Native plant photo contest

Hymenoxys, or four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa )

When I started gardening in Austin, which was really when I started gardening, period, I nearly became a native-plant snob. I’d been converted, you see, by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which opened my eyes to the native beauty found in the scrubby hills and Blackland prairie surrounding Austin and convinced me of the value of going native in the garden. While my interests have since expanded into xeric plants from other regions of the world with climates similar to central Texas’s, I still have a soft spot in my heart for regional natives.

That’s why it wasn’t hard to find a couple of photos of native Texas plants in a garden setting to submit for Gardening Gone Wild’s first photo contest. I can’t claim that they’re recent photos (sorry, I’ve been crazy busy lately!), but they’re two of my favorites.

My first submission is the tufty, little hymenoxys at top. The cheerful, yellow flowers bloom nearly all year long, which is how this one got encased in ice during a January 2007 ice storm. Although the ice did some damage in the garden, this tough native thawed out the next day with no harm done.

I used this photo in my six favorite plants post earlier this week, but it’s impossible to resist reusing it as my second submission for GGW. There are six native Texas plants visible in this shot. Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ) is the star, with the sun-ray shape of softleaf yucca (Yucca recurvifolia ) echoing the design of the garden bench. Behind the bench is shrubby white boneset, AKA white mistflower (Ageratina havanensis ), which blooms fragrantly in autumn. To the right of the bench, black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’), gaura (Gaura lindheimeri ), and Gulf muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris ) round out the scene. If you could look more closely, you’d also find native groundcover pigeonberry (Rivina humilis ) in there.

Visit Gardening Gone Wild’s comment section for links to beautiful photos of native plants from different regions all over the country. Perhaps it’ll inspire you to plant a few more native plants in your own garden.

All material © 2006-2009 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

27 Responses

  1. Layanee says:

    Pam: That top photo is hard to forget! A beauty for sure and the coneflower mixed with other natives is just a great shot. Love ’em.

  2. Nancy Bond says:

    Beautiful entries, Pam!

  3. Gail says:

    Fantastic Pam…they are all stellar~~Native just make me smile! gail

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Great choices Pam. I never tire of seeing your photos even if they are repeats.

  5. Frances says:

    Hi Pam, all of your photos are unforgettable, but those are both standouts. Hard to choose which I like the best. Good luck with the contest. :-)

  6. Jean says:

    Love them both Pam!

  7. ESP says:

    Both are great images Pam, but that swath of cone flowers! wow.
    Echinacea…can you really beat it? Works well with the yucca.
    A true “story-book” flower.

  8. The second photo is a great scene. How can a person resist wanting to sit in that seat, with all the coneflowers all around.

  9. Town Mouse says:

    Wonderful photos! That ice-encased beauty is hard to believe. And it survived, you say? Impressive.

  10. Victoria says:

    I was interested in what you said about nearly becoming a native plant snob. There is a huge debate in the UK about native plants vs ‘exotic’ imports. But where do you start? Horse chestnuts, for example, are thought of as traditionally English trees, yet they were introduced from the Balkans in the 17th century. On the other hand, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has done the most fantastic job in promoting native plants in Texas, with gorgeous results. I guess it’s a question of finding a balance. I think you have the right idea – to grow what suits the local (sometimes changing) environment. By the way, there is a plea for advice on Muhly bamboo over on my blog. Please help if you have a minute!

  11. Cheryl says:

    They are both stellar! I wouldn’t be surprised if you win!

  12. Randy says:

    Did you know that Lady Bird spent all of her summers here in Prattville until her early 20’s? I don’t know if it was the same when she was here, but our roadsides are filled with wildflowers. Wild Iris,Daylilies, purple Phlox, Black Eyed Susan, Asters and Morning Glories are everywhere.

    I did not know that, Randy, but I’m glad she had a beautiful impact on your state as well as mine. —Pam

  13. I love native plants in my landscaping. They flourish easily and are the least prone to a lot of the diseases and pests in our area. You have an absolutely beautiful garden!

  14. Love the hymenoyx photo. Do you ever frame them for indoor art? My up-close plant photos are much less dramatic, but still look lovely on the wall, particularly if thoughtfully framed. I imagine this photo would be a stunner.

    Thanks, Susan. I’ve framed a few photos, but ironically, none of the garden or the plants in it. —Pam

  15. Linda says:

    Great pictures, Pam. I love the one with the coneflowers. The deer chomped most of mine, or pulled them up until they died. I’ll try again, though. Keep those pictures coming. Great inspiration.

  16. The first photo is beautiful, but a little sad. I really like the second one, as it shows how well natives can be used in a traditional garden setting in places of Roses, Geraniums, and Daisies.

  17. Lisa says:

    Great submissions! I’m trying to add more natives in my yard, too. I recently joined an online forum at:, they have lots of interesting information and share the same ideals.

  18. Sweet Bay says:

    Great shots! They’re beautiful.

  19. janet says:

    Great shots Pam!! Love the resource on LBJ’s wildflower web site for finding plants for your own area.

  20. wiseacre says:

    Either photo is a winner. I’m partial to coneflowers but the ice encased daisy is one of a kind. I think many people have natives – they just don’t know it. The coneflower is a good example of that.

    It’s only my personal feeling but I wish growers would at least continue to offer the ‘plain janes’ and not get so carried away with hybridizing the vigor out of the originals to get that ‘new and improved’ variety.

  21. Saxon Holt says:

    Well the contest is done and results posted over at GGW early next week. Thanks for your entry and I am giving each photo bit of constructive criticism.
    Two very strong photos, Pam. The frozen hymenoxys is extraordinary and you have a beautiful composition. Would like to see more of a garden setting for the contest.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to offer constructive criticism, Saxon. You are right—I ignored the request for a garden setting with that first photo.

    I read through your comments on the other submissions too. Gee, now you’ve made me want to enter every future contest you offer. I’ll think of it as long-distance learning with a prof whose photos I greatly admire. —Pam

  22. eliz says:

    That top shot looks like a winner to me, and it demonstrates why we love and need native plants. I regularly check the LBJWC for WNY natives. I can’t find as good a resource locally.

  23. The second photo was the contest winner – but the first one may have more to say about what it’s like to garden, even with native plants, in Austin. Congratulations, Pam!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Thanks, Annie. That top photo does have a story to tell, although Saxon is right that it doesn’t show the plant in a garden setting, which is what he was looking for. Good thing we were allowed more than one submission. ;-) —Pam

  24. Jamie says:

    Congratulations Pam on winning first prize in the Gardeners Gone Wild photo comp. I really love both of your photos, and for just a moment when I looked at your first amazing frosty pic I thought I was missing out by not being in a frosty zone here in Sydney, but those silly thoughts soon passed! Anyway, I always enjoy your blog, even if I don’t make comments very often.

    Thanks so much, Jamie. I enjoyed your native-plants photo too, and you know how much I love the cootamundra wattle, as I’m growing one also. —Pam

  25. Jamie says:

    I should have read your reply here before I replied to your comment back over at my blog. If yours is a Cootamundra wattle, it sounds a bit confused to me! Come to think of it, I wonder if it will just flower a bit later, in late spring or early summer, for you? Lovely foliage though, eh?

  26. Tamra says:

    Wow, you are such an inspiration. We purchased a fixer upper Ranch style home a few years ago and I have a long flower bed between the house and sidewalk that I would love to do something with. The main problem is the Deer in our neighborhood. We have about 30 that bed down in a lot next to our house and whatever I do needs to be plants they won’t care to eat. I didn’t have high hopes until I ran across your sight and saw how beautiful a native garden could be. Thanks for the inspiration; any more ideas on deer proof plants would be awesome. You Rock!

    Thank you for your kind words, Tamra. For inspiration, have you visited the Wildflower Center? Those are the native-plant gardens that inspired me when I moved to Austin. Keep in mind, though, that not all natives are deer-resistant. Check out the Grow Green Guide for a great plant directory that includes deer-resistance info. You can find it for free at area nurseries and garden centers. Happy digging! —Pam