Texas SmartScape will be hosting native plant fairs across DFW in the coming weeks.

Left,calylophus, also known as sundrops, is a colorful drought-tolerant native Texas plant.

Photos courtesy of Texas SmartScape.

 

 

March 25, 2014

By Rita Cook

A sure sign spring is here is when the annual plant fairs begin to dot the weekend calendars. This year, Texas SmartScape, a coalition of North Texas agencies whose mission is to educate residents on the benefits of using native and adapted plants, will be hosting 10 plant fairs in the group’s member cities.

The SmartScape events kick off this weekend on March 29 in Fort Worth and run through May 17 in Arlington, Carrollton, Irving, Frisco, Carrollton, Plano, Mansfield, Mesquite and Southlake. 

The plant fairs are the brainchild of Stephanie Zavala, a city of Fort Worth Water Conservation Specialist who works with Texas Smartscape. The pilot program is being held in partnership with the Home Depot and select nurseries across the area.

The program is based on a similar initiative in southern California, the Inland Empire Garden Friendly Program, that Zavalla learned about at a Water Smart Innovations Conference.  

“This program is basically an effort to get the plants to the people, while also offering them the opportunity to ask questions of the experts,” she explains.

Above, turk's cap. Below, Texas sage. 

During the events, residents can talk to Master Gardeners and kids can participate in hands-on gardening classes. In addition, shoppers will find a wider variety of native plants then they typically find in big box stores. 

“I’ve been working directly with the Home Depot Live Goods merchant for our region in order to get the plants we want grown by their growers.”

Home Depot will be stocking 23 plants from the full list the program committee developed. And, while all 23 plants will not be available at every sale due to growing periods, customers can visit a variety of sales as different plants may be sold from city to city. Each store will know the plants that will be at their respective event about two weeks prior to the sale.  

Meanwhile, Fort Worth retailer, Weston Gardens, which specializes in stocking native plants, will have as many as 70 varieties to choose from, as well as classes and demonstration garden tours, at its April 26 event. 

Some of the plants gardeners can expect to find at the Home Depot plant fairs include wood fern, turk’s cap, Texas sage, coral honeysuckle and yaupon holly. In addition, Weston Gardens will have Texas lantana, calylophus, inland sea oats, possumhaw and red bud on hand.  

 Zavalla said all of the plants sold at the sales are plants that are adapted to the local climate and perform better during droughts.  

“In my opinion, drought is the new reality,” Zavala says. “We may skip a year here or there, but given our expanding population, conserving as many drops as we can is important to our future. Texas SmartScape gives people another option of ways to save water at home.”

Above, yaupon holly, courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Below, trumpet vine.

Zavalla said SmartScape plants not only benefit water conservation but also improve water quality by reducing the use of herbicides and pesticides. The plants also attract birds and butterflies. 

“Our goal is create more awareness and acceptance of native and adapted plants,” said Zavalla, who hopes to grow the program in the coming years. “We’re trying to build a demand.”

More information on the upcoming plant sales and native and adapted plants.


Rita Cook is an award-winning journalist who writes or has written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light, Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. With five books published, her latest release is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press. Contact her at [email protected].

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