Weekly Express-News Article

Saturday, October 1, 2005

By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Conservation Director, and Horticulturist


“ Free Plants and Volunteer Opportunities”



            For those readers who like to participate in the plantings at parks and other public sites, another one is happening today.  From 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., join me, the Master Gardeners, Gardening Volunteers of South Texas, Master Naturalists and volunteers from KSTX at Comanche Lookout.  There is a new library being built there (Nacogdoches and Judson) adjacent to the park.  We will be planting a xeriscape around the outdoor meeting area and will also be planting a wetlands area.  There will be 1,200 total plants. 


            In the xeriscape, we will plant Mexican plum, rusty blackhaw viburnum, lantana, blackfoot daisies, beautyberry, possumhaw holly and other species.  Over the years, we have planted many xeriscapes, but this is the first time I can remember being involved in a wetland planting.  Even at the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center most of the plantings done so far (native plant garden and prairie restoration) have involved upland areas. At Comanche Lookout there is a natural drainage running through the Park with some areas so low they still have water in them.  We will plant switch grass, cardinal flowers, buttonbush, spider lilies, and other plants.  If you want to play in the mud with me, bring your boots.  The San Antonio Parks Department, another major partner in the project,  will bring tools and wheelbarrows, but if you have a shovel, bring it.  I was out at the park last week and did not notice mosquitoes, but just in case, bring your own repellent.  KSTX is lining up drinks and they usually have some breakfast snacks.  Hurry on out and join us this morning.


            On Saturday, October 22, 2005, there is another event that should be fun and educational.  The Audubon Center at Mitchell Lake is hosting the Fall Festival and Wildlife Plant Sale.


            There are lots of reasons why you should consider making the trip out IH 37 South to 410, and then 90 South on Moursund Blvd., for .5 miles. 


·        SAWS and KSAT TV’s Weatherman, Steve Browne, are sponsoring a free xeriscape plant giveaway.  The first 800 folks (individuals 15 years or older) will receive one salvia, ruellia, society garlic, lantanas, or coreopsis. 


·        The native plant garden around the Leeper House headquarters is inspirational and loaded with butterflies and hummingbirds. 


·        The wetlands in the wildlife refuge are home to hundreds of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds.  Earlier this year over 100 different species of birds were identified at Mitchell Lake in one day.


·        SAWS customers can sign up to receive one to two low-flow toilets to replace water wasting high-flow toilets (houses older than 1992) and when you replace the high-flow toilets, the Audubon Center will receive $25 per toilet to support their wildlife management and educational programs at the refuge.


·        For $5 per individual or $15 for a family, you may take a guided hayride into the refuge, enjoy Last Chance Forever (hawks and owls) and reptile classes


·        There will also be a plant sale conducted by the Gardening Volunteers of South Texas.  They will have wildlife attracting plants.  All funds will be donated to the Refuge.


·        Information on birds, xeriscape, water conservation and the Refuge will be provided by experts from all over the community.  Milton Glueck, Jerry Parsons, and I will be available to answer gardening questions.  Thanks to the sponsorship of Milberger’s Nursery we will be broadcasting live from the Festival from noon until 2:00 p.m. on KLUP radio.


























- 2 -