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

Walk on the Wild Side

Boerne offers the beauty of central Texas, caves, and nature al natural.

Cibolo Nature Center offers many different experiences.  At the beginning of the trailhead that wanders through the wild areas is a stone replica of tracks of a giant reptile.

The Acrocanthosaurus lived in the Crtaceous Period about 100 million years ago.  The original tracks were removed for safe keeping and replaced with an exact replica.

The Texas Native Prairie Trail reminds people how important the tall grass prairies are to the central plains, and that they are an endangered ecosystem.

Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) has popped up among the grasses.

Poverty Willow (Baccharis neglecta) sways in the wind.  Although it looks totally untouched, this prairie is actually managed with controlled burns and is used for research.

This looks like Common Wild Petunia (Ruellia nudiflora).  If that’s what it is, a couple of petals have sheared off of each flower.

Many types of grasses grow in this pocket prairie including big Bluestem, Indian grass, and Switch grass.
The Woodlands trail provides shade from large oaks.  This could be a Four O’Clock ( Mirabilis jalapa).
Frostweed (Verbesina virginica) is so named because a few degrees under freezing, the dead stems split at the base and exude a thin, curling shaving of ice.
The Cibolo Creek runs through the property and provides a Marshland trail.  As the shoes indicate, a young mother and her children crossed over to the marshland.  The crossing looked iffy for me with poor balance, so we skipped that part.  Plus, we were both overwhelmed by the heat and humidity.
This looks like Mealy Sage (Salvia farinacea) found growing in limestone soils.
Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera) is a bright flower that stands up tall on its stem (about 18 inches).  The tall dome is usually black/brown, but has already lost its seeds and now has a white top hat.
Closer to the Visitor Center is a small garden with hardy plants.  Rosemary has a few blooms left.
Blue Mistflowers (Conoclinium coelestinumare) are usually covered with butterflies.  These are smaller, probably because they don’t receive water, except from rain.
There are a couple of caves near Boerne.  We visited Cave Without a Name, which is on private property, but open to the public.  This picture shows the original entry that was discovered when a farm animal became stuck in it.
The cave is a U.S. National Natural Landmark.
Thankfully, it now has concrete stairs leading down into the cave.  A few Tricolored Bats
(Perimyotis  subflavus) inhabit the cave.  They are smaller than the more common Mexican Free Tails found in Texas and don’t live in colonies.
 
The cave went unnoticed until a couple of guys during prohibition thought it was a good spot to produce moonshine.
It was officially opened by the land owner in in 1939.  He held a state wide naming contest.  A young boy said that it was too beautiful to have a name and thus, won the $250 prize.
A constant temperature of 66 degrees makes it comfortable to visit.  Cavers have mapped out over 2.7 miles of caverns.
Six large rooms with many different formations are part of the guided tour.
The cave is subject to flooding when heavy rains occur.
An hour tour is the perfect length for most people.
If you’re looking for a get-away week-end and live in Texas, I recommend Boerne and its attractions.  The shopping is good and not nearly as crowded as some of the other Hill Country touristy towns.
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir

Honor the Brave

Brownwood, Texas, population of around 20,000, has created a memorial to soldiers from all U.S. wars and the military in general.

The Brownwood Garden Club was asked to create a flowerbed around this sign.  So we paid for the rock work, which looks great.  The ground is extremely hard, so we filled the bed with good soil and planted some drought tolerant plants.

Kudos to the committee who planned and executed everything.

The committee also planted around the Brown County Medal of Honor winner.  I had never heard of the Philippine Insurrection until recently when I was going through some old family photographs.

As it turns out, my mother’s uncle served there.  He’s seated.

The memorial reminds me of the WW II one in D. C.  in that it consists of monuments around a concrete circle.

Unfortunately I forgot to count the number of granite slabs.  But all wars in which the U.S. has participated are represented.

The land of the free is possible because of the brave who served and are serving.

This one appears to be the first monument put up because I think it’s concrete and more difficult to read.

Camp Bowie in Brownwood was the largest base in the U.S. during WW II.  Today it serves as a training site for the National Guard.

In the background is a Howitzer, used during WW II.

Did not see any information that dates this jeep.

Used by U.S. soldiers every where they were sent during WW II, “Kilroy was here” signs scribbled on any available site proved to be a morale booster.   Soldiers were relieved to see that other Americans had preceded them.

It is thought that the original legend of Kilroy dates to World War II and a man named James J. Kilroy (1902-1962), who lived in Quincy, Massachusetts.  Click on Kilroy to read the full story.

Developed by Bell Helicopter in Ft. Worth, Hueys were designed to be used for medical evacuations.  The first one was flown in 1956.

Sad to report that four of the monuments were destroyed.  It is still unclear if the strong straight-line winds in the area toppled them or it was vandalism.  The Jaycees are in the process of raising $40,000 to replace them.

My thanks to all the past and present men and women who have served to keep our country free.

“O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!”

Katherine Lee Bates

Roses and More

This year, Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas, is celebrating its 30th year of operation.

Inside the chapel, where the annual symposium is held, rose decorations set the theme.

This wreath hung on the podium.  By the way, the speakers we heard on Friday were excellent.

A frame on an easel held this vase of gorgeous roses.  We all wandered up to try and figure out how it was created.  I think wet florist foam was behind the half pot and all the rose stems were stuck in it.

A couple of these frames were hung on blacked out windows.

And, of course, there had to be a cowboy boot filled with sweet smelling roses.  We were so glad we attended this special event, even though we were only able to stay for one day.

Arriving early and using the lunch hour to wander around the nursery is always a treat.  This is so much more than a nursery.  It’s like an arboretum.  There are flower beds everywhere filled with all kinds of plants, like this fancy Zinna.

One of the things I like about this place is the whimsy scattered all around.  A living bedroom provides a smile.

All sorts of plantings show ideas for lots of different tastes.

Beds of simple, common flowers like these Dianthus or Pinks illustrate that gardening doesn’t have to be expensive.  Although, it definitely can be because it becomes a consuming hobby.  I speak from experience.

Simple, yet elegant setting.

A dying vine with some berries left provided a viewing spot for this bird above our heads.  He certainly seemed oblivious to our presence.

A small fenced in area contained lettuces and other greens and edibles growing beside flowers.

Brightly colored peppers are eye catching.

A bed of one of my favorite perennials:  Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’).  Another common name is Henry Duelberg Mealy Cup Sage.  Loves the sun and attracts bees.

But the heart of this place is roses.  So many choices to choose from.

Several posts will follow to show more of Antique Rose Emporium.  Thanks for stopping by.

“I was born with a reading list I will never finish.”  Maud Casey

Lost Maples

The last week in October, we visited Lost Maples, which is northwest of San Antonio.  Look how shallow and clear this stream is.  We crossed it many times over wobbly rocks.

This may be Texas Groundsel or Texas Squawweed(Senecio ampullaceus).

We were too early for the Maples to have turned, but hey, there’s color.  Okay, it’s Poison Ivy.

Several patches of this tiny star flower.

I showed a picture to a ranger, but she said that she was a paper pusher and didn’t know the plants.  Surprised me.  Anyone know?

Pretty sure this is Helmet Skullcap (Scutellaria integrifolia).  Lost Maples area has a much warmer winter than we do, so many of the wildflowers are different than ours.

Pretty little flower.

The flowers look like Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum).

This was growing lower to the ground than Boneset usually does.  But, of course, this doesn’t receive regular watering.

This looks like Frostweed (Verbesina virginica L.) to me.

Some tree color – yeah.  But it’s a Sumac, not a Maple.

These flowers look like little cotton bolls on tall stems.  Unknown to me.

What happened here?  Crazy.

This could be Pigeonberry (Rivina humilis).  Not sure if the leaves are correct, though.

A sign lead to a side path to see the “monkey rock”  Reminds me of one of those stuffed monkeys that have tambourines in their hands.   When wound up, they bang their hands together.

And we thought that we had rocks!  Well, we do.  Just different kind.  We have rough caliche rocks, while these are river rocks.

Don’t recognize the flowers.

Although we didn’t see lots of color, it was nice that it was a peaceful hike without the crowds that would be there when the maples turned.

When the sunlight hits grasses just right, it’s so pretty.  It’s easy to see why they have become popular as a landscape plant.  I’m just leery because I planted an Inland Oats in a pot a few years ago.  It spread like crazy.  Still, I find them scattered here and there in flowerbeds.

More red.  Five leaves, so I’m pretty sure it’s Virginia Creeper.

The hills are mostly covered with cedars or spruce.   The maples and other trees are in the valley.

There were several different trails available.  We choose a 3 mile one.  We had walked for one and an half hour when the trail left the flat land and headed upwards.  The trails all had loose rocks, even on the flat ground, so the footing was iffy.

The climb was steep with rocks requiring big steps up.  I was getting more unsure of continuing by the minute.  Then a younger couple than us came down a steep incline.  They had turned around and said it was very difficult up ahead.  That was all it took for us to turn around.

Back on fairly level ground.

Just what one would expect to see on a walk through the woods:  mushrooms growing on a decaying log.  Could be Polypore mushrooms.

Getting close to the parking lot.

While in the area, we stayed at The Lodges at Lost Maples.  The cabin was actually more spacious than it looks from the outside.  Very quiet, peaceful setting.

Loading up to head to San Antonio.  Noticed the Ball Moss hanging on the tree.  Some people say they aren’t harmful to the host plant.  But we saw some at Lost Maples Park that had killed the foliage on trees.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”  Oscar WildeSave

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Storybook Sculptures

Abilene, Texas, calls itself Storybook Capital of the World.  Scattered around the downtown area are sculptures of characters from children’s books as well as various other sculptures.

I’m starting with my least favorite:  Dino Bob from the book Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo.

Never heard of this book.

The Man in the Moon is represented by a moon up on a tall pole.

Also, unknown to me.  Don’t give up.  It gets better.

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King stands outside the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature building.

Everman Park, beside the renovated train depot, contains the Dr. Seuss Sculptures.  A nice job of landscaping this area uses hardy Texas plants, like the New Gold Lantana in the picture.  This lantana is a hybrid and makes a 6 to 8 foot ground cover.

Although this isn’t Dr. Seuss, it’s at the park entrance.  Santa Calls sculpture depicts three children who travel to the North Pole.  Santa sent a flying machine called Yuletide Flyer.The beloved Cat in the Hat turns a rainy day into unexpected fun for children.

Some  small Magnolia trees had blossoms.  It’s unusual to see Magnolias in Central Texas, but this is probably a Little Gem Magnolia, which is a late bloomer, smaller than most Magnolias, and survives in zones 5 – 9.

The Lorax speaks for the trees and warns of the dangers of disrespecting the environment.

Yurtle the Turtle, who claims to be the king of the pond, climbs on his subjects in an attempt to reach higher than the moon.  A good message to us all not to feel more important than others.

In spite of derogatory remarks in the news recently about Dr. Seuss, I think he had an important role.  He got many kids interested in reading and learning and did it in an extremely fun way.

The Grinch tries to sabotage Christmas in Whoville.

Another small Magnolia surrounded by Knockout Roses, Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), and a Boxwood hedge.  The roses may be Drift Roses, which are a type of Knockouts.

Russian Sage is a good choice for arid areas.  It has a lovely scent and is hardy.  It does spread, so these will become overcrowded at some point.

Sam, I am, encourages everyone to try Green Eggs and Ham.

In the second book to feature Horton, Horton Hears a Who, he once again becomes the protector of a helpless creature.  A small piece of dust that talks to Horton asks for help.  Even though he is ridiculed and harassed by the other animals, Horton states that “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

“The more you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Dr. SeussSave

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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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City on the Concho

In West Texas, San Angelo is a town with a river, the Concho, which gives it many advantages.  Having a water source in an arid region is huge.  Therefore, the town boasts some green areas.

Although we’ve visited the town numerous times, on a recent overnight trip, we saw some places previously missed.

As we walked toward a Mexican restaurant (what other kind!) in the center of town, we passed the library, which has some large windows that jut out and are trimmed with this tile work around the door.  Always fascinated by symbols chosen to represent reading.

Outside the library is one of San Angelo’s ubiqutous painted sheep.  This one features children’s books.

I recognize pictures that represent Charlotte’s Web, Hank the Cowdog, and Alice in Wonderland.

The statement:  “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

Here’s the favorite of many.

The San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts’ unusual building is constructed of many different materials inside and out.  The inside space features a main two story central area with smaller exhibitions rooms around it.

One current exhibit displays the work of local artist, the late Jimmy Don Cox.  Western paintings and sculptures show his eye for detail.

Another show called ‘Critical Angles’ by Cathy Cunningham Little from San Antonio contains unique art using glass, mirrors, and light.

The small pieces of glass and instructions for placement were mailed by the artist to the museum.  This involved a complicated placement of the materials to achieve the exact light forms.

The only light in the room came from the small lights above each set of glass.

From this angle, you can see some of the glass.  Beautiful.

The serene outside area is nicely done with landscaping and well thought out green space and hardscape.

Love this little girl reading.

The Aermotor Windmill Company in San Angelo still manufactures and constructs the old fashioned windmills that have character and hark back to the settling of the west.  Not like the intrusive giant wind turbines that are taking over our beautiful countryside and destroying land values.  I could go on and on about that.

This succulent ground cover has lots of pretty small flowers.  Looks like a type of ice plant but don’t really know.

A cowboy teaching a kid about rope tying.

Walking down the street from the museum, this horse sculpture made us stop.

The wood in front with the holes is from Cholla Cactus.

Several old buildings along this street have been renovated for businesses.

The next morning we attended a short seminar about Gardening with Natives.  Afterwards we went to a small nursery outside of town that has a demonstration butterfly garden.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  I failed to get an overall shot.  My mind must have been on what was for sale in the nursery.

This is a Blue Potato Bush, Paraguay Nightshade, or Blue Lycianthes (Lycianthes rantonnei) for zone 8b to 11.

Clever idea that is easy.  Just paint some molded forms that are used for garden bed borders.

Behind the caterpillar on the right is an Italian Basil and on the left is Curly Parsley.

Using a wheel barrel for a fairy garden has been on my to do list for a while.  Maybe this will nudge me to get busy.

A strong wind was whipping the flowers on a Morning Glory Bush pretty good.

Bush Morning Glory, Morning Glory Tree, Badoh Negro, Borrachero, or Matacabra (Ipomoea carnea) survives in zones 8b to 11.  Several years ago I had one that lived about three years.  Then it became too tall and cumbersome to move into the shed.  So adios to that.

The star of the show is always Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) because it is so bright that it’s hard to look anywhere else.

Pride of Barbados is a zone 9 tropical evergreen, but in zone 8b, it is a perennial that dies to the ground.  It’s on the Texas Superstar list.

I’ve tried one that froze.  Some people cut them to the ground in early winter, mulch them heavily and cover them, so I’m going to give it another shot.

“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.”  Hugh DownsSave

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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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Magnolia Market

If there is anyone in Texas, and maybe even the US, that hasn’t heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines and their HGTV show Fixer Upper show, I would be surprised.  During the success of their show, they expanded their entrepreneurship to include products, a bed and breakfast, a restaurant soon to be opened and Magnolia Market.

The purchase of silos and buildings in downtown Waco allowed them to open new stores and a whole complex.

Visitors get the obligatory picture under the sign.

We took the advice on their website that late afternoon on a weekday was the best time to visit to avoid huge crowds.

The silos themselves are not yet open but will be in the future.

There is lots of outside space for play.  The artificial grass is used for kids and adults to toss around frisbees and balls.

Tables and seating under awnings are provided so people can “dine” from the food trucks.

More tables under a large open pavilion.  The bean bag seats in the shade promote their sale in the store.  They look comfy, but we did not try them.

Shade is a necessity, not a luxury,  in the Texas sun, even in spring.

Joanna is a fan of rusty metal and objects in their unfinished condition.  Me, too.

Inside the store, the displays are so pretty that people can’t resist lingering.  I read a comment online that Joanna’s touch is evident throughout the complex.  True.

The planters outside contain real plants.  Inside, lots of artificial flowers are used and sold.  Gorgeous color of faux tulips class up a rustic table.

People have complained that most of the products for sell are imports from China.  And that they are expensive.   Really?  What would one expect?  Joanna uses those imports to decorate on Fixer Upper, and people are enamored with the results.

Of course, she also uses local craftsmen, but those items would be priced out of most people’s range.

As one exits the front door, a vignette draws attention.  Think these plants are fake, too.

Swings and tables encourage people to sit and enjoy the whole atmosphere.

The small bakery (not shown), which sells cupcakes from Joanna’s recipe, had a long line in the sun.  We decided to pass on that.

The complex also includes a seed and plant store and garden area, which will be featured in my next blog.

Thanks for reading.

“Summer peels open the magnolia blossoms one white petal at a time to scent the summer breeze with thoughts of romance.”  Susie Clevenger

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