Granbury, TX, Tour, part 2

The last post about the Granbury Candlelight Tour of Homes showed houses near the town center.  After hosting these home tours for over 30 years, it must be a struggle for these small towns to come up with historical homes each year.

So they also choose some homes with interesting features, but not necessarily old.

grandburystourIn a new section of town is this home built in the Victorian style with Queen Anne style towers.

grandburystour1Notice the bobbing tassel on the volunteer’s hat.

grandburystour2The large interior is modern and comfortable.

grandburystour3These rounded shrubs on the back balcony are artificial.


grandburystour5The dining room table sits at the back of the house in the open kitchen area.


grandburystour7Nice outfit.


grandburystour9This Greek Revival style clapboard church was built in 1889.

grandburystouraNativities are displayed inside.

grandburystourbOver 900 creches belong to one woman.

grandburystourcTwo long tables in the center of the room were filled on both sides.

grandburystourdTables along the walls were also full.

grandburystoureMany of the mangers came from overseas.  If you’ve ever started a collection, you know that people often bring that item to you from their trips or just from a great find.

grandburystourfMy mother’s collection of camels grew into the hundreds because people enjoyed adding to it.

grandburystourgWork on this house began in 1940 when construction materials were scarce.  The “peanut brittle” or random pattern limestone stone exterior was done by a mason from a neighboring town.

grandburystourhThe front part of the house had these impressive wood floors.  The wood strips are 2 x 4’s laid with the small side facing up.  No nails were needed because the deep wood planks stood firmly up.  Can you imagine what a solid floor that is.

grandburystouriThe last stop was the First Presbyterian Church which was built in 1896.  I’m sorry that I didn’t get a picture of its beautiful exterior.

Although taking these tours might appeal more to females, it’s amazing how many men also attend.  Especially those who live in the community who want to see the inside of houses they drive by often.

“Get on your knees and thank God you’re still on your feet.”  unknown

Granbury, TX, Tour of Homes

Several decades ago, Granbury began to transform itself from a sleepy little town into a tourist destination.  Being about an hour from Ft. Worth makes it attractive to city folk for a day or a week-end jaunt.  Now, gift shops, restaurants, bed and breakfast homes, and special events like the Candlelight Tour of Homes this past weekend have provided a healthy economy for the area.

grandburytourMost of the homes on the tour were within walking distance of the courthouse square.  The first home we visited from the list provided with our ticket purchase was the above house built in the early ’60’s.  The most recent homeowner has decorated with as much retro furniture and accessories as she could find.

grandburytour1This nook is just off the main hallway leading to the two bedrooms.  It’s obviously Santa’s office.

grandburytour2There is a collection of angels inherited from the owner’s mother plus some that she has bought.

grandburytour3grandburytour4The dining room table placed to one side of the living room is set with dishes from her mother.

grandburytour5In the galley kitchen is a breakfast table also set with period pieces obtained from several different places.  For those of us who lived through that time, the orange and turquoise bring back memories.

I regretfully did not get an overall picture of any of the rooms.  In my defense, it was difficult with groups of people touring and the small size of the rooms.

grandburytour6The back porch had been enclosed.  Period chairs, a sofa, and small end tables make for a cozy retreat.  The angel wings were made by a local artist.

grandburytour7I tend to focus on small decorative items.

grandburytour8The next house was built in the late 1880’s.

grandburytour9To the right of the main house and set back is a new addition which had a large master bedroom and bath upstairs and a den living area downstairs.

The kitchen had also been renovated.  The homeowner answered my questions how many changes could be allowed and still have a state historical site designation.  Her answer:  inside renovations are not a major concern but outside changes are carefully monitored.  The original house must be evident from the outside.  So even if the addition was constructed to match, there must be enough different details to show it to be new.  Also, any additions must follow the original roof line.  Each step of the process required copious paperwork and approvals.

grandburytouraCute santa decoration.

grandburytourbDocents were dressed in period costumes.

grandburytourcThe next house was built in the 1880’s by the town pharmacist on 100 acres purchased at that time.

I did not take pictures inside.   Only the downstairs was open and the rooms were too small and dark.

grandburytourlOn the square across from the courthouse is Granbury Live, which is a theater where musicals are performed.  The building has served different functions in the past:  stores, offices, etc.

Several years ago we attended many productions at Granbury Live, but never noticed a separate entrance to an upstairs apartment.  In fact, the man who started the theater lived there with his wife.

grandburytourdIt is a 5,000 sq. feet home that was totally renovated by him.  He did the iron work throughout the place.

grandburytoureThe metal ladder led to a cozy sleeping area for their grandchildren.

The corrugated tin ceilings are not the underside of the actual roof, but an aesthetic western touch.

grandburytourgThe theater owner constructed the shiny metal kitchen island.

grandburytourfStars are welded on top in several places.

The kitchen was a mirror image with two of everything.  Starting at the center sink of the cabinets, each side of the kitchen were the same with dual appliances ending with a refrigerator on each side of the kitchen.  No explanation was given for this.

grandburytourhAll of the bathrooms except the master one had the same decor.  In some of them. the floors were raised because the baths had been added and needed plumbing space.

grandburytouriThe man who created all this died in a motorcycle accident around 2007.  His widow no longer lives here.  Currently, offices for a company occupy the space.

grandburytourjOne side of the large master bathroom.

grandburytourkArt decor lights along the hallways.

grandburytourmAs we left the apartment, I noticed these clever snowmen just outside a shop.  This store and many others all around the square are just examples of why tourists flood this town each weekend.

grandburytournOne wispy Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower hanging on.  I think the darker reddish plant is a potato vine.

On my next blog, I’ll finish the tour.

“If you have a garden and a library, then you have everything you need.” Cicero

Autumn Trees

When fall color is mentioned, Northeastern US is what comes to my mind first.  People flock there every autumn to soak in the beauty of bright oranges, reds, golds and every shade in between.  Surprisingly, we have some of that gorgeous color right here in our own backyard.  It may not be as overwhelming or long lasting, but it is inspiring.

falltrees2Prairie Flameleaf Sumacs (Rhus lanceolata) along the county roads are the first sign of cooler temperatures.  Their orangish red foliage and deep red brown berries signal that winter is coming.falltreesThe trees on the ridge behind our house can change color as early as mid October or as late as mid November.  This year it was late.  In fact, we wondered if there would be any color at all.

falltreeshThe red-orange color comes from Red Oaks and the yellow-orange from Spanish Oaks.


falltrees6The lighter oranges or yellow trees are Mesquites or Elms.  Live Oaks and Juniper Cedars stay green all winter and provide a sharp contrast to the other colors.

falltreeskFrom the front of the house we see mostly cedars.

falltreesiThis huge tree is an example of why Texans love their Live Oaks.  The canopies spread out and provide needed shade.

For years, the county extension agents and aborists have recommended that only native trees be planted, with a strong emphasis on oaks.

falltrees5Here is a Texas Red Oak (Quercus buckleyi) that was planted nine years ago.

Red Oaks are in the red or black oak groups.  There are only 15 species in this group.  They typically produce acorns every two years.  Spanish Oaks are also in this group.

falltreescSuch beautiful color.

falltreesbThe brilliant golden red on this particular tree lasts for a good month.  But  we have another tree that was supposed to be a Red Oak that has no color.  The leaves on it turn brown early.  I now  suspect that it is a Pin Oak.  I’ve read that when young, it’s difficult to tell the two apart, and that nurseries often mislabel them.

falltreesfIn the early 1980’s the term Oak Decline took on a ominous meaning as groves of oaks died.  Since then, Oak blight or Oak Wilt has claimed thousands of trees in Texas.  So the powers that be have been recommending diversification.  They suggest planting other types of trees, even those that aren’t native, but have adapted well.

Oaks in the White Oak family have not yet succumb to Oak wilt, so those are still recommended.  The Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) in the above picture falls into that category.  Others in the white oak family that will grow here are Lacey Oak, Bur Oak, Post Oak, and Bigelow Oak.  Bigelow is known as Shin Oak locally and forms thickets that usually only grow up to 10 feet tall.

falltreesdThis is a different Chinapin Oak in our yard.  Notice that the leaves on both trees do not look like a stereotypical oak leaf.

In Texas there are 23 oaks in the white oak group.  These produce acorns annually.

falltreeseThe two Chinapins that we have are tall and skinny looking.  It has taken several years for their branches to widen and have a fuller look.  But I still recommend them.

The benefits of trees form a long list.  Their beauty in different seasons is just one that I appreciate.

“Anyone who thinks women talk too much has never sat through a six-hour Super Bowl pregame show.”      Nora Barry

Water Wise and Whimsical

Gardening challenges probably exist everywhere, but we feel that we have an extra measure here in hot and dry, cold and dry, rock and clay, with a few inches of top soil Central Texas.  So compensations have to be made.

fallplantsThe popular trend here is to select native plants.   As I slowly add natives and hardy adaptive plants, I’m sold on the idea.

This Gray Globemallow (Sphaeralcea incana) is a good example.  One of the reasons I’ve shied away from natives before is that some with dusty foliage look drab.  As it turns out, that grayish color is a result of fine hairs on the leaves.  These hairs deflect the sun’s rays away from the leaves, resulting in a cooler surface.   This cooler surface means less water evaporation.

fallplants3Clever trick and a good trait for our summers, and one that I now appreciate.

fallplants2The thin flower petals and brilliant color reminds me of poppies.  But Gray Globe Mallow is much easier to get established – just stick it in the ground and give it a little water to get it established.

dragonflies4Now I know yard art is frowned on by many people, especially those who want a more formal look.

dragonflies3But it doesn’t have to be tacky.  If a yard looks full of junk, then it probably is.  Moderation and selection of art is key.  But it doesn’t hurt to lighten up a little.

dragonfliesThe wind keeps these guys in motion.

dragonflies2As I age, I appreciate whimsy more.

fallplants4Another survivor is Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii).  As the “ii” in the  botanical name indicates, it is named after a person.  John Gill Lemmon collected the plants after the Civil War in the 1880’s in southeastern Arizona.  The leaves are green, not gray, but slender.  So less surface area means less evaporation.  So far, it’s been a fast grower.

fallplants5Other names include Mountain Marigold and Mexican Bush Marigold.

It blooms in the late fall when most other flowers have died.  Copper Canyon Daisy grows wild in Sonoran Desert of Arizona and in northern Mexico, but has adapted very well here.  Usually, if a plant’s name includes the word “Mexico” or “Mexican”, it thrives in our part of Texas.

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”  Unknown

Arboretum for Children

While at the Dallas Arboretum in October, we walked through the children’s area for the first time.  Actually, we mistakenly thought the pumpkin houses were located there.

The Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden is 8 acres of gardens and educational areas for children.  It’s extremely well done, and I know this blog doesn’t do it justice.  I succumbed to heat and exhaustion by the time we got to this area.  Sometime in the future, we’ll make this a priority viewing.  But it would be difficult to miss their seasonal and special exhibits, so we’ll see.

childarboretumcThe entrance gates hold the promise of a wonderful garden.  Since there is an extra fee for the children’s gardens, there is a separate entrance into it.  But most people seemed to come from the general area and just paid a small additional cost.  It seemed like a costly day for a young family.  Guess that’s true for any entertainment sites for children today.

childarboretum1One small, secluded space was designated for small children.  Nature was enlarged to become objects to climb on.

childarboretum2Whimsical creatures caught my attention.

childarboretum3The acorns and other wooden looking items appeared to be carved from real wood with natural cracking, but they are molded resin.

childarboretum4Just before I snapped this shot, a small girl climbed off his back.

childarboretum7This huge nest is about 8 feet across and is sturdy enough for a unique playhouse.

This particular area was actually my favorite; maybe because we went there first.

childarboretum5The orange and yellow spinners on poles could be operated from a walkway.

childarboretum8Here the water is being sprayed at the cups of one.  As it spins, it squirts out water and activates other movements.

childarboretum6Hands on area allowed children to manipulate different gadgets with a focus on learning.

childarboretumaThis American Beauty Berry (Callicarpa dichotoma) bush has rosy pink berries.  It’s native to the southeastern US.  In Texas, it grows mostly in the eastern section where there are piney woods and lots of shade and acidic soil.  But I’ve seen a few in central Texas.childarboretumbThe berries range from pink to red-purple.  They require shade.  My yard is mostly full sun, so I just admire them when I see them in public gardens.

childarboretum9To exit, we walked through many other interesting sections.  Maybe next time I’ll do a better job of capturing  the whole garden.

So many great places to visit not too far away.  The number of books I plan to read, and the number of places I want to visit is endless.  Just not enough time.

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”  Unknown

Autumn at Dallas Arboretum

From the front entrance to every nook and cranny of the Dallas Arboretum, pumpkins and gourds were stacked high for the fall season.  It made me wonder how many thousands of dollars they spent for fall plantings and decorations.  But the crowds were evidence that the cost paid off.

The pictures were taken on a mid October visit.

arboretumfallStrong sunlight on that afternoon played havoc with my pictures.  So please excuse the glare in several shots.

arboretumfall2I can’t identify all the plants.  If they were labeled, I’ll give that information.

arboretumfall5Notice the waterlily and frogs at this girl’s feet.

arboretumfall6Preparations for December, like this small building, were already dotting the gardens.  Signs by the buildings indicated these would be used for each one of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

arboretumfall7This lovely Phillipine Violet (Barleria cristata) is a large bush.  It was mostly in the shade.

arboretumfall8African Daisies (Osteospermum x hybrid ‘Soprano Light Purple’) received some sun, but probably not strong afternoon sun.

arboretumfallaSounds of water cascading over these rocks and some available shade provided some relief from the heat.


arboretumfallcGuess the white pumpkins were to accent the white house.

arboretumfalldarboretumfalleMade we want to buy some pumpkins and gourds.

arboretumfallfOne whole area was dedicated to the season.

arboretumfallgA crowd of parents were posing their children among the pumpkins and houses for pictures.

arboretumfallhSo I tried to not interfere with their photo taking.  I definitely did not take pictures of their children.  It’s crazy to upset protective parents.

arboretumfalliClever structure of houses.

arboretumfalljInside the houses were fairy tale pictures to match the book for that house.


arboretumfalllMaybe Linus’ Great Pumpkin appeared in this pumpkin patch.

arboretumfallmWas it sincere enough?  Okay.  I’m showing my age with these references.

arboretumfallpCute pumpkin flowers  all in a row.

arboretumfallnA horse drawn wrought iron, pumpkin-shaped carriage was a popular spot for photos.  I decided not to stand in the line and just get pictures of these unique horses.

arboretumfalloSomeone spent a great deal of time constructing these.

The Dallas Arboretum is always an interesting place to visit.  Usually we try to time our visits on a school day without all the crowds.  But evidently, we hit a school holiday because it was full of families.

Maybe our next visit will be at a better time – without the crowds, heat, and humidity.

“There is only one way to avoid criticism:  do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”  Aristotle

Indian Summer Blooms

Indian summer has struck again although this time of the year doesn’t follow the strict definition.  There has been no hard frost, yet.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac adheres to the saying, “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s (November 11) brings out Indian summer.”

It certainly feels like an Indian summer because we’ve enjoyed a spell of wonderful cool nights and days.  But now we are back in the grips of heat with highs in the low 90’s and harsh sun rays lashing out at us.

stillbloomingpThe purple Fall Asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) came out when it turned cool.  Since they are hardy, maybe they will last for a while in spite of the heat.

stillbloomingrTheir color has faded.  While waiting for them to fill out with flowers, I sacrificed getting a picture with their deeper color.

Really must force myself to divide them after the last freeze next year.  That just happens to be when everything needs attention.

stillbloomingqA great autumn plant.

stillbloomingoThe Strawberry Fields Gomphera  (Gomphrena haageana) just keeps on shining.  One of my best purchases.

autumninpots3This Ice Plant is on a covered porch, but the late afternoon sun still shines on it.

autumninpots4Very heat hardy but dies in a freeze.  So some must be brought in for a start for next year.

autumninpots1The Autumn Sedum  (Sedum  spectabile ‘Brilliant’ Stonecrop) has started blooming, although the renewed summer weather has stopped that.

autumninpots2Maybe when it gets cool again, they will finish blooming.

autumninpotsAll of these pots are in the shade most of the day with a little afternoon light hitting them.

autumninpotspost6Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)  is in a pot under a large Live Oak tree. So it is in the shadows all day but gets indirect light and seems very happy.

crownofthornsAnother Crown of Thorns is on a covered porch but gets lots of low late afternoon light.  It has flourished since the top was cut off which caused branching and a fuller plant .  The plant behind it is Oxalis.

Weather wishing doesn’t work, but that doesn’t stop most of us from trying it.  I do want some of those cool days to return.

“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” Thomas Sowell