Does Nature know better?

Having studied horticulture in North Carolina, I learned a lot about plants and landscapes in the southeast. Now I live in west Texas. So I’m learning about landscaping in semi-arid regions. There are two specific topics I am interested in. First, xeriscaping. Second, gardening with native plants. They don’t have to be related- but they both relate to the fundamental principle of landscaping; put the right plant in the right place. So they are.

Anyway, I want to examine native landscapes to see how plants in the wild grow together. There are so many reasons why the natural environment should be the inspiration for landscapes. First, all plants in cultivation were at one time a wild plant. Therefore, they were found growing in the wild. Someone thought they wanted whatever pretty plant to grow near them. I’m a fan of fleabane personally.

Next, scientists are learning more about how different plants are connected through their roots. Some believe that chemical signals can be transmitted between plants. The question is; is there a reason why certain types of plants grow near each other? Do some plants communicate better with other plants? I don’t know. Anyway, that’s part of my motivation for taking pictures of natural landscapes.

Is it possible that we could copy natural plant communities in our landscapes? Would that be better than traditional landscaping? So many questions! Would this be a better way of planning xeriscapes? I hate concrete and rock mulch landscapes. I think there is a better way of having a water-wise landscape other than pouring concrete or spreading rock mulch.


So, I took this picture at a state park in west Texas. What I thought was most interesting were these cacti growing with the grass. I also took some pictures of the flowers on these cacti. Obviously, pampas grass (or anything similar) would be too big to grow with cacti. So, the first challenge would be to find a short ornamental grass.


Another thing I noticed was the mesquite trees and the pines. I thought it was interesting to see those plants growing together. Mesquite probably isn’t a good choice for a home landscape. But, there are other small trees. There are also trees with compound leaves like mesquite. As far as pines go- I wonder if junipers would work as well. The point is, these plants grow together in nature. Without our care. They have formed plant communities. Can we copy those patterns in our landscape? By copying the natural pattern, would our landscape be easier to care for, or would the plants grow better? There are so many variables but I’m not the only one asking these questions. Maybe by understanding how nature “gardens” we can become better gardeners.


Would you be interested in trying cacti and grasses together in your garden?


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