Bird Island

Bird Island in Pebble Beach can be viewed from a rocky beach near a parking area.

The island itself looks like solid rock covered in bird guano.  From the shore it’s difficult to distinguish the birds.

Zoom lens reveals individual birds.

Most of birds are cormorants, which feed on sea fish.  Their feathers allow their wings to become saturated so they can dive deep.  On the rock they can be seen with their wings open to dry thme.

Years ago we saw cormorants used by Chinese fishermen.  A string was tied around their neck so they could not swallow.  The fishermen would push one off a small boat and pull them back on to remove the fish the bird had caught in his beak.

Another island a little further out provides a resting spot for sea lions.

Walking down to the sandy beach, a path led us through lots of native vegetation.  The roots holds the soil in place.

The pinkish flowers look cotton candy.

The ground was hard packed, so walking was easy without sinking into the sand.

The constant movement of the ocean could be seen as waves washed up on the rocks.

Small shells were scattered on the sand.

A nice quiet time on the beach before the crowds arrived.

This will be the last post from our time in California.

“…recognize and respect Earth’s beautiful systems of balance, between the presence of animals on land, the fish in the sea, birds in the air, mankind, water, air, and land.  Most importantly there must always be awareness of the actions by people that can disturb this precious balance.”            Margaret Meade

Carmel Valley

Expectations are often disappointed.  We were prepared for mild mid 70’s weather in Carmel.  In reality, it was mostly mid to low 60’s.  Too chilly for us coming from high 90’s.  So we were pleased one day to drive into the valley away from the sea.

The green rolling hills and farms of the valley were a breathe of fresh air away from the crowded area of all the towns bunched around Carmel.

Although we saw these plants on tall stems growing everywhere, no one was able to identify them.  Notice that the hen and chick looking head was green, black,

or red.  Does anyone know their name?

The other plant that I loved were these hibiscus looking flowers on tall stems.

The warmer valley could have been mistaken for parts of New Mexico.

A wide diversity of cacti and succulents added interest to the small town.

A long planting of Lavender and the light purple flowers of Agapanthus or Lily of the Valley on the other side of the fence complemented each other nicely.  They seemed to be thriving all over the areas we visited because of the mild winters.

Don’t know why this fence fascinated me.  No one else seemed interested.

Great plant holder in a boutique/antique store.

This little lady welcomed all the shoppers.

Finally, part of this ubiquitous plant’s flowering color had not faded yet.  Even past its blooming time, it’s an interesting plant.

Loved the open spaces and warmth of the valley.  Just a country girl at heart.

“Social and media should not be used together because it becomes an oxymoron.”  unknown

Carmel by the Sea

The Carmel coastline is rocky with a few sandy beaches.

On one side of a narrow street that follows the curves of the coast are homes.  The lot sizes are small because the land is so costly.  Behind the houses lining the street are other houses built up higher behind them to get an ocean view.

The tiny front yards are designed to give the most bang for their space.

Parking is along the street, so it’s necessary to walk a long way to get to certain destinations.

Closer to the town, a Stanford University marine trial station is on the beach side on a large lot.  Near there was this humongous Bottle Brush bush.

The “brushes” don’t look exactly the same as the ones sold in Texas.  Stunning, aren’t they?

Another bush along this same stretch of land is this stunner.  It was planted several places in town, so it may or may not be a native.

A long swatch of this is probably a native.  This is further from the edge of the shopping areas and seemed to be growing wild.

A chain link fence serves as a barrier to the beach.

On the Stanford University property, we could see sea lions resting on a small sandy beach.

Ice Plant is evidently a good soil erosion prevention plant.  Very few flowers were open, so it must not be their blooming season, or we just missed it.

Then came a walking path along the sea with a low rock fence.

This most unusual looking house sits on a less developed area of the inland side of the road.  What is that patchwork roof made of?  Crazy.

Lovers point is our destination.

Lots of these striking plants all over this area of California.

The water was choppy but paddle boarders, canoers, and surfers enjoyed the 4th of July in the water.  Just hoped they were experienced and knew how to miss the rocks.

The actual point of Lover’s Point has a large pile of rocks.

There are restrooms, a children’s play area, and a restaurant.  Love these hybrid daises.

The underside of the petals are a light purple.

Some of the chubbiest squirrels I’ve ever seen.  Don’t know what the tourists are feeding them.  Lots of different languages could be hear.

The roots of small native plants were tucked under the rocks.  Extremely hardy to endure the environment and the foot traffic.

Since I’ve seen lots of rock piles in Texas, not sure what the draw was.  But here we were.

Couldn’t get acclimated to the cold weather.  But enjoyed the sights.

“Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.”  Christopher Reeve

Warmer in Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg is a tourist town south of us where it hardly ever freezes.  It’s easy for us to pop in for a day there.

On Main Street where many small shops draw visitors, planters enhance the view along the sidewalks.

This one has brightly colored pansies and ornamental cabbages.

I’ve often wondered who is responsible for the upkeep of the planters – the shopkeepers or the city.

Note the tractor seats used as sitting spots for weary shoppers.

This one really intrigued me.  It’s a man laying in a bathtub.  So clever.

Just love the work of creative people.

Nimitz Museum, Fredericksburg, Texas.JPG

One of the big attractions in Fredericksburg, besides shopping, is the Nimitz War Museum, National Museum of Pacific War.  Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz served as CinCPAC, Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet and was soon afterward named Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas during World War II.

He was a hometown boy of German heritage.  Most people in this area have German heritage with German restaurants being another appeal.

The museum itself is huge and packed with memorabilia.  Several hours are required to view it all.

Behind the museum on the same property is a Japanese garden given by the Japanese government to promote friendship.

It’s a quiet tranquil place with a walking path on the edge of the small garden.

From that garden, the pathway leads to the Memorial Courtyard.  In the background you’ll see the Walk of Honor and the Memorial Walls.  There are numerous stone walls with thousands of pictures from WW II .

The berries on this tree look like a Possumhaw, but it has a single trunk.  Most native Possumhaws have small multiple trunks and are not this tall.  So it could be a hybrid or a totally different species.

Gorgeous tree.

As I walked along the wall, I just took a couple of pictures.  There are many individual pictures, as well.  In fact, every time we visit, there are more walls and more pictures.

One of the things I noticed were how many different ships and planes were involved.

There was a plaza with memorials in a semi-circle to honor all the US presidents who served.  Of course, F.D. Roosevelt and H. S. Truman were the commander-in-chiefs.  D. D. Eisenhower was the Commander in Europe.  J. F. Kennedy, L. B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush served in the Navy.  Ronald Reagan served in the Army.

Automatic cannon mounted on ships for antiaircraft use.

Torpedo housing to protect them from heat and being directly hit by other guns on board.

One of four solid bronze screws used to propel an aircraft carrier.

Although it wasn’t labeled,this looks like the Peace Rose, which was developed between 1935 and 1939 by a French horticulturist.  When German invasion was imminent, he sent cutting to friends out of the country to save it.

“The eyes of the world are upon you.  The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”  General Dwight D. Eisenhower

“They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation.”  Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Candlelight Tour at Weatherford

After 37 years of a tour of homes at Christmas in a small town, it’s no surprise that it’s difficult to get people to open their homes.  At least, that’s what I assume, since most of the homes this year were small and not unique.

Tickets can be purchased at Doss Heritage and Cultural Center, so we always start at the museum.

Tickets can be purchased at Doss Heritage and Culture Center.  So that’s where we always start.

The western tree is always impressive.

One of the trees is this small pencil tree.

The Loving- Pinner house was built in 1857.  The house is well known because Oliver Loving, the cattle rancher who started the Goodnight-Loving trail, lived there from 1862 to 1866.  This small house with two bedrooms was where he and his wife raised nine children.

Fortunately, most of the year in Texas is warm or hot, so the children could have slept outside on the covered porch.  During the winter, they must have been stacked like firewood on the floor.  The cabinets with the glass doors were in the master bedroom.  The house still has the original porch, doors with hardware, high ceilings, and glass transoms.  But I’m not sure when these cabinets were installed.

This panel has older looking scenes, but there was no mention of age.

This Second Empire French Neo-Renaissance style house was constructed of hand quarried native stone.  Therefore, the outside walls are 20 inches thick.

In the small entry, a spiral staircase was handcrafted.  The banister was made from a single pine tree.  Using heat, it was twisted to fit the curve of the staircase.

The staircase in the back of the house leads from the upstairs down to the dining room.  The house features curved walls in most rooms.

The chandelier over the dining room table is original to the house and is from France.

Bathroom sink installed in old sewing machine cabinet.

This piano is old and extremely heavy.

The gingerbread man on this pillow is three dimensional.

It was a cold, rainy, blustery day outside, but people still came out to see the homes.

“Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking bout how it is soaking in around your green beans.”

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

Rose Symposium

Every autumn the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas, provides two days of free informational sessions.  The speakers are specialists in their fields.

The Rose Emporium is certainly about roses, mostly heritage roses.  But there’s so much more there.

We arrived early to wander around and get pictures without people cluttering the landscape.  Arches define many of the walkways.

The gazebo is surrounded by roses and other flowers.

This might be a Gray Golden Aster.

Lovely fern design.  It looks great but isn’t very comfortable.

Surprised to see a lily still blooming.

Love this Celosia.  There are lots of different varieties.  I’ve been told that they reseed but haven’t had success with that.  Guess I’ll have to buy one every year.

This nursery has lots of garden art, some of it for sale.

Texas Sage ‘Heavenly Cloud’ is a hybrid between L. frutescens ‘Green Cloud’ and L. laevigatum.  It was developed at A & M and grows well in different types of soil.

Think this is a soldier butterfly.  On this nice, cool, sunny day, butterflies were feeding on lots of different kind of flowers.

“As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.”  Ben Hogan

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

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

Flowers, Art, and the Bizarre

Santa Fe offers lots of art galleries, flowers in yards and in public places, churches, and totally unexpected venues.

A walk down Canyon Road on a cool evening is a pleasant activity.  There’s plenty to see.  The red orange flowers are Yarrow.

Art galleries abound and have nice displays outside.  Since I know the prices are crazy expensive for the paintings and statutes, I am more interested in the plants, many of which I can’t identify.

The Mexican Feather Grass to the right of the seated Indian statue is an popular stand-by in our area of Texas.

Quirky.

Don’t know which variety of salvia this is, but it’s a beautiful deep purple.  The yellow Columbine looks like butterflies darting around.

Clever Rock, Paper, Scissors sculpture.

Many yards have Hollyhocks, which are lovely and reseed plentifully.

Red Hot Poker plants (Kniphofia reflexas or Kniphofia uvaria) add some pizzazz to this bed.

Like the look of a stone flowerpot.

Love all the bronze sculptures in Santa Fe, especially the ones of children.

Plants can be crammed into the smallest spaces.

We visited a bizarre attraction.  Forgive the blurred picture.  Meow Wolf is a 20,000 square foot experience entertainment business.  One enters different rooms via fire places, refrigerators, closets, etc.

New openings of Meow Wolf in Denver and Las Vegas will be in the near future.  The Santa Fe location generated $9 million last year.  The gift shop and online store gained revenue of over a million dollars.

Lots of neon contributes to the eeriness.  Using mallets, these ‘dinosaur bones’ produced musical tones.

This “ocean” is full of color.

Pressing on a cloth wall triggers more neon.

A jumbled maze of crazy entrances and spaces filled with unique decorations draws visitors into a confusing path with waiting surprises.

The New Mexico state capitol building reflects the adobe buildings of the area and the circular shape represents the Zia sun emblem on the state flag.  It’s very unlike the Texas capitol.

The walls inside the capitol are covered with individual paintings and other art work.  The public is welcome to walk through all the corridors to view the art.

In the center of town, the large old churches are reminders of the mission period in the southwest.  Shown here is The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

There are three museums on Museum Hill.  The bronze statutes all around Santa Fe reinforce the importance of art to the city.

A fun place to visit, Santa Fe offers many unique sights and experiences.

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”   Winston Churchill