Cafe at the Ridge Gardens, Part 2

Lots of creativity in the gardens at the Ridge.

Displays on the long porch outside the Cafe include this old wash tub with an interesting mixture of succulents.

Not sure what the original purpose of this long wooden container was.  Looks old.  Anyone know?

Not a big fan of pink flamingos in the yard, especially in Texas.  But these glass ones are classier than the plastic ones usually seen.

Drawing a blank on this flower identification.  Anyone?

The gift shop was originally built as a storage building.

The gift shop displays some of its wares on the porch.  Cute chubby bumble bee.

Another building contains potting soils, fertilizers, etc.  I’ve been trying to figure out what the sign was painted on.  Looks like a hood but is tapered too much – maybe a race car.

Even a pile of rocks (which Central Texas has plenty of) can be spruced up.

An old colander makes a nifty planter.  Vincas or Periwinkles are a great annual for our hot summers.   They are so bright and cheery.

Old tire is considered a hillbilly planter of choice.  But it certainly has character.  This one has Bat-face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea Flamenco Samba), some Petunias, and Blackfoot Daisy.  Don’t know what the small purple flowers are.

Really sturdy and heavy picnic tables.

The grass is artificial.  We were told that liquids penetrate it, and that it is strong and long lasting.

Plenty of pots and succulents to choose from.

I was fascinated by these posts for the outside patio.

These tree trunks serve a purpose.

Molded to look like tree trunks, they are coolers to ice drinks for a gathering outside.

This has a Spanish mission look to me.  Very southwestern.

In the spaces between the flagstones, small succulents have been planted close to the edge of the walkway.  Lil Miss Lantana on the right with its pink blooms loves Texas sun.

Don’t know if this wishing well is a true well or not.  But it is iconic for garden lovers.

Birdbath makes a perfect miniature succulent garden.

Another old wash tub.  They’re hard to find without paying an arm and a leg for them.

Check out counter for garden purchases.

Just like at the grocery store checkout, before you pay out, more items to tempt you. Unusual containers that are already filled make it easy to take home a completed pot.

On the left is a Thorn of Crowns plant without the thorns.  So beautiful that I couldn’t resist.

Have an old broken mixer or one you don’t use?  Make it a planter.  Great imagination.

Great place to visit, especially for gardeners.

“You know you are a gardener when everything you see becomes a planter.”  unknown

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Lush Costa Rica

While the ice and snow were falling here, we were enjoying the weather of the tropics.  Of course, we had to face the music when we landed at DFW.  After an extra long bus trip to Abilene, we were iced in and had to spend two nights in a motel there.

We traveled to Costa Rica with Bilbrey Tours from Abilene, so our starting and ending points were there.

costarica1The grounds of our first hotel in San Jose, the capital, exhibited the lushness of a warm climate with plenty of rainfall.  I could not resist taking pictures of the beautiful landscaping.  We only over nighted here, so these were taken in early morning conditions.  Even so, the sunlight was strong and the shadows of the buildings, deep.

costarica2Begonias were used in many beds.

costarica3The tropical Ixora thrives here and certainly doesn’t need to be confined to a pot, like mine in Texas.

costarica4It was surprising to see so much Lantana because it survives so well here in dry Texas.  This is probably the New Gold Lantana.

costarica5Here Lil Miss Lantana is mixed in with another flower.  The red blooms may be another Lantana.  I’m not sure.

Many of the beds were in raised concrete that were tiled.  So pretty.

costarica7Not sure what these flowers are.

costarica6I think I should know but don’t.

costarica8Another type of lantana, maybe Lantana Camara, edged with what looks like Alyssum. costaricab

costaricacDeep red Begonias.

costaricaeThis may be Ginger?

costaricafAn open corridor leading from guest rooms to the reception area.

costaricagAgain the white looks like Alyssum and the one with the pink flowers could be Mexican Heather.

costaricahThere were lots of different species of Coleus.

costaricaiWouldn’t it nice to have gardeners who keep everything so trimmed and neat?

costaricajLove Plumbago, although it has to be grown in a container here and carried in for the winter.

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costaricalThis might be la parola del giorno Lantanta..

costaricanPalm trees with clusters of orchids growing on them.  There are 1,500 different species of orchids in Costa Rica.

costaricamEven though these orchids are growing on a tree, they are not parasites.  They are epiphytes which derives its moisture from the air, rain, and sometimes from debris around it. It does not harm the host at all.

During the trip, we saw many different examples of these.  Epiphytes can be found in the temperate zone.  Examples are mosses, liverworts, lichens, and algae.  They also live in the tropics, like Costa Rica’s environment..  These include ferns, cacti, orchids, and bromeliads.

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costaricap

costaricaqI don’t know if these small branches are part of the palm tree or are epiphytes.

costaricas

costaricar

costaricatSo delicate and lovely.

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costaricavA skylight in the reception area.

costaricawThe counter is made of onyx.  Although it looks solid, these are slabs on top of wooden cabinets.  Very nice hotel.

costaricaxAs one would expect, gorgeous arrangements of tropical plants decorate the hotel.

There will be several posts about Costa Rica in the coming days.

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Garden of Eden

Recently I visited a garden in Eden, Texas, with a gardening class. Eden is between Brady and San Angelo and has a population of just over 93,000.  That fact is a total surprise because we only made this one stop and drove on through it.  I thought it was probably smaller than that.

Here is a description of the town from their website:
“Founded in 1882, Eden is located at the intersection of US Hwy 87 & 83 where the Texas Hill Country and the rolling farmland of the southeastern extremes of the Permian Basin merge.

Eden is a scenic transition of cattle, sheep, and goat country, cotton fields, forage crops, oil and gas wells and some of the best hunting to be found in Texas.”

gardenofedenThis public garden used to be an abandoned lot that attracted drug dealers.

gardenofeden2A few people proposed the idea of a garden.  One man made it happen and continues to maintain it, mostly alone.

gardenofeden7He is a landscaper, and his skills show in the garden.  This rustic water feature used a cattle water trough, rocks, posts, and an old milk can.

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gardenofeden4Very clever.

gardenofeden5It was a surprise to see Moon Flower there.  I don’t see it in many gardens.

gardenofeden6They are considered night bloomers.  I think this one is in the Datura species.

gardenofeden8The sun makes this grass pop.

gardenofeden9This Asparagus plant was new to me.  Makes me want to try it.

gardenofedenaThis gardener used lots of the same flowers scattered throughout the area.  He also wisely used reliable plants.  This is Esperanza (Tecoma stans).

gardenofedenbSurprises around every corner.

gardenofedendLantanas do extremely well in dry hot areas.  This New Gold Lantana (Lantana x hybrida ‘New Gold’) is an example of the spreading branches of Lantanas.

gardenofedencHis use of native stones enhanced the garden.  Especially liked the benches near the walkways.

gardenofedenfA migrating Monarch butterfly enjoying Lil Miss Lantana.

gardenofedeng

gardenofedenkNative wild Morning Glories.  They can be seen on barbed wire fences all across the central part of Texas.

gardenofedenlA nice job of mixing cacti and agaves with other plants.

gardenofedennAnother technique used was the placement of plants with the same colors together to create a large sweep of color.

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gardenofedenpDuranta (Duranta erecta) is one of my favorite bushes.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.  For a better one, see other posts.

gardenofedenqCross Vine (Bignonia capreolata) is a popular vine that grows to massive sizes.  I’m not sure what the plan is for this one’s future – maybe to allow it to cover that rock structure.

gardenofedenrThe achievement of lush looking plantings can be difficult using our native plants.  But it’s possible by filling in with softer plants like this Dusty Miller or Artemesia.

gardenofedensThe garden is on the highway, but it’s winding paths through tall bushes allows one to feel lost in a secretive place.

gardenofedentBlue Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnei) is also known as Paraguay Nightshade.  It’s an evergreen that blooms repeatedly.

gardenofedenuThe flowers resemble those of Mexican Petunias.

gardenofedenvA walk though arch was covered with this Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens).  The vine itself looked pretty sad, but a few flowers still showed their stuff.

gardenofedenxThe shadows of these cacti create more interest than if they had been planted in the middle of other plants.

An impressive garden, especially since it’s the work of one man who works as a volunteer and in his spare time.  Sometimes the people in a community aren’t aware of the gift of time by some of their citizens.  Thanks to volunteers everywhere.

“When we stand back to consider the premise – that God owes us a good life – it is clearly unwarranted. If there really is an infinitely glorious God, why should the universe revolve around us rather than around him?”        Tim Keller

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.

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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

Rain Works Wonders

Everything looks better after a rain, except, for sopping wet dogs and cats.  But the blessed rains of this week have put new life in all the vegetation here.  Even beyond the much needed moisture, the overcast skies and lower temperatures were extra bonuses.  The lowest recorded temperature in July and the lowest high recorded in July both happened this past week.  What a fabulous week.

turkroseofsharonThe Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriaacus) loves a little extra drink.  They are all covered with flowers.  One of them is shown behind the Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) and Lil Miss Lantana (Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’) in this picture.

roseofsharon2The Rose of Sharon, like all the plants that have a flower that resembles Hibiscus, can transport me to Hawaii or other tropical places I’ve visited.

hibuscus15Sweet rain drops.

hibuscus14I can’t recommend these hardy plants enough.  Even when it’s hot, hot, hot and they get little water, they survive.  They don’t bloom much without some watering, but they stay alive.

daylilyEven a Daylily (Hermerocallis fulva) bloomed with the extra dose of water.  All the buds indicate more to come.  It’s past their normal blooming time but love that pop of color.

purplesage2The desert Purple Sage, Cenizo (Scrophulariaceae Leucophyllum frutescens) blooms burst out after a rain.  Every time I see one of these bushes, childhood memories of the West come to mind.  Although I haven’t read Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, the whole western book and movie genre is very familiar.

I’m also reminded of the Sons of the Pioneers’ song “Cool Water”.  Those songs were a favorite of my Dad, and every Saturday morning the radio was tuned to a country music station.  Although, country-western is not my own personal preferred music style, it brings back good thoughts about my youth.

bluemistBlue Mist is blooming enough to draw Viceroy butterflies.  As more  flowers open up, there will be tons more butterflies.  I’m not sure if this is a Conoclinium coelestinum or a Conoclinium  greggii (dissectum) because the difference between the two is slight to untrained eyes.

This week has brought blessings of full water tanks or ponds, drainage into lakes, green fields and grasses, and a wonderful respite to a hot summertime.

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

West Texas Garden

It’s amazing what an occasional rain will do for plants – especially in West Texas.  These pictures are from a Thanksgiving Day visit to a relative in northwest Texas, but not as far north as the panhandle.  They had a five inch rain two months ago.  This year has been way below their average rainfall of 25″.  So that much rain at one time is a strong gully washer.

This Lil Miss Lantana is easily 10 feet wide and deep.  This backyard belongs to elderly relative who can’t do yard work anymore, but has a guy who helps her.   He will cut this lantana down to the ground in the near future.

At first, I thought this was a monarch or viceroy butterfly on this lantana.

When it lowered its wings, I was totally confused. There were several on this bush, so I kept taking pictures thinking that the photo was blurred in an odd way or my eyes were deceiving me.

Can someone tell me if this a butterfly or a moth?

There were also lots of tiny grey butterflies and several of these yellow ones.  But getting a picture of them with wings open proved to be impossible.

This pepper plant is 4′ tall and 3′ wide.  I thought the peppers had not developed fully yet, but was told this size of the pepper (about 1″) is mature.  When they turn red, they’re ripe for picking and are extremely hot.

Common names for Dianthus are carnation, pink, and sweet william.  There are about 300 species in this family.

One common characteristic is the fluffed edge that looks like it has been cut by pinking shears.

This backyard is small and protected somewhat by a solid wooden fence.  This has allowed these flowers to still be blooming in spite of some cold weather.  Plus, they are all container plants, which can be watered during the summer water rationing.

We Texans are proud of the Lone Star and display it in as many different mediums as possible.

The owner couldn’t identify this grass.  It was sold at a local gardening store, so it may not be a native one.

I was raised in West Texas, so this speaks volumes to me.  An empty pot in the sand with a man carved from agate  taking a siesta brings back memories of how sun and sand dominate the landscape.  Also, the Mexican influence is  important to the culture of the Southwest.

Petunias are an easy flowering plant to grow.  Most varieties today are hybrids.

This little clay goat reminds me of many products that come from Mexico.

This Vinca, also called periwinkle in English, is definitely on its last leg.  It’s a hardy plant that usually is an annal.

This foxtail fern is protected on a porch.

Also, the geranium is on the porch and only receives early morning direct light.

It’s great to see so much color and life in a small garden in a harsh environment.  It brings much joy to the owner and others.

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks.”  John Muir