This and That

A little rain, a lot of wind requiring holding on to a tree for stability, a little cool weather, and some flowers hanging on is the situation here.

autumnblooms4The Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is losing flowers quickly in this wind.  Earlier in the spring it wasn’t blooming profusely like normal.  But it recovered and is an interesting focal point at one corner of the house.

autumnblooms8It’s always a surprise where Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra ssp. trachysperma) will come each year.  This year the holes of some insects left the leaves looking like tattered lace.

autumnbloomsmThe flowers are attractive but not bold.  With some decent foliage, it’s a nice looking plant.

autumnbloomsaI don’t know why it took me so long to discover Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha).  It’s a perfect plant for our arid conditions.  It’s a shrub that grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.  Oops, I definitely didn’t leave enough space for its width.

autumnbloomsnMexican Sage is a sun lover, although it will tolerate some shade.  It is drought tolerant and attracts bees.

autumnbloomsoPlus, the flower spikes have a soft velvet look.

autumnbloomspJust makes a person want to reach out and touch it.  We’ll see how it survives the winter.

autumnbloomseThe Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) or Narrow-leaf Sunflowers put on their usual air show waving on tall stalks.  Most of the flowers are gone now, but they bloom for about two months.

autumnbloomsgOne stalk leaned over and it was easier to admire the flowers close-up.

autumnbloomshThe brilliant red turban-like flowers of Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) just keep on attracting bees.

autumnbloomsfI love to watch all the flitting activity of the pollinators.  Very soothing.

autumnbloomsdSince Orange African Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) is not winter hardy, I’ve kept it in two large pots for years.  But the last couple of years, I’ve planted some as an annual in one bed.  Each spring when the pots are put outside, a few clumps are hanging just over the edge of the pots with their roots out of soil, so I decided to just put them in the ground, where they last until the first freeze.

This is a water wise plant that does well in the hot sun and is a beauty.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.”
Chief Seattle Duwamish

Lovely Autumn Days

There have been studies about the affect of weather on people’s moods.  High crimes rates have been linked to long periods of hot weather.  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a syndrome noted for depression during winter months when there is less sunlight.  So why am I writing about weather and moods?  Because this autumn is so fantastic that everyone is talking about it.  “What a beautiful day.” is a common phrase now.  Just so thankful for this time of the year.

autumnblooms1These mild sunny days have brought flowers to my Rock Roses (Pavonia lasiopetala Scheele)  that have hardly ever bloomed.   They are also know as Rose pavonia or Rose Mallow.

autumnblooms2They have a woody stem and can grow in shallow soil on limestone.

autumnblooms3Also still blooming a little is Blue Curls (Phacelia congesta Hook).  Another popular name is Fiddleneck.  This year mine has grown to about four feet tall.

autumnbloomscThe buds are slow to open, so it’s hard to find a cluster of all flowers open at once.

autumnbloomsjThe Zinnas just keep on giving.  About six or seven years ago I planted one package of seeds.  Over the years, only pink and a few orange ones have survived by reseeding.

autumnbloomslThe bees continue to enjoy them, probably even more than I do.

autumnbloomsiAfter last year’s winter, I thought this Sweet Almond Verbena (Aloysia virgata) might not make it.  The Dirt Doctor calls this the most beneficial insect-attracting plant he has ever grown.  Not sure about that, but I do agree that the fragrance is wonderful.

autumnblooms9This year at the Garden Club plant sale, I bought an Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana).  I’ve always shied away from them because everyone warns how aggressive they are.  But those are the kind that do well for me, so I grabbed a couple.  And I love their look.

The Obedient name comes from the fact that the stems can be bent in any direction and remain there.  So that’s nice in floral arrangements.  Unfortunately, in the garden they don’t stay where they are put.

I hope this is a wonderful season for you.  Thank you for taking time to read my blog.

“Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.” Zig Ziglar

Senna Shrubs

Are plant names confusing for you?  Sometimes they are for me.  Another problem is when I receive a plant from a friend or pick one up at a plant sale for an organization and it isn’t labeled.  When I get several of these small plants at a time home, then I can’t remember what I was told or I get them confused.

senna3 This one came from a fellow Garden Club member a few years ago.  I’m sure that she called it a Senna.  But it turns out that there are several varieties and none of my pictures look like this one.  It isn’t very showy with a only few flowers sprouting on the stems.

senna1Now I think this bush is a Senna, too.  It looks like a Senna lindheimeriana.  The great thing about this one is that it is covered with flowers for months.

sennaBut one description of Senna lindheimeriana describes the foliage as grey.  These leaves are green.

senna4So, bottom line, I’m not sure this is a Senna.  I much prefer this one to the other so called Senna.  Both grow in full sun and are perennial.

So many plants are called by the same common names that using the Latin names makes sense.  I’m learning that is what I should pay attention to.  If anyone can identify these plants, I would love to know.

“Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.”  Unknown

African Bulbine/Other Flowering Plants

Fantastic weather.  Our mornings have turned cool:  50’s and 60’s greet us early.  With highs in the 80’s, this is really autumn.  Not only are we enjoying it, but plants are rejuvenating with a sigh of relief.

stillblooming9This is probably the best time of the year for Purple Heart and African Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’).  More flowers  appear and the color of both flowers and foliage is stronger.

Since the Bulbine is native to South Africa, it is an annual here.  Mine stay in pots that must be brought inside during the winter.  They survive well in our shed kept just a few degrees above freezing.  In the spring when we bring the pots out, I pull out a few clumps of the succulent leaves and plant them in a bed.

stillblooming6For some reason, I cannot get a good close up that shows the true colors of Purple Heart.

stillblooming7This is better, but the flower is a little deeper pink in reality.

stillbloomingaTexas Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans ‘Gold Star’) are such a delight.  This one is hardy to Zone 9.  An important note for those in lower number zones.  Buy the Gold Star and not a tecoma grown from seed.  Otherwise, it will be an annual.

stillbloomingbPreviously I had tried the Esperanzas sold in chain stores.  Losing them in the winter made me a believer in the Texas hardy one.

stillbloomingcA few Purple Cone flowers (Echinacea purpurea) keep opening up.

stillbloomingdTheir colors are paler, but still pretty.

stillbloomingeThe cone flowers are visited by bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

stillbloomingiThe Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) bushes have spread this year and the flowers have been brilliant.  They have become established and just make themselves at home.   The bushes spread out like a queen draping her skirt out beyond her throne.

Turk’s Cap can be grown in the sun or shade.  In the sun, they flower more, but their leaves do better in the shade.

On the right is an Autumn Sage.

stillbloominggLots of pollinators love Turk’s Cap, including this Splinter Moth.

stillbloominghRussian Sage is still covered with blossoms.  With their soft pastel color and indistinct form they look like a Monet painting.

And now from Art Master’s Gallery is a picture that speaks to our drought situation.

mousesidewalkCute, huh?

“Every test in our life makes us bitter or better.
Every problem comes to break us or make us.
The choice is ours whether we become victim or victor.”

Still Blooming

Most of the perennials in my yard are going to seed.  But there are still a few blooms to enjoy.  This year everything had a late start and now an early ending.  But I’m not quite ready to call it a day in the garden, yet.

stillbloomingBloodflower (Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’) returned this year but in different spots from where it was planted.  Guess the wind and birds helped out a little.  This flower is also known as Swallow-wort, Butterfly Weed, Mexican Milkweed, and Scarlet Milkweed.

So far, it has remained a small plant in my flowerbed but is still visited by many butterflies.

stillblooming1One of the tried and true performers is Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), which is covered with Viceroy butterflies from spring until cold weather.  From my kitchen window, the tops look brown because of the butterflies.

stillblooming2Just a few more flowers left on the French Hollyhock (Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrena’).  The stems are covered with seed pods.  I’ve been busy gathering seeds from many different plants.  The Garden Club has a seed exchange in November.  This year I will be ready.

stillbloomingkThis Oleander was planted this spring.  The peachy petals attracted me, plus the hardiness of this plant.  The highway departments in several southwestern states plant them out in arid areas.  The sprinkler system doesn’t reach this one, so I’ve been carrying buckets to get it established.  Next year, it should survive mostly on whatever falls from the sky.

stillblooming3 Now it has fewer flowers but is still going.

A local rancher reminded me that they are poisonous.  He was still upset that a neighbor had some Oleanders that one of his cows has eaten and later died.  This was many years ago.  I assured him that I planted this one and some others in a fenced in area.  Now if cows somehow get out of their fenced pasture into another person’s yard, I’m sympathetic but don’t place the blame on the person growing the Oleander.

stillblooming4Another dependable bloomer is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana).  Everyone warns that they are invasive.  Hey, if it’s invasive, maybe it has a chance to survive our rocky clay soil and hot summers.  If last year was an indication, we can add cold winters to that list of hurdles for plants.

stillblooming5This pot of Rose Moss bloomed really well this year.  Next year, it should probably be divided.

stillbloomingfThe three Dynamite Crape Myrtles still have some bright red blossoms.  Though not as many as in this picture because it was taken a few weeks ago.  They do brighten their corner.

stillblooming8Even though they are laying on the ground, the Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) keep on blooming.  Legginess has been a problem this year for them.  I’m not sure exactly what that means.  Maybe too much water from the sprinkler system.  In the fields, they appear after showers, which means we haven’t seen any growing wild this year.

stillbloomingmThe grasshoppers have also done a number on their petals.

stillbloomingoA patch of Strawberry Fields Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana) is behind the Texas Bluebells in a front flowerbed.  They multiplied beyond my hopes.  They are also named Rio Grande Globe Amaranth and are native to Texas and Mexico and love our hot weather.  But not many people around here are familiar with them.  I found them in Austin last year.

Just trying to enjoy the color that’s left in the yard because it will be gone soon.  Hope you have some special plants, songs, or whatever that brings you joy every day.  Plus,  the most important joy of all – a loved one to hug.

“Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.”  Old farmer adage

San Angelo Water Lilies

To say unusual and unexpected is an understatement about the San Angelo International Water Lily Collection.  The fact that it exists is due to the dream of one man – Ken Landon.

First, a little history.  San Angelo is located where five spring fed streams converge.  As early as the 15th century the Indians that lived there were peaceful hunters and gatherers.  Early Spanish explorers named them Jumanos.   These same people groups would go to Spanish missions and settlements further west seeking protection from the warlike plains Indians.  They described their home area as a land of water and flowers.

In the early 1600’s two monks from a Franciscan monastery near present day Albuquerque were sent to investigate their claim and found a crystal clear pond covered with water lilies.

This information comes a pamphlet provided by the city at the Visitor Center.

waterlilykToday the water lily collection is part of the city park system but is supervised by Mr. Landon.  This is the most extensive collection of different varieties of water lilies of any place in the US.

The ponds are about 12 feet below street level.

waterlilybAlong the street side a steep wall covered with Cross Vines is a striking backdrop as well as the plantings in front of it.  These include the hardy Texas Superstar Yellow Bells (Tacoma stans).

waterlilygThe two side “walls” are terraced beds filled with many different varieties of plants.  Some are well adapted to the area, like the hardy Hibiscus with the large blooms.  In this same bed are some tropical Hibiscus, which have to be dug up and taken into the park system’s greenhouse.  Others are replaced from new rootings already being grown in the greenhouse.

The back ‘wall’ opens into another park area.  There is also some construction there.  Maybe new ponds?

waterlilyfThis shrub with the greyish green foliage is Cassia.  I only know that because the ground crew had just finished their lunch and answered a few questions for me.

waterlilyeHas the characteristics of other Texas survivors.

waterlilydThe dark color foliage might be Potato Vine.  The bright green is Ice Plant and the Red is Oxblood Lily or Schoolhouse Lily (Rhodophiala bifida).

Now to the eye candy.

waterlilyj‘Texas Dawn’ (Nymphaea elegans) is the variety of Water Lily that is native to the area.  It was named the official state water lily in 2011.

Because the Texas lily is so hardy, Dr. Landon cross pollinated it with other lilies for stronger strains.

I don’t know the names of the following varieties.  Just loved the soft colors and different forms.

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waterlilyaThe giant pads are usually from Asia.

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waterlilyA great place to visit even if you think it isn’t your cup of tea.  I don’t plan to have a pond of any sort because it would be an invitation for more wild animal visitors in the yard.  But nature is amazing and can be enjoyed in its many forms.

“Communist until you get rich; feminist until you get married; atheist until the airplane starts falling.”  The Hypocrite Diaries

San Angelo

This past week we did a whirlwind trip to San Angelo for a Master Gardener’s Landscaping Symposium.  So we had a half day to see some sights and then a full day for the symposium.

sanangelodIt may seem odd to spend most of this post on the Visitor Center only.  But it is impressive.

sanangeloThis picture was taken because I had never seen a Texas Sage or Purple Sage bush trimmed into a tree.  This one must be several years old because mine freeze each year and then reach a height of 3 feet before the next winter arrives.

sanangelo1This is the courtyard on the other side of the large stone arches in the first picture.  At the edge of the patio is a curved viewing area and steps leading down to the river.  To the right a door leads into the actual information area where there are brochures and volunteers to answer questions.

sanangelo2This is the view from that small lookout ledge.  The Concho River is spring fed, so it is not almost dry like other rivers in West and Central Texas during this drought.

sanangelo5This looks back up to the visitor’s center.  The two statues explain where the city’s name originated.  Note the Purple Heart vines tucked into the rocks.  There must be a little soil there.

Angela de Merici, (21 March 1474 – 27 January 1540) was an Italian religious leader and saint. She founded the Order of Ursulines in 1535 in Brescia.  Actually, I could not find any information to explain her importance to the city.

“Santa Angela,” was the settlement that sprang up across the Concho River from Fort Concho.  It was named in honor of Carolina Angela de la Garza DeWitt, deceased wife of the city’s founder Bart J. DeWitt,

sanangelo3Ten feet tall bronze statues of St. Angela Merici (Santa Angela) and Carolina Angela de la Garza Dewitt.

sanangelo4sanangelo9The volunteers said that all the rock work by the river was finished recently.  But obviously, enough time has passed for plants to grow.

sanangelo8The local limestone rocks were put to good use and created a very tranquil garden area.

sanangelo7I don’t know what type of grass this this, but the height and form blowing the in breeze was lovely.

sanangelo6Painted fiberglass animals is a trend in many West Texas towns.  We saw several in the downtown area.  Most of the towns hold contests and recognize the winners with prizes or just bragging rights.

This one is appropriate for the town’s information center since it depicts places and events for San Angelo.

sanangeloaReally like all the stone work and especially the hefty stone benches.

Hardy plants like these Knockout Roses were used.  The small plant in the water looks like Papyrus.

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sanangelocEven the tiles in the bathroom show local critters.  From the top:  horned toad, armadillo, wild pigs or boars, jackrabbits, wild turkey, and scorpions.

sanangeloeThis was the only picture I took at Ft. Concho.  It was a frontier army post from 1867 to 1889 and played an important part in the settlement of this whole area.  When the fort deactivated, soldiers rode away leaving the buildings and furnishings intact.  Families moved in, so the buildings were occupied until 1920 when the Preservation Society stepped in and the city acquired the land.

Because of the limestone construction and the continuous care of the structures, they look relatively new.

See Ft. Concho to view a video showing furnishings inside the buildings, events, and history.

Even though San Angelo seems remote, it is a vibrant town with much to offer.

“By the time the Texas frontier had run its course, those who settled the land could point to a unique experience that had turned the largely Southern population into westerners.” unknown