Looking for Color

Winter conjures up a dull, drab, gray picture in my head.  So I’ve been searching for some color.

But, first, I want to sound a horn and shout hallelujah.  Today it rained.

That’s a major event for us.  Before today, we’ve received less than an inch of rain, all in small increments since September.

This Kalanchoe has been propagated so many times that I’ve lost count.  It originally came from my mother.  I plan to always keep one as a special memory of her.  This particular one I started in the fall, so it’s been inside for several months.

Oops.  My husband notice that I had the same picture twice, so I’m changing that, although it is the same plant.  Sorry.

During the darker days of winter inside, it tends to get leggy and flop over.  It’s propped up now.  It will go with many others for our Garden Club plant sale.

A Christmas Poinsettia still has some bright red.  I keep them inside until it’s warm enough to put them outside in the shade.  I had two ready to bring inside last year.  The first cold snap got them.

Although the grass is dead, this evergreen Cherry Laurel is covered in green leaves.  Love this tree.

Live Oaks are an important tree for central Texas.  This one is over a hundred years old.  In fact, it’s the reason we chose to build in this spot.

Live Oaks tend to grow out and the branches point to the ground.  So they need to be trimmed on the bottom branches every few years in order to walk under them.

This native Yarrow has white flowers and is evergreen.  The foliage on it is softer than many other Yarrows.

First signs of spring here are Daffodils and Texas Scarlett Quince.  The first Daffodil has opened with many others in the wings with flower buds.

The Quince buds are beginning to open.  Such a vivid red.  Spring is on its way.  Hooray.

There is color on many winter mornings if one gets up early enough, steps out into the cold air, and looks up.  Wow.

Thank you for stopping by to read this blog.  I appreciate comments and suggestions.

“Never do something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.”  unknown


Winter House Plants

How can you tell if someone is a plant person?  If they surround themselves with plants, then they are.  It doesn’t matter how much space they have;  even people in apartments with small balconies find room.  The size of the wallet doesn’t matter because other plant people will share.  And skill doesn’t matter because that can be learned.

I consider myself to be a plant person, although I wasn’t always.  It is an acquired passion.

During the cold days of winter, plants can be enjoyed inside.  These are two Poinsettias were bought last winter.

There are some complicated methods about getting Poinsettias to rebloom the next year.  Those involve putting plants into darkness for a certain length of time at specific times of the year.

But, honestly, I did not do anything special.  Last spring after the temperatures was consistently warm (about 65 degrees), the pots were placed outside under a large tree where it was shady most of the day.  Then in November when we took all plants into a shed, I repotted the Poinsettias into a larger size pot and brought them in the house.

The leaves had already started turning red and continued to do so inside with bright indirect light.

Last year I bought a couple of hybridized Kalanchoes because the flowers have more petals, which are layered, than the common Kalanchoes I had been given years ago by a relative.

Although these are gorgeous, the old plants seem to be hardier and definitely grow faster.  Each year I put the common Kalanchoes outside for the spring, summer, and fall.  This year I’ll try these outside.

This is the Kalanchoe with white flowers.  Some of them have a yellowish tint.

Plant people do have plants that die or don’t do well.  That can be due to different climates and growing conditions.  But it can also be the fault of the grower.

This poor neglected Angel Wing Begonia, a hybrid, is an example of that.  It doesn’t get the consistent moisture or temperature that it needs.  Plus, I forget to fertilize it.  It is two years old and has never bloomed.  But I keep promising myself that I will take better care of it.

I’ve been learning to propagate roses.  This is one of my successes.  I’ve tried in the past but am now using the method that is used at Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas.

Take a cutting just below a spent bloom and cut the bottom at an angle.  Leave a few leaves on the stem.  Water some loose fine soil, wring it out with your hands so that it is damp but not mushy, and place in a zip lock baggie.  Put the bottom end of the cutting in rooting hormone and stick in the soil. Antique Rose Emporium uses a gel:  Rootech Cloning Gel, which can be ordered online.

Several stems can be placed into one baggie.  Zip the bag, place it on a window ledge in indirect light.  Then wait for roots to grow at the bottom.

This is some Basil that my daughter-in-law propagated for me.  Isn’t that a nice pot?

Growing plants doesn’t always mean success, but it is a rewarding hobby.

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more they will hate those who speak it.”  George Orwell





Winter Red

Red flowers inside brighten up wintertime for me.  Early in December I buy two Poinsettias for the sanctuary at church.  This year I got them from a high school student who was selling them for the Student Council.

red8After the last Sunday in December I bring them home to enjoy them.

Although many sources say Poinsettias are poisonous, an  Ohio State University study showed that a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 500 leaves to have any harmful effect. Plus poinsettia leaves have an awful taste. But you might want to keep your pets from snacking on poinsettia leaves. Eating the leaves can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

red9It’s now February, and they are still looking good.  For more information about them, see a previous Poinsettia post.

The Paul Ecke Ranch in California grows over 70% of all Poinsettias purchased in the United States and does about 50% of the world-wide sales of Poinsettias.

redFor Christmas, my mother gave me an Amaryllis.  This is how it looked a week later.

Amaryllis means to sparkle in Greek, and that they do.  In nature, amaryllis bloom in spring or summer in zones 9 – 11, but are commonly forced into early bloom for the holidays. The U.S. imports more than 10 million amaryllis bulbs every year, mainly from Holland and South Africa.  Plant breeders have developed more than 600 named varieties!

Mine came from White Flower Farm in Connecticut.

red2Then more flowers opened.  Note the beginning of a new stem beside the larger one.

red3The double blooms makes a big punch of color and intricate charm.

Amaryllis reproduce by growing “daughter” bulbs next to the “mother” bulbs.  It takes three to five years for a daughter bulb to reach a marketable size.

Properly cared for, an amaryllis plant can live for 75 years!  Okay, that is a challenge.  How long can I keep it alive?

red4Because it was so top heavy, I had to watch it closely and rotate the pot so the sunlight would draw it back up when it started to lean.

red5Absolutely the prettiest Amaryllis I’ve ever had.

red6This is a new crop of blooms after the all the others were spent.  I cut the first stem off; this is the one beside it that grew and produced more flowers.

red7Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

“Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”- Henry Kissinger

Christmas, Again

Yes, the Christmas season has passed, but since I put up most of my decorations this year, I’m going to show the pictures.  Our kids swap out Thanksgiving and Christmas with each set of parents, so I only put up Christmas decorations every other year.   A very abbreviated version is out on the years we host Thanksgiving.

xmasuuIn the entry hall…

xmaskis the “Flight to Egypt” figurine.  This was bought at Walmart years ago.  I had started a collection of Lladros from Spain before I found these.  Although considerable cheaper and not as fine, I think this is well done.

xmaskkThe manager scene is also from Walmart.


xmas1This Santa, made from an old quilt, was bought at a craft fair.



xmas4Three small trees are decorated with a western theme.


xmasvOrnaments reflect the historical and present Texas culture.



xmas6Over the years I have collected all sorts of Santas.

xmas7They seemed to be enjoyed by the whole family.



xmastSome are true collectibles, like Clothique Dream Santas.

xmasttHallmark was one of the retailers where they were/are available.  One of my sisters used to work there.  So several of my Santas were gifts from her.


xmasaOthers were picked up at all kinds of stores and craft fairs.


xmasbI also have a small collection of mangers.



xmasccOn the left is a Jim Short nativity, and the one on the right came from Peru.


xmasddThis Santa is animated with moving arms and head.

xmaseSome of my favorites are simple handmade mangers.  Most of the wooden decorations came craft fairs.

xmaseeThe paper mache Santa came from Germany.





xmashhThe magi on camels, a folding metal cutout of Bethlehem, and an angel candelabra provides this table scene.

xmashGetting an snapshot of an overall view just didn’t work out.


xmasiiThe cloth is a crazy quilt my mother made.  She used some ties that my Dad used to wear, like the blue with dots, along with other cloth scraps.



xmasllThe picture was in a magazine about Debbie Mum and her artwork.


xmasmmThe inside of this Santa is a piece of wood, about 5″ x 4″ x 2″.  This gives the support to sit him up.








xmasqOn the windowsill above the kitchen sink.

xmasqqqThis is one of the first manger scenes I bought.  The people are made from corn husks.  Very creative.


xmasrrElves behind Santa helping with the heavy bag.



xmasuAnother animated Santa Claus with a lighted candle.



xmaswwSanta faces painted on cinnamon sticks.

Although it took me a week to decorate, my husband offered to help me get it all put away today.  So everything is safely boxed in plastic crates and on the shelves in the barn.  Whew.  So happy for the help and heavy lifting.

Hope your Christmas was merry and bright.  The following quote is a good reminder to us all for the coming year.

“Never ignore a nudge or a whisper from God.”  unknown

Bygone Eras

Although Christmas has come and gone, I want to show the rest of the Weatherford Candlelight Tour that we attended earlier this month.

tour2weatherfordgThis house was built in the 1920’s but had major renovation in the late 40’s.  The present owners are in the process of restoring with as many original details as possible.


tour2weatherford1These shelves  in the kitchen look original.  It reminds me of older relatives’ homes.  The tiles are obviously recent.

tour2weatherford2How about those prices.


tour2weatherford4A tree full of sweet goodies.

tour2weatherford6This English cottage house was built in the early 1900’s.  It was enlarged and redone in 1989.


tour2weatherfordaDining table decoration ideas seem endless.

tour2weatherford9tour2weatherfordbThis is the headboard in the master.  A small bedroom connected to this room was converted into a large walk-in closet.  We ladies like our modern conveniences and space.



tour2weatherfordeAlong the side of the house by the driveway is another entry – probably from an earlier time.

tour2weatherfordfPoinsettias give some color to the side flowerbed.  Very attractive placement of seasonal flowers with the agave and statue.

tour2weatherfordhThis 1907 house shows the bygone lifestyle of the rich in the area.  There is a carriage house in the back.  This property has been in the same family for 107 years.  The great grand-daughter of the original owner lives here and has displayed furniture and decor from the early 1900’s.

tour2weatherfordiThis greeter sorta looks the part of a gentleman from that period.

tour2weatherfordjStepping in from the front door, there are two parlors, one beside the other.  I’m guessing one was for the ladies and the other for the gentlemen.


tour2weatherfordmThis is one of the chairs that have been in the family since the house was built.

tour2weatherfordnLots of lace has been used throughout the house.  The rose folded napkin is clever.

tour2weatherfordoA nook in the dining room.

tour2weatherfordqA volunteer in a bedroom decorated for a child.  It’s actually used as a guest room.

tour2weatherfordpThis hanging up above the bed is rare antique Normandy lace and serves as a headboard.

Lace was an important factor in 16th-century world trade. The art began in Italy in the early 1500s as a pastime for upper class women. These ladies passed the skill along to nuns, who  meditated while creating the lace.  This also produced income for their convents. The practice spread from convent to convent throughout Italy until, in the late 1500s, the demand for lace products was great enough that private manufacturing workshops were established.

French laces were generally lighter and airier in design than their Italian counterparts, and by 1650, Alencon in Normandy was known to produce the finest and most delicate lace.

King Louis XIV called for the manufacture of vast quantities of lace and the industry grew rapidly.  Every woman in the royal court wore a headdress of Alencon lace.  Alencon lace became known as the lace of queens.

Today, a few dedicated women continue to practice the intricate techniques of point d’Alencon.  Most are descended from the original women who created the lace.  They learned the skills from older family members.

The creation of Alencon lace requires nine complex steps.  In the traditional manner, almost every step is performed by a different lace maker, each with her own specialty.  Final assembly of all pieces of the lace requires the skill of a senior lace maker. She must be an expert in all stitches and capable of blending the work of many hands into an apparently seamless whole.

tour2weatherfordrAt the next house, the volunteers dressed in a zoot suit and a flapper dress represented this1920’s home.  This was a quick walk thru tour with little of the house open to the tour.

tour2weatherfordsIn the backyard, I was struck by this volunteer.  He looks authentic to the old west.

tour2weatherfordtCheery Christmas vulture on top of a shed.

tour2weatherforduI like this little girl water fountain at Chandor Gardens.  Since I’ve posted three times before about these gardens, click here to read more detail about this wonderful place.

tour2weatherfordvOutside the Chandor home angels herald the good news.

tour2weatherfordwA grand dining room that seats twenty.

tour2weatherfordxThis tabletop setting of small owls is used each Christmas in the Chandor home.

tour2weatherfordyThe Pythian Home is a wow castle looking sight.  It was built in 1907 as a home for widows and orphans.  It is still owned and operated by the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization.  It currently houses children temporarily placed there by the court until their parents can care for them.

tour2weatherfordzThe rooms are massive with wide, grand staircases.  The furnishings seem to be original or at least, in that style.  The heavy brocade drapes and satin covered settees invoke a bygone era.  Of course, we only saw the guest rooms reserved for visiting board members.  So I don’t know what the children’s rooms look like.

tour2weatherfordzzOur next stop was the Museum of the Americas. It’s a small building crammed full of artifacts from ancient people groups from South America to North America.  The owners and collectors are husband and wife professors.  It deserves more time to explore than we had left.

Thanks for indulging me on this tour.  I appreciate your time in looking at my posts.  May 2015 be filled with joy and peace for you and your family.

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”  Ben Franklin

Christmas Colors

Yes.  Christmas and December have passed.  Just a few final thoughts.

This year, like the past few years, at the first of December I’ve bought a couple of Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) to help decorate the sanctuary at church.

poinsettaAfter being there for a few weeks, they don’t look as fresh as they did when they were bought.  I’m not placing blame since I’m the one responsible for watering them.

Poinsettias, also known as Christmas Stars, seem to need watering at least twice a week.

poinsetta2This one still looks pretty full.  Don’t you love the deep red?

poinsetta4The red has a velvety look to it.

poinsetta3Now this plant is from last year.  I know.  I know.  I said I was going to toss them.  But they still looked pretty good in the spring, so I put them outside in a semi-shady spot.  One survived the heat.  When we took all the potted plants into the shed/greenhouse when it turned cold, this one was carried into the house.

There are some smallish red bracts .  It might look even better if I had fertilized it.  Anyone have any suggestions about their care all year long?

For more information about them, see Poinsettia post.

I was wondering if red and green are Christmas colors because of Poinsettias.  But I found a couple of other suggestions.  One was that the “Paradise Plays” during the Middle Ages used a green tree, probably a fir, hung with red apples to represent the story of Adam and Eve in the garden.  Since most people in that time were illiterate, pictures and plays were used to teach Bible stories.  This play was presented during the Christmas season in December.

Another explanation was that red represented the blood Christ shed to provide life for mankind.  Green is the color of living things.

There is no definitive answer.  Since Poinsettias are native to the new world, I doubt they are the correct explanation.  But they definitely have the right colors.  Maybe that’s why we use them during the holidays.  Or maybe we use them because the bracts turn red during this season.  This kind of thinking is turning into a loop.

Now the holiday season is behind us and 2014 is a blank page.  No matter how “Hallmark” it sounds, I believe that the Christmas spirit can be demonstrated every day of the year.

“The way you spend Christmas is far more important than how much.”  Henry David Thoreau

Shades of Red

The primary colors are a feast for my eyes.  As they say on TV decorating programs, “The bright colors will pop against the backgrounds.”  These reds do jump out and grab you.

redyuccaThe Red Yuccas (Hesperaloe parviflora) are just starting to bloom.  And they do pop against the green of the grass and shrubs and the blue of the sky.  Their form also is eye catching.

Red Yuccas are native to Central and West Texas.  They flower from late spring through early autumn.

yuccaflowerNot only are they pretty, but yuccas are hardy and extremely drought tolerant. Plus they survive freezing temperatures.  The flower stalk dies, leaving a striking skeletal shape with large seed pods opened like a flower for the winter.  Red Yuccas are one care free plant.   In recent years, they are the hot new item in landscaping.  It’s like they’ve just been discovered.

yuccabeeThe buzzing of bees add to the viewing experience.  These are probably honeybees.  The hummingbirds love to feed from them, too.

poinsettia6Okay.  I did say that I was definitely not going to keep the Poinsettias after January.  But they just keep surviving.  While they are still red, how could I trash them?  Let’s see how long they last outside and in the heat.

poinsettia5This will be a school science experiment.

xmascactusThe last bloom of the Christmas Cactus dropped a few weeks ago.

redbudpodsRust red seed pods of the native Redbud trees look redder from the road.

kolanche2The clusters of this particular Kolache  is not the usual rounded form of most varieties.

yuccabee2One parting shot of a bee enjoying the nectar of a Red Yucca.

Sometimes it’s hard to choose one’s favorite color of flowers.  But you don’t have to.  I  love red ones, yellow ones, purple ones, etc.

“How would you like a job where when you made a mistake, a big red light comes on and 18,000 people boo?”  Jacques Plante, Canadian ice hockey goaltender