Water Lilies

The International Water Lily Collection in San Angelo is usually a surprise to people simply because of its location.  In dry West Texas to find the largest group of different lilies in the world is astounding.

It’s all the result of one man who had a fascination that became a dream and a passion.  Ken Landon has traveled the world to collect lilies from the wild in sometimes dangerous places.

lilieseIt all started with one lily that was found locally.  Landon then hybridized that one with another lily to make a hearty beautiful lily:  Texas Dawn, which is the state lily.

lilies001The lilies are in a city park and the ponds are about 15 feet below street level.  As we walk down stairs, we pass by Castor Bean (Ricinus communis) plants, which grow in warm weather climates.

lilies002Walking to the entrance to the ponds is Potato Vine spilling over a rock wall and making a bold statement.  Being below the street level requires terracing and plants that keep down erosion.

lilie02

liliesdThe rest of the pictures will be eye candy since I can’t identify each lily.

liliescAlthough the ponds are in a city park, the lilies themselves are owned by Landon’s consortium.  Ninety-nine percent of his collection of plants and seeds are stored to protect the species.

liliesbTo make the lilies pop out, a specific dye is used to make the water dark.

lilies034There are six ponds filled with lilies.  Each lily is planted in a barrel and submerged.

lilies8

lilies7

lilies6

lilies5

lilies4Dragonflies were flitting back and forth over the ponds.  One has settled on the bottom left petal of this flower.

lilies1

liliesAlthough the forms of the lilies are subtle to my untrained eye, the colors of both the flowers and the pads are lovely.

For anyone living in Texas, this should be on their bucket list.  The Lily Fest is September 24, but crowds will attend.  I prefer having the ponds all to ourselves but on a cooler day than when we were there last Friday.

“People tend to complicate their lives, as if life weren’t complicated enough.”  Anonymous

Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  unknown

San Angelo

This is the time of the year when most gardening seminars are held across Texas.  Recently we attended the Concho Valley Master Gardener Symposium in San Angelo.

sanangeloWhile there, we visited some favorite sites.  As crazy as it sounds, we enjoy the San Angelo Visitor’s Center.  I know I’ve shown this place before, so I tried to get different photo shots.

sanangelo1With the visitor’s center up high, the rock work down the slope to the Concho River is attractive and creative.

sanangelo3This grass clump, whatever it is, has grown even taller than when we last saw it.

sanangelo4The plants chosen for this area are drought tolerant and hardy, like this Knock Out Rose bush.

sanangelo6I took the following pictures in the bathroom because they appealed to me.  They show Texas native animals.  You can just scroll through quickly if you’re not interested.

This is a wild boar or feral hog (Sus scrofa).  These have become a major problem because they destroy property, are dangerous to animals and humans, and are multiplying faster than they can be controlled.  The tile picture makes it look cute, but it definitely isn’t.

sanangelo7Scorpions have become a problem this year for us.  For some reason, they have invaded our house, even with pesticide spraying.  I’ve been stung once and had forgotten how painful they are.

sanangelo8Another pest around here are jackrabbits because they feed on flowerbed plants as well as grass.

sanangelo9 It’s very rare to see a Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) or Horny Toad, as they are called in West Texas, anymore.  They’re presently on the threatened species list.

sanangeloaWild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are hunted, but I don’t see how there could be much meat on them.

sanangelobAnd, lastly, the nemesis that digs up our yard and burrows in the flowerbeds.  The Nine Banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) is the only armadillo to live in the U.S.  Sometimes I think they have targeted us, but I know that it’s much easier to dig in amended and watered soil than in the hard, dry pasture land.

sanangelocAll around San Angelo are painted fiberglass animals.  This cross-eyed ram stands in front of a Mexican restaurant.

sanangelodThere are several murals around town that depict periods of history or influences that shaped San Angelo.  Although most people haven’t heard of Elmer Kelton, he was a prolific author about cattle ranches and other aspects of West Texas life.

sanangeloeThe fourth Hilton Hotel was built here.  Over the years, it has housed many different enterprises, including an ‘old folks’ home’.  Currently, the bottom floor has a restaurant, and the upper floors appear to be apartments.  The mezzanine seems to have the only remaining remnants of the original art deco style.  The ballroom is still in its original condition.

sanangelofThis is the top of one of the columns just outside the ballroom.

sanangelogWhile in San Angelo, of course, we had to make a stop at the International Water Lily Collection.

sanangelohWe waited until a cooler part of the day to go, just as the sun was low.  Again, just flip through these if you’re not interested.

sanangeloi

sanangeloj

sanangelok

sanangelol

sanangelom

sanangelonThis past weekend we attended the Pollinator Pow Wow in Kerrville.  Pow Wow is a native American term that means ‘The gathering of the people to share wise words’.

Bright colors of painted bats blend well with dead leaves where they roost. Flight, Vespertilionidae, S and SE Asia

Bright colors of painted bats blend well with dead leaves where they roost. Flight, Vespertilionidae, S and SE Asia

A lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonyderis yerbabuenae) feeding on cardon cactus fruit, This is the world's largest cactus, growing up to 50 feet tall. Seed Dispersal

A lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonyderis yerbabuenae) feeding on cardon cactus fruit, This is the world’s largest cactus, growing up to 50 feet tall. Seed Dispersal

Dr. Merlin Tuttle was the main speaker.

My opinion about bats was what most people think – yucky creatures.  But he convinced me of their importance in pollinating many different plants around the world.  He told excellent stories about his interventions to save bats.

This is longer than most posts.  Thanks for sticking with it.

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”    Albert Einstein.