Texas Independence

Washington on the Brazos is the place where Texans declared their independence from Mexico.  We visited this site when we were in nearby Brenham last November.

A replica of the original building gives a feel for the gathering of delegates.

While settlers were escaping from Santa Anna’s army and the battle at the Alamo was raging, men gathered to decide the fate of their homes and lives.  The convention lasted for 17 days; the representatives wrote a new constitution and organized an interim government as they created the Republic of Texas.

“Fellow-Citizens of Texas: The enemy are upon us. A strong force surrounds the walls of the Alamo, and threaten that garrison with the sword…Now is the day, and now is the hour, when Texas expects every man to do his duty. Let us show ourselves worthy to be free and we shall be free.”
Henry Smith, Washington, TX – March 2, 1836

 

Nearby is a living history farm.  A display was set up at the ticket booth entrance. The green Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) is not an edible fruit, in my opinion.  I’ve only known them as Horse Apples.

Some sprigs of purple heart add a little color.

On the same table is a basket of gourds.  These were used for drinking cups, ladles, and other vessels.

This fence style was probably brought to Texas with the early settlers from other states that came with Stephen Austin.

This dogtrot or dog run house has all the characteristics that define it.  A wide open space provided a way for wind to blow through to cool the house in the hot summers.  Two fireplaces heated the two rooms on each side in the winter.

The house belonged to Dr. Anson Jones, the first president of the new republic.  It was built in 1844 and was moved to this location in 1936 as part of the Texas Centennial Celebration.

The Jones family lived in the house when it was on a farm in Brazoria.  He, his wife, their four children, his wife’s four half-sisters, and slaves lived on the farm.

Today this farm represents the lifestyle of the early settlers.

The master bedroom is decorated to look like it would have in those times.

A baby bed is set up beside the bed.

And a drawer at the end of the bed could sleep another young child or be used as storage.

On the fireplace mantle is a picture of Dr. Jones.  Not sure why it is covered with cheese cloth.

The second bedroom shows a chamber pot under the bed.

Other indoor conveniences include toiletry items and a wash basin.

The outside kitchen prevented the risks from cooking fires and kept heat in the summer away from the house.

The cook was preparing sweet potatoes for lunch.

The sweltering heat of summer and the bitter cold of always comes to my mind when I see how the pioneers lived.  Then I remember that millions of people today live in worse conditions.

How blessed we are to live in this time and in this place.

“The sharp thorn often produces delicate roses.”  Ovid

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Finally…

…rain, rain, rain and a lot of it for this area in August.  Hooray.  Week before last was an inch and over six inches this past week.  Lower temps and water – what a blessing.

finallyTo see raindrops on plants is awesome.  Everything, including this Purple Heart, needed some relief.

finally1And maybe the moisture will chase away the grasshoppers.

finally2…some beads on the Eve’s Necklace tree (Sophora affinis) after a 3 year wait.  Maybe all this extra water will end the choleric leaf condition.

finally3… the Bougainvilla is blooming.  On the advice of a friend, I tried plant food for Camellias to prod the plant to flower.  That filled the branches with healthy looking leaves but no flowers.  Then, by chance, I noticed food specifically for Bougainvillas at a big box store.

It took a couple of weeks before I saw results.  But suddenly, boom, the blooms appeared.

finally4Love the neon color.

finally6…I bought a pepper plant with purple leaves.  A well known horticulturist in Texas stated that he thought we should only have plants with green leaves, as nature intended.  But I decided that I liked the variety of colors available.

finally7No peppers yet but adds interest.

finally5… a small native Rio Grande Copper Lily (Habranthus tubishpathus (L’Her.) Traub) that I planted years ago has started blooming again.  The Mexican Feather Grass had taken over that spot, so it may have been blooming all along.  But I spotted it the other day and was pleased to see that it had survived.

finally8…a Crape Myrtle with black leaves – Black Diamond Red Hot.  They’ve been around for a few years but are new to my yard.  Not sure if they are as hardy as the other Crape Myrtles.

finally9…a fern that can take full sun.  Really.  I’ve tested it.  The friend that I got this from did not know what kind it is.  Internet research hasn’t found one that is an exact match.

The original I received was small.  It has grown and also put out some pups.

finallya…a motivation to always trim back the Autumn Clematis in the winter.  This is what happens when vines are full and get soaked with rain several days in a row.  Fell completely over.

finallybThe concrete holding the trellis just popped right out of the ground.

finallycA few blooms can be seen on the sides.

heatgoeson9In full bloom last year.  Lesson learned.

As a child, time seemed interminable waiting for things like Christmas to come.  Guess as an adult, we still get anxious for some things like rain to happen.

“A recent study has shown that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men who mention it.”  unknown

Autumn – Nope, Not Yet

Even though it’s autumn on the calendar, the weather here is still hot in the daytime with highs in the 90’s.  The mornings are cooler, which has perked up some plants.  There are still lots of things that are blooming.

autumn2The Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) has been covered with small flowers for months.  Garden designers suggest that wide flowerbeds look more pleasing.  And I don’t disagree, but there is a problem.  It is harder to reach into those beds and pull weeds.  Notice the green weeds.  Longer arms might allow me to pull them out with roots, but I can only break off the tops.

autumn5

animals5If I am totally still, you can’t see me.

autumn3In February of 2014 I bought a miniature Kordana rose at the grocery store.  I posted a picture and commented that it probably wouldn’t survive the winter outside.

autumn4But it did – in a clay pot, even.  That one got broken, so we’ll see how it does in this new fiberglass pot.

autumnA crow has adopted our yard.  He flies away fast whenever I open the door.  At the top of this Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), maybe he couldn’t hear my stealth approach.

autumn1Orange Marmalade Crossandra (Crossandra ‘Orange Marmalade’ was an impulse buy.  It is heat tolerant.  That’s a plus.  We’ll see how it does inside for the winter.

autumn6Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is in the Stonecrop family.  It’s a wonderful hardy succulent.

autumnbHere’s another pot on the back porch that has been here for nine years.  I keep meaning to plant some directly into a flowerbed.  If they survive the winter in pots, surely they’d do well in the ground.

In front of the Sedum is a Purple Leaf Shamrock (Oxalis regnellii), which has also been in that pot for years.  I do take that into a heated shed for the winter.

autumnaNormally Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) isn’t that striking a plant to me.  But in full bloom, it caught my eye.

autumn7Finally, the Duranta bush (Duranta erecta) has more blooms, although not as many as some years.  The red clay pots under it were my solution to lift the branches up off the ground so I could mow beside them.  In this case, a wider flowerbed would have been better.

autumn9I really love this bush.

autumn8So do pollinators.

autumndThis is at one end of a long bed in the backyard.  The Texas sage or purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) is blooming.

autumne

autumncNext in line is a Senna bush.  The long branches with a single yellow flower or a couple of flowers on the tip is very different from the bush behind it with large clusters of yellow flowers.

autumnf

autumngI think I have finally identified this bush – Cassia, Winter Cassia, or Butterfly Bush (Cassia bicapsularis).  I have guessed that it is Senna or Thryallis but have never been certain.  But I finally found a picture on the internet that seemed to match.

Beside that is a Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii).  If you want something that multiples, here’s your plant.

autumnhWhatever its name, it is gorgeous.

autumniAt the far end of that flowerbed is a Butterfly Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri).  Lovely.

Cooler days are ahead.  In the meantime, the crisp mornings are great.

“It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It’s the regrets over yesterday. And the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves that rob us of today.” Robert Hastings

Pretty Pink Posies

Okay, what can I say?  I like alliteration (heading).  Years ago we had a pastor who had three point sermons using alliterative headings for each topic.  Got my attention.

Back to pink:  many little girls love the color and want their clothes, rooms,  and accessories to be pink.  I don’t remember ever having pink as a favorite and am not particularly fond of it now.

redpinkfHaving said that, there is something sweet about pink flowers.  Just look at the Gladiola above.  They have been blooming profusely and make wonderful cut flowers.

redpink2In a new flowerbed, we recently planted these Drift roses with  pinkish coral flowers.  The best thing about Drift roses are that they stay low and spread out sideways.  At least, the information about them states that they will grow no taller than one and a half to two feet.  My plan is to keep everything in this bed low.  We’ll see how that goes.

redpinkThis Pigeonberry bush (Rivina humilisL.) is also called Rouge plant and Baby peppers.  That name may come from the red berries it produces.  It, too, is supposed to stay relatively small – 1 to 3 feet.  Due to poor planning in the past, many of my plants have outgrown their space.

redpink1Pigeonberry is a Texas native and does well in zones 7 – 10.  It blooms from spring to fall plus it has berries in the winter.

redpink6Can’t pass up showing Double Delight roses when I talk about pink.  Great aroma and all around great performer.

redpink (3)This Dutch Onion probably falls in the lavender category, but has a slight pinkish hue.

redpink (4)I’m not sure how they’ll do in the summer sun and may have to move them.  But since they’re bulb plants, I figure they will peter out soon and will return next spring.

redpinklGood old Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) has returned and is quickly filling in its space.

redpinkjAnd they definitely need to be confined to an area.

redpinkoAnd the Rose of Sharon Althea (Hibiscus syriacus) have leafed out and are blooming.  These were planted about five feet apart years ago and are crowding each other but continue to be healthy with many flowers.

The good or bad thing about Altheas is that they produce hundreds of new plants each year.  So you have lots to share, but you also must pull up the sprouts before they get too big.  Some come up under my rose bushes and aren’t noticeable until they reach the top of the roses.  So I end up having to cut them off each year at the ground.  This involves an almost prone position on the ground reaching under rose bushes.  Not fun.

redpinknThis is also a Rose of Sharon although the blooms look entirely different.  This is a Double Rose variety.

redpinkqThorn of Crowns looked pretty all through the winter inside, but is adjusting outside in the semi-shade and should bloom abundantly.

pinkAn African Violet on the window sill with delicate flowers.

pink1Ice Plant came back in a pot even after the cold winter.  Such a brave little soul with a vibrant color.

“Wind chimes:  When ten thin tinkling tin things twinkle and tingle in the wind twinkling and tinkling the ten thin tin things make a tingling tintinnabulation of joy”  unknown

A little much?  Sorry.  Couldn’t resist.

African Bulbine/Other Flowering Plants

Fantastic weather.  Our mornings have turned cool:  50’s and 60’s greet us early.  With highs in the 80’s, this is really autumn.  Not only are we enjoying it, but plants are rejuvenating with a sigh of relief.

stillblooming9This is probably the best time of the year for Purple Heart and African Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’).  More flowers  appear and the color of both flowers and foliage is stronger.

Since the Bulbine is native to South Africa, it is an annual here.  Mine stay in pots that must be brought inside during the winter.  They survive well in our shed kept just a few degrees above freezing.  In the spring when we bring the pots out, I pull out a few clumps of the succulent leaves and plant them in a bed.

stillblooming6For some reason, I cannot get a good close up that shows the true colors of Purple Heart.

stillblooming7This is better, but the flower is a little deeper pink in reality.

stillbloomingaTexas Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans ‘Gold Star’) are such a delight.  This one is hardy to Zone 9.  An important note for those in lower number zones.  Buy the Gold Star and not a tecoma grown from seed.  Otherwise, it will be an annual.

stillbloomingbPreviously I had tried the Esperanzas sold in chain stores.  Losing them in the winter made me a believer in the Texas hardy one.

stillbloomingcA few Purple Cone flowers (Echinacea purpurea) keep opening up.

stillbloomingdTheir colors are paler, but still pretty.

stillbloomingeThe cone flowers are visited by bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

stillbloomingiThe Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) bushes have spread this year and the flowers have been brilliant.  They have become established and just make themselves at home.   The bushes spread out like a queen draping her skirt out beyond her throne.

Turk’s Cap can be grown in the sun or shade.  In the sun, they flower more, but their leaves do better in the shade.

On the right is an Autumn Sage.

stillbloominggLots of pollinators love Turk’s Cap, including this Splinter Moth.

stillbloominghRussian Sage is still covered with blossoms.  With their soft pastel color and indistinct form they look like a Monet painting.

And now from Art Master’s Gallery is a picture that speaks to our drought situation.

mousesidewalkCute, huh?

“Every test in our life makes us bitter or better.
Every problem comes to break us or make us.
The choice is ours whether we become victim or victor.”

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

Front View

When we built our house and put in the “lawn”, I confess that we were not enlightened enough about water conservation.  So we have a large expanse of grass that I have been gradually eliminating with flowerbeds.  The grass is native Bermuda that came from the pasture soils we dumped over the rocky caliche yard areas.  As the weather gets hotter and the occasional rains have stopped, the grass will be more yellow than green.

Since I’ve never really shown the overall layout of the land, here goes with the front of the house, which faces north.

frontyard614xThe house is not really tilted – just my photo.

Although I would like to blame someone else for many of the choices in the yard, we both agreed to most everything.  I still think that our location, surrounded by pastures, does require a large open space.

frontyard614sOn the left side of the front, against the house, there are heirloom Daylilies and some hardy well adapted Yellow Columbines. frontyard614All the Daylilies were planted close to the house because those were the only flowerbeds we had when a friend gave us a whole trunk-load of newly dug bulbs.  Nothing had been done to the yard yet except stone laid for the flowerbeds and sidewalks.  So with no soil preparation, they were planted into the thick clay and have been healthier than should be expected

frontyard614aLet me interrupt myself:  when we were outside the other day, a baby Barn Swallow fell or was pushed out of a nest under the edge of the front porch covering.  It just took a dive into the grass in front of us and stayed there, probably stunned.  Eventually, it did fly away.

frontyard614rJust to the right of the porch is a bed of Purple Heart.  Then further right is Woodland Fern.

Another aside:  The wet walkway is from a 4 one-hundredth of an inch morning rain.  Lately, we’ve had several of those rains with some up to .20 inches.  Not really enough to water but enough to cause really high humidity.  And that is something we are not used to.

So with the humidity and the gnats, caused by lack of wind, it’s been a killer to work outside.  Whatever we complain about usually comes back to haunt us.  For me, that’s been too much wind.  So now we’ve had the opposite.

To those hardy souls who garden in the deep South, you have my sympathy and admiration because you endure humidity that soaks your clothes in minutes and all kinds of pesky flying menaces.

frontyard614y2 The Purple Heart has almost filled in its bed.  In fact, enough was growing out onto the walkway that I was able to break it off and share it with someone who wanted it.

In the foreground of the picture is a pot of African Bulbine.

frontyard614fThen, in the only true shady bed, is the Woodland Fern.  Columbine keeps trying to take over, so it requires diligence to keep it out.  But I don’t always keep up.

frontyard614gA potted Boston Fern in the corner has a pot of Kalanchoe in front of it.  The leaves on this particular Kalanchoe never seem to look healthy, but the blooms keep coming.

frontyard614dAlso, tucked in that corner is an Elkhorn (Euphorbia  lactea Haworth) that I’ve had for 5 years.  It’s also called Frilled Fan or Crested Euphorbia.  Although it thrives in the heat, it does better without direct sun.

It just keeps growing upwards and is tricky to move inside during the winter because it has sharp barbs on every edge.

frontyard614nAnother bed of Daylilies on the west side comes to the edge of the front fern bed.

As you can guess, I feel that I should apologize to those who urge us all to go xeriscape.  But I don’t truly like that look, especially in the extreme.  My preference is for an English Garden look, which I’m working towards using some drought tolerant plants and natives.

Happy gardening whatever your style.

“Gardening is a mirror of the heart.  Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow.  Gardening is an exercise in optimism.  Gardening is not a rational act.”  Margaret Atwood