, porous soils, and a selection of predominantly nursery-raised native plants. Chris thought the site had more potential as a created wetland, so she brought me along on the mission.

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Milkweed is the host plant for the Monarch butterfly.

Author Robert Brault writes, “Why try to explain miracles to your kids, when you can just have them plant a garden?” Young children have an innate curiosity and are masters at observation. Encouraged at an early age, they can carry these observation skills throughout their school years and beyond. Attitudes about the environment are formed early, so we should create spaces right outside their doorstep where children can learn to appreciate the wonders found in nature.

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, struck a chord that still reverberates, making us realize that our future environmental stewards spend too much time in front of video screens during their formative years. This is the time when making connections with nature can ignite a passion that lasts a lifetime. Opening the door to nature can be as easy as walking across the threshold, whether to a large backyard, a small corner of the front yard, or even a balcony. (more…)

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Drummond Phlox

Reflecting on America’s beginnings as a nation is always timely. Thoughts of rebellious colonists standing united against an increasingly tyrannical British rule would hardly seem to relate to time spent in a garden. Yet, it was through a connection to the land and a common passion for gardens, that our nation began its journey toward self-reliance and independence.

As an avid gardener and history buff, it was will great relish that I immersed myself in a book by Andrea Wulf, “Founding Gardeners” (1). Here we learn how closely our founding fathers remained connected to nature, to the land, and to their gardens—with gardening metaphors paralleling political ones.  (more…)

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