Posts Tagged ‘Texas native plants’

The Driveway Experiment

I think Winkler's firewheel is kind of cosmic.

I love trees and so my garden is fairly shady.

My soil is mostly heavy clay.

So… I realized a few years ago that my driveway presents unique opportunities to grow plants that ordinarily would not survive in my garden .

I seized the opportunity and began planting herbs and Texas natives in the gravel at the edge of the drive.

One of my favorite plants that abides here is Winkler’s gaillardia or Texas firewheel (Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri).

This blanketflower is an endangered species that is native to only a few counties in east Texas.

I procured a plant or two at the Lone Star Regional Native Plant Conference a few years ago.  The plants were nursery propagated by Dawn Stover who is a Research Associate with the Stephen F. Austin Mast Arboretum in Nacogdoches.

This arrangement of Winkler's firewheel, sweetautumn clematis, Chinese abelia, hearts a busting and black eyed Susan was gleaned from my garden yesterday.

A little colony of the firewheel has grown and is in bloom for most of the warm months.  If memory serves, it starts around May and flowers until October.

I think it’s a cosmic plant – maybe because of the firewheel name or the sunburst shape or maybe even because of the purple color.

I know that it blooms for a long time and that during the hottest most brutal months I can find a few flowers to stick in a vase.

The color norm for this species in Texas is yellow centered with white rays.  Dawn selected seedlings that had purple variations.  Her efforts resulted in a variety called ‘Grape Sensation’.  It’s a little purpler than my seedlings, I think.  You can see it at

Check it out if you need a cheerful little purple daisy for your own driveway.


Sense of Place

I returned from a whirlwind trip to Texas a couple of days ago.  I had a grand time at the Lone Star Regional Native Plant Conference.  I also enjoyed staying with my friends Peter and Cassandra Loos at their home in Chireno.

The great thing about staying at someone’s house is that you really get to know them well.   I had plenty of unstructured time to explore the garden.  I was mentored in this venture by The Dude and Aletris.

The Dude, by the way, is the oldest boy of my dogs, Dotsie and B.  He is Junebug’s brother.  I was there when he was born and it delights me that he has such a happy home.  But… I digress – that’s enough about dog genealogy for now!

The Loos garden (where The Dude abides) has a very strong sense of place.  You could probably guess that it was in East Texas or the vicinity just by looking at the pictures.   The house is Cassandra’s family’s old home place.   Native plants from the region are planted throughout the landscape.  Some, like the black eyed Susans in the front yard, simply volunteered and were allowed to stay.

Aletris likes to hang in the front garden admiring the wildflowers.

Cassandra's windmill was sited with a pasture backdrop. This little vignette announces to visitors that "You're in Texas now!"

Peter collects petrified wood as well as plants.  He sets the big pieces vertically like small sculptures and uses small chunks to edge beds.

The Dude abides near a bed edged with petrified wood.

Pete procured several ceramic heads from our friend Marc Pastorek.  They are mounted on 4″x4″ posts covered with native wisteria (Wisteria frutescens).

This guy seems startled to find native wisteria twining through his nose. Do you blame him?

Pete has established a small prairie full of native Texas prairie plants.

Eastern Gamma Grass (Tripsicum dactyloides) blooms with other wildflowers in Pete's prairie.

I felt refreshed and invigorated by the time I spent in the Loos garden.  But… I was not inspired to rush home and try to make my garden look like Texas.

The beauty of this garden is that it fits perfectly into its surroundings and reflects the personalities of those who live there.  I wish the same for my own garden.


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