Friday, July 18, 2008

Gecko Hollow

I haven't been great about writing this July in part because of the weather, but also because I've had my Mom visiting from Kansas City. I thought it would be a nice bonding exercise to take her out with me to garden and see what I do, so we swung by Howson Library where I recently began taking care of the beautiful Grow Green garden designed by one of my best friends, the
wonderfully talented Elizabeth Drozda. Then we went to the County Extension Garden to install new signs for the Master Gardener's garden where I recently created a gecko hollow, we are in the midst of becoming certified as a habitat with the NWF. Then we went over to Zilker to prune and care for the Green Garden there, part of the cities Watershed Project and also a new gardening venture. Although I didn't garden as a child much due to the gypsy nature
of my traveling family, we visited gardens throughout Europe and spent oodles of time in the Black Forrest camping and hiking and I have so many wonderful memories of spending time
in nature with my Mom.
This week I took my daughter with me to work in the gardens and we had some super adventures. At Zilker "Arnold the Armadillo" scurried out from a huge mound of purple cone flower and sent a shrill of terror and then delight through the garden as he made a crescent shaped path along the wall...we followed him quietly until he found his hole and went back under for shelter. Then we were visited by a nearly foot long skink which was chased down by two rabble rousing boys...the skink made it to safety, thank heavens.

If it's too hot in your garden, swing by Zilker and check out the beautiful blossoms and cool Japanese Garden and Koi's still relatively cool even by noon. Heck, take your Mom!
If you don't make her prune roses, she'll probably have a lovely time:) Or if she's into it, I'd love to put some volunteers to work!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

CBC Project Takes Off

Bible School is in full swing at the Crestview Baptist Church and the youth are helping to remove the St. Augustine grass for the beautification project. They are working about 3 hours a day in the hot sun tearing it up, listening to music and having a ball! I went over to visit and loan 'em some shovels and they are just sweet and kind as can be. These hardworking youngsters are visiting the city from outside of Lubbock and will be here for a week helping on various Church projects, we are lucky to have them help beautify Dartmouth Av. They also created several compost bins and have already filled 'em up. By the time they return next year the Church grounds should look quite different!

Just up the street the Presbyterian church has a fabulous message on it's marquee: Go Green it's Stewardship. Amen, "or so say we all."

At some point we're all going to have to take a closer look at how we manage our
space and question responsibility. It would be wonderful if all the churches would tear out their
parking lots, which contribute greatly to the heat island effect and replace the non permeable surface with interesting permeable alternatives. Some of the choices are just stunning, the honeycomb patterned bricks, breathable concrete with all sorts of patterns, the possibilities are tremendous. Flat topped churches could consider roof gardens, which is becoming standard for new construction in some cities and at the very least, a water collection system!

Another exciting idea for the Church space is to get certified as a wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. To do so you only need a few elements present in your yard/property... food: in the form of native plants for berries, pollen, seeds etc. water: some kind of water feature from a birdbath to a pond, cover: evergreen shrubbery, rock and wood piles for insects and small animals to hide, and a place to raise young: hatching boxes, nests, dense shrubs. Right now the city of Austin is trying to become the first city in Texas to become certified as a Wildlife Habitat and we're trying to make Crestview the first neighborhood. In this months CNA newspaper there is an article by our local Wildlife Steward who is willing to help assist you in the process or you can simply go to for more information, the application and to get the ball rolling! It's an easy process if you already have
the necessary elements.

Or, how about creating a butterfly garden? What better way to spark interest in the natural world for children? It's as easy as googling "plants that attract butterflies" cross reference with our native and adaptive plant guide to be sure you've got something that can withstand Texas heat. Butterflies appreciate flat rocks to rest on and shallow drinking ponds like the ones created in shallow depressions and rocks with holes. Add some seating for folks to relax and appreciate the beauty!

I'm going to make these kids some fudge...they are doing a good thing! Make sure you give 'em a thumbs up when you pass, it's just neighborly!