Back to the future

desert willow

We are constantly being bombarded with the buzzwords “green” and “sustainable”. I can hardly imagine what our great grandmothers would think if they saw a list of ways to be “green”. For them it was a way of life. There was no thermostat to set. If they wanted to be cooler, they went outside on the porch or sat under a tree. Heating was automatically regulated – they just used less wood or coal in the stove. Hanging clothes out on the line was the only option (always a challenge up north – I can remember many times when a load of clothes on the line were frozen solid).

prickly pear

When it came time to the garden, they knew that choosing plants that were native or well adapted assured them of success, since they would be much more drought-tolerant. In north Texas, that meant plants had to handle drought and heavy rain, extremely hot temperatures, sudden dramatic changes in temperature and lousy soil.


Turk’s cap, ruellia, tawny daylily, salvia and oxeye daisy, oakleaf hydrangea, prickly pear and flowering quince, desert willow, vitex and eastern red cedar were just some of great-grandmother’s plants. These tried and true plants are still available and still recommended for the same reasons they were popular more than a 100 years ago – they will survive!