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

First Blooms

The temperatures continue to bounce up and down like a kid on a trampoline.  The last two days have been in the 80’s, but today tiny ice pellets are being blown sideways in a bone chilling 21 degrees.  So good bye to the flowers that have already bloomed.  These pictures were taken yesterday.

quince4 Texas Scarlet Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) is the first noticeable color in my yard.

quinceThis plant is three years old, so there are more flowers on the branches than last year.

quince3With loose form, the flowers don’t last but a few days.

daffodils2Then came the daffodils.  Last year I moved the bulbs from a bed beside the house.  They had not done very well for seven years in that location.  So when I read that they should be in a bed away from the house, I decided to try it.

But the wind whips them around pretty good.

daffodilsThe color seems paler than last year.  Maybe it’s my imagination.

rosemary4The Rosemary bush has bloomed off and on for a couple of months during some warm days.

rosemary3These pictures are not particularly good, but I’m trying to show several things.  In this one is a bug with two orange stripes (type unknown) in the upper middle of the photo.  Also, the orchid like shape of the flower petals is noticeable..

rosemary5A yellow butterfly is feeding in the middle of this picture.  Bees and all kinds of insects were flitting around.  Most were too speedy for me to get a picture.

rosemaryThis shot illustrates the amount of flowers on the plant.  As I’ve said before, this out-of-control bush needs to be cut back.  I did some lopping last year but don’t really know the correct way to trim it.

Sunny days and flowers bring the promise of spring.  Then there are the days where winter bears down again.

“If you think your best days are behind you, they are.  If you think your best days are ahead of you, they are.”  Jon Gordon

Winter Yard

Recently I’ve read several articles in gardening magazines about perennials in yards.  Because perennials have the same requirements as weeds (sun and water) for growing, it is difficult to keep those flowerbeds weeded.  I’m not sure I understand that logic.  Don’t most plants need that?

Anyway, as one ages, they suggest that more flowerbed space should be converted to evergreens for easier maintenance.  Looking at my mostly dead yard this winter has made me consider more evergreens just for aesthetics.

Last week on a warm, sunny day in the 70’s, I went out to photograph anything green in the yard.  Of course, I did not take pictures of the incriminating stuff – all those bright green healthy weeds.  Here’s some of the green I found.

liveoak2 This is a native Live Oak that is quite old.  Last year we had it pruned because some branches were hanging to the ground, and there were dead branches up high from a strong wind storm.  We were told it would be healthier, and any future wind would blow through the thinned-out branches.  rosemThis Rosemary bush has become way overgrown, even with some pruning.  For the first few years I didn’t care because I was trying to fill flowerbeds.

The crazy climate where we live has just enough hard freezes to kill anything that isn’t an evergreen.  But most of the winter is quite warm.  The bright sunshine also makes it difficult to take pictures that are not washed out.

rosemary4 The butterflies have been very active on these Rosemary blossoms for several weeks. rosemary rosemary2 Because of our warm, dry winters, plants and trees still have to be watered on a fairly regular basis. cherrylaurelI’ve bragged on this Cherry Laurel before because I started it from a small plant given to me by a friend.  It has not fared as well as usual this winter.  Probably needed more water.

spiderwortMost Spiderworts are not evergreen, so this one must be a fluke.

There are many bloggers in Austin, just 150 miles south of us.  It’s surprising the difference in the survival of the plants there during “winter time”.  Many show pictures of plants that make it through the winter still blooming.  Not here.  But it makes me all the more anxious for the joy of seeing plants coming up in spring.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”  Unknown

Purple in the Yard

Although our autumns are iffy and interspersed with many summer days, the somewhat cooler days give plants a chance to recover and bloom.

These are two small Texas Asters (Aster oblongifolius)  that I bought in the spring at Barton Springs Nursery in Austin.  Now they’re two big ones.  This is my first experience with asters.  The fact that they have spread so fast and are blooming so profusely makes me a great fan.

I also love their color and feathery petals.

The Blue Mist has continued strong all through the summer.  It’s an amazing plant not only because it’s a butterfly magnet, but because it blooms so long.  It’s like the turtle in the Tortoise and the Hare.  It just keeps on going.

The light is giving the flowers on this Butterfly Bush a burgundy color, but it actually is purple.  It has also bloomed all summer in spite of the fact that an armadillo dug a deep hole down into its roots.  We filled in the dirt numerous times.  Finally, we sprinkled Ortho Fire Ant Killer on the filler dirt and put more big rocks at the top.  The fire ant killer stinks, so we thought it might discourage pests.  So far, so good.

This is ornamental garlic.  Last year it didn’t do much but is finally filling out and blooming well.

This is that same garlic plant.  The low setting sun is giving the petals a pinkish cast.

Rosemary has pale purple or lavender flowers.  This plant has spread like wildfire.  It’s about 4 feet in diameter and 3-4 feet tall.  I trimmed it quite a bit a couple of months ago.  I need to get back at it.

Another faithful bloomer – Mexican Petunia.  It’s about four feet tall.  One small cutting was planted five years ago and has now spread to cover a five foot by eight foot area of a flowerbed.

This Plumbago has struggled all summer.  It’s in a pot, but I’m not sure where to plant it.  Duranta is a heat lover, so it has performed well all summer.  Purple jewels just drip off its branches.

A Reblooming Iris has an early bloom.  It needs to be a little cooler for them to rebloom.  These were ordered from one of those mailings that gardeners get.  It’s really not a good idea for those of us who live in an extreme southwestern climate to order from companies in the north.  But those catalogs are so tempting.  However, this one turned out to be a good purchase.  These irises bloom in the spring and again in the fall.

They need a little more water than the old farmhouse natives in this area.  My native irises are not even in the yard but in a field close to the house.  So they don’t get watered at all.  Of course, they haven’t fared too well the last couple of years, but should be okay in a year with more rain.

There are a few more purple plants still looking good.  These are some I really like.

Purple, red, and yellow are my favorite flower colors.  It’s dangerous for me to say favorite when I talk about plants because it seems many are favorites at different times.  That kinda negates the proper use of the word.

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”   Jenny Joseph