John Hart Asher kicks off Garden Spark’s Season 7 with prairie garden presentation

August 27, 2023

Prairie and native-plant advocate John Hart Asher, principal of Blackland Collaborative and host of the PBS show Central Texas Gardener, spoke at Garden Spark last Thursday. His engaging and informative presentation provided an excellent Season 7 kickoff for the speaker series about garden design and ecology that I’ve been hosting since 2017.

It was also the hottest Garden Spark. It was 106 degrees F when I arrived at 7 pm and 98 F when it ended, an hour after sunset. Whew! Central Texas gardeners and Garden Spark attendees — and speakers — are a hardy bunch!

Barton Springs Nursery again provided a warm welcome and a beautiful venue under their live oaks and string lights.

They also set up a gorgeous display of potted prairie plants to welcome attendees. Thanks so much, Barton Springs Nursery staff!

John Hart shared how prairie grasses sequester more carbon than trees and are among the most resilient plants for a hotter, drier climate. Even a small prairie garden — a pocket prairie, as he calls it — can make your garden more resilient to weather extremes and offers essential habitat for native and migratory wildlife and pollinators. If everyone dedicates even a portion of their yard, he urged, together we can make a huge difference for our planet.

The next Garden Spark event will be held on December 7. (Sorry for the wait. I have a hectic book-writing schedule this fall.) Speaker Shaney Clemmons, principal and founder of Shademaker Studio, will give a talk called “Hedge Fun: How Hedges Beat Fences for Wildlife Habitat and a Healthier Ecosystem and Why You Need One”:

Instead of spending your landscaping budget on a fence, learn why planting a hedge is the greener choice — in every sense. Biodiverse hedges provide shelter and food for urban wildlife, create and connect wildlife corridors, and reduce impervious cover, creating a healthier ecosystem and more comfortable climate while also mitigating stormwater runoff. Landscape architect Shaney Clemmons explains why her firm, Shademaker Studio, started the Hedge Pledge three years ago and how planting hedges has improved her clients’ gardens. Learn why climate-resilient plant design is important, how to increase plant diversity in an existing garden, and which plants are performing best in Austin’s extreme temperatures of recent years. 

I hope you’ll join us, local gardening enthusiasts! To receive notifications about ticket sales and upcoming talks, subscribe to Garden Spark. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

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Digging Deeper

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance; simply click this link and ask to be added. The Season 7 lineup can be found here.

Tour several Austin gardens on Saturday, November 4, on the Garden Conservancy’s Open Day tour for Travis County. Tickets must be purchased online in advance and will be available beginning September 1st.

All material © 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.