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 glowcThis small native bush was given to me by a friend years ago.  I simply cannot remember its name.  If you know, please let me know in a comment.  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

Blooming in the Heat

Whenever I go outside to move the water hose from tree to tree, I feel like I should apologize to all the plants for the heat.  It’s unbelievable that they can live in 100 plus temperatures that continues for days.

In spite of the heat that takes one’s breath away, some plants continue to bloom.

flowers5Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’) Bloodflower, Swallow-wort, Butterfly Weed, or Scarlet Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’ is a survivor.flowers6Butterflies love it.  Monarchs must have milkweed to survive, so this is a pretty one to have in your yard.

flowers8Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)  or false dragonhead has gotten tall and is still blooming.

flowers9Friends have warned that it is invasive.  Anything that lasts in the hottest part of summer is okay in my book.  Plus, it’s attractive.

flowersgGood ole Gregg’s Blue Mistflower (Physostegia virginiana) is a Texas native that never gives up.

flowershIt, too, could be considered invasive, but I love that it has spread.

flowersfTo get the orientation of this picture, Ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii Torr.) or Baldwin’s ironweed or Western Ironweed, is growing in the pot to the right, but has twisted up to the left.  It’s also called Tall Ironweed.  Now I know why.  This fall I plan to plant this in the ground somewhere, keeping in mind that it is aggressive.

flowersePink Gaura (Gaura angustifolia) Southern Bee Blossom or
Morning Honeysuckle with tons of swaying blossoms is a favorite.

flowersbBees were flitting so quickly that I couldn’t get a good picture.  But there’s a side view of one here.

flowersdSo much activity with these branches and pollinators.

flowerscIt was also covered with Viceroy butterflies.  Lovely.

Hope you find some beauty in this heat – maybe looking out of a window to a favorite view.

“Skinny people are easier to kidnap. Stay safe. Eat cake.”  unknown

Focus on Foliage

My passion is flowers, but sometime I buy plants solely for their foliage.

grayDusty Miller (Senecio cineraria)  is what I consider an old fashioned plant because my grandmother always had one.  This one has struggled in a pot and really should be in the ground.  It originates in the Mediterranean area, so does well in our climate.

gray2Artemisia (Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’) is a wonderful bush with soft leaves.  It, too, does better in the ground, although this one has lived in this pot for six years.

foliagefPrairie Sage (Artemisia Ludoviciana) is also known as silver wormwood, western mugwort, Louisiana wormwood, white sagebrush, and gray sagewort.

The name comes from Artemisia. wife of Mausolus, ancient king of Caria.  Ludoviciana is from the latin form meaning “of Louisiana” and probably refers to St. Louis, since it’s close to prairieland.

foliagegPrairie Sage grows throughout the Grass Prairie Region.  It can grow to 40 inches in height and prefers disturbed areas along roads and railways, dry areas on rocky, sandy or gravelly loams.

The plan was for a small bush, but it’s only two years old.  Another time when I should have read the small print.

foliagehMine is in full sun, but they can also tolerate partial shade.

foliagedI buy a lot of native plants at the annual spring plant sale at Lady Bird Johnson Native Plant Center.  Sometimes I get one that isn’t labeled.  I thought I was buying Joe Pyle Weed but this certainly doesn’t match the pictures on the internet.

foliageeThis reaches 6 feet and is about four feet wide.  Not what I had in mind.

foliage1It doesn’t bloom but has a nice a shape in the winter because its long branches come from the center and form a water sprinkler shape.  In February, I cut it back to the ground.

If anyone knows what this is, please let me know.

foliage3Woodland Fern does well in the shade here although it had gotten rather sparse after nine years.  So I plugged in two additional plants this year for fullness.

foliage4gray3Elkhorn (Euphorbia Lactea Forma Cristata) was an impulse buy six years ago from a booth at a small town fair.  I didn’t expect it to get so big.  Transplanting it into a larger pot takes two people and some finesse.

foliageaThe curls gives it an unusual look.

foliagecEvery edge is covered with sharp barbs.  I’ve backed into it a few times and have to carefully extricate my clothing.

“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.  Unless there are three other people.” Orson Welles

Gardening Challenges

Anyone who has dug a hole for plants and tended them with the anticipation of growing vegetables, flowers, trees, or just green bushes knows the frustrations of gardening.

There are basically two categories of challenges.  Things that are out of our control, like weather.  Then there problems that are of our own making.  Boy, do I know that one.

Warning:  The following pictures are depressing (at least, for me, since they’re from my yard.)

problems3Gardeners usually plant for the average rainfall that can be expected.  So here, where our annual average is 27 inches, drought tolerant plants are recommended.

But this was a most unusual year.  In May, it rained 14 inches.  That hasn’t happened since 1895.  So far, our rainfall has been just under 26 inches this year.

I’m definitely not complaining about rain.  It’s just that some  drought tolerant plants got root rot from too much rain in a short time.  Especially here in our clay and caliche soil.

The above picture is one of my favorite native plants succumbed to wet caliche – Texas Yellow Bells.

problems1It’s probably best to consider the most dominant weather factor in a particular area.  For us, that’s heat.  So drought tolerant plants must be our choice.  Even if that means losing some when we have extreme unusual conditions, like our rare rainfall this year.

This Almond Verbena couldn’t take the soggy ground.

problems7Soil is another big issue.  Clay and caliche just don’t cut it for gardening.  So the choices seem to be:  amend the soil or use raised beds.  We’ve tried a little of both.  The easiest solution is definitely raised beds.

problems8Then we have the heat.  August has brought blistering 103 temps.  Frequent watering just keeps everything from  burning up.   problems5Insect and critter pests are also problems for gardeners.   For several years, grasshoppers have been our plague.  They can defoliate a plant in a few hours.

They’re happily chomping on this Russian Sage.

problems6Here are the remaining stems.

Gardeners have to choose where to be totally organic or to tackle problems with pesticides.   Since we live in the country, we don’t spray for bugs because it would be useless.  We just hope plants will recover the next spring.

Other pests for us include armadillos and skunks digging in the yard, especially when the surrounding fields are so dry.

problems4In the rear right hand side of this photo is a tower trellis that has been lifted up and twisted by a climbing rose.

Landscape design has become a hot topic in the gardening world.  It’s one of my weakest skills.  Even though I’ve read the books and attended classes, I still tend to underestimate the mature size of bushes.    Plus, I use more varieties of plants than what is recommended.  My excuse is that I don’t know what will survive, so I try them out.

problems2Sometimes, we’re faced with a “What happened?” problem.  Detective work or seeking advice sometimes helps.  Other times, it just remains a mystery.

One day this native Redbud tree was healthy and the next, it looked pathetic.

problemsAnother what happened.  This Mexican Feather grass may be a casualty of water staying clay or of something else.

Gardening experts warn against planting imported plants that are invasive.  But my archenemy is our native Bermuda grass.  Its runners constantly invade flowerbeds and put down deep roots.  We also have an many assorted weeds.  Most of those are easier to pull than the grass.  Examples of these are in this pix.

If you click on the links, there are nicer pictures of the plants before they bit the dust.

Wherever one lives, gardening is not an easy hobby.  But the rewards are fantastic.  So a gardener’s motto is just keep on working and experimenting.

“Gardens are not made by singing “Oh, how beautiful,” and sitting in the shade.”  Rudyard Kipling

Drooping in the Heat

The beginning of summer was so mild.   Then the heat was switched on suddenly.  Everyday now is in the high 90’s with a few 100’s.  Some plants are just barely surviving while others are hardy enough to last here.

Is it really this hot every single summer?  Yes.  It’s just easy to forget that until reality sets in.   But the mild winters and the few months of spring are great.

bloomingnowThis Sage Sapphire Carpet (Salvia sinaloensis) is now history.  I should not have believed the label – full sun.  Ha!  If I had moved it to the shade, maybe it would be alive but wouldn’t bloom.

Nice to enjoy in the spring but not worth it.

Bulb Flowers4“Ellen Bosanquet’ Crinum Lily is now five years old and produces beautifully.  Being on the east side of the house, they only get morning sun.

Bulb Flowers5They droop downwards, so kneeling on the ground is required to get a pix.  Still a beautiful sight in early summer.

flowerbushes1The Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) bush has spread out to about five feet.  With its large, thin leaves, I’m amazed that it survives in full sun.  It’s one of those great perennials that can be planted and forgotten about.   Water twice a week during high temperatures, and it’s good to go.

flowerbushes4Just love the turban flowers.

flowers9‘Victor’ Crape Myrtle is dwarf size with coral red flowers.  It’s three years old and still not as many blooms as I expected.

texas star hibiscusThis is the way Texas Star Hibiscus blooms should look.  In the past, mine have had that greenish yellow joint between the petals.

flowers1But this year it looks like a regular Hardy Hibiscus flower transferred onto a Texas Star Hibiscus bush.

flowersCrazy.

flowers4This is a Hardy Hibiscus across the yard.  This bush gets tall and has lots of blooms before the heat wilts it.  With frequent waterings, it remains vibrant.  I just water it enough to keep it alive this time of the year.

When the heat gets to me, I remind myself that it won’t last forever.  It will still be awhile, but cooler days are ahead.

“A mistake repeated more than once is a decision.” Paulo Coelho

More on Kerrville

Many of the smaller towns in Central Texas are tourist destinations.  Partly, that’s because of the natural beauty of the rolling hills covered with native trees.  Also, those towns have made a concerted effort to draw people with museums, festivals, shopping, and other attractions.

kerrvillekKerrville has lots of walking paths along the Guadalupe River.  This is in a parking lot for the beginning of one of those trails.

kerrvillelI like this barrel cactus among the other native plants.

kerrvillemThis picture was taken by stepping away from the concrete walkway, which was at least 10 feet wide.  The paved pathway was a mile long.  Beautiful views and easy on the feet.

I think most of these trees are cypress.

kerrvillenStonehenge II is in an open field area.  The idea came to Al Shepperd in 1989 when he turned a limestone slab up on end.  He and his friend, Doug Hill, decided to construct plaster and graphite covered metal mesh and steel frames to replicate the ancient stones in England.

kerrvillepStonehenge II is 90 percent as wide as the original and 60 percent of the height.

kerrvilleoAfter visiting Easter Island a year and a half later, Shepperd added two heads copying those he visited.

kerrvilleqShepperd had plans to add Alaskan type totem poles, but died in 1994 in his 70’s.

The land is presently owned by Shepperd’s nephew and is open every day to the public.

kerrvillerDriving home, we stopped at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg.   It’s like a magnet drawing us when we’re in the area.

Deep red Crape Myrtles line the drive into the parking lot.

kerrvillesEven though it was hot, we strolled through the gardens and listened to a band performing in the courtyard.

Thanks for reading about our short trip.  Hope you have a chance to visit your favorite sights, wherever you live.

“Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people – your family, friends, and co-workers and even strangers you meet along the way.”   Barbara Bush