City on the Concho

In West Texas, San Angelo is a town with a river, the Concho, which gives it many advantages.  Having a water source in an arid region is huge.  Therefore, the town boasts some green areas.

Although we’ve visited the town numerous times, on a recent overnight trip, we saw some places previously missed.

As we walked toward a Mexican restaurant (what other kind!) in the center of town, we passed the library, which has some large windows that jut out and are trimmed with this tile work around the door.  Always fascinated by symbols chosen to represent reading.

Outside the library is one of San Angelo’s ubiqutous painted sheep.  This one features children’s books.

I recognize pictures that represent Charlotte’s Web, Hank the Cowdog, and Alice in Wonderland.

The statement:  “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

Here’s the favorite of many.

The San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts’ unusual building is constructed of many different materials inside and out.  The inside space features a main two story central area with smaller exhibitions rooms around it.

One current exhibit displays the work of local artist, the late Jimmy Don Cox.  Western paintings and sculptures show his eye for detail.

Another show called ‘Critical Angles’ by Cathy Cunningham Little from San Antonio contains unique art using glass, mirrors, and light.

The small pieces of glass and instructions for placement were mailed by the artist to the museum.  This involved a complicated placement of the materials to achieve the exact light forms.

The only light in the room came from the small lights above each set of glass.

From this angle, you can see some of the glass.  Beautiful.

The serene outside area is nicely done with landscaping and well thought out green space and hardscape.

Love this little girl reading.

The Aermotor Windmill Company in San Angelo still manufactures and constructs the old fashioned windmills that have character and hark back to the settling of the west.  Not like the intrusive giant wind turbines that are taking over our beautiful countryside and destroying land values.  I could go on and on about that.

This succulent ground cover has lots of pretty small flowers.  Looks like a type of ice plant but don’t really know.

A cowboy teaching a kid about rope tying.

Walking down the street from the museum, this horse sculpture made us stop.

The wood in front with the holes is from Cholla Cactus.

Several old buildings along this street have been renovated for businesses.

The next morning we attended a short seminar about Gardening with Natives.  Afterwards we went to a small nursery outside of town that has a demonstration butterfly garden.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  I failed to get an overall shot.  My mind must have been on what was for sale in the nursery.

This is a Blue Potato Bush, Paraguay Nightshade, or Blue Lycianthes (Lycianthes rantonnei) for zone 8b to 11.

Clever idea that is easy.  Just paint some molded forms that are used for garden bed borders.

Behind the caterpillar on the right is an Italian Basil and on the left is Curly Parsley.

Using a wheel barrel for a fairy garden has been on my to do list for a while.  Maybe this will nudge me to get busy.

A strong wind was whipping the flowers on a Morning Glory Bush pretty good.

Bush Morning Glory, Morning Glory Tree, Badoh Negro, Borrachero, or Matacabra (Ipomoea carnea) survives in zones 8b to 11.  Several years ago I had one that lived about three years.  Then it became too tall and cumbersome to move into the shed.  So adios to that.

The star of the show is always Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) because it is so bright that it’s hard to look anywhere else.

Pride of Barbados is a zone 9 tropical evergreen, but in zone 8b, it is a perennial that dies to the ground.  It’s on the Texas Superstar list.

I’ve tried one that froze.  Some people cut them to the ground in early winter, mulch them heavily and cover them, so I’m going to give it another shot.

“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.”  Hugh DownsSave

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Winter House Plants

How can you tell if someone is a plant person?  If they surround themselves with plants, then they are.  It doesn’t matter how much space they have;  even people in apartments with small balconies find room.  The size of the wallet doesn’t matter because other plant people will share.  And skill doesn’t matter because that can be learned.

I consider myself to be a plant person, although I wasn’t always.  It is an acquired passion.

During the cold days of winter, plants can be enjoyed inside.  These are two Poinsettias were bought last winter.

There are some complicated methods about getting Poinsettias to rebloom the next year.  Those involve putting plants into darkness for a certain length of time at specific times of the year.

But, honestly, I did not do anything special.  Last spring after the temperatures was consistently warm (about 65 degrees), the pots were placed outside under a large tree where it was shady most of the day.  Then in November when we took all plants into a shed, I repotted the Poinsettias into a larger size pot and brought them in the house.

The leaves had already started turning red and continued to do so inside with bright indirect light.

Last year I bought a couple of hybridized Kalanchoes because the flowers have more petals, which are layered, than the common Kalanchoes I had been given years ago by a relative.

Although these are gorgeous, the old plants seem to be hardier and definitely grow faster.  Each year I put the common Kalanchoes outside for the spring, summer, and fall.  This year I’ll try these outside.

This is the Kalanchoe with white flowers.  Some of them have a yellowish tint.

Plant people do have plants that die or don’t do well.  That can be due to different climates and growing conditions.  But it can also be the fault of the grower.

This poor neglected Angel Wing Begonia, a hybrid, is an example of that.  It doesn’t get the consistent moisture or temperature that it needs.  Plus, I forget to fertilize it.  It is two years old and has never bloomed.  But I keep promising myself that I will take better care of it.

I’ve been learning to propagate roses.  This is one of my successes.  I’ve tried in the past but am now using the method that is used at Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas.

Take a cutting just below a spent bloom and cut the bottom at an angle.  Leave a few leaves on the stem.  Water some loose fine soil, wring it out with your hands so that it is damp but not mushy, and place in a zip lock baggie.  Put the bottom end of the cutting in rooting hormone and stick in the soil. Antique Rose Emporium uses a gel:  Rootech Cloning Gel, which can be ordered online.

Several stems can be placed into one baggie.  Zip the bag, place it on a window ledge in indirect light.  Then wait for roots to grow at the bottom.

This is some Basil that my daughter-in-law propagated for me.  Isn’t that a nice pot?

Growing plants doesn’t always mean success, but it is a rewarding hobby.

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more they will hate those who speak it.”  George Orwell

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Fredericksburg & Kerrville Gardens

The National Museum of the Pacific War or The Nimitz as it’s known locally, keeps expanding.  A one day visit is not sufficient to absorb all the information and view all the exhibits.  Maybe a younger person with lots of stamina would be more successful.  Down the street from the original building is an open air museum with military vehicles and more exhibits in new buildings.

fredericksburgcOn this visit we were focused on a new garden, a Japanese Garden, behind the the main building.

fredericksburgdThe Garden of Peace was a gift of the people of Japan.

fredericksburgccThe climate in Japan is very different than central Texas, so plant selection must have been tricky.

fredericksburgdd

fredericksburgdddMany of the plants used are favorites in the area because they are so hardy.  A Crape Myrtle shades this spot.

fredericksburgeWith the raked white sand and a few small pines, the Texas plants look right at home.

fredericksburgeeA traditional style Japanese house can be viewed from the outside.

fredericksburgeeeLooking back at the garden, we are standing at an opening in the wall that leads to a memorial area.

fredericksburgggHundreds of pictures of men and women who served during WWII are embedded in limestone walls.

fredericksburgfIt’s a quiet area with some traffic heard in the background.

fredericksburgff

fredericksburgfffIt’s a wonderful tribute to fallen servicemen and others who served.  But also, it’s a grim reminder of horrific suffering.

fredericksburggA screw propeller from a ship makes a fitting statue.

fredericksburiIn Kerrville we visited the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at the AgriLife Extension Building.

In the above picture patches of different kinds of grasses are grown.  Made we wonder how they keep the grasses from creeping into the other plots.  Maybe our native Bermuda is the only one that is a monster.

fredericksburii

Firebush (Hamelia patens) is a Texas Superstar plant. It is very heat and drought tolerant once established and will grow in almost any soil.

fredericksburiiiPlus, it’s really attractive with bold color.

fredericksburkA large grouping of another Texas superstar Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans) was stunning.

fredericksburjPollinators, especially butterflies, love Dill plant.

fredericksburjjAnd I love the airy structure.

Our one day outing was beneficial to choose gardens for our Master Garden class to attend.  It was a beautiful cool-ish August day, which are normally rare.  This year we’ve been blessed with many such days.

Thanks for taking this trip with me.

“Happiness is a choice, not a result.  Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy.”  Ralph Marston

Spring Flowers

It’s easy to beat oneself up this time of the year about all the tasks that still haven’t been done yet.  I’m trying hard to do what I can and accept that it’s impossible to pull all the weeds at once.  And at the same time, just enjoy the beauty of the new flowers and how some plants have grown.

springyardhOne nice surprise was seeing these Amaryllis blooms.  This particular one hasn’t bloomed in several years.  Why now?  Who knows.

Yes, there are weeds in this bed.

springyardnSo I came back and cleaned out this flowerbed.  It’s pretty small, so it could be accomplished fairly easily.

springyard4Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea vanhouttei) is a show stopper each spring. It’s easy to grow, has arching branches, and is often used in bridal bouquets.

springyard7And produces masses of flower clusters.

springyard1The copper leaves of this Canyon Creek Abelia (Abelia grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’) stand out in the spring.  However in this location, most of the year, the plants around it crowd out its color.  The flowers are tiny pale pink or whitish and are inconsequential to the overall look.

springyardgThis metal chick stands among the Flat Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum neapolitanum) in the same flowerbed as the Abelia.  I’ve heard that Flat Leaf is more tasty than Curly Parsley.  Don’t have an opinion.

columbineHooray, the Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha A.Gray)  has started to bloom.  The word columbine comes from the Latin for dove, referring to the flowers resemblance to a cluster of 5 doves.  Can’t really see it myself, but someone did.

I remember the first time I saw this plant.  About 15 years ago a group of friends were visiting Fredericksberg and walking to a restaurant.  A bank of Columbine was swaying in the wind.  One of my friends knew what they were.  It wasn’t until we moved to this location that I had room for them.

They enjoy morning sun and afternoon shade.  Who doesn’t in Central Texas?

springyard3Yellow or Golden Columbine is a spring bloomer that is hardy with beautiful green leaves after the flowers are gone and is a very reliable perennial.  Their airy, bright color and interesting flowers and foliage make them a plus in the landscape.

“I would rather sit on the tailgate of a pickup and watch a bonfire than go to a mall, any day.”  unknown

What’s Winter?

“This weather is crazy.”  is a comment heard often around here.  It is so true.  Last autumn weather forecasters promised a cold and wet winter.  Did not happen.

We only had one cold spell here that lasted a few days, but it was enough to freeze everything.  I’ve been to the metroplex area this month.  It still looks like the fall with no freeze damage at all.

earlyspringIt’s a little early for this bulb flower to open up.  This is the third year this bulb has bloomed, and it has always been close to the ground.  Still, I think it’s Vuurbaak Hyacinth ‘Fire Beacon’, which was popular with the Victorians.  They’re known to bloom in early spring but should be taller.

If this ID is incorrect, I don’t know what it is.

earlyspring2

earlyspring4Just a few daffodils have opened in my yard, but I’ve seen several flowerbeds in Brownwood with lots of blooms.

earlyspring5The Flat Leaf Parsley is already spreading.  In fact, I’m not sure it died back completely.

earlyspringaNow to be brutally honest, the weeds, like these Henbit, are growing fast and furiously. These don’t really bother me.  In fact, I heard that their presence means a well-balance soil.  Doesn’t make sense to me.

earlyspringbAnd the bane of my life, Common Sowthistles (Sonchus oleraceus) are healthy and growing like weeds.  Ha, ha.  A recent post on Central Texas Gardener stated that these could be used to make a tea.  Really?

earlyspring3Even some of the trees are responding to this warm weather.  This Texas Ash is leafing out, which makes me nervous because we could have a late freeze.  Typically (if there is any such thing in Texas) we have a freeze around Easter.

earlyspring7It’s not unusual for this Texas Quince to have flowers this early.  In fact, it needs some cold weather.

earlyspring8The Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) has tons of leaves already.

earlyspring9This is the one that really worries me.  This small flowering bush/tree has struggled for three years and losses it leaves in late summer.  So a freeze could really set it back.

earlyspringcIce Plant flowers on dead stems.  How crazy is that?

About the only thing for certain about Texas weather is that it is super hot in summer.  And I don’t use that term as it applies to teenage idols.

“Teach your children to love cattle and they will never have money for drugs.”  unknown

That’s Odd

The biggest anomaly this year is the weather.  So far, we’ve only had three days of 100 or 100+ degrees.  It’s August!  That is so odd that everyone talks about the beautiful weather all the time.

Most areas around us have had several rains.  We have not, but there have been many cloudy days.

Nice summer, indeed.

oddSeveral times when I have gone into the shed, a lizard would be in the bottom of a bucket.  He must has have fallen from the ceiling.  I would dump him into the yard, but there he would be again the next day.  I don’t know if it was the same one or not.  If so, he’s a slow learner.

odd2One day from my kitchen window, I saw a 5 to 6 foot snake slithering across the grass and climbing into a tree.  By the time I could react and find my camera, he was already in the higher branches of a small Red Oak.

odd3I could never find his head for a photo.

odd4Just a Bull snake, I think.  I hope.

odd5Why is this scene strange?  Because it reminded me of a green idyllic meadow.  Usually, the grasses are dry like straw.  But here the yellow is wildflowers.  “Cows are in the meadow”… type photo.

odd6The purple Balloon flowers or Chinese Bell Flowers have not bloomed much this year.  Many of the ones that opened were white.  For the past eight years, they have been heavy bloomers.  Don’t know what happened.

odd7This is like one of those pictures where one’s eyes have to adjust and focus by staring to see the image.  The heads of Dill (Anethum graveolens)  are full of seeds.  Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar are supposed to feed on dill, although I have not seen them.

odd8Mowing around a flower bed of Gregg’s Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) brings on a flurry of rising butterflies swirling around me.  The flowers are small but obviously a favorite of Viceroys.

oddcThe compost heap behind a shed is producing vines.

The blue lid from a barrel is to cover food scraps and discourage racoons who often climb over the wire barrier.  Unfortunately, if they want to move the lid, they can.

odd9There are two different kinds of vines.  Last year we had canteloupe grow here.

oddbA Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana) plant found its way here and is blooming.

oddaThis one looks like it is producing yellow summer squash.

I don’t often remember to pour water on the decaying compost.  But when I see the vines, it reminds me to do so.

odddWhy is this mule sniffing or eating a small cedar?  Don’t know.

praying mantisThis Praying Mantis appears to be in the process of molting, which they do several times during their lifetime.

snyderWhat is this plant, you ask.  This photo was taken in West Texas.  Those are actually plastic stems from an artificial plant.  Given the fact that watering is severely rationed, it seems like an interesting solution.

“A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.”    Old cowboy adage