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Gardening: TPWD Guest Column
Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Texas Wildlife
by Texas Parks and Wildlife
AUSTIN, Texas Green meadows dance with a hundred fluttering butterflies, stately woods play host to birds of every color, hidden ponds shelter swimming tadpoles and curious toads? if this sounds like rural wilderness, think again. It could be your urban neighborhood, if you like to walk on the wild side.
By providing food, water and shelter-the basics of wildlife habitat-the urban gardener can transform his property from a pretty but sterile landscape into a beautiful haven for wildlife. This is increasingly important for wildlife in a state where concrete and cropland are replacing much of the native habitat. For those who have the desire, but lack understanding of the specific steps and tools needed for the job, take heart.
The book, Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife by Noreen Damude and Kelly Bender, provides homeowners, renters, developers, corporate planners and outdoor classroom teachers with the information needed to arrange native plants and simple structures to create habitat for wildlife.
The full-color volume includes descriptions of Texas' ecoregions, lists of native plants (and their wildlife value) and animals, a step-by-step guide to Wildscape design, tips for gardening troubles (shady spots, wet areas and deer-prone sites), highlights of some of the animals you might expect to find and even an illustrated guide to building a pond. An extensive glossary and resource guide also are included.
"The plants we chose can benefit wildlife by providing food and shelter," said Damude, co-author, former TPW wildlife specialist and director of conservation with Texas Audubon. "Texas is blessed with thousands of beautiful native plants that are suitable for landscape use. The most familiar are the colorful wildflowers that blanket our fields and roadsides in the spring and summer, but Texas is also home to towering native trees, rambling vines, and shapely shrubbery."
Planting natives in your garden will certainly increase the number and variety of flying, fluttering, and hopping visitors to your garden. Instead of the same old grackles, house sparrows and pigeons, perhaps you will find vibrant bluebirds, raucous woodpeckers and jewel-like hummingbirds investigating your garden.
Water is another essential element to any Wildscape. Provide a fresh, clean, permanent source of water in the form of a birdbath, pond or tiny wetland or bog. Birds will flock to water that is shallow (2"-3" deep) with a gently sloping bank, especially if it has the inviting sound of a waterfall, mister or dripper.
After reading the book to receive information like this and creating your own habitat, celebrate it by certifying it as an Official Texas Wildscape. Wildscape certification applications may be ordered by phone (512-389-4974), by e-mailing Mark Klym at email@example.com, by regular mail (Texas Wildscapes, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744) or online at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/nature/wildscapes/pdf/wildscapesBackyardHabitatApplication.pdf. An application fee of $15.00 is requested.
Proceeds from the sale of the book are used to fund education, research and habitat management for nongame and endangered species of Texas. Books may be ordered for $24.95 through the University of Texas Press and such fine bookstores as Barnes & Noble, BookStop and Waldenbooks. To order, call University of Texas Press at (800) 252-3206 or write UT Press, P.O. Box 7819, Austin, Texas 78712. To order the book through Texas Parks and Wildlife at a total cost of $26, including postage, contact Mark Klym by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Those who have purchased the book can obtain a searchable index for the tables by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. If you do not have access to email send a note to Mark Klym, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744.
Updated: February 2, 2005
Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County
League City Area News Online.
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