Native or Not

Defining and identifying which plants are native is not easy because, first of all, there is no definitive definition.

Wikipedia definition:  “Native plants are plants indigenous to a given area in geologic time. This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area (trees, flowers, grasses, and other plants). Some native plants have adapted to very limited, unusual environments or very harsh climates or exceptional soil conditions.”

Sometimes it is difficult to find natives for sale at nurseries.  This False Foxglove was growing along our county road, so I dug up a couple of clumps about four years ago.

Texas Native Plant Society defines natives as plants that were growing naturally here when the European settlers came or plants that were growing naturally in this state at the beginning of the Holocene Recent Epoch, which began about 8,000 – 10,000 years ago, just after the last Ice Age.


Actually, in Texas we are lucky to have Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center because they have native plant sales twice a year.

Another way to get natives is from a friend or an acquaintance.  This plant came from a garden club sale.  It is Western Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) that was growing in Texas at the time of the arrival of the Europeans, and thus is considered native by some botanists.

Now, how does anyone know that?  Is there a notebook somewhere that has descriptions and drawings of this plant?

The feathery soft leaves are nice in small vases with small flowers.

This was also bought at a garden club sale.  I thought it was native but after some research, I believe it is Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea Moonshine).  It is a sterile, non-reseeding variety.

Looks like it will grow much taller than I realized.  The reason it was planted in this cattle feeder was to shade the “feet” of a Clematis vine.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture definition of “native plant” is “a plant that lives or grows naturally in a particular region without direct or indirect human intervention.” That definition also might apply to many “naturalized” plants that were introduced long ago, but are now thriving and spreading without human intervention.

Dripping with blossoms, the Yellow Lead Ball Tree is a pretty small multi-branched tree.

Crossvine or Trumpet Flower (Bignonia capreolata) is a sought-after vine because it is a vigorous grower and has tubular flowers that draws pollinators.

Don’t confuse this with Trumpet Creeper or Cow-itch Vine (Campsis radicans) which is invasive.

Plants that were introduced by man during the last three hundred or so years and that have adapted to our landscape and climate are referred to as “naturalized.”  Some of these are aggressive and are considered invasive or noxious.

Mexican Buckeye or Texas Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa) has pink/white flowers while it is leafing out and bears these unusual seed pods.  In fall the leaves are supposed to turn yellow.  This one was planted in early February.

Texas Primrose (Calylophus drummondianus var. berlandieri)is a Texas Native that has needle-like foliage.

It thrives in rocky bar ditches.

Long swaths of Pink Evening Primrose or Showy Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) along the highway makes me want to stop and get up close to them.

Simple, yet lovely.

Native Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) does not like to be watered.  These appear in flower beds but die out if over watered.

Ox-eye  or Margarita Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgarde) is considered by many to be a native but is actually native to Europe and parts of Asia.

The whole idea of native versus non-native is a hot topic right now in Texas.  Some people are offended by planting anything but natives.  But as the definitions show, that is not an exact science.  Others think that natives do not belong in urban settings.

Personally, I plant what will survive and do well in my region.  If I like something that won’t survive our winter, then I put it in a pot.  Then it can be moved into a shed.  My philosophy:   be practical and lighten up.

Sorry this is so long.  Thanks for taking the time to read this.

“Native plants give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours.  I want Texas to look like Texas and Vermont to look like Vermont.”  Lady Bird Johnson















High and Low

It’s easy to miss the little beauties on the ground and those above us.

highlowIron Weed (Vernonia altissima) is a native that grows in bar ditches around here.  I gathered seeds and put them in a pot.  This one has done so so in a container but really should be sown in the grown.

The flower clusters are small but a bunch of them is eye catching.

Normally, it blooms in late spring and summer, but the cooler weather has revived it.

highlow1Up above my head Vitex or Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) from the Mediterranean region has a similar climate to ours.  The flowers stand out silhouetted against the blue sky.

highlow5Native Yarrow (Achillea) provides a casual look to the garden.  In this case, I’m hoping it will spread and provide shade for the ‘feet’ of a Clematis.

Native Americans used ground yarrow boiled in water and cooled as a wash to treat sunburns.

highlow2The berries on a Chinese Pistache tree (Pistacia chinensis) draws my eyes upward.  This tree is a good choice for our area because it is pest free with a hardwood that is decay resistant.  It was chosen as a Texas Super Star tree for many reasons.  This great shade tree that has autumn color is one of my favorite trees.

highlow8After the heat of the summer passed, Cone flowers have popped back up.  I’m not sure which Echinacea variety this one is.

The stems are shorter this time around than the earlier spring ones.  Love these.

highlow9But a warning.  These reseed to produce a massive array.  It’s not possible to have just a few.

highlowdReally like the unusual color of these Geraniums.  The red flowers have a pink strip on each petal.  This came from my mother’s house.  Right now it needs a little TLC but still very nice.

highlow3Looking straight up, the Crossvine (bignonia capreolata) has started to crawl across the top bars of the arbor.  It’s nice when plants follow the plan.

highlow4A great vine for pollinators.

highlowfA sort of whirly jig: the wheels spin on this truck on a pole.

highlowbShasta Daisies ( Leucanthemum × superbumare) are also blooming again.  Most people enjoy their familiar and clean look.

Don’t you love the signs of fall and the cooler temperatures?

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”  Ronald Reagan

Last Look at OK City

The Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City were not what I expected.  It is actually a park for families with flower beds in a lower area.  It covers four city blocks that form a square, but doesn’t seem that big.  Maybe we missed something.

okarboretum3What looks like a blurry picture is actually the result of water mist coming from the Thunder Fountain.  It functions like a sprinkler for children to run through, but of course, has a much more powerful spray coming from above.  Several kids were laughing and playing under it.

okarboretum4The playground is on an upper area with seating.  Stairs lead down to a lower level with a walking loop around a pond.  This is where most of the flowers are.  In the above photo is some kind of Salvia.

okarboretum5This was labeled Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta ‘Tiger Eye Gold’), a native to North America.

okarboretum6The gardens had several symmetrical designs, which made it seem rather formal.

okarboretum7There were lots of Oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) under the trees and in other shady areas.  In the background is the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory that looks like a huge glass tube.

Because we chose to visit the gardens in the late afternoon for a cooler walk, the conservatory was closed.  Also, I had hoped to avoid the harsh sunlight in photos.  Ha.  That didn’t happen.

okarboretum8More Oakleaf Hydrangeas line the stairway.

okarboretum9Not sure what these are, but they might be pentas.  I was disappointed that there were no signs for many things.

okarboretumaThese look like Hostas to me.  There were lots of new plantings of perennials.  Being further north, maybe the freezes killed what was planted in these beds.

okarboretumbThat low sun swept across everything that wasn’t in the shade.

okarboretumcPrairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya) blooms at the top of the tall stalk with pinkish purple clusters.  Also known by the name Gay Feather, it is a striking sight on prairies and in fields.

okarboretumdThese Coneflowers (Echinacea pallida ‘Hula Dancer’) made me smile.  They definitely sway like dancing girls in straw skirts.


okarboretumfYarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a great garden plant because it has such a unique look.  Mine got taken over by the agressive Gregg’s Bluemist.  But butterflies swarm to the Bluemist, so I can live with losing the Yarrow in that spot.  Maybe I’ll try it somewhere else.

okarboretumgThis looks like a Zinna hybrid.

okarboretumhThis tree root system sculpture was displayed with a warning about touching it.  Guess they didn’t want climbers.  Interesting play of light and shadows.

okarboretumjThe sun made the pink of these Petunias almost psychedelic.

okarboretumkThis small waterfall empties into a stream that flows into the pond.

okarboretumlYellow Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’) is a North American native.  Now I know where the inspiration for the plastic clusters of white berries came from.  These are sold in the artificial flowers section of several craft stores.

okarboretummMore Salvia.


okarboretummojpgHorsetail (Equisetum hyemale) is also from North America.  I really like the look, and how it is used in a narrow bed along a wall.

okarboretummpjpgThis pot contained a variety of plants including an Oleander, Coleus, Plumbago, purple Potato Vine and Verbena.

I enjoy strolling through almost any garden, but this one was not on my favorites list.  To be fair, we did not see inside the conservatory.

“Note to self:  just because it pops into my head does not mean it should come out of my mouth.” t-shirt humor or wisdom?