Friends Return

Maybe it’s just me, but when perennials bloom each spring, it feels like old friends have dropped in for a visit.

Now I have to admit that these Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa) have stayed around all winter, since it was especially mild.  But now they look brighter and perkier, ready to face the coming summer.

Each spring I’m still surprised that Amaryllis return.  In my mind, they belong in the inside potted plant category.  But I must give them credit showing up again the third time.  These were all gifts from my mother during her last two Christmases.

Such a beautiful, double flower with amazing bright color.

It seems I don’t notice some weeds until I see their pictures on the big screen of a computer.

This poor dwarf Indian Hawthorn is still struggling to recover from a really harsh winter before this last one.

But the flowers are sweet.

As always, I love my re-blooming Irises.

This Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) bloomed really early before cold days were over.  It’s hardiness is one of its best features, besides the lovely hanging flowers.

The Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus)  isn’t as full as it used to be.  Maybe it’s still early.  It’s a Texas native, so I expect it to recover.

Dianthus is back with a flourish.  I like the red and pink on each petal.

Some visitors outstay their welcome.  The Texas Flowering Quince is just about to be pushed out the door because it needs to be pruned soon and tidied up.

Bluebonnets are always welcome.  Just planted this one, so I hope it makes it.  It’s leaning over Stonecrop Sedum.

The pinkish lavender against the beautiful deep purple makes a stunning show.

Welcome, old friends.  Stay awhile.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”  unknown

Wildflowers and Memories

My last post showed gorgeous Texas wildflowers in a cemetery.  As Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story.

Past the thick patch of Indian Paintbrushes and some scattered White Prickly Poppies is the entrance into the Sutherland Springs cemetery.  That name may not conjure up any memories for you, but it is a sharp reminder of a tragedy that shattered this small community.

A lone gunman filled with hate and revenge stepped into this small church and took the lives of 26 innocent people.

Rather then walk into another church service in this building, the members turned it into a memorial for family and friends.  Instead, they rented a temporary building for services.  At the present time, a new stone building is nearing completion where they won’t be reminded of that day as they gather for worship.

Markers and mementos to honor the dead are placed all around the classic white chapel building with its idyllic steeple.  Some families were almost decimated that day.

This town is close to San Antonio, where the whole surrounding area has groves of these Huisache trees (Vachellia farnesiana).  They are considered nuisance trees by some people, like Mesquites in the upper Central Texas and, especially, West Texas.

Huisache is often one of the first trees to invade abandoned fields.  The most noticeable characteristics are their fragrant yellow puff blooms and their fern-like foliage.  They have white thorns, which are more noticeable on a young tree.  Huisaches require full sun and little water after they are established.Being in lower Central Texas, the area has mild winters with rare freezes, which is ideal for many wildflowers and some tropical plants.  It’s one of the more garden spots in the state.

As we focus on the natural beauty, we know that God is in control of the earth and the healing of this community.

“But I trust in your unfailing love;”  Psalm 13:5

No matter what the circumstances, we can trust the heart of God.

Poppy Season

An overnight trip took us south to Austin and Fredericksburg.  Bright colors abound at one of my favorite nursuries:  Wildseed Farms.

Two of my husband’s favorite places are Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant and Mamacita’s Restaurant.  We indulged in both..

Guess our motto is never pass up a nursery or Mexican restaurant.

Red Corn Poppies (Papaver rhoeas) and Showy Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) were blooming everywhere on the nursery grounds.

Very tall Chollo Cactus tower about eleven feet high in the air.

Rocket Larkspurs (Delphinium ajacis) stand primly in place.  Way too early for them in our zone 7b area.

Think this is Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus coccineus).  Also known as Claret Cup Cactus or Scarlet Beehive Cactus, they grow farther west, starting around San Angelo.  Guess it stays warm enough in the winter for them at the nursery.

Of course, this time of the year means Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis).  It’s nearly the end of their prime time.  The yellow Poppies are probably California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica).

The metal cactus are attractive and look great in the nursery setting.

Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) is a great pollinator plant.  Mine froze this winter, even though labels say it is cold hardy to zone 7a.

More Primroses.  The word “sweet” comes to mind when I see them.

Wow!  Wow! Wow!  How gorgeous is that.  Fields of Red Corn Poppies are so bright.

This sight reminded me that red poppies are worn to honor veterans.  The practice started after WWI.

The blue strip behind the Poppies are Bluebonnets.

The Wildseed Farms grow all these flowers for the seeds.  The owner uses larger properties near Houston to raise even more flowers.  Early last year, floods covered those fields and wiped out much of his seed supply for this year.

The Poppy petals are as thin as one-ply toilet paper and more fragile.  They flutter in the wind creating constant movement.

There are lots of walking trails near the wildflower fields and closer to the buildings, making it a pleasure to visit in a garden-like setting.

Don’t know what this tree is.  Maybe a Waterfall or Laceleaf Weeping Japanese maple?

Waterlilies in a small pond beside the tree in the previous picture.

One last look at Poppies as we exit the area.

Composed at the battlefield on May 3, 1915, during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium, following the death of a close friend.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

Canadian John McCrae

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Willow City Loop

These pictures show the Willow City Loop drive from our trip above and below Llano.  I am repeating a link to wildflowers drives for those who might not have seen it.

WillowloopA small two lane road forms a loop beginning and ending on Hwy. 16.  It doesn’t have the large sections of Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes scattered along the main highway but provides a leisurely scenic drive.

Willowloop5The road crosses private property with pastures on both sides.  Some of the ranches are not fenced and have cattle guards across the road.  A cow trail parallels this section of the road.

Willowloop1Even though traffic was heavy on a Saturday, there were ample places to pull over and enjoy the flowers up close.

Willowloop2These look like native Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa).

Willowloop4Just to prove this area is open to roving cattle, note the dried cow patty.

Willowloop6Nice views as the road winds from the valley up to the hills.

Willowloop8Bluebonnets in natural setting.

Willowloop9It’s common to find them among Prickly Pear Cactus.

WillowloopbWee little flowers form a nice ground cover.

WillowloopeOne ranch got everyone’s attention starting with these gimme caps.

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WillowloopdThen for half of a mile every fence post was topped with a boot.  Parked cars in the distance indicate a prime photo spot.

Wonder where all the boots came from.

WillowloopgNice property with no underbrush and mowed fields.  Lots of work to keep it looking like that.

WillowloopiBluebonnet patch just across the fence.  Another electrified fence at the other edge keeps cows from trampling the flowers.

The loop drive took us about an hour with several stops for pictures.  Very pleasant way to spend the day.

“We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.” Jean-Claude Juncker

 

Hill Country in Bloom

Springtime lures us to the open road.  There are several worthwhile drives where wildflowers are plentiful.  Central Texas Driving Routes is a good site to check out.

hwy16cHighway 16 both north and south of Llano is stunning with miles and miles of Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) and Indian Paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa).  The large sweeps of color takes one’s breath away.

hwy16bThe only disappointment was that there are very few places to pull over because the shoulders of the road are very narrow.

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hwy16fThe entrance to this old cemetery had a nice wide open area to park.  The name of the cemetery is a little disconcerting, but surely ‘Head’ is a family name.

hwy16gMore flowers inside the cemetery.

hwy16hPretty little flowers that I think are Vinca Majors.

hwy16iA Wine Cup (Callirhoe involucrata) flutters in the chilly wind.  These flowers close each evening and remain permanently shut after pollination. The heat of summer causes the entire plant to die back.  This hardy Texas native will return in the spring and sometimes again in the fall.  It prefers full sun in either gravelly or sandy soils.

hwy16jWhile I was taking photos of the wildflowers, my husband walked around reading headstones.

hwy16k

hwy16lButtercups are in the large family of Ranunculus.  They usually bloom in April and May, but they may bloom all summer when conditions are right.

hwy16mThe light faded out the colors of the Indian Paintbrushes.

hwy16aThe drive is all about the stunning displays of wildflowers.  There are other places of interest, but we only took time for lunch and viewing the flowers.

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” Steve Jobs

They’re Back

It’s that time when wildflowers start to pop up along the roadsides. Texans’ pride puff up.  What a joyous sight.

springwildflowersNothing says Texas wildflower like the native Bluebonnets.  Five species of Lupinus grow in Texas, and all have been designated as the state flower. The most common species is Lupinus texensis, the Texas bluebonnet, which starts flowering in mid-March.

springwildflowers3 As historian Jack Maguire so aptly wrote, “It’s not only the state flower but also a kind of floral trademark almost as well known to outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat.  The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland.”

springwildflowers1Another Texas native, Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) has not fully opened yet, but the pink among the Bluebonnets is iconic.

Further up the slope is the lavender colored Prairie Verbena.

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springwildflowers4Then, there are the many varieties of yellow flowers that cover the fields and bar ditches.  A reader suggests that these are Four Nerve Daisies

springwildflowers7Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) is a compact small plant that grows in hard soil.
springwildflowers8It doesn’t need or want much water, or do well in flowerbeds that receive TLC.

springwildflowers9As I’ve stated before on this blog, I need a primer course on native yellow flowers of Texas.  They’ve everywhere.

springwildflowersa

springwildflowerscI’ve heard this shrubby plant called Bee Bush.  But I’m not labeling it with any certainty.  It tends to grow along fence lines.

springwildflowers5Another mystery – the yellow flower covered fields in our area.  A group of us at Garden Club were discussing them.  No one knew their name.  Someone thought they might be a type of mustard, but someone else disagreed.

springwildflowers6The Midland-Odessa area in far West Texas labels itself the ‘Land of the Big Sky.’  To me, that title also belongs to us.

Can any Texas name any of the yellow wildflowers shown in this blog?

springwildflowersbThe shape of this small tree against the sky fascinated me.  Spring is all about new growth and savoring the world around us.

“I must say as to what I have seen of Texas, it is the garden spot of the world. The best land and best prospects for health I ever saw and I do so believe it is a fortune to any man to come here.” Davy Crockett