Enjoy all your local news and sports for less than 5¢ per day.

Subscribe Now


MARBLE FALLS — If the idea of using native plants in your yard or landscape sounds challenging, Fred Zagst wants you to reconsider. And he has the perfect story to illustrate why the switch isn’t so hard.

“There’s a woman in Marble Falls who’s probably 80 years old, but she decided a few years ago to start incorporating more native plants in her year,” Zagst said. “Now, she didn’t know really anything about native plants and she wasn’t a member of the Native Plant Society. She just started planting a few plants.”

Now, the woman’s yard is one of the highlights of the 2014 Highland Lakes Native Plant Garden Tour slated for Oct. 11 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. The tour starts at the Falls on the Colorado Museum, 2001 Broadway. Tickets are $5 per person. Children are admitted for free. You’ll get a map for the self-guided tour at the museum.

Zagst, a member of the Highland Lakes Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, which is sponsoring the event, hopes people will feel inspired after touring the seven gardens on the list. The idea, he explained, is if people pick up a few ideas and just start implementing them in their own yards and landscapes, everybody benefits.

“Native plants developed for this area and climate,” he said. “So using them means you don’t need to water them as often (as non-native plants), and they’re more resistant to insects and diseases.”

But native plants don’t mean boring, color-less landscape designs. With the right combination, a homeowner can experience just as much color and beauty as he or she would with non-native flowers and plants. It’s just a matter of finding the right ones.

One of the bibles of native plant fans is “Grow Green,” which is a plant guide put out by the city of Austin. Zagst said many people armed simply with that book have transformed their yards into native plant havens.

“So, it really doesn’t take a lot of knowledge or special training,” he explained. “The ‘Grow Green’ book is a great way to start. And some people, they just did a lot through experimenting to see what worked and how.”

At each stop on the tour, people can learn about how the homeowner or organization utilized native plants. Zagst said a society member or the homeowner will be present to answer questions.

The tour also is a chance for people to learn how they can make a difference in the monarch butterfly migration. The winged insects start their journey in Canada, many from the land north of Lake Erie, and migrate south across Texas to their winter grounds in Mexico. In the spring, the butterflies head north using the same route.

Along the way, the butterflies need places to rest as well as — at least on one leg — reproduce. But monarchs require milkweed on which to they lay their eggs. The caterpillar that hatches feeds on the milkweed before forming its crysalis and transforming into a butterfly.

Over the past several decades, due to land use and other development, the amount of milkweed has significantly declined. So monarch enthusiasts and native plant society members are encouraging people to plant more milkweed.

During a stop by the Helping Center of Marble Falls’ community garden, Master Gardeners and native plant society members will show people how to propagate and plant milkweed.

“It’s so easy to propagate,” said Beth Mortenson, a member of the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners. “It’s really something so simple you can do to help the monarchs. And it’s a really important plant.”

Along with demonstrating the process, Master Gardeners and others will share information on how people can create their own monarch way stations. One way station is even included on the tour.

“This is just a great opportunity for people to come out and learn about native plants and really how easy they are to use,” Zagst said. “We’ll even have some native plants available for sale, so people can get started as soon as they get home.”

Go to for more information on the Highland Lakes Chapter of The Native Plant Society of Texas and for more on the Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association.