Summer Wildflowers

The spring flowers in the fields and byways are all gone.  But summer brings another show with equal beauty.  Some of these will survive into the hot months while others will disappear.

earlysummerThe bar ditches along our county road are filled with a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes of flowers.  The rocky, caliche, disturbed areas is where these wildflowers thrive.

earlysummer1I think this bright yellow primrose is a Western Primrose (Calylophus Hartweggii).  It grows low on the ground.

earlysummer2White Milkwort (Polygala alba) is small but attractive in a group.

earlysummer4A bouquet of Indian Blanket, Cut-leaf Groundsel, and Queen Anne’s Lace.

earlysummer5Indian Blankets (Gaillardia pulchella) usually have more shading on the petals than these do.

earlysummer7Before it gets too hot, Queen Anne’s Lace carpets the edges of the road.

earlysummer6Now, after these pictures were taken, they’ve already started to fall away.

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earlysummer9Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) will bloom into the summer and fall as will Sweet William or Prairie Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida).

earlysummeraLove the drive along this road.

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earlysummerhA lone Texas Thistle (Cirsium texanum) breaks the white span of Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota).

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earlysummerbNot sure, but think these daisies are Engelmann’s Daisy (Engelmannia peristenia).

earlysummergSumacs growing full and filling in the roadside.

earlysummercTexas Bindweed’s (Convolvulus eqitans) small white flowers are 3/4″ to 1 1/2″ inches wide.  They aren’t noticeable unless one looks closely at the ground.

earlysummereBlackfoot Daisies (Melampodium leucanthum) are hardy little souls that form small rounded clumps.  I tried these in the yard but they really don’t want more water than nature provides.  They will bravely last until late fall.

earlysummerjAs I pull into our property, another sight of late spring, early summer appears – lots of baby calves.  The cattle is not ours but belong to a man who leases the pasture land.

earlysummerkCute.  Reminds me of Norman in ‘City Slickers’.

earlysummerlTall grass from all the rain almost hides the little ones.

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

Rain, Rain, We Love Ya

If you’ve never lived in an area prone to drought, then this post might not mean that much to you.  However, for those of us who do, this is a praise to heavenly rain.

rainpondsMost of our tanks or ponds are full to capacity.  Hooray.  In Texas the ponds that have been dug are called tanks.  Every property out in the country needs several tanks because the hot summer dries them out.  Tanks provide water for cattle and wildlife as well as water for the volunteer fire departments.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

rainponds2This is a larger one.  It is not totally full, which is surprising since it usually gets the runoff from a ridge.  Runoff is vital for lakes and tanks in this area because there isn’t enough rainfall to fill them.

rainponds3Another benefit from the rain is the growth of grasses in the field.  All the wildflowers are icing on the cake.  This tiny little flower is about three fourths an inch across.  They are prevalent on our  land, but I don’t know their name.  Instead of groups of flowers, they pop up two or three together.

rainponds4This small tank was dug specifically for cattle to have access to water when gate to this area is closed.  When this tank is dry, water from a well fills a trough for the cows.

The wind makes it look like the surface of an ocean.

rainponds5I think these are Plains Coreopsis, which usually grow in large groups.

rainponds8The white flowers bent over by the wind are White Milkwort (Polygala alba).  Although they’re small, patches of them are attractive.

rainponds9Spring means Texas Thistle (Cirsium texanum) blooms.

rainpondsaPlains Black-foort Daisies (Melampodium leucanthus) is sometimes called Rock Daisy, for obvious reasons.

rainpondsbIt’s rare for us to have clusters of Indian Paintbrush (Gaillardia pulchella) on our property.   CORRECTION:  This is Indian BLANKET.   Don’t know where my head was when I wrote this.  The botantical name was correct.  Thanks to a reader for catching that.  Anyway, it’s nice to have several patches this year.  These are all growing in spots where grasses don’t grow, so they aren’t taking over pasture land.

rainpondscSure are pretty.

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rainpondseThis yellow flower (might be Four Nerve Daisy) has a really long stem with few leaves.  It has one or two blooms at a time.  The black centers laying on the ground at the end of stems (at lower left in picture) are spent flowers.  Waving in the breeze and growing in caliche, the sight of them reminds me of how sturdy some of these plants are.

rainpondsfgjpgMy favorite wildflower: Prairie Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida) is called Sweet William around here.  It’s tough as nails, grows in cliche, rocky fields, and in pastures.  When it fills up a field, a sea of dark lavender is stunning.

rainpondshjpgAnother tank that will probably be dry by the end of summer.

rainpondsjpg.This is the same tank as the previous picture.  The wood on this dock was supposed to be a specially treated wood.  But the curling planks have always been a problem.

rainpondslpg.Spring also brings Prickly Pear Cactus blooms.  They are beautiful and their yellow flowers stand out in a field.

rainpondsmpg.Unfortunately, they spread like crazy and can make the land useless.

rainpondsoThe creek crossing before the road rises up toward our house has water.  Haven’t seen that in several years.

rainpondsnMore bright Indian Blankets.

rainpondsrtjpgThe silky fluff from the seed of Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis) was used by pioneers to make candle wicks.  It was carded and spun like cotton and wool.  Milkweeds play an important role for Monarch butterflies.  They are the only plant used to lay their eggs.  Their caterpillars must have these leaves to eat.  There are several varieties of milkweed.  This is the one that is native here.

The large farms of the mid-west has wiped out most milkweeds, endangering the survival of monarchs.  Anyone who sprays herbicides on milkweeds contributes to the problem.

rainpondsrThe tank closest to our house.  The grass is over a foot tall.

rainpondsqIt was dug a couple of years ago and doesn’t hold water well.  The dead Walnut trees are the result of abuse to the roots while digging the tank.  Sigh.

We’re so grateful for the rains this month – almost 7 inches this May.  Wow.

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”       Henry Ford

Cowboy Culture

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City preserves and honors the life and culture of the cowboys of the American west.

cowboymuseumnThe western art displayed outside and inside the building are of excellent quality.

cowboymuseumPlus, the grounds surrounding the museum are filled with native flowers.

The flowers in the above picture were labeled Beard Tongue (Penstemon digitalis), “Prairie Dust”, an Oklahoma native.

cowboymuseum3The driveway into the museum property had this attractive center divider.

cowboymuseum4Looking back towards the street.

cowboymuseum5There was time to walk around the front and side of the building before it opened.  These massive relief murals are probably not even seen by most visitors, unless the front parking lots are full.

cowboymuseum6The shapes appeared to be layered concrete creating a bas relief.

cowboymuseum1Mexican Hats and Indian Blankets are natives commonly seen in several southwestern states.

oklaCoryopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), I think.

cowboymuseum2Rose Moss is so bright and cheery.

cowboymuseum7Many larger than life cowboy bronzes were scattered throughout the grounds.  The strong morning sun made photography difficult.

cowboymuseum8Just ignore the cars in the parking lot and focus on their faces.  A personal encounter captured for all to enjoy.

cowboymuseum9The sun totally washed out the front of this cowboy, but the back also makes a statement with the cactus and saddle being dragged.  Lost his horse, maybe.

cowboymuseumaThis huge “End of the Trail” marble statue greets visitors as they walk through the front door.

cowboymuseumiThere are many different halls at the museum that require several hours to visit them all.  Besides the cowboy theme, there is a strong sense of patriotism.

cowboymuseumjSome areas are dedicated to western art, both by well know artists like Remington and Russell, and some rooms devoted to newer artists.  Of course, photographing paintings was not allowed.

One large section features western culture as told by Hollywood.  Many movie posters advertising different shows and portraits of famous actors and actresses are displayed as well as some artifacts from the movies.

Then, there are rodeo rooms honoring winners and the art, itself.  A small western town with all the requisite buildings provides visitors a chance to peek in windows and stroll through streets.

There is so much more to this museum.  Wow.

cowboymuseumbOut in the back park-like area, more bronze horses seem to thunder through the land.

cowboymuseumcMature trees provided cool shaded areas and picturesque garden cameos.  Flowers, like these Daylilies, sparkled with color and interest.

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cowboymuseumfSmall water features brought cooling serenity.

cowboymuseumgThis statue was many time larger than life size.

cowboymuseumhI think this was Wild Bill Hickok, but I don’t remember for sure.

cowboymuseumkAlmost a neon color, these Astillble (Astillbe chimensis), made me halt and admire them.

cowboymuseumlFrom the back grounds, there is a good view of that well known statue.

cowboymuseumoSo worth a visit if you are interested in the old west and the lives of those who survived the hot, dusty, hostile environment and the dangers of wild animals and tough, ruthless men.

“In the Southwest, boots and pearls go with any attire.  Add a cowboy hat and you have an ensemble.” unknown