Autumn is Awesome

The cooler days and nights with highs in the 60’s has rejuvenated us all.  Plus a few misty days and overcast skies has relieved all plant life from being attacked by harsh sunlight.

So I’m taking a break from the Arkansas posts to show what’s happening in the yard.

fallyardbMost of the Bluemist Flowers have faded but these are full and fluffy – reminds me of tiny pompoms.

fallyard12Potted Bougainvillea’s colors have deepened and are a tropical delight to enjoy.

fallyard11Even the Russian Sage has more blooms.

fallyard10Some flowers are bravely hanging onto an old-fashioned Geranium.  Wind gusts have been high lately.

fallyard9Salvia Greggi in a pot provides bright color.

fallyard8Boston Ferns in the back with a large Kalanchoe in front are massed in a corner by the house.  In front is Coleus and an Airplane or Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum).

The Coleus came from cuttings from a friend.  I’ve already taken cuttings inside to create another pot next year.  They will root in water and still make a pretty decoration while doing so. Also, I may need them to start again next spring since I don’t know how well this will survive in the house this winter.

The Spider Plant has been in this pot for years.  They prefer to be root bound.  Everything in this picture was a pass along plant except the ferns.  And those come from the original two that I bought, which have been divided many times over the years.

fallyard7Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) has a few blooms.

fallyard6Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) has lost most of its leaves but still has some wonderful velvet blossoms.

fall2yard5The one I had last year did not make it through the winter.  So I’ve taken some cuttings and hope they will root in case a freeze does this one in.

fallyard2Gray Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea incana) still has a few flowers, which surprised me.  I consider this was a hot weather bloomer.

fallyard3This little bee was flitting back and forth searching for an open bud.  Since this picture was taken many flowers have opened.

fallyard4Gray santolina or lavender cotton (S. chamaecyparissus) has some interesting characteristics.  It grows tight with little space between its branches.  I like the rounded shape and love the soft texture of it.  There aren’t many plants that I touch as I pass by, but this is one.

fallyard1Cooper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) has its main blooming in late fall with a less spectacular blooming in the spring.  It is drought tolerant and one tough cookie once established.

fallyardThis daisy is a Texas native that is found only in nurseries that carry natives.  I found it at Natives of Texas in Kerrville.  An odd quirk of this plant is its smell.  It stinks and reminds me of kerosene.  That made for bit of a smelly car on the way home from Kerrville.  But a plus is that deer stay away from it.

Cool days, some rain, and long lasting flowers make autumn, when we have it, special.

“Autumn’s the mellow time.”   William Allingham

Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs is proud of its old historical homes and buildings on the narrow, winding streets downtown.  But to me, the most impressive sight is on the western outskirts of the town.  On a wooded side of a mountain is Thorncrown Chapel.

chapelThorncrown was built on the piece of property that Jim Reed bought for his retirement home.  As people visited and admired the property, he had the desire to share it with others.  The idea of a glass chapel where others could be inspired by worshiping God among the trees came to him.

chapelkGround was broken in 1979 but quickly Reed was overcome by building costs.  He knelt on the stone floor of the chapel and surrendered the project to God.  Soon a woman from Illinois provided a loan to cover the needed amount.

chapel7The chapel opened in 1980.  The beams look like metal, but are wood.  I wondered how often it has to be painted.  Massive job.

chapel2There are 425 windows that cover 6,000 square feet.  The calm of the trees penetrate the building with quiet majesty.

chapel5In 1981 it received the American Institute of Architects’ Design of the Year Award and the American Institute of Architects’ Design of the Decade Ward for the 1980’s.  Like the tall, slender Gothic churches, its design draws the eyes upward.

chapel3The staff does not want the chapel to be known as a wedding chapel but a limited number are allowed each year.

Visitors are asked to be seated and take pictures from the seats.

chapelklThe chapel provides a place for quiet meditation with the focus on God.  Note the light of the cross on each sconce.

chapel8Standing on the level ground of the Thorncrown Chapel parking area, one can look down on the Worship Center.   Stairs descend to the entrance.  It has the same outer shape of the Chapel but has more solid sides with much less glass.  It seats about three hundred and can be reserved for special worship events.

chapel9The Worship Center was not open for visitors.

Thorncrown Chapel was my favorite place in Eureka Springs.  We visited it several times and were awed each time.

“The Constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying; its declared purpose was to protect their freedom to pray.” Ronald Reagan

Fall Color Further North

Just returned from a trip to see the fall tree colors in the Ozark Mountains.  On the drive there we passed through the Ouachita National Forest in Oklahoma also adorned in autumn splendor.

cottagefIn the Ozarks, the roads had no shoulders, so it was difficult to find stopping places for photos.  The roads wind upwards in tight curves.  And then, of course, downward in a spiral.

cottagedAt this stop, we enjoyed stretching our legs and looking up into the trees.

cottageeThere was also interest on the ground.  Plants and trees can be amazingly  adaptive.  Roots of this must all lopsided.  This stone looked like a fossilized tree limb.

cottagegIt’s a beautiful world.

cottageggcottagehClose up of dried wildflowers.

cottagehhOkay, I’m weird.  I like close-ups of just about anything, including a common bolt holding together concert barriers.

cottagecccottageiI definitely didn’t know all the different kinds of trees – just enjoyed their beauty.

cottageffFinally, we arrive at our destination outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

cottageThis is the view from the front of our cottage the next morning:  fog on Beaver Lake.

cottage1Squirrels were scampering around on the porch gathering seeds scattered from a bird feeder and fallen acorns.


cottage4Beaver Lake Cottages with their wonderfully serene setting was a delight.  Our cottage was nestled among the trees on a mountain overlooking the lake.  With many inlets, Beaver Lake has over 500 miles of shoreline.  So, many different kinds of lodging are available.

cottage6With the view being front and center, parking was behind the cottage on a bit of a steep road down to it.

cottagebInside was cozy and comfortable.  Even though we ventured out during the day for different excursions, we could have settled in and been quite content.  Except then, I would have had to cook.  But this was a vacation.

cottage8Nicely furnished.

cottage7I should have taken a picture of the kitchen before we cluttered up the counters.

cottage9The proprietors, who were very friendly and helpful, provide a large stock of DVD’s to view as well as good TV reception.

The plant above the TV was in a woven basket with its side handle hanging from a nail.  Clever

cottageaAll the plants in the cottage were real, like this hanging spider plant.

cottagecOne last look at Beaver Lake.  Ahh, so peaceful.

Following posts will show some of the places we visited.  Your time is valuable, so thanks for taking the time to read this blog.

“Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.”    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  unknown

Austin Gardens Tour, Part 2

The city of Austin is in the Hill Country and spreads out over cedar covered hills giving it a green vista.  The city center and original settlement is on about the only level ground.  A few of the home gardens on the tour were located there.

But the newer houses and most expensive real estate is on the hills on the outer edges of the city.  Those sites make challenging landscaping for home owners.  This post shows plants from three of those gardens.

austingardenspThis home had a mostly shady garden in an area that hugged the house.   The rest of the land sloped down to a dry creek bed.

This Black and Blue Salvia (Salvia guarantica) grows in shade here with dapples of sunlight.  But most salvia will also do well in sun.

austingardensqStairs led up to the swimming pool on a raised area where the back door to the home was located.  There were palms at several of the homes, but I don’t know what kind of palms.

austingardensrThe lights on the bottle bush was a nice touch.

austingardenssTo the right is the raised area.  Steps led down to another small garden area.  The orange flowers look like Crossvine.

austingardenst This Mexico native is a good low water plant but won’t survive our winters.

austingardensuThe previous yard and this one were both professionally landscaped.

austingardensvThe main feature of this yard was the stunning view.   Behind me as I take this picture is a large grassy lawn.

austingardenswThis last yard was very nicely laid out.  Oak Leaf Acanthus (Acanthus mollis) is a new plant to me.  Information on the net states that  stiff, spiky tubular-shaped flowers emerge from the center of the plant.  Flowers can be white, lilac or rose in color. If this plant is in a hot climate, it needs afternoon shade.  That would be Texas.  It prefers moist soils but will tolerate drier soil.

austingardensxI think this pretty purple plant is Persian Spears.

austingardensyAlthough I’m not especially drawn to agaves, I like Queen Victoria Century Plant (Agave victoriae-reginae). It’s not winter hardy here, but I could probably try it in a container.

austingardenvvWingpod Pursulane (Portulaca umbraticola) is a US native  succulent.  This gardener did a nice job of landscaping with several beds outlined with different materials.  You can see a back row of bricks and a side wood border.

austingardenszThere is a wild one aggressive purslane that comes up in my flowerbeds.  Maybe that’s why it is in a contained area in this garden.

austingardenwwNot sure which sage this is.

austingardenxxIn the bright light behind the kneeling girl is a Shrimp Plant with yellow blooms.  It’s a native of Mexico and does very well in zones 8 and above.

austingardenzzLike the clean, fresh color of this Coleus.

austingardenzzzThis cluster of Plumbago plants (Plumbago auriculata) was in the yard beside the featured garden we were visiting.  Very attractive planting.

That’s the last of the Austin gardens.  There were a nice variety of gardens – shady, sunny, all native, more formal, or less formal natural settings. There was only one garden that I feel should not have been on the tour.  It was sadly neglected.  The reason I mention this is because the houses were scattered all over Austin and required a lot of driving.  So a stop that wasn’t worth the time or gas should not have been included.  Otherwise, it was a worthwhile tour.

“Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.”   Elizabeth Murray

Tour of Austin Gardens

Last weekend we traveled to Austin for the Texas Book Festival and for the Inside Austin Gardens tour.  This post will focus on the gardens or more specifically, plants in those gardens.

Originally, I had planned to get sweeping views of the gardens.  Most of the yards were fairly small, but the crowd of people in them made it almost impossible to get the kind of pictures I wanted.  So I focused on plants that I like or would like to know more about.

The tour was billed as “gardens by gardeners”.  To me, this means that the design and work was done by the garden owner.  But of the six gardens, half were professionally landscaped.  All of the pictures in this post are from one garden.  This gardener designed her own garden but also designs for other people.

austingardensPhilippine Violet (Barleria cristata) is obviously a tropical bush.  Austin is a warmer cold tolerance zone than we are.  So this would have to be a pot plant here.  That’s true of so many of the plants that I coveted.

austingardens4Beautiful plant.

austingardens1American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) Mexican Beautyberry (Callicarpa acuminata) is a understory shrub that doesn’t tolerate freezes.  But I sure do like it.

austingardens2The Inside Austin Gardeners put labels in all the yards but not beside all the plants.  These labels were very helpful.

austingardens3Yellow Yucca (Hesperaloe Parviflora Yellow) is a slow growing succulent that like the Red Yucca should not be overwatered.  It seems to have fuller blooms when the plant is smaller than even a mature Red Yucca.

austingardens5Mexican Honeysuckle or Coral Honeysuckle (Justicia Spicigera) should be able to survive here.


austingardens7Cute garden art.  Foxtail Fern (Asparagus densiflorus) is behind the snake.  That’s a container plant here.

austingardens9Don’t know the names of these plants except for Gopher Plant (Euphorbia biglandulosa).  It’s the small succulent in the pot to the side of the main plant.  That’s actually Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense).

The larger plant is Paleleaf Yucca (Yucca pallida).

austingardensbThese pots, that are made from galvanized metal culvert pipes, are sold in at least one Austin nursery.

austingardenscThis home owner loves what I call prickly plants.  She has some really large ones that I didn’t get a picture of.

austingardenseThis ground cover was used in a large area instead of grass.  In fact, there was no grass in this whole yard.

austingardensfI think this is a salvia.  This is Amistad Salvia.

austingardensgAlso, don’t know the name of this ornamental grass.  It’s ‘Vertigo’ pennisetum.

A special thanks to the home owner Pam Penick who read this post and was kind enough to provide the correct information for some of the plants I misidentified or didn’t know the name of.

austingardensiSilver Ironweed (Vernonia lindheimeri v. leucophylla) is a Texas native, but I don’t know if it will grow in our 7b zone.



austingardensmThere are lots of different muhly grasses in Texas.  Most have showy plumes.  This should have pale purplish-gray ones in autumn, but maybe it’s been too hot.

Pam, the home owner, has a popular blog.  A beautiful garden all around the house – probably my favorite one on the tour.

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” – Brian Gerald O’Driscoll

Dry, Dusty Autumn

This crazy summer weather continues on and on.  Several early 1900’s high temperatures have been broken. The mornings start out pleasant but quickly rise to the high 90’s.

No rain in two months.  Dry land and vegetation makes a high fire risk.  The caliche dust on the county roads rises like a fine powder and hovers in the air for what seems like forever.  High dust clouds announce anyone traveling anywhere nearby.

drydusty2The grasses in the fields are all dead.  Broomweed or Broom Snakeweed (Amphiachyris amoenaseem) seems to be the only living vegetation and cows don’t eat it because it is poisonous.

drydustybWith hundreds of bushes massed in a pasture, its tiny yellow flowers and light green foliage form a lime green landscape.

drydusty3The ponds are almost dry.  This eerie moonscape look is created by dead, dry bleached plants and grasses sticking up from the bottom of the tank.

drydusty4Last summer when the ponds were totally dry, grasses and weeds grew up.  Then spring rains filled the ponds up.  Now they have dried again, leaving those dead plants and other crud stuck to them standing alone.

drydusty5Mighty strange looking.

drydusty7Another tank with scum floating on top of a small amount of water.

drydusty6Poverty Willow flowers shine a silvery white in the sunlight.

drydusty8Up close the wispy tufts look like small powder puffs.


drydustyaThis was dug as a spill over area from a tank.  This empties into a stream.  It seems unlikely that it would be needed.  But the spring rains did fill up the tank to overflowing.

drydustycNotice the stratum of this land cutaway. The top layer of soil is about 2 – 3 inches.  The white layer below that is caliche.  Under that is clay.  It’s a wonder that anything grows here.  But trees and some native shrubs do survive.

This explains why I used raised beds in the yard.

drydustyThis scraped plot was done by using a skid loader with a tilted bucket.  The purpose was to take away the weeds and loosen the top soil.  Then we scattered wildflower seeds.  It is in a pasture between the house and the barn.  So we should be able to enjoy the flowers.

Now we are praying for rain.  Autumn rains are needed for Texas wildflowers to succeed.  Actually, rain is desperately needed for everything.

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it’s stored than to anything on which it is poured.” Mark Twain