Dark and Light Contrasts

Shadows and bright sunlight in the same picture can be too harsh of extremes.  Unfortunately, here in Texas, that’s a reality and difficult to avoid.

The plants in the sun can look more like sculptures rather than living things.  So I’m trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with these extreme exposures.  Please bear with me.

Chandor Gardens uses many different oriental structures because they fascinated the original owner and builder.

Patterns on the large stepping stones are created by the sunlight breaking through the tree branches above.  The same sunlight creates a white Fourth of July sparkler of one of the hanging Spider Plants.

This rough stone pedestal has oriental statutes standing on flat surfaces.  Not my favorite thing.

The top crossbars on this pergola have curved edges to give it an oriental look.  The red Japanese Maple adds contrasting color with the surrounding greenery.

The long lower area of grass near the original residence was once used for lawn bowling, I think.  Gotta be a bugaboo to mow that, so the modern version is artificial turf.

Looking away from the house gives a sense of how long this sunken spot is.

The dense shrubs and trees provide shade and make it fairly comfortable to be here on a hot summer day.

There isn’t much whimsy in this formal garden, so I was surprised to see this addition.  I personally like little touches like this.

Looks like one of the many sages popular in Central and Northern Texas.  They can take the heat.

Boxwood hedges are used to define areas.

Since this garden is a hundred years old, keeping structures in sturdy condition is part of the upkeep.  This bridge was replaced a few years ago.

Nandina shrubs with red berries have become maligned choices because they are originally from Asia.  Some people consider them invasive.  I feel these accusations are a little strong.  Roses also came to us from Asia via Europe.

There is a serenity about this place that draws us back again and again.

Looks natural and wild but probably requires a lot of work.

Lots of water in small ponds provide a sense of coolness.

Love this curve promenade leading to the house area.  It also makes a grand entrance for brides who are wed here.

As summer heats up, hope you find some soothing cool shade.

“Gardening is about poetry and fantasy. It is as much an activity of the imagination as of the hands.”  by “Centipede” in The Guardian, April 7, 1892

Garvan Gardens, Part 2

Garvan Gardens outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is a serene, calming place.  Because there were few people visiting that day, it seemed like we were alone in forest far from civilization.


garvangardensmmSome workers were constructing this exhibit out of brush.  This art installation by W. Gary Smith is to last for a year.


garvangardensnn Miniature fairy gardens created in pots are a current fad, but this Fairy Garden was built using tree stumps.


garvangardensooEach one stood about 3 or 4 feet tall.

garvangardenspA small patch of Oxblood or Schoolhouse Lilies (Rhodophiala bifida) make an impact statement.

garvangardensppVery tall Pinks or Dianthus in a semi-shady spot.

garvangardensqThe Children’s Garden entrance is below this metal twig looking bridge.

garvangardensqqEverything we saw in this part of the garden is mostly rocks to climb on and secluded small areas to explore.


garvangardensrrThe boulders were intriguing with the quartz in the stones forming sharp ridges.  Over time, the rock, whatever type it is, has eroded, while the quartz remained intact.

garvangardenssSome of the Children’s Garden might be intimidating to young kids.


garvangardenttBack on the main trail …

garvangardentttwe continue past this small pond with water Iris.

garvangardenuAlthough this peacock was alone, his loud mating cries broke the silence of the forest.  Guess he just wanted some attention.

garvangardenuuAnother pergola leading to a grassy area surrounded by flowerbeds.

garvangardenuuuAlliums towering above other flowers, like these Pansies.  I really wanted some Alliums and tried them once, but they didn’t come back the next year.  Don’t really know what the problem was.  Too hot, too cold, soil too alkaline?

garvangardenvMore Dianthus

garvangardenvvDelphiniums, maybe?

garvangardenvvvJust outside the Chipmunk Cafe were several miniature trains at different levels circling around a tree.

garvangardenwwwAnthony Chapel is a wedding chapel with construction similar to the Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  I think this chapel was built in 2006 while ThornCrown opened in 1980.

garvangardenxThe wood is southern yellow pine.

garvangardenxxAnthony Chapel is a wedding chapel.  Lovely setting.

There is a separate building for wedding party members with a bridal changing chamber.  It can be rented for an additional cost.

garvangardenxxxThe whole intent of the design with 55 feet tall windows is to have full view of the surrounding woods.  The handcrafted scones are made of oak.

garvangardenwwHeading to the parking lot takes us past more trees and bushes.  This looks like Coral Honeysuckle.

garvangardenwBeautiful bloom on an Oakleaf Hydrangea (‘Hydrangea quercifolia’).

Thanks for reading our visit to Garvan Gardens.

“The only limit to your garden is at the boundaries of your imagination.”  Thomas Church

Clark’s Gardens

My last post featured Max and Billie Clark who founded the Clark’s Gardens near Mineral Wells in a most unexpected spot.  They turned a mesquite filled pasture into a lush and inviting garden.

csawThis is a Tesmec 1000 rock saw.  It does exactly what it’s name indicates.  It cuts into mammoth rocks underground.  These were first used to lay copper cable and now for fiber optic cable.  A similar type was used to cut the rock on our land to bury telephone lines.

Mr. Clark did not invent the rock saw, but he improved it.  So the company he and his wife founded became successful.  They poured much of that money into these gardens, which are 80 percent endowed by the Clarks’ personal investments.  The rest is supported by gate income.

cstatue2The walking paths lead through shady areas, like this one.  Full sun gardens for roses and irises are beyond the wooded area.

cpetuniasOn this particular day, only a few type of flowers were blooming.  These are petunias.

cnandinaA Nandina with berries.  In Texas, this has become one of the maligned shrubs recently.  I’m not sure why.  I had a couple in the DFW metroplex and they grew and were healthy.  Our yard here has too much sun for that type of shrub.

chydrangaOak Leaved Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) were growing with a little dappled sun.  They are more prominent in the southeastern part of the country.  Wish I had shade for these beauties.

cfountainMany events keep this place busy on most days, especially week-ends.  Besides weddings, festivals and celebrations for holidays or bloom seasons occur periodically throughout the year.  Check out their website www.clarkgardens.org

The energy level for the special days is high with huge crowds.  Those are fun.  But for this visit, we purposefully chose a quiet day so we could meander alone and enjoy each scene without crowds.

cflowersThis might be Lyre-leaf Sage. I don’t really know.

Many native plants and other plants that have adapted to dry conditions prosper.  The gardens have also been used for different plant studies including one for Earthkind roses with Texas A & M and one for unnamed hybrid roses with the American Rose Society.

ctrain4Miniature train tracks circle and intertwine around an octagonal building.  Through openings, some of the tracks enter the building.  On this day, about ten trains were zipping along.

ctrainSome tracks are elevated about 2 – 3 feet above eye level.


ctrain3Other tracks are low on the ground and viewed from walkways and small walking bridges.

ctrain6Inside the train building a replica of the town of Mineral Wells depicts actual buildings.  The court house is shown here.  Train tracks run in front of this set-up.

ctrain5The most famous building in Mineral Wells was and is a large posh hotel.   In the far left of the picture, you can see part of the Baker Hotel or “Crazy” Hotel.  The hotel opened in 1925 with 400 rooms and 11 stories, plus another section on the roof with 50 apartments.  The third well in town was drilled at the hotel site.

BakerhotelWhy such a huge, lavish hotel in a small town out in the middle of nowhere?

It’s partially explained by the nickname of the hotel.  The name “Crazy Hotel” comes from a story about a woman with mental problems, called the crazy lady by the town kids.  She drank the water at the hotel and was cured.  So the word spread about the healing waters.

The citizens of Mineral Wells had been anxious to cash in on their natural resource of mineral waters.  This rumor helped fulfill their dreams.

Many people traveled there for the baths.  It was a happening place and brought prosperity during the 30’s.  But the real boom came after Ft. Wolters was built just outside of town.  So the early 40’s were the heydays.

At the end of the war when Ft. Wolters closed, so did the hotel.  Then Ft. Wolters reopened as a helicopter base.  For a brief time the Baker Hotel reopened and hosted the Texas Republican conventions in 1952 and 1955.

It’s been on the market for decades now.  Some stores operate on the ground floor and some retirement apartments for assisted living are available.

A grand old, aging lady is just a part of history now.  More than you wanted to know about that?

ccouplestatueBack outside at Clark’s Gardens, another statue of a romantic young couple.

cbaldcypressA tall Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) grows beside one lake area.   Watchful attention is needed not to trip on the Cypress knees growing around the tree.

ccampfireSome statues present every day vignettes.

cswan2Aahh, the quiet peaceful scene of a swan  What is it about them that is so enchanting?

cswanFarewell to Clark’s Gardens.  It is so much more than these pictures show.  A great half day or full day of enjoying nature.

“An addiction to gardening is not bad when you consider all the other choices in life.”  Unknown