Friends Return

Maybe it’s just me, but when perennials bloom each spring, it feels like old friends have dropped in for a visit.

Now I have to admit that these Four Nerve Daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa) have stayed around all winter, since it was especially mild.  But now they look brighter and perkier, ready to face the coming summer.

Each spring I’m still surprised that Amaryllis return.  In my mind, they belong in the inside potted plant category.  But I must give them credit showing up again the third time.  These were all gifts from my mother during her last two Christmases.

Such a beautiful, double flower with amazing bright color.

It seems I don’t notice some weeds until I see their pictures on the big screen of a computer.

This poor dwarf Indian Hawthorn is still struggling to recover from a really harsh winter before this last one.

But the flowers are sweet.

As always, I love my re-blooming Irises.

This Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) bloomed really early before cold days were over.  It’s hardiness is one of its best features, besides the lovely hanging flowers.

The Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus)  isn’t as full as it used to be.  Maybe it’s still early.  It’s a Texas native, so I expect it to recover.

Dianthus is back with a flourish.  I like the red and pink on each petal.

Some visitors outstay their welcome.  The Texas Flowering Quince is just about to be pushed out the door because it needs to be pruned soon and tidied up.

Bluebonnets are always welcome.  Just planted this one, so I hope it makes it.  It’s leaning over Stonecrop Sedum.

The pinkish lavender against the beautiful deep purple makes a stunning show.

Welcome, old friends.  Stay awhile.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”  unknown

Wildflowers and Memories

My last post showed gorgeous Texas wildflowers in a cemetery.  As Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story.

Past the thick patch of Indian Paintbrushes and some scattered White Prickly Poppies is the entrance into the Sutherland Springs cemetery.  That name may not conjure up any memories for you, but it is a sharp reminder of a tragedy that shattered this small community.

A lone gunman filled with hate and revenge stepped into this small church and took the lives of 26 innocent people.

Rather then walk into another church service in this building, the members turned it into a memorial for family and friends.  Instead, they rented a temporary building for services.  At the present time, a new stone building is nearing completion where they won’t be reminded of that day as they gather for worship.

Markers and mementos to honor the dead are placed all around the classic white chapel building with its idyllic steeple.  Some families were almost decimated that day.

This town is close to San Antonio, where the whole surrounding area has groves of these Huisache trees (Vachellia farnesiana).  They are considered nuisance trees by some people, like Mesquites in the upper Central Texas and, especially, West Texas.

Huisache is often one of the first trees to invade abandoned fields.  The most noticeable characteristics are their fragrant yellow puff blooms and their fern-like foliage.  They have white thorns, which are more noticeable on a young tree.  Huisaches require full sun and little water after they are established.Being in lower Central Texas, the area has mild winters with rare freezes, which is ideal for many wildflowers and some tropical plants.  It’s one of the more garden spots in the state.

As we focus on the natural beauty, we know that God is in control of the earth and the healing of this community.

“But I trust in your unfailing love;”  Psalm 13:5

No matter what the circumstances, we can trust the heart of God.

Paintbrushes and Bluebonnets

The wildflowers have arrived and are spectacular this year.  Decorating the highways, they add a sense of wonder to driving.

But one of the best places to enjoy wildflowers is a rural cemetery.  You don’t have to worry about getting run down when you step out of the car.  It’s also so peaceful and quiet.

Indian Paintbrushes (Castilleja) bloom a little earlier than Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) but they remain side by side for many days.  There are actually several different varieties of both Paintbrushes and Bluebonnets.

Wildflowers are not known for their scent, but a wonderful aroma surrounded us when we stepped out of the vehicle.  Wasn’t able to determine which ones provided the smell.

The older headstones were fascinating.

Think these are Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa).  Little clusters were scattered here and there.

The scenery around the cemetery was serene.

Pink was the dominant color here.

White Prickly Poppies form large colonies that are visible from a distance.

The wind was so strong, their delicate petals were brown in one direction.

In front of this handmade headstone is a weed I couldn’t identify.  All the weeds were lovely in this setting because none were prickly and seemed at home.

Dotted Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchiurn pruinosuem) makes me wonder how it got that common name.  The eye is yellow, so it’s doesn’t seem logical.

Found some headstones with my maiden name.  Have no idea if they were related to me.

Notice the fake flowers beside the marker.  That’s very common in Texas because most of the year, there are no native flowers or even foliage in the long hot summers.

I was curious what this growth on the stone is.  Some kind of fungus but this was the only stone I saw it on.

There are a number of low growing native white daisies or asters.  Don’t know which one this is.

A thick carpet is formed by this unknown native.  It’s definitely not a plant for your yard unless you intentionally want a covering of this instead of grass.  It spreads by runners and seems prolific.

 “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” Benjamin Franklin

Flash in the Pan

Warm weather has awakened some plants with flowers and tree bud openings.

This unknown woody plant pops up each year in a flowerbed.  I don’t know what it is nor how it got here.  I don’t remember planting it, but I certainly could have.

Each year I cut it back to the ground after blooming because it is too close to a more desirable bush.  The roots are entangled with other bushes, so that’s my solution.

In a field near the house, I noticed this in full bloom.  At first, it looked like Bee Bush, but close up, the flowers didn’t look right.

Rather than a bush, it appears to be a colony of one trunk small trees.

Pretty, but fleeting, the blooms only lasted for a few days.  The bees enjoyed a feast for those few days.

In the fields. tiny flowers are not noticeable unless one looks down.

This is probably Ten-petal Anemone (Anemone berlandieri).  Its name commemorates  Juis Berlandier from Belgium.  He traveled Texas in the mid 1800s and created one of the earliest and most extensive collections of native plants.

A few Rain Lilies from the last rain don’t draw attention to themselves.  They are sweet little surprises.

In the yard, clusters of buds appear on a Rusty Blackhaw Verburnum (Viburnum rufidulum).  It’s an East Texas plant that grows along rivers.  I defied reason and wanted to prove that it can be grown here.  It’s an under story tree or bush.

So, yes, it has lived for about six years here in the wrong soil and circumstances, but it hasn’t produced the blue berries in the fall.  By the end of our hot summer, it’s gasping and looking incredible sad.

This shot in the rising sunlight shows the individual cute little flowers, which won’t be around in a few days.

With these flash-in-a-pan flowers that have a limited lifespan, it reminds me to enjoy every moment as it comes.

“Life is dessert – too brief to hurry.”  Ann Voskamp

Winter Color

Winter has been mild so far here, which is fine with me.  So there are some tiny bits of color scattered around the yard.

First, I must apologize for the quality of some of the pictures – not totally in focus.

Dianthus have survived a couple of freezes really well.

This Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana) has had some blooms that don’t stay open for more than a day.  It’s a native with dusty green curly leaves and is a good performer in both the summer heat and a mild winter.

Texas Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles japonica) usually has some flowers in January or February.One lone Daffodil has opened up.

Several years ago I bought this at a garden club sale and was told that it was an evergreen fern.  Turns out, it is a native Yarrow with white flowers.  But it is evergreen.

Pittsporoum in a pot provides some green, but the tips of the leaf edges are a little crisp from an earlier freeze.

Another native Yarrow has completely different leaves.  I think this is Moon Dust Yarrow (Achillea ‘Novaachdus’).  It is somewhat evergreen with dusty green leaves and does not reseed.

This hardy Ice Plant is amazing.  It’s been in the same pot on the back porch for years.  In cold weather, the foliage looks a little ragged, but it keeps on blooming even in freezing weather.  The pot is in a corner spot which protect it from harsh winds.

Yes.  I do know that this is a weed.  But the Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) will be easy to pull out of this pot when I want to get rid of it.

I think it’s pretty, and it is color.  Can’t be too choosy in the winter.

Spectacular sunrises start the day with cheery color.

On a cloud covered morning came brilliant red on the horizon.

While we’re enjoying a mild winter, I realize that further north, a polar vortex has struck with devastating temperatures.  I pray for safety for everyone experiencing this.

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”   Edith Sitwell

More Ice Pix

Everything looks picture worthy as I tramp around the ice covered yard.

Ice gives Yaupon Holly a sparkle.

Brr.  No one wants to live here in this cold.

Snapping off of the frozen branches from the Texas Kidneywood bush would be easy.

Possum Haw berries in a globe of ice.  Possumhaw Holly is a great small native tree with multiple trunks.

Icy Red Yucca branches under an overcast sky makes me shiver.

The two preceding pictures show Blue Mistflowers.

At the tip of tall trunks of Desert False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa), heavy ice keeps the branches from swaying in the wind.

Ice covered rose bushes have an ethereal look.

Spaghetti strands of Dried Mexican Feather Grass flops on the ground.

Dwarf Indian Hawthorn is one of the few evergreen bushes in our yard.  The frosty ice coating is gorgeous.

Tall, thin stems of Obedient Plant form upside down icicles.

Bright red Rose Hip with copper colored Rose leaves provides color in a drab wintry scene.

I enjoy some winter when the harsh weather only comes a few days at a time.  But basically, I’m a warm weather person.

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”  Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ice, Ice, Ice

First of the year freeze has come and gone.  Almost, like clockwork, every January, there will be ice in the northern half of Texas.

With just mist in the air and a few drops of rain, ice formed on almost every surface outside, except for concrete areas and roadways.  The grass, Algerita bush, and the evergreen Blue Juniper to the left have ice crystals on them.

The branches of the huge Live Oak behind the backyard are weighted down with ice.  Although we have officially never had this tree examined to determine its age, it’s estimated to be over a hundred years old.

I always worry when the branches touch the ground, fearing they will break.  But, fortunately, the ice usually only lasts a couple of days.

Ice on stems and leaves of dead Cannas becomes a work of art.

Frozen water in a bird bath gives the edges of the concrete a pearlized look.  The glass knob-looking item in the center is actually an antique electrical insulator from a telephone pole.

Thin stems of Gaura are encased in ice.

Green leaves of Desert Bird of Paradise enveloped in ice.

Edged in ice, this trellis has a sophisticated, lacy appeal.

With its multiple tiny stems, a rose bush creates the most fantastic ice sculpture.

Mexican Feather Grass.

Dried Blue Mistflower stems.  Can you tell I’m enamored with the ice?

It’s surprising what lives with freezing temperatures.  These Four Nerve Daisies still have flowers.  What hardy natives they are.

Copper Canyon Daisy ice sculpture.

Pokeweed in a pot.

More rose bushes.

Not sure what this plant is.  Love the look.

Since we only have ice once or twice a year, it’s a real novelty.  So I get carried away with taking pictures.

“One kind word can warm three winter months.”  Japanese proverb

Autumn

While our yearly rainfall averages 27 inches, rains in September, October, and November this year have totaled 19.93 inches.  So far the total for 2018 is 28.71, which isn’t that much over the average, but is enough to make us happy.

All this rain has resulted in rutted roads and high water levels on low water crossings.  But the blessings have far outweighed the inconveniences.

Copper Canyon Daisy, a native of the Sonoran desert of Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona, normally blooms in August, when the temperature is the hottest.  But even July and August were rainy, so it finally flowered in late September.

The smell of this stinky plant is not noticeable outside, but is overwhelming in confined spaces.  Pretty flowers at the tip of long stems gracefully wave in the wind.

The color on the ridge behind the house is stunning.  The green of the cedars, the local name for them, make the other colors pop.   These are actually Ash Juniper, post cedar, or blueberry juniper (Juniperus ashei),

Native to Northeastern Mexico and south central U.S, the largest coverage of Ash Juniper is in Texas.  They are a bane to property owners, who push them up with bulldozers because they are so prolific, cover grassland, and draw up water needed for other trees.

The positive aspects are erosion control and shade for wildlife and livestock.  Look closely at the middle lower part of the picture and you’ll see some of our wildlife – a deer.

Some other green is provided by our native Live Oaks.

Looking another direction shows how cedars grow in large expanses.  The birds eat the berries and distribute the seeds a la mother nature’s way.

In the yard, a Red Oak provides bright color.  Another Red Oak, which I neglected to get a picture of, was dark red.

A flock of Robins dropped into the yard this morning bobbing for worms.

This is like one of those puzzles sent on Facebook.  Can you find the robin in this Chinese Pistache tree?  Look to the middle of the picture on the left.

Always enjoy these visitors running to and fro and taking to the air at the least noise or movement.

Hope your autumn has been full of delightful surprises like our rains and beautiful sights.

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”  William Cullen Bryant

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

Foe or Friend?

Weeds appear in every gardening space.  At least, I know they pop up here regularly.  Some are unwelcome guests.  Others, not at all.  The good thing is that you get to choose who stays and who goes.

This plant came up in a pot.  A gift from a bird probably.  Since I didn’t recognize it, I decided to wait and see how it developed.

Clusters of green berries eventually turned red.

Those opened into tiny pretty flowers.  So I turned to a friend to identify the plant.  It’s Poke, Pokeweed or Poke Salad (Phytolacca americana).  Flowers and fruits are toxic.  The leaves can be eaten but must be processed properly.

A little research reveals that they grow quite large.  So at the end of the summer, this one will be pulled up.  It’s actually quite pretty at this stage, but I don’t want it taking over.

After a really good rain (praise and thanksgiving for that), these Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes atamasca) appeared in the fields and yard.  Also known as Zephyr or Fairy Lily, they are native to the U.S.  Cultivated species with white, yellow or pink flowers are available for purchase.

Delicate pure white flowers dot the landscape for a few days as a reminder of the blessings of rain.

The tall flower in the center is Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata).

Pretty flowers grow at the top of the stems.  When the stems are broken, white sticky sap oozes out.

Unless these appear in a large vacant area, it’s best to allow only a few to grow because they form large colonies as they reseed.  Those colonies are lovely to see out in the pastures.

These unknown plants also multiple quickly but are easy to pull up.  The stems are skeletal looking with thin leaves.  Could be a wild aster.

This is a weed that I actually planted because a friend gave me seeds she had gathered in a field.  The seed pods are almost to open now.  Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) is also known as Dwarf Cleome.

Clammy Weed multiplies aggressively; the wind scatters the seed all over the yard, so they come up here and there and not in a large clump.  It would be easy to eradicate them completely.

So what is the difference between a weed and a wildflower?  Mostly, it’s which ones strike your fancy.  Some might seem pretty and desirable and others bothersome because they have sharp thorns on them, push out other plants, or are just ugly.  They all are somewhat aggressive.  That’s the only way they can survive in the wild.

Sometimes it seems like I spend all my time getting rid of the ones that are very undesirable.  So I remind myself to just enjoy the pretty ones.

“All gardeners need to know when to accept something wonderful and unexpected, taking no credit except for letting it be.”  Allen Lacy