Candlelight Tour at Weatherford

After 37 years of a tour of homes at Christmas in a small town, it’s no surprise that it’s difficult to get people to open their homes.  At least, that’s what I assume, since most of the homes this year were small and not unique.

Tickets can be purchased at Doss Heritage and Cultural Center, so we always start at the museum.

Tickets can be purchased at Doss Heritage and Culture Center.  So that’s where we always start.

The western tree is always impressive.

One of the trees is this small pencil tree.

The Loving- Pinner house was built in 1857.  The house is well known because Oliver Loving, the cattle rancher who started the Goodnight-Loving trail, lived there from 1862 to 1866.  This small house with two bedrooms was where he and his wife raised nine children.

Fortunately, most of the year in Texas is warm or hot, so the children could have slept outside on the covered porch.  During the winter, they must have been stacked like firewood on the floor.  The cabinets with the glass doors were in the master bedroom.  The house still has the original porch, doors with hardware, high ceilings, and glass transoms.  But I’m not sure when these cabinets were installed.

This panel has older looking scenes, but there was no mention of age.

This Second Empire French Neo-Renaissance style house was constructed of hand quarried native stone.  Therefore, the outside walls are 20 inches thick.

In the small entry, a spiral staircase was handcrafted.  The banister was made from a single pine tree.  Using heat, it was twisted to fit the curve of the staircase.

The staircase in the back of the house leads from the upstairs down to the dining room.  The house features curved walls in most rooms.

The chandelier over the dining room table is original to the house and is from France.

Bathroom sink installed in old sewing machine cabinet.

This piano is old and extremely heavy.

The gingerbread man on this pillow is three dimensional.

It was a cold, rainy, blustery day outside, but people still came out to see the homes.

“Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking bout how it is soaking in around your green beans.”

Rose Emporium Visit

Back in Brenham at the Antique Rose Emporium, there’s lots to see.

Nice bouquet of roses and Celosia in the seminar meeting room.

On the grounds, there are plenty of flowers to enjoy, like this Country Girl Mum (Dendranthema zawadskii).  They are heirlooms from Russia that bloom in the fall and are spreaders.

A Queen butterfly loves it, too.

The Rose Emporium abounds with many decorating ideas for the yard.

Candle bush or candlestick cassia (Cassia alata), becomes a small tree or large bush.
Pollinators are drawn to the bright yellow blossoms, but it needs warm winters.

Wonder if this structure was originally a keyhole garden.

This bloom was way above my head.  It looks like a Datura or Moon Flower.  Datura stramonium is commonly called Jimson weed, Stink weed, Loco Weed, Thorn Apple, Angel’s Trumpet, Devil’s Trumpet, Devil’s Snare, Devil’s See, Mad Hatter, etc.

Most of these names are the result of the fact that the plant is poisonous and have huge seed pods that are so prickly you can’t handle them.  But when they fall to the ground and decay, the small black seeds fall out and propagate new plants.

To me, the flowers justify growing them.

Cosmos can be used to fill any barren spot in the garden.  They will quickly fill the space.

A small rose, Lynn’s Legacy, spoke to me.  I like the cupped shape of the petals.  Also, that it can be grown in a pot.

Dahlias has always been a flower for the northern United States in my mind because they don’t seem suited for our heat.  So, I was surprised to see one growing there.

That area has better soil than we do.  I don’t know if Dahlias have a chance in our caliche clay soil and extreme heat.

Very pretty and tempting.

Porterweed has attracted a Gulf Fritillary.

At the back of the meeting room, small vases of heritage roses were displayed.  One of the main characteristics of heirloom roses, besides being hardy, is the scent.  So this was a chance to smell them and be enticed to buy some bushes.

Very Texas rose display.

It was a great couple of days to hear wonderful, knowledgeable speakers that came from long distances and to enjoy the gardens.

“I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.”  Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

Rose Symposium

Every autumn the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas, provides two days of free informational sessions.  The speakers are specialists in their fields.

The Rose Emporium is certainly about roses, mostly heritage roses.  But there’s so much more there.

We arrived early to wander around and get pictures without people cluttering the landscape.  Arches define many of the walkways.

The gazebo is surrounded by roses and other flowers.

This might be a Gray Golden Aster.

Lovely fern design.  It looks great but isn’t very comfortable.

Surprised to see a lily still blooming.

Love this Celosia.  There are lots of different varieties.  I’ve been told that they reseed but haven’t had success with that.  Guess I’ll have to buy one every year.

This nursery has lots of garden art, some of it for sale.

Texas Sage ‘Heavenly Cloud’ is a hybrid between L. frutescens ‘Green Cloud’ and L. laevigatum.  It was developed at A & M and grows well in different types of soil.

Think this is a soldier butterfly.  On this nice, cool, sunny day, butterflies were feeding on lots of different kind of flowers.

“As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.”  Ben Hogan

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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