Landscaping IDEAS for North Texas
Gardeners throughout Texas are discovering the benefits of native Texas plants. These indigenous plants use water in amounts similar to the natural rainfall, they resist our North Texas climate conditions (our heat!), and plants indigenous to each of Texas biomes creates an identity for that region of Texas.
A ‘wildscape’ is a landscape that uses native plants and provides habitat through a natural landscape design. Native plants and natural landscapes go hand-in-hand. Native plants provide food for wildlife and a natural landscape style provides nesting, safety, and water for wildlife.
However, our urban culture requires a more orderly landscape look. Some gardeners provide this order by clipping, mowing, and generally grooming native plants to meet our human needs for order in the landscape. This works, but quite frankly, I’m too lazy for this approach.
I approach this basic human need for order in the landscape from a design perspective. Using the fundamental design elements such as line, rhythm, accents, texture, and color, we control the observer’s eye through the landscape and give order to a natural landscape.
Rhythm is created by repeating a feature of the landscape. It can be achieved by the repetition of a particular shape, texture, or color. I often repeat hardscape (non-plant) shapes – sometimes all are of equal size, or of various sizes. Repetition of plants can be achieved through repeating plant textures and colors.
Textures create contrast within a planting bed. The spiky texture of Paleleaf Yucca (Yucca pallida), Twisted Yucca (Yucca rupicola), or Lindheimer Muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri) lure the eye, when placed in beds amongst the smaller, finer texture of native plants such as Salvia Greggi (Salvia greggii), and Zexmenia (Wedelia hispada).
Line is extremely important to the native landscape. A strong line in the landscape controls the viewer’s eye better than any other design element. Lines can be continuous, or dotted. Curved lines are generally relaxing and seem to correspond with a natural landscape. Remember that the eye will take in the complete arc of a curve. By controlling where the arc of a bed edge or line sits, you can control the view of your house or yard.
Paths through the landscape can provide a line. The result is two-fold; paths get people where they travel, and a creative gardener will develop it into a pleasing design line. Other features that provide lines within a landscape include dry riverbeds, walls, or patio edges.
Texas native perennials provide an abundance of color. Orange blooming native plants for our North Texas landscapes are found in the long season blooming of Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus wrightii), Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides) and Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea), while the very useful evergreen Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) blooms for about two weeks.
Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) is a very striking red, and is a great accent in the landscape. Cedar Sage (Salvia roemeriana) blooms in the shade. Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii), Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), and red Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii ) are great hummingbird attractants with little water use.
Hinkley’s Columbine (Aquilegia hinckleyi) blooms early and likes some shade. Other yellows prefer the sun; Zexmenia (Wedelia hispada), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Sundrops(Calylophus spp.), and Four Nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa), are only a few.
Blues and lavenders create a background and ‘fill-in’ the landscape. Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea), Fall Aster (Aster oblongifolius), Spiderwort (Tradescantia spp.), and Prairie Verbena (Verbena bipinnatifida) are some of the blues that I frequently use in my blue and lavender native plant color pallet.
Don’t forget white as a color! Some white perennials are Angel Trumpet (Datura wrightii), Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), and white Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii). White blooming trees include the Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana), Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana) and our local Roughleaf Dogwood (Cornus drummondii).
Pinks are everywhere. The seed heads of the Gulf Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) are a lovely cloud of pink when back lit by a morning or evening sun. Pink perennial bloomers for use in our landscapes are Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala), pink Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii ), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and Winecups (Callirhoe involucrata).