Winter Silhouettes and More

Winter seems barren and blab, but beauty in forms and shapes stand out.

I’ve always liked the bones of this bush.  It’s tall, about 6 feet, and I still don’t know what it is.  It doesn’t flower.  Its best traits are hardiness and the dark colors of its leaves.  Someday I hope to identify it.

The dried sepals of the flowers left on the branches of Althea or Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) look almost like blossoms themselves.

Althea is one of the most reliable flowering bushes for our area.  Clay and caliche don’t phase them.  I love their hibiscus looking flowers with lavender colors.

Strands of Eve’s Necklace (Sophora affinis) hang on looking like black beads.  They’re not as shiny as when the tree is leafed out.  Other names include Texas Sophora, Pink Sophora, and Necklace Tree.

This little tree likes alkaline soil and limestone, so it’s perfect of our land.

The tree is three years old, and these are the first seed pods.  In spring pink flowers hang in small wisteria-like clusters.

Branches of oaks have interesting shapes.   Chinapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) has lots of curves.

Blue sky frames Chinese Pistasho or Chinese Pistashe (Pistacia chinensis) with its clusters of tiny berries and long thin leaves.  This tree is in the cashew family and is native to China.

Even though it isn’t native here, it is a Texas SuperStar plant because it does well in poor soil and doesn’t require lots of water.  As a young tree, it can look misshapen, but becomes a wonderful tree with fall color.  Amen to that.

As I was walking around taking pictures on a crisp, cold morning, this Northern Mockingbird was hunkered down in a large Rose of Sharon.  His feathers were puffed up for warmth, so he seemed cozy and didn’t want to leave, which made this picture possible.

As I came around behind the bushes later, he was still there.  Mockingbirds, the Texas state bird, are very common around here.

During winter, all the weeds and clutter around plants show up.  To the right of the sun dial, a Purple Sage or Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) is a voluntary plant.  Several years ago, one was growing about ten feet from this spot, so maybe that’s its origin.

Lots to be cleaned up.  Tires me out to think about it.

The wide open sky is always beautiful.

Love a buttermilk sky.  They are fairly rare here.

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men
who walked through the huts comforting others,
giving away their last piece of bread…
They offer sufficient proof that everything
can be taken from a man but one thing:
to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances,
to choose one’s own way.
– Viktor E. Frankl

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In Fredericksburg

Recently my husband and I drove to Fredericksburg to scout out gardens.  My mission was to fine appropriate places that a class of prospective Master Gardeners could visit as a group to provide additional information and to observe different garden styles.

fredericksburgThe first stop was the Master Gardeners demonstration garden at the Ag Extension Office.  Although it isn’t the prettiest area, it shows a specific trait that is valuable for Texas gardens.  It does not receive supplemental water – only rain water.  Tough plants, only.

fredericksburg1Mostly native plants and a few others that have acclimated to the region are used.  It looked like there had been little rain recently.

fredericksburg2Mexican Feather Grass and native Redbuds are drought tolerant.

fredericksburg3Some of the plants here are Salvia Greggii, Purple Sage, and Cross Vine.

fredericksburg4The next garden was the Biblical Garden at the United Methodist Church.  It is small but a pretty spot.  Someone has done research to match the names of plants mentioned in the Bible with common names of plants today.

fredericksburg6Since Israel is arid, many plants that survive there also do well here.

fredericksburg7This sign identifies the plant with the yellow flowers in the former picture.

fredericksburg8A Pomegranate tree (Punica granatum) is referenced in Song of Solomon 4:14.

fredericksburg9Palm branches were used in John 12:13 and are common in Palm Sunday services.

fredericksburgaPapyrus (Cyperus papyrus) is seen on the left, and Bulrush (Typhaspp.) on the right.  Exodus 2 relates the well known account of the basket woven to hold baby Moses.  Both of these plants are considered possibilities for that with papyrus being the most likely.  It is also what was used for paper by the early Egyptians.

fredericksburgbAlthough this could actually be Papyrus, it looks a lot like Umbrella Plant (Cyperus alternifolius).

fredericksburgbbTrailing Rosemary is in the foreground and Purple Plumbago is growing under the tree.

fredericksburhNext we visited the Texas Rangers Heritage Museum, which is still a work in progress.  Flowerbeds lined the parking areas and around the pavilion.  But it seems I didn’t get pictures of those.  Guess I was enamored with the sculptures.

fredericksburhhThe plants in the flowerbeds were pretty predictable – Purple Sage, Salvias, and Cactus.  Several plants had died.  It will be interesting to see how this area is developed.

Next post will show more public gardens that we visited.

“Real Gardeners buy at least 10,000 plants over the course of a lifetime without having any idea where they will put them when they get home.”  unknown

Sage or Salvia?

When a plant is called by two different names, it can be confusing.  Since I’ve heard Sage and Salvia applied to the same plants, I got curious to know if there is a difference between the two.  So I decided to investigate.

This post will be considerably longer than most.  But I hope you find my results as fascinating as I did.  Many of you are well versed in this information, so thank you for your indulgence.

salvia8Mealy blue sage, Mealy sage, Mealycup sage, or Blue Salvia is in the Lamiaceae (Mint) Family.  Bees love it.

The botantical name is Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’.   Like other non-scientific types, when I hear the Latin names, I have flashbacks to high school biology that brings shivers down my spine.

But these scientific names is key to understanding the question about sages and salvias.

The plant classification system used today was developed by a Swedish Scientist, Carolus Linnaeus, in the 1700’s.  He put plants into groups based on similarity of form.  The categories for living things are Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Series, Family, Genus,  Species, and Variety.

Only Genus and Species concern us to answer our question about sages and salvias.  These two names are the ones listed for each plant.  The first name is the genus and should be capitalized.  The second name is the species name and is not capitalized.  Sometimes a variety follows the species name to show a slight difference from the classified plant.

The answer to the question:  A sage can be a salvia, but not all sages are salvias.  Let’s see why.

salvia9Salvia is the largest genus of plants in the Lamiacae or mint family with nearly 1,000 species of shrubs, herbaceous, perennials, and annuals.

If a sage is the same as a salvia, it must be in the same salvia genus.  There is no genus for sage.

salvia6This is Texas Sage, also known as Purple Sage, Cenizo, Texas ranger, Texas Barometer bush, Texan Silverleaf, and Silverleaf.  This is the sage that is most associated with the Southwest and is the one referred to by Zane Grey in Riders of the Purple Sage.

This sage is also in the Lamiaceae or Mint Family.  But its botanical name is Leucophyllum frutescens.  So the Purple Sage is not a salvia.  Although it is in the same family, it is not in the same genus.

salvia7Although many of us grow this sage in mid to north Texas, it is not winter hardy and must be cut to the ground if freeze damage occurs.  It does better farther south than my zone 7b area.

salviaOne of the most popular sages the past few years and readily available in most nurseries is Salvia greggii.  They are available in different shades of red – such as Cherry, Navajo Bright Red.  There is even one called Lipstick.

Did you notice the word Salvia in its name?  So this sage is a salvia.

salvia2These are perennials that are drought tolerant and visited frequently by bees and other propagators.  Salvias are hot weather plants with square stems.  Many bloom from spring through first frost.  They do need some water to look their best.

Many salvias are scented, have flowers that grow on tall spikes above the foliage, and are attractive to many pollinators.

salvia3A sage that I love that is not a salvia is Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  Its scent when leaves are rubbed is one of its great characteristics.

salvia4Bees love Russian Sage.  It is hardy and has a long blooming season.

salviaaAnother sage that loves our climate is Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha).  It, too, is a sun lover.

Did you automatically look at the genus name?  I’m training myself to do that.

salviabHummingbirds feast on it.  One of the things I like about it is the velvety look, which is actually tiny hairs that cover it.  These hairs help reduce water loss.

It’s a perennial that must have plenty of sun.  It tends to get leggy and some branches can break if they get too heavy with flowers.  Just trim it as necessary.

salvia azureaThis is Prairie Sage, Pitcher Sage, Azure Sage, Giant blue Sage, or Blue Sage (Salvia azurea)  It’s another good plant for Central Texas and even further west.  Salvia flowers come in shades of blue, red, white, and yellow, although rarely yellow.

The defining characteristic of the genus Salvia is the unusual pollination mechanism.  Salvias have two stamen rather than the four of most flowers.  The covering of each stamen is divided down the center, but connected. salviagraphicWhen a pollinator enters the flower probing for nectar, which is found deep in the flower, this pushes the posterior anther.  This causes the stamens to move up, which then deposits the pollen on the back of the bee or other pollinator.

salviapollinatormechanism3As the pollinator withdraws from the flower, the lever returns the stamen to its former position.   Then when the pollinator goes to another flower, the pollen can only be transferred if the flower’s stigma is bent down in a general location that corresponds to where the pollen was deposited on the pollinator’s body.

salviapollenThis gorgeous photo and the next one by Dave Leiker show the stamen lever mechanism in action.

beepollen2

salvia involucrate 'Hadspen'This Big Mexican Sage or Roseleaf Sage (Salvia involucrate ‘Hadspen’) grows in zones 7 to 11.  Another salvia on my wish list.

Most salvias and sages do well in Texas.  Generally, most salvias need minimal water and soil that drains well.  Also, cutting them back slightly, about a third, in mid summer brings new blooms.

There are even a few tropical salvias and some that survive in colder climates.

So science really is the answer to the question “Is it a sage or a salvia?”.  Both names can apply to the same plant if the genus is salvia.  If the genus is different, it’s only a sage.

Both sages and salvias are terrific plants for most of Texas and many other parts of the US.

Thank you for taking the time to read this far.  You are great to have persevered.  Please leave comments if you have other information about this subject.

Following my usual closing with a quote is a list of different salvias and sages.  Whenever I could find the information, I listed the hardiness zones.  Maybe you’ll find one that you’d like to try.

“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny …’” Issac Asimov

Sages:
Lamiacea Family (mint family) Genus Salvia:

Arizona sage, Desert indigo sage – Salvia arizonica
Zone 5 – 7
Autumn Sage, Cherry sage, Gregg salvia – Salvia greggii
Zone 7 – 9
Belize Sage – Salvia miniata         Zone 10 – 11
Bi Color– Salvia sinaleoensis        Zone 8
Big Mexican Sage, Roseleaf Sage – Salvia infovucrate           Zone 7 – 11
Big red sage, Penstemon sage – Salvia penstemonoides     Zone 6 – 10
Black sage, California black sage – Salvia mellifera                  Zone 6 – 10
Black & Blue Sage, Brazilian Sage, Blue Anise Sage, Majestic Sage – Salvia guaranitica ‘Black & Blue’       Zone 8 – 11
Baby Sage – Salvia microphylla                     Zone 7 – 11
Blue sage – Salvia pachyphylla                      Zone 6 – 9
Blue Shrub Sage – Salvia ballotaeflora          Zone 7 – 11
Bog Sage – Salvia uliginosa                           Zone 6 – 10
California sage, Chia Golden chia – Salvia columbariae          Zone 7 – 10
California white sage, White sage – Salvia apiana   Zone 9 – 10
Canyon sage – Salvia lycioides          Zone 6 – 9
Cedar sage – Salvia roemeriana         Zone 7 – 10
Clary Sage – Salvia viridis                    All US zones
Clary Sage – Salvia horminum               Zone 3 – 10
Clustered sage – Salvia whitehousei                    Texas native Zone unknown
Creeping sage – Salvia sonomensis         Zone 7 – 10
Crimson sage – Salvia henryi A. Gray          Texas native
Death Valley Sage, Woolly sage – Salvia funereal                  Grows near Death Valley
Desert indigo sage, Arizona sage – Salvia arizonica              Zones 6 – 11
Engelmanns sage – Salvia engelmannii        Zone 7 – 9
Fragrant sage, Blue sage, Cleveland sage – Salvia clevelandii Zone 8 – 10
Fushia Sage – Salvia iodantha              Zone 8 – 11
Grey Shrub Sage – Salvia chamedryoides        Zone 7 – 10
Indigo Spires – Salvia ‘indigo spires’              Zone 7 – 11
Isla Hummingbird sage, Pitcher sage, Crimson Sage – Salvia spathacea           Zone 7 – 11
Indigo Spires Sage – Salvia Indigo Spires            Zones 7 – 11
Lanceleaf sage, Mintweed – Salvia reflexa        unknown zones
Lemmon’s sage – Salvia lemmonii                     unknown zones
Lyreleaf sage, Cancer weed – Salvia lyrata L.    unknown zones
*Mealy blue sage, Mealy sage Mealycup sage, Blue Salvia – Salvia farinacea         Zone 7 – 11
*Mexican Bush Sage – Salvia leucantha              Zone 8 – 10
Mountain sage, Royal Sage – Salvia regal          Tropical zones
Munz’s sage San Miguel mountain sage, San Diego Sage – Salvia munzii          Zone 8 – 11
Nettleleaf sage, Nettle-leaved sage, Wild sage – Salvia urticifolia L.           SE US
Pineapple Sage – Salvia elegans              Zone 8 – 11
Pink Little Leaf Sage – Salvis Grahamii        Zone unknown
Pitcher sage, Big blue sage, Azure sage, Giant blue sage, Blue sage, Priarie Sage – Salvia azurea             Zone 4 – 9
Purple sage, Gray ball sage, Dorri sage, Desert sage – Salvia dorrii             Zone 5 – 9
Scarlet Sage, Tropical Sage, Blood sage – Salvia coccinea   Zone 7b – 10b
Scarlet Sage, Red Sage – Salvia splendens      unknown zones
Shrubby blue sage, Blue Shrub Sage, Mejorana – Salvia ballotiflora       unknown zone
San Luis purple sage Purple – Salvia leucophylla  Zone 6a – 10b
Scallopleaf sage – Salvia vaseyi          High desert elevations

Mint Family (Lamiaceae) Sages that are not Salvias:

Bladder Sage, Paperbag bush, Heartleaf Skullcap – Scutellaria Mexicana                       Texas and La. native
Bladder Sage, Mexican bladdersage – Salazaria Mexicana     Zone 8 – 20
Island pitchersage – Lepechinia fragrans      California endangered plant
*Russian Sage – Perovskia atriplicifolia             Zone 4a – 9b

Aster Family (Asteraceae) Sages that are not Salvias

Big sagebrush, Great Basin sagebrush – Artemisia tridentate Zone 4 – 9
Black sagebrush – Artemisia nova A. Nelson           Zone 4 – ?
Beach sagebrush, Beach wormwood, Sand hill sage – Artemisia pycnocephala           Zone 9 – 10
Bud sagebrush, Budsage – Artemisia spinescens   Semi-desert
California sagebrush, Coastal sagebrush – Artemisia californica Zone 7 – 10 coastal
Louisiana Artemisia, Louisiana sage, White sage, Prairie sage, Silver sage, White sagebrush, Louisiana wormwood, Silver wormwood, Louisiana sagewort, Gray sagewort, Cudweed sagewort, Mugwort wormwood – Artemisia ludoviciana            Zone 5 – 10
Prairie sagewort, Prairie Sagebrush, Frienged sage, Pasture sage – Artemisia fridiga             from Mexico to Siberia
Silver sagebrush, Coaltown sagebrush, Dwarf sagebrush, Hoary sagebrush, Silvery sagebrush – Artemisia cana Pursh    Southwest US

Sages in Other Families that are not Salvias

Periennial buckwheat, Wright buckwheat, Wild buckwheat, Bastard sage – Eriogonum wrightii          Zone 5 – 10
Buttonsage, Button-sage – Lantana involucrate       Zone 8a – 11
Jerusalem Sage – Phlomis fruticosa           Zone 7 – 11
Royal penstemon, Royal beardtongue, Sagebrush penstemon, Sagebrushtongue – Penstemon speciosus       Zone 5 – 10
Sagebrush buttercup – Ranunculus glaberrimus Hook.      Western US
Texas sage, Cenizo, Purple sage, Texas ranger, Texas barometer bush, Texas silverleaf, Silverleaf – Leucophyllum frutescens  Zone 8 – 11

San Angelo

This past week we did a whirlwind trip to San Angelo for a Master Gardener’s Landscaping Symposium.  So we had a half day to see some sights and then a full day for the symposium.

sanangelodIt may seem odd to spend most of this post on the Visitor Center only.  But it is impressive.

sanangeloThis picture was taken because I had never seen a Texas Sage or Purple Sage bush trimmed into a tree.  This one must be several years old because mine freeze each year and then reach a height of 3 feet before the next winter arrives.

sanangelo1This is the courtyard on the other side of the large stone arches in the first picture.  At the edge of the patio is a curved viewing area and steps leading down to the river.  To the right a door leads into the actual information area where there are brochures and volunteers to answer questions.

sanangelo2This is the view from that small lookout ledge.  The Concho River is spring fed, so it is not almost dry like other rivers in West and Central Texas during this drought.

sanangelo5This looks back up to the visitor’s center.  The two statues explain where the city’s name originated.  Note the Purple Heart vines tucked into the rocks.  There must be a little soil there.

Angela de Merici, (21 March 1474 – 27 January 1540) was an Italian religious leader and saint. She founded the Order of Ursulines in 1535 in Brescia.  Actually, I could not find any information to explain her importance to the city.

“Santa Angela,” was the settlement that sprang up across the Concho River from Fort Concho.  It was named in honor of Carolina Angela de la Garza DeWitt, deceased wife of the city’s founder Bart J. DeWitt,

sanangelo3Ten feet tall bronze statues of St. Angela Merici (Santa Angela) and Carolina Angela de la Garza Dewitt.

sanangelo4sanangelo9The volunteers said that all the rock work by the river was finished recently.  But obviously, enough time has passed for plants to grow.

sanangelo8The local limestone rocks were put to good use and created a very tranquil garden area.

sanangelo7I don’t know what type of grass this this, but the height and form blowing the in breeze was lovely.

sanangelo6Painted fiberglass animals is a trend in many West Texas towns.  We saw several in the downtown area.  Most of the towns hold contests and recognize the winners with prizes or just bragging rights.

This one is appropriate for the town’s information center since it depicts places and events for San Angelo.

sanangeloaReally like all the stone work and especially the hefty stone benches.

Hardy plants like these Knockout Roses were used.  The small plant in the water looks like Papyrus.

sanangelob

sanangelocEven the tiles in the bathroom show local critters.  From the top:  horned toad, armadillo, wild pigs or boars, jackrabbits, wild turkey, and scorpions.

sanangeloeThis was the only picture I took at Ft. Concho.  It was a frontier army post from 1867 to 1889 and played an important part in the settlement of this whole area.  When the fort deactivated, soldiers rode away leaving the buildings and furnishings intact.  Families moved in, so the buildings were occupied until 1920 when the Preservation Society stepped in and the city acquired the land.

Because of the limestone construction and the continuous care of the structures, they look relatively new.

See Ft. Concho to view a video showing furnishings inside the buildings, events, and history.

Even though San Angelo seems remote, it is a vibrant town with much to offer.

“By the time the Texas frontier had run its course, those who settled the land could point to a unique experience that had turned the largely Southern population into westerners.” unknown

Natty Flat

Nothing says road trip like a stop at a local attraction.  As a kid, we always headed west for vacations to visit Indian ruins and natural wonders like the Painted Desert.  As we traveled those long, straight highways through sage-strewn flat land, we looked for the huge billboards advertising an Indian Trading Post coming up.  They promised unusual exhibits like dozens of live rattlesnakes or the real saddle of some famous outlaw.

In reality, it was a tourist trap full of trinkets probably made in some factory back east.  But we loved the chance to get out of the car and spend the allowance money we had been saving, taking lots of time to wander the aisles and look at everything.

nattyflat9Natty Flat is not exactly that sort of tourist place.  It started out as a small Barbeque restaurant and a store to sell western goods.  Those are not cheap trinkets, either.

Two brothers were ingenious in combining several talents for this enterprise.  One owns the restaurant, where the BBQ really is outstanding.  The other runs the store, which sells furniture as well as other western goods.  He also makes most of the furniture.  The over sized rifle in the picture is one of his creations.  It has already been sold so don’t hanker for it.

nattyflat8Red cedar, which is plentiful in the area, provides the materials needed for his craft.

nattyflat7This rocking chair is the main landmark for Natty Flat.  The telephone pole gives prospective for its height.

nattyflat6 Throw in a little western decor and it draws the people in.

nattyflat3Behind the windmill is the store.

nattyflat5They do a good job of putting a few brightly colored annuals to add more interest.  The Prickly Pear Cactus blooms also pop.

nattyflat4Petunias make this water trough attractive.

nattyflatThe owners’ sense of humor is evident in several places.  The above sign is hard to read, so here goes:

This rock never fails.  It’s 100% correct.
Here’s how it works.
If it’s wet, it’s raining.
If it’s dry, there’s fair weather.
If it’s dusty, there’s a dust storm
If it’s white, it’s snowing.
If it’s swaying, it’s windy.
If there’s a shadow under the rock, it’s sunny.
If you can’t see it, it’s foggy.
If it’s jumping up and down, there’s an earthquake.
If the bottom is under water, it’s a flood.
If it’s dry and still, just wait a minute, and it will change.
If everything is moving and you’re not, you’re drunk.

nattyflat2

nattyflat1These really are the restrooms for the restaurant.  But they are not the traditional holes of an outhouse.  Just a modern day toilet inside.

Note the pretty Yucca blooms beside it.  Flowers make anything look good.

nattyflataAmong Purple Sage, Prickly Pear, and a dying cedar is an old decaying wagon.

nattyflatbRusty metal and Prickly Pear is the perfect depiction of West Texas.

See more at Natty Flat.  It’s just south of I 20 at the Stephenville exit.  I think it’s worth a stop, especially for the grub.

“Keep away from folks who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”  Mark Twain

Soft Hues

Although I generally prefer bold colors in the landscape, softer ones can make the reds and yellow pop.  More muted colors can also provide a calm feeling.

desertsageThis year the rains we had in June helped the Desert Sages perform like I’ve never seen them.  This is actually a Cinizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) even though we all call it a Texas Sage or Desert Sage.  It’s not even in the sage family.

Absolutely gorgeous.

desertsage3The two above photos show a Desert Sage bush in one flower bed that has flowers with a pinkish tint.

desertsage2This Desert Sage is in a different place.  It’s color has a more purple hue.  It’s amazing how full it was with blossoms.  That’s why in nature, they burst out in color after a rainstorm.  Then very quickly turn back to a silver green foliage plant.

hdulburgsageHenry Duelburg Purple Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) is one reliable plant.  For seven years it has bloomed and spread to fill a 11′ x 5′ bed from two small plants.  It’s a favorite of bees.

dscn2155Speaking of pale colors, this bird that sways in the wind is slowly rusting away.  Note the metal fork that balances in that tiny trough.  Strong wind may twist it around or have it hanging by one prong, but it has never fallen to the ground.

plumbagoIt is confirmed that this plant is a Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata).  I posted an earlier picture and wondered about its correct identify.  But recently I saw one at a nursery and feel sure it’s a Plumbago.  All summer it has bloomed like crazy.

indigoferaThis plant was purchased at an independent nursery in Abilene.  I’ve not seen another one.  It was not labeled.  When I asked for a name, it took a long time before someone came to tell me it was an Indigofera.  I’ve looked at pictures of Indigoferas on the web, but they don’t look like this plant.  So, I don’t know for sure what this plant is.

indigofera2The leaves are tough and feel like a succulent.  It grows low on the ground spreading out.  The flowers that resemble Balloon flowers before they open don’t last long, so it’s difficult to see the whole plant in bloom at once.

russiansage4Another great performer is Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  I first saw this bush in Santa Fe at a family gathering.  All my sisters and I were asking everyone what it was.

russiansage2Hey, I figured if it survived in the dry climate of northern New Mexico, it would make it here.  These have flourished and spread over five years.

They even dry well, and the flowers look pretty much the way they look while living.

russiansage3As the stems are moved around, they have a similar scent as other sages, like the popular ones with  small red flowers.  One is shown to the left in the first picture of the Russian Sage.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  But how can one not appreciate the glories of nature.

“Pride is a steamroller.  It’ll clear the path for a while, but sooner or later it’ll shift into reverse, and then…look out.”  The Sea Glass Sisters by Lisa Wingate

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