Rambling Along

Years ago as we were driving on the back roads in Arkansas, a common sight was wooden shacks slowly crumbling away.  Old stoves, sofas, refrigerators, etc. were sitting on the front porches.  Often people were hanging out there, too.

I wondered how anyone could let their property get so rundown.  Now, of course, I realize there are many reasons this could happen – no money for repair, no energy to tackle the job, and no motivation for improvement.

vineoncar7This is not that situation, but similar.  These are wrecked cars parked outside an automobile shop in a small town near us.

vineoncarIt’s obvious that they’ve been here awhile and the parts have not been needed yet.

vineoncar2This Morning Glory Vine lives as long as there is a little rain in the spring.  But summer heat and lack of water will dry it up soon.

vineoncar4Aging has made me realize how easy it is to ignore mundane tasks and get complacent with one’s surroundings.  There is an adage that says if you lay down something in your house, like a stack of newspapers, it becomes common place.  In a few days or a week, you won’t even notice it.

When I started thinking about this, it shook me awake to take a fresh look at what needs to be done in my house and yard.

vineoncar5Cedar is the choice for fence and other posts around here because they last so long.

vineoncar6As I’ve said before, flowers add their own beauty.

vineoncar8To me there’s something poignant about this scene.  Call me sappy, but can anyone wax poetic about these scenes?

Here is my attempt:

MORNING, GLORY

THE VINE
growing, grasping and coiling tendrils, climbing over barriers
IN LIFE
blooming, twisting, and snagging metal, drawn by the Sun.
FOR A SEASON
producing seeds
till withered on the soil

THE SOUL
stretching, clinging and holding to hope, climbing past hindrances
IN GLORY
prevailing, persisting, soaring upward, lifted by the Son
FOREVER
worshiping in awe
bowing before the genesis

ramblingThis is just one reason why I try not to judge others.  Maybe I’m the only one with this experience.  But when I start to criticize someone in my mind, I find that eventually I will notice a similar fault in my own life.

This Morning Glory vine spreads like wildfire.  This hose is used once or twice a week and it grows to cover this hose in between those times.  Sprigs also come up from one end of this flower bed to the other.  I try to be diligent, but…

“Money won’t buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem.”
Bill Vaughan.

Not a Rose

When is a “rose” not a rose?  When it belongs to a completely different family than roses.  Roses (Rosa) are woody shrubs in the Rosaceae family.  Most of us recognize a rose without even thinking about it.

So why do so many other flowers have “rose” in their name?  Who knows.  Maybe because of the romance and sentimentality associated with a true rose.

notarose3Ross Moss (Portulaca Grandiflora) is considered an annual, but is a perennial in our area.  It is a member of the Portulacaeae family.

Even in a plastic pot on the north side of the house, it returned after a cold and long winter this year.  Rose Moss can’t tolerate our heavy clay soil, so it needs a pot with good drainage.

notarose2Desert Rose (Apocynaceae Adenium Obesum) is actually a succulent member of the Oleander family.

notarosebOne of its characteristics is the formation of a bulb shape at the base of its stem as it ages.  This one only has a slight bulge so far.

notaroseMexican Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is a perennial related to the agaves.  Polianthes means “many flowers” in Greek.

They don’t usually start blooming here until August, when the heat has been around awhile.  This picture is from last year.  The temps, as well as the humidity, have hit high gear, so they might be blooming in a month or so.

rockrose6Texas Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is a member of the Mallow family.  It is a small shrub that needs little moisture.  Mine doesn’t get much bigger and rarely blooms, maybe because it’s in a bed that gets watered.  It could also be that the amended soil in the lasagna bed is too good for it.  Never thought I’d say that about anyplace in my yard.

notarose4Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is in the Mallow family.  It is also known as althaea.

notarose5More pictures show the abundance of flowers.

notarose1All the bushes in the above pictures came from a friend’s cuttings.  She got them from her sister in Michigan.

pinkroseofsharonThis is a different variety of Rose of Sharon that I ordered from a catalog.  Nice color and ruffled center.

pinkroseofsharon2Doesn’t even look like the same flower.  All Rose of Sharons are hardy, hardy, hardy.  Not much water is needed to live, but it is necessary for them to bloom.

What do all these plants have in common?  They are drought tolerant, pretty, and thrive in the heat.  Despite their names, they are not in the rose family. notaroseEven a stone is called a rose.  If you use your imagination, a rose shape can be seen.

Desert Rose is a variety of gypsum that forms in the spaces between sand particles. It traps the loose sand in a unique flower-like crystal structure.  They tend to be small.  These are 1.5 inches across.

Rose rocks are found in Tunisia, Algeria, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and in central Oklahoma.

Oklahoma rose rock was formed during the Permian Period, 250 million years ago, when western and central Oklahoma’s  shallow sea coverage was receding.   It is the official rock of Oklahoma.  Didn’t even realize that states had designated rocks.

“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered.  But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue:  no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”                     Eleanor Roosevelt

Flowers, Weeds and Rocks

Out in the fields, among the caliche and rocks, small beauties await.  It takes a careful eye and patience to find them.

field5And their neighbors might not be that interesting or unusual.  The White Prickly Poppy (Argemone albiflora subsp. texana) lives among cactus as well as other drought loving plants.

field7The tall pokey stems discourage handling.

field2 Honeybees and other insects love the flower for their pollen.  But there is very little nectar.

field8Their thin petals are blown back and forth by the wind.

flowersfield2In the spring the ground near the barn was covered with two different kinds of flowers.  The above is one of them.

After searching through my 3 books for Texas wildflower identification, I still don’t know the name of the above plant.  I could not find a small white flower with four petals.

Anyone know?

flowersfield3This appears to be the same flower but with a pinkish tinge.

flowersfield5It’s easy to walk pass White Milkwort (Polygala alba) without noticing it.  However, in mass, they’re lovely.

flowersfield4I’ve wondered about putting some in a bouquet of flowers.  I haven’t tried it and don’t know how long they would last.

yardsummerstart9The Texas Thistle (Cirsium texanum) is a nice bright color.  I enjoy them when they are few in number.  But when they  take over a field, it is difficult to eradicate them.

yardsummerstartaThese were the subject of another search.  I thought they were a type of Bindweed, but they don’t fit the descriptions of that climbing vine.

yardsummerstartgThe small, open bush in front of the cedar is a Catclaw Acadia (Acacia greggii Gray).  They range from 3 to 10 feet tall, although all the ones around here are at the lower end of that.  They bloom from April to October.

yardsummerstarthThe thorns are shaped like the claws on a cat.  Small animals and birds nest under them for protection.

With the emphasis on xeriscape landscaping now, they are planted in some yards.

I’m hoping that it doesn’t take a lifetime to learn about all the native wildflowers because I started too late.

“What comes out of your mouth is determined by what goes into your mind.”  Zig Ziglar

Natty Flat

Nothing says road trip like a stop at a local attraction.  As a kid, we always headed west for vacations to visit Indian ruins and natural wonders like the Painted Desert.  As we traveled those long, straight highways through sage-strewn flat land, we looked for the huge billboards advertising an Indian Trading Post coming up.  They promised unusual exhibits like dozens of live rattlesnakes or the real saddle of some famous outlaw.

In reality, it was a tourist trap full of trinkets probably made in some factory back east.  But we loved the chance to get out of the car and spend the allowance money we had been saving, taking lots of time to wander the aisles and look at everything.

nattyflat9Natty Flat is not exactly that sort of tourist place.  It started out as a small Barbeque restaurant and a store to sell western goods.  Those are not cheap trinkets, either.

Two brothers were ingenious in combining several talents for this enterprise.  One owns the restaurant, where the BBQ really is outstanding.  The other runs the store, which sells furniture as well as other western goods.  He also makes most of the furniture.  The over sized rifle in the picture is one of his creations.  It has already been sold so don’t hanker for it.

nattyflat8Red cedar, which is plentiful in the area, provides the materials needed for his craft.

nattyflat7This rocking chair is the main landmark for Natty Flat.  The telephone pole gives prospective for its height.

nattyflat6 Throw in a little western decor and it draws the people in.

nattyflat3Behind the windmill is the store.

nattyflat5They do a good job of putting a few brightly colored annuals to add more interest.  The Prickly Pear Cactus blooms also pop.

nattyflat4Petunias make this water trough attractive.

nattyflatThe owners’ sense of humor is evident in several places.  The above sign is hard to read, so here goes:

This rock never fails.  It’s 100% correct.
Here’s how it works.
If it’s wet, it’s raining.
If it’s dry, there’s fair weather.
If it’s dusty, there’s a dust storm
If it’s white, it’s snowing.
If it’s swaying, it’s windy.
If there’s a shadow under the rock, it’s sunny.
If you can’t see it, it’s foggy.
If it’s jumping up and down, there’s an earthquake.
If the bottom is under water, it’s a flood.
If it’s dry and still, just wait a minute, and it will change.
If everything is moving and you’re not, you’re drunk.

nattyflat2

nattyflat1These really are the restrooms for the restaurant.  But they are not the traditional holes of an outhouse.  Just a modern day toilet inside.

Note the pretty Yucca blooms beside it.  Flowers make anything look good.

nattyflataAmong Purple Sage, Prickly Pear, and a dying cedar is an old decaying wagon.

nattyflatbRusty metal and Prickly Pear is the perfect depiction of West Texas.

See more at Natty Flat.  It’s just south of I 20 at the Stephenville exit.  I think it’s worth a stop, especially for the grub.

“Keep away from folks who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”  Mark Twain

Cut Flowers

One of the joys of a flower garden is having cut flowers in the house.  This has been an especially good year for that.

gladsThe Gladiolus bulbs that came in a packet several years ago are still producing profusely.  Sometimes they’re called Sword Lilies.

glads2It’s always a surprise to see which color will open up next.

glads3Some are daintily colored, while others are bright and bold.

glads4There are many new bulbs that need to be taken out.  Thinning is supposed to be mandatory for bulbs.  Somehow, I never seem to get around to that task.

glads5A couple of years ago I bought a different variety of glads.  They have a smaller red flower with white edges.

glads6Sometime I put all different colors together for a bouquet.  Other times I try to achieve a color scheme.

Now to my other favorite flowers for vases – roses.

roses14This is actually a spring blooming climber.  I’m late in showing it this year.  It is Madam Norbert De Velleur climber that was bought at Antique Rose Emporium years ago.

roses142One of the attractions of this particular rose is the clusters of blossoms.  When in bloom, it’s covered with flowers.

roses143Each flower is not particularly impressive.  It’s the mass of them together that I like.  As I’ve said on a previous post, this bush has the largest thorns I’ve seen on rose bushes.  I yell “ouch” often when working around it.

Therefore, I don’t use them in vases.

roses147This was the first rose bloom this year.  It’s a Knock-Out Rose.  It was unusual to be right at the ground level.  Notice the native grass I’m still fighting.

rosesaDuring the spring and summer this Oso Easy Paprika Rose bush is either covered with flowers or has no flowers.  That’s because it has to be deadheaded in order to rebloom.

rosesbI often wait until all the flowers die so they can all be cut off at once.

rosescThis is a hybrid rose that blooms fairly often, but the blooms don’t last long.

rosesg

rosesjThe flowers on the Mr. Lincoln Rose will stay pretty for several days if left on the bush.  Once they are cut, they’re gone in about a day.  These I usually just enjoy from my kitchen window.

rosesdThe flowers on Tropicana can be brought inside and will last about a week in water.

roseseSo pretty with Russian Sage behind them.

rosesfAnother hybrid I don’t know the name of.

rosemBelinda’s Dream has not bloomed as much this year as most years.

roses148This is what the blooms on my all time favorite bush Double Delight looked like early this spring.  A diluted mixture of Rose Systemic Drench by Bonide at the base of the plant took care of the problem.

roseslThese are the roses from that bush after it recovered.

roseslDouble Delight is the strongest smelling rose I have.  It is truly heavenly.

rosesmBoth the scent and the blooms last about a week.  Flowers are one of life’s joys that can occur over and over each year.

Another blessing that we tend to recognize more in July than the rest of the year is our country and our freedoms.

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”  Patrick Henry

Robust Flower Bed

Still have the same dilemma that I always have when planting.  Beds usually become too crowded because the plants get bigger than I imagined they would.  Or there is too much space around the plants.

frontbedhjpgThis bed is visible from the front porch and front windows.

frontbeddI like the colors and the plants individually but overall design needs work.

frontbedbThe yellow border is made up of Stonecrop Sedum.  From a small start taken from my mother’s yard, I have scattered it around in several beds.  This year I put some around the edge of one end of this bed to create a border.

The positive characteristics of this sedum is that it roots and spreads quickly, is drought tolerant, and covers nicely.

frontbed8As soon as summer heats up, the yellow will disappear and leave tall dead stems that will need to be cut off, unless they don’t bother you.  The green will become a dull greyish green.  So it’s not a perfect plant.

frontbedcThis is the first Butterfly Weed (Asclepias) I’ve had that is covered in blooms with a bright orange color.  I have two others in a different bed that look pretty bland.

This plant seems misnamed because it doesn’t attract butterflies like other plants that grow nearby.

frontyard614uIn front of the Butterfly Weed Bush is a native Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis) that has filled out this year.  A friend assured me that I would like it when she gave it to me.  And she’s right even though the blooms are not large.

frontbed1These Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum) have spread and bloomed like crazy this year.  These were also a pass-along from a friend.

frontbedNot sure which specific Gomphera these are, but they are a neon magenta color.  I planted them because I didn’t think last year’s Gomphera were coming back.

frontbedmThe Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum) have gotten leggy this year, so they are susceptible to being trampled by whatever creatures stomp through them at night.

Some interesting facts about Texas Bluebells:
The Japanese have been breeding them for over 70 years and know them as Lisianthus.  They have developed pink, white and deep purple varieties with both single and double petals.

Texas Bluebells are little known now because they are so pretty.  People have picked them so much that the native flowers haven’t been able to reseed in the wild.

frontbed7Bluebell are delicate looking flowers but are hardy in nature, if left alone.

frontbedkThis monster just keeps growing.  If it didn’t die in the winter, it might just take over the yard.  I don’t remember what it is, but it was bought at a Lady Bird Johnson Center sale, so it’s a native.

frontbedlSandwiched between that plant on the left and the Cone Flowers on the right is another mystery plant.  I don’t think I planted it, but it grew here last year, too.  I keep waiting for it to bloom hoping to identify it.  The leaves look like those of a mum.  If it doesn’t bloom this year, it’s out of here.

frontbedjThe Cone Flowers(Echinacea) did a great job of reseeding because many more are coming up.  The Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) with the red flowers did return but apparently did not seed.  I’m still hoping that some of those seeds will set for next year.

frontbedaLove the look and color of these Coneflowers.

frontbediThe Blue Curls bush (Phacelia congesta) also is growing like a weed.

frontbed9The Blue Curls flowers on stalks are a soft muted purple.

frontbednIn fact, the bush has gotten so big that the wind whirligig won’t move.

frontbed4The Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) also is jammed up against a bush.  Small clumps came up all around the original plants.  I have moved several to get a fuller look at this end of the bed, but some four legged varmits keep digging them up.

Makes me wonder if I’ll ever get it right.  I like a nice full look, but not this crowded.

frontbedfLast year three small Strawberry Fields Gompheras (Gompherena haageana) were planted here.  I asked the man at the nursery if they would reseed.  He said “Maybe.”

This year I had given up hope but the other day noticed the mass of tiny plants.

frontbedfgjpgThey are already blooming and getting their height.  So I have plenty of Gompheras to share.

Guess I’ll keep muddling along trying to get the look I want in the flower beds.

“The biggest lie I tell myself is “I don’t need to write that down.  I’ll remember it.’”  Unknown

Porch Sitting

Porch sitting is an American past time, especially this time of the year.  But enjoying the outdoors gathered with friends is not unique to the US of A.  Think about Paris cafes, Aussies and their barbies, campfires outside of yurts in Asia and thatched homes in Africa, and picnics just about anywhere.

frontyard614iOutside decorating has become an art form.  While I don’t have that skill, I do like plants just about anywhere outside.

By the front porch are some pots that have some perennials and some annuals for color.  Truthfully, I leave whatever survived the winter and then fill in with annuals.

The large pot on the left has some Artemisia that has been there several years.  To that, Coleus and Impatiens (Vincas) were added.

The right back pot has some Yellow Columbine that ended up there by wind or was carried by birds.  In the pot in front of it is Autumn Sedum, that thankfully, made it through all that cold this past winter.

frontyard614e

frontyard614z3The late evening sun makes the Coleus glow.

frontporch2Beside that grouping of pots is this Asparagus Fern that is over 24 years old.

frontyard614z2At the other end of the porch is this white pot.  You can see a little green on top.

In the background is another Asparagus Fern.

frontyard614yEvery year I get impatient for the Rose Moss to come out.  Sometimes I even go buy other plants to put in this pot.  This year I’m determined to wait for it to fill out and bloom.

frontporchLooking back to the corner are three pots of Boston Fern.  These are also 24 years old.  Who would keep plants that long or even care?  An old lady, I guess.

The deer horns in the wagon weren’t really planned.  It just seems that when anyone finds horns in the pastures, they get deposited here or on a table on the back porch.

frontporch1The Boston Ferns have been divided many times.  In fact, there are three other pots around the house in other places.  Some have been given away, but most people aren’t interested in storing a big pot in the winter.

frontporch3This bunny pot holds an heirloom Geranium.  It must not be getting enough sun and needs to be moved.  I really like the bunny but can’t seem to find the right size pot for it.

Hope you have some time this summer for some serious porch sitting with friends and family to laugh and enjoy each other or for some alone time to spend in quiet contentment.

“Doing nothing is very hard to do.  You never know when you’re finished.”  Unknown