|Seaoats at Sunset Over Copano Bay|
Two plants immediately came to mind: Seaoats (Uniola paniculata) and Railroad Vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae). Occurring together in nature -- along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of North America, and in various locales throughout the Caribbean -- these coastal plants work harmoniously to slow dune and soil erosion. Seaoats is the quintessential beach grass, but it also supports red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, and other songbirds, in addition to beneficial insects, such as butterflies and bees. Its local natural distribution is Kleberg, Nueces, San Patricio, Aransas and Calhoun Counties. Railroad Vine is sometimes called Railroad Morning Glory. Like its neighbor Seaoats, Railroad Vine attracts butterflies and bees; planting natives feeds pollinators who in turn “feed” us by pollinating our edible crops. Railroad Vine has been observed growing locally throughout most of the Coastal Bend, as well. Both plants require very little maintenance, although Railroad Vine grows rapidly. It is best used as a groundcover or to cascade over the side of retainer walls or large planters.
|Close-up of Woolly Stemodia|
Pink Gulf Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is a native grass that also will endure the stresses of summer. When mature, it will stand up to 3-4 feet tall and wide. Its leaves are narrow and dark green, and its form reminds me of a fountain gurgling up and spilling over onto the soil. When planted close together, Gulf Muhly creates an emerald green backdrop for colorful perennials. However, mid-fall is its time to shine. Puffy pink to lavender blooms transform this green backdrop into a cotton candy-like superstar. Gulf Muhly is a host plant for several species of skipper butterflies and provides shelter to other coastal wildlife. It can be found locally in nature along the Coastal Bend, from Kleberg to Calhoun Counties.
|Pink Gulf Muhly Grass with American Agave|
Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) works in conjunction with Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) to support Monarch populations. While migrating monarchs rely on milkweed to complete their long northerly and southerly treks across North America, they also depend on goldenrod for food in fall. It is one of their primary sources for food. Goldenrod also provides food and shelter to other butterflies and birds. This upright perennial remains green in the early to middle growing season, and will produce golden spiky blooms late-summer into fall. Native to Aransas County, Seaside Goldenrod appears to be undocumented in contiguous counties but present in Kleberg and Kenedy, to the south, and Victoria, Matagorda and more to the north.
The remaining plants in this project – coralbean, turk’s cap, and Texas lantana -- were mentioned in my previous article: wwnrockport.com/2015/06/plants-attract-hummingbirds-planting.html.
Together, the plants of the Saltwater Pavilion at Rockport Beach cooperate to make this project an excellent demonstration of landscaping for wildlife, water conservation, and community preservation.
Christy Ilfrey and her husband David own and operate NativeDave.com. Their mission: "To make positive changes in our community by way of sustainable landscape design and consultation services, speaking engagements and writing projects. We strive to educate, entertain and empower audiences to conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate Nature."