Covering Texas and beyond, Plants of the Metroplex is the only Texas book available giving practical landscape advice from a landscape architect's point of view. Howard Garrett uses his years of experience as a gardener, landscape contractor, maintenance contractor, and landscape architect to give you clear-cut, money-saving advice on the proper selection, installation, and maintenance of landscape plant material for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and beyond. Garrett also explains his organic approach, "The Natural Way," which gives gardeners greater success with lower costs and without the risks of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. All of this information has been revised and updated from Garrett's popular Plants of the Metroplex III.
J. Howard Garrett has converted several commercial projects to organic programs. They include Frito-Lay National Headquarters in Plano, Johnson and Johnson Medical in Arlington, and Collin County Community College in Plano.
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Plants of the Metroplex started in 1974 when I discovered that no book existed showing the plants I was teaching about and designing into projects. I completed the original book in one year because business was so bad in Dallas that year I had plenty of free time.
Since then my love of plants has grown substantially, along with my understanding and appreciation of the world of ornamental horticulture.
Although I didn't realize it in the beginning, my plant material recommendations have always included a high percentage of native plants—I just didn't identify them as such. Now that interest and use of natives has increased, 50 additional native plants and 170 introduced plants have been added to the book. I strongly believe that certain introduced plants are excellent and some even superior to their native counterparts. Using a careful mixture of both native and introduced plants is sensible in most gardens.
Environmental issues are a major concern today, and a more organic approach to landscape design and gardening is in order. The health and well-being of your family is at stake. Organic gardening is no longer a fad. We gardeners put far too many chemicals and poisons into our environment. Not only are we polluting the world, but we are killing ourselves in the process. Listen to the radio talk shows on gardening; every other question has an answer of some polson spray, funglclde, msecticide, herbicide, or stump killer. I have become painfully aware of the problem in trying to decide how to control the insect and disease problems in my own garden. I have been delighted to discover that the natural alternatives really work.
Another scary issue is how much we are poisoning the environment with fertilizers. First of all, most inorganic fertilizers have a salt base which is a problem for the already alkaline soils in most of Texas. Secondly, these fertilizers are causing a toxic buildup of nitrates in the soil and drinking water. Farmers are now aware of the problem and are looking to alternative methods and products—we home gardeners should be doing the same. And finally, chemical fertilizers destroy the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. More on that later.
Plants of the Metroplex covers the proper selection and use of plant materials in the North Texas area, including planting design, installatlon, and malntenance.
Three kinds of plants are shown and discussed: (1) recommended plants, (2) plants that can be used but aren't highly recommended, and (3) plants that are not recommended and should not be planted. I am not noncommittal about the plants in this book. My likes, dislikes, and experiences with all the plants are clearly expressed. The simple identification of the various plants isn't really worth much. What I hope you receive of value here results from the editorial pros and cons based on my experience with the almost 350 plants. Although no plant or technique is perfect, I have tried to give you the best advice on how to achieve the greatest success with a new or renovated garden.
A 1969 graduate of Texas Tech University, Garrett is currently a consultant on organic projects and products, host of "The Natural Way" radio gardening show on WBAP 820, and columnist for the Dallas Morning News.