Growing More than Meets the Eye
By Jessie Monsivais
By: Jessie Monsivais Photos by: Rachel Benavides
Gardening offers a way to connect with the land, and brings a sense of peace as we dig through the dirt to sow seeds of our favorite plants. If aspirations of testing your green thumb have prospered with rose bushes or succulent planters, one local nursery is shining a light on the beauty and benefits of investing in local flora.
NativeDave Landscape & Nursery is a full-service sustainable landscape firm located in rural Aransas County. Originating from Dallas-Ft.Worth-Denton, NativeDave relocated to the Coastal Bend nine years ago, bringing a landscaping perspective founded on principles of sustainability by using native plants. David and his wife Christy say they realized the importance of getting involved with the local food movement.
“We’ve created plants with [Grow Local South Texas] and supported them with pollinator plants at their learning gardens,” Christy says. “We grow our produce at Sage Hollow Farm, which is on our property. We deliver produce to multiple clients. Our purpose in growing local food is to help support that system, especially in uncertain times. We’ve discovered how ‘food scaping’ is really the future of horticulture.”
A combination of David’s background in fine gardening and Christy’s interest in local food, NativeDave landscape services include consultation, award-winning custom design, installation, and maintenance of an ever-expanding palette of subtropical and temperate food-producing plants.
“The foundation of our business has always been about sustainability, and it’s an environmental movement,” says David. “We’ve always been interested in using native plants to restore the natural balances of nature. From an aesthetic sense, we want to replicate the natural beauty of a particular region. We want to bring back the natural form and function of nature.”
Specializing in native plants and habitat restoration, NativeDave also offers vegetable gardening, which David and Christy say is an extension of their personal lifestyle.
“We live in a tiny house that we built ourselves on five acres. We’re off-grid, powered by solar, and have rainwater harvesting,” says Christy. “The way we live is an extension of the way that we work. Businesses are businesses providing a service or a product, but our business is an extension of our personality. It is consistent, whether we’re at work in the nursery or we’re out in the garden.”
Their signature plant, Wooly Stemodia, is a beautiful silvery gray plant that is endemic among the Coastal Bend region. This plant doesn’t require much water because it grows right in the sand – it can be recognized as the groundcover outside Benjamin’s Surf Shop. NativeDave features edible native flora, too, such as Church Cap, a little flowering plant in the hibiscus family. With sweet-tasting flowers and berries that are popularly used for making jam, Church Cap can be found growing on the beach and in the woodlands in Rockport.
“It’s important for people to learn how to grow their own produce. It’s easy to do, and it’s enjoyable,” says David. “You know what you’re putting on your food. It’s healthy and it’s not shipped from the other side of the world.”
At NativeDave, education is a crucial component in building a sustainable lifestyle. Dave and Christy plan to organize educational programs at their farm and nursery to demonstrate how these principles are applied.
“I think education is the key to making changes toward sustainability,” Christy says earnestly. “It’s important for the community to make our area attractive to newcomers and help us move forward as a community. Gardening is an environmental movement.”
NativeDave not only helps beautify our community, but also sets the example for adopting a sustainable lifestyle. Water conservation and food security have proven to be essential in times of crisis. Learning about the benefits of local plants delivers an opportunity for building a life of health and resourcefulness.