Spring Fed River

While in San Angelo recently, we enjoyed strolling through a small park area bordering the Concho River.  The key to success in public park spaces is meeting the needs of local people and knowing what grows well in your area.

The sight of this spring fed river in dry West Texas always makes me feel good.

Although this area is beside a major road, it is quiet and peaceful.  The deep shade of what I think is Arizona Cypress (Cupressus Arizonica) is a welcome relief from the hot afternoon sun.

A  soothing spot to while away an morning or afternoon.

Continuing our walk, we cross the river on the foot bridge.

The Concho River in West Texas seems like a strange place for a mermaid statue, but is actually appropriate since she is holding a Concho freshwater mussel that produces gorgeous pearls in many colors.  The pink one is probably the most well known, even from the time of the Spanish conquistadors.

The sculptor, Jayne Charless Beck, was a San Angelo resident artist who passed away in 1993.  After his death, this bronze casting of “The Pearl of the Concho” was donated to the city.

This memorial for 9/11 victims displays 2,996 flags for the victims.

A metal cross stands in the center of the memorial.

Several plantings of Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculate) provide a coolness to the area.  It is native to South Africa and survives in zones 8 – 11.

This combo with Texas Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans) contrasts the brightness of the yellow and the calming effect of the blue.

The draping of the Blue Plumbago’s long branches is an additional plus.

In the right zone, Plumbago is easy to grow.  Unfortunately, for me it is an annual and has to be grown in a pot.

Yellow Bells also require mild winters, but the problem can be solved with heavy mulching and some kind of cover over the roots.

Grass plantings are very popular.  This is Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) with an Autumn Salvia Greggii (Salvia greggii) in front.

Some consider Mexican Feather Grass to be invasive.  It has not been for me, but the top half of the plant should be cut off in winter to keep it from flopping and looking messy.

Salvia greggii should also be cut back severely in winter.  Otherwise, it becomes too leggy.  The species has several different flower colors.

I think this is Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetumsetaceum ‘Rubrum’), which is hardy in zones 9 – 11.  It’s used as an annual in larger Texas cities.

Mugwort or Artemisia  (Artemisia vulgaris) placed in the middle of Mexican Feather Grass adds a lovely softness.

Salvia Greggii can be overused because of its hardiness, but this park has just a few scattered here and there.

One of my favorite ornamental trees or large bushes is Chaste Tree, Abraham’s balm,  Monk’s pepper or Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus).  They are just so reliable for our dry areas, plus they have gorgeous purple flower clusters.  After the flowers die, the cluster of berries can be dried and used in arrangements.

Before turning around, we stopped outside of the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts that we had previously visited a few weeks before this trip.

Potato Vine with Periwinkle (Vinca minor) and maybe a Bougainvillea that isn’t blooming.

Nothing is as refreshing as a walk through nature, even if it’s in the city or maybe, because it’s in the city.

“We always want the best man to win an election.  Unfortunately, he never  runs.”                   Will Rogers Save

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Quigley’s Castle

Quigley’s Castle outside of Eureka Springs is one of those odd tourist attractions that makes one curious enough to stop.

quigleyElise Quigley had described her vision for the house, but had to make a miniature model before her husband Albert and an architect could understand what she wanted.  Using lumber from the property, Albert and a neighbor built the house in 1943.

Elise and her children made the bricks for the outside from the collection of rocks she had accumulated since her childhood.

QuileyOn two sides of the two story home are large windows to provide light for tropical plants that grow in a three foot deep gap between the windows and where the flooring begins.  So the plants grow directly in soil.

Quiley2This shot looks up to the second story garden space.  Planks were laid to create shelves for pot plants.

Quiley3This picture was made from the second floor looking down in the growing space.

Quiley1In one corner upstairs is a collection of shells and plants.

Quiley5Some of the plants reach up to the second story.  I think this one is a Hibiscus.

Quiley4On one wall hung a collage Mrs. Quigley created from butterflies and shells.  It looks like some kind of resin was poured on top since it has a reflective finish.

Quiley6It actually works like a mirror:  The window and railing are behind us as I take the photograph.

Quiley7It’s a small house, so it’s amazing that they had five children living there.  Although two sons were serving overseas in WW II, so I’m not sure they ever lived there.

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QuileyaThe kitchen seemed especially claustrophobic to me.

QuileyaaAlthough Mrs. Quigley lived for forty years in this house, it is amazing how much hand rock work was done in the yard.

QuileybI also don’t know if this was done completely by her or if her family helped.

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QuileyccMr. Quigley inherited the 80 acres from his father and continued the lumber business of his family.

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QuileyddHow was she able to get all that cement during the war and the years following it?

QuileyeLook at the size of these rocks.  It makes my body ache to just think of the heavy lifting involved.

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QuileyfAll kinds of trees with intertwining vines grow on the property.

QuileygA sign by this furnace provided the following information. In 1998 the brick chimney in the kitchen began to leak smoke, so this furnace was installed. It heats the whole house, two outbuildings, and the hot water heater in the house. The fire in the furnace burns a little over a half cord from October to mid-April.

Since Mrs. Quigley died in 1984, someone else must live in the house now or maybe it’s heated for the tourists.

QuileyggJust think of the time involved in all of these projects.

QuileyhLoose stacked rock fence.

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QuileyiHens and Chicks growing in this planter.

QuileyiiThe tall slim towers are a puzzle.  There must be some kind of poles inside to keep them upright.

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QuileyjjPyracantha bushes at the back of the house.

QuileykI do like the small rock baskets.  Chrysanthemums and Pansies add some color.

QuileykkPeriwinkle or Vinca flowers scattered throughout the yard brightens up an autumn scene.

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QuileynnNext to the parking area is an interesting tree with a burl.

QuileyoThe bright red tree is a Sugar Maple, I think.

QuileyooThis house and the yard may seem tacky to many people.  But I was impressed with the work behind it all.  It’s important to have a passion about something.  And it’s obvious that that she loved nature, specifically plants and rocks.  So I applaud her for living her dream.

“Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.”   Lorraine Hansberry

Roadside Garden in Costa Rica

During a noon stop at a restaurant, my husband and I decided to skip the meal and eat snack foods.  Three full meals a day were proving to be too much for us.

publicgardenhBeside the restaurant was a road leading up the hill to a gate and a private residence shown in the top left of this photo. On the other side  of the road was a park area.  Walking up the sloped road. workmen were toting huge bags of dirt or compose on their backs up to different areas of the garden.

publicgardencThe garden looked complete, but they were adding additional features.

publicgardennIn front of the garden on the road was the restaurant sign.  English indicated it caters to tour groups.

publicgardeneRed and purple flowers dominated making a bold, exotic garden.

publicgardenaThese looked like extra large Periwinkle flowers.

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publicgarden4Parrot flower.

publicgarden5Ginger, like we’ve seen all over the country.

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publicgarden2Enormous Angle Wing Begonia

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publicgardengMore tile flooring and seating areas were being added.  A covered area with benches provided a comfortable place to get out of the intermittent showers.

publicgardeniThese flowers look like Crown of Thorns, but the foliage is different.

publicgardenlLunch time was much longer than usual, so we stepped inside the restaurant gift shop.  Collette Tours was handling all in-country hotels, attractions, etc.  There were two buses with parallel itineraries, so we saw the other group often.  A 93 old woman from the other group had slipped on the tile floor and fallen in the restaurant.  Their group and ours happened to have a nurse.  Both nurses were on the floor with her as she lay immobile.  An ambulance from a distant town that had a good sized hospital was on its way.  Later, we heard that she had a dislocated shoulder.  She continued on the trip after an overnight hospital stay.

publicgardenoWe went back out to the garden waiting for departure.

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publicgardenfAcross the highway was another pretty landscaped area with a lake and mountains in the background.

publicgardenjThis strange tourist photo board beckoned for a photo.

All the parts of Costa Rica that we saw dripped with lush, green hills or mountains.  There were many gardens that showed great effort and design.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt