Books, Nurseries, Capitol

On a recent visit to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, we made stops at some nurseries.  No surprise there.

In the parking lot of a nursery, this flaming red Celosia is a magnet.  This one is probably Dragon’s Breath Celosia.  Celosias are annuals, so I don’t plant them much.  I would love to get Celosia to reseed.  Anyone know a trick?

This Texas native Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) spreads and flops but has beautiful bright flowers.  In full sun, it stands more upright.

An unusual characteristic is that it grows well in arid West Texas and in boggy Houston, which is in extreme Southeast Texas.  A versatile plant that is hardy and grows in the sun or shade.

A stand of these natives were also in the parking lot.  Maybe it’s Threadleaf Groundsel?

Inside the nursery, this Dwarf Thurderhead Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii ‘Black Pine’ ) grows naturally in ball tufts.  Could be a nice focal point in a garden.

Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea (Lamiaceae)) is a hardy native perennial.  Love the deep purple.

Another beauty is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha), which grows extremely well in the mild winters of Austin.  It freezes in my area.  I do love the soft velvet look.

Grasses have used in many public and some private landscapes for several years. Finally, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and want more in my yard.  There are so many varieties available now that it’s difficult to choose.

Every fall the book festival is held in the capitol building and in many large white tents set up on the streets around the capitol.  Authors from all over the US and some from abroad talk about their subjects.

It’s a haven for book lovers.

The artist for this cowboy sculpture was a New Yorker who created it in the early 1900’s.

Here’s Mexican Bush Sage used in the landscape.

Several monuments are scattered in the large area surrounding the capitol.

This monument honors the southerners who died in the Civil War.

Not that I’m prejudged, but this is a beautiful capitol building.  Inside, the impressive dome area and other public areas make it worth a visit.

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”           P. J. O’Rourke

WestCave Preserve

Last Friday we headed to Austin for some diverse activities:  a little shopping, some Mexican food, a Gilbert and Sullivan production, and a visit to a grotto.

WestCave is about 40 miles west of Austin in an isolated area.

By the entrance gate is some New Gold Lantana.  I had thought it was a hybrid, but everything growing here is native.

Some Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) in front of the main building.

As we head down, we get a glimpse of Pedernales River.  The word means flint stone.  The Spanish explorers named it to denote an area the Indians had used because it was rich with a high quality brown flint or chert.

Ball moss hanging from Live Oaks.

The moss is a Tillandsia or the type of plant that gets its nutrients from the air and is not harmful to the tree host.

Further down, Woodland Fern grows among the rich soil of tree leaf mulch.

Not sure what this plant is – maybe a type of Oakleaf Hydrangea?

The path is rough and steep.  Wish I had taken a picture of the stone stairs, but I was concentrating on staying upright.  The guide constantly reminds the group to stay on the path for our safety and to protect the preserve.

Some American or Canadian Germander (Teucrium canadense) seems to grow out of rocks.

Love the bright red of Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii) flower.

At the end of the trail is the grotto area.  It seems that we’ve stepped into a mythical secret place.

What looks like a cave is just a spot under fallen rocks.

Delicate Maidenhair Fern provides more lush growth.

Standing under the large fallen rock, the dripping water forms a thin curtain.

This the actual cave that we climb into.  The rocks are wet and slippery, so I’m thankful for the wire hand holds.

The Cow Creek Limestone forming the ceiling of the cave is covered with ancient sea shells.

The humidity is so high that by the time we leave this area, we’re soaked with sweat.

But I take the time to take photos of these two dragonflies.

I’ve never seen a red-orange one before.  Glad one stopped darting around long enough for a photo to be taken.

Two full days of activities was fun.

Have a blessed day.

“We only know a tiny proportion about the complexity of the natural world.  Wherever you look, there are still things we don’t know and don’t understand.”                          David AttenboroughSave

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Children’s Area, Lady Bird Center

Since the goal of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to promote water conservation and the use of native plants, much of the area is in its natural state of prairie fields.  That is also true of new Children’s Gardens.

As we enter into the Children’s Gardens, there are several of these curving walls.  I’m not sure what their purpose is.

This berm is covered with native plants, including yuccas, and limestone boulders.  It is the backside of a waterfall.

This walk-through cave like space is definitely meant for kids.  We had to stoop over low to pass through it.

These dinosaur tracks replicate the actual ones found in Glen Rose, Texas.  The Paluxy River contains some of the best preserved tracks in the world.  And there are lots of them.

Cute chairs sized just right for a family.

I have seen these for sale in Austin and have coveted one.  They are pricey, and I can’t justify the cost to myself.

Not sure if these statues are carved from real stones or man-made materials.  The stylized frogs are cute.

A larger frog designed for sitting awhile.

We saw two little girls with miniature watering cans walking around pouring water into these.

I like the Dragonfly bench, too.

Does it bother anyone else that “is” is left out before the word “that”?  Or maybe the true quote had “It is” at the beginning of the sentence.

A perimeter walking trail went around a large mowed field.

Just off the path were bronzes of native animals and birds.  Here a roadrunner has snagged a lizard.

A jackrabbit is posed ready to hop away.

One area had a variety of exercise equipment for “big kids”.

Quails, popular game birds, are perched on a branch.  Real ones hide in tall grasses and can give a person a heart attack when they all fly out just as you reach the area.

The trail leads back to the main part of the Center.  The steeped part of the building behind the trees is an auditorium.

This is the back side of the gift shop.

Even though it’s too early for wildflowers to be blooming, the Center is still worth the time to stroll around.

“One who does nothing but wait for his ship to come has already missed the boat.”  Chinese proverb

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