Hibiscus and Lookalikes

Exotic Hibiscus flowers conjure up the romantic South Pacific islands.

Tropical Hibiscus has a special beauty.  The tall pistil is one of its characteristics.

However, they can be a pain to grow in hot, dry central Texas.  This one has been in a pot for years and is probably very root bound.  But, as long as it lives, it will be taken into a heated shed during the winter.  So, I guess it’s worth the trouble.

This is the same plant and is looking a little ragged in this especially dry summer.

Luckily, there are plants with that look that do extremely well here.  They endure the hot summers and some cold times in the winter.  Rose of Sharon or Althea shrubs (Hibiscus syriacus) become very large and are covered with these exquisite flowers.

Bees love them.

Their flower colors range from white to pink to deep lavender.

The bright red center of these flowers are striking.

Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) has small hibiscus like flowers.  They grow in dry rocky soils.  The flowers last one day, but with a little water, there will be more the next day.

Hardy Hibiscus is exactly what its name says.  It is a perennial that is tough and has the beauty of a delicate tropical flower.

Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) has a more unique look with its two color petals and long finger leaves.  But it still has that tall pistil.

Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) provide the look of hibiscus, with a shorter pistil.  They stack up on a central stalk that branches out.

All of these plants come from the Mallow (Malvaceae) family.  There are 4225 known species.  These are very diverse because included with all these lovely flowers are okra, cotton, and cacao.  Only a botanist could understand the complications of plant orders.

But what I see is that all the flowers in this blog have tall pistils, where the male and female parts provide reproduction.  Also, the flower petals mostly have the same form.

Plus, all add beauty to gardens.  When the temperature is stagnant in the triple digits, hardy plants are a blessing.

“A garden is never so good as it will be next year.” –Thomas Cooper

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

Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM is a unique city with a recognizable southwestern look.

Heavily influence by both Mexican and Indian cultures, this city has blended them both into a unique style.

Adobe buildings might seem to be the style of choice.  But, in fact, a city ordinance requires that all buildings use both these materials and style.  Flat roof and flat, smooth stucco sides are characteristics of this style.

Many native plants are seen throughout the city.  I think this is Spanish Broom (Spartium junceum).

Santa Fe has been in an extended drought period.  Large lawns are taboo.  Only small accent lawn areas can be found.  In fact, most lot sizes for houses are small.

Another common sight is this type of fence.  I don’t know if that’s because it’s inexpensive or if the style is just popular.

Stone fences, patios, and walkways are ubiquitous.  It’s a readily available material, but not sure about construction costs.  Wonder how old this mailbox is?  Another modern one near the gate is in current use.

Many fences of all types are covered with vines, like this Clematis.

Smoketree or Purple Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria) has a mysterious look.  This one has already lost the smoke puffs on the ends of the branches.

Yarrow is a popular accent plant.

Ox Carts from Mexico or Costa Rica are used as decorations.

Flower beds abound.

Art Galleries are a big draw for tourists.  In the early 1900’s Anglo artists moved into the area and were fascinated by the people, the landscape, the arid climate, the colors, and the light.

This followed the earlier artist colonies that had formed in the late 1800’s in nearby Taos.  By the early 1920’s, prominent artists were producing varied styles of art in both places.  Thus began the art scene that continues today.

Sculptures and paintings from traditional to modern are available.

Old doors from Mexico, clay pots, carved wood pieces, jewelry, and other collectables are plentiful.  The only drawback might be the price of a particular item.

In an isolated area with congested traffic downtown, this city is still worth the visit.

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

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

Cozy Chandor Gardens

Chandor Gardens in Weatherford, TX, was originally a private space that is now owned by the city park system and is open to the public.  Its size is small compared to most public gardens but full of interesting nooks and crannies.

Since it’s two hours away from us, we visit about once a year.  Like most gardens, it’s constantly changing.  This concrete bowl is new.  The surrounding beds are full of annuals.

The bold midday sun makes it all look artificial and blurs the edges of the Snapdragons.

The small tufts of purple flowers is Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis), a native to Caribbean islands that requires warmer winters to be perennial.

All the annals make a bright welcome.

A sidewalk from the entrance leads to the ticket office in the main house.  This little cherub sits on a wall where there are steps down to the next level of the garden.

The house was the home of the Chandors, owners and creators of the buildings and gardens.

The purple twinges on the Agaves reflect the purple ground cover.  The green Mondo Grasses line the walkway.

I heard the garden horticulturist explain to a group that the agaves were lifted out and stored in a green house during the winter.

This garden was established in the 1930’s, so the large, mature trees provide lots of shady areas.

Oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) need mostly shade and lots of warm weather.  They are native to US southeast, which is perfect for them.

This man made-waterfall is especially impressive when one realizes the time frame of the construction and the lack of heavy equipment available.

Water Irises line the edge of the water pool, and a rose bush grows to the side of them.

The abundance of different varieties of trees and shrubs create cozy, protected spots.

Different levels of the garden provide interest.  I don’t know if these were natural or created.  Flowers are tucked into small and large spaces.

Mr. Chandor was fascinated by the Orient and used Japanese statuary throughout the garden.

Several varieties of Japanese Maples were planted.

One of my favorite features is this side entrance gate.

It was a gift to Mr. Chandor from a friend.

Looking through the gate beckons one to unknown treasures inside.  Entering opens that trove that gardeners love.

The next post will show other parts of the garden.  Thanks for visiting.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”   John Quincy Adams

Bloom Time

Spring here has been on/off this year.  We still haven’t carried all the potted plants out of the shed, yet.  But it’s been warm enough for lots of flowers in the yard.

All the different colors of Iris have been beautiful.  It’s amazing that the flowers aren’t blow away because the winds have been so strong.

This small Western Catalpa or Catawba (Catalpaspeciosa) looks good in the spring but looks shabby in the hot summers.  It’s also known as Indian bean tree or cigar tree and is native to the U. S. Midwest.  The bean name comes from the 8 to 20 inch long seed pods in late summer.  The tree is three years old, but there haven’t been any beans, yet.

I was actually looking for an Orchid Tree, but a local nursery talked me into this one, instead.

Online information indicates that they should be planted in dry areas in any kind of soil and in full sun. This location checks all those boxes.

The flower shapes resemble an orchid.  We’ve debated about digging this tree up because it looks so bad with tattered leaves after enduring many days of wind , but can’t bring ourselves into taking out a living tree.

Lots of Amaryllis have bloomed in the yard, both single and double flowers.  Maybe our extra cold winter was what they needed.

Last year we bought a Minnesota Snowflake Mockorange (Philadelphus x virginalis)  The picture on the label showed a fuller flower.

Also, it doesn’t have a scent like I expected.  It is supposed to be a good pollinator bush, especially for bees.  Still waiting to see how it performs.

I do love Irises.

Ox-Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is native to Asia and Europe, but has naturalized in many parts of the U. S.  In Texas, we consider it a native because it’s so prolific.

Ox-Eye shines on tall stems and steals the show.  It does spread, but I consider that a good thing.  It can be dug up pretty easily.

Victoria Blue’ Salvia is a gorgeous perennial that was bred in 1978.  The flowers last a long time and can endure some shade.  It returned after a severe winter.  Love the strong, bright color.

Thanks for taking time to read my blog.  Hope your spring has been filled with flowers.

“Your beliefs don’t make you a better person.  Your behavior does.”  unknown

Spring Blooms

Spring isn’t here in my mind until the first flowers appear.  Then I get excited.

There are several types of iris.  Flag Iris (Iris versicolor) is considered a boggy land iris.  How I ended up with them, I can’t remember.  But they have come back for a couple of years in our dry climate.

Their form is different from the more familiar Bearded Iris.  The word Iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow, which is appropriate since there are so many different flower colors in the Iris family.

The Texas Scarlett Quince (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlett), starts to bloom when the weather is still cold.  The earlier blooms are now fading but the newer ones are deep red.

This is the very first sign of flowers on my Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) in five years old.  It was first planted in a full sun area, so two years ago, we moved it to a shadier spot.  Then it started to keep its green leaves through the summer.  Hurray.

Actually, someone told me they were difficult to grow in this area of Texas.  So, I took that as a challenge.

Spiderworts (Tradescantia Giantea) are blooming.  This first one was low to the ground but they’re atop tall stems now.

The foliage on Canyon Creek Abelia (Abelia grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’) is yellow early in the spring but will darken to a copper color later.

A couple of pots of Dianthus made it through the winter fine.  They both came from my mother’s fenced backyard.  It gets really cold in Snyder, but there was protection away from the wind.  So I wasn’t sure they would survive the super cold winter on our windy hill.

Really like the gradation of these colors.

Bridal Wreath Spirea is showing off again.

Just doesn’t get any better than this.

Male Chinapin Oak with long, yellow catkins hanging before its leaves form.  Pollen from these flowers are carried by the wind to pollinate the flowers on the female trees.

The hanging yellow pollen flowers are pretty but a problem for people with allergies.

Dwarf Indian Hawthorne has pretty little flowers.  The one we planted last year got some freeze damage from our unusually cold winter.  Hopefully, it will fully recover.  We planted two others this year because we liked their look.

Earlier this spring I put out three Amaryllis that have been in pots for three years.  Christmas gifts that keep on giving.

This one has bloomed in a new flowerbed.  Other shrubs around it haven’t yet gotten big enough to protect it from the wind and hot western sun, so the blossoms may not last long.

Because of several different circumstances, I haven’t done much flowerbed weeding, yet.  But that’s not stopping me from enjoying the flowers.  Have a blessed spring just inhaling the beauty around you.

“Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”  Langston Hughes

Trees Anchor a Garden

West Texas, where I spent my childhood and youth, is almost devoid of trees, except for Mesquites.  So, I am reminded that no matter where one lives, there are public gardens where nature in all its beauty can be seen.  You might to travel to get there, but that’s can be a plus.

Tulip trees at Dallas Arboretum have a come hither pull on me.  It’s called a Tulip Tree, but it’s actually a Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana).

Even though they are past their prime, the lovely romantic look hasn’t passed.

Redbuds are blossoming out.

There was no identification sign on this one, but people around us were saying it was a Cherry Tree.  I thought Cherry Trees were much smaller.  This one was tall.  So I have my doubts about that ID.  But I’m certainly no expert.

Another Redbud that contrasts nicely with the Magnolia.

This is technically a large woody shrub.  The brilliant red of this Double Take Flowering Quince ‘Scarlet Storm’ (Chaenomeles speciosa) is blinding.  It makes my small native Texas Quince look pitiful.

So many towering tree in the garden give it a homey, comforting feel.  Even the bare branches provide some shade.

The arching of these bare Crape Myrtles remind me of Paris, for some reason.  Gorgeous tunnel effect.

Shakespeare and some symbols from his plays entice people to sit with him for a picture.

I’m not an authority on his works, but recognize this lion and crown as being from ‘King Lear’.

This little guy was behind Shakespeare.

As was this young maiden.

At first, I assumed this was a Japanese Maple.  But, I’m certainly not sure.

Sure like the color of the branches.

Lots of different structures add additional interest to the gardens.  This one also provides seating.  The large evergreen trees might be Live Oaks.

Looking a different direction shows more arches and a restaurant.

It’s easy to see why people call these Tulip trees.  So pretty.

Hope your spring is filled with beautiful trees and flowers.

“A toddler can do more in one unsupervised minute than most people can do all day.”  unknown

Veggies and Other Goodies

At the Dallas Arboretum, we strolled through their new vegetable garden area and continued through all the gardens.

This is Mustard “Garnet Giant” (Brassica juncea).  The veggie plots were raised beds about 6′ x 6′.  Very neat and tidy.  No surprise there.

Everything looked so healthy, like this Cabbage “Ruby  Perfection” (Brassica oleracea).  The mulch throughout all the gardens are crushed pecan shells.  They obviously have a contract with a pecan shelling company.  Wish I knew a source.

Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Confession:  I don’t personally grow vegetables but certainly appreciate the work involved and the results.

Around the vegetable beds are plots of low growing flowers.

Looking from that area is this lovely view of White Rock Lake.

Heading into a shadier area is a plot of ‘Marvel’ Mahonia.  I’ve seen these in other public gardens but have never seen them in bloom in the fall.

Chinese Fringe Flower ‘Purple Pixie’ (Loropetalum chinese) are decked out in their spring garbs ready for the Easter Parade.

Every time I see these in bloom, I think about buying one.  But, their cold hardiness is just at the edge of our zone.  Plus, I did try a couple of dwarf ones and they froze the first winter.  Still, sigh, they are so striking.

The Arboretum has many peaceful places like this small little stream.

These delicate white flowers look like Lily of the Valley flowers.

This tall urn sat on a concrete column, so it was above our head.

Lots of new things have been constructed since our last visit.

This was unique.  Wonder if they plan to put in Koi?

Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantina), with its soft, fuzzy leaves, just begs to be touched.

Forsythia ‘Spectabils’ (Forsythis x intermedia) is spectacular, especially in a mass planting.

One of the many things this public garden does well is to provide many small peaceful vinegettes.  They also have lots of benches where one can rest a spell.

These ornamental cabbages are so pretty with their frilly, lace leaves.

Edibles and non-edibles abound in this wonderful garden.  Hope you have a place to amble along a wandering path and savor nature.  Have a wonderful spring.

“The journey is the destination.”  Dan Eldon

Looking for Color

Winter conjures up a dull, drab, gray picture in my head.  So I’ve been searching for some color.

But, first, I want to sound a horn and shout hallelujah.  Today it rained.

That’s a major event for us.  Before today, we’ve received less than an inch of rain, all in small increments since September.

This Kalanchoe has been propagated so many times that I’ve lost count.  It originally came from my mother.  I plan to always keep one as a special memory of her.  This particular one I started in the fall, so it’s been inside for several months.

Oops.  My husband notice that I had the same picture twice, so I’m changing that, although it is the same plant.  Sorry.

During the darker days of winter inside, it tends to get leggy and flop over.  It’s propped up now.  It will go with many others for our Garden Club plant sale.

A Christmas Poinsettia still has some bright red.  I keep them inside until it’s warm enough to put them outside in the shade.  I had two ready to bring inside last year.  The first cold snap got them.

Although the grass is dead, this evergreen Cherry Laurel is covered in green leaves.  Love this tree.

Live Oaks are an important tree for central Texas.  This one is over a hundred years old.  In fact, it’s the reason we chose to build in this spot.

Live Oaks tend to grow out and the branches point to the ground.  So they need to be trimmed on the bottom branches every few years in order to walk under them.

This native Yarrow has white flowers and is evergreen.  The foliage on it is softer than many other Yarrows.

First signs of spring here are Daffodils and Texas Scarlett Quince.  The first Daffodil has opened with many others in the wings with flower buds.

The Quince buds are beginning to open.  Such a vivid red.  Spring is on its way.  Hooray.

There is color on many winter mornings if one gets up early enough, steps out into the cold air, and looks up.  Wow.

Thank you for stopping by to read this blog.  I appreciate comments and suggestions.

“Never do something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.”  unknown