Wednesday, August 7, 2013

God's Prairie Garden

Mine is not the only prairie garden in Plano. Instead of sharing more pictures of the prairie garden around my house, I thought I would share some pictures of the prairie garden around God's house. 

God's prairie garden is located at Prairie Creek Baptist Church on 15th Street in Plano between Coit Road and Independence Parkway. I drive by all the time and I even drove through the parking lot a time or two to get a better look, but a little over a month ago was my first time to get out, take a look around and take a few pictures.  

Most of the plants on the church grounds are Texas natives, however there are a few durable non-natives as well. The largest bed is in front of the church facing 15th Street. Pink roses, I presume Knock Out, were in full bloom. The Giant Coneflower growing in front of the roses are just finishing their blooming. Mealycup sage and the annual Monarda, Horsemint round out the picture.

Panning to the right, a sea of Mealycup Sage plants and other prairie plants fill the front of the bed.  
In this opening between the Mealycup Sage, yellow flowered Cutleaf Daisies, Indian Blanket, Horsemint, and Mexican Hat provide some variety. There appears to be a Standing Cypress plant that is not yet blooming in the front center of this photo. There also appears to be some sort of squash or gourd in the right center of the photo.  

More Mexican Hat flowers (red in front and yellow in back) and the State Grass of Texas, Sideoats Grama. 

More of the wildflowers.

A Prairie Garden sign that has seen better days announces the identity of the garden to those that are more familiar with manicured lawns.

All around the church building are some of the largest American Beautyberry bushes that I have ever seen. A Lindheimer's Muhly grows in front of the Beautyberry.

This Texas Sage is being strangled by a Carolina Snailseed vine. Carolina Snailseed is an aggressive native vine with red berries that is generally not grown in gardens. I suspect a bird planted the seeds for this vine. The yellow flowers are Zexmenia.

Several Sabal Minor Palms grow under Bald Cypress trees on the west side of the grounds.

Lush plantings fill the area around the main entrance to the church. Here a Desert Willow is surrounded by gold lantana.

Looking toward the entrance are more Desert Willows, roses, lantana, and Artemisia. As I was taking pictures, a woman drove up in a SUV. She got out and began removing some gardening tools. We greeted each other and I asked if it was OK for me to take a few pictures. She said it was fine and she would be happy to answer any questions I had. We talked a little more and I found out that she was one of two church members that take care of the garden. I also made the connection that she lives at the other end of my neighborhood and we met previously. 

Being Mr. Plant-Know-It-All, I did not think I would need to ask any questions until I saw this small tree. It did not look familiar at all.

The tree was filled with small fruits. I was stumped, so I asked for the ID of this plant. She said it was a Viburnum but she could not remember what kind. Then it hit me. I asked if it was a Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum and she concurred.

Near the base of the Rusty Blackhaw, a milkweed of some kind (light green leaves) grows with Ruellia.

Mexican Feather Grass and Lindheimer's Muhly grow near the visitor's parking area.

The flower beds on the north and east sides of the church are around 10 feet deep. Possumhaw Holly, Turks Cap, Coralberry, and Pale-leaf Yucca are thriving in this section.

A little further down, the yuccas are in need of a little maintenance to remove the old flower stalks. Behind the yuccas are some good looking little bluestem grasses. They look so much healthier than mine.

Rockrose, Artemisia, Knockout Rose, and Possumhaw Holley grow near a door on the back side of the building. 

For perspective, here is an overhead view of the property, courtesy of Google. And here is a link to the landscape designer's photos showing the garden in spring bloom.!gardens/vstc1=prairie-creek

It is nice to see a large landscape that includes native plants to support the native wildlife and conserve natural resources. Sure, there are more weeds than I allow in my much smaller garden and some plants could use some pruning, but God always welcomes the weeds and those in need of a little maintenance into his garden. And when you consider that two church members volunteer their time and energy for the maintenance on this large prairie garden, I say it looks pretty nice. 


  1. On the website, the landscaper has some IDs under plant palette and he uses a rose called "Nearly Wild". I think the rose in the first photo is this one. The others look more like Knockout. (which, by the way, is attack all over Texas by a mysterious virus- so much for this hybrid)

    1. Thanks. I think you are right about the rose IDs. I did not see that on his website. Rose rosette disease is a popular topic on radio gardening programs. I guess the Knockouts are resistant to the typical rose disease, but have their own problems. Here is a link with some info.

  2. Thanks for this. It reminds me I need to take a "field trip" to the Environmental Ed. Center, the gardens at Wilson Middle School, and now to Prairie Creek Baptist.

    1. Wilson Middle School is next on my list. I think about it every time I drive by. I need to make another visit to the Environmental Education Center to see what has changed.

  3. This is a beautiful example of how a landscape can be so much better if just a little more attention is paid to plant selection with a sense of place. Hooray for the two volunteers who maintain this.

    You will not be alone in this for much longer. I have noticed a trend toward adding more native plants like yucca, hesperaloe and zexmenia to commercial landscapes in Plano. The idea seems to be picking up steam with the drought as my family in the area has begun checking into replacing some of their west-facing sloped lawn with plants.

    1. Native plants are being used here and there. Red yucca is everywhere. I think the drought and watering restrictions play a part as well as people becoming accustomed to a different plant palette. Few people want to try something different from the norm.

  4. Inspired planting: wish more churches would take some inspiration from this! (Not to mention supermarkets, shopping centers and home owners). I'm quite sure God approves!

    1. It would be nice if more of these organizations and businesses with huge expanses of lawn would convert them to native plants and maybe community vegetable gardens. The land could be put to much more productive use than it is with a carpet of grass.

  5. My hat is off to the church ! Nice tour, Michael. I promise that I`m going to come up and see yours sometime.

    1. You are welcome to come. When I was reading your recent post about the Eryngium variety that you found, I was thinking that I needed to join you on plant safari sometime.

  6. It is so exciting to see another prairie garden. It will surely encourage more to follow suit. I am sad to read abut the knockout rose problem but it is good to be forewarned. I shall be looking for those ugly red shoots in my own garden where I have several. I just needed a rose that didn't need constant attention. I do prune hard in the spring so maybe I won't get the dreaded virus carrying mite.

  7. Maintenance plays such a large role in the success of a garden. You can have the best design but if it isn't taken care of in a knowledgeable way it usually fails and doesn't live up to the designers and/or clients intent.
    Finally there is a reason for designers to pay attention to choosing plants: low water use, viability, biodiversity, and lower inputs.

    The only con I have is so pesky tree seedlings, bindweed, and bermuda-grass which always seems to appear. Arghhh.

  8. That is one beautiful garden. Keep up the good work.


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