The use of appropriate plants for the Texas Panhandle conserves water; they just don’t need as much as other plants. My definitions of water usage are for watering weekly, bi-weekly or monthly during the growing season. I don’t believe plants hydro-zoned into an area that requires more than weekly watering during average climate conditions is appropriate for our semi arid region (except for vegetable crops). I omit containers from that statement, as their watering area is small.
Just as with lawns, watering longer, less frequently is the best method for the health of the plants. Roots will penetrate deeper into the soil and will be better able to withstand drought. Using low water use plants conserves the most water, with only once a month watering during the growing season. Many of these plants will bloom continuously through summers heat on such a small amount of water. You don’t sacrifice beauty. It’s a win-win situation.
Plants in any ecosystem constantly struggle to survive environmental extremes. Plants adapted to our climate and conditions are more able to survive our extremes of weather than plants adapted to milder climates. These are the survivors of centuries of growing under similar weather occurrences, the product of natural selection. When combining several or all seven basic gardening principles, their chances of bouncing back to resume their beautiful appearance in our gardens is great.
Most of the material for this section is based on my own experiences and conversations with successful area gardeners over the years. I’ve noted a few specific references in the text.
References on botanic Latin are predominately Liberty Hyde Bailey’s books, chiefly How Plants Get Their Names, Dover Publications, 1963, and numerous other articles on botanic Latin. Bill Neal’s Gardiner’s Latin, a Lexicon is an invaluable resource, as is the New Pronouncing Dictionary of Plant Names, published by the American Nurseryman Publishing Company.
The timing of when to plant cold and warm season plants centers around the average date of the last frost, approximately April 20th, and the average date of the first frost, approximately October 20th. Specific references for vegetable planting in Stepping Stones are from the Texas Master Gardening Handbook.
Several books on weather and gardening were informative in understanding how appropriate plants can weather extremes.
Weather in the Garden, by Jane Taylor, John Murray (Publishers), Ltd., 1996.
The Weather-Resilient Garden, A defensive approach to planning and landscaping, Charles W. G. Smith, Storey Publishing, 2004.
Palms Don’t Grow Here and Other Myths, Warm-climate plants for cooler areas, David A. Francko, Timber Press, 2003.
Angie Hanna, January, 2006