1 Episode results for "Wildflower Research Center"

Andrea DeLong-Amaya, Women Working In The World Plants #2

Cultivating Place

54:34 min | 11 months ago

Andrea DeLong-Amaya, Women Working In The World Plants #2

"This is cultivating place conversations on natural history and the human impulse to garden from nor state public radio in northern California. I'm Jennifer Joel. Were now well into women's history month and International Women's Day was this last Sunday march eighth as we continue cultivating places. Women's history month interviews. Were joined this week by Andrea Delong Amaya director of horticulture for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas. At Austin it is also the botanic garden for the State of Texas Andrea has been on staff for over twenty years and has more than thirty years of experience in horticulture. She Guides fifteen staff members in the design and management of nine acres of Native Plant Gardens. Two hundred and seventy five acres of natural areas and in native plant nursery. She teaches classes in native plant horticulture and writes and presents on her passion for the field widely. She spoke with US late. Last autumn to share more about the history and work of the centre including it. Being the legacy of another extraordinary woman ladybird Johnson Andrea shares. Her own enthusiasm for this field of work. Welcome Andrea Hi. How you doing? I'm great how are you wonderful? I'd love for you to start by describing describe the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center as visually as you can for listeners. Who may not have been there. And then we'll talk a little bit about your specific work there Andrea Sherr so we are in a South Austin and in the middle of Texas. We're in a part of the state that we refer to as Texas El country or the Edwards Plateau which is a beautiful beautiful part of the state. Of course Texans will say every part of the state is beautiful but I WANNA say text. The central Texas area is particularly beautiful especially in the spring were really renowned for having excellent wildflower displays including the Texas blue on it which occurs all over the state but the central Texas areas particularly flora for us in the spring. And so we are like I said in Austin and the site that were on is a public garden where about two hundred and eighty five acres. I think we actually added a little bit more In the last year or so and it's a public garden where we feature plants that are native to the state of Texas. That's the site now. The organization is bigger than that But the gardens here. We're demonstrating hell different. Native plants can be used in different kinds of landscapes different kinds of styles. We have collections of plants. From different parts of the State we are the Botanic Garden Texas. So we're trying to increase our collections to represent other parts of the state as well as the central Texas area so we have about nine acres of cultivated gardens and then we have a sixteen Acre Texas Arboretum of trees So those are the horticultural areas in then. We have natural areas in The other parts of the the property And that the natural areas also include some research areas. We have some Areas where we're doing Land Management prescribed fire treatments and different kinds of land-management to see how that influences the vegetation. Yeah we can talk more about that. If you're if you like definitely definitely I will i. I would love to get into some of the specifics of each of those areas you just described but before we get there. Describe your your your job there what it entails and may be the trajectory of your twenty years there. Andrea. Yeah well. I started as a gardener appropriately and really enjoy working outside. I mean I've always been interested in being outdoors and that goes way back to my childhood is probably most people who have an affinity for the natural world That usually starts childhood so I grew up doing things outdoors with my parents particularly with my dad. We'd go camping or canoeing. And I remember having a field guide of of wildflowers weeds that surrounded our area where we lived and that was great. Fun everything from astronomy to birds and lizards and insects. Just everything is so interesting And I just find that the more I learn about things the more I'm fascinated and in awe of the natural world so that's just started early but it's just been a long a lifelong interest in learning more and observing more. I mean I laugh. We have a big picture window at our dining room table. And that's our TV. We don't have an actual electronics of the Inter House. It's overlooking a garden and pond and we just sit there and watch the animal antics and what's blooming and it's great fun and it's a nice way to slow down in our fast paced world That's a that's a big part of what I think. Nature does for me and for a lot of people So you started as a gardener. What year was that Andrea and then tell us about the progression of your rules at the Center Which clearly you progressed in because of your deepening curiosity and ever expanding knowledge base. Yes so I started in December of nine hundred ninety eight and Worked as a gardener I've guarded in most of the areas that we have in Under cultivation over the years and at some point we had Position of gardens manager was available so I moved into that and then I don't know maybe fifteen years ago I transitioned into the direct report culture and Unfortunately that means a little bit less guarding than I used to do. But it also gets me in a higher level of designing decision making which is very exciting and allows me to have more influence over some of the bigger picture things that are happening And then overseeing the natural areas arboretum and the nurseries also been pretty pretty fun and adds different interest to what what I'm looking at. Yeah so talk about Before we get into the specifics of some of the programmatic areas and display areas there and then the research give listeners. A history of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center when it started what it's original mission in scope was of course the wonderful woman for whom it is named and by whom it was founded in its original iteration and So that that people have an understanding of just how much bigger is then. A Garden appreciating wildflowers. Because that is a fabulous mission but it's it is much bigger than that so we're very blessed to have had the visionary Labor Johnson as founder. She founded the wildflower center. Initially as the wildflower research center. The National Welfare Research Center and that was an endeavor that she took on with her friend and actress. Helen Hayes which a lot of people don't remember that part of of the history but it's Kinda Funny Mrs Johnson didn't feel like she had enough name. Recognition Systems of Helen Hayes. And so her mission right from the beginning was to really try to understand an unlocked the secrets of wildfires in native plants and understand how they grow and that was the original research. The the wildflower center did at that time and so that was a nineteen eighty two so the organization started back. Then we moved to our current site as a public garden Before it was more just a research site with some portables but it didn't really have botanical garden kind of exhibits. Someone moved to Our current site in one thousand nine hundred ninety five that was really a big focus of making the space Amenable to guests and having exhibits that people can interact with and having educational programming and really elaborating on that when she first started it. Why we'll just remind listeners? She was of course the first lady of the United States and she Had A as firstly. She had some remarkable initiatives to beautify. I think was the word that was used then. roads and highways across the country and she was taken by the wildflower diversity there in her home state for good reason. Because it's a pretty remarkable native flora. Will you talk a little bit about that? And and why people thought this was not just a pretty project but was worthy of deep research. Even at that time so yeah. Mrs Johnson grew up in a rural setting and without siblings so she was a long time so her best friend is. A child was outside Just the outdoors and I think that was what what instilled upon in her the scrape passion for the for the natural world and then as she became first lady She really had a great influence on President Johnson in terms of Passing legislation one of the things he's known for is the beautification. Act The highway beautification. Act and getting billboards off of the roadsides and cleaning up roadsides and planting wildflowers and the way I understand it you know we talk about it is being beautification and she knew at the time. She was very savvy that at the time. She knew that that was a word that would engage people. The public secretly I. I've heard that she felt like that was actually kind of a word and that it is she. I think she understood. It was deeper than just beautification was away to connect people with the idea that she had the native flora of Texas. Talk about the diversity you have there. And how the diversity of Texas which is not which is an enormous place with a lot of micro climates and But talk about that. Diversity is then valuable as a kind of proto type for researching and understanding diversity anywhere Andrea. The State is a big state. And because of that. We're really blessed with many different Eka regions and vegetation zones. We have depending on how you look at it. We might we have about a dozen different vegetation zones and it's kind of a funnel you if you look at how the the geography of North America As things migrate and flow back and forth from north to South America it goes through Central America and through the funnel of Texas so we get plants and animals coming through there that over millennia have really made it for very rich environment which is Super Fun to be exploring and studying and and gardening with those plants and gardening for wildlife the diversity of wildlife that we have what is your current number of sort of native plants in Texas. We have thousands Maybe five thousand native plant species or tax in the state of Texas. But I would have to confirm that number on our site. We have about nine hundred species of native tax on our property here and tax would include species and sometimes subspecies right. I think one of the things. It's really interesting to me. And part of what makes Native Plant Research. So interesting is that You know it's that Great John Muir quote of you can't pull on one thread in the universe without tugging on the whole of the universe but the native plant as you were describing that idea of Texas being this fabulous funnel in migration patterns and and water like large watersheds scope. You get this sense of the complexity and history of that interrelationship between climatic patterns geology. The tectonic plates of our continent and how plants and animals are interrelated with all of that. And it's all co evolved into this fabulous beautiful soup that you know in your region is the big beautiful state of Texas Talk. About how over time the different display areas have evolved there at the center and what they're kind of individual purposes are from the perspective of not only engaging the public but also providing laboratories for research end data and information collection. The gardens themselves have not been The subject of actual research study. I mean informally as gardeners. Were all every time we garden? It's always an experiment you but we do have more of our. Formal research is happening in the natural areas primarily with a land-management research. I would like to progress as we move forward to doing more plant trials and other more formal kinds of horticultural research but just demonstrating these plants. in having them in a garden setting where we can somewhat control conditions. Some plants obviously are pretty malleable and while adjusts to horticultural kind of settings others We found not well suited for gardens. They may be beautiful plants but they may be tricky or they may be really specific in the kinds of areas and conditions that they want to grow and people love. There's a little plant called Mountain. Pink which is super cute. It's Maybe a foot tall and it looks like this. Perfect bouquet of flowers with hot pink balsams on it and they bloom in the summer. They grow in road cuts where it's just basically solid rock almost just COLUCCI and people love them and they want to grow them in their garden. You try to grow them and they rot Because they really don't like the richer soils they don't compete well with bigger plants that you know would be more robust and bully them out so a lot of what. I'm trying to do and what we're trying to demonstrate and our gardens is that pick the right place the right conditions. That's that's a complicated thing. And that's you know a lot of what we're trying to do is is make. That information is easy for people to access as possible because every individual plant might have Their own conditions that they require to thrive. Yeah and a lot of what we're doing is garden with plants that have never been in horticultural setting in we have our onsite nursery which makes it really easy to propagate things we can collect seeds sometimes we'll take cuttings or divisions and then use them in the gardens and see what they do and try them in different soil types and in different watering regimes and different light conditions. And see what happens. So but that's really just the gardening part of it and then I know that there are several different display areas. Could you walk us through those? Yeah so probably what most people think of as the main garden area is what we call our demonstration gardens or the theme gardens which is an area that we have a bunch of different separated beds there in squares. We have twenty. Three of those in each one has a different story to tell which makes it a great fun. You know each one is designed to demonstrate plants. That are attractive to hummingbirds. Or maybe this one is a genus. Salvia that we're highlighting or the grass family. One of my favorites is the botanist bed. Which is plants that are selected because they have their after important botanists? Who did work in Texas Linda? Heimer Ferdinand Hammer is the father of Texas Botany and he has the most plants named after him so he gets the biggest box. So it's a little history lesson as well as a botanical display. We have another area that we call the taste of place garden and that is highlighting native plants that are used for different purposes so chilly bikinis little hot chili pepper. That is the prototype for most of our peppers like It's capsicum annual the botanical name. And that's the same species as our bell. Peppers are Serano and our Jalapenos So these little chilly bikinis are hot. Tiny little fruits but they are powerful and I love to be able to share those with with our guests. There are other things. Like Aga- Rita's that have a really nice sweet fruit to them on kind of tart sweet fruit. So that's been a lot of fun as to show people that a lot of our native plants could be used in a garden setting. There's been over the last ten or fifteen years. A lot of interest in cultivating edible landscapes at homes but people are usually thinking you know tomatoes peppers that kind of stuff which is great but to be able to incorporate native plants many of which are perennials. And don't need to be replanted every year. They also are adapted to our climate. So they're going to be heat tolerant or cold tolerance and thrive under the watering conditions. That we have then they're also providing wildlife habitat. Yeah so I'm interested about that. Proto Hot Pepper. That you were describing. That's a native plant. There animals eat that. Is that a valuable food source for birds or it is one of the common names as bird pepper. It's really favored by mocking birds. And you know if you've seen like Parrot Food A lot of times. We'll have DR peppers in it and there are just some birds really really like to eat them really adopted to the spicy food you have to get the mocking birds off of them if you want to enjoy them but most people are happy to share them with their birds. I'm Jennifer Jewel. And this is cultivating place Andrea Delong. Amaya is the director of horticulture for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin. We'll be back for more with Andrea after break. Stay with us. Hey as we continue these conversations with women featured in the earth in her hands. I continue as well to give you some additional background into my process for the book. If you didn't hear my interview with sibling program host Dave Slome of Blue Dot just a few weeks ago. Make sure to look for a link to that audio. In this week's show notes. It was a lovely interview some of the primary threads of inquiry while I was researching and writing this book. We're into how the plant world is improved as a result of being more representative not only allowing for more women to excel but also nurturing a much greater diversity of women how the field is far more viable and creative and innovative a career path for women than ever before and how this plant work world is demonstrating greater social and environmental responsibility in large part due to women's contributions and finally on how our human engagement with plants connects us to the natural world stewardship to our communities and to ourselves on powerful intellectual physical and spiritual levels Andrea Delong Amaya works in the metaphorical soil fed by the legacy of another great woman in the horticultural world. Not A horticulturalist herself. But a plant lover Ladybird Johnson. These are good women to learn about in women's history month now back to our conversation with Andrea Delong Amaya. This is cultivating place conversations on natural history and the human impulse to garden. In the second week of women's history month we're speaking with a native plant conservationist and advocate Andrea Delong Amaya director of horticulture for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas. At Austin. I remember visiting. I WANNA say four or five years ago now and just being really impressed with The beauty of the gardens the caretaking of the gardens and how much native plant and aesthetic gardening information. You Got Altogether. Thank you yeah Certainly as part is important because we would love for people to embrace these plants and use them at home most not all of them but most them but then we also use the research that we've done an incorporate those into demonstrations so we've done in the past We've done a lot of work with green roofs as you walk around. You'll see a number of green roofs that Demonstrate different kinds of settings that native plants could could be part of part of the research was to develop a planting media that is designed to work with our hot dry climates and then not just planting succulents and seems which I think most being roofs have. We're incorporating grasses and wildflowers into those areas too so that's one of the things that we have on demonstration green walls where we have screens that will provide some shade two buildings and all different kinds of sustainable practices that we able to incorporate into our landscapes here obviously just using native plants is helpful we have the E N Lucy Family Garden. Yes which is a fairly new addition to our gardens. It's about five and a half years old when we built it though we were designing it to be certified under the sustainable sites initiative that's set of criteria that people can follow voluntarily if you want to go through the system the ranking system and then depending on what kinds of things you incorporate into your landscape and the kinds of sustainable features that you include you can get a rating similar to leads for architecture are familiar with that So we do things like using native materials not bringing things in from a far distance in the construction that helps reduce the carbon footprint that you would have if you're bringing things in from other parts of the country or even other parts of the world incorporating materials that don't have toxins in them so a lot of the metal that we used we didn't use any zinc for example and all the hardware and we're trying to use the for Stewardship Council certified wood products using mulches that are recycled. One of the things that Is a big highlight for kids especially but adults are interested in who is we used crushed glass which the city of Austin collects from our recycling bins. You can crush it and tumble. It's it's not sharp and then use it as a as a mulch like mineral mulch and it has all different colors in it. Because you're mixing all those glass pieces in you have C. You have seagrass beds all over the garden and then maybe not see glass recycled glass. I guess you'd call it rather than sea glass so I have one question about the you mentioned which I think is Kind of a part of the sustainable materials work you're doing when you were doing the research to develop the media for the green roofs of course by which you mean the what you plant. The seeds in on top of that roof. What would did you use what? What was the media you ultimately developed Andrea Actually? The actual recipe is proprietary. And I don't actually even know what's in it It is all recycled and locally sourced materials which is one of the criteria that we're looking at when we developed it then. I know that. They experimented with several different materials. To see what would be both lightweight but also get draining and would hold moisture but not too much you know allowing for the drainage to happen and what's also important to understand that a lot of green roofs are actually not that sustainable. They're using materials. That are brought in from far distances. They May Have Peat Moss in them which is not millions dateable material. So it's really important for us to make sure that we were using materials that were renewable and locally sourced as well as being functional right and. I believe that they're just like here in interior northern California. It's a slightly different climate. But you run up against some very similar issues such as Water Resource Management Both as a run off and as a A precious resource during many months of the year. Talk about your some of your water. catchment and distribution methods in order to use that resource as wisely as possible when the wildfire center was initially built. We had the largest rainwater harvesting system in the country We can harvest to almost seventy thousand gallons of rainwater in store it Which is wonderful that we're able to use that on the landscape it's superior to city water anyway. So that's always been an important piece for us and yes you're right. Water conservation is a huge thing in our community as well. And that's been a really big selling point for promoting native plants because they are adopted to our climate and generally they're gonNA use less additional water in a in a landscape in addition to that one of the other features that we have in the Family Garden. That was site certified. We have a series of rain gardens. And they're all connected so when one fills up it feel flows into the other one the idea of these rain gardens. Is that when you get a lot of rain? The water is directed into these depressed areas. That have a planting medium has soil. That is well draining and so it helps percolate the water into the ground. So it's not just running off but it also directed in stores it long enough so that some of it will go into the ground and then if we get really a lot of rain it'll slow into the next one but we're able to capture more water. Instead of contributing to flooding downstream for example and all the soil will help filtration filter out. Impurities which is probably more important if you were in a parking lot or on the side of the road or something. Not so much the garden. We don't have toxins in here but but that's another function that rain garden one has and it's a fantastic model for the people who are visiting I don't know I I know you have millions of visitors. In a year and in all likelihood many of them are coming from urban areas. Where run off onto urban hard scape that goes directly into open surface water and disturbs the the balance of the water the quality of the water the habitat for all of the aquatic life. Both animal and plant is it becoming more and more important in our world of increasing urbanization. Absolutely filtering out. The toxins is is critical. Not using toxins. To begin with in your landscape is helpful. But there's certain things that roadsides were still driving so we're we're going to have run off using rain gardens and filtration ponds can be a great way to mitigate that it also provides its own amenity a lot of our native plants we think of as being very drought tolerant but some of these plants that grow on along creek sides are very adapted to wetter situations so having a rain garden gives you another place to put some of those species that might like a little bit extra water. Yeah now you are there in Austin. What what zone are you? And what do you know your annual precipitation on average Andrea? We get about thirty five inches of rain per year. The problem is that we get all at once rate might easily five inch rain Within a twenty four hour period so that we're really endanger flash flooding in our area. So all of these water issues that we've been talking about manage how to manage. Water is really important for us. Yeah and What what zone is that? So the Garden Zone that we're in is eight. Be Okay but I also think it's important to look at Because I think that just talks about what the temperature is but we're looking at cold and heat in the summer. A lot of the plants that people bring in from other places to grow in Texas if they're not from Texas they're going to have a hard time adapting to our heat that Safa something but then there's also the water issue and right right and go into that. Yes yes that learning to garden with. Your climate is such an interesting when when I first moved here to Northern California I thought Oh well a lot of my same beloved plants from Colorado should do fine and on paper. They might do fine but in fact they don't love the wet winter. That doesn't freeze quite as hard and they often wrought as you are describing in your Dry but sometimes humid summer conditions. Like it's it's a reminder to all of us that gardening in our place Is Most successful if you use. Plants adapted to the conditions of that place or similar from around the globe so the and that really is is our mission native plants wherever they are and by using native plants. You're doing a lot of things you're not adding extra water If you cited the plants you may not have to add soil amendments and I have air quotes around the word amendments. You're providing habitat mural so enhancing your sense of place. You know that you have plants that are that look like your area. That was something that Mrs Johnson would say. She wanted main to look like Maine in Texas to look like Texas and California to look like California and to really help fighting against that homogenization of the American landscape where you can go to different places throughout the country and look at a landscape and you have no idea where you are. The plants do not do not tell you anything about the region or the culture of the space or the natural history of the Of the region so those are definitely important pieces of what we're trying to do so then let's move to the conservation arm end while you indicated that not a lot of research is directly developed for the display gardens. Clearly they are the recipient of the a lot of the lessons learned from the research and they are sending a lot of models out into the public who visits them talk about the conservation works specifically around the natural areas and the forestry part of the the center so some of the research When we moved to the current Our current location. We shifted away from doing research on individual species figuring out how to grow bluebonnets for example When we moved to this location we have more space and so our research also shifted then to larger scale landscape management studies so we have maybe about fifty acres twenty Acre and a half plots and they get different land-management treatment so some of them get burned in the summer. Some of them get winterbourne's we might know some of them. We have Control areas that we don't manage D- Actively at all and then we compare them. We do vegetation studies and see how the landscape is responding to those different kinds of treatments and then that helps inform us to Make recommendations on you know if you want more grasses. This is a good way to do it. If you want more flowering plants or wildflowers. Do this if you're trying to manage certain invasive species there different things that you can do though it help with that. So that's been a research project that we've been working on here for about twenty years and we're going to be publishing that information hopefully pretty soon in the next year or two. Then we also done other studies where we've housed endangered species. We had a the endangered Tarbush Fishhook. Cactus that was rescued from a site. That was going to be under construction and then we took advantage of that opportunity and house them in our greenhouses and then did fecundity studies where we're looking to see how successful these plants were to reproduce. Oh how much they flowered at. What stage did they flower those kinds of things and then one of the things that we've done more recently that Has had a lot of interest is developing best practices for growing milk weeds. People are really really inspired to plant mill Queens to support monarchs and one of the things is that it's It's a real challenge to find native milk weeds. There are the Mexican milk. Wade's that are more readily available. That we encourage people not us. But that's what you can find so we have been really actively trying to not just provide native. Milk means to Texans but also to get local gene types. So we're collecting from different parts of the state and then providing those proper gills to local growers can then make them available to their constituents and trying to get local genetics and local species in those different areas. So that's been a lot of fun and very interesting work. And how many different needs species of milkweed are there in Texas off the top of my head? I would say maybe a dozen or so. What are some of the ones that are the most The most widely known or Available for people in our area. The bigger more populous ones. We have an antelope. Barnes milkweed a sleepiest ESPINOLA. We have green. Milkweed asleep. Veritas we have Yoruba deshazo tastes which is a sleepiest thyroid these Those are probably some of the more common ones A little further east in sandy soils. You'll find the butterfly milkweed with the orange flowers sleepiest Barrosa and is a sleepiest. Specie Osa or specie is awesome The showy milkweed. That's pretty ubiquitous across the country. But is that they're pretty widely. Yeah we we do have Species is in Texas not so much in central Texas spoke. It does occur in other parts of the state and do monarchs tend to. Lake them equally. That's very interesting question. No they do prefer Some species over others The ones that I just mentioned the Zota's green milkweed and the antelope horns in our region seems to be. They seem to be the more favored. I'm Jennifer Jewel. And this is cultivating place Andrea Delong. Amaya is the director of horticulture for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin Texas is an enormous state and has an amazing diversity of native plants. It also clearly has a great history for strong women working in horticulture. We'll be back for more after a break with Andrea stay with us So thinking out loud here. What does it even mean to be a woman in plants? It's not exactly a plants woman. Though many of the women in the book are that to be sure but working with this diverse group of women who have tangential relationship to plants has been something akin to mapping my seal pathways in the soil of a forest it is sometimes fragmented but still in connection and in communication. These women in the book have learned from each other. They riff off of each other. All the time reacting and responding exploring identifying narrowing down ways in which these women have been extending the territory of what working with an in and four plants does end. Doesn't mean has been powerful almost unanimously. These seventy five women in the book. Feel that at least culturally. Women tend to hold important abilities to collaborate nurture unto think holistically and that women tend to employ systems thinking which is related to a multitasking mentality. But across the board another of the really interesting things about these women was their own wariness at the constraints of binary thinking and reverse bias. They all see and hope that more women of all kinds in all fields of study will forge greater balance and how we approach lifestyle changes in community now back to our conversation with Andrea Delong. Amaya whose work at the legendary Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center outside of Austin Texas is building community and supporting it there. This is cultivating place conversations on natural history and the human impulse to garden in the second week of women's history month. We're speaking with native. Plant Conservationist Gardiner advocate and plant introducer. Andre Delong Amaya director horticulture for the Lady Bird Johnson wildflower center native plants are such a wonderful resource but that lag between gardeners wanting them and the industry being able to successfully supply them. There's a disconnect leg there. Yeah one of the things that we're trying to do time back to supporting monarchs and pollinators. In general Is to provide a nice selection of plants that bloom in the fall because because of our geography we get the migration as the monarch Sir migrating from North Back Down to Mexico. They come through here and it's a long journey and they are hungry. So what's more important in? Our area than Milkweed is actually to provide a lot of nectar plants. So that's been a really important thing for us to promote and as I mentioned we're growing a lot of things that we can click see from you know natural areas so we we really can experiment with growing anything we want to and we can benefit from the great help of our many many volunteers that help make it economically feasible to do that. Because that's a lot of work And then it's been fun over the years to see how the nursery the local nursery industry has been picking up some of these plants that we've been able to make available and you see them more and more in gardens In the Austin area and central Texas would love to continue seeing more of them out there trying to promote the things that we found to be the easiest to grow in the most successful that we think people will appreciate having in their own landscapes. Give us some examples of some of those full flowering plants that you've been working to propagate and gets introduced into the public that are particularly useful for. I'm sure not just the migrating monarchs but that is a fantastic signature creature to supply for so plants that are in the sunflower family in the Rabin. Family tend to be some of the best. Also the men family So just you're straight sunflowers fabulous for providing nectar to butterflies of different species and other pollinators. Two BS love them. It's one of my favorite is a plant called shelby bone set which has a kind of a fuzzy white flour and when they are in full bloom in the fall it is covered with monarchs and Queen Butterflies also. And it's just a powerful view like the whole thing is just swarming with creatures. It's it's infested with butterflies. The Queen of course is a relative of the monarch and is beautiful butterfly. We don't see them much ear. But interestingly enough we had one on my Partners property just maybe two weeks ago three weeks ago and one of our great butterfly. Experts here are Shapiro. Down in Davis said he hadn't seen one in our region in forty eight years. Wow that's interesting. Took US quite a while to identify this but the fact that it was on the Milkweed Was Interesting because of course very few creatures are co evolved to be able to metabolize the milkweed so it was really interesting and I think you have a lot more of them there. So The sun flowers okay so straight some flowers. What other fall. Blooming plants are really successful there so for being a family was another one that I mentioned. We have Texas Lantana. Now you can go to garden centers and by all different kinds of Land Tana's but our local native one has a nice orange slower to it And you don't have to worry about it. Becoming invasive on a landscape scale because it's native although that opens up a whole nother discussion native plants. Whether not they can be invasive. There are some thugs. There's no two ways about it was down to land manage but the Texas Lantana is a beautiful shrubbery. Very drought resistant. Very heat tolerant plant. That is a great nectar source for all kinds of beautiful creatures and It's deer resistant to people love. But that's another one that blooms and fall and spring and this is a great actor source and then an an example of a plant that we're promoting that you don't see very commonly available for for gardening is a plant called frost. We'd it's a ver- BESINA. And it has a cluster of white flowers. It's also favorite for the monarchs But other pollinators as well and what's interesting about it is it's A lot of people think of it is is being a weed because you see it in wild areas but it has a nice big coarse textured leaf and a kind of a lime green color. And it's a plant. That does very well. I in the shade and we're always looking for plants That will give us more interest in our shady gardens and it's called frustrated because the first hard freeze in the season that we get The sample out of the stems and as it freezes. Its slowly pushing that sap out and it forms ribbons The SAP freezes as it comes out in it makes these curlicue ribbons that when you wake up the next morning like what happened. Why is there styrofoam peanuts? All my landscape and you realize that it's just the bicycles coming out of the frost. We'd that's a pretty cool thing to see. Yeah Yeah and then. Do you have any in the mint family that you would suggest yeah really? Most of the salaries are very for attracting various kinds of pollinators particularly bumblebees which were also trying to encourage There's been a lot of buzz about bees. And you know it's great to provide nectar for and pollen for honeybees but we really WANNA promote our native bees as well and so this leads me to a question that I think I had mentioned to you that I was interested in in learning a little bit more about but I read a little bit about something called the pocket prairie initiative which I just found so compelling just that little tidal of a pocket prairie. What is this Kind of planting? We have different areas In our landscape that We call the kind of landscape that we have as a savannah in that is meadows that are dotted with trees And it's not a forest and it's not a prairie but it's like a savannah but these little grassy areas within the Savannah. You could talk about or describe as being a pocket prairie or in residential landscape. You can have a small pocket prairie where you incorporate grasses and native wildflowers that provide habitat. They provide a certain ascetic too but primarily people. Do It is a habitat. And it's important to make sure that you incorporate grasses because that's an important part of any prairie in pocket prairie is generally treated as a garden. It's usually it's a smaller scale so it's something you can manage a little bit more like a garden as opposed to you know acres that you would manage you know with broad brushstrokes. You can fuss around in your own landscape and do things by hand. And it's an important way to provide nectar and nesting materials for birds and insects. And just you know. Incorporating diversity of species will attract a diversity of wildlife. That is very interesting and fun to watch. Yeah Talk about the importance of grasses in these landscapes not just for their particular form and beauty but for the benefits they offer to The habitat aspect and to perhaps the soil profile does a good point. Yeah so grasses provide a lot of different ecological benefits people think about them as being a seat source for seed eating birds which is a wonderful thing to make available for seed eating birds little lesser known as that there are butterflies called skippers. There's a group of butterflies called skippers that use the grasses as their larval food for the caterpillars and then there's this nesting materials that birds will take the leaves to make make their mess out of And then the soil profile that you mentioned. That's another really important thing. Grasses tend to have a pretty extensive root system and as those roots grow and then decompose they're expanding and contracting the soil which helps the soil and keep it from getting too compacted that decomposition of the roots also adds more organic matter into the soil. There's a whole fauna of wildlife that lives in the soil that we don't even understand and that is a good matrix for all of that stuff to start happening. So grass is definitely an important part to include so as we get close to the end I know this has been an overview and the history and scope of the center is really magnificent and we could talk about it. You know in much greater detail with just narrowing in on one of the locations or display gardens or research projects but I really wanted listeners to have this overview of what is happening there and especially as it's you know now the botanic garden for the entire state and trying to represent all of that diversity and its larger research is interacting with and communicating with research units across the world in terms of native plant. Research talk about some of the long range goals of the center at this Point Andrea as the Botanic Garden of Texas one of the primary things that I'm focusing on as a director of horticulture is raising awareness of both the beauty and the function of our native flora and just how diverse it is trying to inspire people to embrace. These plants. Did FIRST OFF UNDERSTAND THEM BETTER? And then also as people understand them better to appreciate them more. And perhaps use some of these plants in their landscapes. One of the things that I'm trying to do with the gardens for example is used native plants as people expect them to be used. Which would be kind of a naturalistic looking? Space more. Wild flowery may be a wilder look but also for those people who really prefer a more stylized garden or a more controlled. Look just because you're using native plants doesn't mean that you have to have a messy or wild looking garden you can use native plants and a variety of styles and it depends on your maintenance and your design more than the species so. That's a message that I'm really trying to get across that. You can have sheared hedges of your pawn dislike you would shared hedge of boxwood but you have other benefits of having native plants in your landscape. And then we have our native plants We have a database. The native plants of North America that were improving and our goal is to have representation of all twenty thousand plus native plants that occur in the US and Canada. So that's a pretty big ambitious and our website is very powerful having if you check out our database we have lots and lots of information and photographs of many many species already growing at a a really big goal for us and then just growing into our role as a botanic garden of Texas. And is there anything else you would like to add about the importance of this work for you personally as we we look towards an ever changing future and or for the center as whole. I think it's really Important for us to continue the legacy that Mrs Johnson started with promoting the conservation of native plants native plants wherever they are and I think as our culture is more and more urban and more and more connected digitally and less and less connected with our natural world. The role of Botanical Gardens in general is becoming more and more important and for me. Personally I really want people to see the beauty in the diversity and the functionality of our native plants and how are native plants provide the Matrix in which all wildlife in the whole natural world or really dependent on people tend to be plant blind? You know you talk about monarchs and bees and birds and those are all important creatures. That are part of our natural community. But it's also important to appreciate that all of those things are possible because of the plants that they're relying on and it's part of as you alluded to earlier this fabric. And if you start taking threads out you might still have a piece of cloth for awhile but if you keep removing threads eventually that piece of cloth is GonNa lose its integrity and fall apart and I see plants and animals and all of these different elements that are part of our ecology like that. You can remove certain things here and there but eventually you're going to have a collapse in it so critical at this point in time that we really recognize how important that is and not allow ourselves to be too disconnected from that. Thank you very much for being a guest on the program today and for your fantastic work there at the garden and as a gardener yourself helping to strengthen this fabric we all love. Great will thank you so much for all the work that you're doing Andrea Delong. A my is director of horticulture for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas. At Austin it is also the botanic garden for the State of Texas Andrea has been on staff for over twenty years and has more than thirty years of experience in horticulture. She guides staff in the design and management of nine acres of beautiful native plant gardens. Two hundred and seventy five acres of natural areas and a native plant nursery. Her enthusiasm and knowledge for this field is extraordinary for every episode in March cultivating places highlighting one of the women in my new book. The Earth in her hands seventy five extraordinary women working in the world of plants which officially published last week on March third. Join US again next week when we continue our series on women in plants. When we're joined by Dr Elaine Ingham founder of the Soil Food Web Inc listening. There are so many ways. People engage in and grow from the cultivation of their places. The Earth is in all of our hands so take good care. Cultivating places a listener supported co-production of north state public radio over uncle meeting place dot com this week. Make sure to check out the many photos of the lady. Bird Johnson wildflower center and Andrea. Delong Maya's work there. They are absolutely beautiful. Our show producer and engineer is Matt fiddler. Executive producer. Is Sarah Bohannon? Original theme. Music is by Mau- Muse accompanied by Joe Craven and Sam Bevan cultivating place is distributed nationally by P R X public radio exchange until next week. Enjoy the cultivation of your place. I'm Jennifer Jordan.

Texas Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower C Austin Texas Andrea Delong Andrea director Andrea Delong Amaya University of Texas US Native Plant Gardens California Ladybird Johnson Botanic Garden Texas Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower C Johnson Andrea Native Plant Research Andrea Hi North America Texas Lantana