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Gardening: TPWD Guest Column

Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Texas Wildlife

by Texas Parks and Wildlife
photo copyright Texas Parks and Wildlife
January 28, 2005

Gardening: Christmas SnowAUSTIN, 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 mark.klym@tpwd.state.tx.us, 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 mark.klym@tpwd.state.tx.us .

Those who have purchased the book can obtain a searchable index for the tables by sending an e-mail to mark.klym@tpwd.state.tx.us. 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
Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University. Visit his web site at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm

Gardening: Scale insects and pampas grass - July 17, 2004 article

Gardening: Bananas - August 1, 2004 article

Gardening: August Gardening Calendar - August 16, 2004 article

Gardening: Trio Of Extension Programs Includes Pear Tasting, Master Naturalist Class & Rose Seminar - August 20, 2004 article

Gardening: Prepare Now For Fall Gardens - August 26, 2004 article

Gardening: Septemberís Garden Calendar Includes Fall Pecan Field Day - September 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Ornamental Grasses - September 8, 2004 article

Gardening: Don't Let Landscape Become A High-Maintenance Nightmare - September 22, 2004 article

Gardening: Oct. 10 Plant Sale & Seminar To Feature Butterfly Gardening - Butterflies Bring Color, Motion to Garden - October 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Plant It And They Will Come: Getting the Butterflies of Galveston County to Grace Your Yard - October 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Rose Propagation & Seasonal Decorating Workshops To Be Held - October 13, 2004 article

Gardening: Extension Office To Sponsor Open House On October 29, Seasonal Decorations and Onion and Garlic Workshops - October 20, 2004 article

Gardening: Extension Office To Sponsor Open House On October 29 and County Pecan Show - October 27, 2004 article

Gardening: November Is Pansy Time - November 6, 2004 article

Gardening: County Pecan Growers Display Their Successes - November 11, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Questions On Fall Crops - November 17, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardenersí Q&As For November - November 28, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardeners' December Checklist Includes Citrus Show On Dec. 9 - December 3, 2004 article

Gardening: Citrus Show A Huge Success With 185 Entries - December 19, 2004 article

Gardening: Trees and Shrubs - December 23, 2004 article

Gardening: Cold Weather Impact - January 4, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Checklist For January Includes Several Educational Programs - January 7, 2005 article

Gardening:Announcing the 2005 Galveston County Master Gardener Training - January 13, 2005 article

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