G.W. Bush Library

First, before I discuss our visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library, let me give thanks for recent rains.  Over the past two weeks, we have been blessed with six and a third inches.  Other people in the area received much more.  But we all have had showers of blessings including all of central Texas and even the Panhandle.  Desperately needed moisture has brought a sigh of relief because some cities were 90 days away from no water.

gwbush4Now to the museum on the SMU campus in Dallas.  The outside is simple in design, but note what looks like a small square building with windows and columns on top of the roof.

gwbushjThis cupola or whatever this is called is an interesting feature to the structure.  The Davis Mountains scene on all four walls is part of a changing scene screen.

gwbushmIt doesn’t look like a screen, and I know nothing about the technology.  The pictures slowly and constantly move around to the right on all four sides.

gwbushnThen the scene changes again.

gwbushlStepping outside from the above main foyer, there is a patio area in the center of the building.  This Desert Willow tree (Chilopsis linearis) provides nice color.

gwbushkAlso, in this patio were the statutes of both Bush presidents.

gwbush5Of course, one whole section was dedicated to 9/11 with sirens wailing, pictures and information.   This twisted metal from the towers served as a reminder of another “day that will live in infamy.”

Another section, where pictures were not allowed, was a gallery of paintings done by President Bush.  Those depicted were all world leaders during his presidency.  Beside each painting was information about where and when they met.  In a short video, he said that he was well aware that the signature on each was worth more than the painting.

gwbushhA few hands on exhibits were enjoyed by children and adults, like this one featuring their dog, Spot.

gwbushfOutside the Oval Office replica was the garden, which was similar to the famous White House Rose Garden, except this one was planted with Texas native plants.

gwbushgAnother view looking from just outside the Oval Office.

gwbusheThe Indian Blankets (Gaillardia pulchella) always wash out in midday photographs.

gwbushdWater Irises grew in a small pond area.

gwbusha

gwbushbThe plant database on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center lists all Foxgloves in Texas as False Foxgloves.  In our area, those are only white or pale ivory.

gwbushcI would love to find some of the pink or yellow ones.

gwbush9Nice combination of Agaves and small flowers in all the beds.

gwbushThe presidential library is on a corner.  This is the side street with a more formal planting of trees and grass.  To the left of this area, the ground slopes up beside the building and the front entrance is on the next level.

gwbush2I was impressed with these shutters that were permanent, attractive, and a  clever way to deal with the hot, direct sunlight.

gwbush3The architect included other smart shading techniques.

gwbushsAlong the side of the building, this was the only section that was planted in rows.

gwbush8All other plantings looked like a wildflower prairie.

gwbush7A few smaller areas of grass gave the whole area an ordered, rather then messy feeling.

gwbushtScattered among the native grasses were all sorts of wildflowers, like this Horse Mint (Monarda punctata).

gwbushuCould not get close enough to examine the red flowers, but maybe they are Penstemon.

gwbushrA few Mexican Hats (Ratibida columnaris), Thistles, and lots of different kinds of yellow flowers.

gwbushqThis might be American basket-flower (Centaurea americana).

gwbushpI was taken with them.

gwbushoThis Butterfly Weed’s (Asclepias tuberosa) bright orange screams for attention.

Worth a visit even though I didn’t feel as connected to the man as I did at his father’s library.  Maybe it was just me.  Another day might have brought a different reaction.

“Temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.”  Washington Irving

Backlit

My granddaughter’s favorite trick in photography is using back lighting.  I have become a believer.

web3Dried flower heads take on a silvery glow with low sunlight.

web2Stalks of dying field grass become dramatic.

web4Every time I see a spider web, I think of the writing by Sir Walter Scott.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive.”

And that reminds me that it’s a worthwhile axiom to follow.

web5On this particular day, there were dozens of thistles wrapped with webs.  For more information on False Purple Thistle, see former post.

The word cobwebs comes from an obsolete word coppe, which means spider.

websThe late afternoon sun magnified the fine hairs of each web.  The reason the webs look like silk is because they are made of proteinaceous spider silk.  This is created from their spinneret glands and is a sticky silk used for trapping prey or for wrapping it.

web6I tried but couldn’t find out what kind of spider this is.  Industrious little fellow.

web7Okay.  This is not backlit but caught my eye on this walk.  These Trompillo (Solanum elaeagnifolium) pods look like yellow tomatoes.  Trompillos are also known as Silverleaf Nightshade, Purple Nightshade, White Horsenettle, or Tomato Weed.

They are a long blooming weed that have prickly stems and leaves.  Trompillos tend to be found in disturbed areas like ditches and caliche roads.

As winter weather threatens, a slow walk to observe nature while the weather is comfortable is enjoyable.

“Any act often repeated soon forms a habit; and habit allowed, steady gains in strength.  At first it may be but as a spider’s web, easily broken through, but if not resisted, it soon binds us with chains of steel.”  Tyron Edwards

False Purple Thistle

The False Purple Thistle is actually an Eryngo (Eryngium leavenworthii)  But it looks exactly like a thistle, at least to my untrained eye.  The definition of a thistle:  Any of numerous weedy plants, chiefly of the genera Cirsium, Carduus, or Onopordum of the composite family, having prickly leaves and variously colored flower heads surrounded by prickly bracts.

So look at these pictures and you’ll understand my confusion at its being a “false” thistle.

But I trust the botanists to know their stuff.  A strange phenomenon to me is how weeds and wildflowers spring up in the piled up caliche along the roads.  Many of the county roads in Texas are sand or clay or caliche, depending on the available native soil.  Ours happens to be caliche.  The roads are graded periodically and the excess powdery rock piles up along the edges.

Out of those rocks and caliche grows all sorts of plants – many with parts that “bite”.  The false purple thistle is a good example.  In the late summer, they appear with their dusty grey green heads and leaves.  The leaves green up and the heads and brackets turn various shades of purple.

They find a comfortable home among all the other prickly plants.  The small tree to the left is a native red bud.  Because the county trucks come around to cut or hack down growth beside the roads, these trees never reach their full natural height.  But it’s necessary to keep the brush cut down to lower fire risks.The False Purple Thistle can grow up to four feet tall.  They look spindly but don’t fall over.  They certainly don’t get much water for their root system, either.

Thistles are used in dried flower arrangements.  Personally, I prefer just to enjoy them in their natural environment.  Even with gloves, it’s not a pleasant chore to cut and gather them or place them in with other dried plants.

“Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.”  Unknown