Behind the Scenes

Did you know that at the January NPSOT-H board meeting, your board voted to make the following donations?

  • $100 to Helms Elementary for their native plant garden
  • $500 to Houston Audubon’s native plant program in memory of Flo Hannah
  • $500 to Katy Prairie Conservancy for maintenance and restoration projects

When you come to our monthly chapter meeting, the speaker is there to present an enlightening talk, the plant of the month is presented with pictures and growing information, the talk is videotaped so that the people who cannot attend can also get the information (link to posted monthly presentations), great refreshments are beautifully presented… Does it seem like all the pieces of the meeting magically fall in place? Actually, it is not magic – just a team of people, each doing his/her part, meshing together.

Would you like to take a peek in the kitchen to see how the meet is made? If so, please join us at our monthly board meetings, which are open everyone. Visitors are welcome to join in the discussions or to just observe. The NPSOT-H board meetings are scheduled for the LAST Tuesdays of the month (February 27, March 27, April 24, May 29, June 26, July 31, August 28, September 25, October 30, November 27, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.) at the Trini Mendenhall Community Center. (1414 Wirt Rd, Houston, TX 77055, goo.gl/maps/sEpShbDR4yH2). To check for possible changes before coming, contact Sheryl Marquez (Trisheratops@aol.com). In upcoming board meetings, one of the things we will be discussing is future donations: procedure of donations and to which organizations/projects we will be donating.

Interested in NPSOT-H’s Wildscape Workshop (WW)? Be the first to know that, unfortunately, WW speaker John Abbot will not be able to come. Help us plan this year’s workshop, which will be on Saturday, September 22, at Houston Community College at the West Loop. Like to organize a native plant sale? We will need you! The WW planning meetings will also be at Trini Mendenhall, but on these Tuesdays: March 20, May 22, July 24, and September 11, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Again, check with Sheryl before coming.

Come and be involved!

 

Flo Hannah

Information transferred from the NPSOTH website home page:

NPSOT Houston Chapter, and Houston’s Native Plant and Conservation Communities
Mourn the Loss of Flo Hannah
Former NPSOTH Field Trip Coordinator, Board Member, and
Passionate Advocate for Our Local Native Plants

View Flo Hannah’s Obituary in the Houston Chronicle
Link to a blog of some of her accomplishments

Photo by Don Verser

A memorial service was held at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church at 11:00 am on January 16. Despite the icy weather, the service was attended by many people, including NPSOTH members Linda Knowles, Mary Spolyar, Suzy Shapiro, Lan Shen, and many Houston Audubon members who are also NPSOT members.
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Some of remembrances of Flo written by NPSOTH members and native plant advocates:
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Sheryl Marquez, NPSOTH Treasure: “A big loss for the native plant and prairie restoration community.”
Nancy Hannon: “…I am so shocked and sad.  Flo was such an inspiration and driving force to our local native plant/prairie partner communities and, I suspect , to the wider world as well.She was such an excellent teacher – so willing and patient, particularly to ‘newbies’ Too sad…
Jaime Gonzalez of Katy Prairie Conservancy, a frequent speaker at NPSOTH events and collaborator of NPSOTH: “It is with a very heavy heart that I write to you today. Our friend Flo Hannah lost her battle with cancer this afternoon. She fought until the end. 
Flo was a wonderful advocate for nature and an even better friend and mentor. Her spirit, vision, passion, and smile will be sorely missed by all of us.”

NPSOT: Grants Available for Monarch Habitat Gardens

Our parent state organization – The Native Plant Society of Texas – just announced that applications are open for the 6th annual Grant for Monarch Habitat Gardens and are due by February 15. “Small financial awards in the amounts of $50.00 to $400.00 are available to public sites including schools, nature centers, and other organizations for native plants to create demonstration gardens or “Monarch Waystations” with habitat for migrating Monarchs and other native pollinator species.” Successful proposals will be announced March 1.

For more information, go to https://npsot.org/wp/monarchs/

Texas provides important breeding habitat as well as migratory habitat as the Monarchs travel to and from their wintering grounds in Mexico….The purpose of this program is to raise public awareness for Monarch conservation, to produce and distribute native milkweeds and nectar plants that are essential to reproduction by Monarch butterflies, and to restore Monarch habitats through the Texas migration flyway.”

In addition to the blog announcing this grant, the state NPSOT website, NPSOT.org, has many interesting blogs on its home page. The latest one is titled “A flower for all seasons” – “Four-nerve Daisy can and will bloom in all the months of the year.” To read these blogs either go to NPSOT.org or subscribe (at this link) to get their blogs in your email.

Photo from https://npsot.org/wp/story/2018/10523/

Gardening Tips for Growing Texas Native Plants

Gardening Tips for Growing Texas Native Plants

Thomas Adams, botanist for the MidCoast National Wildlife Refuge in Brazoria, Texas

Missed our monthly meeting and featured speaker. No problem… Just watch this video. Join our group of over 4600 viewers that watch our Youtube video channel.

This video gives practical experience growing native plants along the Texas Gulf Coast. The presentation is by Thomas Adams, botanist for the MidCoast National Wildlife Refuge in Brazoria, Texas. He discusses his experience growing the plants in the NPSOT Houston Chapter’s 2017 Wildscapes Workshop and Native Plant Sale that are specially adapted to gulf coast regions and adjacent prairies. Click here for tentative plant list.

Click here to enjoy other native plant presentation’s from our monthly meetings, from our Wildscapes Workshop, on the NPSOT Native Landscaping Certification Program, and special topical native plant and ecological videos from our videographer Niven Saleh.

Tracking Federally-Petitioned Native Plant Species of Texas

Tracking Federally-Petitioned Native Plant Species of Texas

Anna W. Strong describes her work

Missed our monthly meeting and featured speaker. No problem… Just watch this video. Join our group of over 4600 viewers that watch our Youtube video channel. In this video:

Anna W. Strong of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department explains how she tracks rare plant species with field research. This talk was delivered at the July 20, 2017,  chapter meeting of the Native Plant Society of Texas, Houston Chapter.

Click here to enjoy other native plant presentation’s from our monthly meetings, from our Wildscapes Workshop, on the NPSOT Native Landscaping Certification Program, and special topical native plant and ecological videos from our videographer Niven Saleh.

Enjoy!

Houston’s Early-Settlement Flora Can Guide Planting of Your Native Garden

HOUSTON’S EARLY-SETTLEMENT FLORA
CAN GUIDE PLANTING OF YOUR NATIVE GARDEN

By RUSSELL KANE
Technical writer, naturalist at VintageTexas.com
(vintagetexas.com)
& DAN WORRALL
Author & Member, Harris County Historical Commission
(historicalcommission.harriscountytx.gov)

Reprinted from the Lazy Gardener Newsletter edited by Brenda Smith

Many people see the “wild and natural” disappearing around them and want to “grow native”, but have problems finding their inspirational “seed” to get them started with native plant gardening.

One suggestion is to literally take pages out of history from the writings of early settlers, travelers and naturalists that documented their experiences in our prairies, forests and riparian bottomlands. You can derive your inspiration from their observations.

In early-settlement times, most villages and other settlements on Buffalo, Braes and White Oak Bayou were in a forest wilderness. In 1840, early Houston-resident George Bonnell wrote about this area as being a virgin forest with “pine, oak, ash, hickory, mulberry, and cypress trees.” If you need a tree for your “nativescape”, what Bonnell saw can give you direction. A good start is to go with our hardy and wildlife-friendly native oaks like the Bur, Nuttall and Swamp Chestnut Oaks.

In the 1830s, naturalist Thomas Drummond traveled west from Galveston exploring riparian regions of the Texas river bottomlands. There, he found Turk’s Cap, a highly versatile spreading shrub with bright-red, hibiscus-like flowers. It handles sun, shade, wet and dry, and can fit into your native landscape as a tall shrub, or shortened to a hedge of multiple plants, or trimmed down to a tall ground cover.

Arthur Ikin and Ferdinand Roemer came to our region in the 1840s and archived observations of native prairies and wildflowers. Ikin expressed, “In spring and summer, the whole country, hill, wood and prairie presents the appearance of a vast flower garden.” Roemer wrote of the breathtaking vastness of the Texas prairies calling them “oceans of grass” with “tall grass covering the flat surface as far as the eye can see”.

Unfortunately, less than 1 percent of the once nine million acres of coastal prairie from Iklin’s and Roemer’s day remains. However, a rare place like nearby 51-acre Deer Park Prairie offers local gardeners a palette of native gardening ideas. Over 300 varieties of native plants and grasses have grown there since settlement times. Some of these legacy species include: grassy plants like Little Blue Stem, Gulf Muhly and Cherokee Sedge; colorful forbs like Blue Mistflower, Prairie Blazing Star, Texas Coneflower. Missouri Ironweed, and Swamp Sunflower; Green Milkweed; and woody plants like Wax Myrtle. Click here for a list of native plant species in the Deer Park Prairie.

You can speak further with Russ & Dan or at:
SAT., SEPT. 9: WILDSCAPES WORKSHOP & NATIVE PLANT SALE, 8am-3:30pm, Houston Community College, 5601 West Loop South. Native Plant Society of Texas-Houston Chapter event. $40 Aug. 26, $50 after. Register: npsot.org/wp/houston/wildscapes-workshop/

Fireflies: Glowing, Glowing, Gone!

Photo credit: Ben Pfeiffer (firefly.org)

Fireflies: Glowing, Glowing, Gone!

by Ben Pfeiffer.

Reprinted from the Lazy Gardener Newsletter edited by Brenda Smith.

Gardeners often don’t realize gardens make for great firefly habitat, helping to replace lost natural habitat. The common firefly — the Big Dipper firefly (Photinus pyralis) — readily takes to an organic habitat. The trick is to make your garden as inviting as possible for fireflies to take up residence.

Gardens are meccas for food fireflies eat. If you have fought off snails, slugs, various insects, worms then fireflies can lend a hand by helping to control these pests.

Fireflies spend up to 95% of their lives in larval stages. They live in soil/mud/leaf litter and spend from 1-2 years growing until finally pupating to become adults. This entire time they eat anything they can find. As adults, they only live 2-4 weeks. Females that have mated successfully need a place to lay eggs. They will lay eggs in many spots, but gardens offer an oasis with a source of soil moisture good for larval development.

Some inventive tips for attracting fireflies:

  • Don’t rake leaves and put them on the curb. You are raking up firefly larvae and throwing them away.
  • Collect bags of leaves to make “Bag Compost”. Collect 5-15 bags.
    Wet bags down in a shady lawn area. Keep moist/wet for 3-6 months or up to a year.
  • Bags will attract snails/slugs. This is food for growing fireflies.
    In Spring, put bag compost in your garden. Put it in mounds and till it into your soil.
  • Repeat each year. It might take as long as 5 years, or as quick as that same year, to get fireflies in your garden.
  • Fireflies in larvae stage need to eat. Favorite food: snails and slugs.Other ways to help attract fireflies:
  • Assess your soil health
  • If you have poor soil, introduce nutrients such as bag compost, leaves.
    Till your soil. Tilling adds some aeration and prevents soil from compacting.
  • Avoid use of broad spectrum pesticides, especially lawn chemicals.
    Turn off outside lights and advocate for local “Dark Skies” policies to control light pollution.
  • Buy land to protect species.
  • Let log and leaf litter accumulate. Segment an area of your land/yard to remain in a natural state.
  • Plant trees and native grasses. Grasses and forbs help retain soil moisture.
  • Don’t over-mow your lawn.
    — — — — — — — — — —
    Contact Ben through firefly.org or talk with him in person at:

Ben Pfeiffer will be speaking SAT., SEPT. 9: WILDSCAPES WORKSHOP & NATIVE PLANT SALE 8am-3:30 pm, Houston Community College, 5601 West Loop South. Native Plant Society of Texas-Houston Chapter event. $40 Aug. 26, $50 after.
Register: npsot.org/wp/houston/wildscapes-workshop/
(space limited — register early)

Video: NPSOT Houston June Plant of the Month – Powdery Thalia

Video: NPSOT Houston June Plant of the Month – Powdery Thalia

What you don’t know about this local native plant? Bet you’ve seen it around our local swamps,
marshes, ditches, and water’s edge. Listen to NPSOT Houston Chapter member Katy Emde’s presentation from our June 15th meeting on Powdery Thalia (Thalia dealbata).

Listen to NPSOT Houston Chapter member Katy Emde’s presentation from our June 15th meeting on Powdery Thalia.

Video: “Water U” Doing Houston? – Water Conservation, Rain Harvesting, and Rain Gardens

Video: “Water U” Doing Houston? – Water Conservation, Rain Harvesting, and Rain Gardens

Didn’t get to the NPSOT Houston Chapter monthly meeting on June 15th or just want to hear/see it again? No problem.

Watch the above video of Daniel Cunningham, Horticulturist, Water University, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas, Texas give his June meeting presentation on this exciting, interesting and very timely topic.

Houston is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and has one of the most complex water systems. In order to meet the demands of a growing population, a quarter of Texas’ future water needs is planned to be met through conservation. This program addresses the critical need for conservation in the Houston area with a whole systems approach to water budgeting, incorporating practical solutions to manage water during flood or drought. The presentation will focus on Native Plant Selection, Indoor and Outdoor Water Conservation, Rainwater Harvesting, Rain Gardens, Drip Irrigation, and New Water Conserving Technologies adaptable to the gulf coast region.

About the speaker:

As a Horticulturalist with Water University, Daniel Cunningham addresses professionals and the public to provide the most sustainable information about landscape water use from design and plant selection to water conserving landscape management practices. Daniel specializes in Texas native plants, vegetable gardening, edible landscaping and rainwater harvesting. He also frequently forages for his own food and provides information for developing wildlife-friendly landscapes. Daniel received a B.S. in Environmental Horticulture with a minor in Natural Resource Management from Texas Tech University.

We Won Most # Species: City Nature Challenge

We Won!
Greater Houston WON Most Species Found
During City Nature Challenge, April 14-18

Thanks to all the 417 people in greater Houston who posted to iNaturalist during the City Nature Challenge 2017, the answer to the Challenge’s question “Which City Can Find the Most Nature?” is Greater Houston! We not only won in Texas, we won in the entire country with an offical tally of 2419 species posted – just 18 more than Austin, with which we were neck and neck on the last day! Dallas won the most observations posted and Los Angelos won most number of people posting. We won the MOST IMPORTANT CATEGORY and were in the top five in the other two categories.

The person in greater Houston who posted the most observations is NPSOT-H’s Kelly Walker. Second is Andy Newman of Harris County Flood Control. The two who posted the most number of species are first Andy Newman and second, Jed Aplaca of Natural Resources Manager of Houston Park and Recreation Department. Come to the meeting on Thursday and meet Andy Newman, who will be making a special request to us.

Also, Jed Aplaca will be teaching “a free plant identification training course this month. This three day training will focusing on characteristics of plant families and how to identify common native and non-native species found within the Houston area. Classroom sessions and field identification will be provided each day: Training Dates: May 24, 2017 9am to 12pm; May 31, 2017 9am to 12pm; June 7, 2017 9am to 12pm… Space is limited. Please register here to reserve your spot.”

Most of us already knew that greater Houston is incredibly diverse with our coastal prairie, seashore, coastal marches and wetlands, piney woods and forests, and riparian habitats. Now the entire nation knows, thanks to all those who participated in this year’s challenge. Please sharpen your skills for next year, when the City Nature Challenge goes international! Tip for next year: Jaime Gonzalez noted that no one took the Bolivar Ferry this year and posted dolphin as a species!