Though it’s not even 6 months old yet, the New Braunfels Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas is already making an impact on the city and earning statewide recognition.
Formed in January, the local chapter already has 38 members.
“We had the largest percentage of gain in membership this year in the state of Texas — it was between 45% and 50%,” said Laura Smith.
In addition to the award, the society was recently given another honor: re-landscaping the German Pioneer Memorial in Landa Park. The memorial, which is more than 80 years old, pays homage to the German families that settled New Braunfels. The statue is centered in the middle of five pointed flowerbeds that form a star.
“It is an honor to be allowed to do the landscaping for such a historic memorial,” said member Jenelle VanMatre. “The memorial is an important part of New Braunfels and should be showcased.”
On Tuesday morning, about a dozen members of the group arrived at Landa Park with spades, gloves and four varieties of native plants chosen for their deer resistant and shade tolerant qualities. The selection includes dwarf yaupons, tropical sage, lyreleaf sage and inland sea oats. All but the yaupons were grown by society members.
“They’re all deer resistant, but we know that Bambi doesn’t read, so we’ll spray them with repellent,” Wright said, explaining that deer can rip new plants from the ground when they sample them. Once the plants have established root systems, however, they should be able to hold their ground.
Previously, the five flowerbeds had been planted with invasive nandinas, non-native boxwoods and red yuccas that weren’t getting enough sun to thrive.
Employees of the New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Department removed the old plantings and tilled the soil in preparation for the society members’ arrival.
“The parks department has been wonderful to us — J.D. Davis and Jess Divin — they’ve done so much and we really appreciate their help,” Wright said.
Native plants are beneficial to a landscape in a number of ways, Wright explained.
“They save water because they can live on local rainfall,” she said. “Native plants like the local soil and don’t require fertilizer or soil amendments. They help to filter runoff water, slow it down and reduce soil erosion. Native plants offer the indigenous wildlife what it needs: food, shelter and breeding areas.
“Native landscapes require less maintenance — no pampering after the plants are established,” she continued. “And last, native plants are beautiful and make Texas look like Texas.”
How can someone learn more about growing, caring for and appreciating native plants?
“Come to one of our meetings,” Wright said. “We have programs every month.”
The New Braunfels Chapter of the Native Plant Society meets on the fourth Monday of the month except July and December at the Westside Community Center, 2932 S. IH 35 Frontage Road. Meetings start with a meet and greet at 6:15 p.m., followed by a business meeting at 6:45 p.m., and program at 7 p.m. Meetings are free and open to the public, and visitors are welcome. For more information, go to npsot.org/wp/newbraunfels/.