Wildflowers Dance in the Wind

Last autumn we scraped a plot in the field near our house in order to rough up the soil.  Then we scattered wildflower seeds.  Over the last few years, I had accumulated several mixed seed packets from different sources.  Most were free from meetings.

Because we had some rain in late fall and in the spring, some are blooming now.  Hooray.

fieldofwildflowers01These tiny little flowers were the first flowers from the seeds to bloom.  I think they’re Drummond’s Phlox (Phlox drummondii).

fieldofwildflowersI had hoped a red poppy would bloom, but I’ll take a pink one instead.

The small light purple bloom close to the ground is the only wildflower that we see consistently every year.  That is Sweet William or Prairie Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida).

fieldofwildflowers2The area is about 7 ft. by 14 ft.

fieldofwildflowers3The one seed package I bought was American Basket Flower (Centaurea americana) from the Native American Seed company in Junction.  Some nursery catalogues sell them as Powder Puffs or Sweet Sultan.

Basket Flowers look a little like Thistle but without the prickly stems. They are also more desirable.  The flowers are 2 to 3 and half inches wide on a strong stem.  They bloom from May to August.

fieldofwildflowers4Purple Horsemint or Lemon Beebalm (Monarda citriodora) often forms colonies.  That would be lovely.

fieldofwildflowers5Indian Blankets or Fire Wheels (Gaillardia pulchella) are old standbys seen in many parts of Texas.  Books say that they bloom from April to May or June.  Actually, they last longer than that here.

fieldofwildflowers6We’ve seen Horse Mint in a couple of spots on our property once or twice.   My hope is that all these wildflowers will reseed and expand over the years.

fieldofwildflowersc

fieldofwildflowers7From the top of this picture there is Horsemint,  Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria), and Clasping Coneflower (Dracopis Amplexicaulis).

fieldofwildflowers8The wind is causing this Coreopsis to sway.   Surely the frequent days of wind will scatter seeds when the flowers have dried.

fieldofwildflowers9Don’t know what the bug is, but pollinators love wildflowers.  That’s a very good thing.

fieldofwildflowersdAs I was walking back to the house, I noticed one of the old fashioned irises planted in this field has a seed pod.  It’s possible to plant the seeds, but the chances aren’t good that it will be same color flowers or as big.  To propagate irises, it’s better to dig up the bulbs and separate them.

Pods needs to be removed so that the plant will focus its energy on the roots and other parts.

I’m tickled that the wildflower patch is doing well.

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”   Proverbs 22:1

Summer Wildflowers

The spring flowers in the fields and byways are all gone.  But summer brings another show with equal beauty.  Some of these will survive into the hot months while others will disappear.

earlysummerThe bar ditches along our county road are filled with a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes of flowers.  The rocky, caliche, disturbed areas is where these wildflowers thrive.

earlysummer1I think this bright yellow primrose is a Western Primrose (Calylophus Hartweggii).  It grows low on the ground.

earlysummer2White Milkwort (Polygala alba) is small but attractive in a group.

earlysummer4A bouquet of Indian Blanket, Cut-leaf Groundsel, and Queen Anne’s Lace.

earlysummer5Indian Blankets (Gaillardia pulchella) usually have more shading on the petals than these do.

earlysummer7Before it gets too hot, Queen Anne’s Lace carpets the edges of the road.

earlysummer6Now, after these pictures were taken, they’ve already started to fall away.

earlysummer8

earlysummer9Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) will bloom into the summer and fall as will Sweet William or Prairie Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida).

earlysummeraLove the drive along this road.

earlysummerf

earlysummerhA lone Texas Thistle (Cirsium texanum) breaks the white span of Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota).

earlysummeri

earlysummerbNot sure, but think these daisies are Engelmann’s Daisy (Engelmannia peristenia).

earlysummergSumacs growing full and filling in the roadside.

earlysummercTexas Bindweed’s (Convolvulus eqitans) small white flowers are 3/4″ to 1 1/2″ inches wide.  They aren’t noticeable unless one looks closely at the ground.

earlysummereBlackfoot Daisies (Melampodium leucanthum) are hardy little souls that form small rounded clumps.  I tried these in the yard but they really don’t want more water than nature provides.  They will bravely last until late fall.

earlysummerjAs I pull into our property, another sight of late spring, early summer appears – lots of baby calves.  The cattle is not ours but belong to a man who leases the pasture land.

earlysummerkCute.  Reminds me of Norman in ‘City Slickers’.

earlysummerlTall grass from all the rain almost hides the little ones.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison

Rain, Rain, We Love Ya

If you’ve never lived in an area prone to drought, then this post might not mean that much to you.  However, for those of us who do, this is a praise to heavenly rain.

rainpondsMost of our tanks or ponds are full to capacity.  Hooray.  In Texas the ponds that have been dug are called tanks.  Every property out in the country needs several tanks because the hot summer dries them out.  Tanks provide water for cattle and wildlife as well as water for the volunteer fire departments.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

rainponds2This is a larger one.  It is not totally full, which is surprising since it usually gets the runoff from a ridge.  Runoff is vital for lakes and tanks in this area because there isn’t enough rainfall to fill them.

rainponds3Another benefit from the rain is the growth of grasses in the field.  All the wildflowers are icing on the cake.  This tiny little flower is about three fourths an inch across.  They are prevalent on our  land, but I don’t know their name.  Instead of groups of flowers, they pop up two or three together.

rainponds4This small tank was dug specifically for cattle to have access to water when gate to this area is closed.  When this tank is dry, water from a well fills a trough for the cows.

The wind makes it look like the surface of an ocean.

rainponds5I think these are Plains Coreopsis, which usually grow in large groups.

rainponds8The white flowers bent over by the wind are White Milkwort (Polygala alba).  Although they’re small, patches of them are attractive.

rainponds9Spring means Texas Thistle (Cirsium texanum) blooms.

rainpondsaPlains Black-foort Daisies (Melampodium leucanthus) is sometimes called Rock Daisy, for obvious reasons.

rainpondsbIt’s rare for us to have clusters of Indian Paintbrush (Gaillardia pulchella) on our property.   CORRECTION:  This is Indian BLANKET.   Don’t know where my head was when I wrote this.  The botantical name was correct.  Thanks to a reader for catching that.  Anyway, it’s nice to have several patches this year.  These are all growing in spots where grasses don’t grow, so they aren’t taking over pasture land.

rainpondscSure are pretty.

rainpondsd

rainpondseThis yellow flower (might be Four Nerve Daisy) has a really long stem with few leaves.  It has one or two blooms at a time.  The black centers laying on the ground at the end of stems (at lower left in picture) are spent flowers.  Waving in the breeze and growing in caliche, the sight of them reminds me of how sturdy some of these plants are.

rainpondsfgjpgMy favorite wildflower: Prairie Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida) is called Sweet William around here.  It’s tough as nails, grows in cliche, rocky fields, and in pastures.  When it fills up a field, a sea of dark lavender is stunning.

rainpondshjpgAnother tank that will probably be dry by the end of summer.

rainpondsjpg.This is the same tank as the previous picture.  The wood on this dock was supposed to be a specially treated wood.  But the curling planks have always been a problem.

rainpondslpg.Spring also brings Prickly Pear Cactus blooms.  They are beautiful and their yellow flowers stand out in a field.

rainpondsmpg.Unfortunately, they spread like crazy and can make the land useless.

rainpondsoThe creek crossing before the road rises up toward our house has water.  Haven’t seen that in several years.

rainpondsnMore bright Indian Blankets.

rainpondsrtjpgThe silky fluff from the seed of Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis) was used by pioneers to make candle wicks.  It was carded and spun like cotton and wool.  Milkweeds play an important role for Monarch butterflies.  They are the only plant used to lay their eggs.  Their caterpillars must have these leaves to eat.  There are several varieties of milkweed.  This is the one that is native here.

The large farms of the mid-west has wiped out most milkweeds, endangering the survival of monarchs.  Anyone who sprays herbicides on milkweeds contributes to the problem.

rainpondsrThe tank closest to our house.  The grass is over a foot tall.

rainpondsqIt was dug a couple of years ago and doesn’t hold water well.  The dead Walnut trees are the result of abuse to the roots while digging the tank.  Sigh.

We’re so grateful for the rains this month – almost 7 inches this May.  Wow.

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”       Henry Ford

Cowboy Culture

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City preserves and honors the life and culture of the cowboys of the American west.

cowboymuseumnThe western art displayed outside and inside the building are of excellent quality.

cowboymuseumPlus, the grounds surrounding the museum are filled with native flowers.

The flowers in the above picture were labeled Beard Tongue (Penstemon digitalis), “Prairie Dust”, an Oklahoma native.

cowboymuseum3The driveway into the museum property had this attractive center divider.

cowboymuseum4Looking back towards the street.

cowboymuseum5There was time to walk around the front and side of the building before it opened.  These massive relief murals are probably not even seen by most visitors, unless the front parking lots are full.

cowboymuseum6The shapes appeared to be layered concrete creating a bas relief.

cowboymuseum1Mexican Hats and Indian Blankets are natives commonly seen in several southwestern states.

oklaCoryopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), I think.

cowboymuseum2Rose Moss is so bright and cheery.

cowboymuseum7Many larger than life cowboy bronzes were scattered throughout the grounds.  The strong morning sun made photography difficult.

cowboymuseum8Just ignore the cars in the parking lot and focus on their faces.  A personal encounter captured for all to enjoy.

cowboymuseum9The sun totally washed out the front of this cowboy, but the back also makes a statement with the cactus and saddle being dragged.  Lost his horse, maybe.

cowboymuseumaThis huge “End of the Trail” marble statue greets visitors as they walk through the front door.

cowboymuseumiThere are many different halls at the museum that require several hours to visit them all.  Besides the cowboy theme, there is a strong sense of patriotism.

cowboymuseumjSome areas are dedicated to western art, both by well know artists like Remington and Russell, and some rooms devoted to newer artists.  Of course, photographing paintings was not allowed.

One large section features western culture as told by Hollywood.  Many movie posters advertising different shows and portraits of famous actors and actresses are displayed as well as some artifacts from the movies.

Then, there are rodeo rooms honoring winners and the art, itself.  A small western town with all the requisite buildings provides visitors a chance to peek in windows and stroll through streets.

There is so much more to this museum.  Wow.

cowboymuseumbOut in the back park-like area, more bronze horses seem to thunder through the land.

cowboymuseumcMature trees provided cool shaded areas and picturesque garden cameos.  Flowers, like these Daylilies, sparkled with color and interest.

cowboymuseumd

cowboymuseume

cowboymuseumfSmall water features brought cooling serenity.

cowboymuseumgThis statue was many time larger than life size.

cowboymuseumhI think this was Wild Bill Hickok, but I don’t remember for sure.

cowboymuseumkAlmost a neon color, these Astillble (Astillbe chimensis), made me halt and admire them.

cowboymuseumlFrom the back grounds, there is a good view of that well known statue.

cowboymuseumoSo worth a visit if you are interested in the old west and the lives of those who survived the hot, dusty, hostile environment and the dangers of wild animals and tough, ruthless men.

“In the Southwest, boots and pearls go with any attire.  Add a cowboy hat and you have an ensemble.” unknown

G.W. Bush Library

First, before I discuss our visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library, let me give thanks for recent rains.  Over the past two weeks, we have been blessed with six and a third inches.  Other people in the area received much more.  But we all have had showers of blessings including all of central Texas and even the Panhandle.  Desperately needed moisture has brought a sigh of relief because some cities were 90 days away from no water.

gwbush4Now to the museum on the SMU campus in Dallas.  The outside is simple in design, but note what looks like a small square building with windows and columns on top of the roof.

gwbushjThis cupola or whatever this is called is an interesting feature to the structure.  The Davis Mountains scene on all four walls is part of a changing scene screen.

gwbushmIt doesn’t look like a screen, and I know nothing about the technology.  The pictures slowly and constantly move around to the right on all four sides.

gwbushnThen the scene changes again.

gwbushlStepping outside from the above main foyer, there is a patio area in the center of the building.  This Desert Willow tree (Chilopsis linearis) provides nice color.

gwbushkAlso, in this patio were the statutes of both Bush presidents.

gwbush5Of course, one whole section was dedicated to 9/11 with sirens wailing, pictures and information.   This twisted metal from the towers served as a reminder of another “day that will live in infamy.”

Another section, where pictures were not allowed, was a gallery of paintings done by President Bush.  Those depicted were all world leaders during his presidency.  Beside each painting was information about where and when they met.  In a short video, he said that he was well aware that the signature on each was worth more than the painting.

gwbushhA few hands on exhibits were enjoyed by children and adults, like this one featuring their dog, Spot.

gwbushfOutside the Oval Office replica was the garden, which was similar to the famous White House Rose Garden, except this one was planted with Texas native plants.

gwbushgAnother view looking from just outside the Oval Office.

gwbusheThe Indian Blankets (Gaillardia pulchella) always wash out in midday photographs.

gwbushdWater Irises grew in a small pond area.

gwbusha

gwbushbThe plant database on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center lists all Foxgloves in Texas as False Foxgloves.  In our area, those are only white or pale ivory.

gwbushcI would love to find some of the pink or yellow ones.

gwbush9Nice combination of Agaves and small flowers in all the beds.

gwbushThe presidential library is on a corner.  This is the side street with a more formal planting of trees and grass.  To the left of this area, the ground slopes up beside the building and the front entrance is on the next level.

gwbush2I was impressed with these shutters that were permanent, attractive, and a  clever way to deal with the hot, direct sunlight.

gwbush3The architect included other smart shading techniques.

gwbushsAlong the side of the building, this was the only section that was planted in rows.

gwbush8All other plantings looked like a wildflower prairie.

gwbush7A few smaller areas of grass gave the whole area an ordered, rather then messy feeling.

gwbushtScattered among the native grasses were all sorts of wildflowers, like this Horse Mint (Monarda punctata).

gwbushuCould not get close enough to examine the red flowers, but maybe they are Penstemon.

gwbushrA few Mexican Hats (Ratibida columnaris), Thistles, and lots of different kinds of yellow flowers.

gwbushqThis might be American basket-flower (Centaurea americana).

gwbushpI was taken with them.

gwbushoThis Butterfly Weed’s (Asclepias tuberosa) bright orange screams for attention.

Worth a visit even though I didn’t feel as connected to the man as I did at his father’s library.  Maybe it was just me.  Another day might have brought a different reaction.

“Temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.”  Washington Irving

Late Spring into Summer Wildflowers

The early spring wildflowers have faded and died.  Surprisingly, the next batch of wildflowers is not as bright in color as the earlier ones, like Bluebonnets.

roadsideflowers2So driving along the highway, there are muted strips of color in the bar ditches.

roadsideflowers3An up close and personal look is required to see the true beauty and colors.  The masses of Indian Blankets (Gaillardia pulchella)  are much prettier than they look from the highway.  Other names for this distinctive flower are Firewheel or Sundance.

Being hardy and drought tolerant are vital characteristics to survive here.

roadsideflowers4These pictures were taken on the highway north of Goldthwaite.

roadsideflowers5This is one of the many yellow flowers beside the roads.  It could be a Parralena or a Damianita or so on.  I can count the petals and look at the leaves but am still confused about identity.  There are a staggering number of similar looking yellow flowers in Texas wildflower books.

roadsideflowers6The same applies to clusters of little white flowers on tall stems.

roadsideflowers7So I just enjoy the beauty of them all.  It’s one big bouquet presented by nature.

roadsideflowers9

roadsideflowersa

roadsideflowersbThe weeds were too high to walk through in sandals, so I did not get a close up of the taller yellow blooms.

Update:  A friend who lives in the area thinks the yellow flowers in the back are probably Englemann Daisies.

roadsideflowerscThen, there are the numerous kinds of grasses.

roadsideflowerse

roadsideflowersfOnce again, identity eludes me.  In some ways, it looks like Queen Anne’s Lace but not in others.

roadsideflowershOne plant I can easily identify is this Antelope Horns (Asclepias asperula) in the Milkweed family.

roadsideflowersgGrowing low on the ground, Milkweed or Antelope Horn is a surprise sight walking through grasses and weeds.  Almost all species of Asclepias are considered extremely poisonous, yet they are the source of many healing herbs.  Asclepias was the Greek god of medicine and healing.

I’m sorry that this post is short on information.  Poring through several plant books, I was still unable to be sure about names for several plants.  I’m definitely not a botanist.  So, if you know the correct identification, please tell me in a comment.

To all those wonderful people who read my blog faithfully, thank you.  You encourage me to keep trying and to search to be factual.

“Marriage advice:  any argument you think you’ve won, you’ve actually lost.”  unknown

Among the Rocks and Weeds

Now that the weather has jumped almost overnight from spring temperatures to summer ones, there are two times of day for activities outside.  One is early morning and the other is just before the sun sets.  If I do any gardening, it’s in the a.m.  Then we take out daily constitutional in the evening.  The following pictures were taken during an early evening walk.

verbenarocksJust love the way these Prairie Verbena look among the white caliche rocks.

pincushion4All my life I’ve heard the term Pincushion Cactus for this low growing, almost flush against the ground cactus.  But I can’t find that name in my books or on-line.  I do find Claret Cup or Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) which looks similar.  That may even be the correct name.

pincushion5If you have not searched the internet for types of cactus lately, you’d be amazed at how many different varieties there are.

pincushion3Since these Pincushion Cactus grow so low and are among many types of weeds, there are difficult to see.  The bright red fruit is what catches your eye.

pincushionLooks like strawberries in a basket, but too prickly to touch.

yuccaThis type of yucca never seems to have a stalk with blooms.  They grow close together, colony style.

indianblanketThis Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) doesn’t have much of a yellow tip on the petals like most do.  If it did, it would be obvious how they got their nickname.   They resemble the color and weave of the old hand-woven American Indian blankets.

I wonder if hand-woven blankets are still being created.

coreopsisbushI think this is a Thelesperma (Thelesperma filifolium).  But it could be a Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria).

yellowdaisyThis “stand up straight” stance gives a perky hello.

At this time of the year, it’s still possible to take an evening stroll without smothering heat.  One can enjoy the scenery, mostly without sweating.

“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that do.”  Unknown

Wild in Spring

For those of us who were skeptical about the prospect of wildflowers this year, we are happily having to eat our words.  The variety isn’t as wide as some years, but the beauty is terrific.

daisies2Even before the Bluebonnets start to fade, all kinds of yellow daisies and asters appear in large swatches.

daisies3The differences in their flowers are subtle and require close inspection and knowledge to identify them.

daisies4Usually mixed in among the groups of yellow flowers are other wildflowers and weeds.  In the above picture Sweet William or Wild Verbena add some purple.

roadside2The next wildflower in succession is the Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella).

indian blankets In an undisturbed field, they can cover acres providing brilliant color.

indian blankets2Sometimes it’s called a Firewheel.

indian blankets3Like most Texas wildflowers, they are hardy.  I personally think that God provides this spring show to encourage us as we face the unbearable summer temperatures.

cowclawsThis is a Buffalo Gourd or Stinking Gourd (Cucurbita foetidissima) vine.  They grow in pastures and produce a small round gourd that is light yellow when ripe.

primroseThe Evening Primrose or Showy Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) starts blooming in late March.  They often grow in massive groups along the roadsides.

primrose3Their toughness and ability to grow in many types of soils and conditions seems incongruent with their delicate looks.

pinkprimroseBecause their petals form a cup shape, they are also known as buttercups.  Aren’t they a sweet flower that looks like it should be in a wedding bouquet?

It has been a good year for a kaleidscope of color in the fields and bar ditches of central Texas.  What a pleasure.

“She attended the Nation’s great needs,
Was admired by Persians and Medes,
But acquired, sad to say,
Somewhere on the way
An unhealthy attachment to weeds.”

Harry Middleton toasting Lady Bird Johnson