Way back in 1986, Austinite Jill Nokes published her first book, How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest, a landscaper's guide which set the standard for using native plants in the landscape, both for their beauty and their drought-tolerance.
A graduate of the Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas who also earned a Masters of Science degree in Horticulture at Texas A&M University, Nokes is a sought-after speaker who graciously gives her time to those who wish to work with the sometimes difficult Texas climate to create beautiful landscapes in harmony with their surroundings.
On March 8, Nokes will share slides and sometimes poignant anecdotes from her latest work, Yard Art and Handmade Places: Extraordinary Expressions of Home. As she explains it on her web site, jillnokes.com, the book "take(s) a look at the ways ordinary people organize and shape the space around their house to express identity and belonging."
In her words, it is "more than a mere catalog of eccentric gardens or a collection of folk art pieces"--rather it "includes the stories of some extraordinary 'place-makers' who beautifully and lovingly show us how the garden can be a powerful gesture of hospitality and sociality. By seeing all the ways people use their yards or gardens to create particularly exuberant statements about themselves, their history or background, and even religious beliefs, we learn that the larger meaning binding all these places together is what they have to say about the relationship of the owner to his or her homeland."
As Nokes traveled the state of Texas with photographer Krista Whitson on the trail of these unique garden spaces, she gained an appreciation for the people who created them, as her stories illustrate. Nokes was invited to attend the Texas Book Festival in Austin last fall, where she talked about the book, explaining that these unique spaces are very transitory, as the owners age or natural disasters destroy what they have created.
Plan to join the Celebration of Texas Authors, at which Nokes and three other Texas authors will discuss their books and be available for book-signings. A Celebration of Texas Authors is sponsored by the Friends of the Blanco Library and will take place at Gem of the Hills Community Center on Highway 281 north of Blanco, on March 8, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets, which are available at the Blanco Library, cost $15 and include a lunch planned by Sibby Barrett of Onion Creek Kitchens. Tickets may be purchased at the door for $17.