Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Native prairie grasses - the dry garden's salvation?

The drought in Texas has gone on so long and become so severe that it is actually capturing attention in the national press.  In this week's New York Times online, for example, there is a long article about the use of prairie grasses in gardens around Austin where they have already had more than seventy days of 100 degree weather this summer and just about as little rain (or maybe less) as we have had.  It's a well-written, well-documented piece and it may hold some of the answers for the future of gardening in an increasingly dry and hot environment as the planet continues to heat up.

I was interested to read in the piece about the bison which escaped from its pasture and high-tailed it over to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center where it was able to munch on the stands of prairie grasses that grow there.  I'd say that was one smart bison!

There was also a comment in the story about how "shallow-rooted crape myrtles" were suffering in the drought.  I have to say that hasn't really been my experience with the crape myrtles in my yard.  They have withstood the drought very well, but perhaps it is because of the difference between the soils of Austin as opposed to Southeast Texas.

There can be little doubt, however, that the plants that thrive best in our current trying conditions are the native plants that have acclimated to the area through millennia of evolution.  And among those tough plants, some of the very toughest are the prairie grasses.  We could do worse than to find a place for them in our gardens.

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