The summer months can be trying times for Texan gardeners. Luckily you’ll find that there are plenty of upcoming opportunities for honing your drought-tough lawn and gardening techniques, improving your knowledge of native landscaping know-how, and getting the whole family involved in keeping Texas natural, native, and conservation-conscious.
Volunteer and Community Garden Events
Neighborhood Habitat Challenge (Pollinator Garden Challenge) – City of Austin
Conservation Program Coordinator Meredith Gray has officially announced the Wildlife Austin Neighborhood Challenge for 2014. Austin urban gardeners are once again invited to create their finest wildlife-friendly backyard habitats using native plants, but this year the challenge has an extra twist–planting natives that will bring in local pollinators like honey bees, moths, hummingbirds, beetles, and butterflies. Certification through the city of Austin is free to all residents. This city-wide challenge isn’t just for those with expansive backyard spaces–feel free to enter your native balcony garden or potted pocket green space. The top three participating neighborhoods will be eligible for special recognition–and surprise prizes.
April 15 – Nov. 15
Zilker Faerie Homes and Gardens – Zilker Botanical Garden
Situated on 26 acres of diverse topography and individually-themed garden spaces, Zilker Botanical Gardens presents its second annual “Faerie Homes and Gardens” tour. Created through the combined efforts of design architects, conservation gardeners, local recreational groups and citizen participants, kids and adults alike will be enchanted by the parade of miniature homes crafted from twigs, bark, shells and pebbles. Get your kids inspired to create their own tiny home habitats. While you visit, make sure to check out some of the site’s unique sustainable garden features, including a cactus and succulent garden, native butterfly trail, and rainwater harvesting demonstrations.
March 11 – May 26
Ecology Action Back to the Land Workdays – Keep Austin Beautiful
A great local volunteer opportunity that takes place each month at Circle Acres in East Austin. This 10-acre site was once home to a major landfill in the Montopolis neighborhood. Currently Ecology Action is working to transform the sight into a Green Infrastructure Demonstration locale and nature preserve–which is where citizen volunteers come in. Back to the Land Workdays involve litter removal, walking trail maintenance, and learning how to construct green infrastructure elements that can help to preserve crucial waterway access points. Work gloves, tools, and water will be provided, but be sure to come dressed for the weather and wear a sturdy pair of closed-toe shoes.
3rd Saturday of every month, 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Central Texas Conservation Classes and Seminars
Conversation With the Conservationist: Bill Neiman – Riverside Nature Center
Led by the founder of Native American Seed, the entertaining and passionate Bill Neiman offers a public presentation entitled “Bringin’ It All Back Home: 40 Years from Landscape Construction to Ecological Restoration.” In addition to supplying native seeds to renowned preservation sights such as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Fort Worth’s Botanical Research Institute, Neiman has recently begun living a “rainfall only” lifestyle that’s sure to inspire.
May 20, 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Alternate Methods of Gardening: “Dealing With Drought” – Travis County East Service Center
This is the final spring course in the Water Conservation Series presented by Texas AgriLife Extension. June’s session will focus on techniques that make it easy for those with limited time, space, or compromised mobility to grow effortless herbs, veggies and native flowers. Master gardeners Pat Mokry and Marian Stasney will cover topics such as using self-sufficient grow boxes and planters as well as traditional keyhole and hugelkultur gardening techniques that make it easy to create your own green urban pocket garden.
June 5, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Invaders of Texas Workshop – Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Learn more about the destructive potential of invasive species for the native Texas landscape and become an official “citizen scientist” using nothing but your smarts–and your smart mobile device. The Invaders of Texas Program trains local residents to recognize and report neighborhood outbreaks of non-native plants and animals, providing invaluable real-time data for statewide mapping databases that allow the environmental experts to instantly track problematic species and coordinate an effective response.
June 7, 9:30 AM – 2:30 PM
SFC Special Topic Gardening Class: Water Conservation – Sustainable Food Center
Anyone in Central Texas who’s tried to keep their garden thriving though the midsummer months will appreciate this introduction to effective water management for green gardens. Learn how to get the most from every drop by employing wicking beds, olla pots, drip irrigation techniques, and other water-saving approaches to Hill Country gardening. Each participant will receive a packet of drought-tolerant plant seeds. Much of the class will be held outdoors, so make sure to bring a water bottle and plenty of sun protection!
June 14, 9:00 AM- 12:00 PM
Composting for the Home Garden – Zilker Botanical Garden
Presented by Austin’s Grow Green program and Travis County, local Master Gardener and composting guru Pat Mokry introduces a variety of composting techniques to easily turn kitchen waste into nutrient-rich garden material.
June 21, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Special Workshops and Education Opportunities
Southwest Stream Restoration Conference – San Antonio
This is the premier stream restoration conference in the Southwest. Participants are invited to join local conservation practitioners, regulators, scientists, and community managers to learn more about preserving the future of vital Texas watershed resources. This year’s topics include subjects such as “Riparian Restoration in Growing Municipalities,” “Watershed Approaches and Community Engagement,” and “Stream Restoration During Times of Rapid Environmental Change.”
Groundwater to the Gulf – Keep Austin Beautiful
Groundwater to the Gulf offers Central Texas educators from all backgrounds a comprehensive introduction to teaching water-conservation topics in the classroom. Led by local water resource experts, participants will gain hands-on field experience at some of the Austin area’s most vital watershed sites, including behind-the-scenes tours of Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lady Bird Lake. Learn how to start your own community garden, rainwater harvesting program, or campus cleanup effort. Educators will also receive free curricula materials and some great ideas for field trip and educational opportunities!
June 23 – June 26