Adapting native plants to achieve a Japanese Garden feel/look.
I'm a newbie here. I love the look and feel of a Japanese garden. I live in central Texas in the hill country and have been contemplating using some of the principles of Japanese gardening in my landscape, but will need to use as many native Tx. plants as possible, or at least varieties that do well in this zone (7-8) and can tolerate some drought-like conditions and heat. I'd love to plant some Japanese Maples but don't know how realistic that would be, what with the temps and the alkaline soils around here. I wonder if there are any lists of plants that make good substitutes? For instance, might a Flame Leaf Sumac be a good replacement for the Maples? Can native Junipers and other trees and shrubs be shaped and pruned like their Japanese counterparts?
I just purchased a specimen tree/shrub called Corylus Avellana 'Contorta' which has a beautiful twisty trunk that is exposed in winter after it's draping leaves fall. It's cold hardy and supposedly will do well with medium water once established.
And then there are the Japanese Holly Ferns that are readily available at local nurseries.
Neither are natives, but they work pretty well in this area.
Any central Texans that have found themselves adapting their native Texas environment to their enjoyment of Japanese Gardens?
I'd really like to hear from you about what kinds of choices you are making in plants and landscape design.