Goldthwaite, Texas Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens and Native American Interpretive Center in Goldthwaite, Texas, is not the type of garden most people conjure up when they think of a botanical garden.  It is a representation of the nature prairie that existed in the area at the time of the early native Comanches.

The gardens were the brain child of a non-Texan who moved to the area.  It was years in the planning and fund raising stages.

Goldthwaite GardenLast fall was their grand opening with Laura Bush as their main speaker.  The Center has affiliations with both the Smithsonian Museum and a group of Comanches in Oklahoma.  Some of them attended the grand opening and performed dances.

Goldthwaite Garden7This Visitor Center for the area was constructed by the Texas Highway Department.  Additional funds were raised by a couple of other groups.  The Highway Department architect worked with the Garden committee to design the building.

One big feature is the v shaped roof.  Rainwater collects in the center and drains down the chain into an underground concrete cistern.  Any watering of the gardens is from that cistern.

The gardens are entered through the building.  The most impressive part of the garden to me was the advance planning.  It was definitely done right.

Goldthwaite Garden1Scattered throughout the gardens are informative signs about the Comanches.

Goldthwaite GardenmOnly native plants from the area were used.  This is Pigeonberry (Rivina humilis Rivina humilis L.), which has scarlet fruit that birds love.

Goldthwaite Garden2Goldthwaite Garden8Designed to look like an ancient cooking berm, these rocks represent the rocks that wood fires were built on.  When the rocks cracked from the heat, additional rocks were placed on top creating a raised area.  Lots of shells are just below the ground in Mills County.  The natives used those as tools while cooking.

Goldthwaite GardencaThey also constructed ovens from rocks.

Goldthwaite GardenbWild gourds and squashes that were inedible raw, were cooked and eaten.  This shows what was in the center of the oven.

Goldthwaite GardennNative grains were ground with stones on flat rocks.

Goldthwaite Garden5

Goldthwaite GardenfOne of the disappointments in the gardens were the plant identification signs.  They have faded and are barely legible.  That probably surprised whoever choose them.

The architect and person who orchestrated the gardens was our guide.  But I don’t remember the name he gave for this plant.  Maybe Wooly Paperflower?

Goldthwaite Garden3

Goldthwaite GardenhThe wickiup design and construction show how the Indians were able to use the land but not leave a footprint.

Goldthwaite GardendThey were basically just shelter from the sun and rain.

Goldthwaite Gardene

Goldthwaite GardencA quick sun shelter.

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Goldthwaite Garden9Plains Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthus) doesn’t need much water and in fact, will die with too much.  They grow well in rocky or in sandy soils.

Goldthwaite GardenaWater from the cistern flows into a small stream that wanders through the gardens.  The site is actually small – a little larger than one fourth of a block.  The excellent designed meandering trails circle through the gardens, making it feel larger.

Goldthwaite GardengNarrow-leafed Gayfeather (Liatris mucronata) blooms during the hot summer and into the fall.  It was used to treat sore throat and rattlesnake bites.

Goldthwaite GardenlTrees are strategically placed so that when they mature, they will block out the surrounding buildings and perhaps muffle the traffic noises.

Goldthwaite GardeniPokeberry (Phytolacca americana L.) has poisonous berries and roots, but the pink stems were eaten as greens.  However, the berries were not poisonous to birds.  The berry juice was used as a dye.

Goldthwaite GardenjCan’t remember the name of this plant, but I like it.

Goldthwaite Gardenp

Goldthwaite GardenkDraping across the rock is Texas Frog Fruit (Lippia nodiflora).  It can form thick mats in the yard and the long strands are easy to trip on.

The yellow flowers look like some kind of poppy or primrose.

Goldthwaite GardenoThe massive amounts of rocks brought into the site from the countryside are staggering.  All of work was done by the guy who gave us the tour and his four workers.  Wow.

Future plans include a three story museum building.  Already enough artifacts have been donated to just about fill it up.  Funds are being raised and grants sought.  All this has been accomplished by a small town with less than 2,000 citizens and a county of just about 5,000 people.  It truly is a grass roots project.

I guess the message is to dream big.

“Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.”
Shannon L. Alder

Autumn – Nope, Not Yet

Even though it’s autumn on the calendar, the weather here is still hot in the daytime with highs in the 90’s.  The mornings are cooler, which has perked up some plants.  There are still lots of things that are blooming.

autumn2The Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) has been covered with small flowers for months.  Garden designers suggest that wide flowerbeds look more pleasing.  And I don’t disagree, but there is a problem.  It is harder to reach into those beds and pull weeds.  Notice the green weeds.  Longer arms might allow me to pull them out with roots, but I can only break off the tops.


animals5If I am totally still, you can’t see me.

autumn3In February of 2014 I bought a miniature Kordana rose at the grocery store.  I posted a picture and commented that it probably wouldn’t survive the winter outside.

autumn4But it did – in a clay pot, even.  That one got broken, so we’ll see how it does in this new fiberglass pot.

autumnA crow has adopted our yard.  He flies away fast whenever I open the door.  At the top of this Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), maybe he couldn’t hear my stealth approach.

autumn1Orange Marmalade Crossandra (Crossandra ‘Orange Marmalade’ was an impulse buy.  It is heat tolerant.  That’s a plus.  We’ll see how it does inside for the winter.

autumn6Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is in the Stonecrop family.  It’s a wonderful hardy succulent.

autumnbHere’s another pot on the back porch that has been here for nine years.  I keep meaning to plant some directly into a flowerbed.  If they survive the winter in pots, surely they’d do well in the ground.

In front of the Sedum is a Purple Leaf Shamrock (Oxalis regnellii), which has also been in that pot for years.  I do take that into a heated shed for the winter.

autumnaNormally Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) isn’t that striking a plant to me.  But in full bloom, it caught my eye.

autumn7Finally, the Duranta bush (Duranta erecta) has more blooms, although not as many as some years.  The red clay pots under it were my solution to lift the branches up off the ground so I could mow beside them.  In this case, a wider flowerbed would have been better.

autumn9I really love this bush.

autumn8So do pollinators.

autumndThis is at one end of a long bed in the backyard.  The Texas sage or purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) is blooming.


autumncNext in line is a Senna bush.  The long branches with a single yellow flower or a couple of flowers on the tip is very different from the bush behind it with large clusters of yellow flowers.


autumngI think I have finally identified this bush – Cassia, Winter Cassia, or Butterfly Bush (Cassia bicapsularis).  I have guessed that it is Senna or Thryallis but have never been certain.  But I finally found a picture on the internet that seemed to match.

Beside that is a Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii).  If you want something that multiples, here’s your plant.

autumnhWhatever its name, it is gorgeous.

autumniAt the far end of that flowerbed is a Butterfly Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri).  Lovely.

Cooler days are ahead.  In the meantime, the crisp mornings are great.

“It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It’s the regrets over yesterday. And the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves that rob us of today.” Robert Hastings

San Angelo

This is the time of the year when most gardening seminars are held across Texas.  Recently we attended the Concho Valley Master Gardener Symposium in San Angelo.

sanangeloWhile there, we visited some favorite sites.  As crazy as it sounds, we enjoy the San Angelo Visitor’s Center.  I know I’ve shown this place before, so I tried to get different photo shots.

sanangelo1With the visitor’s center up high, the rock work down the slope to the Concho River is attractive and creative.

sanangelo3This grass clump, whatever it is, has grown even taller than when we last saw it.

sanangelo4The plants chosen for this area are drought tolerant and hardy, like this Knock Out Rose bush.

sanangelo6I took the following pictures in the bathroom because they appealed to me.  They show Texas native animals.  You can just scroll through quickly if you’re not interested.

This is a wild boar or feral hog (Sus scrofa).  These have become a major problem because they destroy property, are dangerous to animals and humans, and are multiplying faster than they can be controlled.  The tile picture makes it look cute, but it definitely isn’t.

sanangelo7Scorpions have become a problem this year for us.  For some reason, they have invaded our house, even with pesticide spraying.  I’ve been stung once and had forgotten how painful they are.

sanangelo8Another pest around here are jackrabbits because they feed on flowerbed plants as well as grass.

sanangelo9 It’s very rare to see a Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) or Horny Toad, as they are called in West Texas, anymore.  They’re presently on the threatened species list.

sanangeloaWild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are hunted, but I don’t see how there could be much meat on them.

sanangelobAnd, lastly, the nemesis that digs up our yard and burrows in the flowerbeds.  The Nine Banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) is the only armadillo to live in the U.S.  Sometimes I think they have targeted us, but I know that it’s much easier to dig in amended and watered soil than in the hard, dry pasture land.

sanangelocAll around San Angelo are painted fiberglass animals.  This cross-eyed ram stands in front of a Mexican restaurant.

sanangelodThere are several murals around town that depict periods of history or influences that shaped San Angelo.  Although most people haven’t heard of Elmer Kelton, he was a prolific author about cattle ranches and other aspects of West Texas life.

sanangeloeThe fourth Hilton Hotel was built here.  Over the years, it has housed many different enterprises, including an ‘old folks’ home’.  Currently, the bottom floor has a restaurant, and the upper floors appear to be apartments.  The mezzanine seems to have the only remaining remnants of the original art deco style.  The ballroom is still in its original condition.

sanangelofThis is the top of one of the columns just outside the ballroom.

sanangelogWhile in San Angelo, of course, we had to make a stop at the International Water Lily Collection.

sanangelohWe waited until a cooler part of the day to go, just as the sun was low.  Again, just flip through these if you’re not interested.






sanangelonThis past weekend we attended the Pollinator Pow Wow in Kerrville.  Pow Wow is a native American term that means ‘The gathering of the people to share wise words’.

Bright colors of painted bats blend well with dead leaves where they roost. Flight, Vespertilionidae, S and SE Asia

Bright colors of painted bats blend well with dead leaves where they roost. Flight, Vespertilionidae, S and SE Asia

A lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonyderis yerbabuenae) feeding on cardon cactus fruit, This is the world's largest cactus, growing up to 50 feet tall. Seed Dispersal

A lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonyderis yerbabuenae) feeding on cardon cactus fruit, This is the world’s largest cactus, growing up to 50 feet tall. Seed Dispersal

Dr. Merlin Tuttle was the main speaker.

My opinion about bats was what most people think – yucky creatures.  But he convinced me of their importance in pollinating many different plants around the world.  He told excellent stories about his interventions to save bats.

This is longer than most posts.  Thanks for sticking with it.

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”    Albert Einstein.

Nice Cool Relief

Last week an inch and three quarters of rain brought some cooler temperatures.  It was a greatly needed relief for humans, animals, and plants.

Nice reprieve2This Golden-Ball Lead Tree (Leucana retusa) has struggled again, its second year, because some creatures (I suspect jackrabbits) strip and break its lower limbs.

Nice reprieve5But it recovered nicely the latter part of August.  It is a shrub or spindly tree that grows well in rock or caliche.  So it should feel right at home here.

Nice reprieve3The globe like flower is yellow but looks more golden with this early morning back light.

Nice reprieve4I like photographing back-light plants, so here’s another shot.  The books say Lead Ball blooms in April and May.  But here it is performing in September.  Maybe it will prove to be a spring and fall bloomer.

Nice reprieve1This vulture seems to be relaxing and enjoying the cool morning.

Nice reprieve6Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) tend to bloom year round since they are considered house plants.  But they do well outside during the warm months with filtered light and slightly dry soil.  Just beware of the thorns.

Nice reprieve7The Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) is slowly covering the new arbor.  I can’t wait to see the full coverage – maybe next year.

Nice reprieve8It blooms in spring and fall.

treeThis two year old Vitex Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has grown quite fast.  Vitexs are also called Hemp and Sage trees.  I need to cut off more lower limbs this winter.

Nice reprieve9Vitexs are native to India and China but have been adapted to this area for a long time.  Another common name is Monk’s Pepper, which comes from the old wives tale that in medieval times, monks made a potion from the berries that helped them maintain their vows of chastity.

Nice reprieveaVitex attract many pollinators.  The berries are still used in herbal remedies.

Vitex can grow up to 20 ft. tall with snarly trunks and branches.

Nice reprievebFor a long time, I assumed that Moon Flower (Ipomoea alba) would not survive our heat because the leaves are large and thin.  Then I saw one in garden an hour away from here.

Nice reprieveeSo I grabbed one this year at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center spring sale.  It has bloomed way more than I expected.

Nice reprievefIt is in a pot in mostly shade.  It’s looking a little tired right now, but has provided many large flowers with a morning glory shape.

Nice reprievecBecause it has grown larger than I expected, it will need to be upgraded to a larger pot next spring.

A garden presents wonderful surprises and joys.

“I changed my password everywhere to ‘incorrect.’ That way when I forget it, it always reminds me, ‘Your password is incorrect.'” unknown

The Heat Goes On

Sonny and Cher’s “The beat goes on, the beat goes on, Drums keep pounding A rhythm to the brain” resonates as the sun beats down without relief and the heat goes on.

heatgoesonThankfully, some plants thrive in the heat.  Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) is one of those exceptional plants for sun, heat, drought, and poor soil that are reliable, once established.

heatgoeson7Three plants were planted nine years ago in this bed and have been stars every year.

heatgoeson8This angle is from the other end of the bed.  A trellis with Passion vine is on the right and a Texas Star Hibiscus is at the other end.

heatgoeson4Bumble bees cover this whole bed from spring until late fall.

heatgoeson5The Passion Vine (Passiflora Incarnata) was planted seven years ago and was full and beautiful for years.  The flowers are unique and are show stoppers.

heatgoeson6The black and orange caterpillar of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly feeds on Passion Flower leaves.  Sometimes they eat so many that the plant dies back.  Last year the vine did not return, so I thought it was gone.  Strangely, I rarely see any of that particular butterfly in the yard.

This year the vine came back and has flowered again.  So I guess the root system was well established.

heatgoeson3The large Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) bushes still have some blossoms.

heatgoeson2I watched bees duck into the flowers and crawl all around the stigma.  Then their bodies were covered with white pollen.

heatgoeson9Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata) has a strong sweet vanilla scent.  Sight alone doesn’t let you truly experience this vine.  The smell and the buzzing sounds envelope you as you draw close to it.  Some people don’t like the smell, but I love it.

heatgoesonaBees that aren’t  bumble bee provide the audio part.  They are smaller than bumble bees and are so fast that I couldn’t get a picture.  Plus, they stay mostly in the depths of the thick vine.

heatgoesonbThe name Autumn Clematis is a misnomer because they start blooming in the hottest part of the summer during the middle or last of August.  By any cooler temperatures that we have in October, the flowers are all gone.

But it is pretty much evergreen through the winter.  That actually makes it harder to cut it back.  I have tried not cutting it back.  It just becomes so thick that the inner branches die.

Flowers that bloom in our hot, dry climate are a blessing that I truly appreciate.

“Don’t worry if plan A fails, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet.”   Anonymous

Early Morning Golden Glow

In an attempt to beat the harsh sunlight, I went out early to get some pictures.  Only when I looked at them on the computer did I notice the eerie gold cast from the rising sun.

earlymorning glowBy the gate a couple of young rabbits were hopping around.  At first, they looked like cottontails.

earlymorning glow1But some of the pictures show characteristics of jackrabbits – tall ears, long front legs, and coloring.  So it seems that the jackrabbit population in the yard is growing.

earlymorning glow2In the backyard flowerbed everything is waning.  Flame Acanthus (Wright Anisacanth) or hummingbird bush on the left with slender red blossoms provides a perfect tube for hummingbirds to feed.

reblooming1The flaky bark on the branches, along with its shape, makes a nice winter accent.  Acanthus does well in sunny, well-drained soil. It is hardy throughout zone 8, and root hardy to zone 7.

reblooming3The Thryallis (Galphimia glauca) with the yellow flowers had a burst of reblooming after a few cooler days a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a gorgeous bush when covered with bright yellow flowers.

earlymorning glow4In the background of the previous picture is this new arbor structure.  The plan is for this Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata) to cover the sides and top to make a shady nook.

The stats say that the vines grow 50 feet, so I think it will happen.  It also seems to be evergreen here.  Another vine in the same family, Trumpet, is greatly maligned as being too aggressive.  They both have pretty orange tubular flowers.  So far, I’m happy with the look.

earlymorning glow5The root system of this Mexican or Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) still concerns me because it’s so close to the house, and the tree itself is larger than I expected it to grow.

earlymorning glow6Bees were extremely busy in the early morning.

earlymorning glow7So active that getting a pix required some patience.

earlymorning glow9For some reason, the Duranta (Duranta erecta) has not bloomed very much this year.  I suspect it’s because I did not do a good job of fertilizing everything or applying mulch this year.  The bees were enjoying the few flowers on it.

earlymorning glow8Also, the Morning Glory only has a few blossoms.

earlymorning glowcClammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra),a  small native bush was given to me by a friend years ago.  It’s one of those plants that comes up in different spots every year.  Insect holes in the leaves appear every year.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty little bush.

earlymorning glowaA couple of wildflowers, Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbiaceae), came up in a flowerbed.  At first, I kept planning to dig them up.  Then, I decided to leave them because they brighten up the area.

earlymorning glowbThe actual flowers are yellow and tiny set in white and green bracts.

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog.

“Chocolate comes from cocoa which comes from a tree. That makes it a plant. Therefore, chocolate counts as salad. The end.”  unknown

Summer Continues

Summer drags on, but we did have a respite with rain and cooler temperatures one day last week.  And thankfully, there have been only a few 100 plus days since then.

summercontinues6Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) is doing well even though it may receive too much water from the sprinkler system as we try to keep other plants alive.

summercontinues7This one is probably ‘Santa Barbara’ since it has pale purple calyx and flower.

summercontinuesdI like that Drift Roses spread out low to the ground.  Another plus is that they almost always have flowers during the blooming season.

summercontinues8Coneflowers (Echinacea) have won a place in my heart.  These were planted late in the spring, so they’re blooming much later than the older ones I have.

summercontinues9Bees seem to be everywhere gathering nectar.

summercontinuescWhite Plumbago (Plumbaginaceae) or Leadwort looking good. That’s also Plumbago in the turquoise pot.  It was purchased in the spring and is still small but has grown quite a bit.

summercontinuesaThe Plumbago flowers aren’t as full as they were in the cooler temps of late spring.

summercontinues3The Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (A. wrightii) to the left looks a little weary.  The Senna from the family of Fabaceae has perked back up.

In the background, the fields are white from searing heat and lack of moisture.

summercontinuesI love this bush and so do the bees.

summercontinues2The bright yellow flowers are so cheery.

summercontinuesbWe had a seven foot tower built for a rose bush since an aggressive climbing rose tore up the old, less sturdy one.  We pulled that rose up and will replace it with something else this fall.

summercontinues4This Common Garden Spider immediately claimed the tower.

summercontinues5A camera flash was needed to capture the spider’s web.

animals5Freeze.  Let’s play statues and maybe no one will notice me.  This Jackrabbit stays in the yard and sometimes has companions.  I’m okay with them as long as they just nibble on grass.  But lately, they have ventured into the flower beds and are eating plants down to the nub.  Chasing them off is useless.  They return as soon as I go back in the house.  Ah, the pleasures of country living.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams