What makes a plant a native exactly? Sometimes when I research a particular plant I will find in its description a range map where a whole state is coloured in. In a state like Texas such a map can only mislead. A plant that likes the filtered light and acidic soil of the Piney woods isn’t likely to thrive in the clay dust of the Panhandle. I am learning that native isn’t exactly the same thing as indigenous.
Even within the boundaries of Austin I can see evidence of radically different wild spaces in close proximity. Willowbrook Reach, a wildlife habitat and riparian restoration project, is all about gentle blues. But only a few city blocks away at the prairie garden in the Mueller Greenbelt you’d be hard pressed to find a single blue dayflower. The hills at Mueller are pink — taken over by false foxglove. Yet, both areas have the same soil type. Both areas have water sources. In this case the limiting factor seems mostly about the quality of light.
The stems are long, thin and could look weedy but when propped up by grasses and other plants false foxglove looks light and airy. Taking photos was tricky because they kept swaying in even a gentle breeze. A bit inconvenient but that kind of movement in the garden reminds me flowers are alive and not some kind of plastic furniture.
False foxglove is an annual that reseeds successfully. It seems to prefer open sunny places though I did see large stands in part-shade. Mealy blue sage blooms in large clumps nearby. I’d like to try putting the two together in my garden.