Friends Return

Maybe it’s just me, but when perennials bloom each spring, it feels like old friends have dropped in for a visit.

Now I have to admit that these Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa) have stayed around all winter, since it was especially mild.  But now they look brighter and perkier, ready to face the coming summer.

Each spring I’m still surprised that Amaryllis return.  In my mind, they belong in the inside potted plant category.  But I must give them credit showing up again the third time.  These were all gifts from my mother during her last two Christmases.

Such a beautiful, double flower with amazing bright color.

It seems I don’t notice some weeds until I see their pictures on the big screen of a computer.

This poor dwarf Indian Hawthorn is still struggling to recover from a really harsh winter before this last one.

But the flowers are sweet.

As always, I love my re-blooming Irises.

This Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) bloomed really early before cold days were over.  It’s hardiness is one of its best features, besides the lovely hanging flowers.

The Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus)  isn’t as full as it used to be.  Maybe it’s still early.  It’s a Texas native, so I expect it to recover.

Dianthus is back with a flourish.  I like the red and pink on each petal.

Some visitors outstay their welcome.  The Texas Flowering Quince is just about to be pushed out the door because it needs to be pruned soon and tidied up.

Bluebonnets are always welcome.  Just planted this one, so I hope it makes it.  It’s leaning over Stonecrop Sedum.

The pinkish lavender against the beautiful deep purple makes a stunning show.

Welcome, old friends.  Stay awhile.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”  unknown

Paintbrushes and Bluebonnets

The wildflowers have arrived and are spectacular this year.  Decorating the highways, they add a sense of wonder to driving.

But one of the best places to enjoy wildflowers is a rural cemetery.  You don’t have to worry about getting run down when you step out of the car.  It’s also so peaceful and quiet.

Indian Paintbrushes (Castilleja) bloom a little earlier than Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) but they remain side by side for many days.  There are actually several different varieties of both Paintbrushes and Bluebonnets.

Wildflowers are not known for their scent, but a wonderful aroma surrounded us when we stepped out of the vehicle.  Wasn’t able to determine which ones provided the smell.

The older headstones were fascinating.

Think these are Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa).  Little clusters were scattered here and there.

The scenery around the cemetery was serene.

Pink was the dominant color here.

White Prickly Poppies form large colonies that are visible from a distance.

The wind was so strong, their delicate petals were brown in one direction.

In front of this handmade headstone is a weed I couldn’t identify.  All the weeds were lovely in this setting because none were prickly and seemed at home.

Dotted Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchiurn pruinosuem) makes me wonder how it got that common name.  The eye is yellow, so it’s doesn’t seem logical.

Found some headstones with my maiden name.  Have no idea if they were related to me.

Notice the fake flowers beside the marker.  That’s very common in Texas because most of the year, there are no native flowers or even foliage in the long hot summers.

I was curious what this growth on the stone is.  Some kind of fungus but this was the only stone I saw it on.

There are a number of low growing native white daisies or asters.  Don’t know which one this is.

A thick carpet is formed by this unknown native.  It’s definitely not a plant for your yard unless you intentionally want a covering of this instead of grass.  It spreads by runners and seems prolific.

 “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” Benjamin Franklin

Waiting for Spring

So close, but not quite yet.  Warm days feel like spring is here, but are followed by colder days that remind us to be patient.

An early morning drive gives a full view of the rising sun in all its glory.

That big yellow ball of fire makes a spectacular appearance.

As I eagerly await flowers blooming in my yard, I’m reminded that it’s okay to just go buy some flowers.  Or just enjoy ones given to you or gift someone with a gorgeous bouquet.

Carnations have never been a favorite of mine.  But the new lush colors have made them a great choice for arrangements.

But nothing beats a rose for cut flowers.  Although these commercial ones have no scent because they were bred to have tall, strong stems and many petals.  Still beautiful.

Yeah.  Roses speak of love and delicate creations.That early morning drive took us to a garden meeting.  A woman from the Hubbard area, where we were, is a true farm woman, and it sounded like her family is pretty self sustaining.  She raises seven and a half (she’s expecting) children, lots of goats, chickens, and cows.

She was at the meeting to give a short talk and sell her products.  The usual goat products of soaps and lotions as well as some creams for pain and other products were available.

But the highlight of the meeting was the baby kid.  In fact, the whole meeting was disrupted as people jumped up with their phones to get pictures.  At least, I was polite enough to wait until the end of the meeting.  Okay, that’s patting my own back.

Meanwhile, in our backyard, the Cherry Laurel is covered with blossoms.  Another encouraging sign that the arrival of spring isn’t far away – at least here.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”   Margaret Atwood

Winter Color

Winter has been mild so far here, which is fine with me.  So there are some tiny bits of color scattered around the yard.

First, I must apologize for the quality of some of the pictures – not totally in focus.

Dianthus have survived a couple of freezes really well.

This Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana) has had some blooms that don’t stay open for more than a day.  It’s a native with dusty green curly leaves and is a good performer in both the summer heat and a mild winter.

Texas Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles japonica) usually has some flowers in January or February.One lone Daffodil has opened up.

Several years ago I bought this at a garden club sale and was told that it was an evergreen fern.  Turns out, it is a native Yarrow with white flowers.  But it is evergreen.

Pittsporoum in a pot provides some green, but the tips of the leaf edges are a little crisp from an earlier freeze.

Another native Yarrow has completely different leaves.  I think this is Moon Dust Yarrow (Achillea ‘Novaachdus’).  It is somewhat evergreen with dusty green leaves and does not reseed.

This hardy Ice Plant is amazing.  It’s been in the same pot on the back porch for years.  In cold weather, the foliage looks a little ragged, but it keeps on blooming even in freezing weather.  The pot is in a corner spot which protect it from harsh winds.

Yes.  I do know that this is a weed.  But the Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) will be easy to pull out of this pot when I want to get rid of it.

I think it’s pretty, and it is color.  Can’t be too choosy in the winter.

Spectacular sunrises start the day with cheery color.

On a cloud covered morning came brilliant red on the horizon.

While we’re enjoying a mild winter, I realize that further north, a polar vortex has struck with devastating temperatures.  I pray for safety for everyone experiencing this.

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”   Edith Sitwell

More Ice Pix

Everything looks picture worthy as I tramp around the ice covered yard.

Ice gives Yaupon Holly a sparkle.

Brr.  No one wants to live here in this cold.

Snapping off of the frozen branches from the Texas Kidneywood bush would be easy.

Possum Haw berries in a globe of ice.  Possumhaw Holly is a great small native tree with multiple trunks.

Icy Red Yucca branches under an overcast sky makes me shiver.

The two preceding pictures show Blue Mistflowers.

At the tip of tall trunks of Desert False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa), heavy ice keeps the branches from swaying in the wind.

Ice covered rose bushes have an ethereal look.

Spaghetti strands of Dried Mexican Feather Grass flops on the ground.

Dwarf Indian Hawthorn is one of the few evergreen bushes in our yard.  The frosty ice coating is gorgeous.

Tall, thin stems of Obedient Plant form upside down icicles.

Bright red Rose Hip with copper colored Rose leaves provides color in a drab wintry scene.

I enjoy some winter when the harsh weather only comes a few days at a time.  But basically, I’m a warm weather person.

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”  Percy Bysshe Shelley

Rose Emporium Visit

Back in Brenham at the Antique Rose Emporium, there’s lots to see.

Nice bouquet of roses and Celosia in the seminar meeting room.

On the grounds, there are plenty of flowers to enjoy, like this Country Girl Mum (Dendranthema zawadskii).  They are heirlooms from Russia that bloom in the fall and are spreaders.

A Queen butterfly loves it, too.

The Rose Emporium abounds with many decorating ideas for the yard.

Candle bush or candlestick cassia (Cassia alata), becomes a small tree or large bush.
Pollinators are drawn to the bright yellow blossoms, but it needs warm winters.

Wonder if this structure was originally a keyhole garden.

This bloom was way above my head.  It looks like a Datura or Moon Flower.  Datura stramonium is commonly called Jimson weed, Stink weed, Loco Weed, Thorn Apple, Angel’s Trumpet, Devil’s Trumpet, Devil’s Snare, Devil’s See, Mad Hatter, etc.

Most of these names are the result of the fact that the plant is poisonous and have huge seed pods that are so prickly you can’t handle them.  But when they fall to the ground and decay, the small black seeds fall out and propagate new plants.

To me, the flowers justify growing them.

Cosmos can be used to fill any barren spot in the garden.  They will quickly fill the space.

A small rose, Lynn’s Legacy, spoke to me.  I like the cupped shape of the petals.  Also, that it can be grown in a pot.

Dahlias has always been a flower for the northern United States in my mind because they don’t seem suited for our heat.  So, I was surprised to see one growing there.

That area has better soil than we do.  I don’t know if Dahlias have a chance in our caliche clay soil and extreme heat.

Very pretty and tempting.

Porterweed has attracted a Gulf Fritillary.

At the back of the meeting room, small vases of heritage roses were displayed.  One of the main characteristics of heirloom roses, besides being hardy, is the scent.  So this was a chance to smell them and be enticed to buy some bushes.

Very Texas rose display.

It was a great couple of days to hear wonderful, knowledgeable speakers that came from long distances and to enjoy the gardens.

“I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.”  Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

Books, Nurseries, Capitol

On a recent visit to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, we made stops at some nurseries.  No surprise there.

In the parking lot of a nursery, this flaming red Celosia is a magnet.  This one is probably Dragon’s Breath Celosia.  Celosias are annuals, so I don’t plant them much.  I would love to get Celosia to reseed.  Anyone know a trick?

This Texas native Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) spreads and flops but has beautiful bright flowers.  In full sun, it stands more upright.

An unusual characteristic is that it grows well in arid West Texas and in boggy Houston, which is in extreme Southeast Texas.  A versatile plant that is hardy and grows in the sun or shade.

A stand of these natives were also in the parking lot.  Maybe it’s Threadleaf Groundsel?

Inside the nursery, this Dwarf Thurderhead Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii ‘Black Pine’ ) grows naturally in ball tufts.  Could be a nice focal point in a garden.

Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea (Lamiaceae)) is a hardy native perennial.  Love the deep purple.

Another beauty is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha), which grows extremely well in the mild winters of Austin.  It freezes in my area.  I do love the soft velvet look.

Grasses have used in many public and some private landscapes for several years. Finally, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and want more in my yard.  There are so many varieties available now that it’s difficult to choose.

Every fall the book festival is held in the capitol building and in many large white tents set up on the streets around the capitol.  Authors from all over the US and some from abroad talk about their subjects.

It’s a haven for book lovers.

The artist for this cowboy sculpture was a New Yorker who created it in the early 1900’s.

Here’s Mexican Bush Sage used in the landscape.

Several monuments are scattered in the large area surrounding the capitol.

This monument honors the southerners who died in the Civil War.

Not that I’m prejudged, but this is a beautiful capitol building.  Inside, the impressive dome area and other public areas make it worth a visit.

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”           P. J. O’Rourke

Autumn or Summer?

After weeks of cool, rainy weather, it’s back to hotter days and sunshine.  As we transition from summer to autumn, the plants and trees seem to be confused by the mixed message.

Some Hardy Hibiscus flowers appeared after rain.

And a few Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) have flowered, although they look a little anemic.

Queen Butterflies continue to feed on the blossoms still on the Gregg’s Blue Mist Flowers (Conoclinium greggii).  And behind that, purple flowers on Mexican Petunia still hang on.

But other plants, like this Firebush (Hamelia patens) are showing Autumn color.  It’s not winter hardy here, so it will go inside.

All the flower clusters on this Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea x moonshine) had died, but the other day, new flowers were glowing in the bright sun.

Trees are the biggest evidence of fall color.  This Red Oak has never looked this red before.  I know it takes a combination of rain and cool weather in certain amounts and a certain amount of time for leaves to change color.  I guess those colder rainy days did the trick.

This Mexican Flame vine is supposed to love the heat and bloom away during the summer.  However, it seems to prefer less heat than advertised and definitely enjoys extra water.

Petunias have always seemed fragile to me, but they have proved to be very hardy and resilient with filtered light.

Chinese Pistachio always has some orange color during the fall.  The leaves of the Eve’s Necklace to the left are turning yellow.

Several rose bushes, like this Double Delight are still producing gorgeous flowers.  This year some of the bushes have been stripped by a brown caterpillar.  I didn’t realize this until too late.  Most of those bushes are David Austin roses.  It’s all a mystery to me.

This small Shantung Maple tree struggled for many years to live during our extremely hot summers.  Each year it holds its leaves a little longer.  Most of the leaves from the upper branches are now on the ground.

Rock Rose (Pavonia Malvaceae) and Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) still have flowers.  Both of these plants are so hardy – perfect for our area.

Lovely Dianthus blooms a long time.  Of course, this one would have more flowers if I was diligent about deadheading.

Surprisingly, African Orange Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens) from South Africa hasn’t suffered from some colder nights.  All of these tropical or semi-tropical plants will have to go inside soon.

Looking out into the fields, a bright spot of color is unexpected among all the dead brush.  This Sumac is from the Rhus family.  Some Sumacs are poisonous, but I don’t know if this variety is.

In another direction, some leaves are turning.  The full pond is a welcome gift from all the recent rains.

Don’t you love this time of the year!

“When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.”  Minnie Aumonier

Most Unusual Autumn

Rain, Rain, Rain!  So far, rainfall this month has been 11 inches.  To put that into prospective:  the average yearly rainfall here is 27 inches.  The total for 2017 was 19 inches.  So yikes, there’s flooding.  But it’s not as desperate here as it in some Texas towns, like Llano.

The temperatures have fallen in the last week to high 30’s.  Normally at this time, it’s still in the 90’s.  Some Halloweens, poor trick or treaters sweat under their costumes.  This year they may shiver.

I’m using pictures that were taken a week or so ago because we can’t get out of the house.  We also can’t get across the low water crossings because they are dangerously high with fast moving water.

The berries on the Pistachio trees precedes the leaves turning orange.  Pistachio gets bad press because they ‘re native to China.  But they do great here.  Love them.

In between some of the earlier rains, we walked out to one of the ponds.  This Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) caught my eye.  These bushes are in the same family as coffee bushes and are native to southern and eastern U. S.  This and all the other ponds are now flowing over their banks.

In spite of the crazy temperatures and abundant rain, many flowers are still blooming in the yard.  This Purple Oxalis (Oxalis regnelliihas) has survived many years in a pot, which is taken inside for the winter.  The common name of Shamrock comes from the shape of the leaves.

Cooler weather brings out the Reblooming Irises.  The Strawberry Gomphrena or Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) will hang on until it freezes.  But, hooray, it reseeds.

Purple Hearts keep on blooming and reaching outwards until it freezes.

Purple asters make their appearance when it cools down. I think these are Aster oblongifolius.

A couple of years ago, I divided them and planted some to come on around the end of this bed.

Thornless Crown of Thorns is a beauty with blooms that last from spring until it freezes.  Since it is not cold hardy, it goes into the shed.  This one is much more human friendly since it doesn’t bring blood if you get near it.

Native and drought tolerant Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris Scaposa (DC.) Greene) are still going strong.  This bed drains well, so they’ve survived all the rain.

Large group of Gomphrena in the back draws the eye to their direction.

Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensisis) is native throughout the Caribbean, so it’s more tropical than our area location but does well in a container.  I like the long stems with small flowers.  Beside it is a Kalanchoe and a Spider Plant with two Boston Ferns in the back.

We normally moan about the heat and lack of rain.  It’s definitely been an early wet fall.

“Everyone wants happiness.  Nobody wants pain.  But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”  unknown

Walk on the Wild Side

Boerne offers the beauty of central Texas, caves, and nature al natural.

Cibolo Nature Center offers many different experiences.  At the beginning of the trailhead that wanders through the wild areas is a stone replica of tracks of a giant reptile.

The Acrocanthosaurus lived in the Crtaceous Period about 100 million years ago.  The original tracks were removed for safe keeping and replaced with an exact replica.

The Texas Native Prairie Trail reminds people how important the tall grass prairies are to the central plains, and that they are an endangered ecosystem.

Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) has popped up among the grasses.

Poverty Willow (Baccharis neglecta) sways in the wind.  Although it looks totally untouched, this prairie is actually managed with controlled burns and is used for research.

This looks like Common Wild Petunia (Ruellia nudiflora).  If that’s what it is, a couple of petals have sheared off of each flower.

Many types of grasses grow in this pocket prairie including big Bluestem, Indian grass, and Switch grass.
The Woodlands trail provides shade from large oaks.  This could be a Four O’Clock ( Mirabilis jalapa).
Frostweed (Verbesina virginica) is so named because a few degrees under freezing, the dead stems split at the base and exude a thin, curling shaving of ice.
The Cibolo Creek runs through the property and provides a Marshland trail.  As the shoes indicate, a young mother and her children crossed over to the marshland.  The crossing looked iffy for me with poor balance, so we skipped that part.  Plus, we were both overwhelmed by the heat and humidity.
This looks like Mealy Sage (Salvia farinacea) found growing in limestone soils.
Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera) is a bright flower that stands up tall on its stem (about 18 inches).  The tall dome is usually black/brown, but has already lost its seeds and now has a white top hat.
Closer to the Visitor Center is a small garden with hardy plants.  Rosemary has a few blooms left.
Blue Mistflowers (Conoclinium coelestinumare) are usually covered with butterflies.  These are smaller, probably because they don’t receive water, except from rain.
There are a couple of caves near Boerne.  We visited Cave Without a Name, which is on private property, but open to the public.  This picture shows the original entry that was discovered when a farm animal became stuck in it.
The cave is a U.S. National Natural Landmark.
Thankfully, it now has concrete stairs leading down into the cave.  A few Tricolored Bats
(Perimyotis  subflavus) inhabit the cave.  They are smaller than the more common Mexican Free Tails found in Texas and don’t live in colonies.
 
The cave went unnoticed until a couple of guys during prohibition thought it was a good spot to produce moonshine.
It was officially opened by the land owner in in 1939.  He held a state wide naming contest.  A young boy said that it was too beautiful to have a name and thus, won the $250 prize.
A constant temperature of 66 degrees makes it comfortable to visit.  Cavers have mapped out over 2.7 miles of caverns.
Six large rooms with many different formations are part of the guided tour.
The cave is subject to flooding when heavy rains occur.
An hour tour is the perfect length for most people.
If you’re looking for a get-away week-end and live in Texas, I recommend Boerne and its attractions.  The shopping is good and not nearly as crowded as some of the other Hill Country touristy towns.
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir