This summer's weather has been challenging, even brutal in regards to gardening. Temperatures of 100 degrees plus have been common and rainfall scarce. From June 1 through this writing in mid August, only 6 and 5/8 inches have fallen in the King William/Lavaca neighborhoods. About half of that was in the first part of June. If nothing else, we should have learned what plants are better adapted to our warmer and dryer climate. Take notes for next year.

Summer in South Texas is one of the best times of the year to be outside along the San Antonio River. On some days, though, if the heat doesn’t keep you inside, the mosquitoes will. Luckily, the San Antonio River Watershed is home to a native fish that helps us with those pesky insects. The Western Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) is a small (1 to 2 inch) fish that lives in ponds, lakes, creeks and rivers. This fish, along with its close cousin, the more localized Largespring Gambusia (Gambusia geiseri), eats mosquitoes. While these fish might be considered pests in some parts of the country where they have been introduced, they are native to our watershed and therefore provide a natural form of pest control. Incredibly common and numerous, these hardy fish are not hard to find.

In last month’s KWA newsletter, I read about a nifty private social website called Nextdoor King William. No sooner had I signed up than I saw an intriguing post from neighbor Rhoda Hockett:

We have lived here 29 years and tonight was the first time we’ve seen fireflies on the river banks!!! We started seeing the first one from the bridge by Brackenridge HS then saw two more as we walked back toward Blue Star. Imagine if there were fifty or a hundred? The magic begins!

Most of us have probably heard the term heirloom plants, but do not know what they really are. The following is taken from The Southern Heirloom Garden by William C. Welch and Greg Grant.

Heirloom plants are living antiques and belong in the garden because they are tough, adapted and pretty. They evoke nostalgia by their sight and smell because they are plants that Grandmother grew or we grew up with as children. The use of heirloom plants should be considered in establishing the garden to complement the restoration of any older home.

Over two weekends in late May and early June, between 10 and 11 inches of rain fell over most of the area between S. Flores St. and the I-37 Freeway. If you have a lawn of any size you have probably been out cutting it every few days. It seems clear that xeric landscapes are not only environmentally better, but can be less labor intensive. If you would like to reduce the amount of grass in your landscape, go by 815 E. Guenther to get some ideas about what can be done to reduce water usage and still have an appealing garden. If you have gone by this garden before, notice that there seems to be more pieces of unique yard art than previously.