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

Misnamed

Names are funny things; from the plant kingdom to the animal kingdom, they can be extremely strange.  Take the Duck-billed Platypus for instance.  When the British scientists first saw a pelt in the late 1700’s, they thought it was a hoax produced by a taxidermist.  Looking at a picture, the duck bill part seems pretty obvious.  But “platypus” is the Latin version of a Greek word that means broad, wide, flat foot.  Can you think of another name that is more descriptive?  What does this have to do with anything?  Nothing, I guess.  Just musing.

Some plants are misnamed, in my humble opinion.  I’ll explain with two examples.

misnamed Autumn Clematis starts blooming the first of August and is pretty much done before autumn even begins in our area.  It is not even the middle of September yet and most of the blooms have already dropped off.  This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago.

misnamed1The short time it does bloom, the vine is covered with snowy white small flowers.  I read recently that someone hated the smell of them.  It is strong but doesn’t seem unpleasant to me.  In fact, I think it’s an attribute.

Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) has naturalized in Texas to the point that it is sometimes called a wildflower.  But I’ve never seen it in the wild.

misnamed2Also known as Sweet Autumn Clematis, it is poisonous if eaten.

It needs to be pruned each winter or it becomes extremely thick.  I speak from experience and don’t look forward to cutting it back this winter since I did not do that chore last year.

misnamed6The patch of white growing in a low spot in the field is Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata).  It is a native that provides a freshness in the landscape during the last days of summer.  I guess the white does resemble snow on a tall stem, but still seems like a misnomer, at least in our sunny, hot area.

latesummer1Snow on the Mountain tends to grow in thick patches unless they have been removed with equipment.  Then it takes a few years to recover the colony.

latesummer5When seen from the road, it just looks like a mass of white.

latesummer8The stem is rather thick as well as the leaves.

latesummer3Up close, the intricate parts of the flowers look like tiny flowers on top of other flowers.

latesummerTwo totally different plants with white blooms to enjoy as we wait for autumn.  Will we have a true fall this year?  That is always uncertain here in the center of Texas.

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”  Theodore Roosevelt

Pretty Posies

Nothing brightens a day like a loved one’s smile or hug, hearing a favorite song, or a posy in the yard or in a vase.  Some might add chocolate to that list.  Okay.  I would.

Even though we are in the hottest time of summer, there are some flowers to enjoy.

whiteflowersSince last winter’s sustained freezing temperatures killed my Blue Plumbago, this year I’m trying a White Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) in a pot.  It will go into the shed this winter.  Maybe I’ll be brave and put into the ground next year. whiteflowers2Something about white is so crisp – in the landscape or in clothing.  Plumbago is considered a tender perennial, so this is probably too far north for it to survive the cold.  But the heat suits it just fine.

whiteflowers7This color of Periwinkle or Vinca has so much depth.  A pot of these tucked in a semi-shady spot is a great way to add color where needed.

whiteflowers3The performance of the Mexican Tuberoses (Polianthes tuberosa) this year was disappointing.  That could be due to both the extreme winter and the fact that some critter keeps digging up the bulbs.  I replant them when I find them, but probably too late.

The bush with the yellow flowers beside the Tuberose is a variety of Senna, I think.

whiteflowers4Only two Tuberoses bloomed this year.  So leaning in close is necessary to sniff that sweet scent.

“If you eat in the kitchen, your house is always clean, and you go to sleep at 9 pm, it means you don’t have internet.” unknown

Beach Vitex

Sometimes it is amazing how well plants perform considering where and when we plant them.  It’s like taking a monkey from a tropical jungle and moving it to the Sahara desert to live.

indigofera2This Beach Vitex (Vitex rotundifolia) is a case in point.  Its natural habitat is a sandy beach where it works as a natural prevention against soil erosion.  Growing low and spreading along the ground allows its roots to hold down more and more sand.

Its foliage does not look at all like the Vitex tree that is popular in Central Texas, and I don’t know why they have the same name.   Of course, I can’t understand how an okapi and a giraffe can be related, either.

indigoferaToo often I trust nurseries, especially locally owned ones to sell products appropriate for their area.  I’m learning to do my own investigation before buying.

This was bought several years ago before I wised up.  There was no label on or in the container.  The personnel told me it was Indigo Fera, but pictures do not bear that out.

indigofera1Here Beach Vitex is surviving in rocky clay soil.  It is so hardy, in fact, that it has become invasive on some US beaches.  There is a Beach Vitex Task Force to prevent its spread in North and South Carolina.

indigofera5It receives very little water in my yard, so it’s drought tolerant.

indigofera3If it gets out of control, which I doubt that it will here, it can be killed with a herbicide.

indigofera7The leaves are thick and leathery, so it seems like an odd meal choice for this grasshopper.   But they don’t seem choosy.

indigofera8The delicately colored flowers seem to disappear before I see most of them.

indigofera9Early morning sunrise casts a golden glow on the flower pods before they open.

indigoferabUsually the pods appear white.

I tend to focus on each plant and its beauty.  But photos can point out flaws in the yard.  Sometimes it is not until I take pictures that I even notice the weeds or grass growing up through plants.  Wearing rose colored glasses?  Anyway, pictures can serve as a reality check.

“The trick is,…to turn your face to the glory hours as they come.  The saddest thing in life is to see them only as they flit away.  They’re always a passing thing.”    Lisa Wingate in The Story Keepers

Tropical Plants

Even though I absolutely cannot stand humidity, the lush greenery and flowers that are the result of all that moisture captivate me.  There is something magical and mysterious about tropical jungles and the plants that grow there.  So I have the desire to grow a few.

tropics6Bougainvillea is available at almost every nursery in Texas.  It actually does very well here because it loves our heat.

It likes to be root bound, which is good because the pots don’t have to be too large to transport inside.

tropics3It’s main requirements are sunshine and water, so if I am faithful to water, it will bloom and bloom.  But there should be good drainage in the pot, so that it does not have standing water.  I water them two or three times a week in the hottest part of the summer.

The fact that Bougainvillea cannot survive cold weather can also be accommodated with inside shelter during the winter.  So it’s is not a crazy choice for Central Texas.

tropics4The vibrant color is what grabs me.

I’ve read that fertilizer specifically made for Hibiscus works well, but I have not tried that.

When we carry the pots inside, we cut back the branches.  This has always been done to prevent being grabbed by the thorns.  As it turns out, it blooms on new growth, so cutting back is a good thing and should be done before spring.

tropics5Just cannot not beat this beauty.

tropicsAnother tropical plant that has been successful for me is Ixora (Ixora coccinea).  This one is about 10 years old and has been in this pot most of that time.

I fertilize it the same as other potted plants, which is not often.  But I do sprinkle timed fertilizer granules in the spring and maybe again in early fall.

tropics1Isn’t the color amazing?

This pot also goes into the shed/greenhouse when the temperatures drop near freezing.  Usually some of the flowers die but the leaves remain throughout the winter.

purchase2Now we get to a really foolish purchase.  I knew when I bought this Fuchsia that it probably would not survive here, but couldn’t resist the chance to try.  It was actually bought at a nursery that normally only sells reliable plants for local areas.  This was an impulse buy, which is hardly ever wise.

purchase3The unusual drooping flowers enticed me.  But if I had done some research, I would have known that temperatures above 80 degrees weaken the plant, and that it cannot tolerate too much sunshine.  I did have it in shade, but then the high temperatures came.

Fuchsia also needs frequent watering and regular fertilizer.  So the likelihood of survival was doomed from the day I bought it.

purchase4Very exotic.

purchase5Alas, it only lasted three months.

As experienced gardeners say:  Learn to love the plants that grow well in your environment.  A lesson that some of us have to learn over and over.

“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”  Harold Coffin

Flowers on Long Branches

Some plants love the hottest time of the year here.  And I’m so glad to see them when it seems that nothing could grow in 100+ temperatures with little moisture.

delicatecThis was the way a White Gaura (Gaura lindeimeri) or Butterfly Gaura plant looked last year in the early summer.  Notice how full it is with white flowers on the very tip of the branches.

delicatedPure white delicate flowers constantly swaying.

delicateaAt the other end of that same flower bed was a Pink Gaura.  Both plants were a couple of years old last year.

delicatebPink flowers with pink on the ends of the stamens.

delicate9This year the White Gaura is much smaller and the Pink one has disappeared all together.  But several new Gauras sprang up in different places in that same flowerbed.

delicate8Now they all look like pink and white combinations.

delicate7The pinks are not as dark and the whites have a pink tint.

delicate6All these pictures are the result of me trying to get that perfect shot of a Viceroy butterfly with its wings open.

delicate5It didn’t happen, so I just kept snapping.  With all the pollinators here, there are plenty of good shots for professional photographers in the yard.  Just can’t quite pull it off.

delicate2Another plant that blooms at the end of long branches is Duranta (Duranta erecta ‘Sapphire Showers’).  It is a beautiful jewel.  This one is 8 years old and is very reliable.

delicate3It never blooms before late July or even into August, when the temperatures are consistently high.  The plant dies down with the first frost and sends up new shoots from the woody base the next spring.  The branches’ lengths reach 4 to 5 feet long.

delicateThis little girl and her bunny are 9 years old.  When I bought her at a craft store, I wondered how long she would survive outdoors.  Still looks sweet.

delicate4This is one of my favorite plants (aren’t they all?).  The brilliant purple edged with white is so delicate looking.

Last winter I was concerned that it might not make it.  But it helped that it was already established.  Since Durantas are native to the tropical parts of the Americas, heavy mulch during winter is recommended for cooler zones.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. “ Robert Louis Stevenson

Kerrville

The “dog days of summer” have finally arrived bringing the stifling heat that causes us to gasp for air.  But that image of a panting dog with his tongue hanging out is not the origin of that saying.

In summer Sirius, the dog star, rises and sets with the sun.  The ancient Romans thought it was a source of heat as well as the sun.  Given the circumstance of the summer’s deadly heat, that sounds logical.  But, of course, it’s the tilt of the earth that brings that good old summertime.

But this post is about the town of Kerrville in central Texas.  We are constantly discovering new places and activities available in the small towns in the hill country.

Kerrville “Texas Hill Country Magazine” spring issue had an article about a nursery south of Kerrville.  One of the attractions of the Natives of Texas Nursery was its history.

It was established by Betty Willingham after 30 years of teaching algebra.  After her death, her husband and another helper who worked along beside her kept it open as a memorial to her and her love of native plants.

Kerrville4The drive out of Kerrville seemed longer than 11 miles.  From Hwy. 16, exit onto a caliche winding road which leads into the narrow valley where the nursery is located.

Kerrville2Potted plants are displayed on terraces with a gravel sloping walkway connecting them.

Kerrville3One encouraging sign to me was they grow successfully in soil that appeared to be even more rocky than mine.

KerrvillekKerrville has several worthwhile museums and an amazing live entertainment theater with two different auditoriums.  We saw “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” there and were impressed with the quality of the performance.

Mamacita’s Restaurant in the above picture is large for a Mexican food restaurant, even in Texas.  The food is excellent.

Kerrville7The gardens in front of the restaurant were beautifully done.  Several people were snapping photos of this bush with the purple blooms.  But no one could identify it.

Kerrville8It had no scent, had flowers that looked similar to those of Desert Willow, and had multiple branches covered from bottom to top with blossoms.   Another mystery waiting to be solved.

Kerrville9A wide assortment of sun loving plants created a full, lush look.

KerrvilleaThe shady areas made it possible to get pictures but the plants in the sun looked like a bright blurry spot in photos.

KerrvillebThe soft pinks and yellows in these zinnias and Lil Miss Lantanas contrasted with the other brighter reds and oranges.

KerrvilleeEven a stand of Cattail Reeds grew in a shallow stream.

Kerrvillef

Kerrvilleg

KerrvillelHuge rose bushes with draping branches were covered in tiny red roses.

KerrvillemThis was the best shot I could get since the sun was directly overhead.

To those who think there is no culture in the flyover states or in small towns just haven’t given them a chance.

“Behave.  What happens today is on Facebook tomorrow.”  modern adage