Texas Treehugger | "My Homecoming, Dreams Realized, and Growing Into the Future" | Article and 2 Photos by Christy Ilfrey

I have been away for several months. If you were enjoying my articles last year and have missed them, I truly apologize for my abrupt, extended absence. I hope you will pick up with me where I left off.

You see, my family and I had been looking for a very long time for a place of our own. We wanted acreage, a tiny house, a place for a plant nursery, gardens to feed us, and the opportunity to explore off-grid technologies. Finding a place that meets all these criteria within our budget proved rare. But when we found it, we knew this spot in Aransas County was worth our wait. Everything except the daily tasks of our business was put on hold to build and move Our Entire World.

Our family are now the proud owners of five acres of mostly forested property. In addition to Live Oak-Redbay forest, our land is also home to three registered wetlands (ephemeral and currently dry), and ancient sand dunes brimming with coastal prairie vegetation. "Sage Hollow" -- named for our resident fairy expert -- is extraordinary in that it is nearly free from exotic-invasive species. In the forested areas, there are Live Oaks, Redbays, American Beautyberry, Yaupon Holly, Dwarf Palmetto, Coralbean, Farkleberry and a shade-loving sedge, but few Turk's Cap and thus far no Scarlet Sage or Padre Island Mistflower. The wetlands areas boast Buttonbush, Switchgrass, Coastal Bluestem, Silver Bluestem, and various other grasses and small forbs. The prairies include plants which overlap with both the forest and wetlands. While we have only discovered a handful of clumps of Guinea Grass and no Brazilian Peppertree, all three plant communities suffer the same plight: they lack diversity. Our family plans to restore nearly four acres of Sage Hollow to the proper ratio of native species.

The remaining acre is being developed with care. We have a tiny home, a rapidly expanding nursery, and gardens growing food for our bodies and souls. Our dreams are coming true.

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."

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